Mad at Moses, Mad at Me

Although Abraham is remembered as the friend of God and David is the man after God’s own heart, it would be difficult to argue against Moses as a contender for both those descriptions as well.

Moses was not only a friend to God; he was his right hand man on Earth for decades – longer even than the administration of FDR and much longer than the comparatively brief ministry of Jesus the Christ.

God so relied upon Moses to speak to the nation of Israel in his behalf that he was even willing at one point to wipe out the idolatrous descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in order to start over with Moses as the new patriarch (see Exodus 32:10). 

There were times, however, when God became angry at Moses – justifiably and righteously indignant with his shortcomings. Yes, even Moses – God got mad at Moses.

It began in the beginning when God tried to enlist Moses to be his spokesman to Israel. Moses was understandably humbled and not a little reluctant to take on such a risky position. Moses reminded God of his insignificance, suggested that the people would not acknowledge Yahweh anymore or believe that he had really spoken to Moses. When God dismissed all those objections, Moses applied for 4-F status on account of his slow speech and thick tongue. “Oh Lord, I am not eloquent,” he said. “Please send someone else. Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses” (Exodus 4:13). Aaron his brother became Moses’s spokesman – no more excuses.

Not long after, however, “the Lord met him and sought to put him to death” (4:24). Apparently it was Moses’s failure to circumcise his son that caused God such displeasure, but his wife, Zipporah, appeased the Lord’s anger with a quick bit of very reluctant surgery. “So he let him alone.”

When Moses struck the rock at Meribah instead of merely speaking to it, the water flowed, but so did God’s displeasure. Told only to speak, Moses performed a bit of self-serving drama and God held him accountable for going ever so slightly beyond his authority. Just for that, God refused him entrance to the promised land, allowing him only to view it from a distance.A forty year journey would end with only partial victory for Moses.

God was sometimes angry with Moses – when he was guilty of making excuses, or of stopping short of God’s commands or even going beyond them. “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (Second Corinthians 5:6-10).