"...You broke faith with me...you did not uphold my holiness..." (Deuteronomy 32:51).
Surely Moses had a right to be angry with this stiff-necked people! He had pushed and pulled them through forty years of grumbling and lack of faith. Finally it got to him, and "rash words came from Moses' lips" (Psalm 106:33).
There are several warnings here for us all:
1) Believe what God says. Is it possible that Moses didn't trust that God could and would bring forth living water if he, Moses, merely spoke to the rock? Did Moses doubt the Word?
2) Moses got very angry and defiant himself: "Listen, you rebels..." He struck the rock not once but twice, not even waiting to see if water would come forth with the first angry strike. Surely if there is evidence that God expects us to be temperate in both our speech and actions, it is here. Moses was kept out of the land that he longed to enter because of a momentary lack of self-control. What a lesson! Sometimes the same thing can be said in the spirit of meekness that simply cannot be said when provoked.
3) It seems Moses forgot to give God the credit: "Must we bring you water out of this rock?" (V.10). It was done publicly, too, which doubled Moses' culpability. His doubt and his anger became an exposed spectacle which God could not tolerate. It jeopardized God's purposes for His people, and the people's hopes. We must be ever so careful of God's reputation.
We learn here that even the meekest of men, Moses, can sin and thus be deprived of his Canaan. Let us take heed lest we fall into discouragement and discontent that can disable us enough that we strike at the Rock of Living Water. God knows what temper we are made of and what temper we are in, too.
It seemed such a small sin but the consequences were enormous for Moses and Aaron, just as the consequences were great for Adam and Eve because of their lack of faith in what God told them. Let us take heed lest we lose our faith and our tempers!