Management by Force

“Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” – Numbers 20:8

Moses and the people had been traveling for days without water. The people were thirsty. They were complaining and grumbling about their plight, and Moses became the object of their complaining. Moses sought the Lord for wisdom on how to handle the situation. The Lord instructed him to speak to the rock and water would flow. This would be a sign that God was still in control, that Moses was still the leader, and that God was their provider.

When it came time to speak to the rock, Moses’ disgust with the people became so great that instead of speaking to the rock, he angrily addressed the people and then struck the rock twice. The water came out, in spite of Moses’ disobedience. But the Lord was not pleased with Moses.

This was a time for Moses to operate at a higher level. No longer was he called to touch things with his staff to perform miracles; it was a time for him to speak to the problem. His very words would have changed the situation. Moses’ staff represented two things-his physical work as a shepherd of sheep and his spiritual work as a shepherd of the people. God was calling him to move into a new dimension of using his staff. Up to now, Moses had always been commanded by God to touch something to perform the miracle. Now it was time to speak God’s word to the problem.

However, Moses made the mistake many of us make. He used his instrument with force to accomplish something for God. He took something God wanted to be used in a righteous manner and used it in an unrighteous manner. He used force to solve the problem. This disobedience cost Moses his right to see the Promised Land.

Have you ever been tempted to use your power, skill, and ability to force a situation to happen, perhaps even out of anger? God is calling us to use prayer to move the face of mountains. The force of our ability is not satisfactory. God is calling each of us to a new dimension of walking with Him. Pray that God will give you the grace to wait on Him and not take matters into your own hands. Then you will not be in jeopardy of failing to move into the Promised Land in your life.

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Leadership Insight from the Maxwell Bible, Day 11

Today’s reading is drawn from Isaiah 40.

The Model for Leadership

We must never forget that the greatest model for leadership always comes from the life of God Himself. Isaiah 40 makes it clear that God, as the Ultimate Leader, models:

  1. Comfort and Security – God supplies comfort and cleansing to His people (vv. 1, 2).
  2. Empowerment and Delegation – God makes the path straight for others, then has them speak His words (vv. 3–8).
  3. Shepherding and Direction – God proclaims good news and guides His people like a Shepherd (vv. 9–11).
  4. Power and Authority – No one can challenge God’s strength. He is a Leader with unequaled power (vv. 12–17).
  5. Creator and Developer – God is the transcendent Leader who builds and develops others (vv. 21–26).
  6. Wise Counselor and Provider – God is the source for every need we may have (vv. 27–31).

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The God Who Loves Our Gifts, Day 11

Today’s reading is drawn from Ezra 3:7-13.

God’s Story

God promised that he wouldn’t leave his people in exile forever. Soon after the Persians conquer the Babylonians, God prompts Cyrus, the new king, to allow his people to return to Judah and rebuild the temple. About fifty thousand people pack up everything they own and make the four-month trip from Babylon to Jerusalem. Some of God’s people choose to stay in Babylon, but send valuable gifts with the people making the journey. God has once again set his people free.

After settling in their towns, God’s people convene in Jerusalem, at the site of the old temple. Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest head up the rebuilding of God’s altar. God’s people bring offerings to him, even without a temple. The priests give God’s daily offerings, committing each day to him. And they joyfully celebrate the monthly New Moon sacrifices and sacred festivals with offerings too.

Just over a year after arriving in Jerusalem, God’s people start rebuilding the temple. Once the foundation is laid, the priests and Levites sound trumpets, clash cymbals and sing. Some people weep and some people shout as they worship. God has brought them back home — and more importantly, back to him.

The King’s Heart

More people stayed in Babylon than returned to Judah. After all those years, Babylon had become both comfortable and “home.” But thousands of God’s people decided to return to the promised land. And each step on the dangerous, robber-infested, nine-hundred-mile journey was a statement: “We want you more than anything, God. We’re coming back to you.”

Once in Jerusalem, the returning exiles pushed through the threats of their neighbors, steadfastly rebuilding God’s altar and bringing him offerings of worship. Then they gathered building materials — sacrificially giving as much as they could.

They laid the temple’s foundation, and when it was finished their joy was thick. Older men and women who had experienced the glory of Solomon’s temple wept — their joy laced with sorrow. Solomon’s temple had been so magnificent, and they knew this temple would be humble in comparison.

It was a meager physical building project from a very small portion of his once-flourishing people. But God — who felt the weight of every step and every sacrifice — knew his people’s heart-song wasn’t meager. It was magnificent: “We want you more than anything, God. We have come back to you.” During the celebration, no one was more joyful than God was.


Only 74 Levites returned from exile with Zerubbabel and Joshua (see Ezra 2:40). Since some had done menial tasks in the temple, they may have found work they liked better in exile and stayed there. When Ezra gathered the second wave of exiles, he made an intentional effort to recruit more to come back (see Ezra 8:15 – 20).

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