3 Lessons From Moses’ Worst Sermon

Bad sermons happen. It’s not an issue of “if” you have a bad sermon but “when” you preach one. In those times, it can be for any number of reasons. But, as preachers, pastors, and ministers we learn from those experiences and allow God to correct us, teach us, and refine us.

I believe there’s an example to describe this experience by looking at the worst sermon Moses ever preached and share some lessons with you. Read the story in Numbers 20:7-12 and we’ll get started.

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”” Numbers‬ ‭20:7-12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Lesson 1: We must listen carefully as God speaks.

“So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them. Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.”” Numbers‬ ‭20:6-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Moses had the best opportunity for sermon preparation. When God spoke, he humbled himself and sought the Lord. Spending time with God is invaluable. Preaching is what happens when God reveals his message to us so we can deliver the message to his people. God told Moses what to say and what to do. A lot of bad sermons are created when we fail to seek God properly.

Lesson 2: We must always stay focused on God’s message.

“So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”” Numbers‬ ‭20:9-10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Moses was told to speak to the rock but when he saw the people, he was moved by emotion rather than God’s spirit and spoke to the people. He went off script and called them rebels. Losing focus is a common problem with bad sermons. For example, it happens when a pastor prepares a great Easter message then goes off topic and guilt trips the visitors. Or maybe it happens when the pastor is still emotionally charged after a tough board meeting and goes off script to vent his frustrations in the message.

Lesson 3: We must always glorify God instead self.

“Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.” Numbers‬ ‭20:11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Moses was clearly instructed by God to “speak to the rock before their eyes” so God would get the glory. You see, this was the second time God provided water from a rock. The first time was in Exodus 17:1-7. In that passage God told Moses to gather some elders and smite the rock. But in the second instance in Numbers God gave different instructions for a specific reason.

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”” Numbers‬ ‭20:12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God wanted to be hallowed or set apart in the eyes of the people. But instead, Moses hallowed himself by hitting the rock which made it look as if he performed the miracle with his own power.

By taking the focus off God and placing it on himself, Moses delivered his worst sermon with the worst consequences. To avoid this, pastors must search themselves and be sure their intention is to glorify God more than promoting themselves.

Because of this sermon, Moses was denied the opportunity to lead the children of Israel into the promised land. But he learned and grew from the experience. His final message of blessing for Israel in Deuteronomy 33 is a beautifully delivered masterpiece.

One thought on “3 Lessons From Moses’ Worst Sermon

  1. Powerful!. I know you are talking to pastors but this message can be for anyone. We as humans love to make us look good when it was someone else who should get the praise. Thanks for reminding us to do what is right.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s