Dr. Jowett comments:
That was a long wait in preparation for a great mission. When God delays, He is not inactive. He is getting ready His instruments, He is ripening our powers; and at the appointed moment we shall arise equal to our task. Even Jesus of Nazareth was thirty years in privacy, growing in wisdom before He began His work.
It is interesting that God took 40 years of preparation time for Moses, and 400 years of preparation time for Israel + 40 years in the wilderness. So, for Moses, called to be the Man of God for the People of God, this added up to 80 years in the wilderness: 40 tending unruly sheep and 40 leading a rebellious Flock. Oh, how Moses must have tired of seeing rocks and sand and scrub brush! But God was not mistaken in the calling of Moses' life. Nor was He forgetful of Israel. It's just so hard, sometimes, to see the good purpose of God in the long hours of burning sand and sun, and petty battles that must be fought (again and again) in the wilderness, surrounded by the chosen, peculiar People of God!
Is it any wonder that Moses struck the Rock twice, in frustration?
Thinking about Moses striking the rock twice, I was recently meditating on 1 Cor. 10:3-4, "And all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ." For the first time, I realized that Moses penalty of striking the rock twice was not just in flashing anger and misrepresenting God, it was also a mistreatment of the real Rock of Israel, and a false prophetic type of the saving life of Christ. A wow moment! Hebrews 10:10 tells us that anyone who has been made holy has been made so through the "once and for all sacrifice" of Jesus Christ. Likewise Hebrews 7:27 tells us that the sacrifice that Jesus offers in himself is SINGULAR, "once for all" and is not repeated. And in Hebrews 9:28, 10:12 and 10:14, this is emphasized, again and again: ONCE AND FOR ALL, not to be repeated. If we seek to repeat the striking of the Rock for our sins, we only put Him to open shame, treating the blood of the covenant as an unholy thing (10:29).
This should send shivers down the spine of anyone who claims to actually sacrifice Jesus again and again, at mass, etc. And it gives amazing insight into the offense of Moses against his Holy God -- a God who called him friend, and revealed himself in higher categories to him than to the people around him. God's punishment of Moses was at once just and merciful: He kept Moses from the Promised Land, and took him to the real Land of Promise. And He kept Moses from seeing the failure of the people in the Land. So God strictly punished Moses for mistreating and misrepresenting the Rock, but in His judgment He also extended mercy to His loved son of the wilderness.
Long story short: We must simply trust God in the desert of our days. He has not abandoned us. Jesus the True Rock travels with us, and gives us living water. And so we are sustained, until the land of promise.
God is never too late, and doesn't waste the fires of the forge nor the heat of the wilderness. He's working out His purpose.
Often, the hardest ingredient in suffering is TIME. Waiting. But God is PRESENT with us, all the while. Sharp, instant pains are easily borne, but those constant, enduring ones? A lot more difficult. Thankfully, God understands, and works and and through them all. He is with us: Immanuel, the Rock, from whom we can drink on our hottest, darkest, longest days. Alleluia!
Good is on the way, and IN the way, in the Rock. Let us not strike Him in our frustration, but rather drink deeply, smile and live -- and journey on to the Promise.