“They angered him [God] also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes: Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.” (Psalm 106:32-33)

As a cop, you may have to deal with people who try to provoke you with words. They’ll do it because they know they can. They know that you’re held to a higher standard, and if you do or say something in the heat of emotion, it’s likely to be caught on your body camera. It’s also likely to be recorded on the smartphones that are probably recording. In fact, some people may purposely provoke you and record the event hoping to catch a bad reaction for evidence in a lawsuit. “Cyberbaiting” is purposely provoking someone to anger and secretly recording the incident as it is happening in order to publicize it. Some people obviously have nothing better to do with their time. Did you ever hear the saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop and idle hands his tools?”  People may do things like this because either a) they’re criminals or sympathize with criminals and don’t like cops or b) lawsuit settlements are an easier way to get money than working an honest job.  

Underneath the badge, you’re human. Bible characters were human, too. Some of them had bad moments that cost them. Moses had such a moment. God used Moses to do mighty things:  the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and many miracles in the wilderness. Unfortunately, the Israelites had a bad habit of complaining. Time and again they’d complain and even wish that they were back in Egypt. Their complaining caused Moses a lot of stress. He even told God, “And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight” (Numbers 11:15).

At one point, there wasn’t any water for the people to drink, and they started complaining again because they weren’t in Egypt. Obviously, they had forgotten how cruel the Egyptians were to them. The devil used their complaining to provoke Moses to anger. God told Moses to speak to a rock, and it would give water. Instead, Moses took a rod and said, “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10). Then he hit the rock twice with the rod. They provoked him so that he “spake unadvisedly with his lips.” First of all, “we”—God and Moses—didn’t provide water. God alone provided the water and only He deserved the credit, not Moses. Second, he was supposed to speak to the rock, not strike it. No doubt Moses was stressed out because of all their complaining, but God still held Moses accountable. Because of this incident, Moses was not allowed to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. 

God also pointed out the Israelites’ sin in provoking Moses. Provocation is a form of temptation. Paul told the Christians at Thessalonica, “lest by some means the tempter [the devil] have tempted you” (1 Thessalonians 3:5). The devil uses different means to tempt people to sin. Sometimes the means he uses is people. So when someone “provokes your spirit, so you’re tempted to speak unadvisedly with your lips,” and you want to hit him like Moses hit the rock (but please don’t), remember that he’s being used of Satan to provoke you to sin, like the devil used the Israelites to provoke Moses. Think of the devil standing behind the guy taunting you, egging him on, and he’s following the devil’s lead. That’s exactly what’s going on.

If you see another officer in a situation like that, step in to help. The devil may try to use a loud-mouth suspect to provoke the officer, but you can be used of God to help him. You may end up saving another officer from a bad moment that will cost him.

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Brian Miller 12/2/2016

Cleveland Baptist Church | 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 | 216.671.2822