The Escape Valve
A pressure cooker is a special cooking pot with a locking, airtight lid and a valve system to regulate internal pressure. Pressure cookers operate on a principle whereby the steam that builds up inside the pressurized pot cooks food at a very high temperature; the more pounds of pressure, the higher the internal temperature and the quicker the food cooks. This reduces the cooking time by as much as two-thirds without destroying the food's nutritional value. Traditional models are equipped with detachable pressure regulators that can adjust the pressure. Newer pressure cooker designs feature built-in valves and indicator rods that indicate the pressure. So, pressure cookers have a safety valve, which will automatically vent the steam should there be a malfunction. Safety valves are also called escape valves. It is a valve in a container which opens automatically when the pressure reaches a dangerous level.
The term pressure cooker is also used as a metaphor for social situations or atmospheres of difficulty, stress, or anxiety. The challenge is to have also a metaphorical escape valve. The truth is all of us have been in situations or circumstances were we have snapped or exploded. We have dealt with it out of our frustration or irritation, in other words in anger. Such was the case of Moses and Aaron in Numbers 20. In verse 1, we read that: "…Miriam died and was buried." Moses and Aaron at this point are 120 and 123 of years of age, respectively. And, they had just buried their Sister. The unsympathetic crowd only thought of themselves. We read the rest of the story in Numbers 20: 2 - 13
2 Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron.
3 And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: "If only we had died when our brethren died before the LORD!
4 Why have you brought up the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here?
5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink."
6 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.
7 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
8 "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."
9 So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him.
10 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?"
11 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.
12 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."
13 This was the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel contended with the LORD, and He was hallowed among them.
On a human level, it's easy to understand Moses' frustration. First, as mentioned above, he just had buried his sister, and no doubt was feeling pain over that. And then to hear these people utter, basically, the same complaint that their forefathers had made years ago? Nevertheless, in the Lord's eyes, none of this excused his behavior. The Lord's rebuke toward Moses and Aaron in verse 12 was very strong. God also gives them the reason: "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" Moses and Aaron sinned because in that moment they lacked faith. This displeased God. Sister White says their bad example affected the whole congregation,
"The water gushed forth in abundance to satisfy the host. But a great wrong had been done. Moses had spoken from irritated feeling. . . . When he took it upon himself to accuse them, he grieved the Spirit of God and wrought only harm to the people. His lack of patience and self-control was evident. Thus the people were given occasion to question whether his past course had been under the direction of God, and to excuse their own sins. Moses, as well as they, had offended God. His course, they said, had from the first been open to criticism and censure. They had now found the pretext which they desired for rejecting all the reproofs that God had sent them through His servant."—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 417.
All it took was one irrational act to destroy everything done up to that moment. We may think it was little and of no consequence, but the ramifications were felt negatively within the future generations. This is a lesson for all of us. What we do not only affects us but those around us as well. It would do us well to have an escape valve, so our anger and frustration do not reach dangerous levels in which we explode, thus destroying ourselves and those around us. Of course, that escape valve is Jesus through the Holy Spirit. But, it only works if we believe (have faith). The Apostle said, "Be ye angry, and sin not …" (Ephesians 4:26). Only the Holy Spirit can help us do that. Do we believe He can? Will we let Him?