After all Moses did for the Israelites in leading them out of Egypt, through the journey and challenges in the wilderness yet in the end God denied him entry to the promised land for his disobedience.
Moses pleaded on the behalf of the Israelites several times when God was angered at their constant ungratefulness and un-belief. Moses was always cajoling and pleading on their behalf. At a time when God was severely angered enough to destroy the people for daring to worship idols, Moses undertook a forty day and night fast pleading with God not to let the enemies gloat over the destruction of the Israelites in the wilderness.
Deuteronomy 9:28 “If you destroy these people, the Egyptians will say, The Israelites died because the Lord wasn’t able to bring them to the land he had promised to give them. Or they might say, He destroyed them because he hated them; he deliberately took them into the wilderness to slaughter them.” (NLT)
Moses was selfless in his constant prayers to God on their behalf, interceding for them because he knew where God was leading the people to and he wanted to be sure they got their inheritance of the promised land. Surely he had suffered with his people.
Yet in the end because Moses acted over-confident and in disobedience when asked to perform another miracle for the people, this one act angered God to the point that he lost all his privilege of seeing the promised land. Instead God asked him to instruct and prepare Joshua for the job of completing the journey and getting the Israelites to the promised land.
The lesson here is humility and obedience. To be careful not to appear haughty, self-sufficient, special, even if you feel you are doing people a favor and to never act as if by your own strength.
What did Moses do wrong?
- Gods instruction to Moses and Aaron was quite simple, he simply told them “You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water”(Numbers 20:8)
- Instead Moses and Aaron shouted to the people perhaps being slightly offensive or appearing to talk down to the people (the unbelievers) as they carried out Gods instructions. “..Listen, you rebels! he shouted. Must we bring you water from this rock?”(Numbers 20:10) . God had instructed him to get the community water from the rock by speaking to it, so he had no need to talk to the people asking them why he and Aaron had to get them water from the rock.
- Moses disobedience continued, God did not ask him to strike the rock, yet “Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill (Numbers 20:11). The striking perhaps was done in anger? Frustration? This was not pleasing to God.
- Partial disobedience is still disobedience and God who sees all things noticed this. God said to Moses “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” (Numbers 20:12).
Moses was unable to plead successfully to change Gods mind.
God showed so many signs and wonders, brought the people through so many tribulations, brought them from depths of darkness and just asked that they believe and follow him to inherit their promised land. The people were plagued by constant disbelief, constantly questioned the ability of God to save them, even daring to worship idols.
God is a merciful God but there are certain limits that no amount of pleading can change when he has made his judgment. We also see that God made a judgment to what he saw as the “lost and unbelieving generation” whom he allowed to perish in the wilderness
“Of all those I rescued from Egypt, no one who is twenty years old or older will ever see the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for they have not obeyed me wholeheartedly” (Numbers 32:11).
As parents we should be sure we are raising the generation that God will use, the generation that will inherit the promised land, the future, the goodness that God has planned. The Bible provides us with the benefit of hindsight as well as the benefit of the promises of God for the future based on faith. As we grow we must apply all the lessons from the Bible in “real time” The Word is not history. Moses even a chosen one of God fell from his promised future by an act of disobedience. God help us as we work on our obedience to him, Amen!