Friday, June 7, 2019

The Sin of Moses

"The LORD was angry with me because of you, and He solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance" (Deuteronomy 4:21).

Yesterday we saw that each time God renewed the covenant with His people, the first thing they did was sin against Him. Yet God was faithful and renewed the covenant with them after their sin. In the case of Israel, God initially removed Himself from the camp when the people sinned at the golden calf, but after the tabernacle was built He moved back into their midst (Exodus 32–33, 40). The people fell into sin numerous times after this, but God forgave them again and again. Finally, when they refused to fight the giants and take the Promised Land, God cut them off. He declared that they had rebelled ten times (Numbers 14:22) and that all of them would die in the wilderness. Their children would inherit the kingdom they had lost. Moses renewed the covenant with the children, telling them that he too would die in the wilderness.

To understand why Moses was excluded, we look at two incidents. In Exodus 17, Israel ran out of water soon after they came out of Egypt. They grumbled against Moses and put God on trial, so to speak. God told Moses to take his rod of judgment and strike a rock in the presence of the law court of elders and water would come forth. God put His glory cloud on the rock and Moses brought the rod of judgment down on God and the rock, and water came out (Exodus 17:5–6). God was taking on the judgment the people deserved, and on that basis, they were given water. On the cross, water along with blood came from the smitten side of The Rock (John 19:34).

Years later the congregation again needed water and God told Moses to take Aaron’s rod (the rod of prayer, not judgment) and speak to a rock, and water would come forth. The sins of the people angered Moses, though, and he lost his temper and struck the rock twice. God graciously gave water anyway but told Moses that because he had failed to treat Him as holy, Moses would not enter the land of promise (Numbers 20:2–13).

Read and meditate on Numbers 20:12. To whom much is given, from him much is required. God let the people off nine times, but Moses only did one thing wrong, and he received the same punishment. Read James 3:1ff. to get more insight into the principle involved.