Summary: Why wasn't Moses allowed into the Promised Land? The short answer is: he sinned, but somehow that doesn't seem quite fair. He was one of the greatest and meekest men in Scripture. Is there something more about God's decision that we need to know?

I love to read and a few weeks ago I ran across a word quiz from a non-Christian publication that – at first – angered me. I thought they were making fun of Christianity. But once I read the answer to the quiz I realized not only were they NOT doing that, but in fact someone had created a very clever and Godly puzzle. So I’m going to share this puzzle with you this morning and see if you can figure it out:

What is it that is greater than God?

More evil than Satan?

Rich people DON’T have it?

Poor people DO have it?

And if you eat it… you will die?


Nothing is greater than God

Nothing is more evil than Satan

Rich people don’t have nothing

Poor people do

And if you eat nothing… you’ll die

The puzzle makes sense once you know the answer.

But until you know the answer, it is really confusing.

AND that’s the case with our story this morning.

Moses is taken to the top of Mt. Nebo and told by God: “take a look before you die, because you’re not going to get into the Promised Land. This is all you get to see.

Really? Why?

Deuteronomy 32:51 explains:

“This is because both of you (Moses and Aaron) broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites.”

What was this all about?

Well, let’s go back and read the story.

It only shows up in Numbers 20:1-12

“In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.

Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, ‘If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD! Why did you bring the LORD’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!’

Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. The LORD said to Moses,

‘Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. SPEAK to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.’

So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, ‘Listen, you rebels, must WE bring you water out of this rock?’ Then Moses raised his arm and STRUCK THE ROCK twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’

What had Moses done wrong?

1st – he got angry with the mob of protestors.

2nd – he claimed HE was getting water from the rock… when it was actually God.

And 3rd he’d disobeyed God. God said speak to the rock… Moses struck it with the staff.

For that, Moses was refused entry into the Promised Land and died in the wilderness.

That’s it!

That’s the whole story.

And I’ve seen whole sermons dedicated to explaining why Moses didn’t deserve to get into the Promised Land.

• He got mad

• He claimed credit

• And he disobeyed God

But something about this story just doesn’t make sense.

It’s like a puzzle with a couple of pieces missing.

Go with me here for a minute:

Moses has been leading the people of Israel in the desert for 40 years, and for most of that 40 years it’s been no picnic. These people have been extremely difficult.

 They’ve complained, and bickered and they’ve been rebellious.

 They’ve insulted Moses.

 They’ve rejected God’s will.

 And frankly, they’ve basically been a real pain to work with.

o But in spite of that, for most of that 40 years Moses has been the ideal leader. He seems to actually care for these folks.

 He’s prayed for them.

 He’s reasoned with them.

 And he’s interceded with God for them. At one point God got so angry with the Israelites that God says “stand back and let me destroy these wicked people. Then we’ll start over again with just you.” But Moses refuses and intercedes for God to spare them.

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