Summary: Moses hadn’t been allowed into the promised land... but he’d only made one "little" mistake. What can we learn from the seeming tragedy of this great man?
OPEN: I did an internet search to find the most popular New Year’s Resolutions for the coming year and I found one source that gave the top 10 promises people wanted to make to themselves. What do you think was the number 1 New Year’s Resolution for the coming year? (most of the audience guessed “lose weight”, “exercise more”, and “quit smoking”).
This was the list:
1) Spend More Time with Family and Friends - more than 50% of Americans have vowed to appreciate loved ones and spend more time with family and friends this year.
2) Commitment to be more Fit
3) Tame the Bulge
4) Quit Smoking
5) Enjoy Life More
6) Quit Drinking
7) Get Out of Debt
8) Learn Something New
9) Help Others
10) Get Organized
How many of you made New Year’s resolutions this year? (only a few hands went up).
You know, I don’t find that surprising, since this practice has become something of joke. People rarely seem to follow through on their commitments to change.
One man once put it this way:
“Right now it is 11:35 on New Year’s Eve, so you have 24 minutes to get a new job, become a nicer person and lose 15 pounds.”
So, New Year’s Resolutions have a bad reputation, but people keep making them. WHY? Because these personal vows reflect the desire people have to make a change. When people make these resolutions, they actually are hoping for:
Ø a new start
Ø a new beginning
Ø a new possibility for their life
I. In Deuteronomy 34, God is telling Moses that the people of Israel are about to have a new beginning… a new start
They are about to enter the promised land. A land flowing with milk and honey and with potential and possibilities beyond anything they had ever encountered or experienced.
But… there’s something about this New Beginning that doesn’t quite seem right.
Of all the people that should have gone into the promised land
Of all the people who should have earned the right to for this Fresh Start…
… you’d think it should have been Moses.
But Moses wasn’t going to be allowed in!
A couple chapters earlier in Deuteronomy 32 we’re told why. God says to Moses:
“There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. This is because both of you 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. Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel." (Deuteronomy 32:50-52)
What had Moses done wrong?
Israel had been in the desert for 40 years when they came to the Meribah. This was the desert and water was a precious commodity. And at Meribah… there was NO water.
(pause…) the Israelites were NOT generally a patient people and when things didn’t go their way they tended to get argumentative and blame Moses for their troubles. They demanded that Moses get water and they wanted it NOW!!!
In Numbers 20 it says:
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." (Numbers 20:7-12)
It appears that Moses had gotten fed up with 40 yrs. of constant bickering and lack of respect from the Israelites and he overstepped his bounds. Instead of saying:
“God will bring forth this water for you.”
He said “Must WE bring you water out of this rock?”
Basically, Moses took credit for something only God could do. And thus he lost his opportunity to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land.
As far as we know this was the ONLY mistake Moses had made in 40 years. And Moses had had to put up with these quarrelsome Israelites for ALL of those 40 LONG yrs.