Summary: Moses lost the chance to enter into the promised land because he was disobedient to God. That disobedience was caused by anger, pride, and lack of faith.
Water from the Rock
After Moses had led the people out of Egypt, he had sent twelve spies into the promised land to see what lay before them. Because of the report brought back by ten of those spies, the people lose their faith in the Lord and fail to take the land. In chapter 14 of Numbers, the Lord tells the people that they will wander about in the desert for forty years, until the older generation have all died off. He will then take the new generation into the land. About thirty eight years later, it is almost time for that promise to be fulfilled and a new generation has grown up. This is the point that we find ourselves at, when we reach the start of chapter 20.
1 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.
2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarrelled with Moses and said, "If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD ! 4 Why did you bring the LORD’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 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!"
6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell face down, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. 7 The LORD said to Moses, 8 "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."
9 So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 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?" 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them."
13 These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarrelled with the LORD and where he showed himself holy among them.
We can see that the new generation isn’t much different to the old. The people find themselves, in a barren state, and instead of seeking God, they just gather together and blame the leader. We can often find the same situation in church’s. Their actions are almost identical to that of their parents in Exodus chapter 17. Moses hadn’t wanted to be a leader, and after putting up with this moaning, groaning bunch, for the last 40 years, he was probably starting to wish that the Lord had picked somebody else. He had only just lost his sister, but instead of sympathy, he just faced an angry mob, wanting answers.