4 And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord,
The end of the book of Deuteronomy contains the above description of the death of Moses. For many, this seems simply unfathomable. How could God allow his servant to die, within sight of the promised land, but without allowing him to enter? Why could God not simply give Moses another chance? What was so bad about Moses making one mistake in front of the people, striking the rock when he was supposed to speak to it? The answer is this: God’s holiness.
When we think of how we would have treated Moses, we think from the angle of someone who is not holy. None of us is different than Moses. In fact, if we are honest, all of us fall morally below Moses, or at least it appears that way. Sure, Moses made a few mistakes, but we all have made mistakes. We want our mistakes to be overlooked, and so we likely want Moses’ mistakes to be overlooked too.
Why did God say that Moses would die outside the promised land?
Numbers 20:12 – And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”
Now, here is the issue: Nothing is more important in the entire universe than the holiness and glory of God. God will be seen as holy before the entire world. When Moses struck the rock, he chose to disobey God’s direct command as if Moses could do whatever he pleased. God will not allow us to place ourselves on his level, taking to ourselves the right to ignore his word. God will not allow himself to be seen as one like us. He is the Lord. He is the King. He is the Master. And we, if we are his children, are to obey his commands. We are to demonstrate for all to see that God is holy and worthy of our total obedience. Anytime we disobey God, we affront his holiness, and this is sin worthy of great punishment.
So, when you look back and see the account of God sticking to the punishment that he pronounced on Moses, not allowing Moses to enter into the promised land, do not think to yourself that God is harsh or mean. God is certainly not harsh or mean. Instead, God is holy. It is vital that his holiness be magnified. God’s holiness and glory is more important than anything else. Moses failed here. God, however, graciously allowed Moses to see into the promised land, and God also kept Moses as his servant. God was gracious to Moses, not harsh. God chose not to smite Moses when Moses failed to uphold God as holy.
And, when you think about this account, ask yourself how you are upholding God as holy in your own life. Are you demonstrating for the world around you to see that God is worthy of obedience? Are you showing that God’s commands are more important than your ideas? Are you showing that you would rather follow God’s ways than to do things in the ways of the world? God is holy, and he will be seen as holy. It is our joy to show the world the glory of the holiness of God through our loving obedience to God’s commands in God’s word.