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Was God unfair to Moses?

February 11th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Debby wonders why the Lord forbade Moses from taking the Israelites into Canaan after he struck the rock at Meribah. (Numbers 20:1–13) She feels “it seems grossly unfair that God would deny him the Promised Land just because he struck a rock …”

A traditional explanation is that they didn’t give the Lord credit for supplying the water, but took that credit themselves making the Lord jealous.  However, a close reading shows us that, just as at Mount Sinai, the “glory” of the Lord appeared in the cloud when He gave them the instructions to strike the rock. That meant that the area was dangerous, just as it was at Sinai, but there is no mention of Moses and Aaron protecting the people!

They forgot.  It wasn’t a little mistake. It was a tremendous one, endangering the whole people.  The idea is, “You can’t deal with the Lord without proper protection, and don’t ever forget it again!  And to make that point clear to all, I’m not going to allow you to take the people into Canaan.”  Strict as it sounds, at least the reason is more understandable than saying the Lord’s nose was out of joint.

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  1. Jas
    March 26th, 2011 at 19:33 | #1

    While interesting, I think that the comments on this issue overlook the more likely truth…

    The people & events described in the so-called ‘old covenant/testament’ were intended to **FORESHADOW** or presage what was coming in Christ… This can be seen in the following ‘new covenant/testament’ passages—

    Acts 4:11 Christ is described as the “…cornerstone”/’rock’
    (a restatement of Ps. 118:22).
    1 Cor 10:4 “…that rock was Christ.”
    John 4:10 Christ (the “cornerstone’/’rock’) provides “living water.”
    John 7:37 Jesus said, “…If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

    While the story of Moses & the rock obviously describes God’s providing *PHYSICAL* ‘water’ to provide for the people’s physical needs, the vastly more important point was that God was using those events as a foreshadowing of Christ (the “living water”), through whom reconciliation with God would become available, thus meeting mankind’s much more critical *SPIRITUAL* need.

    Which brings us to the real crux of Moses’ mistake, which centers around the fact that Christ’s sacrifice embodied—

    Heb. 10:12— “one sacrifice for sins forever”

    Note the words ‘one sacrifice”.

    By striking the rock (which ultimately would be recognized as Christ, who essentially was to be ‘struck’ with God’s wrath against sin) more than once, Moses
    unwittingly introduced the potential for great confusion into God’s plan…

    Whereas God’s plan (& ‘old covenant’ events) were intended to foreshadow a coming **ONE**-time sacrifice for all sin, by striking the rock more than once, Moses’ action (symbollically) left the door open for the ‘old covenant’ way of endlessly
    repetitive (i.e. **MORE THAN ONCE**) sacrifices continuing. That was a *huge* mistake on Moses’ part & one which would have ongoing repercussions.

    Personally, I believe there were also other considerations that would have applied to Moses’ ineligibilty to enter the ‘promised land’ of Canaan as well, but the subject of this comment is just directed at the ‘rock’ situation.

    Anyhow….. just my .002! 😉

    • March 28th, 2011 at 15:29 | #2

      Jas: Thank you for your very well considered comments. As to your specific thoughts regarding Moses striking the rock, I don’t feel I am competent to speak directly. However, there may be a connection, however tenuous, on a point related to the subject. You are probably aware that God, Himself, is termed the Rock on several occasions in Deuteronomy, as well as 1 and 2 Samuel and Psalms. The best known reference, of course is the famous warning Song of Moses, in Deuteronomy 32 where Rock is mentioned beginning, “Give ear oh heavens…my doctrine shall drop as the rain…He is the Rock, His work is perfect…” I don’t know if you would make a connection between the Lord as a Rock and His doctrine dropping as rain, with Moses striking the rock for water and the extension of that, which you made, but I thought you might find it of interest. – Roger

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