Was God unfair to Moses?
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.