48 And the LORD spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying,
It is a lovely idea that God speaks to individuals. “God, who at sundry [several] times and in divers [different] manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.”
God speaks to individuals in His Word, and through His Spirit today. On occasions, God will speak to a person in an audible voice as He spoke to Moses, “face to face” (Exodus 33:11).
One day the LORD spoke to Moses saying:
49 Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession:
The Mountain Abarim refers to a range of mountains East of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River Valley. Mount Nebo was part of this mountain range. These mountains gave a panoramic view of the surrounding country. From Mount Nebo Moses surveyed the Promised Land before he died (Deut. 32:49; Num 27:12).
50 And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people:
Not only was Moses told where to go to be in the geographical will of God, he was told what was to happen. He was to die in the mount and be gathered unto his people.
For those who have faith in God, the reality of death loses its fearful grip over the human heart when the believer embraces the event as the will of the sovereign God, accepts the inevitable, and looks forward to being gathered with the heavenly host.
For Moses, “thy people” referred to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, among others such as his faithful mother, Jochebed (Jehovah-gloried; Num. 26:59), a Levite lady who had married Amram, a Levite.
For the New Testament believer, when we face the hour of death we can know it is the will of God, and that we are going to “our people”, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Peter, Paul, John, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Billy Graham, and all your Christian loved ones.
When we are in the geographical will of God, when we submit to God’s will to the point of death, when we look forward to our heavenly home, we can say by faith:
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55).
It is true that in the hour of death, there might be some sad memories.
It is not unusual for a person facing death to wish they had more time.
Some, who are in great pain, do not mind leaving this world, but they do not want to leave someone they love.
Others reflect over a life of wasted years and weep.
“Have you wandered along
On life’s pathway?
Have you lived without love,
A life of tears?
Have you searched for that
Great hidden meaning?
Or is your life
Filled with long wasted years?”
Moses did not waste his life, but he did have some regrets. It is possible that Moses regretted having killed the Egyptian overseer. We can hope that is the case. His motive may have been honorable, in his mind at least, but Moses was terribly misguided. There was something else Moses regretted, for it brought about a premature death, as the Lord reminded him.
51 Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel.
The specific sin that caused Moses to die prematurely, was his failure to sanctify the LORD in the midst of the children of Israel. Failure to sanctify the LORD, means that Moses did not treat the LORD as holy in the sight of the nation. The occasion when this disrespect was manifested took place at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin.
When the Hebrew people arrived at Kadesh during their wilderness journey, they were thirsty. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. 9 And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him.10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. 12 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. 13 This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them” (Num. 20:7 – 13).
Notice, that while Moses did not sanctify the LORD by gospel obedience, Moses struck the Rock instead of speaking to it, and “that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4), God was till sanctified in Israel by manifesting the grace of His own essence and letting the water flow.
However, the Lord did not forget what Moses had failed to do, and brought His great servant under the sin unto death.
From the narrative, remember the following.
First, God is a holy God. God is jealous of His righteousness to the point He will not compromise justice, or truth. Many people do not pretend to be holy, and most do not make any effort to be good unless it serves our best interest, though songs about holiness are lovely to sing.
“Take time to be holy,
speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always,
and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children,
help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing
His blessing to seek.”
William D. Longstaff (c. 1882)
Second, God keeps His word. In His sight, the disrespect Moses had displayed before the people in not obeying His word merited Divine judgment in the form of death. Because Moses did not believe that by speaking to the rock water would come forth, he would not be allowed to bring Israel into the Land of Promise (Num. 20:12). Unbelief in the Word of God is failure to treat God as holy.
The sin of unbelief is a large issue in Scripture.
Unbelief led Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit.
Unbelief led the Exodus Generation to wander in the desert for 40 years while failing to enter into the Land of Promise. “They did not believe His word” (Psalm 106:24).
Unbelief caused Moses to strike at a rock at Meribah in search for water instead of simply believing God’s Word that by speaking to the rock formation, water would come forth.
Unbelief caused the children of Israel to resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51).
Unbelief allowed the Jews to freely kill the Lord of Glory. The Pharisees, the Scribes, the Pharisees, and most of the people in Palestine did not believe that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among them (John 1:1, 2).
Unbelief is why Churches fragment and go without spiritual leadership. The Word of God is rejected in practice, if not in principle.
Belief, or Biblical faith, can and must replace unbelief.
There is a third spiritual truth from the text. God is a God of great mercy. Judgment is always mingled with grace.
Moses will die a sin unto death.
Moses will be reminded that God is holy, and His holiness must be honored in the sight of His Church.
Moses will go into the mountain.
52 Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.
One of the sweetest words in the Bible is the word, “yet.” The word speaks of time to repent. “And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (Gen. 6:3).
The word yet speaks of good news. The sons of Jacob came to him in his old age “And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not” (Gen. 45:26). The word “yet”, speaks of mercy for sinners. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). You, and I, can yet, you and I can still, find mercy with God.
“Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
Frederick Martin Lehman
1868 – 1953
DEUTERONOMY 34:4 – 7
4 And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.
5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.
6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-Peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulcher unto this day.
7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.