Why could Moses not enter the Promised Land?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Why did JEHOVAH God forbade Moses from entering the Promised Land? Why was God so strict? What did Moses do to deserve such a punishment? Before we charge Almighty God with “unfairness,” we need to search His Word and allow Him to teach us a valuable lesson. Let us reason together using the Scriptures!

“And the LORD spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying, 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” (Deuteronomy 32:49). Moses did see the Promised Land, but he never did enter it. Why? The LORD continues telling Moses in verses 50-52: “[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: [51] Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the water of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel. [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.”

Numbers 20:1-13 explains why God disallowed Moses and Aaron from entering the Promised Land: “[1] Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. [2] And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. [3] And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! [4] And why have ye brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? [5] And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink. [6] And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them. [7] 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.”

The Prophet Moses and the Priest Aaron were to be spiritual examples to Israel, yet when Israel complained for lack of water, Moses and Aaron grew upset. When God instructed Moses to speak to the rock to provide water for Israel (verse 8), Moses in an unbelieving fit of rage struck the rock twice (verses 10-11). Verse 12 amplifies: “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.”

By verse 28, Aaron is dead. About two years later, we find the context of Deuteronomy 32:49-52 (our introductory verses), where Moses stood on Mount Nebo to see the Promised Land from a high vantage point. God tells him that he cannot enter and will die shortly, just before Joshua leads them into that land. (Prophetically, Moses and Aaron will be resurrected and they will enter the Promised Land someday!; Revelation 20:6)

Why this “strict” punishment? Firstly, Numbers 13:12 says that Moses and Aaron did not believe the LORD. They did not believe what He said, and their actions proved that their hearts were not right before God. Secondly, and this is where it is most serious. The rock symbolized Jesus Christ. Paul the Apostle provided commentary in 1 Corinthians chapter 10: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; [2] And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; [3] And did all eat the same spiritual meat; [4] And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” Connecting this with the narrative of Moses striking the rock, we learn that Moses disrespected Jesus Christ Himself. Moses struck Jesus Christ when God had said to speak to Him!

Prophetically, we can take this a step further. Jesus Christ was only struck once in the sense that He was only abused of man once. He was tortured before and during Calvary’s crucifixion, that eternal life flow freely to us, but never again will our precious Saviour suffer. His First Coming was incomparably awful but His Second Coming is unfathomably wonderful. There is nothing but glory left for Him to experience! He does not need to be struck twice. To enter into fellowship with God, we need to follow God’s instructions. What are His instructions? The life-giving waters are flowing freely from Jesus Christ today. Everything that is wrong with us, Jesus Christ died to pay that debt. All the sins in our lives that offended God and offend Him yet still, and will offend Him in the future, He took care of them 2,000 years ago at Christ’s cross. Jesus Christ was punished on our behalf, that we may enjoy the benefits of eternal life in Heaven! Today, why not trust alone in Jesus Christ’s death for your sins, His burial, and His resurrection as the satisfactory payment for your sins, that you may be allowed into Heaven one day?

Also see:
» Was God “unfair” in striking Uzzah dead?
» Was Judas forgiven?
» When will the Old Testament saints be resurrected?