Moses did not enter the Promised Land

Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. (Deuteronomy 34:1–5, NIV)

When you asked people, "Who led the Jews into the Promised Land?" most would answer Moses… but they’d be wrong. Moses led them to the Promised Land but not into the Promised Land. So, why didn’t he go in?

Why indeed! Poor Moses — after putting up with 40 years of carping in the wilderness — you would think the least God could have done was allow him to march his people into Canaan! First of all, God recruited Moses — a man who didn’t even want the job! Second, God gave Moses everything he needed to have Pharaoh release his people. God raised him up to lead the Jew’s flight from Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land.

Perhaps the most well-known of God’s provisions was the manna — the perfect food for a forty-year wilderness sojourn. But they needed water as well as food, and God provided that too… and sometimes by a miracle… like the time God led them to a dry rock at Horeb. He told Moses to strike the rock, and when he did, life-giving water flowed out onto the parched landscape. The people drank, and the livestock had its fill.

But the Jews weren’t at all done with their trials. They wandered in the wilderness for forty years! … and in their circuits, they revisited Horeb… but with new instructions. The last time God told Moses to strike the rock, but this time he could only speak to it.

Unfortunately, Moses was not in a talking mood. The people had just made him angry! So, rather than speaking to the rock as the Lord instructed, he stuck it like he did the first time — and water came out! … but God was not at all pleased. He told Moses that for this seemingly small misstep he would not allow him to enter the Promised Land.

You see, God established the rock at Horeb as an object lesson for future generations. The smitten rock symbolized Jesus being smitten for us… and indeed today, living water pours from Jesus — the Rock of our salvation! But the double strike taught a wrong thing. Jesus died once to take away the sin of the world… not multiple times… and to be saved, we need only speak to him. But whatever we do, we should not smite him again.

But many people act as though Jesus’ sacrifice was not sufficient. They posit that after receiving Jesus as Savior they might lose their salvation through some sin, faithlessness or by not performing a sacred rite. But they would be wrong. If that were true, the Savior would be no savior at all. In fact, he’d be incompetent! He would not have saved us to the uttermost as the Scripture promises, and God would have blown his redemption plan!

No wonder Moses died this side of Canaan! ... and God won’t let us get by with that either! So be thankful for — but be mindful of — God’s idea about salvation. If he kept Moses from the Promised Land for using an improper symbolic vehicle, I don’t like our chances if we mess up the symbolic tenor.

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