Moses did not enter the Promised Land

Monday Musings for October 29, 2018

Good morning, Musers,

I had been on a camping trip with a mixed group of men — some I knew well and some I did not — and I rode home with a family from the latter group. But I knew they had a Christian in their family, and I decided to fish around and try to discover their redemptive status.

So, I mentioned their Christian relative in a positive way… sort of commending his testimony… and (clever me) … I left a strategic pause so we could turn this monolog into a conversation. But one of them filled that gap quickly by saying, “I’ve been saved so many times I have one left over!” … and I laughed out loud.

I had never heard that line before, and I found it funny on so many levels — most of them sad, though — and it’s these darker areas that are the bases of today’s devotional thought — and here’s why: God didn’t think it was funny when Moses told that joke.

Okay… that part might be a stretch… but only a little… because Moses wasn’t joking when he struck the rock on his second trip to Horeb.

If you remember the accounts of the wilderness wanderings, on the Jew’s first trip to Horeb, God showed the people a miracle. There was a dry rock there, and God told Moses to strike that rock. When he did, water flowed out onto the parched landscape.

But on the second trip (remembering that they walked a circuitous route for forty years), God told Moses to speak to the rock… not hit it. But Moses was having a really bad day. So he struck the rock rather than speak to it… and that was Moses saying that he’d been saved so many times he had one left over.

But the joke was on Moses. That infraction cost him the Promised Land. Why? Because there was no wiggle room when God was establishing his Old Testament “types” (specialized symbolic vehicles), and that’s what God was up to with the rock at Horeb. It foreshadowed Jesus Christ, the Rock of our salvation.

I’m glad that God was more exacting about how he set up the Old Testament symbols than he is about how I behave in the New Testament economy. Ours is indeed an age of grace! But in Moses’ time, God was setting up the symbolic bases for much of what we rest in today.

For example, the Jews could not mix fibers in garments or mix crops in fields because God wanted to teach them (and by extension us) to keep themselves separate from the world… and the Jews would suffer under the law when they violated those OT restrictions. But we simply do not. In fact, we benefit from those vehicles without being run over by them. It’s good to be us!

But poor Moses. He was run over by the rock at Horeb… and many an armchair theologian thinks that he should have entered the Promised Land! But how many times should Jesus be smitten for our sins? Twice? Fourscore? A thousand? Nope… only once.

So, striking the rock at Horeb a second time was indeed a big deal… as is thinking that you need to get saved so many times that you have one left over. A believer is eternally secure because Christ’s single sacrifice was sufficient. The true God is a competent (and an efficient) redeemer.

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