Saturday, February 09, 2008

MOSES IN THE PROMISED LAND

Not until a brief visit on the Mount of Transfiguration did Moses get to step foot into the Promised Land (Mt. 17). Actually, during Moses' lifetime he was not permitted to enter because "during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to treat Me as holy before their eyes at the water." (Num. 27:14). More specifically, Moses rebelled against God when he "struck" the rock instead of "speaking" to it which God commanded. God's instructions are not to be taken lightly.

The time was the end of the forty year period of wandering when God was about to permit the second generation of Israel to enter the Promised Land. But Moses would not enter because he disobeyed God. The book of Numbers says,
"7and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 8"Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink." 9So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; 10and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, "Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?" 11Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. 12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." (Num. 20:7-12)
Some people have wondered at what was the exact nature of that sin. God said Moses "broke faith" with Him (Dt. 32:51). It is like the sin of Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:3). We also know from chapter 27 that it was rebellion "against My command to treat Me as holy before their eyes at the water" (Num. 27:14). Moses was disobedient to God. Moses did not honor God and treat Him as holy. Honoring God means doing what God says and how God says to do it. While Moses is throughout Scripture clearly shown to be God's man, this sin cost him. We learn from this that while our God is a God of grace and lovingkindness, He is also a righteous God who will punish the disobedient.

In our day we have some who are justifying similar acts of rebellion while using dismissive language to the effect it's a "nonissue", that God just doesn't care. Today's religio-liberal apologists would have defied God and would have insisted that what Moses did "was not a matter of salvation". The very foundation and capstone of the liberals argument is that "it doesn't say you can't." How pathetically weak to utter the words and how outrageously presumptuous to speak for God. Every time a change agent grants permission for some action which is not granted in the Bible, he jeapordizes someone's soul. To such people, what Moses did would be a "nonissue". God didn't say Moses couldn't strike the rock, but He told Moses exactly what he was to do: speak to it. Faithful children of God know such things are important matters of faith. Faithful children of God understand that God has given the account of Moses to teach the church not to make the same mistakes.

How about us, are we careful to treat God as holy? Are we careful to "worship God in spirit and truth"? God says we must (John 4:23,24). The question for us today is are we going to faithfully obey God? Are we going to treat Him as holy or unholy in the things that we do? It's not about whether any individual or church is perfect because we know that God saves imperfect people if they repent (Hebrews 11 and Moses). God loves His children but He does not tolerate the self-willed and rebellious. That Moses was not permitted to enter the Promised Land should teach us the valuable lesson to not listen to the rebellious voices who say that it doesn't matter if you strike or speak to the rock. They give approval to adding instruments to worship by promising that it is not a matter of salvation or a test of fellowship. But they don't really know, do they? They couldn't know. I prefer to learn from Moses' example and offer only what God has asked me to offer. So do not listen to the voices of these divisive malcontents, like Mark Henderson and Jeff Walling, when they say it doesn't matter if you are sprinkled or immersed for baptism. Jesus commanded immersion. Don't listen to the rebellious and self-righteous people who say it doesn't matter if instruments are part of the worship. God did not say to "play"; He said to "sing" (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19). Let the church in a spirit of love and faith, bring the worship that God wants.

The Scriptures clearly indicate that Moses repented of His rebellious act and duly notes him as a great man of faith (Heb. 11). Let us remember the lesson though that we may not improvise with the commandments of God.
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2 comments:

  1. Check out Dean Snyder's take:
    http://www.foundryumc.org/sermons/3_11_2007.htm

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  2. Anonymous10:20 AM

    Moses lived as long as he could that is why he died before they made it there Genesis 6:3 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.
    Deuteronomy 31:2 And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.
    Deuteronomy 34:7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

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