According to 1 Corinthians 10:1-11, the events of the Exodus were meant to teach us about our lives in Christ. For example, Canaan was a fore-shadow of heaven. It was important for us to see that the Israelites lost their entrance; we can lose our salvation too.
In Numbers 20:1-11 we read about Moses’ sin at Meribah. God commanded Moses to talk to the rock, but Moses struck it instead. Now, for the sake of this article, pretend for a moment we do not know what happened next (although it is likely that you know exactly how God replied). Is it possible that Moses still was allowed to enter the Promised Land after failing to obey the commandment of God? Many believers (using the word loosely for the sake of this article) think so, as evidenced in their application of Christianity to their lives. Let us consider why they might think Moses would still make it by applications of doctrines in their own lives.
Moses made it if having other virtues make up for sin. According to Number 12:3, Moses was the most humble man to have ever lived. Many say that while they do commit some sins, they do not commit most sins. They are a 90% Christian. They may drink on occasion, but they still go to church or are generous. They may forsake church, but they are still a good person. If just a few sins don’t matter, then Moses made it to the Promised Land.
Moses made it if doing things the old way still work. In Exodus 17:6 God had previously told Moses to strike a rock and bring forth water. Some today claim they will be saved like the thief on the cross, or by following the Ten Commandments. They look to previous ways of doing things and seek to apply those ways to themselves. God has spoken since then (Hebrews 1:1-2), and these are old ways of approaching God. If there are other ways to obey God, then Moses made it to the Promised Land
Moses made it if results are all that matters. According to Numbers 20:11, when Moses struck the rock, what happened? The result was that water came out. Some think results are all that matters. Many in the church believe that God’s authority can be stretched so long as it brings the right results. Institutions added to the church, a social gospel, etc are all ways in which this thinking (the ends justify the means) is in the believer’s mind. If God’s permission does not matter, then Moses made it to the Promised Land
Moses made it if God is only concerned with serious laws. In Numbers 20:8 Moses was commanded to speak to the rock to bring out water, but instead he struck it. Some today will say that law keeping is legalistic. They believe that only love matters, and the attitude of the heart of the obedient is what God looks at rather than the actual obedience to the commandment. Let’s be honest; it may seem to most that the difference between hitting a rock and talking to a rock is insignificant. Dare we even say that it is, in the overall scheme of God’s work in the wilderness, a little thing? If God is not precise and specific in His expectations for our keeping His laws, then Moses made it to the Promised Land
Moses made it if sins can be blamed on others. In Psalm 106:32 (a parallel account of this event) we are told that the fault for Moses’ anger was with the people, who provoked him to his disobedience. We might say that it really was not entirely Moses fault. To this end today some blame others for their sins; they do not go to church because of the hypocrites or their parents. They engage in immoral conduct because of peer pressures. They engage in drinking because of their genetic heritage. If sin is not the fault of the sinner, then Moses made it to the Promised Land.
But the truth is, Moses didn’t make it: 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.“ (Numbers 20:12; cf. Deuteronomy 1:37; 3:25-26) This is of profound importance because we can make a number of applications to our premise above.
He didn’t make it because just a few sins DO matter. In James 2:10 we are told we will be judged by ALL of the law of God; innocence to one part does not cover guilt in another.
He didn’t make it because there are NO other ways to obey God. Jesus repeatedly taught that the way to heaven was a single narrow path with one entrance (Luke 13:24). Jesus way is the ONLY way available (John 14:4).
He didn’t make it because results DO NOT matter. Jesus said that on the Day of Judgment many will tell Him that they performed all sorts of results in His name; He said that if they were not obedient, results do not matter (Matthew 7:22-23).
He didn’t make it because God is concerned with ALL law. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus told the Pharisees that there was no little part of the law; they ought to be concerned with the weightier things while performing the “little” things. Who is to say what a little thing is? Not us.
He didn’t make it because sin CANNOT be blamed on others. Israel tried to blame their forefathers for their sins in the book of Ezekiel; Ezekiel said in Ezekiel 18:20 that we are guilty of our own sins.
Conclusion: According to Hebrews 4 the Promised Land foreshadowed our heavenly home Heaven. That author then went on to warn us “let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1). Moses is a lesson to us: ANYONE can lose your heavenly reward by disobedience.