Cost of Pride and Unbelief for Moses

Moses in his speech repeatedly blames Israel for unable to enter the promised land.

Deut 1:37 “The LORD was also angry with me for your sakes, saying, ‘Even you shall not go in there.

Deut 3:26 “But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the LORD said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter.

Deut 4:21 “Furthermore the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, and swore that I would not cross over the Jordan, and that I would not enter the good land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

He repeatedly said, the Lord was angry with Moses for Israel’s sake. At one point, the LORD even said, not to speak of it anymore. What really happened? Can God be angry with His servant for someone’s sake? Absolutely not!

Num 20:7-12 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”

Exod 17:6 “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

If you carefully examine the events, God said to Moses to speak to the rock but Moses struck the rock twice. Then God denies entry to Moses into the promised land and explains why. It’s because of the unbelief of Moses. Notice that believing in God is mentioned as synonymous to obeying His Word. Moses did not believe ‘speaking to the rock’ will make it give water. It is also interesting to note that God had previously instructed Moses to strike the rock when children of Israel tempted the LORD. Moses is not just having unbelief, but it stems from not heeding to God’s voice and careless to obey what He instructed. There are many questions that could ponder us.

  • Why did Moses strick the rock twice rather than speaking to it?
  • What caused unbelief in Moses?
  • Why did God not forgive Moses and allow him to enter the promised land?

God already answered the first question, that is because of the unbelief of Moses. This brings us to the second question.

What caused unbelief in Moses?

Num 20:7 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ….. (10) And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”

It’s pride that caused self-righteousness. If you carefully notice, the LORD is speaking to Moses regarding instructions to bring water. When Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly, Moses is blaming the children of Israel as “rebels”. There is nothing wrong with pointing fingers and blaming as “rebels” for being “rebellious”.

Num 17:10 And the LORD said to Moses, “Bring Aaron’s rod back before the Testimony, to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die.”

In fact, the LORD Himself called the children of Israel as rebels. But then, Moses spoke something unusual as if he is bringing water out of the rock. “We” could mean either him and God (or) him and Aaron. Either way, Moses is exalting himself to be in place of God or equal with God having pride in his heart. His pride causes him to disobey what God spoke for he thinks in his heart that he is bringing water out of the rock. He failed to recognise that God is using him for His purpose and all that he does was by God. He failed to glorify God but himself.

Exod 17:6 “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Moses was also careless in listening to God’s Word. He was self confident of what God’s Word might be based on his past experience and ignores what God actually spoke. This shows the level of importance we must give to heeding to His voice and obey Him. This brings us to the next question, why God did not forgive Moses.

Why didn’t God forgive Moses?

The LORD is abundant in mercy, yet He did not forgive Moses.

Ezek 33:13-15 When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

Because of pride, Moses trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity by disobeying God.

Num 14:11 Then the LORD said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?

Num 14:20-23 Then the LORD said: “I have pardoned, according to your word; but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD– because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.

The LORD already spoke and rejected everyone who did not heed His voice and believe in Him. God does not show partiality and His judgements are righteous. Notice that believing in God is mentioned synonymous to heed His voice.

Conclusion

The pride of Moses led to self-righteousness and disobedience to God which cost his entry into the promised land. Just like Moses, today we may be living a righteous life all throughout our lives, but trusting in our righteousness if we commit even one sin that can cost us our entry into eternal life. God mentioned that Moses did not believe in Him but Moses didn’t heed His voice to obey His Word. Believing is synonymous to heeding His voice and obeying to His Word. Let us, therefore, keep watch and pray all times.