Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Moses and Aaron are Forbidden to Enter the Promised Land; Obedience to the Lord

Today's Reading:
  • Numbers 19:1 - 20:29
  • Proverbs 11:8
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Numbers 19:1 - 20:29
I knew that both Moses and Aaron died before reaching the promised land.  I thought that was because of the judgment against that entire generation to die in the wilderness.  It turns out, however, that Moses and Aaron earned their own judgments for disobedience to the Lord.

In chapter 20 we are told that the people of Israel arrived in Kadesh, which was a camp in the middle of the wilderness of Zin.  There was no water there, and once again the people began moaning familiar phrases (why did you bring us here to die?!) to Moses and Aaron.  The two brothers went to seek the Lord's presence for an answer on what to do.

The Lord told Moses and Aaron to speak to the rock in front of the people, and water would pour forth (20:8).  The people were gathered, but instead of speaking to the rock and demonstrating the Lord's power, Moses instead shouted angrily at the people.  He said: "Must we bring you water from this rock?" (20:10).  Moses then struck the rock twice, and the water gushed out.

I was shocked when I read this, for this really was serious disobedience.  The Lord wanted Moses and Aaron to show His power to the people, to speak to the rock and bring forth the water.  Instead, Moses and Aaron gathered the people, yelled at them, struck the rock instead of speaking to it, and attributed the water to their power, instead of the Lord's. 

This is another example of when God slams a door on someone.  Moses and Aaron, for their serious disobedience, were to die in the wilderness and never enter the promised land.  What a horrible price to pay for their sins.

God forgives us of our sins through Jesus Christ, there is no doubt about that.  But I firmly believe that does NOT mean that you will escape being corrected for your sins.  Let's say you commit murder, and your heart is truly repentant, and you take that to the Lord for forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  You will be forgiven, you will not face an eternal judgment of hell for the offense.  But that doesn't mean that you won't face man's death penalty for your sin.  Likewise, if God has promised you something, yet you fail to obey what He has ordered you to do, God might shut that door for you.  It doesn't mean you're not forgiven, but it might mean that your path forward towards what you are working for vanishes completely.

Chapter 20 saw the deaths of Miriam and Aaron.  I assume that I will soon be reading about the death of Moses also, as well as the deaths of an entire generation of people, all held back from the promised land for disobedience to the Lord.  The Lord loves us and forgives us, but we can't forget that we must be also obedient to the Lord, especially when He has told us exactly what we need to do.  We must follow the path he has set for us.

Proverbs 11:8
The godly are rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead.
With the judgment imposed upon Moses and Aaron in today's reading, it might seem to some that God didn't rescue them -- that instead He let them fall.  I don't believe that at all, because the Lord still rescued Moses, Aaron, Miriam and all of the Israelite people from the land of Egypt.  He led them out of slavery and He met their daily needs; despite all their moaning, disbelief, lack of faith and disobedience.

The Lord will still rescue us from our troubles, but not always from our disobedience.  It's an important distinction to continue to make, one that I want to continue to remind myself so that I remain obedient to the Lord.

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