Moses Is Punished
In Chapter 20, we read of Moses being punished for one single act of disobedience. This was the only time Moses slipped up and disobeyed God. He who had faithfully obeyed God in everything made one mistake towards the end of his life-and paid for it by being denied entry into Canaan. This was the second time that the people cried for water. This time God told Moses not to smite the rock, but only speak to it (verse 8).
This was because the rock (Exodus 17) symbolized Christ Who was smitten only once on the the cross. After that, we just speak to the "Rock" to get the benefit of that once-for-all smiting.
But Moses was angry and struck the Rock twice. The Lord immediately told Moses that he could not enter Canaan (20:12)
God gave the Israelites nine chances and denied them entry into Canaan only when they rebelled the tenth time. But Moses was not given even one chance. The very first time he failed, he was denied entry into Canaan. Why?
Because God expects more from leaders than from ordinary believers. This is true even today. To whom more is given, more is required.
Moses pleaded with God. for 40 years he had longed to enter the land of Canaan. And now at the very borders of the land he was denied entry. But God would not relent. Whenever Moses prayed for mercy for others, God always relented. But not when Moses prayed for himself. So Moses humbled himself and accepted the punishment. But God was good to him. 1500 years later, God allowed him to enter the promised land, when he stood with our Lord on the mount of transfiguration! That was the first time that Moses stood in the promised land. God honored His servant by giving him a much better entry into Canaan than if he had entered with the rebellious Israelites. If Moses had trusted God, he would have realized that God, even then, had something good for him. God is always silently planning for us in love. But at the time, God had to punish Moses publicly so that people would know that God is strict about disobedience in His servants.
But did the water flow when Moses was disobeyed? Yes, it did. Even when a man disobeys God, the blessing may still flow from his ministry. What does that prove? that doesn't prove that God is happy with the man. No. It only proves that God loves the people so much that He blesses them, despite the disobedience of His servants. It was because God loved the Israelites, that he allowed the waters to flow that day. When you see blessing flowing from the ministry of a carnal servant of God today, remember that that only proves that God loves the people. It doesn't prove that God approves of His servant. Even as God dealt with Moses later, He will deal with that servant later. Jesus said that many people would come to Him in the last day and say, "Lord, we cast out demons in Your name, we prophesied in Your name, we healed the sick in Your name." All of that was true. People were healed and blessed and delivered.
But the Lord will still say to those preachers, Priest, Bishops, Popes, etc., "Depart from Me, because You did not live a holy life. you lived in sin."
So we see clearly that God uses even carnal, disobedient religious leaders because He loves the people.
In Chapter 21, we read of a time when God punished the Israelites by sending poisonous snakes into their midst. When the people cried out, God told Moses to make a bronze figure of a serpent and to put it on a pole. Then anyone who was bitten could look at this bronze serpent and be healed. Jesus told Nicodemus that this was a picture of the where he would be lifted up to die (John 3:14).
We have all been bitten by the old serpent Satan and his poison is flowing in our system and killing us spiritually. But we can be healed completely if we look by faith at Jesus hanging on the cross not only for our forgiveness but also to deliver us from the evil effects of this poison flowing in our system. We can be set free permanently.