Moses' Final Days
Tim Temple


The life of Moses is highly instructive from many standpoints. We have been thinking together about various aspects of the life of Moses, and we have seen that even his birth and his early years were years of great value, not only from the standpoint of what God was going to do with his life, but from the standpoint of instruction for us.

The interesting thing is that not only were the early days of Moses instructive for us, and not only were the details of his life as a young man and as an adult instructive for us, but even his death carries with it some important instruction for us. Today we want to think about the several passages in the Scripture that deal with the final days of Moses. There is no one passage that describes for us the final days of Moses, but rather several passages that we want to think about together. An examination of these various passages is going to show us that Moses' final days were characterized by three interesting and seemingly anomalous situations.

First, Moses' final days were characterized by frustration. We want to think about that, and then in Numbers, chapter 20, we are going to see that Moses' final days were characterized by failure, and what a surprise that is. Then we are going to see that Moses' life was culminated and finalized with a flawless burial.

As we think about these three things, we want to ask God to show us lessons for our own lives because, as we have mentioned so many times before, these details are given to us for our example so that we can learn by example and not have to learn by experience. God has specifically included these things for these purposes.

Moses' Frustration

We first want to think about the final days of Moses as characterized by frustration. The background of that frustration is found in Numbers, chapter 13 and the first part of chapter 14. As we think about the background of the frustration as it is described for us in Numbers, chapter 13, the situation is this: As we come to the close of Moses' life, God had miraculously gotten the children of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt. He had miraculously brought them across the Red Sea, and then He had spent a great deal of time getting them organized and ready to become that nation that He had been planning all of those years. He had set aside a certain portion of land which He was going to give them and He had promised it again and again. So after bringing them across the Red Sea, He brought them out to the desert of Sinai and He gave to Moses the Ten Commandments and the four hundred and more other laws of God that would rule and guide their great nation that He was planning to put into effect.

As we come to Numbers, chapter 13, we find that they are right on the border of the promised land, and chapter 13 tells us how God told Moses to send some spies into the land. Notice chapter 13, beginning with verse 1:

Numbers 13:

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.
3 And Moses by the commandment of the LORD sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel.

The next verses go on to tell us who these men were. A great deal of detail is given as to what they saw, but the important thing for us to notice is that the spies went in to see the land and to get prepared to take it. The end of the chapter tells us that they came back with a recommendation about the difficulty of the promised land. Notice verse 25:

Numbers 13:

25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

The spies went in at the instruction of God through Moses. They spent forty days searching out this land that God had promised to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob and on down to Moses. Again and again God had said, “I am going to give you a piece of land to live on. You are going to be My nation living in this promised land.”

As they were on the brink of going in to take the land, the spies came back and they said, “It is a fierce land; it is a difficult land, and we cannot obtain it.” In fact, I think that verse 33 shows a bit of a humorous note to this. Their summary report in verse 33 was:

Numbers 13:

33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers…

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever been in a situation where you thought, “I am just a grasshopper. This situation is a mountain and there is no way I can get over it?” Notice what was even worse. The last line of verse 33: “…and so we were in their sight.” It is bad enough to be a grasshopper in your own sight, but to recognize that the guy who is looking down on you thinks that you are a grasshopper, too, is even worse, isn't it? So it was a terrible situation. “We were grasshoppers in our own sight and so were we in their sight.” The spies whom God sent in came back and said, “We had better not go in there. It is too tough. We can't do it.”

Remember now, these were men of God. These were men who had seen God work the plagues in Egypt. These were the men who had seen God roll back the Red Sea. But do you see what happened? They looked at the size of the people who were there. They looked at the kind of geography that was there. They looked at the kind of fortifications that were there. They looked at all the human aspects of it and they said, “We can't do it. It will be the end of us if we try.”

Notice then what happened in chapter 14, verses 1-4, as Moses' frustration continues:

Numbers 14:

1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.

Can you imagine that? Isn't that an astonishing thing? Here the people whom God had delivered in specific answer to their prayer and delivered in miraculous ways, looked at the difficulty and said, “Would to God that we had never left Egypt. Would to God we had never even asked God to get us out of that slavery. Let's elect somebody to take us back.”

What an amazing thing! This was the kind of frustration that Moses faced in his final days, and there is a very important lesson here that may be a bit of a sideline to what we are thinking about, but yet in a sense it is very integral to what we are thinking about. Moses' last years, Moses' final days, were characterized by a frustration that you and I may feel. It is easy to look at the life of Moses because we can see the overall scope and we can see how everything turned out, and that is very good because sometimes we feel that kind of frustration—the frustration of doing the will of God, of knowing you are where you are because God has put you there, and yet facing extreme difficulty.

Do you see that? These people were exactly where God wanted them to be. They had not made some kind of plan and insisted that they go out to the Sinai Desert. They had not made some kind of plan and recruited and found Moses somewhere and trained him and equipped him to lead them out there. No, God had done all of that. They were exactly where God wanted them to be. They were doing exactly what God had told them to do. God said, “You wait out here in the desert for a few days while the spies go in and look the land over, and then I am going to lead you in there.”

They were where they should have been. They were doing what they should have been doing and what happened? It was a terrible report. Are you in that situation? Is there someone here who is doing what God led you to do. You are where God led you to be, and you are wondering why things are so difficult? You are thinking that this surely can't be the will of God. Things should go more smoothly than this in the will of God. You can identify with Moses, can't you? Moses, the man of God, after years of faithfulness to God, after years of usefulness to God, faced in the final days of his life a period of great frustration because of the circumstances in which he found himself.

The frustration specifically was because of the way those who were in his charge reacted to the situation, but still the point is that in the will of God there can be times of great frustration if the circumstances are not handled correctly.

What was the problem here? It was not the circumstances. God makes no attempt to hide the difficult circumstances. The problem was in the way those people were reacting to the circumstances. Do you think God was surprised to hear the report of the spies? Do you think it caught God by surprise to hear that there were walled cities and giants in the promised land? The way we react to the situations in our lives, we might almost think that God had heard this report of the spies and said, “Oh, my. I have made a terrible mistake. I have been promising this land to these folks for a thousand years. I didn't know there were walled cities in there all this time. I didn't know there were giants. Oh, I have made a mistake.”

Do you think that God reacted that way? That was the promised land. God knew those cities were there. God knew those giants were there, and He deliberately let the spies find it out. So the problem was not with the circumstances and the problem was not with God. The problem was in the reaction of the people to the circumstances and in the reaction of the people to God.

Notice specifically chapter 14, verse 3:

Numbers 14:

3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword…

It was not just an unfortunate set of circumstances in their opinion. It wasn't just that Moses had misunderstood his instructions from God; they were blaming God. “Why has God done this?” It was a very serious situation.

The Burden of Moses' Frustration

We also want to think about the burden of this frustration. This is the background that we have been talking about. Notice in chapter 14, verse 11:

Numbers 14:

11 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?

That is a logical question, isn't it? Didn't they remember the plagues that God had sent on Pharaoh? Didn't they remember the opening of the Red Sea and then the closing of the Red Sea on Pharaoh's chariots and horsemen? How long was it going to be before these people recognized the power of God? Notice back in verse 10:

Numbers 14:

10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

The people carried it to the extent of being ready to stone Joshua and Caleb. They were two of the spies who were willing to go in. Moses and Aaron were willing to go in, and so we in verse 10 is Joshua and Caleb and Moses and Aaron, the leadership who believed God and wanted to go forward.

How Moses Handled Frustration

Then notice a wonderful, miraculous thing about Moses' final days. In verses 11-19, Moses does something that has characterized his whole life. In the midst of disappointment and frustration in verse 12 we read:

Numbers 14:

12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
13 And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)
14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.

Moses goes on to pray for these people—frustration, disappointment, and what does Moses do? He takes it to the Lord. Moses was one of four people out of perhaps as many as two million who were looking at this thing with a godly perspective. All of these people were ready to elect a captain and go back to Egypt; and if they had to, they would kill Moses and Aaron and Caleb and Joshua to bring that to pass. In those kinds of circumstances, with that kind of background, Moses still looked at this thing with a godly perspective.

He was in frustration, but this frustration did not cause him to lose his fellowship with the Lord. Again, that is instructive. Are you in a situation of frustration? Are you in a situation where you are sure God has led you? Are you are in a situation that you thought surely was part of the fulfillment of God's promise to you and things are falling apart all around you and the way looks impossible ahead of you? Are you going to be one of the children of Israel or are you going to be Moses? Are you going to elect a new leader and just go back to Egypt and say, “It is too tough. I can't do it. God made a mistake. I am through,” or are you going to go before the Lord as Moses did and say, “Lord, don't forget your promise. Don't let your name be blasphemed. Lord, work out these problems somehow.”?

Moses' life and Moses' final days were characterized by frustration, and it is a sad thing in a way to think about the closing days of the great man of God having to be lived out in frustration and disappointment, and yet the wonderful thing is that these closing days of frustration also give us a wonderful lesson of how to handle frustration and how to handle disappointment.

What did Moses do? He went to the Lord, and he simply reminded the Lord of His own testimony and of His own promises. Moses wasn't telling God something that He thought God had forgotten. He was just reminding himself and he was clarifying to God that he knew the way that God operated.

We need to be reminded of that from time-to-time. We need to remind ourselves of that. If you have been involved in the study of the Word very long at all, you know something of the way that the Lord operates; and yet, sometimes in a time of frustration, it is easy to forget that, isn't it? In a time of frustration, it is easy to be just like the Israelites and say, “Why did God bring me out here to kill me?” Moses said, “Lord, this is a frustration, but I know what You are like; and I know that even though it appears that we should go back to Egypt and it even appears impossible, Lord, that is not like You. Remember who You are. Remember what You promised and remind us of who You are and what You promised.” That is the kind of prayer that Moses prayed.

In verse 19, Moses concludes his prayer by saying:

Numbers 14:

19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.

There is God's answer in verse 20:

Numbers 14:

20 And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:

“I have pardoned.” Isn't that a wonderful thing? Moses didn't make any great promises. Moses didn't have to say, “Lord, if you will just give these folks one more chance, I promise I will whip them into shape. They have said some terrible things about You, and it is embarrassing that they have rebelled against You one more time; but if you could just let them have one more chance, I will see to it that it doesn't happen again.” That's the way we confess sin a lot of times. “Oh Lord, if You will just get me out of this one, I'll never get in this situation again.”

Moses simply said, “Lord, I have no reason to ask You to forgive them except your own mercy and your own name,” and God said, “I have forgiven them.” It is as simple as that. As soon as we recognize our need of forgiveness, God is willing to forgive. A very important aspect of God's forgiveness is down in verse 21:

Numbers 14:

21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

Someone says, “Wait a minute. I thought God forgave the sin, but now He is saying that He is not going to give them the promised land.” There is a very important application here. God forgives sin, but in the forgiveness of sin, God does not stop the natural consequences of the sin. You see, the sin of the people of Israel was in saying, “We cannot trust God to go into that land. We don't have enough confidence in God to possess that land.”

That was their sin, and that is indicated when God came to Moses and said, “When are they going to understand?” God forgave their sin of rebellion but God recognized something in their rebellion, something that would keep them from going into the promised land. God knew that the result of their sin would be that they would never be able to have enough confidence in Him to tear down the walled cities and to face the giants, so God, in a certain sense, is not saying, “I am going to show you. I am going to punish you. I am going to get even with you,” but God, in a more real sense, is saying, “This is the kind of sin, even though it is forgiven, which eats like a cancer. The results of it are going to go on and on, and these people cannot possess the promised land, not because I don't want them to, but because they do not have the ability to.”

God Does Not Alter the Consequences of Sin

There is another extremely important lesson here. God forgives sin, but God does not alter the consequences of sin. Every sin has its own damaging consequences, but God does not promise to stop those consequences. God can give you the strength to overcome those consequences and God can give you the strength to have a useful life, but sin is nothing to fool around with. Sin is not a simple matter of saying, “Lord, forgive me,” and moving on and doing the same sin again. God forgives sin, yes, but the consequences of the sin many times just go right on.

That is what happened here. God forgave their sin of rebellion, but the consequence of their not being able to trust God was that they were not able to go into the promised land because going into the promised land involved being able to daily trust God in obstacles that seemed impassable. God said that they were just not capable of that. They had demonstrated that. That was their sin, and their sin was forgiven, but they were not useful. They couldn't go on that way.

There is another interesting little note here that I want to take the time to point out. Look in verse 3. When the spies came and when the people were refusing to follow God's instructions, notice the reason they gave:

Numbers 14:

3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, [notice this] that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?

Sounds noble, doesn't it? That sounds very realistic. “I'm not afraid to go in, but I don't want my wife and children to be in danger, so I am not going to vote to go into the promised land. I am tough and brave and I wouldn't mind fighting the giants. I don't mind looking like a grasshopper, but I don't want my wife and children to have to face that.”

That was their stated reason. That was their surface reason, but of course, their real reason was that they looked like grasshoppers and felt like grasshoppers, and in this case, they acted like grasshoppers or something worse. They were just giving a pious attitude about why they didn't want to go in. But that is what they said: “We don't want our wives and children to be subjected to that.”

God Answers the Prayer

With that in mind, look at verse 31, as God is answering their prayer. In verse 31, as God explains to them that they are not going to go into the promised land, He says, in so many words, “You don't have to go in.” Look in verse 31:

Numbers 14:

31 But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.

Do you see the irony of this? I say reverently that I believe that God has a wonderful sense of humor and a wonderful sense of justice. In so many words, God is saying, “Okay, you are afraid that your young ones will die going into the promised land. Let Me tell you what I am going to do. I am going to see to it that they don't die going into the promised land, but you are not going to have to take them in. I am going to preserve them, and when they are adults, they will go in and they will have the promised land, but you are not going to have it because you don't want them to die.”

You see the importance of being honest with God. Be careful what you pray for because God may give it to you just to show you how silly you are to trust in yourself rather than in Him. It would have been far better if these people would have said, “Lord, we are afraid to take our children in there because it looks like the dangers are impossible to overcome. Can you let us be sure that that is what you want us to do. We will trust You for our children if we are sure that is what You want us to do.”

Something like that would have been all right; to tell God they were afraid for the loss of their children was fine, but to demand that God not make them take their children in was a sin against God. Be very careful what you pray for. Be very careful what you demand of God because God may just give it to you. Here is a case of that: “You are afraid your children will get killed going into the promised land. Okay, I will see to it that they don't get killed. I will let them grow up out here in the wilderness, outside the promised land, and when they are old enough to obey Me, I'll take them in. By that time, you will all have died.” You see, God is very, very realistic.

We don't have the time to develop it, but something that is very, very significant to keep in mind as we think about the discipline of God on the Israelites is that as God says in these passages, they are going to wander in the wilderness now for forty years, one year for each of the spies that God sent into the land. That is an interesting thing, isn't it? Forty years they are going to wander, and when that generation of adults had died off and their children for whom they were so afraid had come to adulthood, then God would take them in.

When you have the time look at Deuteronomy, chapter 2, verse 7, and Deuteronomy, chapter 29, verse 5. Those verses tell us that even during those years of wandering in the wilderness, God still met every need that they had. During those forty years of wandering in the wilderness, their shoes never got old and their clothes never wore out, and God provided manna from Heaven every day. Isn't that a wonderful picture of the grace of God? Do you see the grace of God in that—forty years in the wilderness because of discipline, but did God turn His back on those He was disciplining? No, just the opposite. God loved them and cared for them and provided for them. Isn't it a wonderful thing to know that God's discipline is always for our good?

That is easy to see in looking at a situation like the Israelites', but it is true in your life and my life, too. God's discipline is always for a good purpose, but more wonderful than that, God doesn't put us over here in a box somewhere and forget about us while we are under that discipline. Hopefully our discipline, if God has to bring it into our lives, would not last for forty years. Conceivably, it could, but most of us are not that thick-headed; most of us get the point sooner than that. But during whatever period of time that discipline lasts, God doesn't stop loving us. God doesn't stop caring for us. Isn't that beautiful? That is one of the most wonderful truths in the Word of God. During all those forty years of discipline, their shoes didn't wear out and their clothes didn't get old and God provided them food from Heaven every day. Praise His name!

Moses' Failure

This was the frustration that characterized Moses' life, but there was another thing that characterized Moses' final days, and this is recorded for us in Numbers, chapter 20. This was surprisingly, shockingly characteristic of failure. It is a separate incident although it is tied in really with this one. Moses, because he was frustrated with the people, went through a failure even at the end of his life. The time of the failure is described for us in Numbers, chapter 20, verses 1-2:

Numbers 20:

1 Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
2 And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.
3 And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD!

By the time we get to Numbers, chapter 20, this wilderness wandering of forty years had begun, and they were just wandering around out there in the desert, camping every night, moving on as God directed them to move on after a few days. You can imagine the frustration they felt, and the situation is even worse because in verse 2, there was no water for the congregation—hot, flat, dusty land and no water. So it was a frustrating situation. It was a logical time for failure.

Notice what the people did. They had already seen frustrating circumstances and they had seen what happened when they didn't trust God. Notice in verse 2:

Numbers 20:

2 …and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.
3 And the people chode with Moses…

I love that. “…they chode with Moses.” Has anybody ever chode with you? That is a very good description of what kids do to their parents sometimes. It is an interesting biblical term:

Numbers 20:

3 And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD!
4 And why have ye brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?

Same old song, Twenty-fifth verse, reacting the same way to God even after God had revealed Himself to them over and over again. They were still complaining, and in verses 6-13, Moses was in a real trauma. Moses, characteristically goes to God, and in verses 7-8, God gives him some instructions. Even in the midst of Moses' failure, there is a real lesson. Moses, we are going to see, is going to fail here, but even in the midst of his failure, he was handling frustration and trauma the right way. Every time he got into a frustrating situation, as time after time he did, he would go to the Lord and pray about it. Notice verse 7:

Numbers 20:

7 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

Those are the instructions. Notice how Moses reacts to that. Moses reacts with an insurrection against God. Notice what he does in verse 9:

Numbers 20:

9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

God met their need, didn't He? They didn't have any water and God miraculously provided water, so why do we say that this was a failure on Moses' part? Notice what God had said in His instructions back in verse 8:

Numbers 20:

8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

Notice in verse 10 what Moses did:

Numbers 20:

10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice…

Is that what God told Moses to do? No, God told him to speak to the rock. Isn't this an amazing thing? After years of faithfulness to God, after years of being used by God, Moses rebels against God. It is a simple thing; it is a little thing; and yet is it so small? Notice what Moses said in the last part of verse 10:

Numbers 20:

10 …must we (who?) fetch you water out of this rock?

What was Moses' sin? His first sin was taking the credit for himself. Bible scholars have questioned this. They have wondered why Moses did this. It may be that this new generation that was growing up needed to be impressed with Moses' power. Some of the younger adults at this scene probably had not even been born when they crossed the Red Sea and during the days of the plagues in Egypt. Maybe Moses just felt that they needed a lesson about how powerful God was through him or maybe it was just a matter of getting used to leadership, getting used to power. For whatever reason, Moses disobeyed God. That is a very important lesson also. Never forget that no matter how long you know the Lord and how much you may be used of God, it is still possible to disobey Him.

Moses, the man of God, the man who by this time had seen God face to face, the man who had received the law, the man who had been through all of these times of testing, sinned against God by disobeying His instructions.

God's Indictment of Moses

In verses 12-13, we have the indictment that God gives. Notice verse 12:

Numbers 20:

12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
13 This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them.

Notice that God points out that the basic sin was unbelief. In verse 12:

Numbers 20:

12 …Because ye believed me not,…

“Moses, your problem is that you didn't believe Me. You took this matter into your own hands. You said, ‘I'll get you some water out of the rock'.”

The general consensus with Bible scholars is that Moses spoiled a type of Christ in doing this. The rock, we are told in I Corinthians was a type of Christ, and Christ was not smitten twice. Christ was only smitten once by God. If Bible scholars are correct in thinking that, and I believe that they are, doesn't that show us the beauty and the unity of God's plan between Old and New Testament? Even the minor details such as striking the rock are all a part of God's plan.

Again, if you are in a situation of frustration, will you remember that it is all a part of God's plan? It is no accident. It is no surprise to God. God has every detail in mind.

Moses' Indispensable Attitude

Turn to Deuteronomy, chapter 3, and notice Moses' reaction to this indictment by God. We are going to refer to it as an indispensable attitude . Notice verse 24-25:

Deuteronomy 3:

24 O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might?
25 I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.
26 [Now Moses is reporting it to the people.] But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.
27 Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.

The amazing thing is that in the rest of the record, there is no indication anywhere that Moses rebelled against that. Moses, you see, had an indispensable attitude. He said, “Lord, couldn't You please change your mind? Couldn't You let me go into the promised land after all of these years?”

God said, “No, Moses. I am going to let you go look at it.” In Deuteronomy, chapter 34, we will see that God miraculously let Moses see the whole promised land. He evidently gave Moses a telescopic kind of vision that enabled him to see all of the land, but He would not let him go in. Moses never complained about that. The indispensable attitude was to say, “All right, Lord, if You say it, it is fair. It is disappointing to me. I wish it didn't have to be this way, but if You said it, that is it.” Moses, even in his failure, had an indispensable attitude.

Moses' Flawless Burial

The third aspect of Moses' life, in spite of his frustration and failure, was a flawless burial. In Deuteronomy, chapter 34, verses 1-4, we find that God made an extra provision in Moses' life. We have just been talking about that. He allowed Moses to see the promised land, and I believe on the basis of the wording in verse 4, where we read, “I have caused thee to see it,” that is a reference to the fact that He supernaturally enabled him to see the whole promised land with his own eyes. He didn't get to go there, but he got to stand on the mountain, and God gave him the ability to see it all as if he were there.

Then in Deuteronomy, chapter 34, verses 5-8, we have the story of Moses' exit from this life. Notice verse 5:

Deuteronomy 34:

5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

You see the honorable position that Moses had. He was buried by God Himself. Then notice in verses 10-12, the eternal epitaph:

Deuteronomy 34:

10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

Here is God's assessment of the life of Moses. There was no other prophet like him from that day forward, with the exception of Jesus Christ. Moses was the greatest prophet of God who ever lived, and God said that Himself. Of course, being a prophet of God made him a man among men, so there is a certain sense in which we can say that Moses was the greatest human being who ever lived, with the exception of Jesus Christ. This was God's assessment. The fascinating thing is that this was God's assessment even in those recent days of failure and frustration.


Today, as you have failed the Lord, do you think that God must really be so disappointed with you that you can be of no further use to Him? As you fail the Lord, do you think that you have failed so badly that there is no way God can use the things that you have done in the past?

Moses, like all of us, was a failure, but in spite of his failure, God said that he was a prophet the likes of which the world had never seen and never will again. He was the greatest among men, even though he failed. He was a man whom God was able to speak face to face. Maybe you are in frustration and you think that surely there is something wrong with your life or God wouldn't put you in these terrible situations. Moses faced frustration and agony for years and yet God wrote on his tombstone that there was not a prophet like Moses from that day forward.

Moses, the man of God, was characterized in his last days by frustration and by failure and yet he was a man whom God loved and God was able to use. In I Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 13, we read:

I Corinthians 10:

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…

There is no temptation taken Moses but such as is common to man. You never get too old to fail. You never get so close to the Lord that you are not tempted to misuse His power in your life. Let's learn from Moses. Let's learn the danger of presuming upon God, but let's learn also the lesson of the wonderful grace of God—that God is able to use even failures, even sinners like Moses and like you and me. Praise His name!

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