Moses was prevented from bringing Israel into Canaan because he struck the rock rather than commanding it verbally.
Yet again, Israel grew thirsty at Meribah in the desert and, rather than pray for relief, they complained against Moses and Aaron. But this time, GOD commanded a different mode of deliverance.
1 Now the children of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the Desert of Sin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh; and Miriam died and was buried there. 2 But there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. 3 So the people scoffed at Moses and spoke, saying, “Would we had died in the destruction of our brethren before the Lord. 4 Why have you brought up the Lord’s congregation into this desert to kill us and our cattle? 5 Why did you also bring us up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place?—a place where nothing is sown, neither figs nor vines nor pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.” 6 So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the congregation to the door of the tabernacle of testimony and fell on their faces. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to them.
7 The Lord then spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before them, and it will give its waters; thus you shall bring them water out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” 9 So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as the Lord ordered him. 10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear me, you disobedient ones. Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 Moses then lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their cattle drank. 12 But the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to sanctify Me before the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land I am giving them.” 13 This was the Water of Contention, because the children of Israel scoffed before the Lord, and He was sanctified among them.Numbers 20:1-13 OSB
GOD said speak to the rock. Moses struck the rock, just as he had done before.
Why was Moses’ punishment so severe? After all, he had done such great things in consistently serving GOD and Israel?
The explanation GOD gave was that Moses:
- Disbelieved GOD.
- Failed to sanctify GOD before Israel.
We have previously established that GOD is holy and must be honored and revered.
Moses’ disobedience forced GOD to make a choice. If GOD chose not to bring water from the rock (until Moses spoke to the rock), the Israelites might have stopped following Moses. After all, they were accusing Moses and Aaron of bringing them in the desert to kill them. GOD wanted Israel to follow Moses and Aaron.
If GOD brought forth water, it was as if He was respecting or accepting Moses’ disobedience. Furthermore, it seems that, in this moment, Moses’ heart was not right and GOD needed to correct him.
So GOD brought forth the water for the people and punished Moses in this way for his disobedience and sin.
We have previously established that all sin must be punished. Moses was no exception.