Why Was Moses Not Allowed Into Promised Land? (Week 20, Part 5/7) Numbers 11-24 | May 9-15 – powered by Happy Scribe
It can be easy to get attached to our leaders in the Church. I think I’ll always feel an attachment to the Bishop who led me as a young man, the Prophet who signed my mission call, and my mission President and his wife. These great people and many others played a big role in helping me grow and gain faith in the Savior. But there is also a danger in becoming too dependent on our leaders and losing sight of the person who we must really depend on the Savior. In Numbers 20 21, the epic 40 year Exodus of the Israelites was nearing its conclusion.
The opening verses indicate there is a passing of the guard about to happen, noting the death of one of the most significant female leaders among the children of Israel, namely Moses sister, Miriam. After Miriam’s death, the people began to murmur that they don’t have enough water to drink. The episode mirrors an incident told earlier in Exodus 17. On this occasion, the Lord instructs Moses to strike a rock with his staff and it will bring forth water. Moses followed the Lord’s instructions, but he makes a significant mistake when he strikes the rock.
Before Moses hit the rock, he rebuked the people, saying, Here, now, you rebels. Must we fetch this water out of the rock? Did you catch that? Moses didn’t attribute the miracle to the Lord, but to himself a dangerous act. The Lord immediately spoke to Moses and Aaron, telling them that because of this act they could not be the ones who would lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.
This might seem a little harsh, but the Lord had to intervene. If he didn’t, the people might start attributing the miracles of the Exodus to the power of Moses and not the power of God. Moses was still allowed to lead the people, but he was also just a man. The people needed to know the true source of their Salvation was the Lord. This didn’t erase all the great work the Lord had already carried out through Moses.
But Moses was a mortal person who was eventually going to be taken away and leave the people. They needed to learn to depend on the Lord. Now, as wonderful as our leaders are, they are also mortal and will eventually be called elsewhere. Some colleagues in the Church last for a lifetime, others for just a few months or days. Leaders in the Church come and go.
That’s why we have to place our faith in Jesus Christ. Leaders in the Church are also humans and can make mistakes. While we love and honor our leaders, building our faith on them is building on a Sandy Foundation, and only the Savior. The rock of our Salvation offers a sure foundation. The rest of Exodus 20 and 21 seeks to show the importance of our dependence on the Savior.
When Erin was nearing the end of his life, Moses brought Erin and his son Eliazar to the top of Mount Horror. There, he took off the priestly robes from Erin. And placed them on Eliezar. This was not done to dishonor Erin. Who was moving on to a greater award.
But to show that the priesthood was greater than just one man. Aaron’s time on Earth was drawing to a close. But the priesthood, the power of God would endure. Aaron wasn’t perfect. But his death was a blissful one.
And the Israelites honored him for 30 days. One last incident served to illustrate the people’s dependence on the Savior. When the Israelites departed from Mount Horror. They began to speak against God. Because of this, they were afflicted with fiery or poisonous serpents.
Who came among them. When the people went to Moses for help. The Lord instructed his Prophet to make a Brass Serpent in fashion. And place it on a pole. The Lord promised that if any person was bitten by a serpent.
All they had to do was look at the Brass Serpent. And they would live to this day. A serpent on a pole remains a symbol for the field of medicine. Jesus later explained that the Brass Serpent was a type and shadow of his own redeeming mission. Teaching that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness.
Even so must the Son of man be lifted up. Several prophets in the Book of Mormon referred to this incident. Noting that many of these were lights perished because of the unbelief. And their refusal to look at the Brass Serpent and be saved. Nephi explained that because the plan to look at the Brass Serpent was so simple.
Many refused to follow the instructions. Alma taught that it was because of their own hard heartedness. That the people refused to follow these easy instructions. Just like the Brass Serpent. Our Salvation depends on us.
Looking to the Savior. There are things that can get in the way. Like our own wickedness, our pride. Or even our dependence on a mortal leader. It can be easy to trust in our own flesh to save us.
But we have to learn to depend on Jesus Christ to really gain Salvation. Miriam, Aaron, and Moses were all eventually called onto other responsibilities. But the Savior is our constant protector and guide. If we can only have the humility to follow him and obey his counsel. As we journey to our own promised land.
The truly consistent path is the path of Jesus Christ leader. Who is the way, the truth and the life.
I suspect that there was more than one reason that Moses did not lead the children of Israel into the promised land. Consider that Moses was 120 years old and his calling to lead the people out of Egypt and out of slavery was fulfilled. Now the Lord had other assignments for him.
Alma 45:19 indicates that the Lord took Moses into himself. (As with Elijah who was translated, Moses was needed to appear on the Mount of Transfiguration and hadn’t been resurrected yet.)
Now it was time to pass the responsibility to Joshua for further leadership. It was a clean break to leave the wilderness, march into the promised land and let Joshua assume his role. Of those adults who left Egypt, only Caleb and Joshua were the only ones left. The new generation needed a new leader.
Joshua later recounts the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt (in Josh 24) so they will know what led to their deliverance. He has now miraculously led them across the Jordan River on dry ground. The new generation does not need to look to Moses for leadership.