Lessons from Moses - Into the Promised Land

Scripture: Exodus 32:1-35, Leviticus 10:1-20, Numbers 12:1-16
Date: 03/08/1997 
This is the conclusion of the Moses series. It covers the high points, and the low points of the Israelites' wilderness experience.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

We are concluding, by God’s grace, our series on Moses today. This has been a six-part series. Keep in mind as we talk about the experience of Moses, this is just the high points. It would be so easy for me to take six years and go from the experience of Moses on into the Promised Land. The presentation this morning is no exception. You remember when we left our hero in our last study, he brought the people to Mount Sinai, and we found out that they were saved by the Lamb; the law came after salvation.

I need to cover 40 years in fewer than 40 minutes. We’re going to look at some of the high points of the wilderness experience and some of the low points. One thing I want you to know is that after the Lord spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses there in Exodus chapter 20 (He audibly gave them His law), then he went up the mountain to receive a written transcript. But how long was he up the mountain? Did it take the Lord 40 days and 40 nights to write the Ten Commandments? No. Why so long? Why did they go south instead of north when they crossed over from Egypt? Why did they head toward Sinai instead of the Promised Land? It’s something very important that a lot of people in many churches pass by.

When you read there in Exodus chapter 24 when Moses went up the mountain, not only did He give him the tables of stone of the testimony, you find that a good deal of Exodus deals with God gave Moses plans to bring the people a sanctuary, a temple. They were told before they even entered the Promised Land they were to build this remarkable edifice that was going to be a vehicle, a three-dimensional object lesson, to teach who God was. It would be a model of God’s dwelling place in heaven. So many things would come through and be learned by the sanctuary. Exodus 25:8, “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Again, you can find in Psalm 77:13 [KJV], King David says, “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary.” In other words, the will of God, who God is, how He saves us, was all demonstrated through the sanctuary. That’s an entire study in itself. But I want you to know, part of the reason he was in the mountain so long is to get the plans for this tabernacle, sanctuary, temple.

When we first started studying Moses, I quoted Deuteronomy chapter 18 where Moses said (I’m going to paraphrase), “God’s going to send His Son, who will be the greatest Prophet. He will be like me.” Moses was one of the best types of Christ in the Old Testament. Did Jesus come to build the church, a temple? Didn’t Christ say to the Jewish believers, “Destroy this temple that is made with hands; I will make one in three days without hands”? When He arose He established the foundation for the church, the temple. You are living stones in that temple. You are the body of Christ, the temple of God on earth. So like Moses, Christ came to give us a temple. God still has a temple in heaven, and He still has a temple on earth, and you individually, your bodies are the temple, but us collectively are the temple of God, too (Ephesians chapter 2).

I want you to look with me at the golden calf experience. We’re going to list about seven failures of the people as they went through the wilderness. Moses is up the mountain for how long? When he went up the mountain, God did not say, “I’m going to bring you up here 40 days.” He said, “Come up.” Something interesting that I don’t want to rush past is there in Exodus chapter 24, the Bible says Moses waited at the base of the mountain six days. At the end of six days (how long? six days), God called him up into the clouds at the top of the mountain. The Bible says a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is a day. I think it is significant to remember that he was at the base six days and at the end of six days he was called up. This world is about 6000 years old right now, and I think we’re going to get called up into the clouds pretty soon, too.

So he went up the mountain and he said, “I’m going up to the Lord,” but he never said when he’d be back. He said, “I’m coming back, I’m going to get something for you, and I’m coming back.” Isn’t it interesting he went and got plans for God’s dwelling place and then he came back? Jesus said, “I’m going to prepare a place for you, too, and then I’m coming back.” But after a week went by, they started wondering, “Moses is getting kind of old. Maybe he had an accident up there.” Nobody wanted to go up and check because if you touched the mountain you died. Then after two weeks they said, “I’m quite sure that he fell down and he didn’t have his pager. Something happened to Moses up there.”

Then after 38 days, the Bible tells us they got tired. You read here in Exodus 32:1, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain,” they became restless; they started looking for another god. They wanted the gods of the world when Moses didn’t come back fast enough, and they took their earrings out of their sons and their daughters, which is another indicator. It’s very much today like it was back then. It’s not only in the daughters; it’s in the sons, too. And they made it into a god, and they bowed down. They made a god like the gods of Egypt and they bowed down to a calf. Friends, still, that’s something I cannot understand. I fight to get cows out of my garden up there in Covelo. I think grasshoppers have bigger brains than cows. You’ll never catch me praying to a cow. Anyway, they bowed down and said, “This is your god … that brought you out of the land of Egypt!"

The Bible tells us that the church today has a similar problem with Jesus coming back. Matthew 24:48, “But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of.” What did the Jews say? Moses delayed to come. They made another god. They had a party. They worshiped, and then they had a party. They started to worship like the nations around them. That’s another thing that happens when we think that God delays His coming. They began to “eat and drink with the drunkards” and “beat [their] fellow servants,” and it says “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him.” You notice what it tells us here, “if that evil servant says in his heart.” You don’t even need to say it out loud, “My Lord delays His coming.” Some of us maybe have said in our hearts, “It’s been a long time since Jesus said He’s coming back. I don’t think He’s ever going to do it. He must have had an accident or He’s gone away. He’s forgotten about us.” He’s going to come. Did Moses come back down the mountain? Were the people ready when he came? Only a few of them. The Levites were ready. The rest of them were having a party. He came when they weren’t expecting him.

Something interesting, Moses, on the way down the mountain, meets Joshua, who has been waiting patiently. And Joshua says, “I’m so glad you’ve come! There’s the sound of war in the camp,” thinking like a general. And Moses said something (underline this in your Bible). Exodus 32:17, 18, Joshua said, “‘There is a noise of war in the camp.’ But [Moses] said: ‘It is not the noise of the shout of victory, nor the noise of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing I hear.’” Is there a time to sing? The Bible says, “To everything there is a season, [and] a time for every purpose.” There’s a time to embrace; there’s a time not to embrace; a time to laugh, a time not to laugh. I started laughing at a funeral once. It was not the right time. There’s a time to sing, and there’s a time not to sing. When Moses was up the mountain and God was speaking to him and giving the law, it wasn’t time for a party. And when he came, they weren’t ready.

He says, “It is not the noise of the shout of victory.” It would have been all right if it was the shout of victory that was coming from the camp, or the “cry for being overcome.” That would have been OK, too. But it was something in between. Friends, the Bible tells us if you’re hot, that’s good; if you’re cold, that’s good. Hot means zealous, on fire, victories for the Lord; cold means on your knees repenting, praying because you’ve been overcome. God can work with those conditions, but it’s when we have this party attitude about our relationship with the Lord, we think church is bingo, social club, we don’t realize that eternal things are at stake, God may come at a day we’re not prepared.

That was a setback for the children of Israel. God was going to destroy them. Moses interceded in their behalf. All through this story of the wilderness, you’re going to find God ready to judge and destroy, Moses interceding. Who does Moses represent? Jesus. Constantly interceding. Don’t misunderstand. God the Father is not up there just waiting to destroy the church and Christians, and Jesus is saying, “Please don’t do it,” because the Bible says “the Father himself loveth you,” “God [the Father] so loved the world … He [sent the] Son.” But God sometimes puts on the garments of the Judge, and according to the law, we’re guilty. And Jesus, through His sacrifice, intercedes. Moses intercedes.

Second failure. Leviticus 10:1. Two of the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, had a little drink before they went in to minister before the Lord, and they got a little tipsy. They were never supposed to take artificial, man-made fire to burn incense before the Lord. God miraculously brought fire down from heaven, He consumed the sacrifice on the altar, when they were going through the wilderness—a miraculous heavenly fire. They were to take coals from that fire kindled from heaven and put it on the incense and burn incense with this sacred fire that God had started. They got drunk and they said, “What’s the difference? Fire is fire,” and they put man-made fire on the incense, and God struck them dead.

Then He gave a very stern warning. Leviticus 10:9, 10, God said through Moses, “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

Friends, we are a royal priesthood. We are ministers. We have a job of teaching and preaching and ministering for God. For that reason, Christians should not drink intoxicating beverages, plus a thousand other reasons, that we might know how to discern between good and evil.

Something else I’ll say about phony fire. What’s that fire a symbol of? Holy Spirit. It was a counterfeit, man-made Holy Spirit. Do we see evidence of that in the world today? Artificial fire, man-made fire? It’s very dangerous to pretend you have the fire of God when it’s man-made fire. It could border on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Number three. Numbers 12:1, 2, “Then Miriam,” who’s the older sister, “and Aaron,” who’s the older brother, “spoke against Moses,” the youngest in the family, “because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.” There’s a dispute among scholars whether Moses took a second wife or Zipporah had passed away and he married again, and some have even suggested that Zipporah was of Ethiopian ancestry and now they’re complaining that he had married her while he was in the wilderness of Midian. They don’t really know. This is all it says about it. But one thing we do know is they’re complaining because she was from a different cultural background. She was not an Israelite. They started to criticize him even though she did worship the same God.

One of the things that Jesus was criticized for was by taking the gospel to the Gentiles. What does a woman represent? A church. And as He took the gospel to the Gentiles who wanted to know the truth, He was criticized for talking to them. He was criticized by His own disciples for talking to the Samaritan woman. His own family criticized him for the work that He was doing. Some of the opposition that we receive comes from our own family, doesn’t it? This is what happened to Jesus. Some of the greatest heartache He had was from His brethren, from the people in His own town. You can find that there in Mark 3:21, “But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind.’”

You know what? God told Miriam and Aaron, “You’re out of place.” One thing we can learn from this, some people have thought that the Bible teaches that it’s against the law of God for cross-racial marriages. Did you know the Bible does not condemn cross-racial marriages? The Bible condemns cross-religion marriages much more. If you marry someone out of your religion, it’s much more horrendous to God than when you marry someone who might have a slightly different color skin. You should not be unequally yoked with a person. When you marry a person, no matter what their racial background is, you need to take into consideration many things—what the family and the culture is. Will there be conflict? Are you growing up in a community where there’s going to be prejudice? There are a lot of things you need to consider. But the Bible says God has “made of one blood all nations.” God is not behind that kind of segregation.

Miriam was stricken with leprosy for her sin. Moses interceded for her, and she was healed. This is the first example of someone being healed of leprosy in the Bible.

Number four. Go to the book of Numbers chapter 11, another example where they fell down before the Lord. The children of Israel became unhappy with what they were eating. You read, verse 1, “Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.” When God became angry and started punishing, who got punished first? Those who were on the fringes of the camp. They’re not all the way in. They’re kind of on the outside. You know the first ones who fall away when tribulation comes? The ones who are straggling behind; they’re hanging around the outside. They want to be part of the church, but they don’t want to be all the way. Friends, if you’re going to be part of God’s people, get right in the middle of things. It’s the safest place to be for you. Not only will you be the most effective for God, but when you’re hanging around near the edges and you’re mingling with the world, when judgment comes you’re the first one who catches it.

I’ve sometimes swum in the ocean with a lot of surfers, and I knew there were sharks in that specific area where I was surfing, and so I wanted to make sure that the sharks got whoever were on the outside first, so I stayed right in the middle. And I thought, “If they start dropping around me, then I’m safe and I have a warning and I’ll get in.” If you’re in God’s church, friends, be in God’s church.

Numbers 11:4, “Now the mixed multitude…” Some people came out of Egypt who were slaves that were not Israelites, but they wanted freedom, too, and they joined them and fled. They were from all different backgrounds. Some of “the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept…” The mixed multitude—they were not completely Israelites. They were part Israelite, they’d intermarried a little bit, slaves from other backgrounds, and they started to sow seeds of discontent among the children of Israel, saying, “We’re so tired of this food. I remember the food back in Egypt was much better. Yes, we were slaves, but the food was better. Do you know who causes the most problem in the church? The mixed multitude, people who are not all the way in; they’re part world and part Christian, part God’s people and part pagan. It was like Judas. He was part of the mixed multitude. He said, “If Mary Magdalene really cared, she would have given this money to me, and we could have given it to the poor.” Sowing seeds of doubt.

“We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic…” You know how we have selective memory? They’re remembering the garlic and the onions. (We still have people in the church that believe in righteousness by garlic; did you know that? Garlic has its benefits, but some people eat a whole lot of it, and then they sit all by themselves in their pew the next day. That was a pun, wasn’t it?) They said, “Now … [we have] nothing … except this manna…!” Do you know what the Bible says about manna? It was like honey wafers. It was angel’s food. There was nothing wrong with manna. They just got tired of the same thing. They started lusting after the old pagan food from Egypt.

This happens in the church, too, sometimes. We get so stimulated from the entertainment of the world that God’s Word, as perfect as it is, seems bland. We want something spicy. We want some of the meat of the world. And God said, “OK,” and He gave it to them until it came out of their nostrils. That means they started to vomit it. He sent quail by the bushels, and they ate it, and they couldn’t control themselves, and they gorged themselves, and a plague went through the camp. I don’t think that this was so much a plague where God set the whammy on them; I think it was actually a plague from what they were eating and the way they were eating, and thousands of them died.

They got tired of God’s food. They wanted the food like the rest of the world. Friends, don’t get tired of God’s food. Do you know what I’ve discovered? If we’re tired of God’s food, it’s because we’re not eating it well. We’re not baking it well. There were a lot of different ways that they could make the manna. They could bake it, and they could cook it and fry it, and there were all kinds of things they could do, and it was perfectly designed to sustain them.

Number five, go to Numbers chapter 13. Here’s the fifth area where they failed. Again, I’m rushing through a number of experiences, as you can tell. I can preach a whole sermon about any one of these. God never intended for them to wander 40 years. This was the turning point where they ended up spending 40 years in the wilderness. The children of Israel started to doubt what the Promised Land looked like, and they said to Moses, “We’d like to send spies.” Now, you read that in Deuteronomy 1, they went to Moses and said, “We want to send spies.” In Numbers chapter 13, Moses is giving them permission to do it. It was never God’s idea. They lost faith about the Promised Land really being what God had promised, so they said, “Let’s go check it out, make sure You’re going to live up to Your word.” So God permitted them, gave them 12 spies. They picked spies from each one of the tribes as a representative. We don’t know very much about 10 of them other than their names. Two of them stand out in history. Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim. Caleb was from the tribe of Judah. And they were sent across Jordan there by Jericho, and for 40 days they made a big circuit through the Promised Land and looked at everything.

Moses had instructed them to bring some of the produce of the land, to bring a report about what they saw in the different places, and taste the water and look at the trees and take it all in and take notes and bring back an encouraging word. Well, as soon as they crossed over, you could instantly see a dramatic difference between 2 of them and 10 of them. Ten of the spies, as soon as they saw Jericho, all they saw were the massive walls of Jericho. To conquer the Promised Land they had to go by Jericho. That was the real main fortress there that was guarding the way, the main entrance, into the Promised Land. The walls were massive, and 10 of them said, “We’ll never take this city. Look at the walls!” Two of them, Joshua and Caleb, said, “Look at the springs of water here! Look at the size of the figs and the pomegranates!”

I’ve been to Jericho, and they have something called pomelos. Have any of you ever been to the Middle East? They have a pomelo. It’s like a grapefruit about that big, and the pulp inside is so big, you peel the pieces of pulp out of it all individually by themselves; they’re little pieces of fruit, practically. And I could just see Joshua and Caleb stuffing their pockets with pomegranates and figs and lugging pomelos around. Well, then they went up by the mountains of Hebron, and there were springs of water gushing out, and Caleb said, “Oh, this is where I want to live! Southern exposure, lots of water.” But the people that lived there were giants, and 10 of them just said, “Look how tall they are! We’re like grasshoppers in their sight.”

They went up north by Carmel, and again there were all these people that lived up in the north there, these vicious tribes, and the 10 of the spies said, “How can we ever conquer these people? They’re warlike, and look at their armaments and their weapons!” And Joshua and Caleb said, “Have you ever seen grapes that big?” And they cut down one cluster of grapes that was carried between two of them—one cluster so big it took two men. Each grape was a meal in itself. Do you know what the insignia is for tourism in Palestine? Tourism in Palestine, they have a logo, and it’s two men carrying one cluster of grapes. That’s the logo—for the first tourists that went through the Promised Land, Joshua and Caleb.

Then after 40 days of wandering through, they come back to give a report, and evidently, when you read the story here in Numbers chapter 13, even though Joshua and Caleb are bulging at every pocket; their backpacks are loaded with figs and pomegranates; they’re lugging a big, gigantic cluster of grapes between them, they outrun 10 of them, because they’re enthusiastic, they’re happy. They also knew the others were being pessimistic, and they wanted to set the trend by giving a positive report.

You notice when they first come back, the Bible says they looked at the land and they said, “[It] is an exceeding good land.” You look at Numbers 13:27, “Then they told him…: ‘We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.’” And I can just see all the thousands of Israelites gathering around, and they’re tossing grapes and pomegranates and figs to everybody, and dates, and people are going, “Ooh! Ah!” But then the other 10 caught up, and they said, “Ah, nevertheless it’s a land that devours the inhabitants, and the people are so big there, and they’re giants, and the walls reach unto heaven, and their armaments, and…” You can just hear the people going, “Oh…” And their hearts sank, and they gave a negative report, and the people became discouraged, and they started to whine and to wail.

In Numbers 13:32, they gave a bad report to the children of Israel. They said, “Why have you brought us out here? To kill us? To slay us?” “Would God we had died in this wilderness!” Did you hear that? Or, “Would God we had gone back to Egypt.” They said, “Let’s pick another leader and go back to Egypt, and Joshua and Caleb jumped up and said, “Please, don’t displease the Lord. We can go right now. Let’s go up at once.” And they almost stoned Joshua and Caleb. They wanted to pick someone else besides Moses to lead them back to Egypt. Here they are at the borders of the Promised Land. They get discouraged; they say, “We’re never going to make it. We’re not good enough; we’re not strong enough. Let’s go back.”

You know, friends, this is what Paul is talking about in Hebrews when he says they did not enter in because of unbelief. Very simple. Those that refused to believe that God could get them to the Promised Land died in the wilderness. Without faith it’s impossible to please God. If you don’t believe God can save you, friends, you do have a problem. Jesus said, “Whosoever believeth in Him [will] not perish.” That means not only believe He exists, but believe that He can get you there, believe He can save you, believe He can help you overcome the enemies and obstacles in the Promised Land. Those that did not believe were cursed to wander for 40 years. Be careful what you pray. The people murmured and whined and said, “Would God we had died in this wilderness!” “Would God that we had died in … Egypt!” The Lord said, “OK. I wrote that down. This whole generation that does not believe you can make it to the Promised Land, you’re going to die in the wilderness.” And they did, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, because they believed.

I want to rush ahead here and tell you it was really interesting, 40 years later, when they end up going into the Promised Land, you read there in the book of Joshua, Caleb goes to Joshua and he says, “Do you remember, when I was 40 years old, how I said, ‘I want this land here in Hebron where all the springs are’? I’m 85 years old today and I’m as strong now as I was back then. Let me and my family conquer this.” And Joshua said, “Go for it.” Here he is, 85 years old, and he said, “I’m as strong for war today now as I was back then,” and Caleb conquered the mountains of Hebron where all the springs were, and Judah is settled there today because he believed, someone believed in God. All things are possible to them that believe. But those that didn’t believe wandered in the wilderness, and they perished.

Another thing I don’t want to rush past, some of us have been given glimpses of the Promised Land. Some of you in your study, some who are pastors and ministers, we are called to bring a positive report and tell people, “You can have victory. You can overcome. You can make it to the Promised Land.” God have mercy on these ministers that are telling people, “Nobody’s perfect. You can’t really make it. It’s too big. The problems are insurmountable. We’re all human.” When they start magnifying the enemy and minimizing the Lord, those people are going to be cursed. The job of a minister is to say, “Yes, you can make it because God promised it and He’s going before us, and He’ll fight for us, and we’ll get victory.” So you can get to the Promised Land if you believe. Faith is so important.

We want to move along here. Now Moses starts getting criticized by his fellow leaders. Numbers 16:1-3. Don’t worry, friends; we’re going to get them to the Promised Land. I have faith. “Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram…” These were all Levites, leaders. They “rose up before Moses with [another] two hundred and fifty [from] the congregation.” Verse 3, “They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said…,‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the [congregation, KJV] of the Lord?’” They accused Moses of something he was the last person in the world to do. Was Moses proud, exalting himself? Or does the Bible say he was the meekest man in all the earth? He fell down before the Lord. It broke his heart when they said that. “…when Moses heard it, he fell on his face.” “That’s not why I’m doing…” Moses did not call himself. God called Him! And he got criticism from the leadership.

This is a very interesting story. The Bible tells us that Moses gave instructions, through God’s inspiration, for everybody to get away from Korah and Dathan and Abiram, and he says, “If God has not spoken through me, if I’m doing these things on my own, then you’re going to die the death of all the men in the earth. But if the Lord has called me and Aaron to a special <__________BLANK (41:58-42:03)__________> among God’s people, and criticism of His leadership, then let something new happen. Let the earth open up and swallow up you and your families and your tents and everything you have,” and Moses gave instructions to the people and said, “Everybody get away from their tents.” I could just see a big wave of people starting to part and get as far away from the tents of Korah and Abiram and Dathan. And the Bible says that the ground opened up underneath them and swallowed them and their tents and their families and all they had, and enclosed again—instant burial.

How does the Lord feel about the leadership that rebels against Jesus? Who were some of the primary adversaries of Christ? Wasn’t it the scribes and the Pharisees that should have been their supporters who were constantly criticizing His ministry and His leadership? We need to be very careful about doing that. Even the apostle Paul caught himself at one time when he reviled the high priest. He said, “Forgive me. I didn’t know that was the high priest.” Paul had bad eyesight. You don’t want to be too close to the tents of those people, do you? Just in case the ground should open up again.

The last thing I want you to notice is Numbers 20:8-12. You have the experience here where after about 40 years of wandering (and we’ve just gone through several of the experiences that took place; we have not looked at all of them). We find out that the people started to complain again, and they wanted water. The Bible says, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock….” There was a large rock that was there. “Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give [them] drink….” The congregation began to murmur and complain again, just before they entered, that they didn’t have any water.

Moses is 120 years old. He has put up with a lot. He’s become a little irritated. Moses did have a problem with temper. Earlier in his life he lost his temper and killed an Egyptian. He got a little upset and drove away the shepherds that were bothering the daughters of Jethro. And now Moses, maybe tired, could have been fatigued—we don’t know what the reasons are, but for whatever reason, he lost an opportunity to glorify God. He got angry, and instead of speaking to the rock, he takes the rod and he swings it and he swats the rock twice, and he says, “You rebels! [Shall] we bring water … out of this rock [for you]?” He forgot briefly that it was not Moses that was bringing the water out of the rock but it was God. And the Bible says it was a sin, and Moses, because of that, was not allowed to go into the Promised Land. God said, “You lost an opportunity to glorify Me before the people.” That rock is a symbol of Christ. Moses had struck the rock once in the early experience. It was not to be struck twice. Christ was to be struck once for your sins and mine, and the whole symbolism was damaged by what Moses had done. He says (Numbers 20:12), “‘You did not … hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this [congregation, KJV] into the land which I have given them.’ This was the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel contended with the Lord, and He was hallowed among them.”

Why did Moses lose that opportunity of bringing them into the Promised Land? Because of the sins of the people he could not enter in. Then God tells Moses to climb a mountain and die. Deuteronomy 3:26, the Bible says, “The Lord was angry with me….” Moses is speaking. Deuteronomy is the last sermon the last day that he spoke to the children of Israel. The whole book of Deuteronomy is one presentation. Forget all the chapters and verses. It’s a repeating of the law. Deuto-, like dual; -ronomy, repetition of the law. “But the Lord was angry with me on your account…” Why did Jesus suffer like He did on the cross? Why was the mob torturing Him, mocking Him, reviling Him? The Lord was angry with Christ on your account. Because of our rebellion, He suffered.

The Bible tells us, “Then the Lord said to him, ‘This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, “I will give it to your descendants.” I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.’” Moses could look from the mountains of Nebo across the Jordan valley and see it, but he couldn’t be there. Jesus looked from the cross beyond the portals of the tomb by faith, and He said, “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.”

“So Moses the servant of the Lord died….” He climbed a mountain and then he died, and then the Lord buried him in a valley. Jesus climbed a mountain and died, too, didn’t He? He climbed up Calvary’s hill, and He died, and then He was buried in a garden.

And the Bible says that no one knows of his grave to this day. Why? This is one of the places where—it’s a little vague, but if you go to the book of Jude 1:9, “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” Jude is quoting from an extra-biblical writing called the Assumption of Moses. Hebrew tradition tells us three days after Moses was buried by the Lord, God came and resurrected him and brought him to heaven so he could visually see the children of Israel cross over into the Promised Land. Not only do we have the Hebrew tradition and the story of Jude that is in the Bible, but we do know in the Bible who appears to Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. Moses is alive. We know that because he’s appeared to Christ and spoke with Him. So we know he got there somehow. It’s easy enough to believe three days after, he was risen. Three days after Christ’s death, He rose, too, didn’t He?

I think it’s significant to notice that the children of Israel aren’t in the Promised Land yet. Joshua. What does Joshua mean in Greek? Jesus. He brought them to the borders of Jordan. He told the priests, “You take the ark…” What’s in the ark? He says, “You march into the Jordan River…” Something else interesting happens here. When they crossed the Red Sea and they left Egypt, they didn’t have much faith. God parts it first, and then they cross over. I wouldn’t start walking out on the Red Sea until I saw it part first. That was their attitude. God parts it; then they march over. They get to the Jordan River and God says, “All right. You’ve been in class 40 years. Have you learned anything? I want you to go across.”

These 12 priests, 3 on each corner, are carrying a golden box. Gold is heavy. They have to march into the Jordan River during flood stage. It was the spring of the year. And as they got closer and closer—I could just see them looking at each other… But they obeyed God and they went forward. They’d learned to trust. When their feet touched the water, it parted.

When they left Egypt, He parted it first. They had to have faith to cross the Jordan and get to the Promised Land. Friends, you and I need faith. Not only that, those priests brought the ark into the middle of the Jordan, and it parted, and it walled up on one side and ran down the other, and the ground turned dry beneath their feet. And the Bible tells us they stopped there, the 12 priests holding what? The ark. What’s in the ark? Ten Commandments. And all three or four million children of Israel swarmed across this chasm while the ark stood there. Do you know what that means? They all had to pass by the law before they entered the Promised Land. The law was right there at the very middle of the river. The Jordan represents death. It was the boundary. How could they do that? Do you know why? Moses had died a few days earlier—was the only way that they could pass by the law. Moses climbed a mountain and died and made it possible for them to cross the Jordan. Friends, you and I have all broken the law, haven’t we? We’re never going to get past that law until we recognize that Christ, like Moses, climbed a mountain and died because of our rebellion. He faced the death penalty that you and I deserve, that you and I might be saved. Do you believe that He can get us through the wilderness into the Promised Land?

[Hymn—On Jordan’s Stormy Banks]

The story of going from Egypt, through the wilderness, into the Promised Land, is the gospel. It’s the story of us accepting that Passover Lamb; angel of judgment goes by. We cross the Red Sea, which is baptism. We go through the wilderness of sanctification, where God teaches us how to live with angels someday, feeds us with that bread from heaven, water from a rock, gives us His will in His law, and prepares us to cross over into the possession of glorification—the Promised Land.

There may be some of us here today who have not begun that journey. It’s a terrible thing to just stay in Egypt and remain a slave. If you’d like to go with this congregation on that journey to the Promised Land, we’d like to pray for you and with you.


It almost makes me want to weep when I read the story of Moses and how much like Christ he is. He was raised there in Egypt among slaves, but he was never a slave, just as Christ was born in a sinful world, but He never sinned. And he left all the glories of Egypt that he might save a nation of slaves, as Christ left all the glories of heaven that He might save sinners, friends. And how often do we see Him with His hands stretched out so that we can win the battles? We see Him interceding with the Father so we might not be destroyed. We see him bringing us the Word and the truth, and finally he has to die on the mountain alone, like Jesus died on the cross alone so that you and I could get to the Promised Land. Why would you tell a Savior like that no? If you’re not on your way to the Promised Land, friends, you can make that decision to begin your journey right now.


Praise the Lord for these decisions being made here today.

Father in heaven, we want to thank You and praise You for the lessons we’ve learned from the life and story of Moses. We’re just amazed how much like Christ He was in His life and His example, and it gives us a deeper insight into how much Jesus loves us and is willing to lead us. Lord, I pray that each of us can learn the lessons from the past that we may not make the same mistakes as the children of Israel made. Sometimes we murmur and complain, we straggle behind, and we criticize, and Lord, we see so much of ourselves represented in their experience. Forgive us for these things. Help us be content to eat that bread from heaven and to follow Jesus, our Leader, into the Promised Land. Thank You for Your presence, Your blessings, and we pray as we go from this place today we can take that Holy Spirit, that divine fire, in our bosoms. In Christ’s name we ask. Amen.

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