It is indeed surprising that Moses did not enter the Promised Land. Moses is one of the closest people to God in all the Hebrew Scriptures. He is the one who saw God face to face, the one who received the Torah, and the one who courageously stood before Pharaoh and his magicians. He was God’s messenger who led the people out of Egypt with a mighty hand. He was the one who kept them alive in the wilderness and was God’s means for performing many outstanding miracles. Moses is indeed a founding stone if not the founding stone for the Pentateuch. He is the main reference in Judaism. His influence is seen throughout the generations in the Old Testament and even today. Yet, he did not enter the Promised Land?! What a surprise!
The book of Numbers chapter 20 informs us that the children of Israel in the wilderness complained as usual. They felt betrayed. Their life in the wilderness was extremely tough. They lack drinking water. So they came to Moses asking for it. Moses went to God who informed him to speak to the rock at Kadesh and then water shall come out of it. When the whole congregation came, Moses hit the rock twice with his rod. He spoke harsh words (Psalm 106: 32 – 33). Water did indeed come out and the people drank. But God was extremely upset with Moses because his action expressed unbelief. Consequently, God declared that both Moses and Aaron shall not enter the Promised Land (Num 20: 12). Exclusion from the land can happen to the greatest leaders simply because they did not believe. Those who believed obeyed. When people don’t obey then they are considered among those who don’t believe.
In simple words, entering the Promised Land cannot happen without obedient faith in God. Perhaps, Christian Zionists need to reflect on this reality today for Moses is not an insignificant example. It is not enough to say that the Jewish people have the promises and the Patriarchs. It is not enough to say that they received the promises. Perhaps, considering the example of Moses might help us to reflect on the issue of Land differently. Obedient Faith in God is the only way to the land given by God.
Such faith, from my Christian perspective, cannot be found without Jesus Christ. Moses did enter the land eventually. But he did it with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus continues to be the center of God’s plan and the door to the good pasture. Last, if Moses the great leader was deprived of the Promised Land because of one action of unbelief, how much more should we be careful before justifying moral failures and human rights violations in the name of God? Can it be that those who claim that God gave modern Israel the Land despite their unbelief in Jesus are wrong?