I was taught that Moses wasn’t allowed to enter the Promised Land because he got violent when God told him to speak peacefully. He hit a rock he was only supposed to talk to. He disobeyed. DON’T DISOBEY!
Aaron wasn’t kept out of the Promised Land after making an idol, or scheming against Moses with Miriam.
Moses, and Aaron, was kept out of the Promised Land because of his pride.
Why does this matter? Why is this distinction so important? Well, to start with, disobedience is usually caused by something else. Sometimes it’s caused by fear (Jonah), lust (David), envy, etc. Sometimes, perhaps even here, it’s caused by fatigue and emotional disturbance. It matters because sin is a heart condition, and this passage speaks to a very specific condition. It matters because it determines what we take away from the passage.
Moses and Aaron were tired and angry, as we all often are. Moses and Aaron, in their emotional state, took credit for God’s provision. Moses stood before the nation and declared “Must I do everything for you? You whiny, ungrateful, …”
Notice anything significant in there? The “I.” He isn’t providing the water. God is. There’s the sin. There’s the pride. There’s the problem.
God forgives disobedience any time there is real repentance, an effort to improve. God forgives Moses and Aaron for their pride here. They are taken to paradise. It isn’t like they are condemned forever. They aren’t allowed into the Promised Land to make a point to the nation that had heard their declaration, the point that NO, it hadn’t been them providing for Israel. It was a punishment, but it was also a public statement, a public correction.
This lesson matters because God isn’t an unfeeling autocrat. He’s a loving parent, caring for all his children at once. Your actions before others have influence beyond yourself. Therefore, sometimes those around you must also factor into the consequences you must face.
Hot take? You want to know who wouldn’t want the emphasis of this passage being placed on taking credit away from God? Church leadership that regularly does just that. Am I saying it was intentionally misinterpreted? Maybe, maybe not. It could have been subconscious. Historically, though, not much of a stretch. I have no idea how old this traditional interpretation actually is, where it comes from, who was the first one to teach it this way. All I know is that I have rarely heard it taught with a focus on the pride.
Series Disclaimer: throughout this particular series, it is always possible that I simply missed something, or honestly forgot it. I am, however, operating on the assumption that my experience is actually fairly typical despite coming from a comparatively small denomination. I feel justified in this assumption because I have put effort into interacting with and listening to as wide a variety of people as I can, and I put effort into paying attention. My entire life I’ve put effort into paying attention, into understanding. So perhaps I’ve missed something, or forgotten a single lesson, but I am speaking of broad impressions of a large culture. Should your experience differ, I am glad. Should I be wrong, I would be relieved.