Moses had led the Children of Israel in the wilderness for forty years. Time was drawing near for them to enter into the Promised Land. Just before their crossing of the Jordan River, God called Moses up onto Mt. Nebo to show him all the land that had been promised to Abraham’s descendants. As far as the eye could see from the mountaintop, the Lord pointed out to Moses the lands that the Children of Israel would possess northward east of the river, westward all the way to the sea, and southward unto Zoar, the city Lot fled to upon the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Finally they had arrived; all but Moses would enter.
Moses knew this was as close as he would get to the Promised Land. It was during their wandering in the wilderness that the people began murmuring and complaining because of lack of water to sustain them. Earlier in the exodus before the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, the wanderers were without water and God instructed Moses to strike a rock to bring forth water (Exodus 17). Twenty years later under the same circumstances Moses was told to speak to a rock and it would bring forth water. In his anger at the lack of faith of those under his leadership, Moses struck the rock twice with his rod and the water came forth. Because of his disobedience to what God had instructed him to do, the LORD spoke to Moses and said, “Because ye believed me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20).
The Lord concluded His time with Moses on the mountaintop with these words, “I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And He (God) buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day” (Deuteronomy 34).
How important it is obey God’s Word. Many wonderful blessings that could have been elude us when we disobey God. Surely Moses would have been the first to step foot in the Promised Land after all God led him to do after encountering the burning bush. But God is in control and when we do not obey His Word He will find others to do His Will. Upon Moses’ death Joshua was called of God to lead the people through the river Jordan on dry land, just as they had done in the crossing of the Red Sea during the exodus, and on to many great victories in the history of His Chosen People.