March 12th, 2017
Dt 3:23-29 (Num. 20:1-13)
“Love’s Stern Integrity”Aux Text: Gal 6:7-8
Call to Worship: Psalm 62
Service Orientation: We are created in God’s image. Words have consequences. Actions have consequences. Ideas have consequences. God’s loving integrity demands that He show us that what we say, do, and think matters . . . eternally
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. — Ecclesiastes 10:1
- This paragraph catches the reader by surprise on several counts. First, Moses’ prayer seems embarrassingly self-serving. From other texts we learn that he would pray for others, even to the point of sacrificing his own life for them (Ex 32:30-34; cf. Dt 9:19-20, 25-26). But not since his call in Ex 3-5 have we observed him so preoccupied with his personal fate. (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 104)
- Moses’ prayer has similarities with Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane; both are prayers that reveal the heart, though the head knows the answer already. It need not be asked whether Moses thought Yahweh might relent; the importance of the prayer is that it measures the cost of his obedience to his calling. When Moses accepts that he may not again be his own advocate, and that he will not enter the land, we know that his service is disinterested. (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 97)
- (v. 24) Moses expresses his subordination before God, a disposition that he reinforces by referring to himself as “your servant.” But Moses also addresses God by name, which is possible only because God in his grace has revealed it to him (cf. Ex 3:13-15; 34:6-7). Indeed Moses has the courage to address Yahweh because of his personal relationship with Israel’s gracious Suzerain. (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 105)
- (v. 25) It is difficult for visitors to the land of Palestine today to conceive of the region as the fabulously good land described here. In trying to understand Moses, we should keep in mind three factors. (1) Archaeologists and climatologists agree that in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age the landscape of Palestine differed markedly from what we find there today. The invention and manufacture of more efficient agricultural implements in the Early Iron Age (1200-900 BC) enabled the clearing of large tracts of land to make way for human settlement and agriculture, which over time denuded the landscape and precipitated erosion of the soil to bedrock. (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 106)
- (v. 25) For Moses, the land of Canaan was much more than a geographic place; it was a theological idea. Seen with spiritual eyes, the land was good, not because it was fertile, but because it was the land that Yahweh had reserved for his people; this was the destination that Yahweh had set for Moses when he called him to lead the people out of Egypt (Ex 3:8). (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 106)
- (v. 26) The succession of Joshua appears also in 1:38; 31:3-8, 14, 23; and 34:9. The reason Moses gave for the Lord’s order that he not enter the land is mentioned in 1:37, here in v. 26, and in 4:21. See also 31:2; 32:48-52; and 34:1-4. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 40)
The questions to be answered are . . . Why is God so hard on Moses?
Answer: Because our words, our actions, our thoughts have consequences. We deserve hell. Anything above that is pure grace. Moses and the people of Israel need to know that, as believers, we are who we are by God’s grace.
The Word for the Day is . . . Effect
Why is God so hard on Moses?:
I- Moses forgot the gravity of his committing cosmic treason against God. (Dt. 3:26; see also: Nm 20:1-13; 27:12-14; Dt 1:37; 4:21; 31:2; 32:48-52; Rom 2:6; Gal 6:7-8)
God help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they’re usually NOT my fault.
Rebellion against God always has a consequence. —Charles F. Stanley
As he had done in 1:37, Moses had blamed the people for Yahweh’s anger with him, obviously overlooking his own culpability in the event at Meribah (Nm 20:1-13). Technically he was correct. If Israel had trusted Yahweh at Kadesh Barnea and entered the land, the events at Meribah would never have happened. But the image of this great leader passing off responsibility is disappointing. (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 106)
Moses’ impatience with God in this story would surely be overcome if he had more faith in God’s power and wisdom to turn all things for the good of his people. God has promised again and again in the Bible to do just that (2 Chr 16:9; Ps 23:6; 84:11; Jer 32:40-41; Isa 64:4; Rom 8:28, 32; 1 Cor 3:22-23). In fact, the only thing misleading in this legend is the comment put in the mouth of God that, “For once and only once, I will give you an explanation.” The fact is, God has given us explanations like this repeatedly in the Bible with enough illustrations to fill a book. (John Piper, Future Grace, 174-5)
Only ten months before this, Moses made a tragic error in front of this new generation. The Lord commanded him to speak to the rock at Kadesh Barnea, and it would pour out water. Instead, Moses called this new generation of Israelites “rebels” and stuck the rock twice in anger. The Lord wanted Moses to give this new generation a demonstration of his gracious power that he would exercise for them. To put it another way, the Lord wanted Moses to speak gospel to them. But Moses lost his temper, and his angry behavior disclosed the wrong message—law instead of gospel. The Lord told Moses, “Because you did not trust me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them” (Nm 20:1-12). (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 28-29)
The word “swore” appears twice here (Dt 1:35-38). This dual swearing shows the nature of God as holy love. As the loving God he swore to give the promised land to their fathers, but as holy God he swore not to give it to the present generation. This shows how we must hold these two aspects of God’s nature together without separating them as many do. We sometimes say things like, “God loves you unconditionally and will not leave you whatever you do.” That is not true. We are told that “the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul” (1 Sm 16:14) because he had become disobedient to God. We cannot expect God to bless us if we disobey. Of course, if we repent, then we open ourselves again to God’s blessings. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 75-6)
Moses had to bear the responsibility for his action even though it was their sin that prompted it. The event is described in Nm 20:10-13. God asked him to speak to a rock to yield water when the people were grumbling for lack of water. But Moses struck it twice instead. A summary of what happened in Ps 106:32, 33 suggests that he also used rash words at the same time: “They angered him at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips.” (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 77)
He blames the Israelites that he is unable to enter the Promised Land with Caleb and Joshua. The statement is remarkable on several counts. (1) Far from associating Moses with the rebellion of the people, in the narratives of Numbers 13-14 Yahweh offered to start over with Moses and to have his descendants replace Israel as his covenant people (Nm 14:12). (2) The reasons given for God’s refusing Moses entrance into the Promised Land in the earlier narratives relate to an entirely different incident–his failure to treat Yahweh as holy by striking the rock rather than speaking to it at Meribah (Nm 20:2-13; cf. Dt 32:48-52). With this act of faithlessness, Moses personally disqualified himself from achieving the prize. How then could he blame the Israelites for his failure to enter the land? The answer is actually simple. If the Israelites had trusted Yahweh at Kadesh Barnea and entered the land at his command, the event recorded in Numbers 20 would never have occurred. However, since the people’s faithlessness precipitated a series of unfortunate events, including Meribah, in a sense Moses was right. However, as we will learn from Dt 3:23-26, Yahweh will not listen to such arguments. (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 73-4)
They had not forfeited heaven, but Canaan. Jehovah still loved them, while he set the mark of his displeasure upon this fault, so great in his eyes, and yet so trifling in men’s esteem that they are not agreed respecting the nature of the offence. The punishment was grievous. For many years had they looked with longing eyes toward the Land of Promise. Thirty-eight years they had uncomplainingly endured the hardships of the wilderness, cheered by the hope of eventually enjoying its rest. But now the finger of hope no longer beckons them on. They must die in the wilderness. We can give no explanation of this sin of distrust. All sin is inexplicable and causeless. To give a good reason for sin is to justify it. There is no reasonable ground for unbelief. The Savior’s question, Wherefore do ye doubt? is still unanswered. It is possible that there was a more grave defect than a momentary wavering of faith. There may have been a slow decay of Moses’ confidence during the term of the penal wanderings, and of great apostasy from Jehovah. It is very difficult to maintain a degree of faith far above the average of those around us. (John W. Lindsay, Commentary on the OT: Dt, 340)
II- Moses and Israel need to remember that, as people created in the image and likeness of God, their actions have significant and eternal consequences. (Gn 2:16-17; 3:1-19; Isa 59:1-2; Jer 5:25; Hos 10:13; Lk 13:27; Rom 5:12-21; 8:7; Heb 12:14)
You are free to choose. But, you are not free from the consequences of your choice. — E-mail from Lacie Keef
A child who is never corrected is taught that their actions have no consequences. Therefore, they have no consequences. —Jill Briscoe
Nathan assured a penitent King David, “the LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” But David’s sin, though forgiven, brought lasting consequences for his reign and in his family (2 Sm 12:11-18). For God’s children, the consequences of sin are no longer the evidence of the Lord’s judgment. God uses these consequences to correct and strengthen his children during the rest of their time on earth. (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 45)
What is the consequence of our sin against God? . . . the loss of a relationship. But don’t forget, you realize what that means; for the son to lose a relationship with a mother, if he does not patch that up, he is going to have a lousy life. If we don’t patch up our relationship with God—we were built for the presence of God, we have to have the presence of God to be human, to love, to think, to be utterly cut off from the presence of God, absolutely is agony, is hell. —Tim Keller
Our words have the power to destroy and the power to build up (Prv 12:6). The writer of Proverbs tells us, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Prv 18:21). Are we using words to build up people or destroy them? Are they filled with hate or love, bitterness or blessing, complaining or compliments, lust or love, victory or defeat? Like tools they can be used to help us reach our goals or to send us spiraling into a deep depression.
Furthermore, our words not only have the power to bring us death or life in this world, but in the next as well. Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Mt 12:36–37). Words are so important, that we are going to give an account of what we say when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ. (https://www.gotquestions.org/power-of-words.html)
During a visit to England, I gave an address at a meeting attended by the eminent historian Paul Johnson, author of Modern Times. At the end of my talk, Johnson looked at me with his ruddy Irish face, and said, “I think the biggest problem facing the modern age is what to do about the doctrine of hell. What do you think?”
I was taken aback; the question had nothing to do with my talk. But as Johnson explained, I realized how right he was. When the Church does not clearly teach the doctrine of hell, society loses an important anchor. In a sense, hell gives meaning to our lives. It tells us that the moral choices we make day by day have eternal significance; that our behavior has consequences lasting to eternity; that God Himself takes our choices seriously.
When people don’t believe in a final judgment, they don’t feel ultimately accountable for their actions. There is no firm leash holding back sinful impulses. As the book of Judges puts it, there is “no fear of God” in their hearts, and everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
The doctrine of hell is not just some dusty theological holdover from the Middle Ages. It has significant social consequences. Without a conviction of ultimate justice, people’s sense of moral obligation dissolves; social bonds are broken.
People who have no fear of God soon have no fear of man–no respect for human laws and authorities. (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 21-2)
God created laws that the universe was designed to follow.
If God is not sovereign, He could not rule over the universe to insure that those laws are followed.
God wants those laws of the Universe to be followed because it is only by having consistency in the universe, 1- That real learning on the part of man can take place. 2- That our actions can possibly have any real meaning or significance. 3- It is only way that we can interact with the Universe in any real significant or meaningful way.
Therefore, God wants to insure that the Universe has a cause and effect that obeys the Laws of the Universe that Wisdom (God) laid out at the foundation of the world.
Satan, on the other hand, has been trying to disrupt those cause and effect connections since just prior to the Fall. He will do and has done all that he can to try and get us to believe that there is in fact, NO cause and effect between our actions and the consequences. Especially in regard to spiritual cause and effect—when it comes to disobeying God’s Laws. Simply remember his strategy in the Garden.
Therefore, it is God’s control over the universe that allows us to have any meaningful choice at all. Satan is trying to diminish and or destroy that connection. We need to make sure that we do not put into conflict God’s sovereignty and man’s free choice. They are not mutually exclusive. They are, as it turns out, intimately tied together. (Pastor Keith upon reflection on a conversation with Brad Shaw 5-15-07)
The depth of the pain and disappointment that the divine refusal caused Moses can be seen in the number of times he refers to it. (1:37; 3:26; 4:21; cf. 31:2; 32:48-52; 34:4). So even if he stopped talking to God about it (v. 26 suggests he had been making a persistent request), he didn’t stop reminding the Israelites of it: because of you the LORD was angry with me! The exclusion of Moses from entering the promised land figures so largely here, and was probably as much a surprise to the original readers as it is to us, that it invites some theological reflection. (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 41)
III- Moses and Israel need to be reminded that they will one day enjoy God’s promises: by God’s grace, not by their merit. (Dt. 3:27-28; see also: Mt 17:1-13; Mk 9:2-13; Lk 9:28-36; Rom 5:12-21; 8:18-25; Heb ch 11; 1 Pt 1:3-9)
Daube has cited in Roman law a mode of transferring ownership for buildings and land (which are not movables and therefore cannot be handed over like other commodities) which is called traditio. One simply takes another to the spot and points out the property, and this counts as traditio. The grantee acquires control, and the transfer is effected. It is not even necessary for the grantee to set foot on the land. Daube says a comparable procedure may have existed in ancient Hebrew law and imagines in the present case a prebiblical account in which Yahweh, owner of the land, is turning it over to Moses. He cites Yahweh’s grant of land to Abraham and his descendants (Gn 13:14-15; cf. 35:12) and in the NT Satan’s taking Jesus to a high mountain and promising him all the kingdoms of the world if he will fall down and worship him (Mt 4:8-9; Lk 4:5-7). (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 227)
Nobody deserved to go into the land! Moses’ death outside the land would witness to the reality of judgment, just as Joshua’s victorious entry would witness to the reality of forgiving, covenant grace. This perspective seems close to the surface in 4:21-22. Moses will die, but the people will live. Judgment and grace are interwoven. (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 42)
He entered into the suffering of his people and of the God of his people in a way that, like so much else in his life, foreshadowed that future servant of Yahweh who would indeed offer a blameless life for the sins of us all (Isa 53:4-6). Would it have eased Moses’ pain and disappointment, we might wonder, if he could have known that one day he would stand in the land on another mountaintop and have a conversation with that very servant about the sacrifice (indeed, the “exodus,” Lk 9:31) he was about to accomplish? (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 42)
As if one blow were not sufficient, showing an excessive dependence on human agency, and a forgetfulness of the divine efficiency. There was no command to smite even once. The injunction to speak to the rock may have been given to show how small a human element was required in the miracle, and at the same time to test the faith and humility of Moses–faith, that only words were sufficient; and humility, since his part of the miracle was so insignificant. (John W. Lindsay, Commentary on the OT: Dt, 339)
It is clear from his speech that he is boosting Joshua before the people. He wants them to accept Joshua as the new leader. Our personal agendas are less important than the agenda of the kingdom. We may be hurt by the fact that something we wanted to do has been given to someone else, as Moses seems to have been. But our commitment to God causes us to overcome the hurt and help the other person. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 112-3)
Some Christians boycott the person who got the job instead of them. They refuse to help him and sometimes even put obstacles in his way. They claim they are acting with the best interests of the group as they seek to “right his wrongs” and point out his shortcomings. But in matters like this it is so easy for us to make huge mistakes because of the unreliability of our emotions when we are hurt. So it is “better to be safe than sorry” and give the fullest possible support to the person who got the job. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 113)
You remember how the Apostle Paul addresses a word about it to the Philippians. He reminds them that they are to be a luminaries in the heavens, they are to ‘do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life’ (Phil 2:14-16). What a tragic thing it is that Christian people can be miserable and murmuring instead of rejoicing in Christ Jesus. It is an outcome of the fact that they have forgotten that everything is of grace. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, 127)
Worship Point: Worship the God of the Universe Who is just and merciful at the same time.
It is interesting that Jesus quoted the same incident that resulted in Moses’ being disqualified in his response to the temptation by Satan to jump from the pinnacle of the temple (Mt 4:7). The fuller quotation goes like this: “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah” (Dt 6:16). They put the Lord to the test by demanding water. God gave them water, but he was displeased by their demanding attitude. Referring to this event Ps 78:18 says, “They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved.” The word “craved” suggests the idea of desire out of control. We must always humbly submit to God and affirm that God knows what is best for us. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 109)
One thing we can be thankful about is that God’s will for us is best. So even though Moses was unable to go into the land, we can affirm that God did what was best for him, given his past action that disqualified him from what he wanted. One who has fully surrendered to God will accept that and move forward. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 110)
Joy is the natural outcome of the Christian’s obedience to the revealed will of God. (Simon J. Kistemaker; New testament Commentary: Acts, 606)
The Hebrew wording implies that Moses had been extremely persistent in his request. Moses’ tenacious nature, when channeled in the right direction, made him a great leader. His request was motivated by a natural desire. Neither his persistence nor his natural desire was wrong. But there is a sense in which Moses’ vision had slightly lost its focus. This vision of the Promised Land had turned into a consuming passion to set foot in the land. The focus of the vision had slipped from the Lord of the promise to the promise itself. This shift in focus is what made Moses’ request wrong. (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 77)
David’s response to the news of his son’s death surprised the servants: “Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate” (v. 20). His words in response to the servants’ questions show that he had submitted to God’s sovereignty and accepted his verdict. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 109)
It is not a lack of faith to add, “If it is your will” after a making a request in prayer. It is an acknowledgment that God knows what is best for us. Those with special gifts, such as the gift of healing, may make confident proclamations because they have received a revelation that something is God’s will. But most people do not have such discernment, and it would be best for them to combine intensity and earnestness in prayer with an attitude of glad submission to the will of God. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 109)
God had to tell Moses not to bring up the matter again because it seemed as if he had not accepted God’s verdict and kept bringing it up. Sometimes we find people bringing up the same issue over and over again, and sometimes this goes on for years. We need to grapple with God and keep grappling until we come to a sense that this is what God wants. Then we should accept that as best and stop going back over and over the same issue. If we remain unhappy with something that God has decreed for us, we forfeit the joy and freedom that should be ours. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 110)
Important lessons are given by this alternation of the two ideas of faith and unbelief, obedience and disobedience. Disobedience is the root of unbelief. Unbelief is the mother of further disobedience. Faith is voluntary submission within a person’s own power. If faith is not exercised, the true cause lies deeper than all intellectual reasons. It lies in the moral aversion of human will and in the pride of independence, which says, “who is Lord over us? Why should we have to depend on Jesus Christ?” As faith is obedience and submission, so faith breeds obedience, but unbelief leads on to higher-handed rebellion. With dreadful reciprocity of influence, the less one trusts, the more he disobeys; the more he disobeys, the less he trusts. —Alexander Maclaren
Gospel Application: Jesus came to satisfy the wrath of God against us as sinners. He took upon Himself the eternal consequences we deserved to endure.
Spiritual Challenge: Realize that God is gracious, but that He allows us to see the effects of our sinfulness so we might never forget His grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. Otherwise, we would think we could sin with impunity. (Neh 9; Dan 9)
Life after repentance from sin results in a restored relationship with God, which includes a restoration of the joy of salvation (Ps 51:12) and a return to usefulness in God’s Word. But the consequences remain. For Moses it meant that he would not go into the land. For David it meant that the sword would never depart from his house (2 Sm 12:10). But we are still in relationship with God. He is sufficient for every crisis. And the sin does result in several crises (making sin never worthwhile!). (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 110)
When the person in need is acting irresponsibly, and your continued aid would only shield him from the consequences of his own behavior, then it is no longer loving or merciful to continue support. (Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy, 228)
We are bidden to “put on Christ,” to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little. (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 47)
The drift of the prayer is that God, by granting him permission to enter the land, should thus fill up to the full the measure of His grace towards him: for he enumerates the blessings already vouchsafed to him, as the ground of his confidence in asking, and that God, who is not wont to forsake the work of His own hands, might carry on to the end the mercies He had begun. For this reason he says that the might of God had been shown him; modestly hinting that it was natural to expect that he should be a partaker of the crowning blessing, in order that the end might correspond with the beginning. (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. IV, 321)
The Bible describes those who choose to indulge in sin as being “darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Eph 4:18-19). One of the consequences of sin, therefore, is more sin. There’s an insatiable “lust for more,” attended by a dulling of the conscience and a blindness to spiritual truth (1 Cor 2:14). (https://www.gotquestions.org/consequences-of-sin.html)
Disobedience brings a wide variety of horrible consequences such as spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental consequences. Spiritual consequence relates to separation from God and union with Satan. It’s the worst form of consequence that can ever fall upon people since it determines where they will spend their eternity. Physical consequences relate to bad things that can happen to us physically or our lives that can be ended so tragically.
Emotional consequences relate to sadness and hurts disobedience can bring to our lives. Disobedience can ruin the very person God wants us to be. Moreover, disobedience can inflict so much emotional pains on us to the extent that we become a slave to bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, and so forth. And mental consequences have to do with the fact that sin burdens the conscience of men, it corrupts and cripples people’s judgment, it has a strong hold on the memory, and fetter the free will. Consequently, there’s no genuine peace for those who are living in sin no matter what they may say… Many times, people finally get an idea of how terrible their lives have been when finding themselves in the midst of a disaster. Sin pretty much draws them further away from God who is the source of truth that could have opened their eyes, and kept them from destruction.
When we’re tempted we are well aware that what we’re planning on doing is not going to please God, but we do it anyway. Sin hardens people’s heart and makes them very selfish because it’s all about what they want. Furthermore, it’s all about engaging in sinful activities in order to please themselves instead of pleasing God. Although, sin may bring some temporary pleasures; however, the price to pay is always catastrophic.
As people whom God deeply cares about, he wants us to deal with disobedience wisely. Remember, nobody can ever please God while living in rebellion. Rebelling against Him is equivalent to rejecting Him and His Word. When we want to sin against Him for the sake of sinful pleasures or obtaining something outside of His perfect will, we tend to shift our entire focus away from the consequences that may come with the bad choices we’re about to make by believing somehow we are above them… Thinking that certain things cannot happen to us will not alter the obvious reality that disobedience always brings consequences. Sin wouldn’t be so attractive if the wages were paid immediately. (http://www.living-for-jesus-alone.org/disobedience-always-brings-consequences.html)
Discipline demands a moment — but regrets last a lifetime.
The idea, therefore, is, that it is the nature of evil to diffuse itself. This is true with regard to individuals and communities. A single sin, however secret, when indulged, diffuses its corrupting influence over the whole soul; it depraves the conscience; it alienates from God; it strengthens all other principles of evil, while it destroys the efficacy of the means of grace and the disposition to use them. It is no less true of any community, that any one tolerated evil deteriorates its whole moral sense. (Charles Hodge; Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 86)
For we must observe the comparison, that, whilst they were to enjoy the land, he was to be prevented from entering it. “I must die (he says) in this land” of Moab, whilst to you it is given to enjoy the promised inheritance. We perceive, therefore, that they are upbraided with their guilt in such a way that all the bitterness of the reproof is sweetened by the sense of God’s mercy; nay, that by this sweetness they may be ravished into admiration, when they understand how mercifully that pardon is extended to them, which was denied to Moses. (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. IV, 322-3)
While the consequences remain, so does the tender care of God. Within the context of the disciplinary situation ordained by God, there will be numerous examples of God’s acts of kindness to us that bring freshness to our lives. Moses’ seeing the promised land could be taken as one of these gracious acts of God. This is an example of the holy love of God. The thoroughgoing application of the discipline shows God’s holiness. But within that discipline God acts graciously to give us ample opportunity to experience his special care and to find joy in that. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 110)
Throughout Deuteronomy we are continually admonished to be totally obedient. God’s Word gives special attention to strategic men who paid a heavy price for their disobedience. Adam was driven out of paradise; Aaron was stripped of his priestly robes; Moses was sternly refused entrance into Canaan; Saul was deprived of his kingdom–all for neglecting to obey God. In this day of independence, in which self-expression and personal opinion are highly valued, as God’s children we must walk in submission to Him. Our only responsibility is to be obedient to Him, regardless of the outside pressure. (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 76-7)
So What?: God loves us enough to allow us to see the truth about our sin, the effects of our sin, and our desperate need for God so the truth can set us free. Praise God whenever you are allowed to see the devastating effects of your sin so you might be encouraged to become all God designed and created you to be by His grace: In God’s likeness and image. (Rom. 8:29; Phil 3:21)
We think, “it doesn’t matter. My decisions, my attitudes and thoughts and feelings–do they really make that much difference?” But God is saying, “Every moment of your life matters to me. Your choices have lasting repercussions. That’s why I am confronting you with the truth.” (Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.; Preaching the Word: Isaiah, 47)
Human beings grow by striving, working, stretching; and in a sense, human nature needs problems more than solutions. Why are not all prayers answered magically and instantly? Why must every convert travel the same tedious path of spiritual discipline? Because persistent prayer, and fasting, and study, and meditation are designed primarily for our sakes, not for God’s. Kierkegaard said that Christians reminded him of schoolboys who want to look up the answers to their math problems in the back of the book rather than work them through…We yearn for shortcuts. But shortcuts usually lead away from growth, not toward it. Apply the principle directly to Job: what was the final result of the testing he went through? As Rabbi Abraham Heschel observed, “Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.” (Philip Yancey; Disappointment With God, 207-8)
Self-confidence was in excess, and humble reliance on Jehovah was deficient. These, usually, are present in an inverse ratio, so that God is greatest when self is least in our esteem. As trust in God is the root of all the virtues, its absence is the source of all evil qualities in human character; hence the following complaint against Moses: To sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel. (John W. Lindsay, Commentary on the OT: Dt, 340)
TOUGH LOVE—AS HARD AS NAILS