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©Brett Dolezal

Chapter 3:23-29 (ESV)

Posted on February 02, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:23-29 (ESV) - “And I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, ‘O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’ But the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the Lord said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again. Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.’ So we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor.

Question to consider: Why did Moses think God would change His mind about letting him into the land?

The word karma gets thrown around a lot today. It is not used in the strict Hindu sense of the word but more of a general desire for people to get what they deserve based on their actions. Overall, we consider someone to be a good person if their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds, and people will do charitable acts in order to compensate for their shortcomings. Those in the public spotlight understand that the way to get back into peoples’ good graces is to manage your public image and wait an appropriate amount of time for the torch and pitchfork mob to disperse.

While this may work with people, it does not work with God. Moses thought that since this new generation had faith in God and went up against the giants and high-walled cities of the Amorites, and that God had delivered them up for destruction, maybe he could convince God to change His decree against Moses for striking the rock at Meribah. Not only did God not change His decree but basically told Moses to shut up about it.

The way Moses recounts this to the Israelites seems to hint at the resentment Moses had in regard to this, for he says, “But the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me.” It’s obvious that Moses believed that they were the real ones to blame for him striking the rock because of their quarreling. 

I do find it interesting that Moses was able to go up on the mountain and be a witness of the promise while the people were led into the land by Joshua. Joshua (Yehoshua) can also be used in its short form— Yeshua or Jesus. That same Moses would be on another mountain thousands of years later in the transfiguration of Jesus and see the culmination of this land promise to Israel. The land promise was a rest from their wanderings in the desert, and Jesus was about to lead his people into His kingdom by way of the cross where there would be a rest from their works of the Law.

This moment also ties together with Moses’ time on the mountain receiving the word of God in the Law, for the word of God on the mount of transfiguration was, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” This transfiguration of our Lord was not only the point where Christ was revealed in glory to the disciples but where the Law and Prophets met their Gospel fulfillment in Christ. 

At the time Moses was told by God he could only be a witness to the land, I’m sure he experienced disappointment that things didn’t work out like he’d hoped, but imagine the joy he must have known to see the glory of Christ at His transfiguration.


Dear heavenly Father, please forgive us for our doubts and disappointment when things don’t go the way we think they should. Help us to trust in Your goodness during times of uncertainty and continue to praise Your name. Amen.