Great men receive distinction for various reasons. Adam gained distinction because he was the world's first man. Abraham because he was the father of the nation of Israel. Saul was the first king of Israel. David was the king who was a man after God's heart. But perhaps the greatest man in the Old Testament is Moses. We remember him because he was chosen to deliver the nation of Israel from bondage and lead them into the promised land.
We also remember great men for their failures. Adam sinned and caused the fall of mankind, Abraham lied and doubted the power of God, Saul disobeyed God's clear commands, David sinned with Bathsheba, and Moses sinned against God and was forbidden to enter into the promised land.
In Numbers chapter 20 we have three very sad events in Moses' life.
I. The death of Miriam. v1
A. She was his protector. (Ex. 2:1-10)
B. Later she became his critic. (Nu. 12:1)
C. She had a murmuring spirit toward Moses. (Nu. 12:2)
D. The Lord heard her complaining and her criticism and judged her with leprosy.
E. Now she has died..
II. The death of Aaron. v23
A. Aaron had been Moses' companion from the beginning.
B. He had listened to the people and fashioned the golden calf.
C. He had been critical along with Miriam of Moses' leadership.
D. God was merciful to Aaron and allowed his son Eliazar to become the high priest.
III. The sin of Moses. v1-13
A. The Circumstances of Moses' sin.
1. They were at Kadesh Barnea and were very near the end of the forty years of wilderness wanderings.
2. They had been there before...this is where the ten spies brought back the evil report of the promised land and they had made the decision not to enter in.
3. The people gathered themselves against Moses.
a. They had done this on several occasions before.
b. Only three days out of Egypt and the people began to complain, now nearly forty years later the complaining continues.
c. Each time resulted in God's judgment upon them for their hardness of hearts.
4. Note that even in their rebellion God heard their prayer and was willing to provide "His" water for them. v8
B. The character of Moses' sin.
1. Anger. "Hear now, ye rebels..." v10
2. Unbelief. "Because ye believed me not..." v12
3. Pride. "Must we fetch..." v10 Perhaps Moses thought if they saw him as the supplier they would quit complaining.
4. Rebellion. "For ye rebelled against my commandment..." Nu. 27:14
5. False Doctrine. cf Ex. 17:6 and 1Co. 10:1-4
a. The Rock was Christ once-smitten.
b. There was no need to strike the Rock again, only to speak to the Rock.
c. Note the theological truth here.
d. Once for all Christ was crucified now we can have our needs met by speaking to Him!
e. God told Moses, "speak ye unto the rock before their eyes;"
f. Moses ruined the picture and the truth that God wanted His people to see.
C. The Consequences of Moses' sin. v12
1. The Lord was dishonored.
2. Moses was shut out of the promised land.
3. Sin will keep us from enjoying the blessings of God!
IV. The warning to us is very clear.
A. Note: Hebrews 3:10-12.
B. When we refuse to obey His Word, take heed lest ye fall.
C. Note David's prayer in Ps. 19:12-14.
What about us tonight? Do we have some areas of sin like Moses did? Any anger? Rebellion? Pride? Unbelief? False doctrine? God will not overlook those who refuse to obey His Word! Even Moses, the greatest man in the Old Testament, had to learn that lesson!
Note the mercy and grace of God. He still provided His people with water to meet their need. Why would He do that? 2 Timothy 2:13, "If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself."