by Rev Jason Phua
Readings: Numbers 19:1-20:29; Proverbs 66:1-20
READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Numbers 20:12 “And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”
Whenever I read about the punishment for Moses and Aaron, my heart aches. These two leaders had been slogging hard for the people and yet because of their act of disobedience, they were forbidden to enter into the Promised Land which they had been pining for (40 years!).
I used to question if God was “fair” in this episode. Couldn’t He make an exception? Couldn’t He provide a way at least for Moses for the good he had done? After all, it was the people who made him frustrated with their endless sense of ungratefulness and rebellion.
Yet, what the Lord said to Moses and Aaron that they had failed to “uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people in Israel” shed some light into what was truly the problem. The problem was not whether God can be merciful for He had already shown much grace even to Moses. The problem was that as appointed leaders among the children of God, Moses and Aaron had shown themselves to have failed to uphold all that God stood for i.e. His holiness. If Moses and Aaron went unpunished; the whole of Israel will just grow in their rebellion. For they will come to regard God’s holiness as something laughable.
We often try to interpret God’s holiness using our own sense of “fairness”. Yet, God’s holiness operates not within the framework of the conscience of this world; but within His character and covenant with His people. The true “fairness” is this: we are a doomed people right from the start; it is only by His grace that we can ever live a new life in Jesus. Furthermore, what might seem “unfair” is perfectly justified where God’s holiness is concerned. Hence, it was totally justified for Moses to be punished and forbidden to enter the Promised Land. Even then, God’s holy love was also shown to Moses, for he was given a view of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34) just before his death at the age of 120.
I should stop asking God if things are “fair” in my life; I must learn that they never will be, not in the sense of the rules and conscience of this fallen world. Not until God comes back again where the fullness of His glory will be shown on earth and in the heavens. For now, I can only look in hope and true justice through the lens of His kingdom here and is to come; where His holiness is all that matters and where His love is already won at Calvary. He knows best. Taking a serious look at Moses’ life and reflecting on how I can grow in spiritual leadership, I believe this is where I should be heading.
Lord, may my heart be stricken by the urgency of wanting to please a holy God; instead of being lured into the never ending story of humanistic “fairness”. May He who holds all answers hold me in peace and faithfulness towards Your calling for my life. Amen.