There are certainly lots of curious things that happen in sections of Old Testament narrative. But one of the more curious realities of the Moses narrative, to me, is the fact that Moses is not allowed to go into the Promised Land. It’s not the fact that he’s forbidden that seems curious, but the fact that he seems repeatedly to blame his sin on the people of Israel (see Deut. 4.21-22 for example).
On this, D.A. Carson writes:
Of the many lessons that spring from this historical recital, one relatively minor point — painful to Moses and important for us — quietly emerges. Moses repeatedly reminds the people that he himself will not be permitted to enter the land. He is referring to the time he struck the rock instead of speaking to it (Num. 20). But now he points out, truthfully, that his sin and punishment took place, he says, “because of you” (Deut. 1:37; Deut. 3:23-27; Deut. 4:21-22). Of course, Moses was responsible for his own action. But he would not have been tempted had the people been godly. Their persistent unbelief and whining wore him down. (For the Love of God, vol. 1. Read the full entry here.)
In other words, the persistent sin of the people of Israel had finally provoked the meekest of all men on the earth (Num 12.3) to sin. And now he was paying for it, ‘because of [them].’
Do you see what happened? When they persisted in unbelief, rebellion, and sin, it discouraged and disheartened even the most faithful. Holiness and the battle against sin, for the people of Israel, was something essentially communal. However one person acted effected others.
Things don’t change much on that front in the New Covenant. But contrast the effect the hard-hearted Israelites had on Moses with the effect that the New Covenant people of God are to have on each other.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to [provoke] one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb 10.23-24)
So as you face your day today as a Christian, remember that you are a part of a community. Remember that as one of the members of the covenant people of God your actions, whether for good or for ill, are provoking me, and all the people around you.
You have the power to walk in sin and provoke others to discouragement, frustration, and sin. But because the Holy Spirit indwells you, you also have the power to walk in righteousness and faith and provoke others to love and good works.
So get provoking!