Moses spent 40 years of his life leading the Israelites through the desert/wilderness headed to the Promised Land. As they sat on the edge of the Jordan River across from Canaan, Moses prayed this prayer: “Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan.”1 But God said No! 😧 And it was a very firm No! “Enough from you; do not speak to me of this again.”2 Which leads me to believe that Moses had mentioned this to God before . . . and likely more than once.
What was it that made God so angry? Well . . . several things. First, Moses disobeyed God’s command at Meribah. It was there that Moses forfeited his right to enter the Promised Land. When water was needed, God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would flow out. But Moses hit the rock twice instead. His actions indicated he believed God’s method was not sufficient. God called him out for it: “you did not believe in me.”3 And because Moses did not believe in God he did not uphold him “as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel.”3 Moses’ disobedience was an act of defiance, and as the leader of the nation, that was totally unacceptable. So God punished him: “therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”3
What I find interesting is that when Moses asked God for permission to enter the Promised Land, God had already told him he would not be going. And it appears that Moses had prayed this prayer other times as well! So why did he ask God the same thing again? Same problem: Moses “did not believe” God. 🤔 Hmm. Either he did not believe God really meant what he said, or he believed God would change his mind.
I think most of us believe that there are some people who deserve special treatment from God because they are such good servants! We assume that God will give godly people whatever they want. Surely God will answer my pastor’s prayer in the way he desires; after all, he is such a godly man. Joshua might have been thinking that surely God would let Moses go into Canaan. And Moses thought so too! Why else would he continue praying that God would let him go? But God does not play favorites. That’s the first lesson.
Here’s another one: We generally do not believe our sin is that bad. Most of us probably think God was being a bit nit-picky about the whole “hitting the rock” incident, right? 😒 I think we become quite casual in our relationship with God and believe God will overlook some minor infractions on our part—because God knows our hearts. And God’s love is everlasting. And his mercies are new every morning. And sometimes we feel like we just need a break, you know! But the fact remains: sin is sin. And God is holy. There is no compromise there.
One final thought. It would save us a lot of time and energy if we would simply believe God when he says No. Often when God says No, we mistakenly interpret his “silence” to mean he is taking our request under consideration, and we might even ramp up the prayers a bit, praying harder and more often! And as time passes, we believe we can talk God into seeing things our way, and we continue to pray the same prayer. Over and over. I think Moses really expected God to change his mind on the subject! He continued to pray the same prayer until finally God said, “Enough from you; do not speak to me of this again.”2 😦
So . . . Did God really just tell Moses to stop praying about this? Yes, he did! 🤨 Hmm. Perhaps we are the ones whose mind needs to change. Hmm. 🤔
So . . . what prayer do you need to stop praying?
1Deuteronomy 3:25 2Deuteronomy 3:26 3Numbers 20:12