My dear friend, I believe that Moses was indeed forgiven and that he is with the Lord even now. Consider that Moses was the one man whom God chose to be His instrument in leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, and so he is clearly honored by God in this.  As God’s representative, Moses was very accountable to lead the people, not only by faithfully following God’s precise directions, but was to do this in the appropriate attitude and tone of message that was in accordance with God’s will. And this he did for the most part. To demonstrate how God was pleased with the service of Moses, I’d direct you to Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, where we read about how it was Moses and Elijah who appeared with the Lord Jesus in His transfiguration. In Luke 9:30-31, we read: “And, behold, there talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem”. Moses representing the Law, and Elijah the prophets, were both highly honored as they appeared in the glory despite any personal failures in their lives on earth, and they were seen talking with our Lord Jesus about the work that He would accomplish on the cross. So clearly Moses stands as one of the great men of faith in the Scriptures. Also, Moses was highly honored for his faith in Hebrews 11:24-29, so it seems clear that he was in fact forgiven for his sins through faith, just as you and I are forgiven through faith in Christ Jesus, and he is clearly honored in Scripture for his service to God in leading the children of Israel, and now is in the glory. But, there is a temporal price for sin, and I believe God has brought out Moses’ failure, not to set him aside or to disgrace him, but rather for our instruction as to the very high standard God has for His servants. We read in 1 Corinthians 10:11: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come”.

I believe the verse which outlines the failure of Moses, resulting in his removal as the leader of God’s people,  is found in Numbers 20:7-12 where we read, “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them”. So, what went wrong in this particular instance in Numbers 20? Back in Exodus 17, towards the beginning of their trek through the wilderness to the land of promise, the people had needed water, and Moses had been directed to strike the rock, which he did, and the people received water. But, in the incident in Numbers that I have quoted, that entire generation of unfaithful people had died off in 40 years in the wilderness, and it was this new generation of Israelites who were intended to go forth into the land and take the land, with God giving them the power. However, when they thirsted, Moses and Aaron prayed, and God had instructed Moses to speak to the rock, and the people would see the power of God. But instead of representing the LORD in this way, Moses, in his anger, struck the rock and called the people “rebels” which was not God’s will, and this showed his lack of faith. Now, by this time, Moses was 120 years old, and he could have led the people because he was yet strong, but this lapse of faith and obedience gave the wrong message to the people, so God thus told Moses that while he could view the land from afar, he would have to yield leadership to another, and he was then taken home and Joshua led the people. This does seem very harsh, but recall, it was due to the lack of faith of the children of Israel who were delivered from Egypt with God’s mighty hand which brought about the punishment of that generation to have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until all, over a half a million people, died of old age or disease.

Now, the rock from which the water flowed is seen as a type of Christ as we see in 1 Corinthians 10:4: “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ”. William MacDonald in his commentary on Numbers 20:7-23 discusses the significance of this as follows: “The rock smitten in Exodus 17 was a type of Christ, stricken at Calvary. But Christ was only to be struck once. After His death, the Holy Spirit would be given, of which the water in verse 11 is a type. Because of the sin of Moses and Aaron in this matter, God decreed that they would not enter the Promised Land. He called the place Meribah, but it is not the same Meribah as in Exodus 17. This is sometimes known as Meribah-Kadesh. G. Campbell Morgan comments:

By this manifestation of anger, which as we have said was so very natural, the servant of God misrepresented God to the people. His failure was due to the fact that for the moment his faith failed to reach the highest level of activity. He still believed in God, and in His power: but he did not believe in Him to sanctify Him in the eyes of His people. The lesson is indeed a very searching one. Right things may be done in so wrong a way as to produce evil results”.

And so, my dear friend, I hope this is helpful in answering your excellent question. We must always remember that our God is a God of Grace and mercy, and all of His plans for His people, both in the OT and now, are only ever good. The torch passed to a new generation with Joshua and Caleb, and Moses was taken home to glory. Through faith in Christ Jesus, we too have that sure heavenly hope, even though we often fall short in our trek through this fallen world. But praise be to God, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” (Romans 8:1).  (SF)  (505.2)