To answer your question let’s read Deuteronomy 32:48-52, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses that very same day, saying: ‘Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo…view the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel as a possession; and DIE ON THE MOUNTAIN WHICH YOU ASCEND, and be gathered to your people…BECAUSE YOU TRESPASSED AGAINST ME AMONG THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AT THE WATERS OF MERIBAH KADESH, in the Wilderness of Zin, BECAUSE YOU DID NOT HALLOW ME in the midst of the children of Israel. Yet you shall see the land before you, though you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving to the children of Israel” (NKJV).

We see here that Moses was not only refused entry into the Promised Land but after seeing the land on Mount Nebo HE DIED. We aren’t left to wonder why Moses missed out on entering the land for God told him exactly why, “You have trespassed against Me….you did not hallow Me.” Moses committed a grievous sin against the Lord and in doing so he failed to hallow (i.e. give reverence to) Him. Moses was also told where this sin took place, “…at the waters of Meribah Kadesth, in the Wilderness of Zin.” I’m quite sure Moses instantly recalled what he did wrong there; in fact, he was inspired to write of this event in the Numbers 20:1-12. In the first 6 verses we see the children of Israel arriving there and because they were extremely thirsty they approached Moses and Aaron and complained to them for bringing them into “this evil place” (verse 5). Moses and Aaron responded by falling on their faces before the Lord and the Lord immediately appeared unto them (verse 6). The following verses explain, in detail, the sin of Moses.

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take a rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. SPEAK TO THE ROCK before their eyes, AND IT WILL YIELD ITS WATER; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.’ So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, ‘HEAR NOW, YOU REBELS! MUST WE BRING WATER FOR YOU OUT OF THIS ROCK?’ Then Moses lifted his and STRUCK THE ROCK TWICE WITH HIS ROD, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, ‘BECAUSE YOU DID NOT BELIEVE ME, TO HALLOW ME IN THE EYES OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, THEREFORE YOU SHALL NOT BRING THIS ASSEMBLY INTO THE LAND which I have given them” (verses 7-12).

Moses actually disobeyed the Lord twice. The Lord had simply told him to “speak to the rock” and the waters would come forth. Instead, Moses SPOKE TO THE PEOPLE with angry words of rebuke and then (in anger) he STRUCK THE ROCK TWICE. In both cases he misrepresented the Lord. We may be thinking, “That doesn’t sound so bad. Yes, he sinned by losing his temper and then rebuked the people and hit the rock twice, but I’ve done worse things than that.” We must remember though that Moses had been given a position of leadership among the people and was God’s honored representative. This carried with it a tremendous responsibility as we see in Luke 12:48, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (NASB). Moses was “given much responsibility” and because he failed to glorify God in this instance he “lost much” (he lost the privilege of entering the Promised Land).

As we saw, ANGER was the root cause of Moses’ disobedience. The Psalmist wrote of this in Psalm 106:32-33, “And they moved him to WRATH at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account; for they PROVOKED HIS SPIRIT, so that he SPOKE UNADVISEDLY WITH HIS LIPS” (DARBY version). God wanted to show MERCY to His people, but Moses showed ANGER. In this one act he failed to represent the Lord Who had blessed him with the honor of leading His people to the Promised Land.

I could end this meditation right here but I want to cite one more thing which added to Moses’ sin. If you would read Exodus 17:1-17 you will see that a similar incident had occurred in Rephidim “where there was not water for the people to drink” (verse 1). The people complained to Moses (verses 2-3), he told the Lord about it (4), and the Lord instructed him to strike a rock once for water and Moses did it (verses 5-6). Not only was Moses perfectly obedient, but the “rock being smitten” was a beautiful TYPE of “Christ being smitten at Calvary’s cross” (see Zechariah 13:7 and Isaiah 53:4-5). When Moses “struck the rock twice” at Meribah, he was ruining this type of Christ for the Lord Jesus was only to be “smitten once” (JUDGED ONCE for our sins), as we see in Hebrews 10:12, “But this Man, after He had OFFERED ONE SACRIFICE FOR SINS, sat down at the right hand of God.”  (349.3)  (DO)