WHY DID MOSES DIE?
It is important that we highlight well why moses the servant of God died in the wilderness and did not enter into the land of promise. And that’s why we ask why did Moses die?
Moses the servant of God and leader of Israel from the land of Egypt to the wilderness has been wrongly treated and misinterpreted as to why he died in the wilderness. Many people adduce reasons why he died. Some said he died because of the fact that “he claimed that he was the one bringing the water to his people and not God”.
They said because he said, “must we fetch you water out of this rock you rebels” Num. 20:8. Others said “he claimed equality with God” by so saying. Yet another group is of the view that “he took God for granted”, that he at a time thought that God was his mate etc. There are so many reasons given by men about his death, and none of these assertions are true.
As for me, none of these reasons seemed worthy of note to me. I have a different view of why he died. If you ask me I will say the death of Moses was a genetic one. Nobody tries to go through his lineage to find out something, but almost all preachers are giving what I call “spiritual interpretation” to the death of Moses. Yet there is nothing as “spiritual interpretation” in the course “Hermeneutics”. And this is the course that governs the art of Biblical interpretation. But people are giving spiritual interpretation to the death of Moses. This is entirely wrong.
THE CAUSE OF MOSES: DEATH:
Moses was from the tribe of Levi Ex.2, who was the third son of Leah and Jacob. And along the line as Jacob with his two wives, Leah and Rachael left the house of Laban the Syrian; they came into the wilderness of Canaan and dwelled there. One day Dinah the daughter of Jacob who was a sister to Levi and Simeon decided to go and view the land and see how the people were living.
She came near a man’s house that was called Schechem and this man brought her in and defiled her. And she was going from there, there was blood on her legs and her people saw it and enquired of the incident. They knew that something wrong had happened to her. When they enquired from her, she reported it was done by Shechem, an uncircumcised man, something which ought not to be done. And here they were strangers in the land.
They kept quiet until the man came to them with the intention to marry the girl. Dinah’s brothers Levi and Simeon were instrumental that unless they become like themselves, they would not marry their sister. And these people agreed to be circumcised like the Hebrews. They did not know that Levi and Simeon had deceived them in the act of circumcision. They said to Schechem and his people that with this act, they could marry from them and also give them their daughter in marriage, and this seemed to be good to them Gen.34.
When these people had submitted themselves and were circumcised by the family of Jacob, they allowed three days to pass and on the fourth day, Simeon and Levi descended on the whole community and slew them, leaving only children and their wives. Also they collected even their wives and children spoils.
When Jacob heard it he lamented on this and after sometime God asked him to leave the land Gen.35. Then Jacob kept this in his mind and waited the day of his blessing, he couched it out. Now hear him.
“Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. Oh my soul, come not thou into their secret: unto their assembly. Mine honor, be not thou united, for in their anger, they slew a man and in their self will, they diged down a wall. Cursed be their anger for it was fierce and their wrath for it was cruel”.
Jacob had considered the actions of his children as grievous. His pronouncements here indicated that he didn’t welcome the way they responded against the man.
Jacob had expected the man Schechem to marry Dinah since he had defiled her and was willing to marry her. He even went further to the extent of bringing his father and the whole family and community for this exercise. But the action of Levi and his senior brother Simeon were so cruel. They slew this community for a case not too seniors for such massacre.
These were the words that trailed Moses. Here Jacob cursed the anger of both Simeon and his brother Levi, from where Moses came. Now God upheld the words of Jacob. And on the day of Jacob’s blessing before his death, he remembered all their actions and cursed it. He also demanded that his soul and honor should not be united with their action. Of course are you in doubt that he was the man named Israel by God himself?
When you talk of Israel, you are talking of Jacob with his children, and that’s all. When he cursed the anger of Levi and Simeon, it was cursed. Moses therefore died from this curse because the “excessive anger” of his great grandfather Levi reappeared in him. Now consider that this incident happened in the wilderness near the promise land and God remembered the demand of Jacob and stopped Moses.
BUT WHAT DID GOD SAY TO MOSES?
Now let’s evaluate what God said to Moses and what he did that brought about his death and see which one agrees with the word of God. Open your Bible to Num.20:1-12.
The children of Israel were murmuring at all times as they moved from one place to the other in the wilderness. The miracles that followed them were not regarded and in the least provocation, they murmured against the Lord and against Moses. You could see them murmuring before they crossed the Red Sea Ex. 14. In Ex. 16 they murmured and so forth.
In num. 20, they murmured again and as usual Moses and Aaron went up to the Lord to receive instructions on how to provide them with waters this time, the Lord told them to “Speak to the Rock” Num.20:8. He informed Moses and Aaron to gather the people before the Rock that was following them in the wilderness Rom. 10:4. God said Moses should raise up his rod in his hand and Speak to the Rock before their eyes, because this Rock hears and he should command this Rock to give them water.
And as they were watching, this Rock would open up and give them water before their eyes to rebuke their murmurings, unbelief and stubbornness. Now instead of Speaking to the Rock struck the Rock twice before their eyes Num.20:11. Moses through excessive anger forgot what God said was what he ought to do, and hit the Rock twice. From this action God was angry with Moses.
Hear what God said “because you failed to sanctify me before the eyes of the children of Israel, you will not enter the land which I swore to your fathers to give them. You shall be gathered with your fathers” Num. 20:12.
This statement does not indicate Moses’ equality with God. God said he failed to carry out his instruction as it was given to him. He told him to speak to the Rock that was following them through the wilderness, but instead Moses struck the Rock twice. Speaking to the Rock and striking at the Rock are not the same.
God’s intention was to rebuke their unbelief and faithlessness, when they see water rushing out from the Rock at the command of Moses. The children of Israel had demonstrated lack of faith in a most annoying way all through the wilderness. At any moment they murmur instead of asking God to give them water in a normal way, they murmur about it.
God had at an early stage told Moses to strike the Rock in the presence of the elders of the people, and with your rod, with which you smote the Red Sea and bring out water at another place, here Moses struck it as expected and they drank water Ex. 17:3-6. For Moses to ask saying “must we fetch you water out of this Rock you rebels did not amount to equality, neither did it mean that Moses claimed to be the one bringing the water.
God would have loved to hear that statement from him if he said it not through anger. He is the God that performs the words of his servants, that’s what these people forget. If you believe that God was annoyed because of that statement, it is not true. Elijah told Ahab that there would be no rain or dew all these years but according to his word” not according to the word of God I kgs.17:1.
Did God perform it or not? Immediately Elijah made the statement, God told him to hide so that his word would begin to be effective and it was so. God did not say to Elijah, “what you said to Ahab was your own mind and not my word”. How do our people interpret the Bible? it makes me feel bad.
When you are a servant of God, especially as a standing prophet of God like Moses, who spoke to God mouth to mouth, your word is always performed by God whenever you pronounce it out. Standing prophets of God like Moses, Elijah and Elisha etc, could open their mouth in the name of the lord and say something and God would do it.
For example, see the case of Naaman the Syrian with Elisha the prophet in Israel. The king of Syria had send his servant to the king of Israel to recover him of his leprosy. And the king of Israel tore his clothes when he heard of the message, saying “see how the king of Syria seeks a quarrel with me, am I God who could recover his servant of his leprosy”? Then one told Elisha that the king of Israel had torn his clothes because of Naaman.
Hear what Elisha said, “Why did you tear your clothes? Send him to me and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” 2kgs. 5:8. Elisha did not say “he shall know that there is God in Israel”, no but a prophet in Israel. Did God not perform what Elisha said? Again see how Elisha treated Naaman. He did not even come out to meet him, he only a message through his servant to tell Naaman to go and wash himself seven times in River Jordan.
At this message Naaman was wroth with Elisha. He said “he should have come out and at least strike his hands at the place and call upon his God and recover the leper”. But what Elisha said was performed when Naaman later obeyed when he was persuaded by his servant. He would have lost the miracle if his servant had not asked him a question, if he had asked you to do something greater, wouldn’t you do it, how much more to go and wash in the water? Elisha said it and God performed, so it was totally wrong to say that Moses died out of equality with God. Or that he died because he claimed to be the one bringing the water, instead of saying it was God. All these assertions are totally wrong. These declarations are heresies.
When Moses angrily hit the Rock twice instead of speaking to the Rock, God remembered the demand of Jacob who said, “Oh my soul, come not into union with their anger, my honor, be not thou in their assembly, cursed be their anger” Gen.49:5-7.
It was this statement that trailed Moses when he flew into excessive anger and forgot God’s word and did his own. Then God called to mind that they had come near the land and such cursed anger would not enter the land to defile it. Others said “Moses represented the law and law would not enter the land”. What a heresy?
The question is where was the practiced? They said Joshua who represented Grace brought it in. Grace and law were different dispensations which took places at their various times and none is working against the other. The name Moses meant “Drawn out from water” not drawn out from the law, therefore that interpretation is wrong. There was nothing as law at the time of his birth. This name was given him by the daughter of Pharaoh who adopted him when male children of the people of Israel were being slain by the Egyptians. For Moses to have received such favor from God at that time, he should have been called “God’s favor”, had it been that the one who adopted him knew God.
The cause of Moses’ death was nothing but “excessive anger” which was a genetic one from his grandfathers, which was cursed by Israel/Jacob. When Apostle Paul studied this case, he wrote to the Church at Colosie saying “Be angry and sin not, let your anger not go beyond the sunset”. This was because Levi and Simeon carried their anger for many days before they did the worst.
These actions found itself back into Moses when he came near the land of promise. When God stopped him, it did not mean that he was lost, no. Moses appeared with Elijah at the transfiguration of the Lord in Math. 17. So Moses was not lost, so be careful in what you say concerning the word of God.