Have you ever wondered why Moses couldn’t enter the Promised Land? The Bible states that he was the meekest man on earth and faithful in ALL God’s house. But Moses makes one mistake by striking the rock instead of speaking to it and God takes away the prize of the Promised Land. Moses is instead condemned to die in the desert with good health!
Hmm…seems a little extreme, doesn’t it? Isn’t God a little more compassionate than that? Couldn’t God forgive him and let him in?
On the surface, this Biblical story seems too harsh. If we stopped at the literal rendering, it is! The first time I read this story, I was a child. Even then I questioned God’s motive in being so harsh and unforgiving on the matter. All I could conclude from the story is that God is pretty serious about disobedience; the story didn’t leave me with ANY wiggle room. It was scary to think that I could be faithful in everything I did, have one slip up because of anger, and end up with no hope of a Promised Land!
This story begs the question: Is there more to this account than Moses disobeying an external God? Is there some metaphysical or esoteric meaning beneath the surface of the literal interpretation that makes more sense? Absolutely. This story is more about the betrayal of ego than a man who disobeyed an external God. Bear with me and you’ll have no doubt about it.
In the twentieth chapter of Numbers, the Israelites are complaining because they have no water. Without water, they would soon be dead. So God instructs Moses to speak to a rock so that water would gush out. But Moses wasn’t in the best frame of mind on this occasion. When God instructs him to speak to the rock, he is already angry with the Israelites because of their griping and complaining. Moses just wants the people to trust God, but no matter how many miracles God performs, the people seem to forget. As always, they resort to complaining. Sounds like humanity in general, doesn’t it?
Right before Moses strikes the rock, he says this to the people:
“…Hear now, you rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” (Num. 20:10, KJV).
So Moses called them rebels. Instead of speaking to the rock to provide life-giving water, Moses’ anger (EGO) takes over and he yells at the people. This does not make God happy, and you already know Moses’ punishment. But this story has less to do with an angry God and more about of a state of being. Let me explain. After Moses struck the rock, God states:
“…Because you believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them (Num. 20:12, KJV).
Please notice the first portion of the scripture which I have put in bold above. In this scripture, the Biblical author wants to show that God was concerned about how Moses represented him in the eyes of the people. Moses was to be God’s representative. How does someone represent God? For one thing, you don’t do it with ego. And yet, Moses debased God to the very status of human ego! This is bad. The simplest acts of nature, like a worker bee toiling for the hive, are a better representative of God than human ego.
The reason why God didn’t allow Moses to enter the Promised Land in the literal story becomes obvious. No one can enter the Promised Land—where the ego is supposed to be crucified—if the ego is in control. This is the very thing God was trying to teach the Israelites to do in the wilderness. Egypt is an allegorical representation of living in the flesh. The Promised Land is an allegorical representation of living in the spirit. Moses, as God’s representative, was supposed to lead the people from the land of flesh (the five senses) to the Land of the spirit (within and beyond the senses). But the Israelites and the Egyptians who went with them had to go through the wilderness, or the experience of life, to get there. We are all on this journey. We all have to do this. That’s why the scripture tells us that even Jesus learned obedience through the things that he suffered. Even he had to do this.
Now notice the other part of the bolded scripture. God had already given them the Promised Land. This is also so true for all of us. The Promise Land is not a physical place. It’s within us! This is no different than Jesus teaching that the Kingdom of God is within us! Just like God had already given the Israelites the Promised Land, we ALL already have the Promise Land. Our egos are one aspect of the illusion that keeps us from realizing this.
As you can see, this story is not about Moses making God angry. Rather, the meaning underneath the literal story shows us how vital it is to dissolve the ego and walk in the spirit. This takes time. It takes practice. It takes going into the wilderness. And finally, it takes a lot of time in the prayer closet, alone, in meditation. This is where the real wilderness experience takes place. This is also where the real experience of dissolving the ego takes place as well.