A Bitter Lesson

“At that time I pleaded with the Lord:…”
Deuteronomy 3:23 (NIV)

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“‘Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.’ But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. ‘That is enough,’ the Lord said. ‘Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.'”
Deuteronomy 3:25-26 (NIV)

Moses was one of history’s greatest leaders. Once he submitted to God’s plan for his life he became a truly amazing person as he led the nation Israel out of captivity to the Promised Land.

Only once is it recorded that he failed in his duties as the nation’s leader. Psalm 106:32-33 (NIV)


“By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord,
and trouble came to Moses because of them;
for they rebelled against the Spirit of God,
and rash words came from Moses’ lips.”

Out of frustration with the nation Moses let “rash words” slip out of his mouth. For that sin in public God judged Moses and did not allow him to enter the Promised Land. It was a strong judgment on Moses but God requires greater compliance with His will from the leadership than He does from those who follow.

James 3:1 (NIV) reads,

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers,
because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

So those who have greater privilege receive stricter judgment.

When leaders fail, their sin needs to be dealt with swiftly by mature leaders in the church or denomination. We should always remember that in biblical times leaders fell into various sins and yet even to them God was gracious and restored them to active service after punishment. Moses continued to lead the nation after his sin, but paid the price of not entering the promised land with the nation.

In Galatians 2:11-21 we read of Peter’s sin of hypocrisy and how he was dealt with by Paul. There is no mention of Peter being put out of ministry for his sin of hypocrisy. Paul and Barnabas had an ungodly quarrel (Acts 15:36-41) and yet both remained in ministry. God blessed both after this time of harsh argument.

Perhaps you are a leader who fell; a leader who was dismissed because you offended in some manner; or a lowly church member who stumbled in the way. You are paying a price for your actions and the gossip chain will certainly rise to the challenge of spreading the sorry story around. Yet God is in the business of restoring fallen people. You have fallen to rise again. Take heart stumbling Christian, God is not finished with you yet. You shall rise to serve another day.

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