Vol. 9, No. 3
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Because Moses disobeyed God and failed to sanctify him in humble obedience, he was not permitted to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12; 27:14). However, we find that he was allowed to enter into greater blessings than he could ever have had in Canaan (Matthew 17:4; Mark 9:5; Luke 9:33). We do not ever remember hearing or reading any logical or biblical reason why God would thus punish a person for his disobedience, and yet apparently forgive him and allow him to be saved in spite of it.
We can answer very easily why God punished him for his disobedience, even if almost all denominational scholars and liberal members of the Lord's church cannot seem to understand it. Without going into detail, it was simply because he went beyond what he was authorized to do. But we cannot answer to our complete satisfaction why repentance for that act (supposing he did repent) would not allow him to enter Canaan, supposedly a type of heaven, yet God for some reason allowed him to be saved eternally.
The only answer we have at this time that makes any sense is this: God wanted them and all future generations to realize that every word and action we perform may have some consequence, either good or bad. Forgiveness for those acts or words will not remove the fleshly consequences. We can illustrate that dozens of ways. If a man strikes is wife in anger, she may forgive him, but her black eye or broken jaw will still be there. Some of those who crucified Christ were forgiven (Acts 2), but that did not bring Christ back from the dead.
However, God's forgiveness for our sinful words or actions will remove the eternal consequences, so the husband who beats his wife, the drunken driver who kills a child, the Jews who crucified Christ, and Moses who sinned in striking the rock and failing to sanctify God may all still be with God in eternity if they accept the gracious offer of God on the terms he has made. In our case, it is for one who believes in the Lord Jesus as the Christ and is willing to submit to his authority in all things, to repent and be baptized for the remission of our sins. In Moses' case, we presume it was repentance, although we do not recall a passage that clearly says that Moses repented. Numbers 20:28 and Numbers 27:14 do say about Moses that he did as the Lord commanded regarding some events after that. So everything we know about Moses after the Lord told him that he would not go into the land of Canaan indicates that he had repented of that sin and submitted to the will of God. In Joshua 1:2, God calls him "my servant" and indicates that he was pleased with Moses' life in general.
There may be better answers to the "problem" than the answer we have given, but there is great comfort in the fact that although we may have to suffer some here as a result of our sinful actions, the blood of Christ can cleanse us from all sin, and we will not have to suffer eternal consequences as a result of them.