Everyone is totally responsible for their own attitudes and actions. 

A situation with Moses certainly shows this to be the case.     

Moses committed a sin that resulted in an early death. His sin was striking a rock instead of speaking to it as God directed. He also identified himself too closely with God and not closely enough with the sinful, rebellious people he was leading. He claimed more for himself than he should have by saying, “Must WE bring water out of this rock” (Numbers 20:10)!  He failed to maintain a respectful distance between himself and God; a bit too cozy with the Almighty.  God’s description of what Moses did wrong was, “You did not trust Me enough to honor Me . . . .”  God told Moses he lost his ticket to the Promised Land. He would not lead the Israelites across the Jordan River (Numbers 20:12).  

What was Moses thinking?  What was his perspective?  Moses experienced much criticism from some Israelites which promoted his rash words:  

  • “In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron . . .  ‘You have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death’”  (Exodus 16:2 & 3).
  • “’Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us . . . die of thirst?”  In fear for his life Moses said to God,  “They are almost ready to stone me” (Exodus 17:3 & 4).  
  • “They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, ‘You have gone too far . . . why do you set yourself above the Lord’s assembly.’ When Moses heard this, he fell face down . . . ”  (Numbers 16:3 & 4).  
  • “And they [Israelites] said to each other, ‘We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.’ Then Moses and Aaron fell face down in front of the whole Israelite assembly . . . ”   (Numbers 14:4 & 5).

Many other passages make clear that Moses was under a lot of pressure.   

Had I been Moses, I would have thought, “Yes, God, I messed up.  I was wrong. But they provoked me. And just because I struck the rock instead of speaking to it and just because I was overly familiar with you, I lose my role of leading Israel into the Promised Land![1]   God, don’t I deserve a break?  Can‘t You be lenient a little bit with me on this?  I am your servant. The liberator of the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. I have put up with people constantly complaining and criticizing. God, I should not have spoken rashly, but can’t You forgive me please.”

Moses argued with God several times about this, saying in effect, “They made me do it. They provoked me.”  

  • “Because of you the Lord became angry with me also and said, ‘You shall not enter it. . . ‘”    Deuteronomy 1:37. 
  • “’But because of you the Lord was angry at me . . . .’”  Deuteronomy 3:26 
  • “The Lord  was angry with me because of you and He solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan . . . ‘”  And Deuteronomy 4:21 & 22.  Also see Psalm 106:32.

If there is anyone we would expect God to be lenient with, it was Moses. But no. He was totally responsible for his attitudes and actions, no matter what others did to him or said about him.

It is amazing that Moses committed the “sin unto death.”  This is not a specific sin. It is sinning in a situation that God can’t allow (Joshua 7, Acts 5,  Acts 12).  At another time and given different circumstances, God might have tolerated Moses’ words. Since God did not spare one of His choice, premiere servants, is it likely that we will be treated as though we aren’t totally responsible for all of our actions and attitudes?

[1]   The first time water flowed out of a rock, Moses had been instructed to strike the rock.  See Exodus 17:6.