Deuteronomy 32:48-52 – Forever Branded by That One Thing You Did Way Back When…

Posted: May 5, 2017 in 04-Numbers
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Deuteronomy 32:48-52

Moses’ Death Foretold

Have you ever done one thing wrong and you are forever branded for it? You are forever classified because of that one thing. Like yesterday, when we were talking about the singing group, Flock of Seagulls, from back in the 1980s. They had that one-hit wonder song, “I Ran”. Although the band continued to be somewhat successful in England, the group never achieved the international fame they attained with the song and video for “I Ran” ever again. One of the peculiar things about the video was the hairstyle worn by the leader singer, Michael Score. He said that he grew to hate the song and the hairdo because the “do” was the only thing people wanted to talk about and the “do” was the only thing people really remember about the band other than the lyrics and music to that one song – their one major, international hit. The band was defined by the hair and that one song. It overwhelmed and consumed them. They were forever measured by that one song and that one hairdo. It is a cruel thing, the fickleness and lack of depth of the music listening public. It is rare for musical groups who have a massive first hit like Flock of Seagulls did and ever reach that height of stardom again. The music public chews you up and spits you and moves onto the next big thing. Never can you show them that your subsequent music is just as good or better than that first megahit. You are bound and classified and compared to that one hit. You are expected to duplicate the sound and the feel of the one hit but if you want to branch out and make different music, it is never accepted the way that one hit was. Then, you fade away like so many other bands that have that one huge hit. Just think of “My Sharona” by The Knack, “C’mon Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, “I Think I’m Turning Japanese” by the Vapors. All one-hit wonders with songs that gained them brief, international fame. The bands were branded by these songs and could never overcome them to achieve long-term success like other bands who became popular in the 80’s like U2, Madonna, and others.


Are you someone who has been branded by one thing you did? It reminds you of Hester Prynne from the Scarlet Letter. In the book, she is forever branded by the fact that she committed adultery and had a child outside of wedlock. She had to wear a scarlet letter “A” on all her clothing. She was shunned by the Puritanical New England society in which she lived. It would not matter what she would do for the rest of her life, she was an adulterer. She could not remove her scarlet letter no matter what she did. She was forever branded by her one mistake. Do you have a story like Hester’s? Are you the rebellious teen that the whole town thought was a thug and now you are a minister but in your hometown you are still that young thug? Are you the kid from the wrong family from the wrong side of the tracks that is forever thought suspicious because of the family you come from? Are you a preacher’s kid and forever brand as “preacher’s kids are always the worst kind” because society brands that you should be wearing your acolyte robes and singing hosanna all day long when actually you are no different from any kid in town? That one thing about you that brands you forever. That one thing you did (and even though you regret it now) is forever attached to you and no one will ever let you forget it!


That’s the thing I thought about this morning as I read the passage, Deuteronomy 32:48-52, this morning. Let’s read it together now:


48 On that same day the Lord told Moses, 49 “Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. 50 There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. 51 This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. 52 Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.”

Moses was prevented from entering the Promised Land because of one moment of lapse way back in the book of Numbers. Moses got mad and struck the rock to produce water instead of speaking to it as God had commanded. Instead of giving God credit for the miracle, Moses took credit for it. He got pissed off and forgot the moral fiber that God gave him. He was tired of all the bellyaching and complaining of the Israelite people and just lost his cool for that one moment in time. It seems unfair that Moses is being prevented by God from entering the Promised Land. Moses had done so many good things for so long. He had done everything God had ever commanded him to do and He loved the Lord God with a passion. He was a great leader of a people that were hard to lead. He put up with a lot over the years. He was almost martyr-like in the stuff that he put up with from the Israelite people and he did it mostly with grace and dignity. He often interceded on their behalf to beg for the forgiveness of the sins of the people he was leading. Talk about your long-suffering saints. It seems that if anyone earned their place in the Promised Land it was Moses! Poor guy! I would have walked away from the Israelites on so many occasions. Just threw up my hands and walked away. But Moses didn’t. He was tireless in his efforts. He was a good, good man but God seems unfair here. He had one moment of moral lapse and that one thing, that one thing prevents Him from going to the Promised Land.


One thing that we have to remember in this situation is that God uses the star characters of the history of the Israelite people in the Old Testament to reveal things to us about the coming Messiah and to reveal His universal truths to us. It is all there for us to see. You just sometimes have to think about it a little bit to get it. At first blush, you kind of see God as unfair here. Outside of Jesus himself, there is no taller standing figure than Moses and maybe Elijah in the Old Testament and maybe Paul in the New Testament. These are the heavy hitters of the Christian faith. Moses was “da man”! He is on anyone’s top 10 list of great biblical characters. However, God prevents him from entering the Promised Land and what does that mean to us?


Moses’ one sin as leader of the Israelite people was that one act of disobedience about the water from the rock. Does that not ring symbolic of what our situation is in the face of God? God does not tolerate sin. That which is not sinless cannot exist in His presence. We have to be sinless to enter into heaven and exist with God for eternity. Plain and simple. No sin ya get in. That means that we can have no sin in us. Not even one sin in a lifetime. Once we commit our first sin, we are forever excluded from the presence of God on our own. It only takes one sin. One sin. That’s it. That’s all it takes to exclude us from the presence of God for sin and the imperfection it causes will not allow us to exist in the presence of the perfect, sinless God. One sin and we are branded for life. One sin and we are sentenced to hell. One sin and we are Moses looking at the Promised Land and not being able to enter it. We think it unfair of God to exclude Moses from the Promised Land for that one sin of anger at a rebellious people but Moses also had murdered a man earlier in his life. That sin in the desert was not his first rodeo, but that sin in the desert was the sin that God highlighted. It only takes one sin to disqualify us from the Promised Land not to mention all the sins that we commit in a lifetime. It just takes one. God will only have to highlight one because one is all it takes to sentence us to hell. All the other sins of our lives simply add nails to the coffin of our sin sentence. We are bound for hell because of our first sin. Our other sins just demonstrate of contempt for God and add fuel to the fire for why we deserve the harsh sentence of hell.


It does not matter how good we are. Moses was a good man. Moses did all the right things. Made all the right moves. He was a great leader. He was a man who did whatever God prescribed him to do. If ever a man deserved the Promised Land, it was him. But like us, we do not earn heaven. Even if we put up with a lot of crap from people with grace and dignity and have suffered greatly at other people’s hands, we do not deserve heaven because we did those things alone. Why? Because we are sinners. No one earns heaven. We all deserve hell because of one sin and one sin is all it takes! We are excluded.

What does it take to get us into the Promised Land? It is not because of the good deeds we do. It takes Joshua to lead us into the Promised Land. Joshua is the name for Savior in Hebrew. Jesus is the Greek version of Savior. So, Joshua of the Old Testament is representative of Jesus. He is the only one who can lead us into the Promised Land. It is through Jesus and Jesus alone that we find our passage into the Promised Land. He is the Sinless One. It is through his imputed sinlessness that we can enter into the Promised Land. It is through His taking the punishment for our sins that we get to enter into the Promised Land. It is only through submitting to Him and His leadership of our lives that we can enter into the presence of God in the promised land of Heaven. Moses thus represents the Law and how it points out our sins and the fact that it only takes one to disqualify us from the presence of God. Joshua represents what Jesus does for us. He is the one through home we find grace and can enter the promised land.


Otherwise we are forever branded by our one sin that disqualifies us much less a lifetime of sins and regardless of how good we are the rest of our lives.


just as Flock of Seagulls was forever branded by one song and one hairdo.


Amen and Amen.

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