Moses came and recited all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he and Joshua son of Nun. When Moses had finished saying all these words to all Israel, he said, “Take to heart all these words to which I give witness today and urgently command your children to put them into practice, every single word of this Revelation. Yes. This is no small matter for you; it’s your life. In keeping this word you’ll have a good and long life in this land that you’re crossing the Jordan to possess.”
That same day God spoke to Moses: “Climb the Abarim Mountains to Mount Nebo in the land of Moab, overlooking Jericho, and view the land of Canaan that I’m giving the People of Israel to have and hold. Die on the mountain that you climb and join your people in the ground, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and joined his people.
“This is because you broke faith with me in the company of the People of Israel at the Waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin—you didn’t honor my Holy Presence in the company of the People of Israel. You’ll look at the land spread out before you but you won’t enter it, this land that I am giving to the People of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 32:44-52)
Moses would have to die before he could visit Israel. The Israelites ran out of water at a place called Meribah Kadesh. Previously, Moses had gotten water from a rock by hitting it with his staff. But this time, God told him to just talk to the rock. Instead, he angrily whacked at it while he yelled at the Israelites. The water had still come out: God intended to take care of his people regardless. Getting water from the rock wasn’t magic that required just the right incantation. The water came from God. But Moses had not obeyed God. He’d let his temper get the better of him.
Because of his disobedience, God decided to punish him by not allowing him to reach the Promised Land. God told Moses exactly where and when he would die, as if he were a prisoner on death row being led to the gallows. God would let Moses see the Promised Land, but not enter it alive.
Years later, on the Mount of Transfiguration, together with Elijah, Moses finally visited the land he’d been barred from in life, when he met with Jesus on a mountain near the Sea of Galilee (see Luke 9:28-36).