When Moses gave the law to the Israelites, he introduced the God of authority, power and judgment instead of the God of love. The reason he did so was to protect and raise them with the law as Heaven’s people. It was to lead them to the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, and thereby accomplish God’s Will of restoration. (35:260, October 25, 1970)
Moses did not act centering on himself. From important strategic decisions to trivial details, he did nothing without seeking God’s direction first. In this way, Moses could enter the palace of the Pharaoh, perform miracles and bring on ten plagues, and lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness.
In that danger-filled wilderness, the Israelites should have united with Moses. The wilderness and its privations should not have deterred them. They should have been of one accord with Moses, who had freed them from slavery and was leading them to the land of Canaan. There should have been no disputing with him. Nevertheless, they did not unite with Moses, but deviated from God’s path and perished.
Why did the Israelites perish in the wilderness? They did not know Moses’ hidden devotion, who as their leader continually appealed to God on their behalf. What is more, they did not recognize the hardships and ordeals Moses suffered on their behalf, from the day he rescued them from Egypt through the years of shepherding them through the wilderness. Consequently, they felt estranged from Moses, and eventually they perished in the wilderness…
Whenever he faced the Israelites mistrust and lack of faith in him, Moses first repented in front of God for his own lack of ability. For example, [after the Israelites fell to worshipping the golden calf,] Moses again went up to Mount Sinai and offered a forty-day fast and prayer. He cried out, “Father, why is this people not able to enter the land that Thou hast promised, even when it lays before their eyes? Who does the blame fall upon? The responsibility lies with me. I could not fulfill my responsibility to lead them well. Therefore, please accept me as the sacrifice and keep the people from going down the path to destruction.” If the Israelites had known that Moses was fasting with such an anguished heart, not for his own sake but for theirs, they would not have made the golden calf and worshipped it. (1:143-144, July 1, 1956)
When they were in the wilderness, they had no way to survive unless they followed Moses. But once they reached the Jordan River, Moses told them to cross ahead of him. It was beautiful to see them excitedly crossing the river and dashing into Canaan. However, Moses remained behind. Did Moses complain, “How could you do this to me, crossing the river and leaving me behind!”? No, Moses only felt, “It is alright for me to die here. You, my children, should go and occupy the land with God’s blessing forevermore.” He lifted up his hands and prayed, “God, look at these Israelites, more courageous than I. Please protect them and give them a hopeful future!” God was astonished to hear Moses’ prayer and exclaimed, “Moses, you are a great leader. Please take a rest now. I will see that your prayer is fulfilled.” What a wonderful death Moses had! (189:249-50, April 9, 1989)