Bible Insights

Moses Blames the People for His Mistake

Not Taking Responsibility for Our Actions Goes Way Back

We often shake our heads in dismay over people who refuse to admit when they have done something wrong. Instead they want to blame others. They refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes.

This is not a new development. Even Moses, who spoke to God face-to-face, had this problem.

Moses blames the people for what he did wrong.

Here’s his story.

Moses’s Failure

After Moses leads God’s people out of Egypt into the desert, they’re thirsty. They clamor for water. God tells Moses to go to a rock and speak to it. Then water will pour out of it for the people to drink.

Moses does go to the rock, and he does speak to it, but he also whacks it with his staff—something God didn’t tell him to do. God sees this as a lack of trust on Moses’s part.

Because of Moses’s failure to completely obey God, he won’t let Moses enter the promised land (Numbers 20:2-12).

This seems a bit harsh, but that’s what God determined.

Moses Blames the People

Fast forward about forty years. God’s people are ready to enter the land he promised to give them. Moses has them ready to take the territory. They’re poised to move forward, camping at its border.

Moses then recaps what’s happened over the past four decades. He reminds them about their journey and reiterates some of the laws God gave them.

Then he tells them he won’t be going with them. Instead Joshua will lead them. Joshua will realize what Moses had hoped for, what he worked hard to achieve for forty years.

Moses is bitter over this. But instead of admitting he disobeyed God, that he sinned, he shifts the blame. He blames the people for his failure. He says, “It’s because of you, that God is angry with me” (Deuteronomy 3:26).

Yup, that’s right. Moses blames the people for his mistake.

Blaming Others

Of course, playing the blame game didn’t start with Moses. It goes way back to the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve committed the first sin by disobeying God, their second sin was trying to shift blame.

Adam blamed Eve instead of admitting his own error, and Eve blamed the serpent instead of assuming responsibility for her role in committing the first sin.

Blaming other people for our actions is a moral shortcoming that is the result of sin. Failing to take responsibility for what we have done and pretend that someone else is at fault is another sin.

Repenting so that we may follow Jesus acknowledges our sin, our mistakes, our failures. To repent is to regret what we have done, to be sorry. But we can’t truly repent when we blame others for our mistakes.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 1-3, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 3:26.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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