The rebellious generation has been purged and Moses is about to die. So, Moses addresses the people of Israel exhorting them to remember their God and to remember their mission in the land. What is their mission in the land? What is their unique calling as a nation? What is their purpose as they enter this unique land at a unique time in their history?
What is so rebellious about Moses striking the rock two times? We might think that this is a question that is out of line, but Moses is commanded to strike the rock in Exodus 17. Why is it okay for him to strike the rock in Exodus 17, but not okay for him to strike the rock in Numbers 20? What does Moses do that is so bad? Is God just a moody being who judges people in a very vindictive and unpredictable way? What did God intend the people to see through Moses?
We might think that we cannot relate to what it must have been like for Israel to be in exile. The reality is that James greets the church as a group of people who are in exile. We might think that this life is a waste because it does not measure up to what we want. We need to listen to James who is laying out for us that this life probably will not meet our expectations because it is not supposed to meet our expectations. So, why follow our God then if this life will not give us all that we think it should?