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WARNINGS BECAUSE OF PREVIOUS REBELLIONS
In spite of Israel's many failures in the wilderness. God would keep His Word to bring them to the land of promise. Israel is told to go in and dispossess the nations greater and mightier than themselves, with great fortified cities, the people great and tall, descendants of the Anakim who were giants, who had a reputation of being invincible (vs.1-2). But Israel must understand that it was the living God who went before them "as a consuming fire" to render the enemy helpless before them (v.3).
As well as needing such encouragement in the Lord, Israel needed serious warnings, for they might think in their heart that the Lord was fighting for them because of their righteousness, which was far from the truth. Rather, the wickedness of these nations had risen to such a height that God was driving them out (v.4). Moses insists in verse 5 that it was not because of Israel's righteousness that they would possess the land, but because of the wickedness of the nations who then possessed it, and also that God would thus fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Was Israel really a righteous nation? No, Moses tells them, they were a stiff-necked people, that is, stubborn and rebellious. Then he goes on to recount to them the many proofs in their history of their sinful character. "Remember!" he tells them, "Do not forget" (v.7). They had provoked the Lord to anger from the beginning of their wilderness journey. Also in Horeb their guilt was enormous, so that God was on the verge of destroying them. Moses had gone up to the mountain to receive the tables of stone on which the ten commandments were written, being there 40 days and 40 nights without food or water (v.9). He brought the tables down when the Lord told him Israel had corrupted themselves in making a golden image (v.12).
At that time the Lord threatened to blot our Israel's name from under heaven, and offered Moses the opportunity of becoming the head of a greater and mightier nation (v.14). Moses does not, in recounting this, tell how he had pled for Israel and God had relented (Exodus 32:11-14), but he does speak of coming down the mountain, seeing the golden calf Israel had made, and throwing the two tables of stone on the ground and breaking them (vs.15-17).
Israel's sin caused Moses then to fall down before the Lord a second time for 40 days and 40 nights, without food and water, for he was afraid of the anger of the Lord against Israel, and he interceded for them before God, and the Lord listened (vs.18-19). God was angry with Aaron also, and only the intercession of Moses preserved Aaron from judgment (v.20). Moses, burned the golden calf, crushed it into particles like dust and threw it into a brook of water (vs.20-21). These two verses describe what happened before Moses' 40 days of fasting and prayer.
Moses then speaks of other cases of Israel's rebellion, first at Taberah (Numbers 11:1-10), their complaining about their food; then at Massah (Exodus 17:2-6), complaining about the lack of water; then at Kibroth Hattaavah (Numbers 11:32-34), when the Lord showed mercy in giving Israel quails and they responded by greedily devouring them without any recognition of His goodness (vs.22-23). Also, Moses reminded Israel of their rebellion against the Word of the Lord at Kadesh Barnea when they refused to go into the land (Numbers 14:1-10). All of this proved Israel to be unworthy of the blessing God was going to give them in the land. How could they possibly boast then that the prosperity given them was because of their righteousness? As Moses says, they had been rebellious against the Lord from the day he knew them (v.24).
Verse 2 refers back to verse 18 to impress on Israel how dependent they were on an intercessor, for if they had gotten what they deserved it would have meant their destruction. Believers today also depend on the intercession of the Lord Jesus for our being borne with and sustained in our earthly wilderness history.
Moses' prayer at the time was not based on any hope that Israel would improve in their conduct, but on two great facts, first that God had claimed Israel as His own inheritance by redeeming them from Egyptian bondage (v.26), and secondly, on the fact of who their fathers were, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom God had given His unconditional promise (v.27). Thus, he asked God to remember these servants of His and turn His eyes from the stubbornness of Israel.
Moses used another powerful argument in verse 28. If God destroyed Israel in the wilderness, the Egyptians would say that God was not able to bring Israel into the promised land, but had rather shown hatred to Israel by killing them. Yet, in spite of all their miserable failure, Moses reminded God the children of Israel were His own people, His inheritance, whom He had brought by His great power out of Egypt (v.29), and could He cancel the value of that work by their destruction?
The history reminds us that we today are also fully dependent on the intercession of the Lord Jesus for our preservation and blessing.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 9". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
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