Deuteronomy 9 (NLT) “Listen, O Israel! Today you are about to cross the Jordan River to take over the land belonging to nations much greater and more powerful than you… But recognize today that the LORD your God is the one who will cross over ahead of you like a devouring fire to destroy them. He will subdue them so that you will quickly conquer them and drive them out, just as the LORD has promised. “After the LORD your God has done this for you, don’t say in your hearts, ‘The LORD has given us this land because we are such good people!’ No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that he is pushing them out of your way. It is not because you are so good or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land… “Remember and never forget how angry you made the LORD your God out in the wilderness. From the day you left Egypt until now, you have been constantly rebelling against him… “Then, as before, I threw myself down before the LORD for forty days and nights. I ate no bread and drank no water because of the great sin you had committed by doing what the LORD hated, provoking him to anger. I feared that the furious anger of the LORD, which turned him against you, would drive him to destroy you. But again he listened to me. The LORD was so angry with Aaron that he wanted to destroy him, too. But I prayed for Aaron, and the LORD spared him. I took your sin—the calf you had made—and I melted it down in the fire and ground it into fine dust. Then I threw the dust into the stream that flows down the mountain.
The ears of the Israelites were probably sore from listening to all that Moses had to say to them. Is God not simply too verbose and does God expect more than just Sunday morning messages from us?
At the start of today’s chapter, Moses explains to the Israelites the monumental challenge they are about to face and it certainly sounds terribly daunting. The nations whose lands they were about to enter were much greater and powerful than them. Their cities were highly fortified and their warriors were giants feared by all. This was a futile battle for the Israelite nation and bordered on suicide.
However, Moses reminds them that their strength was not in themselves or their possessions but it was in God who is all-powerful. God is not visible and is easily forgotten or ignored but the Israelites could clearly see God’s hand in their lives. He lived among them in the tabernacle and communicated to them through Moses and the Levitical priesthood. The LORD God offered to destroy their enemies quickly so that they could drive them out and show their dominion over the land. What a gracious offer and how undeserving were the Israelites who lived off the promises God made to their ancestors.
Jesus reminds us in John 15:5 that apart from Him, we can do nothing. In Philippians 4:13, Paul reminds us that we can do everything through Christ, who gives us strength. What an echo these words are to those God spoke to the Israelites thousands of years ago. As Christians, our lives are made possible only through Christ’s leading and Christ is about His father’s business, about whom we see evidence in today’s chapter again.
Having given the Israelites this hope, God reminds them never to mistake His goodness to them as something He did because they earned it through their righteousness. This is a vital lesson to us because we often live in the illusion that the blessings that come our way are because of our efforts. In context of this chapter, God reveals that the reason the Israelites would find favour was because God chose to punish their enemies for their wickedness and to keep the promises God made to their ancestors.
This whole story is not about the Israelites but about God. ‘In the beginning God’ is how the Bible starts back in Genesis 1:1 and we must remember that in all things, God needs to be kept first because it is by Him, about Him and for His glory alone. Every chapter, story and moment mentioned in the Bible shows us how this entire book is about His story. We are privileged to be given a part in it but the hero is Him and we are simply recipients of the greatest gift we could get, His love! Let us never fool ourselves into thinking highly about ourselves because we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standards (Romans 3:23).
The chapter continues with Moses reminding the Israelites of their many faults should they at any point think he was simply being too harsh on them. Recently I was reminded by God about how important it was for me to reflect on my salvation experience because as Christians, we should never forget that He brought us out of darkness into the Kingdom of his dear Son Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13). Non-Christians must never misjudge us as an exclusive club of chosen people who look down on them, rather they need to see us as broken people rescued by a holy and loving God and wants to do the same for them also.
Just as Moses cried and prayed for God’s mercy upon the Israelites, we should pray today for God’s mercy upon those He has placed in our circles of influence. The four solid reasons that Moses’ prayers were based on are (1) because of God’s faithfulness to us, (2) because of His past faithfulness to our ancestors, (3) because of His own glory and reputation among the nations and (4) because we are His people.
In His Loving Service,
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