Dipping into our continuing study of the book of Deuteronomy, our attention comes to Deuteronomy chapter 9.
Scripture and summary
Moses imparts direct instructions to the Israelites as they are preparing to move forward as well as stating the purpose of their task. The Israelites were coming to “dispossess” the Canaanites. The aged leader stresses the sovereignty of God over their task, a task that human eyes saw as formidable. Moses assures the people that God is doing the fighting and that the Israelites are merely a “mop up” operation.
Moses imparts a warning to the people: do not let success go to your head. He words were load and clear: do not think that you have success because you are somehow better. Pride was a danger.
The reason that the Israelites should be careful of their pride is because of they idolatrous rebellion at Sinai (Horeb here). God demonstrated what unmindful people will do when God is silent: they will sin.
Moses recounts the rebellion at Sinai and his intercession before God for a people who despised their Savior. Ingratitude ultimately led to judgement in that case.
Moses briefly touches on 3 more instances of unfaithfulness and rebellion, and his intercession for the people.
All of these rebellions are ultimately compared to the faith of the patriarchs and the promises made by God to them as a subtle warning to the people. This surmises Moses’ intercessory work before God for the people.
The rebellion of Israel follows a similar pattern: God speaks, then is silent; the silence of God, in spite of his clear revelation, stirs up impatience, which leads to ingratitude, which leads to rebellion. We want to hear God’s voice and we need to hear it. But just as soon as we do, we can forget what was said.
Israel, in spite of the great and powerful revelation they received, still sinned with hearty abandon.
God desired to pour out his wrath, but Moses intervened. Does this mean that man had some effect on God? No.
God is rich in mercy and is lavish with it. He bestows it freely. Man deserves nothing but wrath and punishment, but God withholds it and speaks with loving care, saving as many as he desire to save. The humble heart, therefore, rejoices in this and bows the knee before God.
God desired to establish a covenant of righteousness with Israel, a covenant that begins with the securing of freedom and the establishment of a relationship. Israel did nothing to deserve God’s attention and only receives it because God has chose to give it.