Book of Deuteronomy Chapter Nine Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Encouragement And Prayer
Verses 1-3: "Hear, O Israel! You are crossing over the Jordan today to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, great cities fortified to heaven, 2 a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’ 3 Know therefore today that it is the Lord your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you, so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the Lord has spoken to you." The Lord will call you to something that is greater than your abilities, but He also enables you to do it. There are many reasons why the Lord acts like this on our behalf, and two are seen right here in these verses: 1) He keeps His word. What He says, commands and initiates, He will accomplish in the lives of His people, whether the key persons initially involved are still in this life or not, and 2) We are sent into situations greater than we are so that all who witness what happens will understand that it is the Lord who does these wonders and not us. There is no room for human pride in anything accomplished in the Name of the Lord. And we should add 3) The Lord loves us and draws us to faith, even when we stray from His will like ancient Israel did.
Verses 4-6: "Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. 5 It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 6 Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people." If you are called to a significant ministry, elected or appointed to an important office, or given some kind of recognition, it is important to see that you have the office, the title and can perform what is necessary because God has decreed it. Yet He has not done this because you are such a wonderful person. It is because HE is wonderful, and consider this: "Many are called and few chosen" (Matthew 20:16). It is likely that others were called to occupy your office, but they declined or ignored His offer, and we may simply be the only ones out of a bad lot who say "yes" to Him. Consider this as well: "There is none righteous, not not one" (Romans 3:10). Nobody deserves anything from God. It's not about you. He is the One who is good, and our participation in all this is because He is full of grace. We deserve nothing, He gives us everything and it's time to be grateful for all He has done and will do.
Verses 7-8: "Remember, do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you left the land of Egypt until you arrived at this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. 8 Even at Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, and the Lord was so angry with you that He would have destroyed you." The nation Israel is not only a historical and present reality, but also a parable, a prophetic look at humanity as the Lord sees us. Israel did poorly from the time of their inception as a nation, and everybody else has done poorly also. We can start to think we have somehow achieved something, some even incredibly deciding they are more humble than others—failing to see that pride will destroy us. At "Horeb" (Sinai), very soon after God delivered them from slavery in Egypt, many in the nation turned to idolatry (Exodus 32), a violation of the covenant blessings God intended for them. Moses continued to intercede for Israel, even to the point in Exodus 32:32, of crying out to the Lord: "blot me out of Your book," if it would help God's people.
Verses 9-11: "When I went up to the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord had made with you, then I remained on the mountain forty days and nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water. 10 The Lord gave me the two tablets of stone written by the finger of God; and on them were all the words which the Lord had spoken with you at the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. 11 It came about at the end of forty days and nights that the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant." We also saw these events in the context of Exodus 31:18, finding, like here in Deuteronomy, that the "two tablets of stone" were "written by the finger of God." Moses the man actually touched and carried those treasured gifts from God. He was so stunned by the Presence of the Lord in front of him that he probably only scarcely noticed initially that he went without food or drink for a miraculous 40-days and nights. We should never be afraid again as we note this miracle, understanding that God can and will do wonders to reveal His Word, bringing many to faith, and caring for us as we journey in His Name.
Verses 12-14: "Then the Lord said to me, 'Arise, go down from here quickly, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made a molten image for themselves.' 13 The Lord spoke further to me, saying, 'I have seen this people, and indeed, it is a stubborn people. 14 Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.'" These verses are a reminder, a recitation to the younger generation in Israel, telling them of events that happened to their parents in Exodus 32:7-10. When God issued the First and Second Commandments, seen in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, Israel (and you and me right now), are being warned that "the wages of sin is death," now and forever—as seen in Romans 6:23, a verse also containing the blessed promise: "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." The God who judges and condemns is also our Savior.
Verses 15-17: "So I turned and came down from the mountain while the mountain was burning with fire, and the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. 16 And I saw that you had indeed sinned against the Lord your God. You had made for yourselves a molten calf; you had turned aside quickly from the way which the Lord had commanded you. 17 I took hold of the two tablets and threw them from my hands and smashed them before your eyes." The comparatively young people of Israel were quiet, listening in stunned silence, frightened as Moses continued telling them of events that happened before most of them were born. Yet they were also held responsible as though they had done it themselves. God informed Moses that Israel had terribly sinned, and then, down from the mountain, he saw for himself that they "indeed sinned against the Lord..." They were committing gross idolatry right in front of God and Moses. Wouldn't you like to see "tablets" that were written upon by the "finger of God?" But you can't because they were destroyed—sin is destructive.
Verses 18-20: "I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you had committed in doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke Him to anger. 19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the Lord was wrathful against you in order to destroy you, but the Lord listened to me that time also. 20 The Lord was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him; so I also prayed for Aaron at the same time." We must thank the Lord, for although we have sinned like Israel, in thought, word, and in our actions, God mercifully sent His Son to die in our place. Moses experienced another 40-day fast, in which he neither ate nor drank, a human impossibility but all things are possible for God, who heard the prayers of this faithful man. Note that the people's sins would have caused them to die, and Moses did not forget individuals like his brother, Aaron, as he prayed for them all. It's important for us to KNOW these verses—God HEARS our prayers and ANSWERS our need, a need that is deeper and greater than we understand. Verse 21 continued, "I took your sinful thing, the calf which you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it, grinding it very small until it was as fine as dust; and I threw its dust into the brook that came down from the mountain." If what we build in life is not in line with God's will, it will be destroyed and scatted like dust. Idolatry and gold have no real value, no reality, except in our imagination.
Verses 22-24: "Again at Taberah and at Massah and at Kibroth-hattaavah you provoked the Lord to wrath. 23 When the Lord sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, 'Go up and possess the land which I have given you,' then you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God; you neither believed Him nor listened to His voice. 24 You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day I knew you." At "Taberah," the people complained (Numbers 11:1-3), in "Massah" they murmered about the lack of water (Exodus 17:1-3); in "Kibroth-hattaavah," they despised the manna given by the Lord and demanded flesh to eat (Numbers 11:4-6), and at "Kadesh-barnea" they burned with anger at the Lord and wanted to go back to Egypt (Numbers 20). Are you unhappy with the Lord's direction for your life? He carefully fashioned you and designed the events in your life in such a manner that you will reach out of your sorrow and find faith in the Lord. Life is a tough classroom with a final exam that has the potential to take us into the Presence of the Lord for a blessed, sinless eternity.
Verses 25-29: "So I fell down before the Lord the forty days and nights, which I did because the Lord had said He would destroy you. 26 I prayed to the Lord and said, 'O Lord God, do not destroy Your people, even Your inheritance, whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 27 Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look at the stubbornness of this people or at their wickedness or their sin. 28 Otherwise the land from which You brought us may say, 'Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which He had promised them and because He hated them He has brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.' 29 Yet they are Your people, even Your inheritance, whom You have brought out by Your great power and Your outstretched arm.'" Have you noticed that Moses was a humble man, a man of prayer?—but he doesn't seem to have started out that way. He was brought up by Pharaoh's daughter as a prince of Egypt, "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and... mighty in words and deeds" (Acts 7:20-22). He was a notable man of this world who discovered faith through isolation and suffering. How often did this prince who became a lowly sheepherder, regret the events in Egypt that led to his exile? Yet here he is, now a man of prayer like we all should be, bringing the people before the Lord in loving intercession. How will YOU spend your last moments of life? In a short time he would die and what did he do in HIS last time on earth?—he encouraged God's people and much like when he went for 40-days without food and water, he prayed for them all.
Lord, our very lives depend on You. We have no standing with the Father, except that You gave Your life for us. We are sinners, Lord. We confess our sin and ask for forgiveness, which You have given us on the Cross. Please heal our wayward hearts and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.