Deuteronomy Chapter 9

In this chapter, Moses continues his final sermons to the Israelites. They are being prepared and strengthened for the final part of the journey into the promised land. We read:

1 Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,
2 A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak!
3 Understand therefore this day, that the Lord thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the Lord hath said unto thee.
4 Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee.
5 Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
6 Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.

In order to go into the promised land, the Israelites would need to cross the Jordan River. They were on the verge of this task, as well as going up against the inhabitants who are stronger and larger than they were, with cities that were fortified with great walls. Some of these people were the giants of their day, and most men feared them. They were reminded here, that the Lord would go before them. He would be their strength and deliver them to the Israelites, who would then be able to destroy them and drive them out of the land. These things were not done because of the great righteousness of the Israelites, but rather, because of the great wickedness of the other nations and to keep the promises that had been made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The children of Israel were a hard nation, who had not turned fully to the Lord and were quick to forget Him.

I think that they needed this reminder, so that they would not turn too quickly to boast of themselves in their accomplishments. We can learn from this, that sometimes we are blessed in life because of others, and not for our ourselves. In some cases, others loose their own blessings and they fall upon us. Sometimes others are righteous and we are blessed because they have been faithful. It would be great to recognize either of these causes in our own lives, because it can help to keep us more grateful and humble.

7 Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord.
8 Also in Horeb ye provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry with you to have destroyed you.
9 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:
10 And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the Lord spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.
11 And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.
12 And the Lord said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.
13 Furthermore the Lord spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
14 Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.
15 So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands.
16 And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the Lord your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the Lord had commanded you.
17 And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes.
18 And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the Lord was wroth against you to destroy you. But the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also.
20 And the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time.
21 And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount.

Moses reminded the people that as a nation, they had been entirely too rebellious towards the God that blessed them at this time. He spoke of Horeb, or the area of Sinai, when Moses left them for a time to receive the law from the Lord. While he fasted and spoke with the Lord, they had turned back to their evil ways of idolatry. The Lord was angry for this rebellion and told Moses that he would destroy them and raise a mighty nation from Moses. Moses saw for himself, that the people had returned to worshipping a false god, and broke the stone tablets that contained the law of the Lord. Moses fasted and prayed to the Lord, that the anger of the Lord would be turned away from the people and Aaron, for their sin. Moses took the sin of the Israelites, the wicked idol which they had worshipped, and destroyed it.

22 And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibroth-hattaavah, ye provoked the Lord to wrath.
23 Likewise when the Lord sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice.
24 Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.
25 Thus I fell down before the Lord forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the Lord had said he would destroy you.
26 I prayed therefore unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
27 Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin:
28 Lest the land whence thou broughtest us out say, Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.
29 Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm.

Moses also reminded them of other times of rebellion, when they had murmured for water and food, and when they had feared the strength of the nations in the land. At these times they had brought the wrath of the Lord upon themselves again. They had had great moments of weakness, doubt, and the fear of men – moments when they had not believed in God, and had been led them away from Him. Moses had fasted and prayed again for the people of Israel. Moses knew the promises of their fathers, and that this people were the Lord’s chosen people. Other nations were aware of them as well, and Moses had prayed that the Lord would spare them destruction, so that others would not think that God was not a God of great power, or that God hated His own people so he destroyed them. Moses had done so much for the people, through pleading for their lives, when they deserved the punishments of God. In effect, Moses, took the sin of Israel upon himself and paid the price along with those who had lost faith. We can look at this choice for Moses, and see an example of Christ. Christ has taken the sin of all the people upon himself, and paid the greater price so that we can live eternally with God. Just as we owe our lives and gratitude to the Savior, the Israelites owed much to their own mediator, Moses. This is the burden of the prophets. I wonder how much pleading is done by the modern prophets in behalf of the saints today. I hope that I can live my life with greater faith and trust in the Lord, and with a more grateful heart for the blessings I receive from Him, through the Atonement.

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