Deuteronomy 9:1-3 It is important to keep in mind that chapter divisions are not part of God’s inspired Word. They are helpful but sometimes they cause us to neglect to see how they flow from the previous chapters. Moses is continuing his warning regarding the new generations thinking as they are about to enter into warfare and victory in the promised land. This is the fourth time in Deuteronomy that Moses gives the call (Shema Yisrael) Hear, O Israel (4:1, 5:1, 6:4). In the New Covenant Yeshua uses “Truly truly I say to you” used 25 times in John’s Gospel alone, is a call to pay attention to what follows. twenty-five times in John’s Gospel). In the battle before them Moses tells them that the cities, they are coming against were heavily fortified and their armies were strong and tall. Humanly speaking, they had no chance to defeat these nations. However, God promised to go before them into battle. Their victories would not be the result of their military skill or strength but from the Lord their God who would either destroy or subdue them giving the choice to kill them or expel them from the Land.
Deuteronomy 9:4-6 Moses warns them again of the danger of pride that could follow after their miraculous victories. Some would be sure to think that the Lord was giving them this land because of their righteousness as opposed to God’s grace. God removed the protection these nations enjoyed because of their sin, not because of Israel’s righteousness. God was using them to fulfill His promise to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Instead of commending for their spirituality, Moses reminds them that they are a stiff-necked people. This is an allusion to their failure to be yoked to the Lord and that they were obstinate in their ways. This expression occurs 8 times in the Older Covenant referring to the entire nation (Deuteronomy 9:13; Deuteronomy 10:16; Exod. 32:9; Exodus 33:3,5; Exodus 34:9; 2 Chr. 30:8).
Deuteronomy 9:7-9 On at least two occasions the Lord threatened to destroy all the people and make a new nation from Moses. What did they have to be provoked about? The Lord delivered them from Egypt and gave them everything they needed on their journey, defeated their enemies. The root of Israel’s problem and ours as well at times is unbelief (Heb. 3-4); they and we don’t fully trust God. They and we don’t believe His promises or obey His commands but try to go our own way, which leads to rebellion and chastening. We too often fail to learn what God is trying to teach us. As God’s children, we need to confess that apart from God’s grace, nothing good dwells in us (Rom. 7:18), and that our fallen nature can’t be changed. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6)—and it always will be flesh! The ability to sin is still with us, but by the filling and abiding in the Spirit of God we will lose the desire to sin. Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and the Word (John 17:17; 2 Cor. 3:18), our inner person will be transformed into the image of God’s Son, His Messiah Yeshua delighting in the things of God. To illustrate Israel’s stubbornness, Moses reminds them of the time when he received the covenant on Mt. Sinai. The Lord didn’t lead Israel directly to the Promised Land because they weren’t ready. Being free from bondage and slavery isn’t the same as maturity; liberty without maturity can be a dangerous thing. God didn’t give His law to Israel as a means of salvation, they already were redeemed by the blood of the Passover lamb. He gave them His law to mature them, for they were like children who needed a teacher (Gal. 4:1-7). He is doing the same for us in the process of sanctification.
Deuteronomy 9:10-11 When the covenant at Sinai was given, Moses had not eaten or drank water for 40 days and nights. In that time Moses was nourished by being in the presence of God which was more satisfying than food (Deut. 8:3). The tablets were a summary of the covenant between God and Israel written by the “finger of God”. What did the people of Israel learn at Mount Sinai? Of first importance, they learned that God is holy God and must be feared and honored. God demonstrated His power and glory and the people shook with fear. But unless that fear becomes reverence in the heart, it will never transform our lives. Israel also learned that God was a gracious and merciful who provided forgiveness and a means of reconciliation so that His people might worship and serve Him. It was also at Sinai that the people discovered their impatience and unbelief when Moses stayed on the mount so long. In their hearts they craved idols and called for Aaron to make the golden calf. They saw how swiftly God judged their sin, but they also learned that the Lord would forgive them and give them a new beginning. All of us need to learn to submit to the will of God as it is expressed in the Word of God. One test of our submission is a willingness to wait on the Lord and not run after substitutes. Even though the golden calf was approved by the high priest, it was evil and contrary to the will of God. But while Moses was in God’s presence Israel had turned away from God. God described Israel to Moses as “your people”. God’s words were a test for Moses: would he be willing intercede for them? Would he stand between his people and God’s judgment for their idolatry?
Deuteronomy 9:12 While Moses was experiencing the glory and joy of being in God’s presence receiving the tablets and instruction regarding his leadership of God’s people, Israel was rebelling against God. God described Israel to Moses as “your people”. This was a test: would Moses be love them enough to intercede for them? Would he model God who in Messiah gave Himself for His people? It didn’t get much worse than what was happening, exchanging the glory of God for the image of a calf.
Deuteronomy 9:13-14 God’s reaction to their repeated rebellion which is the fruit of stubbornness also described as stiff-necked or hard hearted was His intention of destroying Israel. God offered to make from Moses a nation stronger and more numerous. But if God wanted to destroy Israel he didn’t need to consult with Moses, why did He do so? Moses, was a type of Messiah who held a 3 fold office of prophet priest and king. Not only was he called to intercession but also to the role of prophet whose work is not only to declare God’s judgment but to offer terms of peace through repentance. His intercession involved asking God to change or soften their hearts to confess and turn from their sin in repentance so they might be restored.
Deuteronomy 9:15-17 Moses came down from the mountain and presence with the emblems of the covenant in his hands. What he saw confirmed God’s word to him that Israel had abandoned the Lord and turned back to their idolatrous ways. They had gone from life to death. To demonstrate to Israel how great their sin was he destroyed the tablets that confirmed their relationship and calling.
Deuteronomy 9:18-20 Seeing the debacle before him Moses assumes his role as priest and falls on his face in prayer and fasting for forty days in the sight of the people. This was the second time he endured such a fast because of Israel’s sin. Mourning over the sin of others is a mark of godly character. Significant intersession was sorely needed because Moses knew that God was angry enough to destroy them. He also interceded for brother, Aaron, since God was angry enough to destroy him as well. God responded to His prayers and fasting.
Deuteronomy 9:21 Moses understood that the calf Aaron had made needed to be destroyed. He burned it, took the remains and ground them to powder. To internalize it he scattered the ashes and pieces into the water and then made them drink from the water (Exod. 32:20).
Deuteronomy 9:22-24 Moses reminded this new generation of Israel’s sin at Taberah, three days after they left Sinai 38 years earlier, when they complained to Moses and the Lord (Num. 11:1-3). God had provided faithfully and once again they put him to the test again, in judgment God sent the fire of judgment to the outskirts of the camp. Then again, they rebelled at Massah (Exod. 17:1-7) when they were thirsty. Moses, at God’s direction, brought water out of a rock; “He called the place Massah and Meribah because Israel quarreled and tested the Lord saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?'” (Exod. 17:7). Then still again they complained at Kibroth Hattaavah (“the graves of craving”). It was there that they hungered for meat, so God miraculously provided quail, and along with stern discipline in the form of a severe plague. “Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food” (Num. 11:33-34). Then that generation failed their final exam at Kadesh Barnea when Israel should have been ready to take possession of the land. They had been redeemed from Egypt, instructed at Sinai and brought by the hand of God through the wilderness and here they refused to take the Promised Land of rest (Heb. 4). They listened to negative report of 10 of the spies (Num. 13:1-14:10) and rejected the word of Joshua and Caleb and would not trust the Lord. He is warning and reminding them of the consequences for not fearing, trusting and obeying their covenant keeping God, King, and Lord.