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Scripture Reading – Deuteronomy 8-9

Deuteronomy 8 – A Call to Obedience

Moses’ second challenge to Israel continued in Deuteronomy 8. Again, it was a call to obedience: “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers” (8:1). In other words, “Do Right, and I will bless you!”

A Memorial to God’s Providences (Deuteronomy 8:2)

As though the promises of God’s grace and faithfulness were not enough, Moses began reciting all the LORD had done for the nation in the wilderness (8:2-5). Even the adversities of “forty years in the wilderness” had a righteous purpose, for the LORD had used the trials to “humble…to prove, [and] to know what was in [Israel’s] heart” (8:2). Knowing what was in the hearts of His people, the LORD had employed trials and testing to lay bare what manner of people they were.

What had the trials proved? (Deuteronomy 8:3-5)

The LORD’s loving care of His people! When they were hungry, He “fed them with manna” (8:3) and made Israel “know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live” (8:3; Matthew 4:4).

For forty years, the LORD preserved Israel. Even their clothes “waxed not old,” and their health did not fail them. Even their feet did not “swell, these forty years” (8:4). Yet, the LORD had chastened and corrected Israel, like “a man chasteneth his son” (8:5).

The Promise of a Good Land (Deuteronomy 8:6-9)

The LORD was bringing Israel into a fertile land with water and springs (8:7). The land was all He had promised. It gave forth an abundance of grains and fruit (8:8). There was also a wealth of iron ore and copper in the land (referred to as “brass,” 8:9).

Warning: The Lure and Temptation of Prosperity (Deuteronomy 8:10-20)

Moses then warned that prosperity could tempt the people’s hearts to be lifted in pride, and they might forget the LORD and His covenant (8:10-19). Furthermore, Moses admonished, should the nation forget the LORD and boast, “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” (8:17), Israel would go the way of other nations and “surely perish” (8:19-20).

Deuteronomy 9 – Israel’s Unworthiness in Light of God’s Promises 

A Promise of Victory (Deuteronomy 9:1-3)

Lest the hearts of the people be lifted with pride, Moses reminded the people that the nations that occupied the land were “greater and mightier” than they were (9:1). He described the Canaanites as “a people great and tall…[for others said], Who can stand before the children of Anak!” (9:1-2).

An Assurance of God’s Unmerited Favor (Deuteronomy 9:4-6)

Therefore, Israel had no cause for pride or self-reliance. The LORD had determined to give them the land, not because they were righteous or merited God’s favor (because they were “a stiffnecked [hard, stubborn] people,” 9:6).

Warning: Lest they be proud, Moses Reminded Israel of the Nation’s Faults and Failures (Deuteronomy9:7-24)

They had rebelled and provoked God to anger when Moses went up onto the mount to receive the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 9:8-14; Exodus 31:18-32:6). When the LORD threatened to destroy the nation, Moses interceded for the people (9:15-19). Even Aaron, the brother of Moses, who became the first high priest, was mercifully spared, though “the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and [Moses] prayed for Aaron” (9:20).

After citing other examples of Israel’s past sins and rebellion (9:22-24; Exodus 17:1; Numbers 11:4), Moses returned to the uprising at Sinai. He recalled how he had appealed to the LORD to spare Israel for His testimony’s sake before the Egyptians and other nations (9:25-29).

Closing thoughts: What spiritual lesson might we take from Moses memorializing Israel’s sins and unworthiness?

There are many lessons and applications, but the most prominent is a lesson in God’s GRACE. Israel’s failures serve as a reminder of our unworthiness. None of us are worthy or merit God’s favor (Titus 3:5). Apart from Christ, sinners are lost and without hope of forgiveness and salvation. Israel was saved as a nation; in the same way, any sinner comes to be saved and forgiven of sin–GRACE.

Ephesians 2:8–98For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Questions to consider:

1) To what end had the LORD allowed Israel to suffer trials, hunger, and thirst in the wilderness? (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)

2) What are the dangers of prosperity? (Deuteronomy 9:12-14)

3) How strong were the enemies Israel would face in the Promised Land? (Deuteronomy 9:1-2)

4) How did Moses respond when he saw the golden calf Aaron had made for the people? (Deuteronomy 9:17-21)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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