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Chapter 9:1-12 (ESV)

Posted on February 15, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 9:1-12 (ESV) - “Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified up to heaven, 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?’ Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the LORD has promised you.

“Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

“Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD. Even at Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath, and the LORD was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you. When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the LORD made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. And at the end of forty days and forty nights the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant. Then the LORD said to me, ‘Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you have brought from Egypt have acted corruptly. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them; they have made themselves a metal image.’

Question to consider: What did Moses mean by the phrase, “Hear, O Israel”?

Moses used the expression “Hear, O Israel” (Hebrew Shema Yisrael) throughout Deuteronomy  to make sure that special attention was given to his words. It’s not that they didn’t hear his other instructions in this second giving of the Law, but this was an instruction that needed to become ingrained in them. The one that is called the Shema was the statement of God’s oneness back in chapter six.

Understanding the statements in today’s passage was every bit as important as understanding the oneness of God, but it’s obviously not as well known or popular because it didn’t exactly speak positively about Israel. Moses used the Anakim as an example of a nation God would destroy through Israel because they must have been viewed by the Israelites as an insurmountable foe. Why else would they be asking, “Who can stand before the sons of Anak?”

As a side note, there is a ridiculous song by Hillsong United which uses God’s description as a “consuming fire” as a means to increase the emotional intensity of people's faith. However, we do not want to experience God as a “consuming fire” because it referred to being entirely burned up in judgment. Personally, I would rather see God’s justice satisfied in me by the living waters of Christ's mercy, not the consuming fires of His judgment.

The message that Israel was to take to heart was that God was bringing His judgment against the nations because of their wickedness. Israel was receiving the land despite their own wickedness because of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses spoke the harsh reality that Israel had a stubborn heart and did nothing but complain since they were delivered from Egypt.

He then reminded them that he was only gone forty days on the mountain to receive the formal covenant from God, and it took less than that for Israel to forget their God by making a metal image. We’ll deal more with this tomorrow, but this description of Israel receiving the land by promise despite their wickedness is a type for the grace which we have received as a free gift from God despite being at enmity with Him. Clothed in the righteousness of Christ, we receive God’s promise of mercy. Without it, we receive the consuming fire of God’s judgment.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the promise of Your mercy in Christ. Please continue to make in us a heart of flesh which receives Your Word with joy and thanksgiving. Amen.