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©Jason Hall

Chapter 9:13-29 (ESV)

Posted on February 16, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 9:13-29 (ESV) - “Furthermore, the LORD said to me, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stubborn people. 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.’ So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire. And the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the LORD your God. You had made yourselves a golden calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the LORD had commanded you. So I took hold of the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes. Then I lay prostrate before the LORD as before, forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin that you had committed, in doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD to provoke him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure that the LORD bore against you, so that he was ready to destroy you. But the LORD listened to me that time also. And the LORD was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him. And I prayed for Aaron also at the same time. Then I took the sinful thing, the calf that 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 the dust of it into the brook that ran down from the mountain.

“At Taberah also, and at Massah and at Kibroth-hattaavah you provoked the LORD to wrath. And when the LORD sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, ‘Go up and take possession of the land that I have given you,’ then you rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God and did not believe him or obey his voice. You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.

“So I lay prostrate before the LORD for these forty days and forty nights, because the LORD had said he would destroy you. And I prayed to the LORD, ‘O LORD God, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin, lest the land from which you brought us say, “Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness.” For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm.’”

Question to consider: How is Moses a type for Christ in his interceding for Israel?

In today’s passage, Moses expanded on his accusation against the people of Israel as being stubborn and without faith. He gave two examples where the people sinned against God so greatly that He expressed the need for judgment against them. In both cases, Moses pleaded with God to demonstrate mercy and spare this people because of the promise He made to their father, Abraham.

They may not have been able to inherit the land, but they were spared from destruction. Instead the land would be given to a generation that didn’t deserve it but received it by faith. Moses presented God in a manner which could be received by the people to encourage them to follow God’s commands once they inherited the land.

Although I believe God's anger against Israel was genuine and justified, I would argue that God was providing Moses an opportunity as mediator to intercede for the people. On one level, Moses was resentful to the them because he was not allowed to enter the land, but deep down Moses was empathetic to their plight and wanted to see them succeed.

The priesthood was intended to carry on this sense of empathy for the people, but by the time prophets like Ezekiel came along, the priests had lost this empathy and instead made merchandise of the people to increase their own wealth. Thus, Ezekiel proclaimed to the people that the LORD Himself would be their shepherd and go after the flocks that had wandered off which is why Jesus declared to the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:24) that He had come for the lost sheep of Israel.

I think it’s important to realize from Moses’ words that God would use the Jews here to offer an opportunity for the Gentiles to repent while inheriting a promise that they did not deserve. If this was not an opportunity for the Gentiles to repent, God would have wiped them out all at once and given the land to Israel. Instead, it was a process in which we can point to specific examples (like Rahab, Naaman, and Ruth) of people who came to faith.

In the same way God used the undeserving Jews to call Gentiles to repentance and inherit the land so He would use the undeserving Gentiles to bring God’s ultimate promise of salvation to the Jews. If you went through my study of Romans, Paul made this argument over the course of chapters nine through eleven to describe the manner in which all of Israel would be saved. In the end, Paul emphasized that all people, whether Jew or Gentile, were equally undeserving of God’s mercy and saved by God’s grace alone. In a subsequent letter to the Ephesians, Paul would give the reason for this unmerited favor— so that no one could boast in their own works. (Ephesians 2:4-10)


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Christ as the mediator of the New Covenant which will never perish, spoil or fade. May we rejoice and be grateful for the mercy we have received in Him so that we overflow with Your good works in the world. Amen.