In order to properly understand today’s passage we must first begin by seeing the context of yesterday’s passage. It ended with this in verse 6: “You must recognize that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land because you are good, for you are not—you are a stubborn people.” What we see is that God is allowing the people to obtain the land that has been promised, but God is making it clear that it is not because they deserve it. Our passage today lays out the case for why it is not because of them that God is giving them this land.
God makes the case that since the people of Israel exited Egypt, they have constantly rebelled and shown themselves to be stubborn. Remember also, that it was because of God’s powerful hand that he miraculously drew them out of Egypt, only for the people to complain and wish to be back in Egypt because of the difficult conditions of the wilderness (see Exodus 16:3).
Moses is also showing them how egregious their sin was in casting a golden cow to worship while Moses was delayed on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments! He also lists several other examples of how the people’s rebellion angered the heart of God, and how Moses subsequently interceded and begged God not to destroy them.
This passage certainly should have humbled the people of Israel, but it should humble us as well. The point of Moses telling them that it was not because of anything they did to earn God’s promise is true of us in light of our salvation. All we (and they) brought to the table is brokenness; God is the one who restores and gets the honor and glory for showing grace. It is not about our works, but God’s. The point is for us to look at God and his grace and greatness so that we would humbly worship Him in response.
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Associate