Why did the Lord save you? Is it because you are so good? Is He going to open the gates of Heaven for you because you work so hard for Him, serve the widows, and give all you have to the poor? Nah…sorry… you are not good enough and cannot be good enough to deserve eternal life. I know it is politically correct to be all about how good we are, to have a high esteem of ourselves. And The Lord has given you a beautiful and wonderful identity, His. But we also need to remember that without Jesus, we can’t be saved, without The Lord we cannot deserve eternal life.
Israel was about to enter the Promised Land and the Lord reminded them that it was not because of how righteous they were that He would defeat the enemy but because of how evil the enemy was. Israel did not deserve the Promised Land or the defeat of the enemy, it was a gift from God; the sons of Anakim were deserving of the wrath they would receive from The Lord. Chapter 9 verses 1-5 read,
“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, 2 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?’ 3 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.
4 “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. 5 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.”
Not only does the Lord say Israel was not righteous (and us by proxy) but He says they were as bad as the nations He would defeat for them. Moses described one of their vilest acts. Verses 6-29 read,
“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. 7 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. 8 Even at Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, and the Lord was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you. 9 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. 10 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. 11 And at the end of forty days and forty nights the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant. 12 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.’
13 “Furthermore, the Lord said to me, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stubborn people. 14 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.’ 15 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. 16 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. 17 So I took hold of the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes. 18 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. 19 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. 20 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. 21 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.
22 “At Taberah also, and at Massah and at Kibroth-hattaavah you provoked the Lord to wrath. 23 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. 24 You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.”
25 “So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. 26 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. 27 Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin, 28 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.” 29 For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm.’
Within forty days, while Moses and God were together on the mountain top, Israel lost their faith and not only turned to an idol but poured much of their gold into creating it. The Lord was very angry with Israel but He loved them and He sent Moses down from their communion to the people. Moses was so angry that He destroyed the tablets he had just received after spending forty days in communion with God. The Lord was ready to destroy Israel and create a whole new people from Moses, but Moses interceded for Israel. He lay down prostrate, praying and pleading and during that forty days, he did not eat or drink. Chapter 10 verses 1-5 read,
“At that time the Lord said to me, ‘Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to me on the mountain and make an ark of wood. 2 And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets that you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.’ 3 So I made an ark of acacia wood, and cut two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. 4 And he wrote on the tablets, in the same writing as before, the Ten Commandments that the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. And the Lord gave them to me. 5 Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark that I had made. And there they are, as the Lord commanded me.”
Do not miss the Lord laying out the Gospel for us here in Deuteronomy as Moses becomes a type of Christ. Moses was on the mountain top fellowshipping with God. Israel had received the Law but sinned by creating an idol, so God sent Moses to the people so that he could save the people from the death that awaited them for their sin. Moses interceded for Israel and appeased His wrath. The Lord gave Moses the law again, but this time He put it in the ark, His physical representation on earth.
The Father sent Jesus to the earth to save us from death (1 John 4:14). Jesus became the Word, which is the will of God manifested and intercedes for us with the Father (John 1:1, Hebrews 7:25). He became the propitiation, the appeasement for our sin (Romans 3:25).
Verses 6-10 continue the narrative.
(The people of Israel journeyed from Beeroth Bene-jaakan to Moserah. There Aaron died, and there he was buried. And his son Eleazar ministered as priest in his place. 7 From there they journeyed to Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land with brooks of water. 8 At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord to stand before the Lord to minister to him and to bless in his name, to this day. 9 Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers. The Lord is his inheritance, as the Lord your God said to him.)
10 “I myself stayed on the mountain, as at the first time, forty days and forty nights, and the Lord listened to me that time also. The Lord was unwilling to destroy you. 11 And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, go on your journey at the head of the people, so that they may go in and possess the land, which I swore to their fathers to give them.’
The Levites were chosen and sanctified to be The Lord’s priests, the only ones who carry the ark and because of that, the Levites would not have land for their tribe with the other tribes. The Lord is his inheritance. Jesus became our high priest and when we choose salvation, we become His royal priesthood. Our inheritance is not a plot of land in New Jerusalem, it is not a mansion in Heaven, it is Jesus Christ Himself. Our inheritance is The Lord! We become like Him and we become His bride, our soul and His knit together. This agreement is more than an outside change, it is a change of heart.
The Lord wanted Israel not only to make a covenant with him on the outside by circumcision of the penis but a true and everlasting covenant by circumcision of the heart. Verses 12-16 read,
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? 14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn”
This is our covenant with God, not of physical outer circumcision but spiritual inner circumcision. It is circumcision of the heart that brings about our ability to love with Him with all our heart and soul and strength and glorify him. What is circumcision of the heart? It is letting go of pride, taking ourselves off the throne and submitting to The Lord as verse 16 says, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.”
Then Moses describes the effects of circumcision of the heart. It is not the 612 Levitical laws they were required to keep. It was a description of loving the Lord with their heart and soul. Verses 17-22 read,
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.21 He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.”
The Lord kept His covenant to Abraham, his descendants were as numerous as the stars. He would keep His covenant to Israel, they would enter the Promised Land, not because they were righteous, but because they were chosen. He keeps His covenant with us too, our inheritance is the Lord.