Deuteronomy 9 Commentary
Chapter 9 begins with a difficult section. Canaan is sinful and because of their sinfulness they will be destroyed. Israel is equally stiff-necked but they will inherit the land. What is the difference? Well, when Israel sinned (the golden-calf sin – referenced here) there was someone to intercede for them. Canaan had none. There are few lines in the entire holy script as clear in highlighting the importance of mediation as chapter 9.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. First Timothy 2 verses 5 to 6.
So really both sinful Israel and sinful Canaan deserve the death penalty – save for mediation in the case of the former and lack of it in the case of the later. How grateful we are for the cross!
The rest of the chapter narrates Israel’s wickedness to prove the point that Israel is as sinful as Canaan. The golden calf idolatry was a copy-paste act of defiance drawn from the Canaanite pagan worship book. It is worse because Israel has seen so much of the LORD’S presence and intervention to start thinking of alternatives.
At Kadesh Barnea Israel’s doubt and outright rejection of the LORD’S leadership is referenced. How can they forget that? It is here that the sentence of 40 years in the wilderness is pronounced. It is a clear-out exercise.
Not least important is Moses’ reference to the strength (military prowess) of ‘Canaan’. It points to the fact that indeed the battle wasn’t for Israel but for God. The bad spies were right. The enemy was strong. But they were wrong in their assessment of the LORD. They belittled the LORD. It was another form of idolatry that reduces God to a mere god (like any other). The LORD, as a god to Israel was then put in the ring with the Canaanite gods and this small god lost the battle. So they thought of a return to Egypt as a better option. An election was called to elect another leader for the purpose. The LORD wasn’t pleased at all. A clear-out exercise was decreed – 40 years it was. 40 years of wilderness experience.
The parallel with the NT events is beautiful. The 40 days and 40 nights that Moses spent interceding on behalf of Israel may point us to think of the 40 days and 40 nights that the LORD Jesus presumably spent pleading for lost humanity.
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