Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 09:28:59 -0600 Reply-To: email@example.com Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From: Teus Benschop Subject: Deuteronomy 9 Contents ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1. Introduction 2. Explanation 3. Questions 1. Introduction ------------------------------------------------------------------------ This is an issue of a continuous explanation of the Bible-book Dvarim, that is Deuteronomy. If something is unclear in the explanation, ask me. The Bible-text is taken from the King James version. Deuteronomy 9. Title: Warning against own righteousness Short contents: Israel is standing at the border of Kenaan. Moshe warns them that they not have to think that they will be brought in the land because of their own righteousness. They are brought in to punish the sins of the heathen, and to confirm God's oath. Moshe proves this by repeating the great sins of the nation in the desert. These sins were so great that the nation would be perished, if Moshe had not done foreprayer for them to the Lord. 2. Explanation ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven, The nation stands at the border of Kenaan. They will soon enter the land. It is not doubtful that they will triumph, but it is sure that they will come in and will inherit. It is true that the nations are greater and mightier, but what does that matter? The cities are even fenced up to heaven, but what has that for importance? Was not also the tower of Bavel fenced up to heaven? "And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth," Bereshiet / Genesis 11:4. The power of the cities is only little blade of grass before the LORD. Like the LORD triumphed then, He will also triumph now. "So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city," Bereshiet / Genesis 11:8. This is an encouragement for the people. Not they will fight, but their mighty God does it. 2 A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak! Anak was a giant, and his children also. When Moshe says that they have heard of him, then he means the spies. They had frightened the people verily. The spies of then frightened the people by the remark about the giants. Moshe also mentions the spies here, but he does not frighten the nation. On the contrary, he encourages them. We see that one can do two different things with the same truth. The spies told about the giants, and they terrified the people. For they did not tell about God's power. It is true that Moshe tells about the giants, but above all he tells about the force of God. Here lies the difference. Who was right? The spies or Moshe? Read the answer. "And at that time came Jehoshua / Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Chevron, from Devier, from Anav, and from all the mountains of Jehudah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Jehoshua / Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities," Jhoshua 11:21. Jehoshua / Joshua did this in the power of God, as we will see later. 3 Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee. When the people ask themselves in their heart who can exist before the giants, than they have to know that God will go before them. The LORD will not destroy them in a normal way, but as by a consuming fire. Only this fire of God can destroy those powerful nations. By this fire, He will "destroy them quickly." The nation will not capture Kenaan by own power, because they have not that power. They conquer not in own strength, but the LORD goes before them. He is the God, "Which goes over before you". They only have to follow, and they only have to inherit. Although, not without fight. 4 Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee. When the whole fight is done, and they live in the land, then they could start thinking that they have earned it by themselves. They would think in their heart that the nation Israel was morally better then the other nations. Of course, they would not say it aloud, but they would say it in their heart. Moshe teaches differently. Their merits were not the cause of these benefactions. Their behaviour in the past is the proof of that. "But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them," Jchezkeel / Ezekiel 20:13. Moshe says that it was not their own righteousness, why they came in. But because of the wickedness of the heathens, Israel had to come in, and exterminate the heathens. The man is too fast declined to the leaning on the own righteousness. Like this nation was inclined to that, we also incline to that. Moshe says to the people that they not must think about this own righteousness. For God knows the heart of the man. When we hear what Moshe here says about the heart, than we have to be amazed at that, what in the present time is said about the state Israel. It is known that God has given the state Israel to the inhabitants. Some think in their heart that God did this because of the righteousness of the people. Others dare to say this aloud, impudently. This is verily against the doctrine of Moshe. Student, never join in that. Moshe teaches you differently. We receive grace, not because of something good in us, but only in God's favour. 5 Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Avraham, Yitschak, and Yaakov. You come in, not "for your righteousness", because you have it not, as you know very well. You came in, also not "for the uprightness of your heart", because also this have you not, as you know all too well. This is the second time that Moshe memorizes this to the people. Justly does he this for the second time. For this is something, which the people will never believe. A good proclaimer of God's Word, as Moshe is, has to repeat this always. Not because of your righteousness, people, but there is another reason. "For the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God does drive them out" the land. Nation, take care that you not become like the wicked. The LORD has driven out the wicked now. Take care that He possibly not spares also you, when you become so wicked. The continuation of the history has taught us that Moshe not has warned in vain. Because, for what Moshe warned, that has happened unfortunately. Moshe mentions a second reason the nation came in. It is because His great and exceptional faith to Avraham, Yitschak and Yaakov. He has sworn to them to give the land. Although the nation has been very stiffnecked in the desert, the faithful God fulfils still His promises. From this we learn something. We see that the fulfilment of God's promises is totally independent on the man. When it would be dependent on the people, and their behaviour, then they would never have come in the land. There are many people who say that God needs us to complete the creation. Well, these people teach something, which is totally different from that, what Moshe teaches here. These people say that God is dependent on us. But Moshe teaches that God continues His work, in spite of us. So, God is independent on the people. Moshe teaches us: God does not depend on the man, but the man depends on God. 6 Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people. Moshe says it for the third time. "Not for your righteousness". So much is it necessary to always repeat this for the people. For us also is this very necessary. Until now there are people, who say that we are rewarded for our merits. These people are contradictory to Moshe. What says Moshe about them, who always teach the own righteousness? "You are a stiffnecked people." This is Moshe's doctrine. Student, although there are many stiffnecked in this way, and highly raise the own merits, take care that you not do that. Do not listen to them, but listen to Moshe. Here, Moshe speaks about the earthly inheritance. He says that the people receive this not because of their own righteousness, but only in grace. When this is already so with the earthly inheritance, how much the more applies this to the heavenly inheritance. But here are still some questions. Therefore, further in this lesson will the own righteous be discussed more thoroughly. 7 Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD. In the previous verse, Moshe has said that they not came in because of their righteousness. He proves that in this verse. He reminds the nation of it, that they always have very enraged the LORD in the desert. They have done it always. From their exit out of Egypt until this place. Moshe reminds them of this. Why? To humble them. They have to see that God has been undeserved merciful until now. Moshe wants that they remind the past to themselves. That they are disgusted by themselves because of their misbehaviour in the desert. "Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations," Jchezkeel / Ezekiel 36:31. Like this was necessary for people of then, the same it is also for us necessary. The LORD has no pleasure in arrogant and ownrighteous people. But He has pleasure in the lowly. "Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly," Mishlee / Proverbs 3:34. 8 Also in Chorev ye provoked the LORD to wrath, so that the LORD was angry with you to have destroyed you. Moshe said in the previous verse that the nation had very enraged the LORD. Here, he will prove that by some examples. 9 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water: 10 And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. God wrote with His finger the law in the hard stone tables. With this, God wanted to represent something. Stone is very hard. Nevertheless, God wrote His law herein. This is a visible picture of that, what must happen in our heart. The prophet teaches us this. "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people," Jirmejah / Jeremiah 31:33. As God wrote then in the stone tables, also now He must write His law in our heart. Our heart is as hard as stone. But God can write His law also therein. The prophet teaches us that our heart is of stone of its nature. "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh," Jchezkeel / Ezekiel 11:19. God will take the stony heart away, and give a fleshy heart. From this, we learn something. It is not enough when we read Tanach, and when we have the law of God laying before us. There has to happen more. The stony heart has to be taken away out of us, and a fleshy heart has to be given to us. Then, God's law has to be written in that renewed heart. That is, as the prophets say, a work of God. 11 And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant. 12 And the LORD said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image. The people "have quickly turned aside out of the way", which God had commanded. At the mountain, the people had promised to keep God's commandments. "And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moshe returned the words of the people unto the LORD," Shmot 19:8. No sooner, the people had promised this, than they quickly turned aside. Look here how reliable the promise of the people was. Since we are descendants of them, look here how reliable also our promises are. 13 Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Th LORD has not seen only now, that the nation was stiffnecked, but already a long time ago. Read it in Tanach. "And the LORD said unto Moshe, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people," Shmot 32:9. Still earlier, God has seen it. He saw it already in the beginning of the world-history. "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually," Bereshiet / Genesis 6:5. Because we are members of the same human race, these utterances apply also to us. 14 Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they. The LORD says: Let Me alone. This means: Pray no longer for this nation. When one prays to God, then it is if he takes hold of God. Therefore, God says: "Let me alone". Obviously, Moshe prayed often for the people, to turn God's wrath away from them. God always heard this prayer. Never was the whole nation exterminated, but always only a part. Read now an example of Moshe's foreprayer. "And Moshe besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Avraham, Yitschak, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people," Shmot 32:11-14. Moshe prayed for grace. As a reason, he mentions the scandalmongering of the Egyptians, and he mentions the oath, which God had sworn to the fathers. God heard the prayer of Moshe in grace. Hereof we learn that also we have deserved the death because of our transgressions. Further, we learn that forgiveness not is given naturally. But we have to take refuge to God's mercy in true faith. The LORD will surely hear this prayer, and we will not perish, but will stay alive. 15 So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands. 16 And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you. When Moshe was still near the LORD, on the mountain, he already heard about the turning aside of the people. But now, he came down, and saw it with own eyes. 17 And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes. Moshe say with his own eyes, how much the nation had sinned. They had broken the covenant. They promised to obey, but did it not. Because they had broken the covenant of God, Moshe breaks the tables of the covenant. He did this before their eyes that they could see the better, what they had really done. 18 And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. Moshe prayed to God, as he had done already before. He prayed, because the nation had done much evil, "to provoke" God "to anger." 19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you. But the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also. Moshe knew something of God's wrath against the sinners. Therefore he was very afraid, because God's wrath was fiery. This is also written in the Tehilliem. "They made a calf in Chorev, and worshipped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt; Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea. Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moshe his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them," Thilliem / Psalm 106:19-23. They made the calf and bowed down for it. They changed God, the Creator, into the similitude of a creature that eats grass. This was a great despise of God's majesty. They forgot God, their Saviour, Who had done great and terrible things. But Moshe prayed to Him, and stood before His face to turn away His wrath. 20 And the LORD was very angry with Aharon to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aharon also the same time. The LORD was angry with Aharon. So it is clear that Aharon had done a great sin. But he apologized and wanted to reduce the sin. "And Aharon said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moshe, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them: Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf," Shmot 32:22- 24. Aharon wanted to blame the people, but in reality, it was totally else. It was his fault. He had, in weakness, indulged too much to the people. From this, we have to learn to do this not. We may not, in weakness, indulge to the sins of others. Who does that will be struck by God's anger, unless someone prays for him. Moshe prayed for Aharon, and God heard him. 21 And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount. From the behaviour of Moshe, we see the great horror of this sin. He stamped it totally, that there was nothing to see from anymore. In this way, Moshe puts the sin away from them. We also are urged to exterminate our sins in the same say. 22 And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibrothhattaavah, ye provoked the LORD to wrath. 23 Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadeshbarnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice. Here, Moshe mentions several examples of the recalcitrancy of the people. He does this to totally convince them. The LORD has beared them so very long. When the people would see this, perhaps they will humble themselves under God's hand finally. 24 Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you. Moshe says this to the people. And this applies to the whole human race. This applies to all of us. This applies also to you, student. "You have been rebellious against the LORD, from the day that I knew you." 25 Thus I fell down before the LORD forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the LORD had said he would destroy you. Moshe prays for the people and asked of God would turn away the punishment. This is the work of the good leader. Moshe prayed day and night for the people, as he says. All good leaders ought to do the same. Only they, who always pray for their assembly, they are considered as good leaders. Good leaders are not they, who make much ostentation in the public, but not pray in the hidden. The good leader always lives according to the laws of God. Both when the people can see it, and when they not can see it. The good leader prays for the people, much and long. Student, keep only these men as your true leaders. 26 I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 27 Remember thy servants, Avraham, Yitschak, and Yaakov; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin: Moshe prays for mercy. He does not plead on the good works of the people. For these good works were there not. There were only stiffneckedness and stubbornness. But Moshe asks if the LORD is willing to remember Avraham, Yitschak and Yaakov. 28 Lest the land whence thou broughtest us out say, Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness. There is still another reason, why Moshe prays for mercy for this stubborn nation. It is, that God's Name not will be desecrated among the heathens. When God not should bring the people in Kenaan, then the heathen should think that He not could do that. Such thoughts would desecrate the Name of God, Who still is the Almighty. That had to be prevented. Also, Jechezkeel says this. "Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went," Jchezkeel / Ezekiel 36:22. Here also, the people are spared, but only to sanctify God's Name. Not because of something good in the nation. 29 Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm. Grace, o God, because it is still Thy Own nation, which is saved by Thy Own power. Moshe says that the nation not is brought in the land because of their own righteousness. "Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Avraham, Yitschak, and Yaakov. Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people, "Dvariem / Deuteronomy 9:4-6. The people do not receive the reward because of their good works. But in other places, Tanach says that the man surely will receive pay on his good works. So, in some places is written that the man will receive no pay for their deeds, and in another place is written that the man surely will receive pay. How is it now? This difference is also for us important. Can we earn the salvation by our own righteousness, or not? It seems that Tanach contradicts itself at some places. We say: it seems, because the reality is differently. Tanach is the Word of God. God cannot be contradictory to Himself. So, when it seems to us that Tanach contradicts itself, than this is indeed appearance. This will clearly appear to be when the involved places will be read well. This piece will be explained now, bit by bit. 1. We have come to the doctrine of the own righteousness through the utterances of Moshe. Moshe says that the nation not comes into the land because of their own righteousness. Well, that is clear. We know that this nation did not have own righteousness, because it has sinned heavily in the desert. Therefore, Moshe says justly that they not came in because of their own righteousness. For that righteousness was simply not there. 2. In other places, pay is promised on the keeping of the law. "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD," Wajikra / Leviticus 18:5. Here, it is written clearly. Who will keep God's commandments, will live in them. This cannot be explained in more than one way. Is this place contradictory to Moshe? Here is written that a man will live through keeping of the law, and Moshe says that they not have come in by the keeping of the law. This seems contradictory, but it is not so. Moreover, these two places precisely agree. When the people would have kept the law of God, then they should have come into the land by their own righteousness. But they have transgressed God's commandments. Therefore, they have not come in by their own righteousness. So, this text of Wajikra / Leviticus stays valid. Because of their iniquity, this text applied not to the nation anymore. This text only applies to the righteous. 3. Is it only the nation Israel, who has sinned? No, all people have sinned. God says this in His Word. "the LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one," Thilliem / Psalm 14:2,3. The LORD has looked down from heaven, if any was righteous, but He has found nobody. Nobody did well. Well, when there is completely nobody righteous, then nobody will earn the salvation by that. It is true that the quoted place of Wajikra / Leviticus is still valid, but there is nobody, who answers to the conditions. This text promises the life on the keeping of the commandments. With that, this text excludes the transgressors from the life. So, this text stays useful for us. For instead of promising the life to us, this text excludes us, transgressors, from the life. 4. In many places of Tanach, God mentions another way for us, to enter the eternal life. It is through the forgiving of the sins. Student, ask for this to the LORD. Do not try to earn the salvation by your own keeping of the law. For Tanach teaches us that there is nobody who can do that. 5. We conclude that there is no contradiction between the quoted texts. When seen cursorily, they seem to contradict, but after some study, they are in accordance. And this could not be otherwise, because God is One. He never contradicts Himself. 3. Questions ------------------------------------------------------------------------ If you want to gain more benefit from the explanation, you could consider to answer the questions and do the tasks. You can send these to the editor. He will look at it, and return them to you with his comments. Questions. 1 The spies made the people despondent when they mentioned the giants. They spoke truth, but a half truth. What did they keep silent? 2 Read verse four to six. a. What is not the reason that the nation came into the land? b. Which were the reasons? 3 Is God dependent on us, or are we dependent on God? 4 a. What will God do to the proud? b. What will God do to the humble? 5 God wrote the law in the stony tables with His finger. From which is this a picture? 6 Why did Moshe break the stone tables in the sight of the people? 7 Aharon indulged the people too much. But what had he to do? 8 Moshe prayed for the nation. a. Which reasons of pleading did he use? b. To what extend did God hear him? c. What is a very important task for a teacher of the nation? 9 a. Has God promised pay on the keeping of His commandments? b. Are there people who perfectly keep His law? c. Did the nation Israel keep God's commandments? d. Because of which reason did they come in the land Kenaan? e. What do you learn from this? Tasks. 1 In verse 4, 5 and 6 is written that God did not bring in the nation because of their own righteousness, but because of another reason. Seek similar reasons in Shemot / Exodus 34. 2 The LORD brought the nation into the land to affirm the word, which He had sworn to Avraham, Jitschak and Jaacov. Look up these promises in Bereshiet / Genesis 12, Bereshiet / Genesis 13, Bereshiet / Genesis 15, Bereshiet / Genesis 17, Bereshiet / Genesis 26, Bereshiet / Genesis 28. 3 Moshe made foreprayer for the people, and asked for forgiveness. It can happen also the other way around. Then, the prayer does not ask for forgiveness, but for righteous revenge. Look up examples from this in Bemidbar / Numbers 16, Nechemjah 4, Thilliem / Psalm 59, Jirmejah / Jeremiah 18. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Chr-Exp, a Christian explanation of the Tanach and the New Testament Editor: Teus Benschop - firstname.lastname@example.org No copyrights on this publication - Translated by a Dutchman Institution Practical Bible-education, the Netherlands .