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As we have told you the word Deuteronomy means the second law. It is really a rehearsal, sort of a capsulation by Moses of the law that was given. Deuteronomy itself, though it covers the forty years from Egypt to the entering in of the Promised Land, covered only about forty days, as far as the time of it being given to the children of Israel.
Moses was now an aging man, however he was still very spry. He still had excellent eyesight, excellent hearing, none of his forces had abated. Sometimes I have to put on my glasses I say, "God, you did it for Moses, why don't you do it for me?" And there he still had good sharp vision, a hundred and twenty years old. None of the natural forces abated, still a spry fellow, able to get over the rocks as quick as any of them. But God had said that he wasn't going to be able to enter into the Promised Land.
Knowing that they are now ready to enter in, knowing that they have come now to the border of the land. In front of them is the Jordan River, on the other side the city of Jericho, the first of the conquests. Knowing that he cannot cross over Jordan by God's divine order, knowing that the time had come to cross over Jordan, he realizes that the time of his departure is at hand.
And so he is giving in these last forty days of his life a charge to these people in which he is rehearsing the covenant that God had established with him again. The covenant relationship that they were to have with God, the covenant by which they were to possess this land and to dwell in this land. And so these are important things that Moses is covering in the book of Deuteronomy, as he again goes over and rehearses for the people, bringing them into remembrance the laws, the commandments, the statutes, the judgments of God for he will soon be departing. They'll no longer be able to come for him for counsel, advice and for the leading of God or for the word of God or the counsel of God. He will soon be departing, and thus, he is giving to them this final charge, the book of Deuteronomy.
And so in chapter 9 he continues,
Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess the nations that are greater and mightier than thyself, cities that are great and fenced up to heaven ( Deuteronomy 9:1 ),
Now they had come to the point of entering into the land once before in their history some forty years earlier. But at that point because fear overtook them when they heard that the cities had great walls, were heavily fortified, when they heard that giants inhabited the cities, they became so frightened they felt that they could not go in because the inhabitants of the land were actually stronger than they were. And they tried to get a leader to take them back to Egypt. And God's wrath came.
And because of their failure forty years earlier, God had condemned them to this forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Even as the spies had been in the land for forty days spying out the land, so God said you'll have a year for every day the spies were in the land, just roaming in the wilderness until this whole generation be passed away. Their cry was, "God had brought us here to destroy us. If we go in and try to take the land, they're gonna kill our wives and all of our little children and we're gonna be buried here in this area". And so God said, "You've worried about your little children but they are the ones that are gonna go in and possess the land. You won't be able to go in.
Now Moses is trying to insure against this fear gripping their hearts again. If they do not enter in at this point it will be disaster for them. And so Moses is seeking now to brace them, to encourage them, to declare the problems that exist. To look realistic, in a realistic way, at the things that they were facing and yet to encourage their hearts that the God that they serve was greater than any obstacle they faced.
Now I think that it is important for us as Christians to look realistically at the problems of life. I think that it is foolish for us to try to make light of serious things. I think that we need to look realistically, and yet at the same token we need to look beyond the problem and realize that the God that we serve is capable of handling any problem that we might face, to look beyond the problems to the power of God and the sustaining hand of God upon our lives.
And so this is what Moses-he's seeking to be realistic. He said, "All right, now look. You're gonna cross over this Jordan and you're gonna go in and you're going to possess lands and possess the cities and people that are stronger than you; nations that are greater and mightier than you are. But you're gonna conquer them".
A people who are great and tall ( Deuteronomy 9:2 ),
You're gonna be facing a bunch of these giants.
the children of the Anakims ( Deuteronomy 9:2 ),
And the Anakims were like the Watoosi tribe in Africa, the giants. And they felt like a bunch of Pigmies in front of these people that inhabited the land. "And these people are great, they are tall."
You know them, you've heard them say, Who can stand before the children of Anak! ( Deuteronomy 9:2 )
You've heard that remark. And said "Oh, they're so-they're giants who can stand before them?"
And understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before you ( Deuteronomy 9:3 );
You see, your gonna have-the nations are great, granted. The people are tall; they are giants, granted. But the Lord your God is going to go before you.
I think that many times we get spooked when we're just looking at our problems and we, in just looking at the problems that we face, get a loss of perspective where we fail to see the greatness and the power of God. You know it's amazing how big our problems can look to us when we're right next to them. In fact, we can lose perspective and can't see anything else but our problem when you get so close to it. At that point, we're prone to forget God; we're prone to lose sight of God. We must never lose sight of God.
The sun is eight hundred and sixty-five thousand miles in diameter, one million two hundred thousand times larger than our earth. As big as it is, you can block out the sight of the sun with something as small as a glasses' case. Though it is that big, something this small can block your sight of the sun if it's close enough to you. You get so close to your problem, all you can see is your problem. Now God is as great as the universe. He fills the whole universe but I can't see Him. My problems have blinded me.
Now Moses speaks of the problems but then he reminds them that they don't need to be really concerned about the problem because the Lord thy God is gonna go before you. We are faced with a strong and powerful enemy who is stronger than we are. We are no match for Satan's power and you can get so involved with the power of Satan, so overawed by the power of Satan that you lose sight of the power of God. But "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world"( 1 John 4:4 ). You're no match for Satan but Satan is no match for God, and it is the Lord thy God who goes before thee to fight your battles, to dispossess the land of your enemies. We need to remember the Lord and His power.
For he is going before you; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and shall bring them down before thy face: so thou shalt drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD has said unto thee ( Deuteronomy 9:3 ).
Now, he said when you get into the land and God has driven out the enemy, and you've gone in and possessed them, and wiped them out, then beware of self-righteousness; lest you kick back and say, Well it's because we were so righteous that God has done this for us.
Oh, what a terrible thing self-righteousness is and how easily it attaches itself to us. There is something perverse about our nature that we desire to have people think that we are more righteous than we really are. That's a perversity of our nature. We like people to think that we are spiritual giants, that we really walk close to God. And there is oftentimes a perverse tendency on our part to put off some kind of a righteous aura. We try to look very righteous and holy and pious. We like people to think, "Oh, we are extremely holy people". Like because I am so holy God is able to use me, but I can understand why He doesn't use you. You know this spiritual putdown kind of a thing.
When Peter was at the temple going in with James at the hour of prayer and the man said, "Alms, Alms" and Peter said, "Hey, look at me, pal". And the guy turned expecting to receive something and Peter said, "I don't have any silver and gold". Ah, smart mouth. "Then why did you ask me to look at you?" "What I have I'll give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise to your feet and walk"( Acts 3:6 ). And Peter took this fellow by the right hand, lifted him to the feet. Immediately he received strength in his feet and ankles. He began to walk and leap, running through the temple, walking, leaping, praising God.
After one pass through the temple walking, leaping, praising God, as he was going by people said, "Isn't that the lame man that's been laying out there every day for years? Man, it sure looks likes him." "What in the world has happened to him" "I don't know. Let's go see". And a crowd followed this guy, some five thousand. So that by the time he came out back to the porch where Peter was still standing, he no doubt grabbed a hold of Peter, hugged him, kissed him, jumped up and down so that the people related the miracle to Peter some way. And Peter said, "Ye men of Israel. Why look ye on us as though we through our own righteousness had brought this deed to this lame man?"
Peter, at that moment, was in one of the greatest jeopardies of his entire ministry. When the people were looking at him, as though he were some holy, righteous kind of a creature, it would have been very easy with all of these people looking at Peter in awe and in wonder, "Oh, Peter" you know "Can I touch you?" For him to say, "Well now, to have this kind of power in your life it takes real sacrifice and dedication. You've got to really commit yourself totally unto God. Few people are able to make the sacrifices that are necessary in order to handle this kind of power." And what is he doing? He's taking the attention and the glory away from God and putting it on to himself.
Now many ministers have been guilty of doing this because our flesh would like people to think that we are something special, that we are something that is holy, that we're a little bit above the normal in our dedication and consecration. And my whole flesh, my whole body is so sneaky that it would like to give off a little righteous aura around me so that people will think that I'm so very, very holy.
But that's a constant danger to anyone who is ministering, to anyone who experiences the work of God in his life, because people are prone to look at the instrument rather than at God, the One who is using the instrument, and begin to give glory and credit to the instrument rather than to God. And thus, the instrument has to be very careful that it doesn't take glory, that it doesn't take credit. So Paul the apostle said, "I keep my body under. I buffet myself and keep my body under". Under what? Under control, under the spirit. "Lest having preached to others, I myself should be put on the shelf"( 1 Corinthians 9:27 ).
And so it is important that when God works in your life you don't begin to get some kind of spiritual pride and spiritual righteousness saying, "Well, it's because I'm so sweet or I'm so holy or I'm so righteous or I'm so committed God has done this for me". God said, "Hey, don't get that kind of a frame of mind". When you come into the land and you're possessing the land and you're dwelling there, then don't think "Well, it's because we're so righteous, we're such a holy people, God gave us this land." That isn't the reason because we were more righteous than those who are there and so forth. God said, "It isn't your holiness and it isn't because you are so righteous that I'm giving you the land. It's really because these people are so vile and so impure I'm just driving them out."
Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God gives thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for you're a stiffnecked people ( Deuteronomy 9:6 )
Sounds like Romaine; doesn't it? Our Moses. And then He reminds them of their stiffneckedness. How that they provoked God so many times. When they just left Egypt, they weren't even out of the land of Egypt when they provoked God the first time. And how all the way through they were continually provoking God. And so he reminds them of how he had to intercede more than once, lest God would have wiped them out. And so he reminds them the burnings, Taberah, verse twenty-two, the Massah, and Kibrothhattaavah, the graves of lust, the place of temptation where God was provoked against them, and also at Kadeshbarnea. And he said,
You've been a rebellious against the day LORD from the day that I knew you ( Deuteronomy 9:24 ).
From the beginning. Therefore, it isn't for your righteousness that the Lord is doing this or the uprightness of your heart, but actually God has given a promise unto your fathers, to Abraham and to Jacob. And God is just fulfilling His promise to your fathers but you're just a bunch of stiffnecked rebellious people.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 9". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent