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Thursday, September 28th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 9

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-11

The Ground of Israel’s Acceptance by God (9:1-10:11)

The sins of the spirit are subtle but devastating. In the preceding section Israel was warned against proud self-sufficiency and here against self-righteousness. These walk hand in hand, and either will destroy the person or nation.

Success is pleasant but perilous. It leads often to the "see-what-I-have-done" attitude or to the smug feeling that the Deity loves me because of my lovableness. When Israel comes into possession of the good land, she is to remember that this land is God’s unmerited gift.

In the assertion that salvation is the unmerited gift of God, the Deuteronomic theologians stand on common ground with New Testament writers. Acceptance before God cannot be earned, for all are sinners and cannot make themselves acceptable. Acceptance is God’s act alone and rests purely on his gracious forgiveness. The bulk of chapter 9 aims to prove that Israel’s acceptance and favored position have nothing to do with inherent righteousness. It was said before that God’s love is to be explained by no characteristics or qualities of the object (7:7).

Proof of Israel’s stubborn rebelliousness is offered aplenty. The greatest attention is given to the incident of the golden calf (vss. 8-21), with minor attention to other incidents (vss. 22-23). Moses summarizes his experience with Israel by saying flatly, "You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you" (vs. 24).

Moses’ role as an intercessor stands out sharply here, as it does in other strata of the tradition about him (Exodus 32:11-14; Exodus 32:31-32; Exodus 33:12-16; Exodus 34:9; Numbers 14:13-19). His work in the life of Israel was many-sided. He was a political and military leader, a prophet of God, a priestly mediator, and a vicarious sufferer. In him God found the kind of obedience he desired from Israel as a whole. The Bible offers many illustrations of the truth that "the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (James 5:16; compare Genesis 18:23-32; 1 Kings 18:36-39; Acts 4:23-31). Had it not been for Moses’ selfless intercession and God’s merciful forbearance, the nation would have been destroyed.

In 10:1-5 the completeness of God’s forgiveness is emphasized. The sinful nation is restored without qualification to God’s favor. The Ten Commandments are rewritten and deposited in the Ark of the Covenant as Israel’s permanent possession. The forgiveness the Bible talks about is radical and absolute. Since God removes our transgressions from us "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalms 103:12), we ought to forgive absolutely those who transgress against us (Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 17:3-4).

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Deuteronomy 9". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/deuteronomy-9.html.
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