Deuteronomy 9:1-29 – Not Your Righteousness, but Their Wickedness


Deuteronomy 9:1-29


God insists on the proper framing of the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land. God drove the nations out because of their wickedness, not because of the Israelites’ righteousness or might. 


The Israelites would fight against peoples stronger and much taller than them. And they would prevail. But the Israelites’ own merit had nothing to do with their success. God would go ahead of the Israelites as a consuming fire. 

The conquest in Deuteronomy is framed explicitly as a matter of punishment of prior inhabitants. The Israelites’ righteousness, indeed, has nothing to do with God bringing them to the Promised Land. Moses reminds the Israelites that in the wilderness, God almost destroyed them twice, but for Moses’ intervention on their behalf. 

The Israelites did not earn God’s favor. Instead, God simply gave it. The Israelites certainly lost God’s grace at least a couple of times. It was only the actions of an intercessor who bargained for their pardon that saved them. Christians will hear a familiar doctrine of salvation here. God’s grace is a free gift that is received by faith[fulness] to God alone.