Israel was on the verge of entering the land of Canaan, which God had promised to give to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 12:1-3). For 40 years following their escape from Egyptian bondage they had wandered in the wilderness because of their disobedience and lack of trust in God’s provision and protection. After the disobedient, older generation died off in the wilderness, Israel was about to conquer Canaan and her inhabitants, but first Moses gave a series of speeches in order to prepare the people for what lied ahead for the nation. In these three addresses to the people, Moses reflected on God’s faithfulness in the past (Deuteronomy 1:1-4:43), reminded them about the importance of God’s commandments (Deuteronomy 4:44-28:68), and challenged them to recommit themselves to obeying God so that they could experience God’s goodness (Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20). In the first part of Moses’ second speech he reminded them of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5) and challenged every generation to obey His Law (Deuteronomy 6). Moses continued his second speech by commanding the Israelites to completely destroy the inhabitants of Canaan (7:1-2, 17-24), not intermarry with the Canaanites (7:3-4), and tear down any altars or images used in worshiping of false gods (7:5, 25-26). Doing these things would ensure that Israel would not be influenced by the pagan culture in Canaan, but become a holy people who were pleasing to the Lord (7:6-11). If Israel obeyed God, they would become a nation “blessed above all peoples” (7:12-15).
In Moses’ second speech to Israel he also warned them against forgetting the Lord and what He had done for them (Deuteronomy 8). They had been led by God (8:1-2), humbled by God (8:3-4), disciplined by God (8:5) so that they would faithfully walk in His ways (8:6). Now that God was bringing them into a great land (8:7-10) they were not to forget that it was God who had given them this inheritance (8:11-18). If Israel would fail to recognize God as the Giver of all good things and seek after other gods, He would judge and destroy the nation of Israel (8:19-20). In case Israel had forgotten about their tendency to stray away from God, Moses reminded them about their repeated sins throughout the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness (9:7). Israel was not entering the land on the basis of their own righteousness, but because of the wickedness of the Canaanites who needed to be destroyed off the face of the earth (9:1-6). Moses knew that the people of Israel were stubborn and disobedient (9:6), but God loved them and had promised to bring them into this land as a fulfillment of His promise to their forefathers (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Israel’s stubbornness was illustrated by Moses who recalled to their memory their disobedience at Horeb while Moses was receiving the Law of God on the mountain (see Exodus 32 for background). Moses had been on Mount Sinai forty days and nights where he then received the Law of God, which He had written on two tablets of stone (9:8-11); however, the Lord commanded him to quickly return to Israel who had acted corruptly by worshiping a golden calf that they had created (9:12). Although God wanted to destroy Israel for their disobedience, Moses pleaded for God’s mercy which He granted (9:13-21). Moses also reminded Israel of other instances of disobedience and how God had been gracious to them (9:22-29). Why was Moses reminding them about their past sins? Recalling their past sins would hopefully remind Israel about their proneness to disobey and help them avoid disobedience once they inhabited Canaan. Reminding Israel of her past sins would also highlight the forgiving nature of God. Instead of destroying Israel when they worshiped the golden calf (Exodus 32), God wrote the Law once again on tablets of stone (10:1-5) and established the priesthood of Aaron, even though he was the one who had been the leader in the golden calf incident (10:6-9). The past sins of Israel had been left behind and now God had brought them to the banks of the Jordan River where they were almost ready to enter Canaan (10:10). Moses then reminded Israel that the Lord required Israel to fear Him, walk in His ways, love Him, serve Him, and obey His commandments (10:11-13). Instead of walking contrary to His ways, Israel was to purify herself and walk in accordance with God, who had done great and awesome things (10:14-22).
Dear God, my past sins are many but I pray that I would be reminded of your forgiveness.