DEUTERONOMY 9: PRAYER OF MOSES
THINK YOU GOT IT MADE BECAUSE OF YOUR 'UPRIGHTNESS OF HEART'?
Do we think we have things because of our 'uprightness of heart'? In Moses' continued speech (Deut 9), Moses challenged Israel again about the reasons God chose them. "It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going to occupy their land" (Deut 9:5). So, why is it that Israel will occupy the land? Moses says it's because of the "wickedness of these nations that God is dispossessing them before you, in order to fulfill the promise that the LORD made on oath to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob" (Deut 9:5).
It's kind of weird that people in Canaan are going to be dispossessed because they are wicked but then Moses goes on to tell Israel how rebellious and stubborn they are. Is rebellion and stubbornness different from wickedness, or is the difference between Israel and the nations that God made the promise to Israel and because of God's faithfulness, sticks with it regardless of Israel's behavior?
What makes us think we can dispossess people of their land? Unfortunately for ages, these texts have been used to justify dispossessing native peoples in Africa and the Americas. One very important thing should stop this kind of "manifest destiny" in its tracks. Whoever thinks they are better than another people and ought to possess land should keep in mind that even Israel was never given that reason for possessing the land. Manifest destiny was build on an ironic idea that Christian white people should possess North America from shore to shore and spread the "gospel." Triumphal evangelistic methods of conquest should not use texts about dispossession. Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world.
PRAYER OF MOSES
This is the prayer Moses prayed over people who "have been rebellious against the LORD as long as he has known you" (Deut 9:24):
“Lord God, do not destroy the people who are your very own possession, whom you redeemed in your greatness, whom you brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; pay no attention to the stubbornness of this people, their wickedness and their sin, otherwise the land from which you have brought us might say, ‘Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to let them die in the wilderness.’ For they are the people of your very own possession, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm" (Deut 9:25-29 NRSV).
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.