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Why has the Lord Done this for Us?

Remember what the Lord has done for you—and why he has done it.


There are portions of the Scripture that teach truth propositionally. They directly state truth claims. You'll find that, for instance, in the Psalms, in the Gospels, in the Epistles—but two-thirds of the Bible is history, story, narrative. In proposition, you can analyze words, phrases, and sentences. In a narrative, in a story, you have to pull the lens back, if you will, and get the whole story. As a result, there are times you can't analyze. You have to summarize certain sections of the Scripture.

We'll do that today, with God's help, as we take two hefty chapters of Deuteronomy that encompass one major theme. Deuteronomy 9-10 will be our text for the day.

(Read Deuteronomy 9:1-6)

These two chapters answer a big question: "Why has the Lord done this for us?" That's what I want to talk about today. "Why has the Lord done this for us? Lord, why me?" Have you ever heard this question? Have you ever asked this question? It is natural to ask "Why me?" in seasons of adversity. It is godly to ask this question during seasons of prosperity. That's the heart of the text before us. We find ourselves in the midst of Moses' second farewell address to the children of Israel before they cross over into the land of Canaan.

In chapter eight, Moses points the people back to remember God's faithfulness in the wilderness so they will not forget the Lord when they cross over into the blessings of Canaan. Now in Deuteronomy 9-10, he will point them forward. He says to them that when they experience and receive the blessings the Lord has for them in the days to come, they need to not only remember who did it for them, but they also need to remember why he did it.

That's the point of the message: "Remember what the Lord has done for you, and why he has done it." When things are going well, when life is filled with blessings, when circumstances are going your way, it is then you should ask, "Why me, Lord?"

The Lord's blessings to you are not because of you

Deuteronomy 9 and 10 teach three lessons about the undeserved goodness of the Lord. Here's the first: The Lord's blessings to you are not because of you. The chapter begins with another call to attention: "Hear, Israel." This call to attention introduces the impossible mission that Israel will have before them as they cross into the Promised Land. The land they will posses is not an uninhabited land. There are residents who live there whom they will have to overcome to claim the promise.

Notice that in verse one, Moses says, "You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky." Notice how he describes the challenge. On one hand, you're going to have to fight nations that are greater and mightier than you. That's bad enough, but worse is the fact that these nations live in cities that are great and fortified. Watch the hyperbole: "up to the sky." They're undefeatable foes behind impregnable defenses.

In verse two, he would have them consider the enemies themselves: "The people are strong and tall—Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: 'Who can stand up against the Anakites?'" Indeed they knew these Anakites. Some 40 years prior to the text—the last time Israel was poised to take the Promised Land of Canaan—instead of just crossing over at the word of the Lord, Moses sent 12 spies to check out the land. Ten of those spies came back with the report that said, "We should not go forward because the sons of the Anakim are there. Giants are in that land, and we look like grasshoppers compared to these giants."

Some 40 years later, they're still around. Not only do they still inhabit the land, but they have street cred now. The right answer to the question "Who can stand up against the Anakites?" is: "Those who have God on their side." This is where Moses wants Israel to know that when you cross over to this impossible mission, God is on their side.

Notice the three big statements in verse three.

(Read Deuteronomy 9:3)

That's the foundation of the text: "You are going to cross over into an impossible mission, but God is with you, and you will have the victory."

The rest of the passage is about how you respond to your success. He says in verse four, "After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, 'The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.'"

There's a pride that Moses addresses in chapter eight—"when you are enjoying the blessings of the land, don't think it was your hand that produced it." He now says, "Then when God steps in and does for you what you can't do for yourself against the enemies, do not think that God has blessed you over the enemy because you are righteous and they are not." Watch that, church. The Lord's goodness is not because you've been good. You are not blessed because you are so righteous, conforming so perfectly to the will of God. You are not living under the favor of God because you are better than the people around you.

This is the big statement in verse four and in verse five and in verse six. Moses will make it again: It is not because of your righteousness, not because of your righteousness, not because of your righteousness. "Do you want to know why the Lord has been good to you?" he says. "I'll give you two reasons." Here's the first in the middle of verse four: "[I]t is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you." In other words, "God's been watching these people long before you got here." In verse five, "It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you."

Here's the second reason: not only the wickedness of the nations, but the promises of God. End of verse 5: "[T]he Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." When you get to victory and you want to know why, here are two reasons why: because of the wickedness of the nations and because of the promise of God. Let me break that down for you. It's not because of you.

God's been good to you, but it's not because you've been good to God. You are not blessed because you are righteous. You don't live under the favor of God because you are better than the people around you. That's the first lesson of the text. The Lord's blessings to you are never because of you.

You are blessed because the Lord is merciful to sinners

There's a second lesson. This is the big lesson of the text that goes from chapter 9 into chapter 10. The first lesson is the Lord's blessings to you are not because of you; the second lesson of this text is you are blessed because the Lord is merciful to sinners. You are blessed not because you are righteous, but because the Lord is merciful to sinners. Look at verse six: "Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess"—it's just the opposite—"for you are a stiff-necked people."

Literally, the statement here is, "You are stiff-necked." Here's the picture of the master trying to place the yoke around the neck of the oxen to lead it, but the ox is stubborn and moves and dodges and resists so that the master cannot get the yoke around its neck.

God says, "I'm trying to yoke you so I can lead you, so that I can bless you, but you keep standing in the way. You keep rebelling. You are a stubborn people." He says, in a major section of this chapter, "Remember your sinful rebellion." What an interesting piece of advice. When things are going good, you start thinking about how bad you've been. Look at verse seven: "Remember this and never forget how you aroused the anger of the Lord your God in the wilderness."

That's a summary for the rest of the chapter and what we'll find going forward: "Remember, in these 40 years in the wilderness, you gave God reason after reason to get angry with you." He says, "From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord" (v. 7). When things are going well in your life, he says, remember how bad you have been. Remember how sinful you have been. Remember how rebellious you have been.

A person struggling with alcohol addiction goes to Alcoholics Anonymous, makes it through the treatment process, and comes out on the other side calling himself or herself a recovering alcoholic. Then they will say, "I've been sober for 25 years." You want to say, "Wait a minute. If you haven't touched a drink in 25 years, you've been delivered." They will say, "No, no, no, no, no. I haven't picked up a glass in 25 years, but I'm still a recovering alcoholic." They talk that way in humility, recognizing the fact that even though it's been 25 years, they're just one sip away from the life they have come out of.

This is why you and I must be humble, because we are just one temptation away from falling back into sinful ways the Lord has delivered us from if his grace and mercy do not keep us. Moses says, "Remember." In verses 8 through 12, he begins to recount how they were rebellious in the wilderness. In verses 8 through 12, he talks about his own experience with God on Mount Horeb—it's Sinai in the Book of Exodus. When they'd come out of Egypt through the Red Sea, they took up camp at the base of Mount Horeb, and there God met them with fire and lightning and spoke to them the Ten Commandments.

The presence of God was so overwhelming that they said to Moses, "From now on, you go talk to God and then come back and tell us what he said." That's what happened. Moses went on the mountain and talked to God and was up there for 40 days and 40 nights. He didn't eat or drink; he just communed with God, and God expounded upon these Ten Commandments that he spoke to Israel as the basis of the covenant. Moses was to go back and teach the people the instruction and commandment of the Lord.

To symbolize the covenant between God and Israel, God, with his own finger—the Scripture anthropomorphically describes God in human terms—wrote the commandments on stone tablets. Moses was to take them down and deliver them to the people and teach them the truth of God's command.

(Read Deuteronomy 9:11-12)

This almost sounds like the way my wife talks about our children. She's very possessive about them: "Don't bother my children. I love my children." Then when they're acting up, she says, "Go, see what your children are over there doing."

This is really how God speaks to Moses. Listen to what he says in verse 12: He tells Moses to get off the mountain because of "your people."

"They have turned away quickly from what I commanded them" (v. 12)—do you know what that means? God is saying, "It hasn't even been 40 days. I just gave them the Ten Commandments. I've even written them down with my own hand, and they've already broken two of them." Verses 13 through 21 tell us what happen, telling us the story of the golden calf. God is on the mountain talking to Moses, and the people become frustrated because Moses is taking too long. "We need to get on with it. We need to get to the Promised Land," they say.

They go to Aaron, Moses's brother, the priest. "We don't know what happened to your brother, but we need to go forward," they say. "We've got a land to possess." They bring him all of their jewelry, gold, silver, and precious stones, tell him to make them a god to go before them, and he puts it in the furnace and fashions it as a calf: more literally, a bull representing strength and Egyptian image. He delivers it to them and says, "This is the God who brought you out of the land of Egypt"—and the God who just told them a couple of hours ago about "no graven images" and "no God before me." They are now dancing and singing and worshiping around the golden calf.

(Read Deuteronomy 9:15-17)

Watch what Moses is saying here. He's saying, "You broke the covenant by your actions. I took the tablets that symbolize the covenant and broke them right in front of you because I wanted you to see that this is what you have done to your relationship with God. You have thrown it away."

(Read Deuteronomy 9:18-21)

Watch what he's saying here now: "Don't think you're blessed because you've been so good. Don't forget that calf. Oh, I hear you: 'It was just that time,' you might say." But in verses 22-24, Moses says, "Uh-uh, that wasn't the only time. It would be one thing if that's the one time you rebelled, but you've rebelled over and over again."

Look at verse 22. "You also made the Lord angry at Taberah"—that's Numbers 11:1-3. Numbers 11:1 says the people complained, and the Lord heard it and was displeased. It's a startling verse. When you start complaining about your life, the Lord is listening, and it stirs up his anger. God was so angry in the beginning of Numbers 11 that he sent burning judgment on the people, and that's what Taberah means: "burning." It symbolized the judgment of God against the complaining people of Israel.

Moses said, "But that's not the only time. You also rebelled at Massah." Massah is Hebrew for "test." That's Exodus 17:1-7. Moses is saying, "You got thirsty and you put the Lord to the test. He had just brought you through the Red Sea, and you acted like he couldn't provide water in the wilderness. And you put the Lord to the test. Also, don't forget Kibroth Hattaavah." You've got to read all of Numbers 11 to get that story, but it's a whale of a story. God provided manna from heaven in the wilderness: food from heaven, from the sky, every day, for them to eat. They still found a reason to complain.

They complained because there was not enough variety on the menu: "At least in Egypt, there was more on the menu." God sent quail from heaven. They could just reach up and grab it and kill it and dress it and eat it. While they were getting their cravings satisfied, God sent a plague, and the craving people died. That's what the name means: Kibroth Hattaavah means "graves of craving." Be careful when you desire something more than God. Your lust will dig your own grave.

Then he says, "Remember what happened at Kadesh Barnea." Verse 23 reads, "And when the Lord sent you out from Kadesh Barnea, he said, 'Go up and take possession of the land I have given you.' But you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. You did not trust him or obey him." This is why they wandered in the wilderness 40 years. At Kadesh Barnea, they refused to go forward when God told them to go forward.

Really, if you want to get the point of this whole extended section, it's in verse 24. Moses says, "You have been rebellious against the Lord ever since I have known you." Now, just for the record, you are totally missing the point today if you think this is about Israel alone. The same can be said of us. There's not a day that we've done what was right. Every day, we have given God another reason to be angry at us. The blessings of God on our lives are not because we have been so righteous. He says, "Remember your sin for rebellion." Then "remember"—Lord have mercy—"remember God's merciful forbearance." You're not here because you've been good. You're here because God's been patient.

Look at verse 25. Moses tells them how they've survived: "I lay prostrate before the Lord those forty days and forty nights because the Lord had said he would destroy you."

Young people, let me just encourage you. I know there are things you see and hear in church that just don't make sense yet, but pay attention anyway. It'll feed your faith somewhere down the road when you don't know you'll need it sometime down the road.

When I was a boy, we used to sing a little song that I thought was just a weird song to be singing. We would sing, "Somebody prayed for me, had me on their mind, took the time to pray for me. I'm so glad they prayed, I'm so glad they prayed, I'm so glad they prayed for me." That song seems to have no depth. It's just a little ditty, a little chorus. What's so big about that? Once I got a few miles on me and was able to look back over my life and see foolish mistakes and rebellious seasons where I was too foolish to pray for myself, and I could look back over my life and say, "The only way I made it is because somebody had to have prayed for me and had me on their mind. I don't know if it was my momma or my daddy or the preacher. I don't know, but somebody prayed for me."

Listen to Moses saying, "The Lord would've checked you out of here, but I wouldn't get off the ground until the Lord heard my cry on your behalf." Here, Moses models spiritual leadership. True spiritual leaders are praying people, or they are not spiritual leaders. Listen to how Moses prays. He prays with confidence in God's sovereignty: "I prayed to the Lord and said, 'Sovereign Lord, do not destroy your people, your own inheritance'" (v. 26).

In verse 12, God had said, "These are your people. You brought them out." Moses now says, "Uh-uh. These are your people, Lord, your heritage." The rest of verse 26 reads that they are "your own inheritance that you redeemed by your great power and brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand." Not only does Moses pray with confidence and the sovereignty of God, but he prays with confidence in the faithfulness of God. Verse 27 begins, "Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." That is: "Lord, don't pay attention to their rebellion. Just remember the promise that you made."

Paul says, "[I]f we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself" (2 Tim. 2:13). Moses prays with confidence, then in the sovereignty of God and the faithfulness of God and the glory of God, he says in the rest of the chapter, "Lord, just remember how you treat this people—your name is on the line."

(Read Deuteronomy 9:27b-29)

Moses, in this final paragraph of chapter nine, prays for the people, intercedes for the people. Then in the opening verses of chapter 10, Moses says, "God answered the prayer." Verse one reads, "At that time the Lord said to me, 'Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones and come up to me on the mountain. Also make a wooden ark. I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Then you are to put them in the ark.'"

Watch what God is saying here: "You broke the tablets because they broke the covenant, but go cut some new tablets. Bring them up to me. I'm not going to change my rules because they want to live their way." I wish I had a whole sermon's worth of time there. God says, "I'm going to write on this new tablet the same thing I wrote on the last tablet." God doesn't change his laws to accommodate sin, but he's a merciful God who says, in essence, "They turned their backs on me, but I will not turn my back on them. I will be merciful even though they deserve my anger."

Verse six reads, "The Israelites traveled from the wells of Bene Jaakan to Moserah. There Aaron died and was buried, and Eleazar his son succeeded him as priest." This is a reference out of chronological order, but Moses places us here to respond again to chapter nine, where God was not just angry at Israel. He was angry at Aaron for leading them into sin, but he spared Aaron, and Aaron died some time later. God spared his life that day, and God permitted his son to be the new priest, and the line of Aaron became the Levites: the deacons, if you will, of the Old Testament, who ministered around the house of God.

Moses is saying again, "You are here because when the Lord should've checked you out of here, he was merciful."

The Lord's mercy demands your loving obedience

The first lesson is that the Lord's blessings to you are never because of you. The second lesson is that you are blessed because God is merciful to sinful people. There's one more lesson in 10:12-22.

It is this: The Lord's mercy demands your loving obedience. If you want to know the point of this final section, it's in verse 12. What does the Lord your God require of you? You don't have to obey his requirements to receive mercy, but the fact that you have received mercy is to shape the way you live. As much as you are a beneficiary of divine mercy, you can't just keep doing your own thing. God requires something of those who would receive his mercy. What does he require? Five things.

(Read Deuteronomy 10:12-13.)

Notice the last phrase: "for your own good." When God commands you to do this or forbids you from doing that, he's not trying to hurt you. He's not trying to kill your joy. He's not trying to prevent you from enjoying life. God leads us to holiness and leads us away from sin for our good.

"There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death" (Prov. 14:12). If you go your own way, friend, it'll lead to a dead end forever, but the commandments of God are for your good. How do we live out the life that God has called us to? Again, just remember his mercy. This is in verses 14-15: "To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today."

Let me tell you how they used to say it. They used to say, "God sits high but looks low." This great and awesome God set his heart in love on you. You need to remember how great and merciful God is. Friend, you are here, and you're complaining about the way things are in your life. Hear Moses saying to you and to me—not just to ancient Israel, but to us—"You don't want God to give you what you really deserve. You've got it much better than you think you do."

Verses 16-17 say, "Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes." In Genesis 17:10-14, God commands Abraham to circumcise all the men of his household, and this would be the sign of the covenant. The sign of the Abrahamic covenant between God and Israel is circumcision. God says, "Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off"—pun intended—"from his people" (Gen. 17:14).

He is talking to a circumcised people who have all obeyed the ritualistic act required to be a part of the nation of God, but listen to what Moses says: "Circumcise your hearts." It's graphic language to say this. Religious acts do not make you right with God if your heart is not right. Church attendance, worship, baptism, church membership, diligent service, generous giving: As important as all of those things are, they don't make you right with God if your heart is not right.

True religion is always from the inside out. Anyone can put a new suit on a man. Only God can put a new man in a suit. It begs the question: How are things between you and the Lord Jesus Christ? Every one of us in here struggles with the same big issue of life. God is holy and we are not. We will have to answer to God for how we have lived our lives. There's no good thing in us to commend God. Our attempts of being good fall short of his righteous standard. We are on a collision course with the holy wrath of God, but in his mercy, God sent his only begotten son into the world who lived a holy, perfect, righteous life, never committing the rebellion of sin that we have talked about over the course of this message.

He lived the life we should've lived, and then at the Cross, he died a death of substitutionary atonement. That's big religious language, but here's what it means: It should've been you and it should've been me suffering under the wrath of God, but he took our place. If you run to the Cross and throw yourself on the mercy of God and trust the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, you can be saved today and forever.


Moses now says, "Let me tell you how you can tell your heart's right."

(Read Deuteronomy 10:18-20)

Underline this first phrase of verse 21—I think this gets to the bottom line of what Moses is saying in this chapter. "He is the one you praise." There's nothing wrong with talking about your blessings and talking about how good things are in your life and about how you got it going on, but make sure the right person gets the praise. It is to dishonor God and exalt yourself to talk about the good things in your life as if you did something to produce it. He is the One you praise. He deserves the glory. He deserves the praise. He deserves the honor for everything that is good in our lives.

He is your God who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. Look at verse 22. Moses is saying, "Let me just give you one more reminder." Joseph went down to Egypt a slave, became prime minister, sent for the rest of the family, and when the rest of the family came to Egypt, it was 70 persons. "[N]ow the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky," keeping his promise to Abraham (v. 22).

Let me tell you what God was saying: "You were nothing; I made you something. You were a nobody; I made you a somebody. You were few; I made you many. You were weak; I made you strong. You were little; I made you big. You were lonely; I made you exalted. You were oppressed; I made you honored."

When you look at your life, you ought to ask, "Why me, Lord?" Then give glory where glory is due. Praise God.

H.B. Charles, Jr. is the Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida.

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Sermon Outline:


I. The Lord's blessings to you are not because of you

II. You are blessed because the Lord is merciful to sinners

III. The Lord's mercy demands your loving obedience