Old Testament Grace

For those who think that the Old Testament of the Bible is about wrath, while the New Testament is about grace, Deuteronomy 9 stands to be reckoned with. Here the Israelites are on the brink of entering the promised land, and Moses is giving them the magnum opus of all sermons. What is more than clear in the passage is that the Israelites are not going into the promised land on their own merit.

Verses 4-6 repeat three times that it is not because of the righteousness of the Israelites that they are entering the land. In fact, as the passage goes on to recount, the Israelites have not been very righteous at all. At almost every point they’ve been rebellious.

Yet God is bringing them into the land because of the unrighteousness of the current inhabitants of the land and because of the oath he swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (v. 5).

This is indeed a picture of grace in the Old Testament. The Israelites were as unrighteous as the inhabitants of the land, yet God chose the Israelites as his special people out of his grace. He would go before them and they would overtake a people that were stronger than them.

This should be a message to us today when we evaulate our lives in relation to God. Our actions, on the whole, should lead us straight to hell, if not through a hell on earth. Yet for some reason (think grace), he has allowed us to remain. Therefore, when evaluating tasks ahead of us, we should not be so concerned with our own abilities as much as whether or not we are following God.