The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Dt 9:4–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
How humbling is this passage. How humbling is the truth it reveals.
Habakkuk cried out to you and asked how long you were going to endure the wickedness of your people, Israel. You responded with knowledge that the Chaldeans were descending to punish the sin of Israel. Habakkuk was floored. How can you use a nation MORE pagan and wicked than us to punish us. To which You respond, (my paraphrase), don’t you worry. They will receive their just punishment in time as well.
It was not for the wickedness of Israel and the righteousness of the Chaldeans that You chose to use them to punish Israel. You used one wicked nation to punish the sins of another. Point being…You exercised Your justice. Perhaps it does not make sense to us how You chose to do it, but Your justice was done.
The same is true here in Deuteronomy 9. The nations of Canaan are about to be driven out before the Israelites. You wanted Israel to know, don’t get a big head and think that it is because you are righteous that I give you this land and drive out these nations before. You go on later to tell them that they are a stubborn and rebellious people. You are driving these pagan nations out for two reasons….The promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob AND because of the wickedness of these nations. You chose to use stubborn and rebellious Israel to punish the sins of these nations, NOT because Israel was so righteous but because You chose to use them to punish sin.
My mind hearkens back to when Abram was looking at the land promised to him and You told him that he would not yet inherit the land because their “wickedness was not yet complete.” You waited. You gave opportunity to repent and turn to You. When they didn’t, then You used Israel to thrust them out. But it was because of their own sin, not because of Israel’s righteousness, that You chose to use Israel to do this.
How prone we are, Abba, to think that we are better than what we are. How prone to view ourselves as righteous and others sinful. Protect us from such arrogance. May were remember our own need for grace and the rightful and just actions that we deserve. Save but grace, their fate would be ours.
What we ought to be struck by is this…It is not about the instrument of judgment or punishment for sin. it is about Your holiness and justice in rightly dealing with sin.
Perfect justice will always be exercised, even at the means of unjust hands.
You are a God of justice and holiness. You will ensure that wrongs are set right and sins are met with justice. You can do nothing else. It would violate Your nature to NOT enact justice. Without repentance, this is what justice looks like. Well, this and Hell. With repentance, justice runs red and is found in the shed blood of Jesus Christ to atone for our sins.
Yes, Abba, Your justice is sure. One way or another. Even if you have to use unrighteous people to accomplish it. You will ensure it is done.
Thank you for the blood of Jesus that ensures justice is provided for our sins while being merciful so as not to destroy us in its taking.
We love you Abba.