Why the Lord Will Help Israel
1Israel, listen to me! You will soon cross the Jordan River and go into the land to force out the nations that live there. They are more powerful than you are, and the walls around their cities reach to the sky. 2Some of these nations are descendants of the Anakim. You know how tall and strong they are, and you've heard that no one can defeat them in battle. 3But the Lord your God has promised to go ahead of you, like a raging fire burning everything in its path. So when you attack your enemies, it will be easy for you to destroy them and take their land.
4-6After the Lord helps you wipe out these nations and conquer their land, don't think he did it because you are such good people. You aren't good—you are stubborn! No, the Lord is going to help you, because the nations that live there are evil, and because he wants to keep the promise he made to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
When Israel Made an Idol
Moses said to Israel:
7Don't ever forget how you kept rebelling and making the Lord angry the whole time you were in the desert. You rebelled from the day you left Egypt until the day you arrived here.
8At Mount Sinai you made the Lord so angry that he was going to destroy you. 9-11 It happened during those 40 days and nights that I was on the mountain, without anything to eat or drink. He had told me to come up there so he could give me the agreement he made with us. And this agreement was actually the same Ten Commandments he had announced to you when he spoke from the fire on the mountain. The Lord had written them on two flat stones with his own hand. But after giving me the two stones, 12he said:
Moses, hurry down the mountain to those people you led out of Egypt. They have already disobeyed me and committed the terrible sin of making an idol.
13I've been watching the Israelites, and I've seen how stubborn and rebellious they are. 14So don't try to stop me! I am going to wipe them out, and no one on earth will remember they ever lived. Then I will let your descendants become an even bigger and more powerful nation than Israel.
15Fire was raging on the mountaintop as I went back down, carrying the two stones with the commandments on them. 16I saw how quickly you had sinned and disobeyed the Lord your God. There you were, worshiping the metal idol you had made in the shape of a calf. 17So I threw down the two stones and smashed them before your very eyes.
18-20I bowed down at the place of worship and prayed to the Lord, without eating or drinking for 40 days and nights. You had committed a terrible sin by making that idol, and the Lord hated what you had done. He was angry enough to destroy all of you and Aaron as well. So I prayed for you and Aaron as I had done before, and this time the Lord answered my prayers.
21It was a sin for you to make that idol, so I threw it into the fire to melt it down. Then I took the lump of gold, ground it into powder, and threw the powder into the stream flowing down the mountain.
22 You also made the Lord angry when you were staying at Taberah, at Massah, and at Kibroth-Hattaavah. 23 Then at Kadesh-Barnea the Lord said, “I am giving you the land, so go ahead and take it!” But since you didn't trust the Lord, you rebelled and disobeyed his command. 24In fact, you've rebelled against the Lord for as long as he has known you.
25After you had made the idol in the shape of a calf, the Lord said he was going to destroy you. So I lay face down in front of the Lord for 40 days and nights 26and prayed:
Our Lord, please don't wipe out your people. You used your great power to rescue them from Egypt and to make them your very own. 27Israel's ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob obeyed you faithfully. Think about them, and not about Israel's stubbornness, evil, and sin. 28If you destroy your people, the Egyptians will say, “The Lord promised to give Israel land, but he wasn't powerful enough to keep his promise. In fact, he hated them so much that he took them into the desert and killed them.” 29But you, our Lord, chose the people of Israel to be your own, and with your mighty power you rescued them from Egypt.