Whoa, whoa, whoa?! Who do you think you are? Do you really think that you deserve this? Do you really think that the Lord is so impressed with your righteousness that he is blessing you with all of these things? No! No! No! says Moses. You’ve got it all wrong. You are not here because of the great things you have done, but because of the more horrible things that those other people did. Ouch!
These seem like harsh words from Moses. But, clearly, they are not. He explains by describing, in detail, how they have assaulted the glory of the Lord. Remember the golden calf you made? He asks. Wait, how about when you spied out the land of Kadesh? Remember, you said it was “flowing with milk and honey?” (Numbers 13:27). But, when the Lord asked you to go in and take it, you refused. You became afraid and did not trust in the Lord. Have you forgotten these things? Do you still think you deserve this?
The answer is no, the Israelites did not deserve to enter the promised land. That right was purchased for them. Moses has to remind them. He explains to them “you would do well to know what I did on your behalf. The sacrifices I made and my humble pleadings to God that he would not look at you with anger, but with love. This is why you are here. You have not gotten what you deserve. Instead, you have gotten a wonderful gift.” (Deuteronomy 9:18, my paraphrase)
We too live in the land of milk and honey. It is far too easy to believe that we deserve it all. Our freedom, our cars, our jobs, our houses, our family, our breakfast, lunch, and dinner. To top it off, we enjoy a gift called salvation. It’s free for the taking. Or is it? Just like the Israelites, our freedom was purchased. This time, the ultimate price was paid with the life and blood of Jesus Christ. So no, this gift is not free for the taking. It requires something of us. It starts with gratitude and ends in worship.