Israel, listen to me. You are now about to go across the Jordan. You will take over the land of the nations that live there. Those nations are greater and stronger than you are. Their large cities have walls that reach up to the sky.
The people who live there are Anakites. They are strong and tall. You know all about them. You have heard people say, "Who can stand up against the Anakites?"
But today you can be sure the LORD your God will go over there ahead of you. He is like a fire that will burn them up. He'll destroy them. He'll bring them under your control. You will drive them out. You will put an end to them quickly, just as the LORD has promised you.
The LORD your God will drive them out to make room for you. When he does, don't say to yourselves, "The LORD has done it because we are godly. That's why he brought us here to take over this land." That isn't true. The LORD is going to drive out those nations to make room for you because they are very evil.
You are not going in to take over their land because you have done what is right or honest. It's because those nations are so evil. That's why the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you. He will do what he said he would do. He took an oath and made a promise to your fathers. He made it to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The LORD your God is giving you this good land to take as your own. But you must understand that it isn't because you are a godly nation. In fact, you are stubborn.
Here is something you must remember. Never forget it. You made the LORD your God angry in the desert. You refused to obey him from the day you left Egypt until you arrived here.
At Mount Horeb you made the LORD angry enough to destroy you.
I went up the mountain. I went there to receive the tablets of the covenant. They were made out of stone. It was the covenant the LORD had made with you. I stayed on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. I didn't eat any food or drink any water.
The LORD gave me two stone tablets. The words on them were written by the finger of God. All of the commandments the LORD gave you were written on the tablets. He announced them to you out of the fire on the mountain. He wrote them on the day you gathered together there.
The 40 days and 40 nights came to an end. Then the LORD gave me the two stone tablets. They were the tablets of the covenant.
The LORD told me, "Go down from here right away. The people you brought out of Egypt have become very sinful. They have quickly turned away from what I commanded them. They have made a metal statue of a god for themselves."
The LORD said to me, "I have seen these people. They are so stubborn!
Do not try to stop me. I am going to destroy them. I will wipe them out from the earth. Then I will make you into a great nation. Your people will be stronger than they were. There will be more of you than there were of them."
So I turned and went down the mountain. It was blazing with fire. I was carrying the two tablets of the covenant.
When I looked, I saw that you had sinned against the LORD your God. You had made for yourselves a metal statue of a god. It looked like a calf. You had quickly turned away from the path the LORD had commanded you to follow.
So I threw the two tablets out of my hands. You watched them break into pieces.
Then once again I fell down flat in front of the LORD with my face toward the ground. I lay there for 40 days and 40 nights. I didn't eat any food or drink any water. You had committed a terrible sin. You had done an evil thing in the LORD's sight. You had made him angry.
I was afraid of the LORD's burning anger. He was so angry with you he wanted to destroy you. But the LORD listened to me again.
And he was so angry with Aaron he wanted to destroy him too. But at that time I prayed for Aaron.
I also got that sinful calf you had made. I burned it in the fire. I crushed it and ground it into fine powder. Then I threw the powder into a stream that was flowing down the mountain.
You also made the LORD angry at Taberah, Massah and Kibroth Hattaavah.
The LORD sent you out from Kadesh Barnea. He said, "Go up and take over the land I have given you." But you refused to do what the LORD your God had commanded you to do. You didn't trust him or obey him.
You have been refusing to obey the LORD as long as I've known you.
I lay down in front of the LORD with my face toward the ground for 40 days and 40 nights. I did it because the LORD had said he would destroy you.
I prayed to him. "LORD and King," I said, "don't destroy your people. They belong to you. You set them free by your great power. You used your mighty hand to bring them out of Egypt.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Forgive the people of Israel for being so stubborn. Don't judge them for the evil and sinful things they've done.
"If you do, the Egyptians will say, 'The LORD wasn't able to take them into the land he had promised to give them. He hated them. So he brought them out of Egypt to put them to death in the desert.'
But they are your people. They belong to you. You used your great power to bring them out of Egypt. You reached out your mighty arm and saved them."