Moses remembers the bad things about Israel's people
1 Moses said:
Listen, Israelites! You will soon cross the River Jordan. You will march into your country. You will send away people in many nations who are stronger than you are. They are more powerful and they have large cities with very high walls. 2 The people there are strong and tall. They are called Anakites! You know about them. You have heard people say, ‘No one can beat the Anakites.’
3 But you can be sure today that the Lord your God goes across in front of you. He is like a burning fire. He will destroy your enemies. He will make them do what he says. And you will send them away and remove them quickly. The Lord has promised that this will happen.
4 After the Lord your God has driven them away in front of you, be careful! Do not say to yourself, ‘The Lord has brought me into this country because I am doing right things.’
No, it is because these people are doing wrong things. That is why the Lord will send them away from you. 5 It is not because you are doing right things. It is not because you always obey God. This is not the reason that God will give their country to you. The Lord your God will send them away from you because they are doing wrong things. So he will do what he promised to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 6 You must understand this. The Lord your God is not giving you this good country because you are doing right things. No, you really think too well about yourselves. You do not like to obey God. You want to do things that give you pleasure.
The young cow that the people made from gold
7 You must never forget how you made the Lord your God angry in the desert. You have failed to obey the Lord. From the day when you left Egypt, until today, you have not obeyed him. 8 When you were at Mount Horeb you made the Lord angry. He was angry enough to kill you. 9 I climbed the mountain to receive the two flat stones from the Lord. On these stones the Lord had written the promise that he had made with you. I stayed with him for 40 days and nights. During those days, I did not eat or drink anything. 10 Then the Lord gave the two flat stones to me. He had written all his rules on the stones with his own finger. The Lord told you these rules, when he spoke from the fire. This was on the day when you all came together to the mountain.
11 After the 40 days and nights, the Lord gave to me the stones with the promise. 12 Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go down the mountain immediately! The people that you led out of Egypt have become very bad. They have already refused to obey my rules and they have made a false god for themselves.’
13 And the Lord said to me, ‘I know that these people do not like to obey me. They want to do things that give them pleasure. 14 Do not try to stop me. I will kill them and no one on the earth will remember them. Then I will make you into a nation that is stronger and larger than they are.’
15 So I turned and I went down the mountain. It was burning with fire and the two stones with the promise were in my hands. 16 I looked at you. I saw that you had sinned. You had made a false god for yourselves in the shape of a young cow. You had already refused to obey the Lord. 17 So I threw the two flat stones on the ground. They broke in pieces in front of you.
18 Then again I fell down on my face, in front of the Lord, for 40 days and nights. I did not eat or drink anything. You had sinned. You had refused to obey the Lord. You had made him very angry. 19 I was afraid because the Lord was so angry. He was angry enough with you to kill you. But again the Lord listened to me. 20 The Lord was also angry enough with my brother Aaron, to kill him. But at that time, I prayed for Aaron too.
21 Then I took that sinful thing that you had made. I took that young cow made from gold. I burned it in the fire and I broke it in pieces. Then I broke it into powder and threw the powder into a stream from the mountain.
22 You also made the Lord angry at Taberah, at Massah and at Kibroth-Hattaavah.
23 Then, when the Lord sent you out from Kadesh-Barnea, he said, ‘March into the country that I have given you.’
But you refused to obey the words of the Lord your God. You did not believe in him or obey him. 24 You have refused to obey the Lord ever since I have known you.
25 So I lay on my face in front of the Lord for those 40 days and nights. He had said that he would kill you.
26 So I prayed to the Lord. I said, ‘Lord our King, do not kill your people! They are really your people, because you saved them by your powerful authority. You are so strong that you brought them out of Egypt. 27 Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Please forgive your people who have not obeyed you. 28 For if you do not forgive them, the people in Egypt will say, “The Lord was not strong enough to take them into their country. He had promised to do this. But he took them into the desert to kill them. He did this because he hated them!”
29 But they are your people and they belong to you. You are so strong and powerful that you brought them out.’