Deuteronomy 9

4 The victories that Israel would have could easily lead to pride. God makes it very clear that Israel had not done any righteous act that obligated Him to help them. His only obligation was to fulfil His promise to Israel's forefathers. The reason the current inhabitants of Canaan would be destroyed or driven out was their hopeless wickedness. God could fulfil His promise through this generation of Israelites because they had learned to obey God.
6 In fact, God reveals that Israel has a problem with righteousness. God can easily move righteous people, but Israel is pictured like a stubborn animal that refuses to turn its head when God pulls the reigns.
7 Israel had seen God's great works and provision, but repeatedly they refused to obey Him and have faith in Him.
8 God did destroy large groups of Israelites at various times for their disobedience, but one particular time God would have destroyed them all, except for His promise to their forefathers.
9 Moses had gone up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments and the Law. This should have been the spiritual highlight of Israel's trip.
12 However, while Moses was fasting and being instructed by God, the Israelites made an idol for themselves and worshiped it in place of God.
13 God found it difficult to instruct and lead the Israelites. God is all-powerful, but He can not make people love and obey Him since each individual must make these choices. Israel had every advantage because they saw God do many mighty works, but they refused to submit to Him. We must remember that refusal to submit to God can lead to tragedy during this lifetime, but we should be even more aware that God will reconcile all accounts on Judgement Day.
14 God then tests Moses by indicating that He would destroy Israel and make a mighty nation out of Moses instead. Notice that God indicates that this would happen if Moses "let Him alone" -- that is, if Moses would stop praying for the people. We, too, should not stop praying for those around us who do not know God. We should plead that God will continue to give them opportunities to devote their lives to Him.
16 Moses did not have to do much investigation to find that the people had sinned greatly. They experienced what God had done for them, yet in only forty days they gave up waiting for Moses and made an idol to worship. The pillar of cloud and fire was still visible on the mountain, but this was not enough to remind the people of God's presence.
17 Moses became enraged. In his uncontrolled fury, he destroyed the tablets of the Law which God Himself had written. The Israelites were breaking the Law before it could even be established. Perhaps the thought that the Law would be no use to such a people crossed Moses' mind, and he destroyed the tablets without considering their inherent value.
18 To survive one forty-day fast is exceedingly difficult. To survive two in a row is an indicator that God was sustaining Moses.

Some people find it difficult to pray for a few minutes, but Moses was so distressed by the sin around him that he prayed for forty days and nights. If we look around us, we can certainly find many people in need of prayer.

19 God threatened to destroy the people, but Moses pleaded, not on their behalf, but on behalf of God's former promises. Moses knew that God would not break a promise He made, and this is why God listened to him.
20 Moses' brother, Aaron, was in particular danger of being destroyed. He had been entrusted with being the high priest for God, but he had given in to the people's demand for an idol. He not only oversaw the making of the idol, but he sanctified the worship of it. He had changed from being the high priest of God to the high priest of an idol. After his error was pointed out, he made excuses instead of confessing this sin. By turning from God in such a profound way, Aaron did deserve death, but God had mercy on him and even restored him as His high priest.
21 To show the utter worthlessness of idols, Moses destroyed the gold calf and made the people drink its dust. People may worship objects, plants, animals, and ideas, but such practices are spiritually worthless. Objects can be destroyed, plants and animals die, and human ideas can change. The only permanent One is God. Furthermore, God created all elements, plants, and animals. These things can not be worshiped in place of their Creator. Sinful ideas are inherently harmful, but even good ideas can be spiritually harmful if they are seen as an end in themselves and interfere with one's relationship with God.
24 After Moses returned from the wilderness to lead Israel, Pharaoh made life more difficult for them. Instead of looking to God in faith, the Israelites turned against Moses. This was only the first of many such instances.
25 Moses, however, had learned complete dependence on God. His pleading and posture showed that he was completely humble before God. The long duration of his frequent prayers and fasting also demonstrated his great concern for God's people.
26 One of Moses' approaches in pleading for the people was to remind God of how much effort He had put in freeing them. It would be a pity to have done so much only to destroy the people and start over again. Certainly if God had done this much, He could see that the intended outcome was eventually produced.
27 Another approach was to remind God of His promises, which He would not break.
28 Another approach was to plead for God's reputation. If God had destroyed the Israelites, the pagan people would undoubtedly misinterpret God's actions. They would say that God was unable to fulfil His promises, which is untrue. From the standpoint of history, we can see how many promises God has fulfilled, and we wait for Him to fulfill the rest. The pagans would say that He hated Israel, which was also untrue. God, in fact, loves all people, but we are all subject to destruction if we refuse to obey Him. Even God's special people are required to submit to Him or face consequences.
29 Finally, Moses appeals to the fact that God chose Israel for His special people. They were not behaving in a worthy manner, but God had chosen to reveal Himself to and work through them.