God blesses us, not because of our righteousness but because of His covenant.
I was talking to a “seeker” a couple of years ago and we were discussing sin. Her perspective that sin has always been around (which it has) so there really isn’t a better and worse. But the reality is that there are times of greater righteousness and increased wickedness. All of this depends on the corporate mass of people and their obedience/disobedience to the Lord.
When a nation “blesses” a sin, that sin will typically abound and confusion will occur in the young people. It really doesn’t matter the nature of the sin. It could be greed, arrogance, selfishness, immorality…doesn’t matter. When there’s a corporate endorsement of the sin, there typically is a corporate following.
No doubt, there can be a rampant increase of wickedness in a land.
The LORD acknowledges this with Israel. They are a stiff-necked and stubborn people according to the Lord (Deut 9:6). But regardless, he is using them to drive out a people that are deeply wicked.
He reminds them that he is not using them to be the tool of judgment because they are so righteous, but because the other people are so very wicked:
“When the LORD your God drives them out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The LORD brought me in to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ Instead, the LORD will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness. You are not going to take possession of their land because of your righteousuness or your integrity. Instead, the LORD your God will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness in order to keep the promise He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (Deut 9:4-6).
Three times! Back to back to back he says He is not driving out the people of the land because they are righteous, but because the people are so wicked. The LORD was driving them out because of a covenant He made with their fathers, but it wasn’t based on their good works.
It was a very, very, very strong call to humility.
It’s also interesting that the promises of God are not based on good-works. Not for Israel, not for us. It could be said of God’s people that he is not giving them the treasures of heaven because we are good. We are not. But because he has saved us in Jesus and as a just God he must bring justice to evil.