I want to build off of something I said on my last post: the idea that God is up to bigger things then just displacing one group of humans and replacing them with another. There is a story arch that has been continuing since Genesis 1, and that is whether humanity (and all of creation for that matter) would be able to function in the role God intended for it. The story of Adam and Eve says no. The story of Cain and Abel says no. The story of the Tower of Babel says no. The story of Egypt says no, but out of Egypt God has delivered the Israelites according to his promise. What is the purpose of this? Is it just so God can say, "See, I keep my promises." God is a faithful god, but I don't think that answers the question. Is it just because God is loving and compassionate, a god who lifts the lowly and humbles the mighty? Again, that is true, but it doesn't necessarily answer the question of why God chose this people (Israel) and showed them these experiences (plagues, crossing a sea, water out of rocks, bread out of dew, etc.). The why behind it all has to do with the greater story arch: God was working through humans to bring humans back to being fully human. Redundant, I know, but there you have it. Israel was meant to be an example to the nations of what true Humanity looked like. If Israel merely reflected the accepted culture and norms, well, then Israel wasn't fulfilling its purpose.
That being the case, is it any wonder that God gets so frustrated with Israel? He has called them to great things, world changing things...humanity changing things, and up to this point in the story he has very little to show for it. Israel is perfectly happy looking just like everyone else, thank you very much. Is it any wonder that God tells the Israelites that if they start behaving and looking like every other nation in Canaan he'll, "...do to you as I thought to do to them"? There are things at stake here, and if Israel won't let him use them to turn things around, he'll find someone else who will.
That makes sense to me. As Christians we are called to be reflections of what it means to be Human, as God intended it. If we don't take that seriously (notice I did not say, "If we don't do this perfectly"), what makes us assume God won't find people who will?
Stopping point: Numbers 34