Deuteronomy 32

Moses’ Song of Witness ā€” continued

These verses summon the heavens and the earth to serve as witnesses to the truths that will follow. This message was as needed by the people as dry ground needed rain from heaven. Only the refreshing showers of God’s word would make the barren hearts of the people fruitful.

These verses contrast the faithfulness of God to the unfaithfulness of the people. God’s faithfulness and justice was rock-solid. God is, for the first time in Scripture, referred to as a “Rock” (32:4, 18, 30, and 31). The description of God as a rock pictures Him as strong, secure, dependable, immovable, and unchangeable. The people, by contrast, were perverse and crooked. They are pictured as being on the rocks! Verse 6 points out the foolishness of the people for repaying God’s goodness with rebellion.

These verses call to mind the election of Israel and God’s gracious care of Israel. Notice that God led (32:10, 12), developed (32:10, 11), provided for (32:13-14), and loved Israel as a parent loved a child. Verse 13 recalls the supernatural provision of God for the people. God provided for them even in the most barren places.

These verses (like verses 5-6) charge Israel with having grown fat, satisfied, and scornful. Israel is charged with forsaking God (to whom they owed everything) for strange gods and demons and “new gods who come lately” (32:17), perhaps a reference to religious fads which come and go. Israel is charged with neglecting and forgetting God (32:18).

These verses announce the sentence of judgment on the people. Having kindled the anger of God (32:19-22), the Israelites would suffer terrible misfortunes (32:23-29) as a result. National calamity follows national sin. God however, would stop short of totally annihilating the people (32:26-27). Maxwell notes, “God’s decision is to exercise restraint, not because Israel deserves it, but because His honor is at stake.”

These verses reflect on verses 19-29 and conclude that the only way in which the Israelites could suffer such judgment is because God had indeed abandoned them.

These verses indicate that after judgment has done its work God will vindicate His people and deal with their enemies. He will show the impotence of idols to help when He judges Israel’s enemies. The people are called to rejoice and praise the Lord for overcoming their adversaries (32:43). Verse 39 indicates that the purpose of God’s judgment is to bring the people to understand that there is no god besides God.

These verses record that after Moses had sung the song to the people, he again exhorted them to take God’s word to their hearts, teach them to their children, and obey them that their days in the land may be prolonged. God’s word, after all, “is not an idle word” (32:47). They were to remember the words of the law as well as the song of Moses. Both of these could serve as powerful deterrents to future rebellion.

Announcement of Moses’ Impending Death

Deuteronomy 32:48-52

These verses record God’s instructions to Moses regarding his death. God instructed Moses (32:48) to ascend Mount Nebo. From that high point opposite Canaan Moses was permitted to see the Promised Land (32:49). God also told Moses that he would die on Mount Nebo even as his brother Aaron had died atop Mount Hor (32:50). Moses was not permitted to enter Canaan (32:51-52) because of the incident recorded in Numbers 20:1-13. Moses had disobeyed God’s instructions regarding how to bring forth water from the rock at Meribah. Because of that brief act of disobedience Moses forfeited the right to lead the people into Canaan. Wolfendale comments. “Sin imparted mournful interest to last days of Moses.”

Watts comments that the instruction given to Moses to view the land “was a legal act by which one appropriated a newly acquired piece of real estate. In this way Moses claimed by his glance the country promised to him and his people which still remained to be conquered by Joshua.”

Practical Consideration: One sin can cause great grief and loss. Someone has said, “A small sin may be followed by great punishment.” In the battle of Jericho, a man named Achan took some things under God’s ban and hid them in his tent (Joshua 7:20-21). As a result, Achan and his family lost their lives (Joshua 7:24-26). Sin always takes more than it gives.

Practical Consideration: There is no diplomatic immunity with God. God held Moses accountable for his actions. He could not escape God’s judgment by appealing on the basis of diplomatic immunity. God held David accountable. He could not stop the law of the harvest on the basis of diplomatic immunity. Pulling rank does not work with God. When we do wrong we will be held accountable for the wrong that we do, regardless of who we are or who we think we are. Colossians 3:25 states, “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.”

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