Deut. 32:1 ¶ Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
Deut. 32:2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:
Deut. 32:3 Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
These are the words of the song that God gave to Moses to serve as His testimony against future generations and deny any claim of ignorance as an excuse for their sin and disobedience. This is one of those times that I wish I could understand the original language so I could appreciate the poetic blend of the words and music in declaring the message.
This is called the song of Moses, and the wording indicates he is speaking from the first person and referencing God in the third person. The call for the heavens and earth to pay attention and serve as witness to his message is a way of declaring its application to future generations since they will continue even as future generations come and go. Moses is expressing his desire that this teaching will provide spiritual nourishment just as surely as the rain and dew provide physical nourishment to the plants and grass.
The purpose of his message is summed up in verse 3—To declare the greatness of the God of Israel.
Deut. 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
Moses first describes God as “the Rock.” There are so many scriptures that describe the Lord as a rock or stone in declaring God as strong, powerful and dependable. Maybe David was thinking of this verse as he spoke the following words:
2Samuel 22:1-3 “And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.”
Paul is clear in declaring God in the person of Jesus Christ as that Rock through whom provision was made for the people of Israel to whom Moses was speaking.
1Corinthians 10:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”
The Holy Spirit declares through Peter that “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified” is the cornerstone of faith for salvation to us all.
Acts 4:10-12 “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Moses goes on to declare that not only is God our Rock, He is perfect—completely truthful and moral and without blemish. Again, scripture is consistent in declaring this attribute of God. Again we find David giving this same testimony.
2Samuel 22:31 “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.”
Jesus gave personal testimony as to His Father’s perfection.
Matthew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Jesus also declares Himself as that truth.
John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
“all His ways are judgment” – When I looked at the Hebrew for “judgment,” I began to think in context of when God chooses to intervene regarding events on planet earth. It’s from a root that states, “to judge, i.e. pronounce sentence (for or against); by implication, to vindicate or punish….” I believe that God has given men free will and that in choosing to sin, its curse has resulted in man often choosing to act wickedly against his fellow man. I also believe the curse of sin impacted the creation and is the root source of natural catastrophes that occur on the planet. Sometimes, however, God chooses to personally utilize specific men and/or acts of nature to accomplish His sovereign purposes in bestowing blessing, pronouncing judgment and/or attempting to get men to turn to Him in faith and repentance. In that regard, His actions can be described as pronouncing judgment “for or against” man/men. In such acts of intervention, He is always acting in righteousness; and that is what Moses emphasizes in the next part of the verse.
The whole last half of the verse is an exclamation point to the statement that God is perfect. Again, scripture is consistent in affirmation of this declaration.
Psalms 119:160 “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.”
Isaiah 45:21 “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.”
Titus 1:2 “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”
Revelation 15:3 “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”
Deut. 32:5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.
At this point the words of the song are in the prophetic voice concerning the future apostasy of Israel. God is declaring in His omniscience that Israel will corrupt themselves; they will bring about their own destruction because they will prove to be stubborn in disobedience and desire to follow what is wrong.
The CJB translation gave an interesting perspective regarding verse 5—“He is not corrupt; the defect is in His children, a crooked and perverted generation.” In other words, no one will be able to blame God for his/her wicked choices. In spite of His faithfulness to His promises, they will choose to reject Him because they are wicked. I couldn’t help but think of a verse in Jeremiah at this point.
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Deut. 32:6 Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?
Deut. 32:7 ¶ Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
The thought seems to be that in light of the faithfulness and power of Almighty God, why would you choose to respond to God in rebellion? The answer is included as part of the question—because they are foolish (Hebrew: stupid, wicked) and unwise (without understanding or discernment). The next thought—Don’t you understand that God is the One that established you as a nation?
As God often does, He asks the people to “remember” their history. Israel maintained good documentation of this history, and the fathers and those of the older generation would be able to give personal witness since the people would soon begin falling into sin as recorded in the book of Judges.
Experience and memory of God’s provision in one’s life should provide strong motivation for continuing to follow Him in faith and obedience. Sadly, we seem more prone to take His provision for granted, or even ascribe His blessings to be a result of our own abilities and actions. This again shows how important it is for true Christians to teach their children that all their gifts and abilities come from God and that every good and perfect gift comes from God.
James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Deut. 32:8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.
Deut. 32:9 For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
These are really interesting verses. The principle fits right in with God’s treatment of the nation of Israel. He set apart part of the nation, the Levites, as His specific possession in the nation.
Numbers 3:12 “And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine….”
It stands to reason that He would set apart the nation of Israel as His specific possession among the nations of the world. God in fact declares this to be true through Moses as he speaks to Pharaoh.
Exodus 4:22 “And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:”
Moses also declared it to the people earlier in this book of the law.
Deuteronomy 7:6 “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”
The prophet Isaiah affirms this truth.
Isaiah 43:1 & 21 “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine…. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.”
These verses imply not only that the population on planet earth is controlled by “the most High” (God), but also that the population is in direct proportion to the number of Abraham’s descendants through Isaac and Jacob. It also seems to imply that God has proportions designated to specific nations as to land allotment and population.
Some commentators pointed out that Israel emerged from a group of 70 that went down to Egypt, and the table of nations in Genesis 10 identifies 70 nations.
Deut. 32:10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
The word “found” is what threw me at first. The Hebrew includes the idea of coming forth and deliverance. That fits in with the history of the wilderness or desert wanderings of the nation before taking possession of the Promised Land. Scripture records that God did lead the people by a pillar of fire, taught them His truth through the prophet Moses, and kept (guarded, preserved) them as His special possession. God intervened in many miraculous ways in proof of His love for them.
Deut. 32:11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
In this verse YHWH is compared to an eagle that spreads her wings in defense and protection of her young and eventually carries them up to teach them to fly on their own. What a beautiful, poetic picture even in the English translation. Eagles are known for their size and strength; they have extremely keen vision and are very protective of their young. Eagles are not afraid to fly into storms. I think the application is obvious. There is no other “god” that compares to the God of Israel.
Isaiah 45:22 “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
Jeremiah 2:11 “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods?”
God is faithful to protect and defend His people.
Psalms 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Psalms 91:2-4 “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”
God eyes are ever vigilant to meet the needs of His people.
Psalms 34:15 “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.”
2Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.”
God is sufficient to carry us through the storms of life.
Psalms 107:28-29 “Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.”
Nahum 1:3 “The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”
Mark 4:39-41 “And he [Jesus] arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Deut. 32:12 So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
This verse is an exclamation point to the truth that YHWH alone led Israel in deliverance and victory to the Promised Land. There was no other “god” with Him. The heathen nations were known for worshipping many “gods.” The God of Israel is the One and only God and is sufficient in and of Himself for their every need. I think that is the reason God emphasized this truth in the revelation of scripture.
Deuteronomy 4:35 “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.”
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:”
Nehemiah 9:6 “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.”
Psalms 86:10 “For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.”
1Corinthians 8:4 & 6 “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one….But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”
Ephesians 4:4-7 “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”
1Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”
James 2:19 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
Just as He was sufficient for the nation of Israel, He is sufficient for the body of believers today. We can rest in the assurance of His care and provision as declared in His promises as surely as could Israel.
1Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
1Thessalonians 5:23-24 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
2Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.”
Deut. 32:13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock;
Deut. 32:14 Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape.
I have to keep reminding myself that this song is meant to testify to the future generations of Israel. This section of verses seems to reference the blessings that Israel would enjoy as they took possession of the Promised Land. It is clear that the land would produce in abundance and would provide everything they needed as God had promised.
Exodus 3:8 “And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey;”
Leviticus 20:24 “But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey….”
Deuteronomy 8:7-9 “For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.”
Deut. 32:15 ¶ But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
Deut. 32:16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.
Deut. 32:17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
Jeshurun is another name, a poetic name for Israel. “Fat” is a reference to blessing and abundance.
Genesis 45:18 “And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.”
Isaiah 25:6 “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”
After enjoying the blessings of God for a time, the people of Israel began to take those blessings and, more importantly, the God who supplied those blessings for granted—just as we so often have a tendency to do. They began to disgrace God before the nations with their wickedness and rebellion. They offended and angered YHWH by turning to false gods and participating in the disgusting immorality associated with the worship of such.
Verse 17 is very interesting. It’s the first time that I noticed scripture referencing these false gods as devils or demons. Jesus specifically declared Satan, the devil, to be the father of lies and, therefore, the obvious source of all false religion; so it stands to reason that he would utilize his cohorts in deceiving the masses.
John 8:44 “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
At the time when they turned to sacrificing to these false gods, the indication is that they were presented to the people as “new and different.” I’m sure that just as he does in the church today, Satan tried to package his lies so as to make the worship of these “gods” appear to be more desirable than what they had in truth in the worship of YHWH. It is the same thing he is doing through the cults and even in the church today. The Mormons, for example, tout additional revelation from God. Those in the current new wave of heresy known as the emergent church are declaring that there is enlightenment to be found beyond the actual truth as declared in the Holy Bible that God has preserved for us. It’s much like what our government is doing in declaring the Constitution to be a living document and is meant to change with the times. These people are basically stating that the scripture doesn’t actually mean what it says; it is to be understood in light of today’s culture and the knowledge of today that is deemed more enlightened than that of the biblical writers. In other words, they want us to believe that what was sufficient for people of faith in the past is no longer sufficient for people of faith today.
Deut. 32:18 Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.
This verse gives emphasis to the truth that their actions will prove that they have forgotten their heritage as a nation birthed by God through miraculous provision for the birth of Isaac through Abraham and Sarah and subsequent miraculous deliverance from bondage in Egypt to going before them in deliverance as they took possession of the Promised Land.
Deut. 32:19 ¶ And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.
Deut. 32:20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
Again, it is interesting to note that the language is in the past tense in reference to the future rebellion of Israel against YHWH. Though YHWH’s love for His people was constant, their actions disgusted Him. This reminds me of His words to the church at Laodicea.
Revelation 3:16 “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
God loves the sinner, but hates his sin; and sin demands judgment. In the Old Testament the people lived under the law—not grace. The Lord would sometimes choose to “hide His face from them” and allow them to suffer the consequences of their sin while refusing to “hear” their prayers. The wording that follows makes it sound like God is waiting to see how they will respond. I personally think the NLT has the right thought: “I will abandon them; I will see to their end!” God’s summary description of His people—They are disobedient and faithless.
Deut. 32:21 They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
God was very clear to declare Himself to His people as a jealous God. He was also clear in defining that jealousy in light of the worship of false gods.
Exodus 20:5 “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”
Exodus 34:14 “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:”
It angers Him to see His people turn from faith in and obedience to Him to worship impotent false gods. (I think it is important for us to understand that anything we choose to worship in rejection of Almighty God in our lives is a false god.) He then declares that He will in turn make Israel jealous through His relationship with a yet unknown group of people, a foolish (immoral, wicked) Gentile nation (from the Hebrew). I believe this is a reference to the “church” according to the words of Paul in his letter to the Romans.
Romans 11:11 “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”
Romans 11:25-26 “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:”
Deut. 32:22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
Deut. 32:23 I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.
Deut. 32:24 They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.
Deut. 32:25 The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
In context, this song is to be a testimony against Israel, so I believe the primary thrust in judgment is against the Jewish people though the description is very similar to the judgments He will declare against the wicked world in the future day of His wrath. The language of verse 22 is emphasizing that there will be no escaping the ensuing judgment.
Ezekiel also speaks of the arrows of God’s judgment.
Ezekiel 5:15-17 “So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I the LORD have spoken it. When I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, which shall be for their destruction, and which I will send to destroy you: and I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread: So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the LORD have spoken it.”
Ezekiel 14:21 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?”
It’s important to note that we would normally think of these judgments of God as part of the natural course of things—the evil actions of wicked men and natural disasters. This is one of those verses that clarify it is sometimes God’s hand of judgment in evidence through these events. Verse 25 clarifies that God’s judgment is no respecter of persons; it will fall on young and old alike.
Deut. 32:26 ¶ I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:
Deut. 32:27 Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the LORD hath not done all this.
God goes on to say that He will scatter them into the “corners,” the four corners of the earth (north, south, east and west) I believe is the implication. This will be in direct fulfillment of His word.
Leviticus 26:23 & 33 “And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me….And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.”
Deuteronomy 4:25-27 “When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger: I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed. And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you.”
Deuteronomy 28:58 & 64 “If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD….And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.”
He also declares that the nation of Israel would completely fade off the pages of history “were it not” for His divine intervention. Scripture affirms that He will not allow this to happen in consideration of His holy name.
Ezekiel 36:19-23 “And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land. But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.”
God will not allow the nations to think that they have prevailed against His people in their own strength or with impunity against Him.
In retrospect we can see vivid examples of the impact of such judgments upon the Jewish people. One can’t read of the fires of judgment in relationship to Israel without thinking of the ovens in which so many Jews died in the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. Neither can one forget the harsh conditions of want, hunger and injustice they experienced as outcasts in the nations such as those depicted in “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Deut. 32:28 For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them.
Deut. 32:29 O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!
I love the CJB translation for these verses: “They are a nation without common sense, utterly lacking in discernment. If they were wise they could figure it out and understand their destiny.”
The angels must shake their heads in wonder as they watch God’s people’s response to His love and provision for them. He provides for them miraculously to prove His power, authority and faithfulness to His word. He carefully reveals specific guidelines for how they should live so as to ensure His continued blessing upon them. All they have to do is obey and they will enjoy abundance and blessing. He also clearly instructs them regarding the consequences for disobedience, and you would think those consequences would be sufficient to deter them from disobedience. But no—they begin to take God’s blessings for granted and head down a path of rebellion and wickedness that will call for God’s judgment.
This is just as true of the church today as it was of Israel of old. We are foolishly allowing false teachers to lead us into disobedience and rebellion as long as they will appeal to our sense of self worth through service to others and let us continue in our sinful ways without reproach. We allow them to pervert the word of God in the process because we don’t spend enough time in the word of God to be able to refute them. As a whole, our focus is so in the now without thought of our eternal future. I am beginning to identify more and more with the words of Luke: Luke 18:8 “….Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”
Deut. 32:30 How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?
Deut. 32:31 For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
Deut. 32:32 For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:
Deut. 32:33 Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
The book of Judges is full of examples of God removing His protective hand away from Israel and allowing their enemies to conquer them. It is significant that every time they turned back to Him in repentance, He proved yet once again that their only hope was rooted in Him. Still, they would repeat the vicious cycle of rebellion and repentance until finally the Lord sent them into captivity in Assyria and Babylon. When they ultimately rejected His precious Son as their Messiah, He took their nation away from them.
God is saying in these verses that He is sovereign over Israel whether they choose to accept Him or not. Without His protection they would be totally vulnerable to the heathen nations around them.
Verse 31 reminds me of the words of Rahab as she hid the spies and asked for mercy.
Joshua 2:9-11 “And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”
Even their enemies recognized that the God of Israel was superior to all the other so called gods in His ability to intervene on behalf of His people.
The Hebrew didn’t really help in understanding verse 32, but I immediately thought of how scripture describes Israel as God’s vine.
Psalms 80:8-9 “Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.”
Isaiah 5:7 “For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant:”
In that context, the heathen nations worshipped the gods that provided the poisonous soil that nourished the evil and wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. Those who took root in that vineyard fell victim to its potent poison.
Deut. 32:34 Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?
Deut. 32:35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
“laid up in store” = The Hebrew references the memory
It is like the Lord is saying that His memory bank keeps track until He determines it is time to exact vengeance. I am again reminded of His words to Abraham regarding the Amorites.
Genesis 15:16 “….for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”
Though He removes His hand of protection from His people in judgment, He will still hold their enemies accountable for the way they treat them. Again, I can’t help but think of His promise to Abraham.
Genesis 12:1-3 “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:”
This is another one of those hard truths to understand. In His omniscience God allows and sometimes even empowers their enemies to carry out His judgment against the people of Israel, His chosen people. However, this does not excuse their wicked mistreatment of His people in the process. God is not causing them to act outside their own choice and desire, and they will therefore be held accountable for their wickedness.
Deut. 32:36 For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
Deut. 32:37 And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,
Deut. 32:38 Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.
In these verses God is basically saying, “Ok, you rejected me to serve other “gods” and give them your sacrifices, let them help you and protect you.” This thought is introduced with the precious truth that God will take pity on His people before they are completely destroyed.
Deut. 32:39 ¶ See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
Deut. 32:40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.
Once more God vows that He will declare Himself as the one and only God with complete authority over His creation. He can kill and cause life at will. He can injure and bring healing at will. There is absolutely no other power in creation that can thwart His will. He is the self-existent eternal God. In light of their coming judgment, God is reminding His people that just as surely as He destroyed the nation, He can again reestablish it among the nations, give it new life.
These are wonderful words of comfort and encouragement to the person of faith.
Deut. 32:41 If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.
Deut. 32:42 I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.
I couldn’t help but think of the verses that compare God’s word to a sword and sure of accomplishing His purpose.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword,”
Revelation 19:15 “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”
Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
The Hebrew for “glittering” makes reference to lightning. The language of these verses paints a picture of God declaring judgment against His enemies with swift and devastating results. They declare this judgment to be in vengeance, which refers back to their mistreatment of His people. Actions taken against His people are deemed to be actions taken against God. Jesus clearly declared this truth to Saul on the road to Damascus.
Acts 9:1-4 “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
Deut. 32:43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.
I had to think about this verse for a while. I think the reference has to be to those of the nations who will be deemed worthy to enter God’s kingdom after God has avenged His people against the nations once for all. Those nations will surely rejoice with the believing remnant of Israel that emerges from that final period of great tribulation. It is at that time that both the land and the people of Israel will experience God’s great mercy and blessing. The prophet Isaiah had much to say about this coming time.
Isaiah 35:4-7 “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: or in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.”
Isaiah 65:9-10 “And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.”
Isaiah 65:19-24 “And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
Deut. 32:44 ¶ And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.
Deut. 32:45 And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:
Deut. 32:46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.
Finally the song has ended, and we are told that Moses and Joshua taught this song to the people. Moses again urges the people to hide these words in their hearts, to memorize them and teach their children to obey all of God’s law—not just the part that’s easy for them.
Deut. 32:47 For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
Moses emphasizes that he isn’t just talking to be talking; the truth he is revealing to them from God is vital to their very life. It is obedience to His word and faithfulness to their covenant with Him that will ensure God’s continued protection and provision once they cross Jordan and take possession of the land.
Deut. 32:48 And the LORD spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying,
Deut. 32:49 Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession:
Deut. 32:50 And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people:
Deut. 32:51 Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel.
Deut. 32:52 Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.
We are now told that the very same day that Moses finished teaching his song to the people, God called told him that he was to go up Mount Nebo in the land of Moab by Jericho so that he could see the Promised Land. He is told that he will die on Mount Nebo just as Aaron died on Mount Hor. Moses was there when Aaron died, so he knew what to expect. God reminds him that it is because he showed dishonor to God through his disobedient action of striking the rock at Meribah instead of speaking to as he was instructed. God was showing grace by allowing Moses to see the land. I am reminded of the words of Jesus.
Luke 12:48 “….For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:”