Friday 21st April 2023

DEUTERONOMY 32, 33 and 34

If you wrote and released a song along the lines of the Song of Moses – Deuteronomy 32 – it would be a commercial failure; this is mainly since it spends most of its verses rebuking its target listeners and telling them “I told you so”!  But it is a prophetic song with a purpose to be a witness to Israel over the centuries, after Israel had rebelled against the Lord so often and so consistently.  The core verses are perhaps “They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them.  If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!” (vv28-29).

God’s mercy is nevertheless revealed from verse 36 onwards and then we reach a peak in v39: “See now that I myself am he!  There is no god besides me.  I put to death, and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.”  This underscores completely the absolute sovereignty of Almighty God.

In contrast, in Chapter 33, Moses blesses the tribes very positively and graciously – maybe it refers to a time of prosperity and obedience in the nearer future?  The name used several times of Israel: ‘Jeshurun’, means ‘The Upright One’.  Much of the praise is reserved for Levi, who put the honour and the Law of God in the forefront of their lives.  Verse 12, concerning Benjamin, probably refers to the physical location of Jerusalem, that originally was a Benjamite city.  The blessings end with two glorious verses: “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty.   The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.  He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!’”  Let’s take this promise to heart!

The final chapter of Deuteronomy describes the death of Moses – the greatest leader of Israel under the Old Covenant.  Leadership is an intensely demanding and stressful role and he had done this job for 40 years in the most inhospitable of conditions.  Truly a great man!  It is often said that you can be a popular leader or an effective one – and certainly Moses was not always popular.  Let us pray for those in leadership over us now and work hard to make their roles a joy and a blessing.  (Hebrews 13:7, 8, 17, 18.)

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