The LORD goes before you/fights for you. This is a major theme seen in Deuteronomy 1:30, 3:22, 9:3, 20:4, and here again in 31:3, 6 Moses ends his third speech, and his beautiful song and blessing, by focusing first on the beauty of the Sovereignty of God.
Closing with the command to trust that the LORD fights their battles. In 31:6, 8 we hear the ever words we all long to know: He will never leave you nor forsake you. Quoted in Hebrews 13:5. Contentment in our souls, the peace and flourishing He gives, is connected to this promise.
Vs 9ff The speeches done, some narrative and poetry follow.
The Law will be read, and the people will hear! This was customary with Ancient Near Eastern suzerain treaties; so here we see the provision for the reading of the Law of this covenant renewal. Faith comes by hearing the word of God! Even your little ones will be able to learn, and can learn to fear the LORD. It is God’s desire to speak, to be heard–and to cause His people to grow in faith and knowledge.
31:16 imagine being Moses. You want the promise…but these people… You have had fatherly love for these people, but they won’t listen. And you know they will go astray shortly. The joy of heaven awaits, but for now the sorrow of the fallen world is deeply felt. These people who have experienced God’s power, His love, His provision, His care…they will whore after other gods. They will be unfaithful, quickly.
31:19 Moses’ Song
Moses is instructed to learn this song and sing it. How often does a song minister to your soul? Bring you back from despair? Teach you? Help you trust? Help you understand??? What would this song do for the Israelites?
Deuteronomy 32 contains the song, which is later echoed throughout many prophets, especially Ezekiel and Hosea. This song is meant to distil as the dew, to refresh, to renew. It begins with recounting God’s character and actions, and His delight in being their Father. The words recount past sins, and remind Israel of her forgetfulness.
Deuteronomy 32:28-29 …would that they were wise…
…that they would know… Can you hear God’s desire for His people? For you? Everything in God’s plan, in His revealed Word, is to help us KNOW. What is eternal life? Knowing Him! Oh that we would discern our future!!! Is it following Him, as the Way? Or is it in receiving consequences and curses…? Do our actions show our need of Him? Do our failures point us to our only true hope? Have we yet reached the end of ourselves, where we can truly say we need a refuge? An atonement? A God who will fight for me?
Turn for a moment to Luke 10:23-37. (Read it, please) The disciples are told that they are blessed in what they heard and understood; naturally a lawyer has to stand up and challenge him. And this lawyer turns out to be very good. He has outwardly kept the laws that make him look like a righteous person. But he wants it clarified, if he is to love his neighbor, who is the neighbor? Now, most of us have heard the story of the Good Samaritan that follows, and walked away like this lawyer with the notion that we really can go out and be good. We turn the parable into a law to keep. We feel good, as we recount ways we have done a good deed here or there. We do not love sacrificially perhaps, but we are good lawkeepers nonetheless.
What if the point of the parable was that we are NOT capable of loving our neighbors as we are required to by the Law? What if the point of the parable is not simply “go, be good.” but more of a “Whoa???? How can I love like that? It feels impossible?!!! I’m so selfish. I’m as selfish as that priest or Levite.”
Only Jesus is a truly good neighbor. All the law, prophets and psalms point us to Christ, and this parable echoes those teachings. We need Jesus to atone for our sins, we cannot live by lawkeeping. And, what the Law could not do (make us righteous, or even help us be good neighbors) Christ did! (Romans 8) And He did it on our behalf. We can show mercy, because of the great mercy shown to us. Yet, it will be imperfect.
Back to Deuteronomy. The main point of the last forty years in the wilderness, and what you must know before going in to the Promised Land: God is love, He is compassionate, He is the only true Rock, and your strength, and your refuge, and the One who is Sovereign over life and death. 32:36-38 and 33:27-29
You are our strength, Psalm 59
You are our Rock Psalm 19:14
You are our hiding place Psalm 90, 32, 119:114
Vs 39 “See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand…
He had wounded them–and it was for His purposes. The false gods are powerless, our God has power over life and death. He works, but where are the other gods? What are they doing? Why do the other gods show no compassion? It matters not–for our One True God is compassionate! And patient. And Kind. and Good. And it is this compassionate, good, God who will carry out vengeance.
Deuteronomy 32:43 “Rejoice, O nations, with His people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance on his adversaries. He will atone for His land and His people.”
He will atone! Rejoice! Rejoice now in light of Advent; we celebrate that Christ came, He lived a sinless life, perfectly righteous and obedient, and became the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins. Christ is our atonement. After the judgment first spoken of in the preceding verses comes the restoration and the atonement; and so after we realize the judgment that truly sits upon us, and is due us for our sins–how sweet the Good News of our atonement!
So, what will this song do in their hearts? As the tune haunts them, and the words are remembered years later…?
46-47 Take to heart, command your sons, this is not an idle word, it is your life. None of God’s words are idle. They never return to Him void, He speaks and it happens.
In other words, this word is ACTIVE! Sharp! Powerful!!! Lively!!! God’s words are always Spirit and Life. These words point us to Him, how? How do these chapters show us God, the Way, the Truth and the Life, pointing to the Mediator we so desperately need???