Torah: DEUTERONOMY 32:1–52
This week’s portion contains the SONG OF MOSES and bears unique witness to the history and destiny of Israel and the Nations. Accordingly, the daily rhythm of readings have been slightly adjusted.
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Moses’ Words of Life, Rebuke, and Hope
We are drawing near to the end of Moses’ life, and God delivers an all-encompassing prophetic message to the children of Israel (i.e. the Song of Moses; cf. Exodus 15:1 and Revelation 15:3).
All of creation has been summoned as witness (v. 1), and the heart of the “singer” has a depth of compassion that resonates with the heart of our Maker (v. 2). Take a moment right now and ask God to give you His heart for your circumstances today, so that just like Moses, your words, flowing from a heart of compassion, can speak truth in love to everyone He brings across your path today. Pray into that right now, for a moment, and listen for God’s “promptings.” Selah.
The essence of the message declares the Greatness of God (v. 3) and His righteousness (v. 4). This is the foundation for the goodness of all creation, and the foundation on which we can build all of our lives. Apart from this foundation, and in the wake of the Fall, our unrighteousness has seeped out, and will continue to do so (v. 5). The only remedy for the cancer of sin and the curse of the Fall is the righteousness of God.
Moses delivers a sharp rebuke, which has been passed down for 3,500 years, through which God continues to beckon to Himself the lost sheep of the House of Israel (i.e. the sons of Jacob) as well as the ones from the Nations He has called to Himself (i.e. the rest of the sons of Adam). The depth to which the sting of rebuke cuts will determine the depth to which God can pour His love into our hearts through faith in Yeshua! This song of Moses is a double-edged sword (cf. Hebrews 4:12) that should cut and bring the restoration of all things! Thus, we are to Ha’azinu! Give Ear!
Relational Purity (between God and Israel)
There is great wisdom in age. While our culture dishonors the elderly and idolizes youth, God has put treasure in generational reflections. To mine this treasure, we must seek it!
One of the most significant of these truths entails the actual creating of boundaries on the Earth for the sons of man to dwell. The next two verses are keys to foundational Biblical truth.
Man’s Portion includes physical space for us, both Jews (sons of Israel) and Gentiles (sons of Adam), to live.
God’s Portion involves relational space—His self-initiated and blood-bought intimacy—for Him to pour out love, upon both the physical sons of Jacob as well as those from the Nations who have Abrahamic faith (cf. Galatians 3:29).
You are His beloved, and He wants you to walk in relational purity with Him and others, just He has modeled for us in His walk with His people Israel.
Reflect on God’s handiwork through the ages of time, and the stages of your life…the best is indeed yet to come! Thank Him for what He’s done in the past, and pray into what He’s doing now to build His Kingdom in and through You!
torah 3 & 4
Blessing…and Its Underbelly!
My wife and I tell our young children that obedience brings blessings and disobedience brings consequences. We try to explain that when we give them instruction, correction, and even discipline, that what we are giving them is all intended for their good! They just need to receive it and follow our lead. It’s the same with God as our Heavenly Father and us as His children. Selah.
We also encourage our children to stay in what we like to call “the circle of blessing,” where it’s safe. The safest place to be is walking in relational purity, and this has always been the source of Israel of Israel’s blessings (vv. 13–14).
There is, however, an underbelly! Our flesh is the bad soil into which the seeds of God’s blessings can be deceptive and lead us astray (v. 15)! This is the turning point of the song, from a season of blessing into a season of purging and cleansing. Jeshurun, a poetic name for Israel, was led astray outside the “circle of blessing,” into relational impurity (vv. 16–18).
Ask the LORD to show you any places where you are walking in relational impurity with Him. What about others? How can you make it right? (cf. 1 John 1:9 and Matthew 5:23–24).
Regarding making bad choices that put us outside the “circle of blessing,” we also warn our children: “It’s dangerous out there!” While, ultimately, discipline has a purging and cleansing purpose (cf. Proverbs 3:11–12 and Hebrews 12:5–7), it can still be painful (vv. 19–25). Truly, the most painful discipline is the withdrawal of God’s intimate presence (v. 20a).
Embedded in verse 21 is the blueprint for God’s plan to draw both Jews and Gentiles together into One New Man (cf. Romans 10:19; 11:11,14) that bears witness to the ineffable mercy that God pours out on everyone with a willing heart to receive (cf. Romans 11:30–32). Let this mercy fill you right now…and seek ways to pour it out today upon undeserving others. Selah.
At this point in the song, God pauses and switches the focus. According to the ArtScroll Chumash, God “said that He would scatter them [Israel] and bring an end to them—a fate that they would deserve because of their sins. But that would cause the Name to be desecrated, because the enemies of Israel would believe that they [Israel’s enemies] overcame God’s opposition and prevailed with their own strength; they would never believe that they succeeded only because God used them as His rod. To prevent this from happening, God will stay their hand.”
Moses’ song now switches from the previous focus on Israel as the object of God’s blessing turning to judgement, to the enemy nations who will be interpreting these events.
Nations Judged…Israel Restored
Israel’s enemies are characterized as unwise and steeped in foolish conceit. Israel’s Rock and Israel’s enemies’ rock are distinctly different!
While some (e.g. Rashi) see vv. 32–35 as switching back to focusing on Israel to explain the source of their suffering, most (e.g. Ramban, Sforno) see a continuing description of Israel’s enemies. Regardless, these verses describe the reality for those outside God’s “circle of blessing!” Selah.
Moses’ song now switches back to Israel, and describes the purging and cleansing that leads to restoration and a return to right relationship with God.
When God’s people get to the end of themselves, God is there beckoning us to return to Him, our good and loving Father. Consider ways you have been trusting in yourself, or taking refuge in another “rock” and thus being robbed of your full inheritance of God’s presence in your life.
Righteous Joy in Vengeance and Victory
As we near the end of Moses’ song, God describes how He will judge those He used to purge and cleanse His people (vv. 40–42), the implication being that they went too far. Read Zechariah 1:15 and the surrounding versus to see the same principle at work. Selah.
The final verse of the song declares that true Joy comes from aligning ourselves with God’s purposes and walking in unity with His followers—natural (i.e. Jews) and unnatural (i.e. Gentiles, from the Nations) branches (re)grafted together into One New Man (cf. Romans 15:10). “O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).
As God perfects and unifies His people through both pouring out judgment and bringing victory, the path of relational purity (with God and others) will always result in bringing glory to the One to Whom all glory and honor are due!
Torah 7 & conclusion
Moses’ Swan-Song to Israel
Moses, along with Joshua, shares the song with all the people (v. 44). He exhorts them to put these words in their hearts, for they are, and will bring, LIFE (vv. 45–47)!
Compare this exhortation with Deuteronomy 6:6. Compare this entire song, with heaven and earth as witness, with Chapter 30 (esp. Deuteronomy 30:19–20). Consider Moses’ role as God’s representative on Earth and how God’s words through this man (i.e. the Torah) are intended to bring life! In what ways does this fly in the face of assumptions of legalism that brings death (cf. Romans 10:6–8)? Selah.
God’s Swan-Song to Moses
God now speaks to Moses (v. 48) and tells him that while he will see the Land, he will not enter, because he broke faith, which led to not treating God as holy before those he led (vv. 48–52). The witness was defiled (cf. Leviticus 10:2–3) and thus God’s image distorted, the gospel diluted, and people distracted from hearing and knowing God. Relational purity is serious business with a Holy God. Selah.
Two things stand out to me about the song and the singer:
(1) This song of Moses encapsulates the history and destiny of the Jewish people, those grafted into this people through faith-fueled obedience, and the enemies of God/Israel; and
(2) Moses’ inability to enter the Land—although he does “touch down” on the Mount of Transfiguration (cf. Matthew 17:1–4)—portrays the greatest Jewish prophet and leader (cf. Deuteronomy18:15, 18) with a glaring insufficiency that helps cultivate the people’s anticipation of a greater One to come (John 1:45; Acts 7:37)! Selah.
Give ear to this Song of Moses and let it lead you to join with the chorus in Heaven right now singing the Song of the Lamb in Revelation 15:3–4!
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.