Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Deuteronomy 32, 33, 34 Moses' Last Will and Testament

The Death of Moses, as in Deuteronomy 34:1-12,...Image via Wikipedia
In these intriguing chapters, we read Moses’ parting words to a people he both loved and shepherded for forty years.  Moses was not simply a man of God, but a man who enjoyed the intimacy of God’s friendship and counsel.  After God had revealed to him Israel’s future and fate, Moses was probably deeply grieved.  The pain that the future held for the nation after they abandoned their God, most likely grieved Moses as much as a parent would grieve foolish decisions made by an adult child, in spite of  warnings about the consequences of these decisions.  How often we, as parents, harp the refrain “don’t drink – don’t do drugs”, to a youthful generation deliberately oblivious to the consequences of alcoholism or addiction.  And the kids who get caught up in addictions become a heartache to their parents, who always only wanted happiness for them.

Before Moses ascended Mount Nebo, where he would glimpse the promised land before he died, God gave him a song to teach to Israel so that over time they would understand that by giving them the Law, God gave them His Love; by giving them a system of worship, God promised to hear them; by giving them land, God promised to keep them as a separate nation; by giving them His Word, God gave them a firm foundation on which to take a stand.

Moses’ song began by exhorting all of Creation to heed God, to praise God, and to remember who they are in relation to God.  Toward the end of the song, God again made a promise to Israel.  In spite of all of the torment, sorrow, suffering, injustice, and persecution that the nation would endure after they would turn away from following God with obedient, loving hearts, God promised to judge all of the nations who hurt them.  In spite of appearances, not only did God promise that His Love for Israel would never cease but also He promised that He Himself would avenge Israel. 

God provided a song with which the nation could console itself later when God seemed to fail them.  I think that it is really significant that while God wanted Israel to take responsibility for their disobedience, He also wanted them to know that He would vindicate them because they are His portion, His people. 

After Israel learned the song, Moses again admonished Israel:

Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law.  They are not just idle words for you – they are you life.  Deuteronomy 32: 46 – 47.

The most important thought that Moses left for Israel was that God's Word was their life, meaning that it was God's Word that would sustain them and enable them to live successfully.

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