Let’s turn now to Deuteronomy, chapter thirty two. Moses is noted mostly as the law giver, but there are three songs, or psalms in the bible, that were written by Moses. Certainly in the songs of Moses, he expresses a heart of a poet. There was a song of deliverance when they came out of Egypt. There is this song of Moses in chapter thirty two, and then the ninetieth Psalm is ascribed to Moses. So the three psalms of Moses.
Now to get a background for chapter thirty two, you really have to go back to verse nineteen, in chapter thirty one. As the Lord has told Moses that he is going to rest with his fathers, “But write down this song for yourselves, teach it to the children of Israel, put it in their mouths that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. For when I brought them to the land that is flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and filled themselves, and grown fat: then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and they will provoke me and break my covenant. Then it shall be when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify against them as a witness. For it will not be forgotten in the mouths of their descendants, for I know the inclination of their behavior today, even before I’ve brought them to the land which I swore to give them”. So, the purpose of this song.
The Israelis are great for folk songs. I’ll tell you it’s a lot of fun to get together with a bunch of Israelis, and they get started in their folk songs. Before you know it, they’re up dancing, and their folk dances, and all. But I mean, they’re really into folk songs. They’ll say, “Oh, how bout’ this one!”, and one will start out on another song you know, and they really get into it. They really get excited and they really love singing the Israeli folk songs. This became an Israeli folk song. One of those popular songs that you learn in school as a child, you know. Then in years to come, every once in awhile, you get together with a bunch of people you say, “Oh let’s sing ‘John Brown’s Baby Had a Cold upon his Chest’,” or something you know. And you get into those folk songs. Well, this was a folk song. But God said, “This song is gonna be a witness, in days to come, when they’ve turned away from me”.
They begin to reap the bitter fruit of having forsaken God, and they get together and they say, “Oh let’s sing that song”, and they start to sing it, the words of the song are gonna strike home, and they’re gonna realize, “This is the reason we have this calamity! This is the reason why our enemies oppress us”. And this song was to be a witness for God, against the people. Really it was a witness to them, that their problems have stemmed from the fact that they have forsaken God. So, we need that introduction to get into the song of Moses. So, verse thirty, of chapter thirty one. “Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the congregation of Israel, the words of this song, until they were ended.”
The song begins, the first three verses, where Moses is calling the people and the whole universe, in a sense, to hearken to this song.
Give ear, O heaven, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as rain drops upon the tender herb, and the showers on the grass (32:1-2):
Very beautiful, very poetic, as he calls those to listen to these words. These words shall be like rain, like the distilling of the dew, like rain drops on tender vegetables, the tender garden. Like showers on the grass. Refreshing, reviving.
For [he said] I proclaim the name of Yahweh: [Now again, Yahweh is the name of God, as far as we can know pronunciation, that is as close as man, some say Jehovah, but more generally the scholars conclude that Yahweh is the name. God is not His name, we so often use God as a name, but God is not His name. There are many gods. David said, “The gods of the heathen are many, they make them out of wood or stone. They’re the work of man’s hands. They put ears on them. A lot of gods. It’s important for you to define your God. There are people today, who still serve the god of pleasure. Those that serve the god of mammon, power, money. Those that serve the god Baal. Moses is going to sing about the name of Yahweh.] ascribe greatness to our God. Yahweh is our God. For he is the Rock, and his work is perfect: [Now the rock is often used, about four times here in the song of Moses, as a symbol for God, and it is used often in the Psalms, as a symbol for God. Because in the rock there is strength. In the Proverbs it says, “There are four things on the earth that are small, but they are exceedingly wise. The ant. Small little creature, but it’s so wise. Because it lays up its food in the summer, it knows that in winter it can’t get out. It can’t swim those puddles. So it lays up its food in the summer. It knows that winter is coming. Somehow in that little ant brain, there’s an awareness that, ‘I’ve gotta work now while I can while it’s summer time, before the rains come”. Thus, it stores up its’ food. Of course, if you’ve studied ant colonies, and their methods of storing food, it’s just fascinating! You ought to get an ant colony sometime and just watch the thing! It’s really fascinating to see them, you know culture and cultivate, aphids, and milk them and all. They have their own dairies. They’re little tiny creatures, but man how smart! Have you ever seen how much an ant can lift? You know as they’re carrying a piece of bread, and the thing is bigger than the ant! Yet the thing tugs away, and pulls it you know, and as Solomon said, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard! You lazy creature, learn of his ways and be wise!”. But the ant, a feeble, one of those small feeble folk, but yet it’s wise. A coney, which is the hyrax is a very feeble animal. The coney has absolutely no defense against the wolves, or the foxes, or coyotes, or any other animal that would prey against it, bobcats. The coney has no defense. The feeble folk, and so he makes his home in the rock, he’s wise. He knows that he doesn’t have any defense of his own, so he lives in the rocks. The picture of course, is knowing how weak we are, the wisest thing you can do is make your home in the rock, in Christ Jesus, you see. There is your place of strength, there’s your place of safety and protection. So the rock is used often as a symbol for God, and here He is the rock,] and his work is perfect: for all of his ways are justice: a God of truth and without injustice (32:3-4).
Now I think that this is an important point to make, because I think that one of the things that I hear challenged, concerning God so often, is His justice. People ask questions, and in their questions, there is the innuendo that God isn’t fair. “How could God send a man to hell who had never heard of Jesus Christ?” Now what’s the innuendo there? God isn’t fair. Of course, we don’t know that God does do that, but there is an assumption. But so often, “Why did God allow this to happen?” and the innuendo is, God wasn’t fair in allowing that to happen.
So it is important for us to know that God is just. “In Him there is no injustice at all.” The judgements of God are true and righteous altogether. There are a lot of things that I don’t know, concerning the future, and concerning God, and concerning the disposition of certain cases. When people stand before God, how will God judge this? I don’t know how He will judge it, except I know that He’ll judge it righteously. Whatever God does will be fair! As I’m standing there, hearing God give the sentence, I’ll say, “Right on! Man that’s fair, isn’t it? How just!”. I’m not worried at all about somebody getting a bum rap before God. No one will be able to walk away from the throne of God and say, “Man I got a bad rap, that was a bum rap. You know, God wasn’t fair!” No. God will be absolutely fair in His judgement!
It is interesting, to me at least, in the book of Revelation, as God’s judgements are being poured out, and in the midst of the heaviest portion of the judgements, there are voices that come from under the throne of God saying, “True and righteous are thy judgements O Lord!”. I mean the witness of the faithfulness, and the truthfulness, and the righteousness of God’s judgement! So that is something that the scripture is impressing on our minds, and it’s important, because man is constantly challenging the justice of God, with their questions. The insinuation is, God wouldn’t be fair if He did that, or God isn’t fair because He did that. But God is fair, when you know everything, you’ll find out how absolutely just He is. “He is a God of truth and without injustice. He is righteous, and upright. But the people, now, I’m gonna proclaim the name of Jehovah”, and as he proclaims the name of Jehovah, he proclaims the righteousness of Jehovah, the justice of Jehovah. Now he’s gonna talk about the people, that’s a different story.
They have corrupted themselves, they are really no longer his children, because of their blemish: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do you thus deal with the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? do you treat God this way? [I mean it’s a sort of a shocking thing the way some people treat God! “Do you treat God this way”, he said, in shock!] is he not your father who bought you? has he not made you and established you (32:5-6)?
“I mean, God has created you, He established you, He bought you. Dare you to treat Him as you do, dare you to ignore Him, dare you to push Him aside, dare you to turn your back upon Him?” Interesting, I like this. “Don’t you know He bought you, and then He created you, established you?”
Remember now the days of old, and consider the years of many generations: [“Think back, go back in history, look at history.”] and ask your father, he will show you; ask the elders, they will tell you. How that the Most High divided their inheritance, [among the nations, or] to the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, and he set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is his people; and Jacob is the place of his inheritance (32:7-9).
So, God’s inheritance, is His people. Paul, when he prayed for the Ephesians, prayed that, “They might know what is His, exceeding, rich inheritance in the saints”. Basically what he was praying, is that you might know just how much God treasures you. Why? I don’t know why God would treasure you! I surely don’t know why He would treasure me! And yet God does treasure us. We are His treasure! “That you might know what is His inheritance in the saints”, not our inheritance, that’s another thing. There is an inheritance for the saints, and the scripture speaks about that in other places. But Paul is praying for the Ephesians, that, “You might know what is His inheritance in the saints”, or that is how much God values you, how much God treasures you. Here the very same thought is concerning God, and the people of Israel. “Jacob is His inheritance.” The people are His portion. Not land, but the people themselves, they are the portion of God, His inheritance.
He found them in a desert land, and in a waste land, a howling wilderness; but he encircled him, and he instructed him, and he kept them as the apple of his eye (32:10).
The pupil of the eye, the lens, where the sight or the images are taken in. Man, the people of Israel encircled by God, instructed by God, and kept by God. You, the body of Jesus Christ, encompassed by God, in Him we live, we move, we have our being. Instructed by God, and then kept by the power of God, through our faith in Jesus Christ.
Now as an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings: So the Lord alone led him, and there was no foreign god with him (32:11-12).
So here we have a beautiful picture. The eagle builds its nest usually, high up on the cliffs, so it is safe. No one can get to it. There the little eaglets are hatched, in very precarious surroundings. The mother eagle goes out each day, gathers the food, brings it back to the squawking little eaglets in the nest, who devour the food, and who grow daily in the nest. But one day, as those little eaglets, as they begin to develop feathers, they need to learn how to fly. So the mother eaglet will begin to flap over the nest. Take the little eaglet, and kick it out of the nest, and that little eaglet will screech, and it will instinctively flap its wings, but it’ll somersault and tumble, flapping its wings, screeching, and heading in towards the rocks below. That mother eagle will then dive on down, and just unfold her wings, and catch that little eaglet on the wings, and fly back up, and deposit it in the nest. Then it, give it a little time to recuperate, and catch its breath, and then it’ll kick it out of the nest again. And the whole process, the screeching, the tumbling, the somersaulting, and then the swooping down, the picking it up, and taking it up.
But before long, as its flapping, it begins to make some progress, you know, and its not tumbling, its not somersaulting now, its developing, its becoming strong. And soon that little eaglet is able to fly away from the nest. Oh how we hate when the nest is disturbed! Lord I’m in a pleasant rut! Ha, ha. You know, and God begins to stir the nest. We find ourselves somersaulting, and screaming, and crying out, you know, you know, “God doesn’t love me! Why would He kick me out of that secure place? He intends to destroy me! Look what’s happening! The rocks are coming up fast!”, and just about the time I think I’ve had it, I’m dashed, He lifts me up on wings of eagles, and bears me back up, and sets me in the nest. So, God uses this as a picture of how He watched over His people. Beautiful picture, beautiful picture! We don’t like it though. Ha, ha. Because we don’t like that business of getting kicked out of our nest. But that’s where we grow, that’s where we develop! If the little eaglet wasn’t kicked out of the nest, it would never learn to fly, it would never develop the coordination, it would never develop the muscular power. It would just live and die in that nest.
So it’s so vital, so important, for our growth, and for our development, that we have trials, that we have these disturbances. But they don’t need to be disturbances. They are only disturbances if you don’t want to be disturbed. The man who is expecting to be disturbed, is never disturbed! The only person that’s really disturbed at disturbances, is the person that’s not expecting disturbances, and doesn’t want disturbances. But if you know the ways of God, you know that there are disturbances. He will upset our routine. But that’s when God speaks, that’s when God guides, that’s when we grow, that’s when we develop. So, don’t get panicky, when all of a sudden your plans have been disturbed. The whole program’s disrupted. Don’t panic. The Father’s just wanting to teach you to fly. He’s wanting to teach you some lessons. And as an eagle stirs up its nest, then hovers over its young, as it sees it somersaulting, and plummeting down, then spreading out its wings, takes them up, and carries them on its wings. Oh I love it! So the Lord, leads His people.
He made him ride in the heights of the earth, that he might eat the produce of the fields; he made them to draw honey from a rock, [In the land of Israel, it is a very rocky area, and the bees would usually make their hives in these rocks. So, taking the honey out of the rocks. The beehives that usually were formed in the rocks.] and then oil from the flinty rock (32:13);
That’s olive oil. You go over to Israel today, and you’ll see the terraced hillsides of flinty rock, and you wonder how there is enough soil to support any kind of vegetation. But you’ll see these beautiful olive orchards, olive trees, on these terraced hillsides, growing it looks like right out of the rocks, but its extremely rocky soil, and interestingly enough, flinty rock! There are more beautiful flinty rocks in Israel, than anyplace I’ve ever seen on the face of the earth. It’s really great. God calls them to take their oil, right out of the flinty rock.
The curds, the cottage cheese [and all] from the cattle, and the milk of the flock, and with the fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the choicest wheat; you drank the wine and the blood of grapes (32:14).
“You’ve been blessed! God was good to you. God gave you this portion of land for your inheritance. Then God chose you as His portion, and His inheritance, and he watched over you. He developed you, He caused you to become strong, independent. He gave you fine wheat, He gave you the oil and the honey, and the grapes.
But then Jeshurun [And Jeshurun is a poetic name for Israel, in this case, and it is uh, literally in the Hebrew, the name means righteous. But the righteous, or,] the righteous, grew fat and kicked: [God had blessed them, but in their blessings, they began to kick. “You grew fat.”] you grew thick, you’re covered with fat; and then he forsook God who made him, [After being chosen by God, after being encircled by God, after being instructed by God, after being kept by God, blessed by God, they turned from God. They forsook Him.] and they scornfully esteemed the Rock of their salvation (32:15).
Here again, the Rock. “Ascribe greatness to our God, He is our Rock. But they began to scorn the rock of their salvation.”
And they provoked him to jealousy by worshiping other gods, and they began to commit abominations, and thus provoked him to anger. And they sacrificed to these foreign gods [Which in reality, was sacrificing to demons. Now, I often hear people saying, “Well, you know, if a person is sincere in their worship, isn’t that which, you know God counts sincerity. Look at those people as they’re bowing down to those idols. Look how sincere they are in their worship. How could God be against them, because look how sincere they are! The prophets of Baal, look how sincere they were, as they prayed, they even cut themselves! Leaped on the altar! Man they were emotional, and they were sincere. Surely God should count that”. What if I went down and robbed a bank, and got caught, and I used as my defense before the judge, my sincerity. “Judge, I was sincere when I was robbing that bank. I was the most sincere bank robber that ever came along. Surely you ought to forgive me, because I was so sincere.” Doesn’t cut it, does it? Doing the wrong thing, if you’re sincerely doing it, doesn’t cut it. They were worshiping these false gods, and in reality they were sacrificing to demons. They were into demon worship. Paul the apostle, in the new testament said that, “They that sacrifice to idols, are sacrificing to demons”. Now it is totally inconsistent to say, “Well that person is so sincere in worshiping those demons, surely God ought to accept him you know, he sincere, worshiping those demons”. No it won’t work. God has commanded that we worship Him, and Him only. They began to worship gods that they didn’t even know.] foreign gods, to new gods that your fathers did not fear, and yet you reverence them (32:16-17).
“Your fathers didn’t reverence them, and yet you’re reverencing them.”
And of the Rock that begot you are not mindful, [Tragic. The very God that created them, who begot them unto Himself, they weren’t mindful of Him, worshiping these other gods.] you’ve forgotten the God who fathered you (32:18).
Oh how sad and how tragic when people turn away from the living God, to other gods, which are not really gods. At the time of Jeremiah, God, through Jeremiah, cried out against the people, “Israel has created two evils. They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and they have hewn out for themselves cisterns. But they’re broken cisterns, they can’t hold any water”. Now in that complaint against the people, there are two things here that should be noted. First of all, every man is drinking from some source. You’re either drinking from a stream, from a running water source, or you’re drinking from a cistern. Now, cisterns were necessary in that land, because they don’t have enough rain. So they had their rainy season, they would dig these huge caves in that limestone over there. Huge caves! I’ve seen some of them almost as large as this building. Cut out of the rock. Then they would divert the flow of the runoff rain, into these cisterns. Fill them up, and then during the summer season, they would draw water out of the cistern. Now you know what happens to water after it sits for awhile, it gets those little wiggle tails in the water. That means at least the water’s okay. If you’re out in the desert, and you find you’re thirsty, and you’re about to go, you need water. You come to some water and there are no wiggle tails in it, then you better be careful. If there’s wiggle tails in it, just strain the water through your shirt and drink it. Because you know that it’s not poisonous. It can support life. That’s, you’d have to start straining the water after awhile, get rid of the wiggles, but it’s, you know, it’s palatable. It’s palatable water, you can drink it. It surely isn’t preferable to a stream, of clear, cool water. But you know, it’ll keep you.
But Israel forsook the fountain of living water, God. But they have to worship something, you can’t just be without anything. So what does man do? He begins to create his own systems, his own philosophies, his own gods. And he begins to drink from the polluted waters. “But the cisterns”, he said, “really can’t hold water”.
As you look at these false religious systems, the one thing you have to say about them, “Well they just can’t hold water!”. And usually, they demand that you don’t think. “You take our word for it. Don’t you challenge our authority. We spoke, and it’s taboo to challenge what we’ve said.” Hey, we’re encouraged in the bible to be careful and to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. Don’t let someone say, “Well my word is a word of authority. You can’t challenge that, I am an apostle. I speak with apostolic authority. Don’t challenge what I said. Don’t question it. I said it, that’s enough isn’t it? Makes it true”. No it doesn’t. “Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.”
Now when the Lord saw it, they had turned away from Him, they were worshiping these other gods, and when the Lord saw it, He spurned them. The prophet came from Asa the king, when he came back from victory, and he said, “The Lord is with you, while you will be with Him, and if you seek Him, He will be found of you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you”. That is a perennial truth. God is with you, as long as you be with Him. If you seek God, you’ll find Him, but if you forsake God, God will forsake you. When the Lord saw that they had forsaken God, He spurned, or forsook them.
Because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, [Now this is a song they’re learning. It’s gonna be a folk song, and later on, they’re gonna be having all kinds of miseries and troubles, because they’ve turned from the Lord, and they’re gonna be singing this song, and suddenly the light’s gonna turn on, and say, “Wow look at that! We’ve been singing it all the time but it wasn’t thinking of the words. No wonder God has hid His face from us!”] I will see what their end will be: for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faith. For they have provoked me to jealousy by their worship which are not really Gods; they have moved me to anger by their foolish idols; but I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation (32:19-21).
Now Paul quotes this in the New Testament, as the reference to God pouring out His grace, and mercy, and salvation to the Gentiles. “And the work of God in our lives, through Jesus Christ, is to provoke them to jealousy.” They provoke God to jealousy, and they’re worshiping other gods, so God is gonna choose other people, to provoke them to jealousy. And Paul, interestingly enough speaks of, you know, provoking them to jealousy. “Because of what God is doing for us, the blessings of God upon our lives, as we walk with the Lord”, and all. And God is seeking to provoke them to jealousy, that they will turn back to God. But they’re gonna go through this period, forsaken of God.
For a fire is kindled in my anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell, it will consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap disasters upon them; I will spend my arrows on them (32:22-23).
In other words God will begin to shoot His arrows at them.
They shall be wasted with hunger, devoured by pestilence, and bitter destruction: I will send against them the teeth of beasts, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword shall destroy outside, and there will be terror within, for the young man and the virgin, and the nursing child, and with the man of gray hairs. I would have said, I will dash them in pieces, I will make the memory of them to cease from among men: Had I not feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should misunderstand, lest they should say, Our hand is high (32:24-27),
I would really turn them over completely, except their adversaries would think that they had done it, and that it isn’t my judgement. So God used, as He said to Habakkuk, the Babylonian empire as His instrument of judgement.
Now this is the thing people don’t understand. That there are nations and there are people who are deserving the judgement of God, and God oftentimes uses other nations as His instruments of judgement. Amalek needed to be judged. God wanted Israel to be His instrument of judgement, and thus He ordered them to go in and utterly exterminate the Amalekites. Why? Because you are God’s tool of judgement. They have sinned against the Lord, their practices are abominable, they’ve gone as far as God can tolerate, it’s time to wipe them out. Go in and utterly destroy them. You’re God’s instrument and tool of judgement.
Later on, God used other nations as His tools of judgement against Israel, but He was, He would’ve let them wipe them out completely, but God said, “Then those nations would think that it was their power”, so rather than recognizing that, “I’m the one that’s done this. I’m the one who’s brought the judgement on them. It’s not this other nation that is strong, it’s my judgement that I’m bringing against them. For their folly, and for their forsaking me”.
For they are a nation that is void of counsel, now is there any understanding in them. O that they were wise, [And here’s God now, lamenting. He’s gonna have to bring the judgement on them, but, “O that they were wise”] that they understood this, that they would consider the latter end (32:28-29).
And God help us to look down the road and see where that path is leading. You know so many times we embark on a path, and say, “Oh glory, glory! Fun, fun!”, but look at the path. Find out where it’s leading. “O that they would study and see what’s the latter end.” What will be the results of that kind of life? What will it bring you to? When you get down to the end of the path, what are you gonna find? Will there be the happiness and the excitement and all, when you get to the end of the path? Or will there be misery and sorrow. O that they would consider the latter end, and that’s the folly of man. They don’t look down the road and see, that this kind of action is going to bring you misery, it’s going to bring you pain, it’s gonna bring you suffering! Yeah, you might be having a great time on this end. You might say, “Oh this is living! Too bad you Christians don’t know what fun is. What do you do for fun? Boy this is it!”. But you know, go down that path, and find out where it leads. Consider the latter end. “O that they would’ve considered.” If they’d only really looked.
How could one chase a thousand, and two put then thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them (32:30),
In other words, the victories that God gave to His people, where one man chased a thousand. Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “You know God doesn’t need a whole army. If He wants to deliver the Philistines into Israel today, He can deliver them through one man. Why don’t we go over and see if God wants to deliver the Philistines”. And Jonathan and his armor bearer, went over to the camp of the Philistines, and they began to wipe them out. “God doesn’t need a whole army. He can do it with one man.” Jonathan began to put the whole Philistine army to flight. “How could one chase a thousand, and how could ten, or two, put ten thousand to flight? Unless their Rock had sold them?” And the Lord had surrendered them, “Unless God had wiped them out in front of you. It was God who did it for you. Don’t you recognize the hand of God in it?”
Interestingly enough, after the 1967 war, over in Israel we observed among the people, a tremendous cockiness. Because they had been able to achieve such tremendous territorial gains, in just that seven day war. They thought they were invincible. I mean they, they were bragging all about their military genius and the whole thing. Until 1973. They had set up that Barlev line, down in Sinai, across the Suez Canal, they thought that it was impregnable. Much like the magional line in France in World War II. But just like the Magional line in World War II, the Egyptians came right across that Barlev and wiped it out, and Israel almost was annihilated. They recognized after 1973, that it was God who sustained them. What a change of attitude. What a change in the whole demeanor of the people. They were humbled in 1973. They were proud after 1967, but they were humbled after 1973. They came to a recognition that it was God’s hand that delivered them, and saved them. They began to consider, “How can one chase a thousand, two put ten thousand, unless God was with them”.
For their rock [That is the rock of the heathen.] they’re not like our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. For their vine is the vine of Sodom, the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: Their wine is the poison of serpents, and the cruel venom of cobras, Is this not laid up in store with me, sealed up among my treasures? Vengeance is mine, I will recompense; their foot shall slip in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that come hasten upon them (32:31-35).
“Vengeance is mine, I will repay”, that’s quoted in Hebrews, where it says, “Let us take the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels, was steadfast, and every transgression received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? For we know Him who hath declared, Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” The vengeance of God against the unrighteous.
This particular scripture was the text that Jonathan Edwards, when he preached that powerful sermon, “Sinners in the hand of an angry God”. Probably one of the most powerful sermons ever preached. If you haven’t read it, you should get a copy and read it. “Sinners in the hand of an angry God”. Jonathan Edwards was near-sighted. He had written the sermon out, he read it. Reading the sermon, looking real close. As he was reading the sermon, the conviction of the Holy Spirit was so powerful, people began to crawl down the aisle, crying out to God for mercy! Tremendously moving. “Sinners in the hand…”, and this is his text. “Their foot shall slip in due time.” If you think you’re getting by with it, he said, “Sinners are walking an icy plank over the pit of hell. Flames licking up around them, and their foot shall slip in due time. God is under no obligation to keep you alive”. Oh, he went on. It was powerful! The things that come hasten upon us.
For the Lord will judge his people, and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone, and there’s no one remaining bond or free. He will say, Where are their gods, their rock in which they sought refuge. Who ate the fat of their sacrifices, and thank the wine of their drink offering? let them rise, and be your refuge (32:37-38).
“Where are the gods that you’ve been serving?” The people will cry, “O God help us!”, and this did happen. As we move along in their history. At the time of Jeremiah, when they were beginning to be defeated by the Babylonians, they began to cry upon the Lord, and God said, “Cry upon the gods you’ve been serving. Don’t cry unto me, you’ve forsaken me. Let those gods deliver you if they can!”. Here, the very prophecy of that event, as Moses talks about their calling upon God, but God turning His back on them, and saying, “Look you’ve been serving the other gods, let them help you now”.
You know, you may say, “Well I have a great philosophy to live by”, but that isn’t to me, the vital question. Is it a good philosophy to die by? You know, you better get one that you can live by, and that you can die by too. Because death is something that is gonna take place with each one of us one day, and then when you go to call upon God, which God will you be calling upon? You better be calling upon one that can save you, one that can help you. There’s only one that can save, and that is the true, and the living God. So God speaks of the day of their calamity, when God is judging, and they are told to, “Call on the gods in whom you sought refuge. The gods that drank your wine of your drink offerings. Let them rise up and be your refuge”.
Now see that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: nor is there any who can deliver from my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and I say, As I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and my hand takes hold on judgement; I will render vengeance to my enemies, and repay those who hate me (32:39-41).
Heavy duty, as God now swears. God takes an oath and he says, “I declare unto you, I’m going to take vengeance upon my enemies, and I’m gonna repay those that hate me”.
I noticed that in the paper today, they have started in Orange County, a fundamentalist anonymous club. People who say they have been suffering mentally from fundamental doctrines. People who take the bible literally and so they have all kinds of emotional problems, because they were taught to take the bible literally. They have all this horrible fear of God, and so they get together to alleviate one another’s fear. Say, “O man, I went through that too. That was really hard, boy I’ll tell ya”, and it’s sort of like alcoholics anonymous, it’s fundamentalists anonymous, and they encourage and strengthen one another in the fact that they have thrown off the shackles. They no longer want to feel the conviction of God’s Spirit. They don’t want to believe the truth of God’s word. But I’ll tell you something. When God takes an oath, He cannot lie to begin with, but when God lifts His hands, and He says, “I swear, I’m gonna repay those that hate me”, you better pay attention. You may join the club, but I’ll tell ya, one day you’ll wish you hadn’t.
I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the heads of the leaders of the enemy. Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and render vengeance to his adversaries, and he will provide atonement for his land, and his people (32:42-43).
So the end of the song of Moses. Heavy, heavy. But it was intended to be. It was intended to be a witness against these people in the days to come, when they turned against God, and they began to worship other gods. They’re singing this song, and the song itself, bears witness, and they begin to understand why the calamity had befallen them.
So Moses came with Joshua the son of Nun, he spoke the words of this song in the hearing of the people. And he finished speaking all of these words to all of Israel. And he said to them, Now set your hearts on the words which I testify among you today, which shall command your children to be careful to observe, all of the words of this law. For it is not a futile thing for you; because it’s your life: [It’s not something to just take lightly man! This is your life!] and by this word, you will prolong your days in the land, which you cross over Jordan to possess (32:44-47).
So, “Pay attention to it. It’s life man! It’s life and death!”.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses that very same day, and said, Go up to this mountain of the Abarim, mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho; [Now mount Nebo, is in the range of Pisgah, and it is the highest mountain in the range of Pisgah. It’s about eight miles east of the Jordan river, where the Jordan river comes into the dead sea. On a clear day from mount Nebo, you can see mount Hermon. At the northern end of the land of Israel, you can see the mountains of Samaria, you can see down towards, on a clear day, you can see the whole spectrum of the land. Moses is told now, “Go up to mount Nebo in the land of Moab, across from Jericho”.] through the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel as a possession: And die on the mountain which you climb, and be gathered to your people; just as Aaron your brother died on mount Hor, and was gathered to the people: Because [And again, over, over, over. That experience down in the wilderness, when he struck the rock a second time, and God told him to speak to the rock. Because of his failure to represent God, because of his burst of temper and anger against the people, misrepresenting. “Because”,] you trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because you did not hallow me in the midst of the children of Israel. Yet you shall see the land before you; though you shall not go there; into the land which I am giving to the children of Israel (32:49-52).
Of course, Moses snuck in later, and was with Elijah on the mount of transfiguration, talking to Jesus, and so he made it in. But he wasn’t to lead the children of Israel in.
Now this is the blessing, with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death (33:1).
You remember when Jacob was dying, he summoned his twelve sons, and he pulled himself up on his bed. Put his feet on the floor, and he looked around at his twelve sons, and he began to prophecy over each of them, there in the end of the book of Genesis. Having prophesied over each of the sons, he got back into bed, covered his feet, and died. This was his final work. This is Moses’ final work, as he summons the nation of Israel, and he addresses himself to each of the tribes, and speaks to the tribes. One tribe is left out in this, the tribe of Simeon, which of course later, was sort of absorbed into the tribe of Judah. “So this is the blessing, which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.”
He said, The Lord came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; he shone forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of his saints: [Here they come.] from the right hand came a fiery law for them. Yes he loves the people; all his saints are in your hand: and they sit down at your feet; every one receives your words (33:2-3).
So the people of Israel gathered from God, and brought, given the law, as the people sit there and God’s love is upon them, and they sit at his feet, and they receive his word.
For Moses commanded a law for us, a heritage of the congregation of Jacob. And when he was king in Jeshurun, [In the righteous, in Israel.] when the leaders of the people were gathered, all of the tribes of Israel together. Now let Reuben live, and not die; nor let his men be few (33:4-6).
The tribe of Reuben had been sort of decimated because of the sin of Abarim, and Dothan, but uh, let them survive.
And this he said of Judah: Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, bring him to his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; that you may be a help against his enemies. And of Levi he said, [And of course, the priestly tribe.] Let your Thummin and your Urim be with your holy one, [They were on the breastplate, or they were beneath the breastplate of the priest, they mean lights and perfections, and through these, somehow, we don’t know, the priest would discern the will of the Lord.] when you test it at Massah, and with whom you contended at the waters of Meribah (33:7-8);
Of course, Moses was of the tribe of Levi, and there he had failed the test at Massah, at the waters of Meribah.
Who says of his father and mother, I have not seen him; nor did he acknowledge his brothers, or know his own children: for they have observed your word, and kept your covenant. They shall teach Jacob your judgements, [That’s the purpose of the priesthood. Teaching the people the judgements of God.] teaching Israel the law: they shall put incense before you, and a whole burnt sacrifice on your altar. Bless his substance, Lord, and accept the work of his hands: strike the loins of those who rise against him, and those who hate him, that they rise not again. Of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; who shelters him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders (33:9-12).
The picture of course, as a shepherd carries the lamb over his shoulder, and so Benjamin dwelling between his shoulders. Beautiful picture, God carrying them.
Of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord is his land, for the precious things of heaven, and with the dew, the deep line beneath. And the precious fruits of the sun, with the precious produce of the months, with the best things. The ancient mountains, with the precious things of the everlasting hills, And for the precious things of the earth and its fulness, and the favor of him who dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come on the head of Joseph, [Notice the precious, precious, precious. Sounds sort of like Peter. You know Peter was a big tough fisherman, but you know what one of his favorite words were? Precious. I think that’s sort of precious, a big old tough guy, that’s sort of his favorite word that he uses. “Ah the precious promises”, you know, and “Unto us he has given exceeding rich and precious promises”, and here’s this big old tough fisherman talking about precious things. That’s sort of a sissy word, you know in our minds. But, “Let the blessing come on the head of Joseph,] the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers. His glory is like the firstborn bull, and his horn are like the horns of the wild ox: together with them he shall push the peoples to the end of the earth: they are the ten thousands of Ephriam, and they are the thousands of Manasseh (33:13-17).
So the two sons of Joseph after which the tribes came.
Of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out; and, Issachar, in your tents. And they shall call the peoples to the mountain; and they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: they shall partake of the abundance of the seas, and of the treasures hidden in the sand (33:19).
Now there are those who have interpreted this as being, the treasures in the sand, they figure that there must be oil in the area of the tribe of Zebulun. So they have drilled to try and find oil there, and there isn’t, and so uh, it must mean something else. Those who thought that were wrong.
And of Gad he said, Blessed is he who enlarges Gad; who dwells as a lion, and tears the arm and the crown of his head. He provided the first part for himself, because, a lawgiver’s portion was reserved there; he came with the heads of the people, and he administered the justice of the Lord, and his judgements of Israel. Of Dan he said, Dan is a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan (33:20-22).
He leapt on up to the northern part of the kingdom.
Naphtali he said, O Naphtali satisfied with favour, full of the blessing of the Lord: possess the west and the south. [There’s a lot that could be spiritualized into that!] Of Asher he said, Asher is the most blessed of sons; let him be favored by his brothers, let him dip his foot in oil. Your sandals shall be iron and bronze; and as your days, so shall your strength be (33:23-25).
Now, again, this “let him dip his foot in oil”, there are other oil men, who say, “Well no, the oil’s in the tribe of Asher, and it must be there on mount Carmel”. So they drilled quite a deep well, there on mount Carmel, looking for oil, and they did not find it. The oil here is in reference to the olive orchards however, in Asher, and the oil of the olives.
There is no one like the God of Israel Jeshurun [the righteous] who rides the heavens to help you, and his excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is your refuge, your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms: [Oh how safe can you be? God is sustaining you, God is holding you, God is keeping you, for underneath, the everlasting arms.] and he will thrust out the enemy from before you; and he will say, Destroy. Then Israel shall dwell in safety: in the fountain of Jacob alone in the land of grain and new wine; his heavens shall also drop dew. Happy are you, O Israel: who is like you, A people who is saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your majesty! your enemies shall submit to you; and you shall tread down their high places (33:26-29).
So the blessings now, of course after the song of Moses, which was heavy duty. He leaves them with the blessings, and beautiful blessings, indeed.
Then Moses went up in the plains of Moab to the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. The Lord showed him all the land of Gilead, as far as Dan. All of Naphtali, the land of Ephriam, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, as far as the western sea, [Clear on over to the Mediterranean.] And the south, and the plain of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And then the Lord said to him, This is the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, I will give it to your descendants: I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over it (34:1-4).
Sort of a sad thing. Here’s Moses, his life ambition now being withheld, but God lets him see it. “That’s the land Moses, where I promised Abraham, that’s over there in the area of Bethel is where Abraham stood, and looked over, and I promised to give to him. That’s the land. You can see it, but you can’t go in.”
So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he [That is, God] buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor: and no one knows where his grave is to this day (34:5-6).
Now interestingly enough in Jude, we are told that Michael, the archangel, and Satan had a fight over the body of Moses. There was a dispute over Moses’ body. And when Michael and Satan were disputing over the body of Moses, Michael did not bring against Satan a railing accusation. He didn’t say, “You dirty devil!” I think that we sometimes make a mistake when we, ourselves bring railing accusations against Satan. Michael didn’t do it, but instead said, “The Lord rebuke you.”
Whenever I am dealing with the devil, I always want the Lord between me and the devil. I don’t want to deal directly with him at all. I don’t want to deal with him, except the Lord be between us, and I’ll stand behind the Lord, and I’ll say, “Lord, take him”. I’ll push the Lord, I’ll say, “Go ahead! Get him Lord!”, you know! But I don’t want to mess with him. I don’t want any direct dealings with him. I only want to deal with him through the Lord. Michael dealt with him through the Lord. They were disputing over the body of Moses. Now, I don’t know what the dispute was about, the bible doesn’t tell us. But they were disputing over the body of Moses.
When Moses died here on mount Nebo. God buried him, actually, it probably was the angel Michael that buried him. But Satan was giving him a bad time. And Michael said, “The Lord rebuke you.” So, the bible tells us to, “Resist the devil he’ll flee from us, draw nigh to God, He’ll draw nigh to us”. So, “He was buried in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor: and no one knows where the grave is to this day.”
Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died: and his eyes were not dim, nor his natural vigor abated. [I mean he was a healthy fellow right up to his death. Good eyesight, keen, sharp, strong, right up to the day of his death.
And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days: and the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended. And now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands on him: and so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses. But since then, there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. In all the signs and wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt before Pharaoh, before all of his servants, and in all of his land, And by all that might power, and all that great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel (34:8-12).
Now, one last little note. You remember when Elijah was fleeing from Jezebel, where did Elijah go? He went down to mount Sinai, and was in a cave on mount Sinai. The place where Moses received the law, Elijah fled on down to mount Sinai, standing in a cave. You remember, the Lord said, “Elijah what are you doing here?” And Elijah said, “Oh Lord, I’ve been zealous for you, and they’ve killed all your prophets. I’m the only one left, and they’re trying to kill me.” The Lord said again, “Elijah what are you doing here?” He didn’t understand the question. He was doing nothing, he was hiding. He shouldn’t have been doing that. “I’ve got work for you to do. Go up anoint Ben Hadad”. You see, he wasn’t doing what God wanted him to do.
Now, where did Elijah die? Actually he didn’t die, if you’re gonna be technical, but where did he go? He crossed over Jordan, if you remember, went over into Moab, into the area of Nebo, and there is where the chariot of the Lord caught him up, and he went to heaven. So, he sort of followed Moses’ path. Went down to Sinai, where Moses got the law, and then at the time of death, went over to the area of mount Nebo. You remember Elisha followed him and he came to the Jordan river, and he took his mantle, Elijah did, and he hit the waters, and the waters parted, and he walked across, and Elisha followed him. He said, “You know I’m, why don’t you leave me?”, he says, “No, I want to be with you”. He kept turning to Elisha saying, “Hey why are you following man?”, he says, “I want to be with you”. He said, “Well what do you want?”, he said, “Well, I want a double portion of your power”. He said, “Well if you’re with me when I go, you’ll get the double portion”.
So, Elisha stuck by him, and he saw the chariot of the Lord, and Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind into heaven. The Lord received him up. His body, they went searching for it. Elisha came back and the prophets said, “What happened to Elijah?” Elisha said, “The Lord caught him up to heaven. They said, “Aah”, and he said, “Don’t bother looking, you’ll never find him”. But they went over and looked anyhow, and they searched for a long time, and they came back and said, “We couldn’t find him”, he said, “Well I told you, you wouldn’t. Why did you go search?”.
They evidently became buddies, because they appeared with Jesus together on the mount of Transfiguration. It would seem that they will also appear again on the earth as buddies, as the two witnesses in Revelation, chapter eleven. But they sort of, Elijah sort of followed the steps of Moses. Which I sort of see as rather interesting, and they then became buddies, and we’ll probably see them together when we get to heaven. I’m anxious to meet them both!
May the Lord bless you now, and keep His hand upon you this week. May He prosper you in the things that you do. May your heart be set upon God, and the things of God. May you be spiritually attuned to Him. May God really help you, as far as the world around you is concerned, and give you a distaste for those things of the world, and the fleshly things. That you might pursue after God with all your heart. That you might walk after the Spirit, so that you might not fulfill the desires of your flesh, living after them. Thus walking after the Spirit, may you be empowered by God, and may you be His witnesses this week. May God use your life to touch others. Share the love and the truth of God with those around you. That this week might be a profitable week, as you serve our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that your labor for the Lord is never in vain. God bless you.
Edited & Highlighted from “The Word For Today” Transcription, Pastor Chuck Smith, Tape #7062