The Charge of Moses
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles to Deuteronomy, chapter 31, and notice the first few verses of the chapter which represent the introduction to Moses' last charge to the nation of Israel. We read:

Deuteronomy 31:

1And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel.
2And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the Lord hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.
3The Lord thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the Lord hath said.

You will notice in the first verse of this chapter that Moses is emphasizing the fact that his days of leadership are coming to an end. He said that he was 120 years of age and this reminds us of the fact that Moses' entire life history was composed of three forty year periods. He was in the land of Egypt for forty years. He was on the backside of the desert for forty years, and then he was leading the children of Israel through the wilderness for a forty year period.

Time has come for him to take his leave. Critics who look into this portion of the Word of God take a great deal of delight in poking fun at the statement we find in verse 1: “I can no more go out and come in,” and the statement that you find in chapter 34, verse 7:

Deuteronomy 34:

7And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

Individuals who like to poke fun at the Scripture find those two verses of Scripture and put them together and say, “You see how the Bible contradicts itself.” Actually, there is no contradiction, and if they were as familiar with the Bible as they profess to be and for that matter as familiar with extra scriptural history as they ought to be, they would know that the statement in chapter 31, verse 1, is an idiom that is often used in the Old Testament for a description of leadership in battle. When he said, “I can no more go out and come in,” he was referring to the fact that he no longer was going to lead anybody in battle as he had in the past. Glance again at chapter 34,verse 7:

Deuteronomy 34:

7And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

The two words natural force may be translated by the word joy , and it does not have reference to physical ability necessarily. It is a reference to the fact that his love for the Lord and his joy in the Lord was just as real in those closing days of his experience as they were in the very beginning.

A Promise of Victory

I want us to look at the charge which Moses gave to Israel, as it is recorded here in chapter 31, by suggesting to you first that it contained a promise of victory. Notice the paragraph which begins with verse 3:

Deuteronomy 31:

3The Lord thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the Lord hath said.
4And the Lord shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them, whom he destroyed.
5And the Lord shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you.
6Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

I do emphasize after the reading of this particular paragraph that there is a promise of victory in this charge which Moses delivered to Israel just before they went into the promised land. I want to point out something that perhaps you have already noticed , and that is that this promise of victory is based upon a confidence in God. Though Joshua was to be the natural human leader, the confidence was to be in God because He was to be their leader. The emphasis on verse 3 is indicative of that when you read: “The Lord God, He will go over before thee…” You will notice again in verse 4: “The Lord shall do unto them as he did unto Sihon and to Og…” Then again in verse 5: “The Lord shall give them up before your face…” The emphasis for victory is placed upon confidence in God.

Courage in the Face of Danger

The second element of this victory which we bring to your attention might be described by the phrase, courage in the face of danger . Everyone knows that in any kind of battle, if the enemy can be demoralized, the victory is more easily won. What is true of the physical is true of the spiritual and so we find God saying in verse 6:

Deuteronomy 31:

6Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

You find words very much like this in the book of Joshua, when God found it necessary to encourage Joshua to go on to the battle and claim the victory. We have endeavored, in our study of the book of Deuteronomy, to emphasize not only the informative facts related to the nation of Israel and the prophetic Word, but to make spiritual application as well, reminding you that every passage has one interpretation and then as many applications as is consistent with the Word of God. If I were to ask you the question, “Where is there a passage of Scripture in the New Testament applicable to Christians very similar to this we find in Deuteronomy, chapter 31, verse 6?”, I wonder what your answer would be. I would suggest that you turn in your Bibles to the book of Hebrews, chapter 13, and remember Paul was speaking to the Hebrews of his day who were facing a very difficult time. But since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable, he was speaking to all believers who were facing a difficult time and whose hearts might be inclined to be filled with fear.

I ask this question to provoke your thinking: Have you ever been afraid? Have you ever been scared? We have an expression which we sometimes say: “I was literally scared to death.” Really, we are not that scared at all, but we have that expression. I wonder, have you ever been afraid? You know, there are sometimes individuals who feel that fear is not consistent with a Spirit controlled life, and there is a sense in which that is true because the Spirit that indwells us and should control us, we are reminded in Paul's letter to Timothy, is not the Spirit of fear. We are told that He has not given us the Spirit of fear, but of love and of discipline, and a sound mind. Yet we would remind you that the danger of fear is always there. That is why the Psalmist said, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in the Lord.” Eventually he got to a better place of living and said, “I will trust and not be afraid,” and that is the ideal approach; but for those of us who do find life difficult and problems facing us, we find a promise in Hebrews, chapter 13, very much like the promise that God gave through Moses to His people Israel. I refer to what is found in Hebrews, chapter 13, verse 5:

Hebrews 13:

5Let your conversation[manner of life] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
6So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Promotion of a New Leader

Notice the phrase, “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” When we have examined this passage of Scripture in detail from the original text, we have discovered that it could read, without doing any violence to the Scripture at all, “I will never, never, never, never leave thee. I will never let thee down.” Anybody who believes that promise can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” We can say to you that Moses' last charge included the promise of victory based upon confidence in God and courage in the face of danger, but it included something else. It included the promotion or the introduction of a new leader.

We have already hinted as to whom this new leader would be. You already know that his name is Joshua; and if you look there at verse 31, you will recognize that Moses had a very definite part in the selection of this new leader to lead these people into this new land, because in verse 7 of Deuteronomy, chapter 31, we read:

Deuteronomy 31:

7And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the Lord hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.
8And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

Sometime you might like to turn to Numbers, chapter 27, and refresh your mind as to what we learned when we were studying that portion of the Word of God concerning the official human selection of Joshua as the leader of the people. I think you are aware that in every walk of life, there are men who are chosen by men, and men who are chosen by men may or may not be able to do the task that is assigned to them. This we know. They cannot do it adequately unless they have the enduement of Almighty God. This we know. Any individual chosen to do any task by man should expect the enduement from God if his task is going to be effective. Of course, Joshua is no different, so in the charge of Moses, we have not only the part that Moses played in the selection of this man for leadership, but we have God's part as well. Look down at verse 14 and we read:

Deuteronomy 31:

14And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses And Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation.
15And the Lord appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle.
16And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.

Then if you will skip down to verse 23, you will notice the statement:

Deuteronomy 31:

23And he [God] gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee.

The implication of this verse is not merely that God was appointing Joshua to a special task, but the implication of the passage is that without question, absolutely nothing could stop Joshua from bringing the people into the land. As long as he had Moses' charge, there was the possibility of failure because there is always the possibility of failure when the human instrument is involved; but when God anoints and God gives divine power in relation to a specific task (notice what I am saying), then you can be sure that task will be fulfilled.

Prophecy of Apostasy

There is in this last charge not only the promise of victory, not only the promotion of a new leader, but there is as well the prophecy of apostasy on the part of the nation of Israel. Apostasy is a word which very simply defined means “a departure from the faith.” God prophesied that there would be a departure from the faith. First, Moses stood before the people and listened to what God had to say concerning this matter of apostasy. After he had heard from God, he delivered his message to the people. Notice verse 16, where you read:

Deuteronomy 31:

16And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.
17Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?

This is God's message to Moses concerning apostasy. God said in verse 18 to emphasize it:

Deuteronomy 31:

18And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.

“So great,” God said to Moses, “will be the apostasy of this people that I will find it necessary to hide my face from them. I will find it necessary to turn my back upon them.” After having received this message from God, Moses spoke to the people of Israel and told them exactly what God had said. Notice verse 27:

Deuteronomy 31:

27For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death?

Keep in mind that in one sense of the word, Moses had a divine revelation that apostasy would be forthcoming; but in another sense of the word, he knew it. He felt it in his bones, as we might say, because he recognized the nature of this people for what it was. He knew that in his day, in his presence, they were a rebellious people. Without his guiding presence and his effective influence, how could he expect any more of them? So notice in verse 29, he said:

Deuteronomy 31:

29For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.

Notice the emphasis in this particular paragraph upon the latter days. It is a reminder that what the Spirit of God was speaking through Moses was prophetic in the sense that the rebellion of Israel would not be related to the immediate days after the death of Moses, but would go on even to include those days known as the latter days which began with the rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and will conclude with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory. When the nation of Israel has suffered up to the point that she can suffer no more, she turns her eyes Heavenward and pleads for the return of Jesus Christ as she acknowledges that she has been guilty of the rejection of her Messiah.

Keep in mind we have been talking about a prophecy of apostasy. God would not be fair if in His foreknowledge He knew that there was a pitfall out in front of you, if He did not make some provision that you not fall into the hole that He knows is there. He would not be the God that we know Him to be if He did not make the provision. The fact that He makes the provision does not necessarily mean that we are going to take advantage of the provision, but He does make the provision that you need not fall into the hole before you.

This is exactly what the Apostle Paul had in mind in his letter to the Corinthians when he said in II Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 13:

I Corinthians 10:

13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Provision of the Word

God's provision for the nation of Israel, as you see before you, consisted of two things. It consisted of what we refer to as the Word and it consisted of what we refer to as the song . The Word and the song were to be God's witness against this people that they need not do the thing that they were about to do. When we use the term the Word , we are talking about the Word of God. When we use the term the Word of God today, we are talking about what we know as sixty-six books in the Bible, but when we use the term the Word in this particular instance, we are talking only about five books in the Bible. Hebrews referred to this portion of the Word, not necessarily as we have it in our King James Version , but this portion of the Word as the Torah. It was what God had provided that His people be not led astray. For evidence of that notice, the verses where God made the provision, in Deuteronomy, chapter 31, verse 19, we read:

Deuteronomy 31:

19Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.

Then down in verse 24, we read:

Deuteronomy 31:

24And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished,
25That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying,
26Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

You will notice that verse 26 is an unhappy translation , for verse 26 would suggest that the Word of God was to put inside the Ark of the Covenant, but a correct translation indicates the the Word of God was to put be beside the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle, later in the Temple. You will recall that when dire situations were occurring in Israel during the reign of good King Josiah, the Word of God as we are speaking of it here, was uncovered in the holy place of the Temple and brought to his attention. There was a public reading of the Word of God as command had been given and a great revival broke out in the days of King Josiah because the Word of God was read according to order.

The Word of God was not only to be placed beside the Ark, a place of importance, a place of honor, but it was to be read as is indicated in the paragraph that begins with verse 10. We cannot emphasize this enough because there are altogether too many people in our day who have the Word of God in a place of honor in their homes, but it is never read. One thing that grieves me very much is the sale of what we refer to as the Family Bible—one of the great big Bibles that people select, not because of what is in it, but because it is so pretty and it will look so pretty lying on the coffee table in the living room. The reason that it grieves me is that as a rule that is all the use it will have. There is a sense in which it is good to have the Word of God prominently displayed in your home so that individuals will know when they come into your home that they are coming into a Christian home. But far more important than a prominent place or a honorable place for the Word of God is the reading of the Word. I want you to notice what it says about it here in the paragraph which begins with verse 10:

Deuteronomy 31:

10And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,
11When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
12Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:
13And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.

I never read this passage of Scripture without being reminded of the lack of interest in God's Word which exists in our day. It is not mentioned in this particular paragraph; it is mentioned in associated passages of Scripture. When the Word of God was read, the people stood to their feet during the reading of it to show their respect to God, as in a day when manners were more important than they seem to be today. When a lady came into the room, every man stood to his feet expressing respect for womanhood, so men stood to their feet when the Word of God was read.

I had forgotten how little this practice is followed until I was preaching in a federal prison which was peopled mostly by men of Latin American descent. As I stood up and opened my Bible and began to read, as one man, they stood up. That was one of the times I was literally scared to death. I thought, “This is it. This will be the end of me,” but as I realized they were really showing their respect for the Word of God, I managed to quiet the wild beating of my heart and continued to read the Word and make the emphasis that God had for me to make at that particular time.

I never read this passage of Scripture without wondering what they did without Junior Church back in the days of Deuteronomy. Did you notice according to this passage of Scripture that all of the children were there for the reading of the Word. They didn't have Junior Church because they assumed that the children couldn't understand what the preacher was talking about. They didn't have Junior Church because they felt like the children would enjoy it a little bit more because it was on their level than if they had to use their heads and think. You know, so many folk keep their children in Junior Church so long that when they do get in church, they don't know how to act when they get there. These folk didn't. They listened to God's Word and they listened to what God had to say in the reading of the Word. I suggest to you that God's Word was His provision to keep the children of Israel from falling into the hole of apostasy that God in His foreknowledge knew was before them.

Provision of the Song

As we have suggested, there was a second provision. It is called the song. We are going to see in just a moment it is the Song of Moses. I challenge you when you have time to look through your Bibles and notice the emphasis that is placed upon singing (listen carefully now) in relation to victorious living. You have heard of whistling in the dark—that is, you are scared so you whistle to keep up your courage. We are not talking about that. We are talking about the importance of the song as it is administered by the Holy Spirit in relation to victorious living. When God speaks of a provision to keep His people, I am not at all surprised that He includes in addition to the Word something related to the inspired song. If you glance again at verse 19, you will notice that Moses was instructed to write this song and that as he taught it to the people, they were to teach it to their children so that every time they sang it, they would be reminded of God's expectation for them and of their failures in relation to God's expectations.

I daresay that many of you can give testimony to how a song, not inspired in the same sense that the Word of God is inspired, but inspired nevertheless, has touched your heart and brought back memories of vows that have been made and have not been kept, of blessings that have been long forgotten. That was the purpose of this song and the amazing thing about this song to me is that Moses wrote the song in one day and taught it to the whole nation in one day so that they could sing it from memory. You see it there in verse 22:

Deuteronomy 31:

22Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.

Theme of Moses' Song

You have heard an expression in relation to a song, “love is the theme of my song,” and every song has a theme. As I ask you to turn to Deuteronomy, chapter 32, as we begin to notice the theme of Moses' song as it is recorded here in Deuteronomy, chapter 32, the first thing that I would like to call to your attention is the theme of this song was related to the consistency of God. The first three verses of the chapter represent an introduction of what he expected this song to do as it had its effect upon the people. Notice verse 1, where we read:

Deuteronomy 32:

1Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
2My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:
3Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.

So we can say that God was the theme of his song, and he expected this song with this message about God to have the same effect upon the lives of the people as the dew does upon the herbs and as the shower upon the grass. He expected this song to so water the lives of those who sang it that spiritual growth would be the result. Though we are living in a different dispensation, I beg to suggest to you that what he has to say about God in this song should touch the hearts of every single one of us as he brings to our attention the consistency of our God.

Declaration of God's Consistency

The first thing that he has to say is related to the declaration of that consistency in verse 4, where we read:

Deuteronomy 32:

4He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

The declaration of God's greatness is bound up in the words, “He is the Rock, just and right is He.” This word Rock is so important to God as a description of the kind of God He is that it is mentioned no less than five times in this one individual chapter. It comes from the Hebrew word tsuwr , which may be translated by the word Rock . It may be translated by the word refuge and it may be translated by the word straight . So we might read this verse when we are talking about the greatness of our God, “He is our refuge. He is the everlasting strength. He is the mighty One.”

Keep a marker here in Deuteronomy, chapter 32, and turn in your Bibles to the book of Isaiah, chapter 26, and notice a portion of Scripture from another song. Israel was a nation of singing and in this particular song in Isaiah, chapter 26, you find ascription of praise to God in somewhat the same manner. In verse 4, you read:

Isaiah 26:

4Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:

Notice those last two words: everlasting strength . Those last two words are the translation of this same Hebrew word tsuwr , which is translated by the word Rock , refuge and strength .” This is the kind of God that Moses would have us sing about, and perhaps the kind of God He is will be even more evident for you if I share with you what is commonly referred to as the Amplified translation of the Scriptures which read, “He is the Rock. His Word is perfect, for all His ways are law and justice, a God of faithfulness without breach or deviation, just and right is He.” This is why we refer to the consistency of God, for He is without deviation. As James emphasizes in chapter 1 of his epistle:

James 1:

17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Delineation of God's Consistency

There is, in this chapter, not only the declaration of God's consistency, but also the delineation of God's consistency. That is, He describes the manner in which God remains consistent in relation to Israel. The first word we would use to describe God's consistency in relation to Israel, if you will go back to Deuteronomy, chapter 32, is the word selection , which is brought to our attention in verse 6:

Deuteronomy 32:

6Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?
7Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
8When the most high divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.
9For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

What this paragraph is emphasizing for us is that God selected the nation of Israel for His own people. Part of the problems of the world today are represented in the fact that man has forgotten that God has selected Israel for His people. If you forget that, then you are going to be distressed too before your life is over because God said concerning Israel that He is going to make Israel a cup of trembling in the hands of the nations—that is, everybody who picks up the cup is going to tremble because God has a special plan and purpose for her and nothing is going to thwart that plan and purpose. So selective was God in relation to the nation of Israel, if you will glance at verse 8, you will notice:

Deuteronomy 32:

8When the most high divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.

God even arranged the nations of the world in relationship to the nation of Israel, setting their boundaries in relation to her so that, as you read in Acts, chapter 17, “All the world might hear about God.” Had Israel been true to her calling, this would have been the case. We would remind you that when the boundaries set by God have been moved by men, always there have been and there always will be problems. The delineation of God's consistency can be seen in what we refer to as His protection for this people. Notice verse 10, where we read:

Deuteronomy 32:

10He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
11As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
12So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.

This is a beautiful picture of God's protective care of the nation of Israel. He found them in a desert land and in the waste howling wilderness. There was nothing about Israel to recommend them to God, but God found them there. He led Israel, He instructed Israel and He kept Israel as the apple of His eye. Just as you with your eyelid protect the pupil of your eye from danger, so God protected His people. He could not leave them babes all their lives any more than He can leave us Christian babes all our lives. That is why He wants us to mature. You will notice what happens here as described in verse 11:

Deuteronomy 32:

11As an eagle stirreth up her nest…:

That is, the eagle breaks up the nest in which the young eaglets are so that they will have to leave the nest. Sometimes it is difficult to leave the nest, and spiritually speaking, sometimes it is very difficult to leave the nest. We somehow or other like this spoon feeding and we don't like to get away from it. But God breaks up the nest sometimes and He pushes the eaglets out over the cliff, so to speak, but you will notice in the second statement: “He fluttereth over the young just as the mother eagle flutters around to make sure that these young eaglets do not fall to their death. When it seems as if their wings are tired and they can fly no more on their own, the mother eagle spreads abroad her wings and flies underneath them. One by one, they light upon her and she flies them back to safety. This is God's protective care not only for Israel but spiritually speaking it is God's protective care for every believer, for the Lord Jesus Christ took a figure of speech similar to this and said, “As a mother hen gathereth her chicks under her wings when the storm clouds gather, how often would I have gathered you, but you would not.” True, He was speaking to Israel in His day, but nevertheless, the figure of speech continues.

God's Benediction

God's consistency is further seen in what I refer to as God's benediction. I use the word benediction in the sense of blessing. We will not have time to read the passage of Scripture related to it, but you will notice it begins with verse 13 and concludes with verse 18, and it describes all of the temporal and spiritual blessings that God provided for the nation of Israel.

The Divine Relinquishment of Leadership

If we could stop our message right here, we could leave this song on a high note, but the song, as you can see before you, does not stop there, so we cannot stop though we will not have time to notice every note and every phrase in the song. We would suggest to you that the song goes from this high note of the consistency of God to what we might refer to as a song in a minor key, a song in a lower note, if you please—the chastisement of God on the nation of Israel. Yes, God, if He is just and upright, cannot ignore disobedience, so there is nothing left for Him to do but to visit Israel with His chastening hand. There is recorded in the chapter before you the divine relinquishment, thank God only temporarily, of the leadership of the nation of Israel. Look at verse 20, where He said:

Deuteronomy 32:

20And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.

“If they want to have their own way, I will let them.” I say that this is a temporary relinquishment because in verses 26-27, we read:

Deuteronomy 32:

26I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:
27Were it not [notice carefully] that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this.

In other words, the enemies of Israel would say, “We are pretty powerful people. Look at what we have done to the nation of Israel.” So God said, “I have completely destroyed them, but I will not give My glory to another. I will relinquish them only temporarily.”

God's Retaliation

Again, I ask you this to provoke your thinking: How many of you have insisted on having your own way, spiritually speaking? You were tired of the way God was doing things for you and you said, “I want my way.” What did God do? God said, “All right. You can have your way.” No, you did not lose your salvation. You are not going to wind up in Hell, but you are going to wind up under the chastening hand of God just as Israel did. The manner in which God dealt with Israel I have been pleased to describe by the word retaliation as is presented in verse 21, where God said:

Deuteronomy 32:

21They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.

You might read that verse without realizing the full import of it, and we could spend a week discussing it because what that verse of Scripture is saying is that God decided He would set Israel on the sidetrack. He would lay her aside. He would not work through her any more and He would take a nation called the Church and would work through the Church to accomplish His purpose. In other words, He retaliated. They said to God. “We don't want You. We want this God,” and God said, “I don't want you. I want this nation,” and today, in this Age of Grace, God is working through the Church. He will work through the Church until the final recompense described in verses 22-25, which carries you through this present Age of Grace which describes, historically, much that Israel has suffered, but which is minor as far as what Israel will suffer in the Tribulation is concerned.

Though we will not take the time to read those verses, Moses' song describes the Tribulation experiences of the nation of Israel when the fires of God's judgment will burn to such a great extent that the mountains will seem to be consumed and the earth itself will be made a total waste and ruin, and it will be then that they will turn to their God.

The Compassion of God

So we are able after all to close the Song of Moses on a high note, on a better strain—that which I refer to as the compassion of God, because in verses 34-42, God describes His compassion. In verses 34-35, the first thing that He says about it is that it is something that belongs to the treasures, the secret things of God that have to be revealed to men. The prophets did not see it. They did not understand it. They did not find it in its proper place. It was a revelation which the Apostle Paul took three chapters in the book of Romans to talk about because men could not see it and could not believe it, for they thought God was through with the nation of Israel and would no longer use her for any specific purpose. He reminded this nation to which we referred to a moment ago that she should not be filled with her own pride and purpose because she would soon be cut off herself and Israel would be reinstated because God's repentance would take effect. Perhaps it would be better instead of saying, “God repents,” because God really doesn't ever change His mind, to say, “God relented.” He relented in relation to the judgment that He visited upon Israel, and that is found in verses 36-42. When He discovered that they had come to the end of themselves, they were surrounded by all the nations of the world and there was absolutely no hope for them, He relented. As is described in the paragraph to which I have referred, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will personally, bodily, return to this earth for the deliverance of the nation of Israel, and He will set up His righteous reign upon the earth which will cause the world's rejoicing as is found in verse 43, and there is not a better way to bring a song to an end than on a note of joy. So in verse 43, you read:

Deuteronomy 32:

43Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.

Conclusion

The Word of God, the Song of Moses, was meant to warn Israel of the pitfalls which they faced. Had they heeded, they could have saved themselves so much despair and trouble—just as certainly as you and I can save ourselves the despair and trouble in which some of us may already be, and for which certainly some of us are headed if we ignore God's Word.


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