"The LORD alone guided him, And there was no foreign god with him.Deuteronomy 32:12(NASB)
As we look back on our lives, we hope that others will remember the good things about us, and not bring up those times we would prefer to remain buried in the sea of forgetfulness. We would prefer that those little indiscretions were relegated to a closed archive - never again to see the light of day! And we genuinely thank God that our sins are forgiven, and praise Him, that in His goodness and grace He has clothed us in Christ's righteousness and remembers our sins no more.
The Bible, however, does not sweep sin under the carpet, and there are many indiscretions and much carelessness, foolishness, ungodliness, and rebellious actions that are given centre stage, as we read through the pages of Scripture. Often we raise our eyebrows and 'tut, tut' at much of Israel's unseemly behaviour, and yet so much in God's Word is written for our learning - to teach the godly way to live and warn us of pitfalls to avoid.
In Deuteronomy 32, the Song of Moses, which recounts the wilderness wanderings of those who escaped Egyptian slavery, was delivered to a new generation of Israelites. It was given as a warning - NOT to repeat the sins of their fathers. Moses used Israel's desert experience as a cautionary tale to their children... that they should not follow in the footsteps of their parents. But Israel's history is also written for our learning. It is written to the Church... reminding us to live godly lives and avoid the mistakes they made.
The Song of Moses gives a vivid contrast between the Lord's cherished care of Israel, who were 'the apple of God's eye', with Israel's ingratitude, whom, he described as, 'an evil and perverse generation'. Although the fledgling nation of Israel began well, by trusting God's Word and following all that He commanded, on that first Passover night, they quickly corrupted themselves and strayed far away from the Lord, and the song Moses sang, was a reminder of God's great goodness, but a witness against sinful, rebellious Israel.
"Is this how you repay the Lord?" was Moses' scathing accusation. "You foolish and senseless people! Isn’t He your Father and Creator? Didn’t He make you, and sustain you?" Moses exhorted the people to remember the olden days; to recall the Nations' history and consider how far Israel had fallen into sin. They were encouraged to go to the elders, who remembered their recent history, and learn from the mistakes of the former generation... so that they would not fall into the same trap.
Moses recalled how God had separated Israel from all the other nations, set national boundaries, and made Israel His inheritance. He reminded them how God had found them, cared for them, guarded, and protected them, "Just like an eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, The Lord spread His wings and caught them, and carried them on His pinions." Moses paints the most beautiful picture of God's loving-kindness towards His people, Israel.
Every other nation bowed down to gods of wood and stone, that cannot see or hear or smell or comprehend, but the God Who rescued Israel from Egypt, and provided for them and protected them for 40-long years, despite their rebellion and murmuring, was the One about Whom Moses was speaking, when he said, 'The LORD alone guided him'. "The LORD alone guided Israel" - His firstborn, adoptive son - "and there was no foreign god with him."
The Lord led His people with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day... and none of the Egypt gods were with the people, nor were any of the abominable gods of the Gentile nations, that surrounded them. Moses wanted the people to remember that NO ONE but the God of Israel guided them through the wilderness and no foreign god had any input into the provision and protection that God provided, during their 40-year long wilderness wanderings. Some trust in chariots, and some trust in horses, but we are to trust in name of the Lord our God.
Today, men do not put their trust in chariots and horses, but too often our faith is in a healthy bank-balance, or our well-built houses, governmental handouts, a secure job, a quick-witted intellect, or a myriad of consumables. At a time when everything that can be shaken is being challenged, we need to place our faith in the one sure Foundation - the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as the Lord guided, protected, loved, and cared for Israel, so He guides, protects, loves, and cares for the Church. May we learn the lessons that God would teach us from Israel's devastating failures as well as their wise choices to trust in the Lord alone - Who alone will guide us into all truth.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the way You are leading and guiding the Church, in the difficult days we face, just as you protected and cared for Your people Israel throughout their history. Thank You that when we lose heart, You remain faithful. Thank You that when we wander from Your perfect path of righteousness, You are there to lead, and to guide us into the way of truth. Keep me looking to Jesus and trusting in You in all things, Whom to know is life eternal - this I pray in Jesus' name, AMEN.