"The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.Deuteronomy 32:4(NASB)
A new generation of Israelites had grown up during the nation's 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. The first generation murmured against the Lord and so He refused to allow any of these rebellious folk to enter the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as an everlasting inheritance. Instead, every one of them, with the exception of two faithful men - Joshua and Caleb, died in the desert and were buried there.
Moses had led this disparate and disobedient group of people since the age of 80, when God used him to challenge Pharoah to, "let My people go." Israel was God's 'firstborn, adoptive son' who had been enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, but God is faithful and His promises never fail. However, despite being redeemed from Egyptian bondage on Passover night and escaping through the Red Sea which God miraculously opened up as they fled from the pursuing Egyptian army, they lived a defeated life in the wilderness instead of a victorious one in the Promised Land.
Moses reminded this new generation of the covenant promises their parents had made with the Lord many years before. They had broken their promises, failed to honour God's name, and were justly chastened for their failure. This second generation of Israelites joined in a new dedication ceremony where the Book of the Law was rehearsed in their ears and the terms of the agreement between Israel and God were renewed.
This old prophet was preparing to hand the reins of leadership to Joshua and so he made an appeal to the heavens and earth to bear witness to his testimony as he renewed the terms of the covenant with the people... while giving honour to the Lord their God... ascribing greatness to His holy name.
The message Moses proclaimed was a song of praise to the Lord in which we are alerted to the great contrast between the faithful character of our righteous God and the corrupt defects of His covenant people. Moses praised God for He is, "the Rock! Whose work is perfect, and ways are just." He describes Him as, "a God of faithfulness, Who is without injustice - a God Who is righteous and upright in all His ways."
Moses taught a song to the people which traced the chequered history of God's rebellious nation and their relationship to the Lord. The contrast between the goodness of God and the corrupt ways of these perverse, foolish, and crooked people, is staggering. The Lord had chosen them from the sea of humanity. He redeemed them, established them as His chosen people, cared for them, and guarded them as the apple of His eye. He promised them great blessing if they would simply trust His Word.
Moses also describes the Lord in this passage as an eagle who hovers over her young and carries them on its pinions - supplying them with the finest of food and the best of provision. He spoke of God's faithfulness in chastening His people and His patience in seeking to bring them back to Himself. Israel were God's children who were charged with representing Him to the pagan Gentiles. They were His ambassadors on earth and yet they bore no resemblance to His beautiful character and never-failing faithfulness.
In first Corinthians, Paul reminds us that the things that took place in the wilderness were written for our learning. We are to use the experiences of Israel as a lesson for us! The song that Moses sang contrasts the goodness of God, the veracity of His Word, and His faithfulness to His people, with the wickedness of Israel and their terrible apostasy. As blood-bought children of God we must avoid the many mistakes Israel made and be careful not to fall into apostasy, doubt God's Word, or live a defeated life due to lack of faith.
There is much we can learn from Israel's historic years of wandering in the wilderness. There is much we can learn about living a life that is honouring to the Lord. There are many pitfalls into which Israel fell that we must be careful to avoid, and there is much we can learn of the beautiful character of our gracious, Heavenly Father Who is the Rock of our salvation, "Whose work is perfect, for all His ways are just. Truly, He is a God of faithfulness Who is without injustice, and He is righteous and upright in all His ways."
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many lessons we can learn from Old Testament passages. Thank You that You are our Rock of salvation, our firm Anchor, and our gracious Provider. I praise and glorify Your holy name that You are faithful and just in all Your ways, righteous and true in all You do. Teach me more about your beautiful character and help me to grow in grace, love You more, and live by faith and not by sight. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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