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The Final Song of Moses

Moses was a remarkable man.  He led the Israelites from bondage and communed with The LORD personally.  They met; they talked; they argued; they had true fellowship.  And The LORD commanded Moses:

Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. [1] (Deu 31:19)

And Moses obeyed.  He wrote down the entire song which The LORD gave him, and taught it to the people of Israel before he was gathered to The LORD.  The entire song is recorded in Deuteronomy Chapter 32.  In this song, The LORD – speaking through Moses the prophet – predicts Israel’s history.  So when these events do come to pass, the Israelites will have no excuses.  They will remember and know that The LORD their God is the one true God who declares the beginning from the end, who controls the past, present, and future.  Besides being an indictment, this prediction is also The LORD’s seal of authenticity for His Word, for only He knows everything that is to happen.[2]  The prophesy portion of the song follows:

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. …  For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God!  … The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. (Deu 32:1-4)

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.   But the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage. (Deu 32:8-9)

But Jeshurun[3] grew[4] fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.  They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger.  They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded.  (Deu 32:15-17)

They have dealt corruptly with him; they are no longer his children because they are blemished; they are a crooked and twisted generation.[5]  (Deu 32:5)

The LORD saw it and spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters. … I will hide my face from them. … They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people[6]; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation[7].  (Deu 32:19-21)

And I will heap disasters upon them; I will spend my arrows on them; they shall be wasted with hunger, and devoured by plague and poisonous pestilence (Deu 32:23-25)

I would have said, “I will cut them to pieces; I will wipe them from human memory,” had I not feared provocation by the enemy[8], lest their adversaries should misunderstand, lest they should say, “Our hand is triumphant, it was not the LORD who did all this.” [9] (Deu 32:26-27)

Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.[10]  For the LORD will vindicate his people[11] and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free.  (Deu 32:25-26)

See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. … Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people’s land.  (Deu 32:39-43)

We know this is God’s true word because everything came about exactly as predicted in this song – not just once but several times:  Assyrian exile, Babylonian exile, Roman exile.  And now it appears to be happening yet again, just as predicted elsewhere in The Bible.  More on that later…

All is not as it looks


[1] Notice the purpose of the song:  That it may be a witness against Israel.  God is certain that Israel will fail to uphold its part of the Covenant.  He has already prepared the charges, which He is providing here in advance.

[2] If a prophecy doesn’t come true, then it’s a false prophecy and it isn’t from The LORD.  (Lam 2:14, Eze 13:9, 22:28)

[3] The upright Israel (used sarcastically).

[4] Notice the past tense here.  The tense could be interpreted as a recitation of past sins, as of Israel’s sins in the desert wanderings.  The tense could also be interpreted as The LORD’s prophetic statement of a future so certain to happen as having already taken place.  The latter interpretation is more consistent with the thrust of the song.  (A more thorough exploration of this difficult concept requires a separate essay.)

[5] Note “they are no longer his children” in spite of their genealogical heritage from Abraham.

[6] Notice The LORD’s typical punishment in kind:  They made me jealous, so I will make them jealous.  Who are “Those who are no people?”  Christians according to Paul (Rom 10:19, 11:11, 14)

[7] “Foolish nation” = Wicked, brutish Gentile people (nations)

[8] “had I not feared provocation by the enemy”:  This is a very interesting statement by God!  In light of the subsequent phrase “lest they should say, …” the sense seems to be more like “I expected the enemy to vex me with their falsehoods,”.   A word study is inconclusive, however.

But use of the word “the enemy” is even more intriguing.  It is doubtful that “enemy” (singular) is referring to Israel’s adversaries (plural); therefore it must refer to God’s singular enemy Satan.  Could this be an interesting glimpse into the war in Heaven?

[9] The LORD clearly chose not to wipe Israel from human memory in this verse.  He will always save a remnant of Israel, even if He destroys 99% of them.  He will do this only for the sake of His own Name and righteousness, because of His unconditional covenant to Abraham.  (Note that He will not do this because of any special righteousness or characteristic of the Israelites. (Deu 9:4-6))

Thus the remnant alone will inherit God’s unconditional blessings as “His chosen people” under the Abrahamic covenant.  (See footnote 5)  Who is this remnant?  It can only be the Messianic Jewish community to satisfy the terms of both the Old and the New Covenants. (Joh 3:16-18)

[10] This sentence could refer to Israel’s enemies (adversaries), and therefore to God’s adversaries.  It could also refer to “blemished” Isrealites, who are also God’s adversaries (See Deu 32:5 in this song).  Or it could refer to both.

[11] “His people” are the faithful among the Israelites.  (See note 9)  “His people” isn’t likely to include any Gentile Christians because at the end God “cleanses his people’s land” and Gentiles have no inheritance in the Promised Land.

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