Scripture: “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth. How could one have chased a thousand, and two have put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had given them up? For their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves.” Deuteronomy 32:4, 18, 30-31 ESV
Observation: Having completed the installation ceremony for his successor, Joshua, Moses rereads the law and commissions Joshua at the tent of meeting under the cloud pillar of Yahweh’s presence (31:9-15). The Lord then commands Moses to compose a song to remind future generations of the consequences of straying from his law and whoring after pagan idols (31:16-30).
The first 43 verses of chapter 32 comprise the words of this largely woeful song that Moses recites to the people as a warning to them and their offspring of straying from the Lord’s covenant blessings (32:44-48). Still, a ray of hope shines amid the doom and gloom at four junctures of its heartrending prophecy. It’s another name of Israel’s one true God, a name that stands apart from all the imaginary pagan gods that wash away with time: Rock (see above verses). Here and in 1 and 2 Samuel and the Psalms, this name for the Lord appears seventeen times as a metaphor to describe the Lord as strong, stable, and dependable. Specifically, as described above, he is:
- pure (without sin),
- the giver of life, and
- sovereign over human machinations.
Therefore, as the song concludes, Israel is to join with all creation and: “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” (verse 43 ESV).
Takeaway: Even with repeated warnings from Moses and forthcoming prophets of the pre-, concurrent, and post-exile eras, Israel continued to stray from God’s law, necessitating a radical solution that would cost our Father and Son the agony of momentary separation at the crucifixion. This song, and the plethora of poetic prophecies to follow, would provide hindsight to those who suffered the consequences. And they speak to us today. They tell us that our God is a jealous God who will not share our love and affection with idols and obsessions that lead us to ruin. And they warn us that consequences are inevitable. But they also remind us that when we heed our Rock’s words, we will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock and when the storms of life came, the house stood firm on the Rock (Matthew 7:24-25).
So while we and others may knowingly or unwittingly serve the purposes of Satan, we remind ourselves that the rocks of this world are not our Rock—they are mere rubble. And while our enemies may flourish for a season, they are “by themselves,” they are alone in their unrepentant sin and are defenseless against the unstoppable force of the creator of the universe. Indeed, our perfect, just, faithful, pure, and sovereign giver of life rose from inside his rock and ascended to his heaven, where he sits in his glory at his Father’s right hand. And from his sovereign throne, he intercedes on our behalf. Truly, he is our Rock of Ages, a song worth remembering!
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, our Rock of Ages, who rose from his rock to complete his mission in glory. Would you please help us to stand on his firm foundation when the waters rise and quickly confess our sins, receive your forgiveness, and rejoice with him while growing his kingdom undaunted by the threats of our enemies? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling