Australian Bible Church – June 10, 2007
Deuteronomy 32 First Part
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
Vision of Truth
and Vindication of Vision
Moses tells Israel by the Word of God
and History tells man to listen!
I THE FIRST CONTRAST (32:1-15)
First, we learn that God is filled with righteousness, void of iniquity. He is THE ROCK (farewell Peter, the magic mock-up of Rome), and His work is perfect. The Rock NEEDS to have His work perfect. Man in his fallen estate is a mass of yearning, turning in the wrong direction, aspiring for the right, feeling doom in the wrong, missing the point, being out of step with spirituality, going from God, casting longing eyes in His direction, inventing gods to short-circuit the problem, using force to put their ways into the mouths of the distressed, in order to increase their fallen power, envies and idolatries, cunning and nobility, self-sacrifice and sacrifice of all to himself, that the muddle is like a mountain inverted, obscuring the sun.
It is well that God is the Rock, not the Peter who was rocked by trouble, and had again and again to be hauled out, whether from the sea where he was drowning, or that spiritual sea where he had already gone down twice, till Christ looked at him, and he repented with piercing grief for his weakness and folly. It is well that Peter is that stone, in the Greek, manifestly CONTRASTED with the Rock, another word meaning living rock. This contrast is readily apparent in our hiking, where fine stones attract, but huge masses of rock, embedded as one in the hillside or the mountain surround, inspire with their greatness.
The Rock is Christ, as I Corinthians 10 advises us, and the appeal to any other is merely a symbol of what has already been rocked! Christ, seen by faith and received in reality, sound and sure, steadfast and unchangeable, Lord of love and author of comfort, exhibition of the invisible God, and His only begotten Son: HE is the rock! He is the very Prophet of whom Moses spoke, who would fulfil his own testimony, the One to whom all must turn (Deuteronomy 18). Then as now, it is the Lord who is the Rock. Small wonder, man being fallen, that we next find in this passage in Deuteronomy, the contrast between the Lord and man in his own ways, at 32:5.
Then we find that so vast is the corruption of THEMSELVES by mankind in general, by Israel in particular, that they are "not His children." God is a SPIRIT, and whatever promises He may make will never contravene His insistence on a new birth, in Christ, a new life and a new Spirit in the heart, for new features and focus, with renewed strength (Ephesians 3:16). God does not require form (Isaiah 1), but FACT. He is the God of facts and acts (cf. Acts 4:19-20), and no one who does not enter the home in Christ, need bother about attacking the windows. There is one door (John 10:9), and entry through this is final and glorious, ensuring salvation and keeping. Using pictures of doors does nothing, and inventing them is worse yet.
This teaching about man as such NOT being the children of God, applied to the unbelieving nation of Israel, is the message of Hosea. Yet here, in the end, there is the glorious grace of redemption, the only way to restore anything of mankind, and those who receive Him, thus are restored to the nominal place of the race, but now in reality, to that from which they rushed in riotous seizures, amidst judgments which though restrained, at last became catastrophic.
From all of this, the Lord asks them to reflect on former times "Remember the days of old!" Ask father and elder, and realise that God in early history appointed places for the nations, boundaries, and of these He gave one to Israel (32:7-9). Although the Jewish race early moved in adverse circumstances, God not only took 'him', but "encircled him, He instructed him, he kept him as the apple of His eye."
Tenderness was vast.
"As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young,
spreading out its wings,
taking them up, Carrying them on its wings,
So the LORD alone led him, and there as no foreign god with him.
He made him ride on the high places of the earth."
"But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked ... You are obese!"
Self-will, injustice, self-preservation, self-regard soon led to direct rebellion in the complacency of spiritual obesity, fatness of heart, a bulging spirit.
II THE CRUDE DEVELOPMENT AND THE REFINED REBUKE (32:16-21)
What then ? "Then he forsook God who made him, and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation. They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods, with abominations they provoked Him to anger." How abominable are the devices instead of deity, with which mankind loves to populate his fallen heart! "They sacrificed to demons, not to God, to gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals"
They carried on with infamous and imperious innovations, making gods as they went, as if their memories were atrophied. What were these human constructions which to this day make up the vast types of religion which appal the earth, and lead to endless violence ? Naturalistic gods, gods of war, gods of splendour, reflecting childish desires, atheistic gods of ideological illusion and strutting assertion, making man god to utter truth while denying the God who alone could give it: all these came on the scene.
Without the spirit of Christ, man is ready to dupe and be duped, to deceive and be deceived, and lacking spiritual power, employs armies of insurgents, whether from sects or with guns, to solace sin and extend its domain. Small wonder God was wrath (cf. Romans 1:17ff.), and He is provoked in no less way to this very day in nations like the USA and Australia, like those of Europe, who have known better but done worse, as by others who simply use force to make false prophets rule, as in Iran and other virtual dictatorships at the spiritual level (cf. More Marvels ...Ch. 4). The Rock of salvation is less than slightly esteemed, and folly forces a faith which being of the heart, is not relevant to such imperiousness. .
So has man in masses, followed the errors of early Israel as accounted in Deuteronomy 32.
Whatever it is, they think of it, as a child its dummy, new gods, new arrivals, gods they did not know (Muhammad coming around 600 A.D. was millenia too late with the 'solution', which could not come by relying on the Old Testament prophets, as he did for forerunners, since these wholly contradicted his teaching - cf. Isaiah 53).
God proceeds to deal with Israel in Deuteronomy, and declares: "Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful." The child forgets its mother, and man his Father. If it were a car, it would be like forgetting the designer, the draftsmen, the conferences, the engineering expertise that preceded its application, the co-operation of mathematician and scientist, of industrialist and work-relation specialists, of testing and refinement that led to its creation: it would remember only its power and the road! This sort of attitude: It is not mere folly; it is an atrocity against reality which has then its parallels within the race, as they dissect and dismember each other, slaughtering as if cattle, and killing as if murder were a way of life.
Anything will do, as long as it is not true. Such has been the SA Government's approach in educational curriculum, since 1988, in the field of science and religion. Defining religion as void of testable truth, and worthy of abstract reverence, but of no place in empirical reality at all, it then miraculously knows all this, presumably by guesswork and glory. Of God who begot them, they are unmindful, filling youthful minds with fables as foretold (II Timothy 4:4). This is parallel to the early falls and to Israel's in particular, where myths substituted for reality, and symbol for power. Hence they fell.
III DESERTS AND DESIRE (32:22-29)
With no response but heel-kicking in mindless oblivion of fact, they inherited the ruins of rambunction; for "when the Lord saw it, He spurned them." Yet doubtless they complain.
Complain ? It was "because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters." So the Lord resolves to hide His face from them. This is that awful situation when "your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze" (cf. Leviticus 26:19). A fire which will "burn to the lowest hell" is incited (Deuteronomy 32:22). Plague and pestilence disadorn the ordered landscape while the bounty of the Creator is despised. Catastrophe will commence her stolid walk in their midst. As they were indifferent, so shall indifference seem to scorn them, each in its turn, like a dance.
Indeed, their obliteration from memory itself was an appealing option: would God then simply destroy them (Deuteronomy 32:26) ? Yet God does not desire man to exalt himself, as if this or that people or nation were powerful, and this were Israel's reason for weakness and defeat, as if man were the nemesis, rather than sin! "Void of counsel," yet Israel is still contemplated by the Lord with sorrow. "Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end." Pity pours out like a lake set free; but the citizens are vanished. No one stops to drink. They are on vacation from the Lord.
IV FUNDAMENTALS OF FACT (32:30-32)
When it comes to religion, exactly as in the SA case noted, they ignore the practical realities of God, sunk in symbols, myths and ignorance. HOW, God asks, "could one chase a thousand to flight, unless their a Rock had sold them, and the LORD had surrendered them!" Just as Australian education, according to the nation's PM, has lost track of how it was constructed, the ways in which it was founded and hence what it is all about, as if schools were shielding from fact rather than strengthening them in these areas, so has man forgotten still more ultimately the God of creation.
Is it imagined that the vast and prodigious deliverances of Israel, from Egypt on, were some sort of statistical nightmare ? as if a vast factory assembly plant just strolled up one day and began 'creating'! No longer will it be generally realised, the Lord charges, that these victories of early Israel (like the more recent ones - cf. SMR Ch. 9) were foretold, enabled, prophetically conducted and powerfully fulfilled. Peoples who fell, having forsaken the Lord, were in turn forsaken, but He aided Israel. Yet they forget! As to this land, it is like a vine of bitter grapes, and "their wine is... the cruel venom of cobras." Such is the tenor of the Lord's charge, and it applies to this day and not to Israel only, but to many who in person or in populations, turn the back and smack the face.
Ingratitude vies with self-fulfilment, and power-hunger with voidance of creation ties. They have forgotten their Rock. The number of times in which the Lord delivered Protestant England, from the remarkable victory over the Spanish Armadas (yes there was more than one such), to the Seven Years War, a remarkable turn-around, to Dunkirk, on no less a scale, and on, has been prodigious. Yet England has turned towards secularism and symbolism, formalism and an unknown destiny in Europe (that is official, they do not know where they are going says a version of their Constitution), and begins to fall. Gone is the reality of the basic Rock in the national affairs.
Australia is basking in amazingly low unemployment, high wages, increased standard of material living, and scarcely can manage even to agree on a national water approach in the midst of a vast national challenge. South Australia talks of 25 years, or this or that number for leisurely water programs, as if afraid to protect the billions of dollars of capital in their State, cascades of beauty. by relatively small outlays, and to laugh while the future fulfils itself. It seems as though no trends were seen, like a mute Churchill, so that it begins to grow more like a land without little boats ... for the Dunkirks.
But the Lord has still the power and the pity, still yearns for His people, still implores them to consider their ways and not optimistically to minimise sin and judgment. They should not laugh in the face of reality, but consider the past of this nation, and of its Protestant mother country in terms of founding, and what has been the criterion of its call into being! (cf. Journey to God or Fantasy's Flight to the Infernal Ch. 7).
Back to the Book, the Book of the Lord, to the Christ, the Lord of the Book, to the Cross, the path of pardon, to repentance, the door to faith, and to the resurrection as the greatest practical demonstration of the power of God, of all time, being mixed with the mountain of His mercy, like a paradise of glory. Futile is non-faith; functional is faith; but necessary is the Lord as its object, without idols, without other books or boast! The body that Rome could not hold, Jerusalem could not sufficiently kill and history could not contain, spectre of atheism's nightmare, fulfilment of scripture's forecast, and that to the very THIRD day specified, following the crucifixion: it still haunts the huntsman for killing the Lord!
It is still the awakening that stings the conscience of those who still kill, in mind, in spirit, in ill-will, the knowledge of God, as in Romans 1:17ff.. Millenia of warning from God, and what happens ? They CANNOT produce the corpse, but the Church, fulfilled and commissioned, rushes like a torrent in the power of truth, vitalised by that stark fact of the resurrection, crown of Christ's Messianic wonders, consummation of the thrust of precision and power which attended all God's works, whether from heaven, or in Christ, on earth where healing and resurrection of such as Lazarus were the prelude to this movement from the gory to the glory of His power.
Christ's resurrection was a test of truth, and He continued to attest it (cf. Acts 1:1); but the nation of Israel, which scorned it, was dispersed for two millenia, Jerusalem itself destroyed as Christ in lamentation, foretold (Luke 19:42ff.). It is life which flows and floods, not guards who know what happened in their sleep (Matthew 28), who cannot keep a corpse; and it is life which penetrates to the heart of this earth; and if, reflected like sunlight from airplane paths lit across the skies, its saving impact is destroyed, yet it is merely the madness of self-destruction, mockery of meaning and tirade against truth that rejects it. God cannot be held in the puny power of dissident man, but remains in power, and invites man to repent (Acts 2:23-24) into reality.
Yet man in masses gloats over the despatch of God. While without any truth to find, in an imaginary world of reactions, in which he is felt to be a mere particle, he tells it to us as he shuts the eyes that see, and the ears that hear, in order to shout about new gods, 'nature' and 'self' and 'evolution' and 'survival of the fittest', as if the power and the skill in this world's construction and life's array arose from fatuous and irrelevant phrases.
It is still the awakening that stings the conscience of those who still kill, in mind, in spirit, in ill-will, the knowledge of God, as in Romans 1:17ff.. Millenia of warning from God, and what happens ? They CANNOT produce the corpse, and the Church, fulfilled and commissioned, rushes like a torrent in the power of truth.
Worship God! All else is fiasco. Act in faith; all else is futile. Act with reason; for God who made man made also his mind. Act in repentance: arrogance deserves the doom that Israel suffered, and humility is the option of life. Act to receive and follow Christ crucified and risen, for here alone are credentials that stand, and cannot be overthrown; and here is life that spurns the grave, life eternal (Romans 6:23, 5:15). It is free and its method of gift is free; it is the pathway of holiness, dealing with God (Isaiah 35:8).