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ENCORE to the FORE,
Deuteronomy 32 Nearer to Completing the Vision
while Man Completes His Plunge
and God Multiply Delivers His Saints!
RECAPITULATION and EXPANSION (32:21)
before the Finale
We now see more distinctly that there is a certain reciprocity in these national affairs.
Would Israel act shamelessly, like a possessed wife, rich in a fertility of foulness, moving to dishonour her 'husband', the Lord (in the imagery of covenant made) ?
As to the people, will they provoke their husband who is not other than God Almighty, with what is not-God! Will they worship, follow, obey, dally with that!
Will infinite purity of God be dropped for evil performance in polluted follies ? Very well. Let it be so, if that is the way of the will of this people, and if they so abuse the liberty God created to help display and dispose the way of man. If they want to be wanton with their will, what then ? Is that their design with the design called man ? Is this their purpose ? or practice ? or both!
God has then a wise manoeuvre. They choose therefore not-God instead of God, a trifling mistake no doubt! Then HE will provoke them reciprocally. Perhaps then the terrible truth of their inward trauma may awaken their sunken souls from the precincts of the pit, before they are quite gone (cf. Psalm 83:16).
How will God provoke Israel to awaken it ? He will make it to be distressed by a 'foolish nation'. No more will they be prominent and dominant, as He does this to them. Did He not raise Jerusalem itself from obscurity, as they are reminded by Ezekiel (Ch. 16)! Now let a godless people, near in mouth, far in spirit from God (Isaiah 29:13), experience life alone, as traveling divorcees.
"Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
'Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, and say,
"Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem:
'Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.
'As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.
'No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you,
to have compassion on you;
but you were thrown out into the open field,
when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born.
And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood,
I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ ..."
There was Jerusalem in former times, a city in Canaan, and there was Canaan into which belatedly Israel came, having failed through cowardice to enter the promised land, the step of faith at the first (Numbers 14). When at last they did come, God did things for them in the purity of His principles and the mercy of His reclamation project, His covenant.
He made Jerusalem a name, a place of wonder! and what did they do ? They repeatedly imbibed the foolish principles of the land and reverted to such practices as make of any race, little more than ruins away rubbish collection, like those who cut themselves or use drugs, as if wishing to defile their design or demolish their own construction.
In this prophecy through Moses, God foresees the nation returning to such polluted practices FREELY, as following gods that are not there, and ways that mock reality. In Egypt they were oppressed by such cultural wildness and such religious cruelty in a land of gods who were yet NOT GOD. Now however they are using the liberty of their own created spirits, to BIND themselves, as if self-made slaves to ignorance, vileness and untruth. Thus they now freely and of their own wills make NOT GOD into their god, and so provoke their Prince and their Partner.
BALANCING BRILLIANT FOLLY WITH WISE REBUKE
What more fitting, then than this, that He would provoke them by having a 'foolish nation', a people like those whom they so would willingly allow to seduce them spiritually, to RULE OVER THEM. If the true God is not good enough for such spiritual goons, a term not too strong for the characterisation God is giving to them for that day, then results flow!
What are these ? Then a non-nation, a trivial people will be divinely authorised and enabled to rule over them! Their lovers will become their bosses. If they are so holy and wonderful that they even dare to TALK of religion (as is the custom today in much of the Gentile world), as if it were something worthy, when in all their words they defile the truth and trivialise reality, mere daring exhibitionists of rebellion, slithering with callow phrases like some new serpent: then let this wonder and acclaim be seen. Let it be seen where it really belongs by their having a clottish nation rule them. Let them have a people with a corrupt culture giving them orders, and being imperial at their expense! Let those who played the fool, work for the foolish, and those drawn to evil, now find evil their mentor, equipped with force.
How much of this sort of situation, polluted princes ruling a polluted people has the nation of Israel in fact suffered, over its arduous and rebellious history, as Moses’ prediction has come to pass. In many ways remarkable, this people whose whole being and fame rested on One, the revealed and covenantal Lord - this all granted through His grace, yet quashed their glory, and acted acridly to wallow in sham and shame (cf. Isaiah 1).
Having violated their 'marriage' vows and played the spiritual harlot widely and wildly - this is the charge of the Lord, made especially definitive in Hosea and Ezekiel 16, 20 – what have they done ? divorced Him ? Let their new 'partner' then rule with that vehemence and violence, that vileness and unfeeling folly which makes of Israel a dupe to folly. Yes, God, being provoked to 'jealousy' (that is, zealous concern and horror) by a polluted people, will provoke them to jealousy by a foolish nation. That is the imagery of ‘marriage’ violated; but its result is also the fact of history.
HOW they despise the Lord and refuse to see virtue where it is! What will they now find following such perversity ? It is this. HOW the foolish nation will despise them, and fail to see anything to value in them! Israel will wonder how on earth such a low nation could control them. Such is the prediction, abundantly and often fulfilled, but where ? Why, in pogrom and death camp, in the Inquisition of Romanism, in the UN of secularism and in the USSR, that nation of covert religion (cf. News 97, 98).
Why ? It is because they have forsaken the Lord (32:15).
Indeed, as Moses foretold their future in this way, so did it unfold precisely (cf. Jeremiah 8:4-10). In fact, in Jeremiah 3, you see the poignant seeking for them of the Lord, despite all their wild spiritual eclecticism. To already lost Israel, God looked if by any means before the catastrophe they sought, they might be wooed back. Judah by that time was involved in unspeakable folly, so the Lord looked back to the scattered Israel, if by any means some might be found, from them, even at that lat date.
"Then the LORD said to me,
'Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. God and proclaim these words towards the North and say,
"Return, backsliding Israel," says the LORD.
"I will not cause My anger to fall on you, for I am merciful," says the Lord. "I will not remain angry forever.
Only acknowledge your iniquity,
that you have transgressed against the LORD you God..."
Yet Israel was already lost, and few were found, and Judah was losing itself vigorously, and much was ruined, including Jerusalem and the city, soon after these dramatic pleas of Jeremiah. Thus was the divine foresight exhibited through Moses in Deuteronomy, abundantly fulfilled, the foreknowledge becoming history.
To this prediction, then we return, having tasted the history which hallowed it, in the nation which did not hallow the Lord, even the Rock of their salvation. It was He who had as a nation delivered them with dynamic divine, only to have them sup like a dog on its vomit, mingling freely with the polluted cultures and religiosities of ignorance, which surrounded them, stricken with their own injustice, callowness, callousness, child burning rituals and inane gambits in gambolling about like Spring lambs never growing into sheep (cf. II Kings 17).
"The sword shall destroy outside, there shall be terror within
for the young man and virgin..." (Deuteronomy 32:25). This is the coming fruit of folly.
Consider what is recorded in the book of Lamentations, as eventual outcome of this spirit of rebellion, where Jeremiah having in vain exhorted the nation to seek the Lord while there was time, despite their being at the very brink of judgment, surveys at last the broken ruin that was once Jerusalem in its glory, and the horrific cruelties which a 'foolish' victor nation imposed on them, heartless and merciless alike.
"How lonely sits the city
That was full of people!
How like a widow is she,
Who was great among the nations!
The princess among the provinces
Has become a slave!
"She weeps bitterly in the night,
Her tears are on her cheeks;
Among all her lovers
She has none to comfort her.
All her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
They have become her enemies.
"Judah has gone into captivity,
Under affliction and hard servitude;
She dwells among the nations,
She finds no rest;
All her persecutors overtake her in dire straits.
The roads to Zion mourn
Because no one comes to the set feasts.
"All her gates are desolate;
Her priests sigh,
Her virgins are afflicted,
And she is in bitterness.
Her adversaries have become the master,
Her enemies prosper;
For the Lord has afflicted her
Because of the multitude of her transgressions.
Her children have gone into captivity before the enemy.
And from the daughter of Zion
All her splendor has departed.
"Her princes have become like deer
That find no pasture,
That flee without strength
Before the pursuer.
"In the days of her affliction and roaming,
Jerusalem remembers all her pleasant things
That she had in the days of old.
When her people fell into the hand of the enemy,
With no one to help her,
The adversaries saw her
And mocked at her
"Jerusalem has sinned gravely,
Therefore she has become vile.
All who honored her despise her
Because they have seen her nakedness;
Yes, she sighs and turns away.
Her uncleanness is in her skirts;
She did not consider her destiny;
Therefore her collapse was awesome;
She had no comforter.
'O Lord, behold my affliction,
For the enemy is exalted!'
"The adversary has spread his hand
Over all her pleasant things;
For she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary,
Those whom You commanded
Not to enter Your assembly.
"All her people sigh,
They seek bread;
They have given their valuables for food to restore life.
'See, O Lord, and consider,
For I am scorned.'
"Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Behold and see
If there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
Which has been brought on me..."
Devastation replaced desire, and horror fed on unholiness till the explosion had
and it came.
When you take dope, you get dopey. What do you expect! Spiritual dope attacks the very heart and soul of man, and makes him foolish beyond belief. Hence the protection both of mature understanding of reality and the Lord who made it, alike is blighted! Foolish things invite foolish nations, and attacks!
THE DIVINE REMINDER
After reminding Israel of the miraculous powers of God who delivered them not once, but many times, and reasoning with them that this is not part of the natural universe but the supernatural and merciful provision of the redeeming God (32:28ff.), the Lord insists that there is another comparison to be made. ROCK ? Is this not what the LORD declared Himself to be for them, their Rock ? Is it not He in whom is NO iniquity who has this place! It is the divine salvation, not the human sinner situation, which can and does act for His people who know Him as the Rock! Romanism today as for centuries is as far astray as Israel in this, inventing a 'Peter' who never existed in history, to be the Rock, despite the fact that his very name, as also his own early action, speaks the contrary lesson, as we saw last week.
God jogs their memory and their conscience. Why did nations, strong ones, fall before Israel when there was war, even though Israel appeared the weaker ? It was because those other nations were spiritually bankrupt, "their Rock had sold them" (32:30). Far from the Lord who had 'surrendered' them in their infamy of folly, such nations were sold by any vain idols they chose in vain to rely on!
The point is made acutely strident, as we see in reading in Judges 10:10ff. (once more looking to the days of fulfilments of these prophecies, in one phase - NASB):
"Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD,
'We have sinned against you; we have forsaken our God
and have served the Baals.'
"The LORD answered the Israelites:
'Did not the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines,
the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Midianites oppress you?
Yet when you cried out to me, and I saved you from their grasp,
you still forsook me and worshiped other gods.
'Therefore I will save you no more.
'Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen;
let them save you now that you are in distress.'
"But the Israelites said to the LORD,
'We have sinned. Do to us whatever you please. Only save us this day.' "
Thus in painful need and seeking God, was Israel; but it did not end there!
Following this, first those of Israel put away their foolish gods, false worship modes and models, and then it grieved the Lord that they were in such distress before the nations, and He acted to raise up one to deliver them, Jephthah, by name. If man will but return to the Lord, and play straight, walk in the right way and put his trust in the Redeemer, then the way opens. Yet Israel many times and at times cumulatively suffered as Moses foretold, and fell into ever new pits, as new seizures of blindness afflicted their straying souls. Such is the tenor of Psalm 106, Ezekiel 20; and of history. So it was foretold. So history in turn told it as the bell has tolled and tragedy escalated.
In such ways, through Deuteronomy 32:31ff., the Lord reminds Israel of their enemies, of the foolish nation syndrome which afflicted them, to mirror their own foolishness before the Lord, pointing out that "their rock is not like our Rock." The Lord then denounces the infamous ways of the opposing nation, "their wine is the poison of serpents, and the cruel venom of cobras." Not once, but many times, has Israel found the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel, and often has it fallen into distress, under duress as Leviticus 26 likewise foretold. The outrageous activities, from Assyria (cf. Nahum), to Babylon (cf. Jeremiah 50-51, Isaiah 13) - well repaid in both cases as history abundantly records, and on to Louis XIV’s abuse, Russian pogrom and Hitler’s Auschwitz alike, have ended at length in the dirt. Yet Israel remains as promised (Matthew 24:34).
Thus has Israel found in the Lord’s absence, through their disfaith, what they formerly found through His presence, except in reverse! The latter added, the former subtracted, but not only so, it had an addition of its own, as does puss in a sore, add to the flesh it infects. Disastrous have been the assaults on Israel over its time of rebellion; and though as forecast in the Bible (Zech. 12), Israel has recently had great victories, to this day it suffers acutely. To be sure, its ‘good deeds’ are many, as it seeks even in the midst of horror and ravaging wars, to show humanitarian feeling, even to its enemies, providing medical aid and the like. Yet the Lord looks on the heart: and until they evacuate what Paul describes in Romans 10, seeking to establish themselves by their own works, and come to rest on that very work of Jesus Christ, their own Messiah who has gone to the Gentiles while the nation pants, their path remains sad, though the nation will be preserved.
Meanwhile we all must realise that Jew or Gentile, we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-28), if we come to Him. Jesus ? Where are you today relative to Him ? Do you need the history of Israel to be added to your own ? HE is the ROCK. There is no other for this life, since He created it (Colossians 1:15, John 1:3). As inventions of God, each must ask, What is my intention ? The intention of the invention is crucial. Is it life abundant in the Lord (John 10:10) ? Then wash from sin in the blood of Jesus Christ, and being pardoned, be purified by His presence, as He changes you from glory to glory according to His likeness (II Cor. 3:18). Have a history in Christ, worthy of the name!
PAUSE AND PONDER
Thus has Israel found in the Lord’s absence, through their disfaith, what they formerly found through His presence, except in reverse! The latter added, the former subtracted, but not only so, it had an addition of its own, as does puss in a sore, add to the flesh it infects. Disastrous have been the assaults on Israel to this day, and though as forecast in the Bible (Zech. 12), Israel has had great victories, to this day it suffers acutely, and its ‘good deeds’ which are many, as it seeks even in the midst of horror and ravaging wars, to show humanitarian feeling, even to its enemies, providing medical aid and the like.
Yet the Lord looks on the heart, and until they evacuate what Paul describes in Romans 10, seeking to establish themselves by their own works, and rest on that very work of Jesus Christ, their own Messiah who has gone to the Gentiles while the nation pants, their path remains sad, though the nation will be preserved.
Meanwhile we all must realise that Jew or Gentile, we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 2:26-28), if we come to Him. Jesus ? Where are you today relative to Him ? Do you need the history of Israel to be added to your own ? HE is the ROCK. There is no other for this life, since He created it (Colossians 1:15, John 1:3). As inventions of God, each must ask, What is my intention ? The intention of the invention is crucial. Is it life abundant in the Lord ? Then wash from sin in the blood of Jesus Christ, and being pardoned, be purified by His presence, as He changes you from glory to glory according to His likeness (II Corinthians 3:18). Have a history in Christ, worthy of the name!
There is always an end, as we shall find in our next Chapter, as we revert to the forecast history of Israel.