The Song of Moses is for us


Parashat Ha’azinu is chapter 32 of the book of Deuteronomy. We are approaching the end of our yearly reading cycle.

We are getting to the end of the Pentateuch reading. The Jewish traditional year is finished and the end of the Torah reading cycle is at the end of the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles).

The last day of the Feast of Sukkot is also the beginning of a new reading circle of the Torah. We read the last chapters of Deuteronomy and immediately roll the Torah scroll back to the beginning and start reading Genesis chapter 1 to start a new cycle of reading from Genesis 1:1.

This move that is repeated every year is of such a great spiritual meaning, and also connection with the whole nation of Israel, worldwide.

Chapter 32 of the book of Deuteronomy is actually a court hearing. God is the plaintiff, Israel is the accused, the Heavens and the Earth are the judges, and there are a set of witnesses.

Paul’s theology and mission to the nations (Gentiles) is all based on and empowered by this reading of Deuteronomy Chapter 32, if you look at Paul’s letter to the Romans, that is Paul’s opus magnum, his concise presentation of his theology with no small touch of polemics.

Paul wants to justify the Jewish nation by demonstration of the righteousness of God in the choice that He made of Abraham and the seed of Abraham to be the father of the nation of Israel and the father of all the believers and faithful disciples of Yeshua.

So, I repeat, Parashat Ha’azinu (“Hear this”) is a programmatic text that Moses presents to the people of Israel just before they cross the Jordan River, and He, Moses, climbs Moint Nevo alone, never to come down from there in the flesh.

Yes, Christians ought to realize that God, in His grace, did allow Moses to cross the river Jordan, but not in his flesh. Both Moses and Elijah come to meet Yeshua on the Mount of Transfiguration.

The goal that we all have is to read the word of God (especially chapter 32 of Deuteronomy) and discern God’s plan for Israel and its relationship with the nations (the Gentiles). I would like to just mention a few short points of the opening of this Song of Moses and get to the core of the relationship of God with Israel, and especially with Israel’s idolatry and unfaithfulness.

  1. God is inviting the Heavens and the Earth to hear His complaints in the court of justice!
  2. Moses identifies and witnesses God’s case by stating His righteousness and His just treatment of Israel over the years.
    • “For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God.

    • He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.

    • They have corrupted themselves; They are not His children, Because of their blemish: A perverse and crooked generation.

    • Do you thus deal with the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?” – Deuteronomy 32:3-6 [NKJV]

  3. God explains to Israel how He has chosen Israel and created a nation that has a different beginning from all the other nations that were created in the falling of the tower of Babylon. Abraham’s seed was not there when God divided the nations and chose Israel (Jacob) to become His inheritance!
    • “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you:

    • When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel.

    • For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance.” – Deuteronomy 32:7-9 [NKJV]

  4. God lists how well and how special He treated and took care of Israel throughout His long relationship with the nation of Israel.
    • “He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.

    • 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 was no foreign god with him.

    • He made him ride in the heights of the earth, That he might eat the produce of the fields; He made him draw honey from the rock, And oil from the flinty rock;

    • Curds from the cattle, and milk of the flock, With fat of lambs; And rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, With the choicest wheat; And you drank wine, the blood of the grapes.” – Deuteronomy 32:10-14 [NKJV]

  5. Israel spurned the Lord and didn’t appreciate or respect Him enough to show appreciation or walk faithfully with the Lord.
    • “But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; You grew fat, you grew thick, You are obese! 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.

    • They sacrificed to demons, not to God, To gods they did not know, To new gods, new arrivals That your fathers did not fear.

    • Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, And have forgotten the God who fathered you.” – Deuteronomy 32:15-18 [NKJV]

  6. God is going to do something to show the children of Israel His anger and His provision for correcting Israel’s folly and restore Israel by using the Gentiles, the Nations, to provoke Israel to jealousy.
    • “And when the Lord saw it, He spurned them, Because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters.

    • And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation, Children in whom is no faith.

    • They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.’” – Deuteronomy 32:19-21 [NKJV]

In verses 19-21 of this very important chapter we see the capsule of Paul’s theology as he uses the matrix of these words of Moses to explain the importance of the role of the nations.

(The Nations – those who are not a part of the seed of Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob, the chosen nation of Israel. The relationship of Paul’s theology of Israel and the relationship with the nations that are turning to God through the life and work of Yeshua.)

Paul sees the mission to the nations (Gentiles) as a tool to provoke Israel to jealousy, and by doing this bring about the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan for Israel, and the whole world.

If we examine the history of Christianity in the last 1900 years, and look on this history, we will see that just as much as Israel failed to crown the Creator of the World as King and walk in His faithfulness, the Gentiles have failed miserably to provoke Israel to jealousy.

On the contrary, Christianity has driven Jews away from Christ the Messiah, instead of showing love and appreciation for Israel and the Jews, in the nearly 1900 years of Christian history.

The fact is that Israel still exists, and is returning back home to the land of the Bible, building a successful state, excelling in high-tech as a start-up nation. The fact that Israel is growing a country against all odds ought to be the envy of the whole neighborhood.

But instead of standing with Israel and learning from the Jews who are returning home after 1,930 years of exile – the Arabs are seeking to kill us, and the Christians are still exhibiting hate and rejection and persecution of Jews worldwide. What should be done among Christians so that they take the words of the apostles seriously and the words of our Lord and act as the redeemed of the Lord.

What has to happen in the Christian world so that love would be our paradigm and Good News would be our broadcast on every Christian TV channel?

If Christians are waiting for the return of Yeshua to Jerusalem, if they are not taking the words and teachings and demands and commandments of the Son of God, the divine Messiah, the Son of David, the Redeemer of the world, the embodiment of God’s love for His children, the sons of Adam and Eve, the human race, seriously enough, to obey and do the King’s requests, what will happen when He returns?!

I don’t have to write or tell you what will happen just read the words of Yeshua in your bibles. In some of your bibles it is easy because they are the words in your bible that are printed in red ink.

You actually ought to do just this, just open up your bible in the New Testament, start from the first page where you see text printed in red, and just read only the words that are in red. I believe that you will receive an important revelation.

In our Torah portion from Deuteronomy chapter 32, you will find a kind of short outline of God’s divine plan for Israel and for the world. You will see what God did for Israel and through Israel and what God expects the nations to do for Him and for Israel, His chosen!

You can than compare this with Romans chapters 9-11, and find the quotations of and allusions to chapter 32 of Deuteronomy in Romans chapters 9-11!

This is homework for you dear brothers and sisters. Yes, a good teacher gives homework!

Sometimes people don’t learn from others very much, but if they see it for themselves in God’s word, ink on paper, something happens in their mind that filters down to their hearts and from there starts flowing to their hands, and feet, and pockets and they become Kingdom-of-God-builders and not just church attendees.

Faith and religion is not a culture, or a game, or a pleasant pastime with people who are just like ourselves. It is a challenge from God to make the world ready for the Kingdom of Heaven down here on Earth.

We pray every day, “Your Kingdom come down on Earth as it is in Heaven!” (Read for yourselves Matthew 6:9-13.)

From the prophets this Shabbat, the synagogues around the world will be reading from 2 Samuel 22:1-51.

This text, which is read in the synagogues following the reading from the Torah from Deuteronomy 32, makes for a very interesting combination.

Like the Torah reading that is written in verse (song), so this text is David’s song, a Psalm that is outside of the book of Psalms. David is echoing and confessing the very thing that Moses is condemning Israel for not doing!

King David is one of the biggest sinners in the Bible, but the difference between David and other sinners in the Bible is that David confessed his sins and did his best to repent.

In this Psalm recorded in 2 Samuel chapter 22, David is at the end of his life. He is a tired old man who has been victorious in his battles against his enemies, but has lost the battle with his children and in his home.

Now at the end of his rope, David is humbled and the best thing he can do at this point, is to compose a song of confession of God’s greatness and compassion for the weakness of the man King David, and of reflecting by David on us all and on our relationship with our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the world and our Messiah Yeshua who was sent by God to redeem us and restore us to the Father! Us meaning all mankind!

Here are the opening words of this Song of David that is read in the synagogues this Sabbath after Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement.)

“Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And he said: ‘The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.’” – 2 Samuel 22:1-3 [NKJV]

I have to ask myself in my own difficulties and challenges and weaknesses: “Joseph Shulam can you say the words of David in his place and mean every one of these words and make them your own?”
My answer would be, without any hesitation: Yes, dear brothers and sisters!

I can say and claim these words and confess that without the Lord being my rock, and fortress, and deliverer, God, refuge and fortress, and the one who saved me from violence many times, I would be nothing, and a totally worthless human being!

My life and my wife’s life are nothing more than a fiddler on the roof. Nothing is stable, nothing is firm or secure, other than those words of King David that are my security and the reality of my past and my hope for the eternal future!

I hope and pray that you can say the same!

There is one verse in our Torah reading that describes my situation and probably your situation, and God’s action on our behalf!

“For the Lord will judge His people And have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their power is gone, And there is no one remaining, bond or free.” – Deuteronomy 32:36 [NKJV]

This article originally appeared on Netivyah and reposted with permission.