In the last lesson, we were introduced to Moses, God’s plan for his life, and God’s plan for the nation of Israel. The full story of Moses includes the deliverance of this fledgling nation from the slavery and bondage of Egypt through many plagues designed specifically to show that the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob is the one true God. Not only did the people of Israel leave Egypt, but they were also given everything they needed by the Egyptians as they left.
And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians (Exodus12:33-36).
After the exodus from Egypt, God speaks to the people through Moses and gives them God’s Law. This Law confirms the covenant between the nation of Israel and God. It will preserve the history of creation and record God’s plan of salvation. It also gives information to help the nation identify the coming Messiah.
Interestingly, it takes a while for the slaves of Egypt to think and live like the free children of God. They are fearful and disbelieving. They are rebellious and ungrateful. They have to learn to trust the God who rescued them to guide them. It’s true that a new Christian faces the same challenge. Having trusted God as their savior, they have to learn to keep trusting Him with the rest of their life. God wants to redeem us completely, not just have a one-time encounter with us.
The Hebrews make a golden calf to worship when Moses takes too long, and they feel like they need a new god for protection. Standing at the edge of the land God promised them, they react in doubt and disobedience when they hear the reports of the spies they sent out to investigate. The twelve spies give their reports, and only two of them think that it is possible to take the land even though God, the same God that miraculously delivered them from Egypt, gave His word that they could.
As a result, for forty years this nation wanders in the desert until all those adults in the first rebellion have died. During this time of punishment, they are also separated from other nations, they are protected from invasion. They learn many more lessons about the faithfulness of God, his blessings, and his justice. The book of Deuteronomy retells the story of the Exodus, records the law, and tells of a new generation getting ready to obey God and enter the promised land. Our lesson picks up near the end of Moses’ life, and with a song, he writes to warn about rebellion and remind them of the power of the God they serve.
Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
The Rock: God is often described as a Rock. He is strong, solid, immovable, firm, and dependable. David said,
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
And again a very quoted verse from King David,
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2)
Perfect: God is flawless, fully self-reliant, without hesitation, without the capacity for error. Everything he does is righteous, just, merciful, and perfectly done.
Judgment: God is able to determine truth from error. In fact, He is the truth and our standard of righteousness. He is able to see things as they are and rightly administer consequences and bestow grace in the midst of complicated and chaotic circumstances. He can be trusted with the outcome of our lives.
Truth: God is incapable of lying. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever more. God is the foundation of everything that can and should be known. His word is pure, permanent, and without deceit.
Without iniquity: Human beings often know that an action or behavior is wrong, but engage in it anyway, because they wrongly think it will get them what they want. Iniquity is knowingly committing sin, and being willingly ignorant of the consequences. God is incapable of committing sin in any circumstance. The gods worshiped by the Canaanite nations were described as being petty, selfish, willful, and sinful. Men feared their arbitrary and evil actions, they believed their deities to be capable of great evil. God is God alone, and his character is beyond reproof.
Just and Right: God can be trusted to uphold justice and do the right thing. When we are overwhelmed by what we see happening around us, God is still on the throne and will ultimately answer the sins of mankind. He is faithful to see and to address the evil done by human beings. He can be trusted to respond in the just and right way to situations that seem unfair or unreasonable.
God alone is our source. He is capable. He is trustworthy.
They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.6 Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?
In comparison, the Hebrew people are a contrast in every way to the character of the God they serve. They corrupted themselves, their hearts were wicked, and their minds needed to be repeatedly changed. Often people accuse God of being unfair, or absent, but honestly, how can we, knowing ourselves, say anything about God who is perfect and has always kept his Word? How foolish we are. We forget who our heavenly father is and what He has done for us, and blame Him for the destruction we have caused.
He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
Moses reminds them of God’s deliverance for forty years, while they were wandering in the desert. They were led, protected, fed, and taught by the kindness and mercy of God. They experienced the terrifying holiness of the Law of God. God has acted like an eagle protecting her chicks. He has been there covering. But more than a covering, he gave them the ability to fly. On the wings of God, they had been carried through dangers they did not have the ability to face on their own. They have been cherished and cared for, as the apple of His eye. Idles were shown to be absolutely worthless in the face of God’s leadership. God showed His nature and character to be dominant over the false gods of the Egyptians, and he has shown his governance and provision to far surpass any false gods worshiped by the nations around them in the wilderness or in the promised land.
He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.
It seems when reading the account of their wilderness experience, that the Hebrew people had incredibly and infuriatingly short memories. Time after time God miraculously intervened in their situation. He spoke to Moses for them, he sent manna to them, and he preserved their clothing and shoes. They not only ate for forty years as pilgrims and wanderers, but they also ate well. They lived in abundance, despite the impossibility of that happening under their own power, and every time they were blessed, they afterward doubted and rebelled. Their response to God’s goodness was a regular pattern of badness.
God is both the Rock that gave birth to this nation, and the faithful savior who is shaping them and forming them into the nation He alone can redeem. Shockingly, they will desire to become like other nations, and some will even worship other Gods. They will stupidly choose to intermarry with nations who don’t know God and raise children who are separated from Him. They will end up slaves in captivity again, eventually. Their compromise will cost them dearly, and yet, God will be who God is. He will redeem, He will forgive. He will keep his promises. Those who trust their lives to Him will not be disappointed. He will never forsake them. They need only to call on him and to return to their Rock.
Young Christian’s perspective:
If you want to grow spiritually and experience joy in your relationship with God, I challenge you to meditate on the Character of God. What is He like? How does He work? What is He capable of? How has He been faithful? What motivates Him? When you answer these questions, and more, with the scripture, you will be encouraged and strengthened to trust a little more, doubt a little less, and attempt greater things on behalf of a God so wonderful.