In Deut 32.7-14, Moses gives a lesson from history. He tells them to remember the past (v 7) and to ask the fathers and they will instruct them about all that happened. The Lord gave the nations their inheritance and separated mankind and set the boundaries after the flood and Babel (v 8). This also alludes to twelve nations in Canaan (Gen 10.15-18), and Jacob had twelve sons. Canaan had enough room for all the tribes of Israel.
But the Lord;s inheritance is his people. He found Jacob (Israel) in the desert (Egypt-Ezek 16.1-14, 20.36) and encircled him by instruction. He guarded his as the pupil (“little man”) of his eye. Physically, the pupil is guarded by the orbit of the eye, eyelids and eyebrows. In other words, a guard upon a guard (v 9-10). Like an eagle (v 11), he hovered over Israel and caught them in his wings (Psa 91.3; Luke 13.34-35). It was the Lord alone who guarded them, no other gods (v 12).
He made Israel ride high and they ate the produce of the field (Josh 5.11). In v 13 it says he made them suck honey (from bees) and palm trees that grew out of the rock, and oil from a rock (olive oil that grew on the hills-Job 29.6). Curds of cows and milk from the flock with fat of lambs, and rams, with the finest of wheat and grapes. This shows their prosperity, but Israel showed ingratitude in v 15-18.
Israel got so fat and weighed down by the blessings they forsook the Lord and missed the point. They had the “system” in the Torah, the liturgy, the Temple, the priesthood and Levites, but they grew complacent and sick of it. They rejected the weightier measures of the Torah, like justice, mercy, kindness, compassion and faithfulness (Isa 1.11-17; Hos 12.6; Mic 6.8; Amos 5.21-23; Matt 23.23). They had become a “religious” people (dead). The problem with religious (dead) people is they won’t stay in the “coffin.” They keep walking out and keep coming back like religious “zombies.” They treated God lightly and what he had to say didn’t mean much. They thought because God had blessed them they were in the right. They made him “jealous” with their idolatry, so God made them jealous by including non-Jews into the covenant with them (Num 9.14, 15.14-16; Rom 10.19).
Deut 32.19-33 tells us they deserved punishment. They became a nation lacking counsel and understanding. They were out of the blessing, out of the “obedience business” and did not believe in the Lord or Yeshua when he came. They didn’t believe Moses, so they didn’t believe or understand Yeshua either (John 5.39-47).
Deut 32.34-43 goes on to say that God will punish them, and when their strength is gone, they will turn to the Lord and his Messiah (Hos 5.15 through 6.3; Ezek 39.22; Isa 37.1-3; Jer 30.4-8, Isa 35.3-4). Yeshua said in Luke 21.36 to pray for the strength to stand because Moses prophesied this was going to be a rough time. We need to come to terms with Deut 32.39. God is in control and in the latter days we better be hiding in the rock. In v 43 it says that God will avenge his servants and render vengeance on his adversaries, and he will “atone” for his land and for his people, a clear allusion to the return of Yeshua on Yom Kippur (Matt 24.29-31).
In Deut 32.44-51 we learn that Joshua’s (Yehoshua) name is changed back to “Hoshea.” He was called this originally (Num 13.16). When Moses added the “yod” it made his name “Ye’hoshua (Yeshua), and Moses was saying “Yehovah save you” from those who would harm you in the future. But now he is his own man, chosen by God, he has kept the faith, so Moses changes his name back to just Hoshea again because he can stand on his own before the Lord. He was a leader with Moses now. We need to take what Moses has said and take it to heart because it is our “life” (v 45-47). The Torah may be a “theological” exercise to some, but our lives depend on it (Rev 12.17; Matt 7.21-23, 19.17; Prov 10.27).
The Lord tells Moses to go up Mount Nebo (v 49), and this word is related to the word “prophet” in Hebrew (Navi). Now, the Lord said he could go up Nebo and he could look upon the land of Canaan at least. He tells Moses he would die on the mountain and be gathered to his people, as Aaron died on Mount Hor. This was the result of Moses breaking faith with the Lord at the waters of Meribah when he struck the rock instead of speaking to it. The Lord said he did not treat him with the kedusha that rested upon the Lord in the sight of all the people (Num 20.8-13). Here is the heart of the matter.
The people looked to Moses to meet their needs, not God. Moses knew what was going to happen, and that God was going to give them water, but he played a little game with them. That’s the problem with knowing the future, people will manipulate prophecy to their own advantage. Just look at what happens when someone thinks God spoke to them about an event, either past or future. They develop a ministry, get invited to prophecy conferences and exploit the people by selling tapes, books, videos and themselves. Moses was the “shaliach” (agent/messenger/sent one/apostle) sent by God to lead the people out of Egypt, to Mount Sinai, and then to the land of Canaan. He spoke for God and he did not do what the Lord told him to do. It wasn’t like he misunderstood what the Lord said because Moses spoke with the Lord face to face. Surely, if anyone had their ticket punched to the promised land it was Moses, right? But the Lord is not partial to anyone. This cost him his trip into the land because he did not speak to the rock, but he struck it.
Moses was angry with the people and he resented the fact that they were giving him a hard time, and always coming around when they needed something. So he was going to show them what a great guy he was and give them water when they didn’t deserve it. This only reinforced their belief that Moses was their provider, not the Lord. They didn’t think God heard them. The Lord had to correct this misconception. It wasn’t Moses who provided the water for them, it was the Lord Moses dishonored the Lord before the people, so the Lord dishonored Moses before the people, and he could not go into the land with them. In this instance, Moses would embody Israel when Yeshua came. They did not trust the Lord, they trusted their teachers and leaders. They trusted their own good works to save them. Yeshua was the shaliach of God and they would not listen to him, and they “struck” (crucified) the rock, just like Moses did, and this cost them the promised land, too.
In Part 34 we will pick up here with the last Torah portion called “V’zot ha Berachah” or “This is the blessing.”