Deuteronomy 32

But Moses does not end without a song (Deut. 32); and this song is grounded on the secret things of God’s grace, though it also embrace the judgments of the latter day. Not ignorant of the evil, he looks onward to the blessing that would surely come to them. He deeply feels what they would do against Jehovah in their stiff-necked folly and ingratitude; but he beholds in prophetic vision what He will do for them.
Accordingly he says, “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.” Because he would publish the name of Jehovah, they were to ascribe greatness to their God. He is the rock, abiding in unshakeable strength for His people. Not they but He is this tower of strength. “His doing is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth without iniquity, just and right is He.” As for the people, it was manifest what they were. The corruption was theirs, not His; it is that of His children, theirs is the spot – a perverse and crooked generation. The lawgiver indignantly reproves their ingratitude, and clenches it the more by reminding them that it was no new thought on God’s part. Their place in the world to His glory was no last resource that would be taken up in the last days. “When the Most High (Elion) divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.”
This, it is true, has not the eternal character of our election as Christians (Eph. 1). The difference is just and appropriate. When God reveals His counsels in Christ touching His children, His choice is declared to be before the foundation of the world. Not so with Israel. It is always said to be in time, though just as sovereign as in our case. Eternal election would not suit that of a nation. The choice of Israel is strictly connected with the earth. The specialty in His choice of us is that it is outside creation; it attaches to the eternity of God Himself, and is altogether apart from the created scene that was about to be ruined by man and Satan. God would have saints to share His nature morally and to enjoy Himself, no less than angels to do His pleasure as His servants. What had that to do with creation? It is a question of God forming according to His own wisdom and love those who would be able to share His mind and enjoy His love. And this is done by Christ His Son, and made known by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. It is altogether above a question of creature condition. Nobody doubts that those who were to be so blessed did in fact form part of the creation, yes, in its deepest ruin and guilt. We had our part in that world which rejected and crucified Jesus. Then comes in the triumph of grace. It was necessary that there should be not merely eternal life given us in Christ but redemption. Life would have been enough, had we never been sinners. But we were guilty and lost, and therefore Christ comes to die in atonement. He took our judgment on Himself and suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. The consequence is that He in His death on the cross conciliated what was otherwise irreconcileable, and made it righteous for God to deliver us, as well as free to bring out withal those eternal counsels which He had in Christ before the world was. With Israel the case is different. There, as we have said, the election is in time, the people separated to Jehovah in the midst of the bounds assigned to the other nations among the sons of Adam; for it is no question here of the divine nature, but of the human race. “He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For Jehovah’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.”
Then Moses sings of His wonderful love and goodness and patience to that people and their falling into every kind of iniquity, sacrificing even to demons (“he-goats” they are contemptuously called), not to God, but “to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” Alas Jehovah then has to prepare arrows against His people, has to pour out His vengeance even on His loved Israel – more guilty than any other, and in fact to leave them for a no – people (the Gentiles), by whom He would provoke the Jews to jealousy. Then the heathen take advantage of God’s indignation against His people, until He at last in mercy to Israel will rise up to deal with their enemies. “For Jehovah shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants, when He seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up or left. And He shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink-offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection. See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live forever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and will be merciful unto His land, and to His people.” Then not only will God deliver His people Israel, but He will cause the very nations themselves to rejoice with His people in the enlarging circle of His grace; for though the principle apply under the gospel, it is only in the millennial reign that the full import of their predicted joy together will be realized.
“The verses immediately succeeding the song, namely, 32:44-47, belong to the Deuteronomist himself, as the allusion in verse 46 to all the words of Moses plainly shews. The remainder of the chapter, namely, 48-62, is Elohistic, having been taken from the Elohim-writer and put here by the Deuteronomist. It is partly a repetition of Numbers 27:12-2312And the Lord said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. 13And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered. 14For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. 15And Moses spake unto the Lord, saying, 16Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, 17Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd. 18And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; 19And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. 20And thou shalt put some of thine honor upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. 21And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. 22And Moses did as the Lord commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: 23And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses. (Numbers 27:12‑23), as Bleak has pointed out.”
I have given this long extract as a specimen not only of the speculative mania that characterizes the school, but also of their readiness to impute the basest dishonesty to the holy men of God who spoke from Him as they were borne on by the Holy Spirit. They think little of imputing to their imaginary Deuteronomist the fraud of putting into Moses’ mouth what, according to them, Moses never uttered. Such an imposture God’s word! But enough of this. The Apostle Paul refutes them all beforehand in a few words which carry the force and light of truth, as theirs do of clashing inanities. He declares that verse 21 is the language of Moses, and that the allusion is to the Gentiles called while God counts Israel Lo-ammi (Rom. 10:1919But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. (Romans 10:19)). Neither Syrians nor Assyrians are in view then, but, during the temporary exclusion of the ancient people, the call of those not a people to move Israel to jealousy. Compare Rom. 11.)
(** Literally, “from the split head of the enemy.”)