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? Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. When the Most High 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.(Deuteronomy 32:6-8)
The last verse of the first section(vs 1-6) of the song of Moses asks an ironic question of Israel; ‘Is this how you repay the LORD ‘? The question is asked in a spirit of stark unbelief, as if to ask, are you aware of who this is that you spurn? He is the LORD, i.e. JAHWEH, the personal covenant name of the infinite self existent God of the universe! He went to the trouble to redeem and establish you…and you can only repay his love and care with pride, rebellion and ingratitude?
Yet the LORD does not disown them entirely, because he asks in the present tense;
Is He not thy Father who has redeemed thee?
Though the communion is temporarily broken, he still insists that He is their father. Though the national blemish testifies that they are (presently) not Sons of His, He claims them yet, in grace and mercy. The severance is not absolute, there will yet be a reunion between God the Father, and His rebellious and ungrateful children.
The next section describes Israel’s high calling and blessings, which the LORD has bestowed upon them.
We are called to think deeply the meaning of Israel’s history, Can we grasp the meaning of Israel’s miraculous birth and calling? Can we see the hand of God in the events which transpired in the days of te Patriarchs, the Exodus, conquest, apostasy and all that has followed?
*Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
We are told to ask our (earthly) Fathers, and to inquire of the elders, the sages and teachers of the nation. Thus there would always thus be an accurate record. Israel was not destined to be utterly bereft of truth, God would see to it that for the honest inquirer after truth, there would be abundant witnesses, elders, prophets, teachers and scripture to inquire of.
*When the Most High 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.
The seeker would be able to perceive that though Israel was created by God some time after the tower of Babel incident, really it was central in the original plan of God for all of his dealings with the nations. From the beginning he had planned the priestly nation, it’s role and even its geographical position.
The nation was perfectly situated between three continents, Asia,Africa and Europe, in order to facilitate the spread of the Word of God. When Israel was faithful to God, she was inviolable although the land’s strategic value as the crossroads of world trade, no doubt tempted the many gentile superpowers which would rise up.
When Israel proved unfaithful , her position would prove to make her vulnerable, a literal doormat in the wars between powers such as Egypt,Babylon, Assyria,and Rome.The Egyptians would trample under Israel to get at the Babylonians and vice versa.
The song of Moses makes plain that in all of God’s dealings with the nations, Israel and her place are central to understanding and perceiving God’s good hand n history, and that holds to this very day.
Paul would refer to this in his sermon on Mar’s Hill in Athens,
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; … And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:( Acts 117:24-27)
God put the nations in their place and times of prominence in history, in order to maximize their opportunity to seek and find Him,(Salvation). Israel is central to this purpose in God’s economy.
Israel, are the miracle people , chosen by the Most High as the priests to the world, the mediators of the Divine self revelation, the custodians of scripture. Thus their central geographical location, and their turbulent history must be seen through this consideration. God had promised Abraham from the beginning, that “…in thee shall all of the families of the earth be blessed…”.
God would have (and did) use Israel as a light shining on a dark world, a city shining on a hill! The law was to pour forth from Zion, and people from the ends of the earth would flow into Jerusalem to meet God!
This was the ideal, but the Song of Moses predicts otherwise, except for a few years of exception. Ezekiel echoes the sad reality that would come, in fulfilment of Moses’ song;
Thus saith the Lord God; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her. And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.(Ezekiel 5:5-6)
Who can sin as thoroughly as a backslider?
However at times, Israel did indeed shine as a light in a dark world, even though the apostasy that this song has predicted did considerably dim her light. Consider that even in spite of apostasy, there has always been a faithful remnant, useful to God, and thus beneficial to the whole world. Where would we be without the contributions of Israel?
Where would we be without the Pentateuch? The Prophets and Psalms? The Wisdom literature of the Bible which Israel faithfully preserved at great cost to herself? Would there be anything resembling Western Civilization without the Jews?
The church also is the fruit of a faithful remnant of Jews. This is Israel’s contribution, in a fallen state! What will the world be like when she is restored, born again and fully reconciled to God? Paul tells us that for the world, the restoration of Israel will be nothing less than the resurrection from the dead!
For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?(Romans 11:15)