For the Lord 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.(Deuteronomy 32:36-39)
Israel’s future history is the subject of the Song of Moses. Though heavily favored and blessed by God, the nation became prodigal, spending the blessing and favor given to her by God, on vain, abominable and filthy idols which cannot save. Israel has spurned and insulted her Rock, the infinite personal God of the universe!
In spite of His pleadings and forbearance, Moses predicted that Israel would ignore God, go on her own way, adding sin upon sin until the LORD was forced to discipline the wayward nation. He would scatter her to the ends of the earth, but not make an end of her, nor allow her to be assimilated into the nations where she has been long exiled.
All of these sufferings for the chosen people would come upon her because of the sin of idolatry. But is Israel truly idolatrous today, as Moses Song predicted she would be to the end?
The answer s Yes. Modern Israel does not for the most part worship Baal and Ashteroth as in the days of the Deportation by the Assyrians and the Babylonian captivity. This is because Israel’s idolatry has developed in several stages, each being an expression of the nation’s heart alienation from God.
Idolatry comes in many forms. The core of idolatry is the rejection of the “only true God…” and the search for ultimate truth, beauty, meaning and authority in anything less tan God. Though the Babylonian captivity indeed cured Israel of the Baal and Ashteroth worship of earlier times, the nation simply developed other less obvious idols, or ways of expressing their alienation from God.
Jews of the first century, at the time of John the Baptist and of Jesus, were very sensitive to idols and graven images, but the whole point of Jesus and John the Baptist’s preaching was that the nation was apostate, and in danger of an imminent judgment.
What were the idols of that day? Jeremiah predicted that the Jews would reject the LORD himself, the “Fountain of living waters,…” and make up a religion of their own.
Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.(Jeremiah 2:12-13)
At the time of Jesus and the apostles, the Jews had made idols out of a vain, works based , formulaic distortion of Biblical Judaism. Jesus and John the Baptist warned Israel of its apostasy, putting the traditions of man over the very Word of God. Anything man-made which comes in the place of God is an idol.
Jesus echoed Jeremiah’s warning, to those of His day who spent all day “Seeking scripture”, but failed to turn to the personal and living God. An idolatrous heart can even make an idol out of something as sacred as the scripture or the temple of God!
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.(John 5:38-39)
After the destruction of the temple in 70AD, rather than repent and fully turn to God in the person of the Messiah Jeshua, Israel entered into a third stage of idolatry. The leaders of Israel had a problem, how to continue a Judaism without a temple and sacrifices? The answer came, at the council of Javneh in the late 1st century. Judaism would be redefined, with a new geographical religious center (Javneh), a new emphasis (Good works and study of Torah), and with prayer instead of sacrifice.
To this day Israel is an idolatrous nation, having given over to the modern idols of secular humanism, socialism, materialism, relativism, multiculturalism, technology, and as in the rest of the western world, Israel has become completely open to any religion, sexual preference, sin, vice…anything but turning back to God. The book of Revelation reveals that Jerusalem is spiritually both “Sodom and Egypt” .
But as God straitens them, pressing them into a narrower and more vulnerable position, and cuts off Israel’s friends and lovers, She will wonder where the gods that she once forsook God for, have gone. None of the modern gods will prove worthy of any trust, and hopefully she will consider and repent.
Thus the Song of Moses causes Israel to sing of the worthlessness of the god’s Israel had forsaken the LORD for. Where are they now (In the day of deepest distress) ? Can these god’s save Israel? Have they not always failed Israel?
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.
The idea is to provoke Israel to soul-searching and repentence…just as in Judges 10,
Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. And the children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.(Judges 10:13-15)
Soon Israel will respond to God’s call for her to repent, as Jeremiah predicted she would in the day of distress,
God is saying.…”Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings…”
And Israel will soon say back to Him”…Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God. Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. For shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us: for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God”. (Jeremiah 3:22-25)
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.
The Song of Moses proclaims God in the first person, and God emphatic; that HE exclusively and HE ALONE, Israel’s everlasting Rock, the faithful and almighty God, the living and personal God is the only real answer to Israel’s dilemna in the last days.
In her final distress, Israel will be able finally to see that the folly of her rebellion, sin, transgression and iniquity in forsaking God, have brought upon her all of her miseries.
But it is God himself who kills, (the wages of sin is death). But He only kills that he might make alive. Note that the Killing and wounding come first, for God’s harsh dealings are with a view toward redemption.
Hosea makes the point that it is God himself who tore and mauled Israel, but for the purpose of repentance and healing.
When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound. For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him. I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.(Hosea 5:13-6:3)