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Sing it with Moses!: Deuteronomy 32

In Summary:

Moses composes a song for the people of Israel. It’s not a love song. It’s not a rock song. It’s a reminder song. This chapter is, primarily, the “Song of Moses.” You can connect it with the “Song of Moses” in Exodus 15. (Which Miriam taught to many and it became part of the celebration of the people.) This song, though, is not just celebratory. It is also a warning song. The layout matches a “lawsuit” format, where Moses presents God’s allegations against Israel.

The Song should be seen as a proactive warning, though, and not a reaction. At least not as of yet: Moses is presenting the past of Israel and the potential future of Israel. If they heed Deuteronomy 32:2, though, they will avoid this collapse. This is, practically speaking, the consequences side of the “Terms and Conditions,” spelling out how a breach of the covenant will be handled.

As to the poetic or musical nature of the Song of Moses, it is evidenced by the Hebrew form. Beyond that, we do not have a tune or instrumentation for the Song. Taking apart all of the imagery would be the work of much more time than we have here. One aspect that stands out is how often God is referred to as the Rock.

In Focus:

Rather than take a portion of the Song, which is well worth your time, I’d like to draw your attention to Deuteronomy 32:46-7. Moses has not written this for the purpose of indicting the people. He is striving to remind them and provide the path to walk in obedience and avoid the negative side of these events.

This is why it’s recorded in a song type. It’s easier to remember that way, and from the song that should be on everyone’s lips in recitation, they will find a reminder to go back to the Law and the full covenant. As Moses reminds them, this is not just words. This is their life, the totality of who they are as God’s people: the work God has done in their lives and the worship they owe him in their life.

In Practice:

Practically speaking, the first question for us is “What drives our music?” This is valid whether we are talking about church music, music we listen to as Christians, or music in general. What drives it? Are we driven to listen to what we ought to be? Driven to listen to what we are? Or what we shouldn’t be? Do we let what we take in bring to mind the fullness of our life or push us away from it?

Second, what is the fullness of our life? Is it the stuff we have or the relationship we have with God? And keep in mind: there is precious little here about an “individual relationship with God.” This is the stuff of a group of people walking before God together. Are we doing that? Or are we trying our hand at solo Christianity?

Third, we can look ahead and see the consequences of willful disobedience, just like the Israelites could. Do we avoid it? Or plunge right into it?

In Nerdiness:

Notice the next step is for Moses to die and hand off leading the people. I also find some interesting thoughts to the shift from “Lord said to Moses…” to “Moses spoke…” While it’s all inspired by God, there is almost a different feel to the Mosaic summary.

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