Track 2 - Penitence

Ode 2: The Song of Moses in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 32:1-43)

Of all the odes in our Biblical Soundtrack, this one only gets played during Great Lent, because it is primarily a song of repentance. It is harsh and painful to read. Your mind starts swimming with images of judgment, death, and failure. Fear grips your heart at the abject failure of man and his continued rejection of God.

Moses is preparing for death, and the people he has lead for 40 years are standing on the precipice of taking the land of promise. This land was their place of dreaming while slaves in Egypt and the ultimate goal of their wilderness wanderings. Within a year of the Exodus, they had stood on the banks of the Jordan ready to take the promise and receive this inheritance, but they stumbled out of fear and faithlessness.

Miracles abounded throughout the journey from Egypt, yet grumbling characterized most of their desert steps. Rather than embracing the promise of the God who rescued them from evil, they turned from Him again and again only to suffer the consequences of self-destruction.

Yet out of their failure comes hope, because in spite of everything man does God returns again and again to restore and enact vengeance on behalf of those damaged, disabled, and hurt by their own hand.

Several themes arise from this song of penitence:

1. God is more committed to His people than they are to Him. Israel’s story is one of infidelity to their God, yet God continues to return and rescue. His commitment is unwavering and eternal.

2. Destruction, pain, and death are always the natural consequence of sin and rejecting God.

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rejection of any physical law brings harm to us. No one would dare reject the law of gravity, jump from a high building, and expect to fly. In the same way, sin is a rejection of life, and the willing ingestion of poison. No other outcome, but sickness and death could be expected.

3. God will always come to the aid of those suffering under sin and death and take vengeance.

Clement of Alexandria “For where the face of the Lord looks, there is peace and rejoicing; but where it is averted, there is the introduction of evil. The Lord, accordingly, does not wish to look on evil things; for He is good. But on His looking away, evil arises spontaneously through human unbelief. “Behold, therefore,” says Paul, “the goodness and severity of God: on them that fell, severity; but upon thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness,”

4. The memory of God’s faithfulness and goodness to His people provides a way of escape from the destruction of sin. Moses recalls what God had done for the people as a way of reminder that God is always faithful and willing to forgive. It was memory of the father’s house that brought the prodigal son out of the pigpen and to a path of restoration.

We all know stories of friends or family intent on their own destruction. You may have reached out to help only to be hurt in the process. We are that person. God pours out grace and love to us to rescue us from our own selves, but we reject the lifeline He offers. This shower of love continues throughout our lives, and repentance is our recognition of the snares we have created and our holding out our hand to be pulled from danger into life.

This is our life, but He is a good God and loves mankind.

Related posts: A Soundtrack for Life, Track 1 - Deliverance

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