Our Father the Rock

Parashat Ha’Azinu

In Devarim 32 we read Moshe’s song of deliverance. This lyrical, sung format is meant to be learnt and sung to each new generation, a wonderful song of redemption amidst rebellion, a song of hope and prophecy, of gloom and the ultimate hope of salvation. It’s a song of possibilities, riven with the anguish of a prophet who loved G-d and His people, yet knowing the end from the beginning too. Moshe was shown that after his death Israel would fall away badly and depart from truth and Torah, invoking the judgement of G-d. How must Moshe have felt? Knowing that all the teaching and hard work would still not prevent catastrophe?

This is a song which according to Yochanan will be sung in the future too, when all is finished, see Rev 15:3-4. The song finds its ultimate dimensions of salvation in Yeshua Mashichanu. The song predicts that G-d will do a number of things at the end of all things: read Dev 32 verses 39-43. It will be clear that only He is G-d, that He will repay evil done against Him (including by proxy to Israel), He will include those from the nations in the final blessing (those that choose to follow the G-d of Israel) and also He will provide atonement. Note not atonement as regards the regular sacrifices which the priests and people provided, but G-D will provide for atonement for His people, total redemption, in the way He provided the sacrifice instead of Yitzchak.

There are 2 clear themes: He is our Father and our Rock. Both speak of who He is, tender and merciful, constantly looking out for us, loving us and desiring our good and blessing as well as discipline to grow into spiritual maturity with Him. As Rock He is steadfast, secure, strong, durable and powerful, He transcends generations and ages, and has an eternal quality, from a human perspective. In love and steadfastness He has covenanted Himself to Israel. G-d will keep His covenant with His and our people, the Jewish people; Moshe even invokes 2 witnesses to this effect Heaven and Earth. G-d will visit us again to keep faith with us. He will return us to the Land He promised.

Yet there is something very strange and different about Israel and her history, a history woven into the song both past and future. Have you noticed that history is told from the ‘winners’ perspective? History seems to revolve around conquests and battles won not lost? To the defeated is given the right to disappear of the stage of history, a story untold and often unbelieved, after all, we all know the good guys win all the time. Yet with Israel we have a history of successes and failures, battles lost and won, highs and lows recorded for us for posterity. Why so? Why do we have even in this song the prediction of lows and defeats, of times of judgment? Because with Israel we have true history, a history of G-d’s dealings with His people. This is no sanitised or censored history. G-d is covenanted to Israel, the highs and lows have nothing to do with military prowess or even bravery, just how obedient they were to Him. Read verses 45-47, Life was to come to them by following the commandments of G-d. Israel stands as a witness and a light, as well as a warning.

So what caused the falling away? Read verse 15. The generation then and those that followed would scornfully esteem salvation. What G-d would and did offer as HIS way of salvation, fully dependent upon Him alone, would be rejected. The only way possible to be truly obedient (in faith through Yeshua) was rejected in favour of a different way. But some will say surely salvation is a foreign concept to Judaism? No, in Abraham we find the pattern, he believed and it was counted to him for righteousness. Other forms of Judaism are still rejecting G-d’s own way. This Torah passage makes it quite clear that HE will provide atonement, not that the sacrifices were of no effect, but the only way to keep Torah is through Yeshua and His salvation, by faith; an atonement equal to our sins.

We have been given a choice: Life or Death, we do have the power of choice, G-d has given us free will, but He also knows where He wants to get us to. We can choose to cooperate or experience the disciplining anger of G-d, but He will get us there!

Salvation through Yeshua is the only answer to these issues of falling away from G-d. Hear what the Spirit says! Give ear!

Rabbi Binyamin