Moses was speaking to a defiant and rebellious Israel in the desert wilderness after they had returned from a disastrous battle with the Amorites. The enemy had chased the Jewish army down the hillside like a swarm of bees…beating them back…resulting in heavy casualties. The old saying, “I’d rather ask for forgiveness than ask permission,” just doesn’t work with God! Anytime we think we know more than God, we’re treading on thin ice…and anytime we act on it, we too will be marching out minus God’s blessing.
This verse simply says, “Don’t question God.” We are to pay careful attention to keep the Way of the Lord… not just with lip-service, but with inner commitment. But also, we are not to be taking on the job of rewriting or adjusting God’s Word in order to align closer with today’s mores found in this broken and evil world…just to be more politically correct. We have but one job when it comes to God’s commandments and it’s found in Ecclesiastes 12:13, ” Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
This verse is referred to as the “Shema,” which is how the first word in the Hebrew text is pronounced. This word means “to heed, listen, and obey.” Moses stressed the priority of belief in only one God as the people encountered countless foreign gods around them. And the next verse showed them, and us, the way to perpetuate and foster this belief of only one God, for it states in verse 5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” It tells us in proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” To know God is to love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we desire to listen and obey Him.
Deuteronomy 32:4 tells us, ” He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.” So let’s ponder the word “perfect” in both these Scriptures for a moment. Everything the Lord does is complete, truthful, and faultless. His manner and means will always be sincere and pure, for there is no deception found in Him. In a very imperfect world, He is our shield and refuge and the Rock we can run to in times of fear and confusion.
The Apostle Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 32:35 urging others not to seek justice themselves out of anger or spite. For Proverbs 20:22 tells us, “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you.” But when we’re angry and frustrated, and think no one has our back…we tend to react badly. It’s at that point that we need to take a deep breath and remember that the Lord tells us that He will defend us. (Jeremiah 51:36)
It’s happened to all of us…someone who we think is a trustworthy friend betrays us. While it hurts and humiliates us, we can also learn from it. We can either decide to put up an emotional wall…letting no one on the other side, and self-isolating ourselves from the world. Or we can take the lessons we’ve learned and look to our heavenly Father to reestablish that lost trust. It says in Deuteronomy 7:9, “…your God is God; He is the faithful God keeping His covenant of love…” Our God is reliable. He will never abandon or turn His back on us. Within Him is no deception…for He is steadfast and worthy of all our trust.
Fear is a demoralizing force that will stop you in your tracks. Fear takes your eyes off God and onto to the scary circumstances swirling around you. Genesis 28:15 tells us, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…” Just remember, there is no place you will ever find yourself that is beyond the reach of God.
Up on Mount Sinai, Moses had received the first set of tablets, engraved by God with the Ten Commandments. But when he came down from the mountain, he found the people engaged in an orgy. It says in Exodus 32:15-20 that, “his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces.” Moses allowed his anger to get the best of him…but even after messing up big time…God still used him. The Lord’s willingness to rewrite His Law on new stone tablets was a demonstration of His infinite mercy towards us…even when we mess up.
God is faithful…keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations. (Deuteronomy 7:9) He is trustworthy, just, and true, unlike anyone else on this planet. For others will betray you…even those professing their love for you. But God will never go back on His Word. He can be trusted…so in turn, we can believe in Him. And in that confidence, springs hope. (Hebrews 10:23)
Moses and the Hebrew children were wandering in the desert…for a long time it says they journeyed, when finally the Lord spoke to Moses…”It’s long enough.” We will all go through seasons in our lives when we walk aimlessly about, asking the Lord, “Am I going in the right direction?” We will all spend time, seemingly without clear direction, waiting for the Lord to say,” It’s long enough.” But it’s during those hard journeys that lessons will be learned…about God and ourselves. Sometimes we need discipline, or humility…sometimes it’s to get our attention or force us to look at our rebellious nature. When you wander around the same hill, the scenery stays the same…use the time to instead change yourself.