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While Moses was commissioning Joshua, he wrote a song. Deuteronomy 31:22, 23 says,
22 So Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the sons of Israel. 23 Then he commissioned Joshua…
The actual song is recorded in the next chapter. Deuteronomy 31:30 introduces it, saying,
30 Then Moses spoke [sang] in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete:
The song is prophetic of the manner of people that Israel was to become during their time in the land of Canaan. They were a rebellious nation most of the time. A key statement is found in Deuteronomy 32:5, “They have acted corruptly toward Him, they are not His children, because of their defect.”
In other words, they were blemished sheep, so they were disqualified as God’s children. To be sons of God, they had to be like Christ—the unblemished Lamb. This was impossible as long as they had an Old Covenant mindset, because if they had any faith at all, it was still in themselves. Old Covenant faith relies upon one’s own decision, vow, and work to become perfect.
The prophetic picture being painted here is that the people were still Jacobites, not Israelites. They were still fulfilling the role of Jacob’s spotted sheep. One might technically call them sheep, but they were not qualified as living sacrifices that God requires in Romans 12:1.
Hence, the song of Moses was more of a dirge, a sad song about Israel’s corruption. One might entitle it, The Song of the Blemished Lambs. Moses talked about this in the lead in to his song in Deuteronomy 31:29,
29 For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.
So even though the New Covenant had been given to Israel in Deuteronomy 29, and even though Joshua had been commissioned to lead them into the Promised Land, the people remained under the Old Covenant. They did not understand the New Covenant, nor did it seem to affect their relationship with God. The New Covenant remained as a promise of God, but this promise had not yet had time to be fulfilled in the world.
Only in the final section of the song does Moses’ prophecy shift to the New Covenant promise of God. Deuteronomy 32:36 says,
36 For the Lord will vindicate His people and will have compassion on His servants; When He sees that their strength is gone, and there is none remaining, bond or free…
Then we read of God’s deliverance. God will fulfill His promise, but only after the people have seen how destructive their lawless ways have been.
The Song of the (Unblemished) Lamb
Toward the end of the age, another song will be sung, a song that is much more optimistic. It is recorded in Revelation 15:3, 4,
3 And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations.
4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name?
For Thou alone art holy;
For all the nations will come and worship before Thee,
For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.”
Here the emphasis is not upon Israel’s works, but the works of God. God is “righteous and true” to His word. He is the “King of the nations.” When His “righteous acts have been revealed,” then “all the nations will come and worship” Him. This will happen when the eyes of the people are opened and when the Old Covenant veil is removed from their faces.
In other words, when they truly understand the love of God that is inherent in the New Covenant, all nations will worship Him. In fact, who wouldn’t worship such a God? Love is irresistible. We do not trust those who do not love us.
At the present time, the nations do not understand God’s love (Romans 5:7-10), and this is why they do not trust Him or love Him in return. But once the Old Covenant veil is removed, the nations will see Him face to face and all resistance will crumble in the face of pure love.
John understood this and quoted Psalm 86:9, 10 in the passage above,
9 All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; and they shall glorify Thy name. 10 For Thou art great and doest wondrous deeds; Thou alone art God.
In Deuteronomy 32 we read the song of Moses, but in Revelation 15 we read the rest of the story. It is not only the song of Moses but is also the song of the Lamb. It is as if John added a final verse to the song of Moses, so that we would understand fully the end of the saga.
It ends in total victory. It is a victory not characterized by carnage and destruction, but of all nations worshiping the true God of love. He has fulfilled His promise to save all nations.
That is our song today. It is the song of the restoration of all things. It is not a song of military conquest, but a song of the power of love. It is not a song of forced worship, but a song of those who find it inconceivable that anyone would NOT worship Him. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as Lord (Philippians 2:10, 11), not because they are forced to bow and confess, but because they have been conquered by love.
God seems to have a lot of confidence in the power of His love.
New Covenant Conquest
Israel conquered Canaan through force, using physical swords. There is no doubt that the Canaanites deserved to be slaughtered, in that their religious practices were so evil. However, there was another reason God told them to destroy the Canaanites, a reason that is usually overlooked.
When God gave the law to Israel at Mount Horeb, the people were not ready to understand the New Covenant. In fact, they were afraid of God, afraid of the loud noise coming from the mount, afraid of the all-consuming fire and smoke (Exodus 20:18). Hence, when Moses urged them to draw near to God, they refused (Exodus 20:19).
Their refusal meant that they rejected the sword of the Spirit on their very first Pentecost, for this day was thereafter celebrated as the feast of weeks, or Pentecost. The sword of the Spirit was not fully given until Pentecost was fulfilled in Acts 2:1.
Israel’s refusal meant that they were left only with physical swords with which to conquer the land of Canaan. Physical swords were weapons of the Old Covenant, and with these weapons they fought against flesh and blood. But under the New Covenant, we have received the sword that the Israelites rejected in the days of Moses. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4,
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
Elsewhere, in Ephesians 6:14-17 we learn about spiritual armor and “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” These are now to be used to conquer the world. The result will be that all of the nations will come to worship God, to bow the knee, and to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Our battleground is now much larger than the land of Canaan. The Israelites were told to conquer Canaan. Our commission is to conquer the world. The New Covenant is what makes us different from the nations—and, unfortunately, even different from the church. The church has had a long history of Old Covenant warfare, as it tried to conquer dissent from within and enemies from the outside. The Crusades were perhaps the most well-known example of Old Covenant warfare.
The lesson of all wars and revolutions is that you can never kill enough people to remain secure. Even if you could kill all of your enemies, you would soon find dissent within your own ranks. The killing would never cease until humanity is brought back to a single couple—and then the real conflict would begin!
The nations of the world have used Old Covenant weapons consistently in their attempt to conquer the world and establish their civil power or religious worship. We would expect that, of course, since the New Covenant is a revelation that is unique to the revelation of our Scriptures. But after the apostles died, the church soon fell into the same Old Covenant mindset, forsaking the New Covenant that Jesus had secured by His blood.
The church has hardly done any better than the Jews, who remain solidly under the Old Covenant. So when the Jews conquered Palestine (old Canaan), using Old Covenant methods, many Christians supported that conquest as if it were divinely blessed. While we certainly expect such methods of warfare from the Jews, should we really expect it from Christians? The problem is that Christians have been steeped in Old Covenant thinking for a very long time. Few have understood the difference between the two covenants, because it has seldom been taught.
The bottom line is that the Israeli state is not the Kingdom of God, nor will it ever be. The Jewish conquest of the Palestinians cannot possibly establish the Kingdom of God, because the nation was not founded on Jesus Christ or the New Covenant. Something else is coming, and those who adhere to the New Covenant and its Mediator are its leaders.
We are now preparing our hearts for what is coming, for we know that at the appointed time, the mighty rushing wind will come again. It will be greater than the wind seen at Pentecost in Acts 2:2, because this will be a wind of the feast of Tabernacles. The wind of Pentecost was a good start in fulfilling the promise of God, but it will take the feast of Tabernacles to complete it.