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After all the blessings that God poured upon Israel, they cast aside His law and refused to walk in His ways. Moses prophesied this ahead of time in Deut. 32:15-19,
15 But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked—
You are grown fat, thick, and sleek—
Then he forsook the God who made him,
And scorned the Rock of his salvation [Yeshua].
16 They made Him jealous with strange gods;
With abominations they provoked Him to anger.
17 They sacrificed to demons who were not God,
To gods whom they have not known,
New gods who came lately,
Whom your fathers did not dread.
18 You neglected the Rock who begot you,
And forgot the God who gave you birth.
19 And the Lord saw this, and spurned them
Because of the provocation of His sons and daughters.
Moses calls Israel by the poetic and prophetic name, Jeshurun, “The Upright One.” This name is used again in Deut. 33:5, 26 and in Isaiah 44:2. There is some irony in Moses’ usage of the term, because this section of his Song shows how Israel was a “crooked generation” (32:5), rather than being upright.
God alone is truly “upright,” as Moses says in 32:4, using the term yashar, “straight, upright.” The Hebrew word yashar is closely related to yeshurun, “upright one.” In Josh. 10:13 we read also of the book of Jasher, or yashar, which means the Book of the Upright.
Why does Moses call Israel by this name, while he condemns them for lawlessness? It appears to me that he was imputing uprightness, or righteousness, to them, calling what is not as though it were (Rom. 4:17). God, who knows the end from the beginning, sees what Israel shall yet be, and so He names Israel accordingly to assure us that His plan will be fulfilled.
Of course, that plan was set forth in two parts. The first part called for Israel to vow obedience in order to become Jeshurun. That failed, as God intended, and thus revealed the utter helplessness of fleshly man to save himself. The second part of the plan called for God Himself to make an oath to send His Spirit, who would cause them to become Jeshurun by a spiritual process.
God was confident in His ability to do this, and so He inspired Moses to call Israel Jeshurun, even within the context of Israel’s present lawlessness.
After God provided abundance for Israel, the people “grew fat and kicked” like a rebellious horse. Israel forsook God, cast aside His law, and “scorned the Rock of his Yeshua.” The Hebrew word for “salvation” is yeshua. Every time the word is used in Scripture, it prophesies of Yeshua-Jesus Christ. So Moses prophesies here that Israel would treat Yeshua with contempt, or scorn.
This prophecy was fulfilled in both Israel and Judah. First Israel rejected Yahweh-Yeshua in worshiping the golden calves in Bethel and Dan, resulting in their judgment at the hands of Assyria. Later, Judah rejected Yahweh-Yeshua during His earthly ministry, resulting in their judgment at the hands of Rome.
Verse 16 says, “they made Him jealous with strange gods.” Exodus 34:14 says,
14 For you shall not worship any other god, for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous [Qanna], is a jealous God.
In the metaphoric language of Scripture, Yahweh’s name is said to be “Jealous,” not literally, of course, but to portray His attribute of jealousy. He will not tolerate any rival for Israel’s love and affection. While men demand the freedom to worship the god of their choice, the Jealous God will never give such freedom to men. As we have shown many times already, God has the right to be worshiped and obeyed, and He has no intention of giving up this right.
Verse 17 says, “they sacrificed to demons who were not God.” The Hebrew word for “demons” is shed. When the rabbis of Alexandria translated this into Greek centuries later, they used the word daemonia, or demons, relating to the power of idols and their mind-control. The word is used only one other time in Psalm 106:37,
37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons [shed], 38 and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood.
In the surrounding nations, many of the gods required human sacrifice. The more innocent the sacrifice, the more valuable and effective it was considered to be. Hence, babies were sacrificed most often to these gods. Today, we do it in a scientific manner, calling it “abortion.”
The carnal mind has been twisted into thinking that the true God, who loves us, is not worthy of our worship. And yet, men will worship other gods who are to be feared, rather than loved, and who require human sacrifice to satisfy their blood lust. It is an amazing characteristic of the carnal mind that it can believe that which makes no sense.
Moses then says in verse 18,
18 You neglected the Rock who begot you,
And forgot the God who gave you birth.
Like many of these verses, this is a couplet, where a thought is restated using different words. Moses already referred to God as “the Rock” in Deut. 32:4. Here he continues the metaphor, which pictures God as an immovable, strong, and secure fortress. By the law of biogenesis, where “like begets like,” God claims to be Israel’s Father, and so Israel ought to be like Him and act like Him.
The prophet Isaiah also uses this metaphor in Isaiah 51:1, 2,
1 Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the Lord; look to the Rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. 2 Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; when he was one, I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him.
In this case, the prophet speaks of Abraham and Sarah as being the parents of Israel. Both Moses and Isaiah are correct, of course, but Moses’ statement reflects the deeper truth of the sons of God, which was proposed in Deut. 14:1, “You are the sons of the Lord your God.” In fact, this was one of the original revelations given to Moses, which he was to reveal to Pharaoh in Egypt (Exodus 4:22).
Because Luke 3:38 calls Adam the “son of God,” we might also trace the Sonship message back to the very beginning of time. The problem was that Adam sinned and was disqualified as the “son of God.” His call was to bring all things under his feet, so that he could present the finished product to his heavenly Father. He failed, and so this calling passed to Jesus, as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:27, 28.
So also did Israel follow in the footsteps of Adam. Adam’s sin made it necessary for another to fulfill that destiny. Thus, Israel in the flesh failed to fulfill their calling, and this required a new Israel to fulfill their destiny.
This is pictured also in the two names, Jacob and Israel, for Jacob is his fleshly name, but Israel is his new name. This prophetic allegory shows that Jacob, the deceiver, was of the old man, Adam, while Israel, “God rules,” was fathered by God Himself.
So in the Song of Moses, the rebellious nation was doomed to failure, but Jeshurun will succeed in the end. The rebellious nation was formed by the vows of fleshly men, while Jeshurun was begotten by the oath of God.
Deut. 32:19 thus says that because the rebellious nation forgot their Father, God “spurned them” (Heb., na’ats, “to reject with contempt, abhor”). In other words, God adopted the same attitude toward Israel that they had shown for God. This prophecy is remarkable on the eve of Israel’s long-awaited entry into the Promised Land. Moses certainly made it clear from the beginning that Israel would fail to live up to its spiritual God-given name, Israel. The nation was not really Israel at all, but Jacob, the deceiver.
It would require a New Covenant to re-create the true Israel in His image. This is bound up in the idea of the sons of God, which is revealed in clearer fashion in the gospels and in Paul’s epistles. The principle given in 1 Cor. 15:46 is, “first the natural; then the spiritual.” So we see the failure of the flesh, the failure of Adam, the failure of the Old Covenant, the failure of Jacob, the failure of the Old Jerusalem—all of which are “natural” and fleshly. These are condemned to death on account of that failure, and out of those ashes arise the “spiritual” form, begotten of God, which is destined to succeed.