Deuteronomy 32 – Gathered to His People:
No man knew God’s people the way that Moses knew God’s people. He had come so far with them, or more accurately, he had led them for so many years. Time and time again Moses interceded for the Israelites before the Almighty. His role before them was so critical, so specific, so needed, and certainly must have been oh so burdensome. What a calling Moses had! He was to lead God’s children out of slavery, teach them of their Creator in heaven, and then walk them into the land that God had set before them: their Promise Land. “The Song of Moses” (Deuteronomy 32), in a way summarizes all that Moses saw and experienced along the path of his life. It is both a tragic and triumphant song, one of history and prophecy, and it is all bound together by pleading words of warning from our now dying servant Moses.
Moses uses 43 verses to walk us through the history (and also the future) of the relationship that God has had and will have with His people. It speaks of God’s constant faithfulness, and the Israelites’ continued rebellion. We see a beautiful picture of God’s love for his children in verses 10 & 11:
In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them aloft.
Oh friend, did you hear that? You are the apple of God’s eye! Never are you more watched, guarded, and cared for than you are when you are in a season of life that is barren, that is a waste land. He never stops protecting you. What comforting words! Moses’ song ends with a call for God’s people to rejoice, and a warning for His enemies to prepare for vengeance:
Rejoice, you nations, with his people,
for he will avenge the blood of his servants;
he will take vengeance on his enemies
and make atonement for his land and people.
Moses was telling the children of God that they had nothing to fear for their future. God was in control and would make atonement for His people. Interesting words coming from a man that knew his own death was so near. Let’s look ahead to verses 48 – 50:
On that same day the LORD told Moses, “Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.
“Gathered to your people”, I love that imagery. This is not the only time we see this wording in scripture, it appears in several other places throughout God’s word. Let’s look back to Genesis 25: 7-8 when the death of Abraham is recorded:
Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.
Have you ever questioned what heaven will be like? It is a silly thing to do really, though I am certainly guilty of spending time on it. I finished reading Don Piper’s book, 90 Minutes in Heaven in one day. I couldn’t put it down! We humans were created to be eternal beings. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that “God has set eternity in the hearts of men”. Death seems sad and unnatural to us because we were not designed to die, but rather to live in the eternal presence of our Father. I suppose that is why these words “gathered to your people” seem so dear to me. Through all that Moses (and Abraham) had been through, God affirms that He will gather them back to Himself and to their people once they die, once their calling and their time on earth is done. Jesus drives this point home in Matthew 22: 31-32 when He says:
But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
Jesus was telling the Sadducees that were questioning Him in these verses, that God is the God of these living people as much today, as He was back when they walked the earth. He had “gathered them to their people”, and they were alive in heaven and in the presence of their God that had delivered them.
I think that as we prepare to end our study next week, as we prepare to watch Moses bless the tribes of Israel, as we prepare to say good-bye to our servant; I think we should remember that this is not the end…for Moses, it really is the beginning. Gathered to his people, oh what a welcoming committee he must have had when he got there!
Have a wonderful weekend, thanks so much for being here. I will meet you back here on Monday.
Your homework for next time is to read Deuteronomy 33.