SOAP Journal – 13 June 2017 (Deuteronomy 32:43)

Rejoice, O nations, [with] His people; / For He will avenge the blood of His servants, / And will render vengeance on His adversaries, / And will atone for His land [and] His people.

Deuteronomy 32:43

The last part of the song that Moses teaches to the Israelites before his death caught my eye this morning. The song, as a whole, is an interesting thing. It is a mixture of prophecy about the impending faithlessness of the Israelites and winds its way around to this morning’s verse.

In these words, I see an early promise of the sacrifice of the Messiah. To make sense of it, though, I had to break it into three promises divided by the conjunction and. 

The verse begins with an invitation to the nations, to rejoice … [with] His people. The square brackets around with indicate that it was added by the translators. But this is the same song in which God has promised to make them jealous with [those who] are not a people and provoke them to anger with a foolish nation (v 21). It is possible that the phrase could be understood as inviting the nations; His people to rejoice.

The first part that caught my attention is the promise to atone for His land [and] His people. This is precisely what happened at the cross. Jesus made atonement by His death. And the law of the kinsman redeemer says that the One Who redeems the person also receives that person’s land inheritance. Back in Genesis, God gave dominion of the whole Earth to Adam, hence to people. It would seem that when people are redeemed, the Earth over which we were given dominion comes along for the ride. The word used for people here can also be used in the figurative to mean flock. And Jesus is my Good Shepherd.

But there is another promise: the promise of vengeance. The verse says that God will avenge the blood of His servants and will render vengeance on His adversaries. Almost this same phrasing is used in Revelation when those who are under the altar cry out to God, saying How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth? (Revelation 6:10) Many of the atrocities committed against those who place their faith in God seem to have gone unanswered throughout history, but God has promised that vengeance is coming.

I think, though, that the order is deliberate. The fulfillment of these promises will happen  and has happened in the opposite order. Redemption is already available and vengeance has not yet come. But placing them in the order of (1) vengeance and (2) redemption is a reminder that all of us deserve the vengeance of God to be visited on us, but we can all be redeemed and preserved from that judgment.

Let me seek God’s judgment insofar as it is the end of suffering. Let me seek to see people redeemed, that God’s vengeance is taken on as few people as possible.

Thank You, Father, for redemption; for a way to not be waiting for Your vengeance to be visited on me. Please make my heart such as desires to see all redeemed and to see Your vengeance rendered only on those angels that rebelled.

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