Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Song of Moses

I was doing some research tonight for some things I was working on for my book, and came across this passage that I'm not sure I've ever read before, the song that Moses recited after he had completed writing the words of the Law, and before dying at 120 years old:

Deuteronomy 32

1 Listen, O heavens, and I will speak;
hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

2 Let my teaching fall like rain
and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
like abundant rain on tender plants.

3 I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!

4 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.

And later in the chapter:

45) When Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, 46) he said to them, "Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. 47) They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."

I was struck by the words that Moses said in verse 47: the words of the law "are not just idle words for you--they are your life." The words of God are compared to dew, and showers falling on new grass, and tender plants, a clear reference to their life giving power. As I read them, I thought of words that Clement of Alexandria wrote about the Law of God:

Through the commandments we have a demonstration of the blessed life. We all ought to pursue it without misunderstanding any of the statements or neglecting any of the properties, even the slightest of them. We are to follow where the Word leads…(5) We must follow God’s Scripture, the road taken by the faithful, and we will, so far as possible, become like the Lord. We are not to live amorally. We are, so far as possible, to purify ourselves from pleasures and lusts, and take care of our soul which should continue to be engaged solely with the divine. (6) For if it is pure and freed from all vice, the mind is somehow capable of receiving the power of God, when the divine image is established within it. Scripture says, “Everyone who has this hope in the Lord is purifying himself as the Lord is pure.”

Reading Moses urging the Israelites with the words about the Law, that it is their very life, and Clement speaking of the law giving us a demonstration of the blessed life makes it clear to me what the intention of God was by giving us the Law. It was the path to life, lived in its fullest expression. There are clearly things that are strange in the Law, but we have reached a point where we desire to chuck most of it out. The glorious thing is that we have been freed from the Law, through Christ's death on the Cross, but now, it is out of love for Christ that we need to pursue keeping the Law, with the humble acknowledgment that we are only ever capable of doing that through, and by the Grace of God, and that even any desire within us to obey God is a reflection of His grace. We have been freed from the curse of the Law in order to seek out the blessed life that is ours when we obey God's commandments, which is done solely by and through the Grace of God.

It's all very mind boggling to me.

1 comment:

ali said...

It is in obeying Gods commandments, "obeying the law" that we are set free. If we chose not to obey the law, then we say yes to sin. This sin separates us from God. If sins start to take root... we become a slave to the sin. When one is a slave to sin, he is no longer free. It is within obedience of the commandments that we are truly free.