From Deuteronomy 32-34
Q. Can jealousy be a good thing?
Dt 31.30; Song; Introduction to the Song of Moses
Dt 32.1-43; Song; The Song of Moses
32.1-4 Description of God
32.5-14 God's faithfulness to Israel
32.15-18 Israel rejects God and worships other gods.
32.19-43 The LORD's response to apostate Israel
Dt 32.44-47 Story; Moses exhorts Israel to take his words to heart
Dt 32.48-52 Story; The LORD commands Moses to see the promised land and die.
Dt 33.1-29 Story; Moses' blessing on the twelve tribes of Israel
Dt 34.1-8 Story; The LORD shows Moses the promised land, Moses does and the LORD buried him.
Dt 34.9-12 Story; Joshua takes over as leader. Final praise of Moses' life and ministry.
Passage and Comments
Today's passage consists of excerpts of a song. At the end of Deuteronomy Moses 'sings' and tells the story of Israel to this point and for tells their future. It reminds me of the book, 'The Lord of the Rings' by JR Tolkien. The various races sings their own songs throughout the book. Let's see what Moses sings.
1 “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb. For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. (Dt 32.1-4)
Moses begins proclaiming the name of the LORD. The last line especially stands out describing the LORD's character. Faithful, without iniquity, just and upright. Moses moves on to describe Israel.
5 They have dealt corruptly with him; they are no longer his children because they are blemished; they are a crooked and twisted generation. Do you thus repay the Lord, you foolish and senseless people? Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you? Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you. (Dt 32.5-7)
I can't image the original audience liked hearing this. It is certainly a turn for the worse. He continues with this train of thought.
15 “But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation. They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded. You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth. (Dt 32.15-18)The sacrifice to demons is an allusion to their bowing down to the golden calf at Horeb. I found the next bit interesting because it is picked up by Paul in the New Testament.
19 “The Lord saw it and spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters. 20 And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness. 21 They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. 22 For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. (Dt 32.19-22)
Story of Israel
The part I have put in italics does not eventuate before Jesus comes. Israel sadly continues in idolatry and sin. God is provoked and sends them into exile. During this time many prophets who proclaimed judgment also prophesied a future restoration.
Story of Jesus
Jesus comes and fulfills many of the Old Testament prophecies. But not all Israel recognize him for who he is. They still continue to provoke the LORD by turning to other gods. When Israel does this they make the LORD jealous, because they are his people, bound by the LORD's calling of them.
I found the following interesting because it is picked up by Paul in the New Testament. As a result of the Jewish rejection of Jesus as their Christ, God has welcomed Gentiles into the kingdom of God.
11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? (Rom 11.11-15)
My take on the train of Paul's thought works like this;
1) Many Jews reject Jesus as their Christ provoking God's jealousy
2) They are cut off and through their trespass Gentiles are included in Israel
3) The Gentile inclusion in turn provokes jealousy of the Jews
4) The jealous Jews want to be part of this so they turn to God5) The acceptance of these Jews into Israel will be the penultimate event for Christ's return and the general resurrection