Straight and forward
H’azinu (Hear) D’Varim (Deut.) 32:1-52
Haftorah Reading: II Sam. 22:1-51
Today we look at the words of Moshe in this next to last chapter of Deuteronomy. In this chapter Moshe has words of rebuke and warning for the people. G-d calls heaven and earth as His witness to the words He is about to share with His people. These words have much to say to us in our present day as well.
Deut. 32:4 says, “He is the Rock. His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice; a G-d of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.” Moshe continued to lay the ground work about G-d when he came to verses 7-14. Moshe spoke of what a wondrous G-d He is to the people, how He has chosen them, provided for them and loved them.
He asked the people to remember their history, the days of old. As I read this this week I thought of each of us and how these words could be applied to us and our relationship with G-d. Remember our History and all He has done for us. He has never failed us. We must remember where he has brought us from and what He has for us as we walk out our days with Him.
However, when we get to verse 15 we read how Israel reacted to this song of love. In verse 15 we read, “But Jeshurun became fat, and kicked, you have become thick, you are covered with fatness: then he forsook G-d who made him and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.” The following verses paint a troubling picture of what followed. The people provoked G-d to jealousy with other gods, sacrificing to pagan gods which their fathers did not know. Of G-d they forgot Him the G-d who had formed them.
Now I want to back track to verse 32:15. In this verse we read the word Jeshurun. This word is important for us to understand. Its root is the Hebrew word yashar which means straight or upright. We read this word in other places like Deut. 33:5, 26 and also in Isaiah 44:2. In Isaiah 44:2 it conveys a feeling of love for the people. However, here it seems G-d is making a point by using this name almost sarcastically, to describe a people who were once upright but now are no longer so.
What does this say to us in our day as G-d’s people? Often prosperity places a larger obstacle between us and G-d than poverty does. I read a famous quote this week that says, “A full stomach leads to sin.” Here I am not saying it is a sin to have the means to live a comfortable life. However, in comfort it is easier to forget who we are called to be as the people of G-d. It is easier to forget the true source of what G-d has blessed us with and that is a problem. When we are struggling we are naturally prone to call on G-d in our distress. In our reading today we see this play out in Israel’s life. Moshe is warning then to guard against this becoming their life. He is warning us as well. The best way to guard against getting so comfortable that we forget G-d is to maintain our spiritual life by daily exercise, reading, praying and meditating on G-d word. In Matt. 5:3 we read, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” What does that verse tell us? I think it is saying something about our attitude. We are warned to never think we have accumulated what we have because of our own effort or for any other reason other than G-d’s blessing and love for us.
Remember backsliding requires no effort. All we have to do is stop moving forward. The moment we stop pushing forward spiritually is the moment we begin to slide backward. If we move ahead in our spiritual life we too are worthy of the name Jeshurun, the upright ones.
Bless each of you this week. Sukkot begins Monday evening. This is a wonderful time to exercise your spiritual muscles and grow in your faith.