The Lord Will Judge His People
“How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:29-31 (NAS)
This week we’ll revisit an Old Testament quote from the song of Moses, cited in our text by the writer of Hebrews that builds upon last week’s introduction to the topic of judgment as an adversary of the Lord. The apostle Paul had also been moved to quote this passage in his letter to the Romans (Rom.12:19). Here we will consider it in the context of forsaking the assembly and falling back into a pattern of willful sinning. Remember, this is written to Christians! The quote is lifted from Deuteronomy 32:35-36a . “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them. For the LORD will vindicate His people…” (NAS)
Spiritual life’s lessons in a song
The theme in the book of Deuteronomy is that obedience is essential. If the second generation of the Israelites out of Egypt were to not only take the land but remain in it, they needed to remain faithful. In the song of Moses in chapter 32, the LORD predicts the future fate of physical Israel as well as their enemies after first laying forth His record of faithfulness to His people (Vss 1-14).
Israel would grow fat (Vs 15), forgetful, and forsake their Rock (Vs 18). When the LORD had had enough of Israel’s unfaithfulness, when His lovingkindness and mercy had been exhausted, He promised He would send the armies of Israel’s enemies, the Gentiles to judge the nation (Vss 25-26).
The LORD would limit the destruction wreaked at the hands of the Gentiles so that they wouldn’t think they had done this to Israel of their own power, thereby securing the fate of the faithful remnant (Vs 27).
Moses spoke of the Israelite nation not learning the lesson from God’s judgments at the hands of wicked nations as brain-dead, not able to perceive their ultimate end if they kept up their abominable behavior (Vss 28-29). The fact that the nations could whoop on them should have demonstrated He had abandoned them because of their idolatry, it wasn’t because the nations had a stronger god or were more righteous than them (Vss 30-33).
The history of Israel vindicated Moses’ prophetic utterances. They got fat, forgetful and idolatrous. Here would come the LORD’s fury in the form of a Gentile aggressor who would execute God’s judgment in an attempt to get them to right their spiritual ship. However, it played out just as Moses prophesied. Israel acted stupidly, never learned the lesson or recognized her fate which culminated in the Babylonian captivity. You cannot continue to insult the God of heaven and retain His favor. The positive side in the song is for those that would remain faithful, they would see the day when the Lord would vindicate them, when they would experience His compassion (Vs 36). After teaching Israel all the words of the song, Moses said to them: “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you shall prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.” (Deut. 32:46-47)
Insulting the Spirit of Grace
The assemblies, as the writer of Hebrews was moved to note previously, are designed to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Conversely, you forsake them, you will trend back into a mode of willful sinning. Even under the law, the sacrifices were not designed to cover someone who intentionally opted to sin thinking the sacrifices offered would somehow atone for their guilt. This is a mindset brother Jay Wilson has called “premeditated repentance.” Hear what the nation Israel received as a warning. “But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be on him.” (Num. 15:30-31)
The Israelites under the Old Covenant were sanctified, set apart as God’s people with the blood of calves and goats (Heb. 9:19). Look what type of judgment befell one in covenant with the LORD who grew fat, forgetful, and forsook the lovingkindness (favor) of the LORD under the law. They too, were trampling under foot the blood of that covenant, insulting the spirit of God’s mercy. God promised there would be retribution.
Now, how about us who have been sanctified by the superior offering of the blood of the Son of God under the New Covenant? A lax (fat) spiritual mindset leads to forsaking and forgetting our Rock, Jesus Christ, and the purpose in the offering of His blood – to save us from our sins, not save us to sin! Don’t let a spirit of licentiousness creep in convincing you that somehow His blood will allow you “to continue in sin that grace might increase” (Rom. 6:1) Wrong! That’s insulting the Spirit of grace. Know your history, take to your heart all the words that the Hebrew writer has penned for our sake. These are not idle words, brethren, indeed they have a bearing upon your life eternal. The Lord will judge His people.