PARASHAT HA’AZINU

Deut 32:1-52; 2 Samuel 22:1-51; John 20:26-21:25

A special portion for Shabbat Shuvah is read this Shabbat! • Shabbat Shuvah -| Shabbat of Return • Haftarah: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-27

The Almighty instructed Moses to compose a song and teach it to the children of Israel. The people of Israel memorized the song and passed it on from generation to generation. The song, which describes the coming apostasy of Israel and God’s subsequent judgment on the nation, serves as a witness for all generations. The LORD told Moses, “They will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant” (Deuteronomy 31:20). The song explains the calamity that befalls the nation when they fall into apostasy, but it concludes with the hope of the final redemption and God’s judgment on the nations.

The song calls the Jewish people to learn from the past and look to the future. It warns them of the dangers in apostasy and violation of the covenant, and it reminds them that the ultimate goal is the final redemption.

Moses composed the song and then assembled Israel to teach it to them. He told them, “I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days” (Deuteronomy 31:29).

Revelation draws some of its apocalyptic imagery and energy from the Song of Moses. Like the Song of Moses, the book of Revelation looks toward the coming time of God’s wrath upon the earth. Though He will punish Israel for her misdeeds, He will ultimately rescue His people and redeem them. The Song of Moses ends triumphantly describing the time of vengeance when God’s people will be finally be redeemed and vindicated.

The book of Revelation speaks of that apocalyptic future during which God directly intervenes in human events and unleashes His vengeance on the ungodly nations that have martyred His people. As God’s wrath pours out upon the earth, Revelation 15 reports a vision of the martyred standing before the throne of God singing “the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Revelation 15:3).

Readers unfamiliar with the Torah have often mistakenly understood the title “Song of the Lamb” to refer to the short liturgical refrain presented in Revelation 15:3-4. Instead, the writer of Revelation intends his readers to understand that the souls of the righteous martyrs will sing the words of Deuteronomy 32 before the throne. He calls the “Song of Moses” by a new title: “Song of the Lamb.” The souls of the martyrs will conclude the Song of Moses with the brief liturgical refrain which appears in Revelation 15: Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; for all the nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed. (Revelation 15:3-4)

Why does the writer of the book of Revelation refer to the Song of Moses as the “Song of the Lamb”? Because the Messiah will be the agent of the final redemption of which the song speaks. He will vindicate God’s people as Moses prophesied in the song. When we study the Song of Moses, we are studying about the work of the Messiah.

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