Ha’Azinu – Give Ear

This week our parasha is Ha’Azinu which translates to “Listen” and covers Deuteronomy 32. Ha’Azinu is the penultimate parasha and contains the final teaching and warning of Moses for our people.  This teaching takes the form of a song, written in double columns in the Torah. The song prophecies our people’s future disobedience and destruction at the hands of other nations, but ends with a promise of future restoration and atonement. So let us examine the Song of Moses and consider the timeless lessons the Lord had recorded for all generations.

We begin with Moses poetically summoning Heaven and Earth to hear his words. The Lord is described as HaTzur, The Rock, repeated through this song.  But what does it mean to Adonai the Rock? King David in Psalm 18:2 gives us an answer,“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.“ The Lord is our place of refuge, an unmoving and unchanging fortress for those who are His people.

Our parasha continues to proclaim the greatness of Adonai. He is a God of faithfulness and justice who is completely sinless.  We are reminded how the Lord chose us from all the nation. We are promised in this song that we will experience every blessing of the Lord and enjoy plentiful crops in Israel. But we then move to the prophecy of our future rebellion against the Lord, fulfilled later in God’s Word.

We read that after experiencing every good thing from Adonai, we became rebellious and satisfied. With our needs provided for, we abandoned our Creator, and rejected the Rock who is our Savior. We turned to false idols offering sacrifices and worship. These were new idols of our own creation, false gods like the golden calf created to serve our rebellious ways.

In response to our rebellion the Lord distanced Himself from our people. He then chose to use the other nations to punish our people for our idolatry. We then experienced the great anger of the Lord, described as a consuming fire strong enough to consume all the Earth. Strong enough to burn all the way down to Sheol, burning the entire Earth, and setting fire to mountains. The Lord’s kindness, mercy, and love are above and beyond anything we human beings contain, but so is His anger and justice.

The song continues with the prophecy of the first exile, with nations and natural disasters destroying our people. Every type of horrible disaster is recorded and later fulfilled. But the Lord also promised to not completely destroy our people. Our enemies would believe they were able to overpower us by their strength. But they did not understand they were only victorious because our Rock, our foundation, had allowed it to happen. Though the Lord used other nations to punish our people, they still did not know Him and were incredibly wicked.

Our enemy’s destruction and our restoration would occur when we finally repented after realizing our false gods could not save us. The Lord’s terrible anger burned against us, but the God who is a consuming fire is also a God of love. No verse in Ha’Azinu captures the righteous anger and love of the Lord like verse 39:

See now that I, even I, am he,

and there is no god beside me;

I kill and I make alive;

I wound and I heal;

and there is none that can deliver out of my hand

This is the one true God; this is the Rock of our salvation. The creator of the heavens and the Earth, who has the power over life and death and whose will can never be stopped. The Lord continues and declares that He will destroy His enemies, everyone who hates Him. All the enemies of God who come against His people will experience His judgment.

The final verse of Ha’Azinu looks farther into the future, beyond the first exile. It looks to a day where the nations will rejoice with the Jewish people when the Lord makes atonement for our sins. Adonai will also take vengeance on those who hate Him and His people. So, the Song of Moses concludes then on this hopeful note for those who belong to the Lord:

Rejoice, you nations, with his people,

for he will avenge the blood of his servants;

he will take vengeance on his enemies

and make atonement for his land and people.

What are we to remember from this song today? One lesson is that the Lord is not passive or distant from humanity. The creator of the universe is no impersonal force, no unintelligible spirit, and certainly does not sit idly by while human beings worship idols of their own creation.

Ha’Azinu makes it clear that to experience blessing, and life; we must be in a right relationship with Adonai. If we choose to follow idols and not the Lord, we will experience righteous judgement. All of God’s Word records this truth. And let’s be clear that idols do not have to be made from wood or stone. In our age we can create new idols very easily. We create idols from celebrities, money, things, philosophies, and from ourselves. Whenever we give something else other than God priority in our lives, we are worshipping an idol of our own creation.

Ha’Azinu ends with the Lord promising to repay those who hate Him but that He will also bring atonement. The anger and justice of the Lord is as overwhelming as His love and mercy.

The Lord has made atonement possible through Messiah Yeshua. For those who desire to know God and become loyal to Him, a way has been made possible through His sinless sacrifice and resurrection. Our Messiah taught that those who reject Him, reject the source of eternal life. They will face an eternal judgment greater than any of the judgments described in this parasha.

There are only two choices, choosing to follow the Lord, or choosing not to. In God’s Word we see the result of each choice. Each of us must make a choice. To trust in the Rock or some pebble. Which have you chosen?

I pray that the Lord would cause us to return to Him, to make each of us aware of His revealed will and to choose Life. May each one of us set aside the idols of our lives and place our trust in the faithful and eternal Rock who is our savior and atonement.