Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Law

Listen, heavens, while I speak; hear, earth, the words that I shall say! May my teaching fall like the rain, may my word drop down like the dew, like showers on the grass, like light rain on the turf!

For I have proclaimed the name of The Lord. Oh, tell the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are equitable. A trustworthy God who does no wrong, he is the Honest, the Upright One!

You have acted perversely, a deceitful and underhand brood. Is this the return you make to The Lord? O people brainless and unwise! Is this not your Father, who gave you being, who made you, by whom you subsist? Think back on the days of old, think over the years, down the ages. Question your Father, let him explain to you, your elders, and let them tell you!

When the Most High gave the nations each their heritage, when he partitioned out the human race, he assigned the boundaries of nations according to the number of the children of God, but The Lord's portion was His people, Jacob was to be the measure of his inheritance.

In the desert he finds him, in the howling expanses of the wastelands. He protects him, rears him, guards him as the pupil of his eye. Like an eagle watching its nest, hovering over its young, he spreads out his wings to hold him, he supports him on his pinions. The Lord alone is his guide; no alien god for him!

He gives him the heights of the land to ride, he feeds him on the yield of the mountains, he gives him honey from the rock to taste, and oil from the flinty crag; curds from the cattle, milk from the flock, and the richness of the pasture, rams of Bashan's breed, and goats, the richness of the wheat kernel; the fermented blood of the grape for drink.

Ephraim has eaten to his heart's content, grown fat, has now lashed out. (You have grown fat, gross, bloated.) He has disowned the God who made him, and dishonoured the Rock, his salvation, whose jealousy they aroused with foreigners -- with things detestable they angered him.

'I shall soon hide my face from them,' The Lord says, 'and see what will become of them. For they are a deceitful brood, children with no loyalty in them. They have roused me to jealousy with a non-god, they have exasperated me with their idols.

What a short-sighted nation this is, how thoroughly imperceptive! Were they wise, they would succeed, they would be able to read their destiny. How else could one man rout a thousand, how could two put ten thousand to flight, were it not that their Rock has sold them, that the Lord has delivered them up?

But their rock is not like our Rock; our enemies cannot pray for us! (But we will pray for them.) For their vine springs from the stock of Sodom and from the groves of Gomorrah: their grapes are poisonous grapes, their clusters are bitter; their wine is snakes' poison, the vipers' cruel venom.

But he, is he not safe with me, sealed inside my treasury?

The day of Ephraim's ruin is close, doom is rushing towards them, for he will see to it that their power fails, that neither serf nor free man remains. The Lord will see his people righted, he will take pity on his servants, whose hearts are turned towards Him and His will.

'Where are their gods then?' he will ask, 'the rock where they sought refuge, who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their libations?' Let these arise and help you, let these be the shelter above you! The sparks which you have kindled will fail.

'See now that I, I AM he, and there is no other god like unto me. It is I who deal death and life; when I have struck, it is I who heal.'

Heavens, rejoice with him, let all the children of God pay him homage! Nations, rejoice with his people, let God's envoys tell of his power!

Moses came with Joshua son of Nun and recited all the words of this song in the people's hearing. When Moses had finished reciting these words to all Israel, he said to them, 'Take all these words to heart; I intend them today to be a witness to you. You must teach your children to keep and observe all the words of this Law. You must not think of this as empty words, for the Law is your life, and by its means you will live long in the country which captive Israel will cross the mountains to possess.

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