By Brenda Black
In Music City, USA, there is a saying: “It all starts with a song.” Nashville hopefuls aren't the first to understand the power of music and lyrics combined. The Patriarch Moses penned his own composition with hopes that it would pierce the hearts of Israel and turn them back to God. Like songs from childhood that hover in the recesses of our mind until needed for comfort or conviction is Moses haunting anthem.
“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
“They have acted corruptly toward him; to their shame they are no longer his children, but a warped and crooked generation. Is this the way you repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?” (Deuteronomy 32:1-6)
Moses' lyrics from centuries ago go on to aptly depict the divine provision of God for our nation as well. “He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye...The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him. He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him...” (vs. 10-13)
And like Israel, America has “abandoned the God who made [her] and rejected the Rock [her] Savior. They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to demons, which are not God – gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear. You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.” (vs. 15b-18)
The result for Israel and the fallout we are seeing today in America: “The Lord saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. 'I will hide my face from them,' he said, 'and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful.'” (vs. 19-20)
On the very day Moses recited the verses, the Lord told him of his imminent death. Moses' parting words to a stiff-neck people: “They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them. If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!” (vs. 28-29)
Singer-songwriter Tom Waits may like Moses' masterpiece for he says, “I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.”
But better that we think like author Sarah Dessen and believe that people will come to their senses for she contends that “Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything else can have in common.”
The alternative to heeding Moses' musical message is weighty. “I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me.” (vs. 41b)
But for the faithful few, Moses' saves a final verse. “Rejoice, O 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.” (vs. 43)
Praise God, the remnant will always sing! Not songs of disaster and doom, but of life and liberty! “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13b)
If music, as Maria von Trapp believes, “acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed hearts open,” then I pray that Moses' song penetrates this present darkness. You who belong to the remnant, sing it again! Our nation needs to hear it.