The European Cuckoo fascinates British people. The male bird heralds summer with his distinctive “Cuck–coo” call. Meanwhile, the female cunningly deposits her egg in the nest of an unsuspecting surrogate species. Far from becoming like its adoptive mother and father, the chick takes over. As the nestling grows larger than its tiny hosts, it rolls their real eggs over the side of the nest. Birders call it brood parasitism.
When the people of Israel heard Moses’ last speech, they must have caught their collective breath suddenly as he switched from describing God to describing them. It was quite the contrast. God is faithful, just, righteous, and upright; Israel behaved with as little family likeness as a baby cuckoo in a warbler’s nest. God called it corruption.
I proclaim the name of the Lord;
Ascribe greatness to our God!
The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.
They have acted corruptly toward Him,
They are not His children, because of their defect;
But are a perverse and crooked generation.
Do you thus repay the Lord,
O foolish and unwise people?
Is not He your Father who has bought you?
He has made you and established you.
You neglected the Rock who begot you,
And forgot the God who gave you birth.
(Deuteronomy 32:3-6, 18)
Unlike many Old Testament writers, Moses referred to God as a Father as well as Creator. He also called Him “the Rock who begot you” and “the God who gave you birth.” Children of God are expected to behave like God—faithful, just, righteous, and upright. Most people take pride in being a chip off the old block. Moses told Israel that they should be ashamed of behaving like illegitimate children. He wanted to motivate them to live differently.
The rest of the speech reads as though Moses had peered down a tunnel through history. Israel would continue being disloyal to God. She would seek security from other “rocks.” However, rather than completely abandoning the nation to her fate, or destroying her, God would remain faithful. The Jealous and Avenging God would punish Israel’s suitors. Finally, He would atone for the land and His people.1
We live at the other end of that tunnel, with every opportunity to learn history’s lessons. Jesus wiped the slate clean by His atoning sacrifice. Now, as God’s children, we are free and empowered to share the likeness of the very best Father.2 Let’s honor Him by living up to His name.
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