“The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4 NASB
The Rock! – You’re standing on the banks of the Jordan. You’ve been waiting for this day for forty years. Your parents have died, along with all your friends’ parents. But they passed along this hope to you. “One day you will stand on the river’s edge. One day you will enter the Land.” Today is that day!
The great leader, Moshe, prophet of God, addresses the throng. Almost with disbelief you learn that he will not cross over. Joshua will lead you into the Land. But Moshe has one more gift to you and to all who wait. He has delivered the Torah, God’s instructions for life in the Land, once more. Your parents told you about the day when God Himself delivered this code of conduct. They told you that they shook with fear when the Lord settled on the mountain. They taught you Torah since the time you were able to remember. And now the day is here!
Suddenly Moshe breaks into song. It is the first song of praise and worship. Here’s how it begins:
ki kol-d’ra-kav mishpat
El emunah ve-eyn avel
Tzadik ve-yashar Hoo.
We don’t know the tune anymore, but we can certainly study the lyrics. What we discover is the amazing depth of Moshe’s song.
“The Rock!” (Ha-tzur). Most English translations add “He is” but the Hebrew text doesn’t need this. Perhaps Moshe’s song begins with a triumphal shout! The Rock! In Hebrew metaphor, God is as solid as could be. He is the firm foundation, the mountain of stone, the unshakeable granite beneath our feet. The Rock! Here we stand! We will not be moved. Can you hear it? The thundering clap of hands. The drum roll. The entire congregation in one voice shouting, “The Rock!” This is victory we can touch, see and feel. Here before us in the Jordan. God’s promise delivered. The Rock once more confirmed.
“Tamiym pa-a-lo” (perfect His work). The second thought draws another equivalence. If God and Rock are equal, so are perfect and work. Tamiym is an adjective meaning “blameless, complete” and in a moral sense, “true, virtuous, upright, righteous.” In more than half of its occurrences, it is about the sacrificed animal without blemish. Moshe combines this pregnant word with po’al, the Hebrew word for what is performed or completed. Po’al emphasizes the result of the action (from pa’al – to do or make). Everything God does is blameless, complete and upright. And buried in that thought is sacrifice, even the sacrifice of God Himself. It too is done perfectly.
God unshakeable, God of unmovable foundation, is the God of sacrifice, of blameless accomplishment. The Rock is the Altar, the place where God demonstrates His complete reliability.
You’re ready to cross the river, but before you do, Moshe reminds you that you did not arrive on the bank by your own effort. You will not cross because you earned it. Nor will your occupation of the Land depend on your strength and cunning. This is God’s day. This is His plan. The Rock has arrived at the river and the way is about to be parted.
Topical Index: ha-tzur, the Rock, Moshe, Deuteronomy 32:4, perfect, work, tamiym, po’al