Jeshurun Waxed Fat

But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked:
you are waxen fat, you have grown
thick, you are covered with fatness;
then he forsook God which made
him, and lightly esteemed the Rock
of his salvation. They provoked Him
to jealousy with strange gods, with
abominations they provoked Him
to anger. (Deuteronomy 32:15-16)

Jeshurun was the name for Israel, a pet name, or term of endearment, meaning upright or righteous. Israel had "waxed fat", or prospered, as the Lord led them. And as almost invariably happens, because of the contrariness of the human heart, prosperity brings about rebellion. Jeshurun "kicked", or rebelled against God. The metaphor here used is derived from a pampered animal, which, although it has been treated with loving kindness, instead of being tame and gentle, becomes spoiled and mean, and eventually turns on it's master. That is exactly what the Israelites did with all their various acts of rebellion, murmuring, and idolatry.

The more Israel prospered, the more they rebelled, until they forsook God completely in their actions. They "lightly esteemed", or just paid lip service to, the Rock of their salvation. They did not revere God as Sovereign over all, but instead provoked Him to jealousy and anger by following strange, profane gods, which was idolatry. They committed this abomination against the Lord who created them, chose them, brought them out of bondage, and provided for them.

It is indeed a sorry fact that increasing prosperity so often leads to increasing wickedness, and the more outward blessings God bestows upon a people the more they forget Him and become worldly, proud, and perverse. You would think greater blessings would result in following God more closely, and obeying Him more fully. But unfortunately. the human heart is contrary and selfish, full of pride and wickedness.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)

We are no different than Jeshurun was. When life is rough, we call out to God, pleading for His help, His strength, His healing, His mercy – whatever we need at that moment. Being in a tough spot makes us realize how helpless we are without God, and how very little we can do on our own, if He were to withdraw His hand from us. When times are hard and our situation is bad, we realize how much we need the Lord God Almighty. Nothing makes us draw close to God and seek His face more than when we experience the troubles and trials of life.

The flip side of that coin is: when life is going smoothly, we tend to be a lot more casual about God. We may say we love the Lord, but it's just token words, mere lip-service. When we don't need His immediate help, we tend to drift along, thinking we're doing okay in our own power, by our own works. As we gain in prosperity, we grow fat (often literally, as well as figuratively) and enjoy what we see as the fruits of our own labors. But God's warning to Jeshurun, given through Moses as they were about to enter the Promised Land, is a warning to us as well:

Beware that you do not forget the LORD thy God,
in not keeping His commandments, and His
judgments, and His statutes, which I command
you this day: Lest when you have eaten and
are full, and have built fine houses, and dwelt
in them; And when your herds and your flocks
multiply, and your silver and gold is multiplied,
and all that you have is multiplied; Then your
heart may become proud, and you forget the
LORD your God, which brought you out of the
land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
(Deuteronomy 8:11-14)

And you say in your heart, My power and the
might of my own hand has gotten me this wealth.
But you shall remember the LORD your God: for
it is He that gives you the power to get wealth,
that He may establish His covenant which He
swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
(Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

Poverty stricken people are usually unable to indulge too much in the lusts of the flesh. Only in our plenty can we afford to indulge ourselves, as Jeshurun did. They indulged their appetites, and fulfilled the lusts of their flesh. We do the same thing. And inevitably, we begin to take God for granted, as Jeshurun did, merely paying God lip-service, rather than truly following His commands. We let things slide, to indulge ourselves and our desires, and then begin to rebel against Him, and His dictates, if they go against our fleshly desires, or what we see as our “rights”.

We tend to forget that the only real “rights” we have are those God has given us. It's interesting that the richer we become, the more we demand the right to go our own way, and do our own thing. When life is hard, when we are struggling and just trying to make ends meet, we aren't nearly as concerned about doing our own thing. As we begin to prosper, we tend to forget that doing our own thing is actually idolatry: wanting to be our own god, and follow our own desires, rather than obeying God. But we need to remember that rebellion against God has serious consequences.

They have corrupted themselves, their place is
not the place of His children: they are a perverse
and crooked generation. (Deuteronomy 32:5)

Of the Rock that gave life to you, you are
unmindful, and you have forgotten the God
that formed you. (Deuteronomy 32:18)

And when the LORD saw it, He abhorred
(had contempt for) them, because of the
provoking of His sons , and of His daughters.
And He said, I will hide my face from them,
(no longer look upon them with favor); I will
see what their end (future) shall be: for they
are a very froward (perverse) generation,
children in whom is no faith (trustworthiness,
or truth). (Deuteronomy 32:19-20)

When anyone has experienced God's goodness, and especially for His redeemed people, rebelling against him is especially wicked. You could reasonably expect people who have not known the Lord to rebel and turn away from Him, but for His redeemed people to do so is even worse. Even so (or perhaps especially so), God will never give up on His children; He will pursue them with righteous indignation until they either repent or perish.

For they are a nation void of counsel,
neither is there any understanding
in them. O if only they were wise,
if only they understood this, if only
they would consider their latter end!
(Deuteronomy 32:28-29)

Some of the saddest words in the world must be "If only". It is never God's desire for the people He created in His own image to turn away from Him, following other gods, seeking self, and sin, and death. God always desires for His children to consider the results of their choices; He wants us to choose life and blessings. Moses wrote this to the Israelites, just before his death:

I call heaven and earth to record this day
against you, that I have set before you life
and death, blessing and cursing: therefore
choose life, that both you and your offspring
may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Our loving Creator and the Rock of our salvation desires to bless us; He want us to choose to do those things that will bring His blessing (benevolence and prosperity) upon ourselves. God desires that people should be wise and discerning, considering what their choices will lead to, and what will be the end if they continuing in their sin and rebellion. He deeply longs for people to turn from their rebellion and live.

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD,
I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked;
but (desire) that the wicked turn from his way
and live: turn, turn from your evil ways; for why
will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11)

Our Heavenly Father allows man to each make their own choice, but it is never God's preference for anyone to die in their sins. He longs for man to come to repentence, to live and be blessed.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as
some men count slackness; but is longsuffering
toward us, (He is) not willing that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger,
and plenteous in mercy. (Psalms 103:8)

He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His
ways are judgment: a God of truth and without
iniquity, just and right is He. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

There is no doubt that our God has greatly blessed us. The only question is, what will be our respose to Him? Will we be like Jeshurun, who continued in their rebellion and suffered terrible consequences? Or will we learn from these words, and remember our Lord, and honor Him by following His decrees and giving Him His rightful place as Sovereign Lord?

Moses gave this command to the Israelites as they were about to enter into the Promised land, a charge to heed all the words God had given them. This command is not a mere trifle, but a matter of life and death. God's words are not vain, or just empty words: they are the key to receiving God's blessing. In fact, His words are life, then and now.

And Moses made an end of speaking all these words
to all Israel: And he said unto them, Set your hearts
unto all the words which I testify among you this day,
which you shall command your children to observe to
do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing
for you; because it is your life: and through this thing
you shall prolong your days in the land, when you go
over Jordan to possess it. (Deuteronomy 32:45-47)

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