“And when the LORD saw it, He spurned them,
Because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters.
And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them,
I will see what their end will be,
For they are a perverse generation,
Children in whom is no faith.
They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God;
They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols.
But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation;
I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.
For a fire is kindled in My anger,
And shall burn to the lowest hell;
It shall consume the earth with her increase,
And set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
‘I will heap disasters on them;
I will spend My arrows on them.
They shall be wasted with hunger,
Devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction;
I will also send against them the teeth of beasts,
With the poison of serpents of the dust.
The sword shall destroy outside;
There shall be terror within
For the young man and virgin,
The nursing child with the man of gray hairs. Deuteronomy 32:19-25)
Only the wicked enjoy inflicting pain. So God suffered even thinking about the need to bring punishment upon his people. God knew them. He knew what they would do because he knows everything, past, present and future. So God had Moses teach the people a song. But rather than a love song, it was a dirge. It described the future of his people and it was not the happy future they might have expected as they stood joyfully on the banks of the Jordan River gazing at the Promised Land, full of hope and expectation.
God knew they would be unfaithful to him, and so he composed the music to go with the punishment that was inevitably to come upon them. The later prophets, from Isaiah to Malachi, picked up God’s lyrics and merely repeated them.
God described his anger as a fire that burned “from the lowest hell.” Throughout the Bible, the image of fire would become a metaphor for God’s wrath and judgment. The “lowest hell” is a translation of the Hebrew word “sheol” which actually referred to the grave rather than the place of eternal torment for the wicked.
Despite everything, God was still willing to make them his people. He knew they’d abandon him. He knew they would worship everyone else. But he also knew he could redeem them. He knew that in the end, he could fix them. All their pain, all his pain, was still worth it because he loved them so much. God loves us more than we can fathom.