“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
Moses and the Israelites sit at the edge of the Promised Land. Moses, who has been leading the people of Israel for the last forty years, is getting ready to hand over the reigns of leadership to Joshua and the next generation. Before leaving, however, Moses reminds Israel of its history and of its commitment to God. Moses recounts the law to the people, reminding them of the covenant they have agreed to, and a choice they have to make. The choice is between life and death, blessing and curses. The choice is between trusting and following God no matter what or becoming one’s own god. The choice is between will God rule one’s life as Lord, or will God just be another character in an already full life. What choice will Israel make?
Of course, Israel has been here before. Almost forty years before, Moses stood in a similar spot with the parents and grandparents of the group he is now addressing and offered them a similar choice. Moses offered them the Promised Land if they would trust God and claim their inheritance. That group chose not to follow. They chose to run away, to head back to Egypt. Because of their lack of faith, they turned an eleven day journey into a forty-year wondering. Because of their lack of faith, every person over the age of twenty except for two, died in the wilderness. They had been running a good race and had the opportunity to follow God into another great adventure, but they chose fear and safety, and ultimately death, instead.
Now, Moses was talking to a new generation, to the children and grandchildren of those that had chosen poorly, and he was offering them a second chance. I set before you two choices today, choose life. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live. Choose life and leave a lasting legacy for all that will come after you. Choose life, because it is only in obeying and holding fast to God that one truly lives.
As we read the book of Deuteronomy today we are confronted with a similar choice. We may not be standing at the edge of the Promised Land with our brothers and sisters, but we are still presented with a choice. It is a choice between life and death, between blessing and curses. It is a choice of whether we will live with Jesus as Lord or not. It is the same choice that Moses presented to the Israelites, and it is the same choice that each successive generation has had to make. The story of Deuteronomy presents us with a choice that we all have to make. Will we today choose life or death? Will we today choose to follow Jesus or will we choose to make our own way?
The choice to choose life is a daily decision. We have to make that choice everyday when we wake up in the morning. Before we even get our feet out of the bed, we are presented with a choice. Will I choose life today or death? Will I choose to live within the blessings and commands of God today? We may be thankful for the choices we made yesterday and hope for positive results tomorrow, but the choice of life or death is a daily choice. I can’t just make it once and hope it sticks. I have to daily make the decision to love God and others more than myself. I must daily make the decision to submit to God and not try to be lord of the world (or at least my life). I have to decide daily to trust in a God that I can’t always see, feel, and hear more than the reality around me. And everyday when I make the decision to allow Jesus to be Lord today, it leads to life.
As we read Deuteronomy, the message is not just to those living thousands of years ago, the message is spoken to us today. Today, Moses has set before us a choice, life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live. Choose to live in obedience to God, for it is the only choice that leads to a full life.