I have had a few days to spend time with grandkids, whose ages range from 9 months to 7 years old. As we were moving through those days, I kept hearing their mothers encouraging them to make good choices as they were being instructed and sometimes disciplined. I noticed a very strong correlation between having their full attention and their ability to choose the better way. When they were focused in, they did well. When they weren’t paying attention to the warnings, they often went the wrong way with their actions.
Looking around at all the adults I see, it seems we never grow out of that behavior!
Today, we will dip our toes into Moses’ river of thought and join him as he is reviewing the Covenant with the people of Israel. His words are stark and matter of fact. He gives them two choices:
Obey and be blessed.
Turn away and die.
Well, alrighty then! Any questions?
One would think that with the clarity of that message, the people would instantly do a face-palm and say, “Oh! Now I get it!’ But have you ever tried to follow God’s instructions precisely and to the letter? Or do you waver, wander, and fall away the minute you are distracted and tempted to follow your own way? We’re like the three-year-old who took the cookie anyway.
Deuteronomy 30 (Common English Bible)
15 Look here! Today I’ve set before you life and what’s good versus death and what’s wrong. 16 If you obey the Lord your God’s commandments that I’m commanding you right now by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments, his regulations, and his case laws, then you will live and thrive, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
The nation of Israel was invited to live in the Promised Land. It was all laid out before them, in all of its milk-and-honey glory. God himself had carved a path through the wilderness, across the Red Sea, turning away their enemies and foes and creating a new life for them. There was only one more thing needed: they were required to walk in God’s ways and keep his commandments.
17 But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and so are misled, worshipping other gods and serving them, 18 I’m telling you right now that you will definitely die. You will not prolong your life on the fertile land that you are crossing the Jordan River to enter and possess.
Failing to live up to their part of the Covenant would result in death. They were warned about turning their hearts away from God and refusing to listen. They were warned about worshipping other gods and serving them. Their lives would be cut short for their disobedience.
19 I call heaven and earth as my witnesses against you right now: I have set life and death, blessing and curse before you. Now choose life—so that you and your descendants will live— 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying his voice, and by clinging to him. That’s how you will survive and live long on the fertile land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Moses’ woes and warnings turn into the sweetest enticement: Choose Life! In everything, in every way, we are called to choose life.
What are you doing right now that is killing your joy? Are there habits, behaviors, or addictions that are leading you to death? Are you in a job, a situation, or a relationship that causes you to be misled and turn your heart away from God?
What god are you worshipping?
Christ died so that you might choose life. Forgiveness and the atonement of sin are the hallmarks of the New Covenant. We stand on the precipice of the Jordan and have the same choice to make: we can choose disobedience, or we can choose what is good.
Choose the good.
River Crossing by Michelle Robertson