15See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I 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, 20loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
This passage comes at the very end of the final book of the “Books of Moses.” Moses has been the main character (besides God of course) in four of the five books. We hear the story of Moses being raised in Egypt by Pharaoh’s family, fleeing the country after killing a slave driver, finding a wife, talking to God through a burning bush, going back to Egypt to free the children of Abraham from slavery and leading them through the Red Sea to the wilderness for 40 years. Throw in the 10 commandments and a lot of other laws and wanderings and life lessons along the way.
If you want more on this, rent the movie “The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston. A bit of trivia here – Heston not only played the role of Moses, but the voice of God is also done by Heston. Throw that tidbit out at your next dinner party!
But I digress.
As I said, this passage comes at the end of the final book. Moses is given the opportunity to look into the promised land but will die before they cross the Jordan. The reason can be found in the previous books/chapters.
Before they enter, and right before he dies, he offers words of direction and blessing and a choice. The choice is listed here – follow God’s ways, God’s decrees and commandments and ordinances and live, or choose not.
Life and death. Blessings and curses.
Seems like a pretty easy choice, yes?
But we know the rest of the story, don’t we?
We WANT to choose blessings and life. But we often turn to other gods, we fall away from GOD and it leads to despair and death.
God will send another to free us from the bonds that tie us down, lead us through the waters of baptism, and bring us to God’s promised land – God’s kingdom.
Because of Jesus, our relationship changes. Not an IF you do this, then God will bless you. But rather, BECAUSE of JESUS, we can THEREFORE live as God created us to live. Life is ours.
Don’t choose life – accept it!
Another tidbit – some say Moses wrote the first five books in the Bible. But the last chapter of Deuteronomy talks about his death. How can that be? Some say he must have written that part with a tear in his eye!
Let us pray: Almighty God, thank you for the gift of life. Free us from holding on to that which turns us from you and others so we may accept this precious gift. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen