“I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life.” Deuteronomy 30:19
The book of Deuteronomy is a series of three closing speeches from Moses to the people of Israel. These are long speeches. The people did not get out on time that Sabbath. The Philistines beat them to Piccadilly.
In the last of the three speeches Moses clearly outlined the choice that awaited the people. He had set before them life and death, blessing and curse. Then he challenged them to “choose life.” (Deut. 30:19)
By this time Moses had been with the people for more than forty years. God had called him out of retirement as a shepherd in Midian and told him to challenge the mightiest ruler on the planet. Moses was reluctant but eventually obedient. God worked through him and accomplished great things. The people were free.
Then Moses encountered in the people the same reluctance he had first shown God. They did not believe they could take the Promised Land, so for forty years they wandered and waited until nearly every person from that reluctant generation had died. You can hear occasional hints of bitterness in Moses’ sermons. He had tried his best, but they would not follow him or trust God. Now Moses had buried an entire generation and was nearing death himself. A new group stood before him who did not remember Egypt. All they had before them was an unclaimed Promised Land.
So what did Moses say to them in the closing address of his three part series? Did he talk to them about warfare and strategies for defeating walled cities? No. Did he speak of a new administrative system for governing 12 wandering tribes? Hardly.
By this time he was weary. He had surveyed their history and reviewed all the laws. The last part of the last message begins after a pause. His final encouragement is this, “choose life.” The God of life offered them life. Choose life. Every other path leads to destruction. Choose life.
We might imagine the response of the people. “We are God’s people! Of course, we choose life! We have been wandering for as long as any of us can remember. Isn’t our choice obvious?”
Moses had been their age one time. They had never been his. He knew that following God was not merely a one-time decision that you can make, notarize, seal, and file away. A daily rededication is absolutely essential to be strong enough to stand against tests and temptation. Jesus had the same thought when He taught that if anyone would come after Him he must take up his cross daily and follow Him. (Luke 9:23)
So make this commitment to follow God your first prayer in the morning. Choose the life He offers. The abundant life. It will strengthen you for the challenges of the day.
Dr. Terry Ellis
May 21, 2012