Choices (By Lynne McCarthy)
Text: Deuteronomy 30-31
“Listen, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your might.” Deut. 6:5 – ”Shema”
Observe The Plains of Moab, on the cusp of entering the Promised Land. An entire chapter of blessings and curses had been delivered, and God pleads with Israel to return to His care. His mercy and love have never faltered.
He offers options: obedience and life – or rebellion and death. Their choice. If they choose the former, He will change their hearts to love and serve Him; He will again delight in giving all good to them. His near presence dwells in his command, so doable and so close they can speak it from their hearts (v 14; Rom. 10:5-8). Love the Lord your God. They’ve heard it before. Choose, Israel, choose life!! Shema – listen!! This is the key to your life! Love the Lord your God! Obey him! Commit yourselves firmly to Him!
Ancient of days, exhausted, Moses has more words before he dies. God will go ahead of them to destroy the nations before Israel enters the new land; they will need His strength and courage. Joshua, his worthy successor, receives the promise that God will never fail nor abandon him, or His people.
After commissioning Joshua at the Tabernacle, Moses writes all God’s instructions down. The priests place the Book of Instructions (Torah) in the Ark.
And, God’s word to Joshua and Moses at this last meeting before Moses dies? The people will continue to rebel, to abandon God and go their own way. [Oh, no! Not again!] God will give Moses a song to teach to the people, a witness against them (31:19).
Interpret The Hebrew word for Deuteronomy is ‘haDevarim’ – ‘The Words’, and God’s words through Moses both love and warn. His pleas to a stubborn people reveal His father-heart as we sense the love and tears behind them.
Deuteronomy, Moses’ ‘sermon’ (and we think 30 minutes is long?) recalls God’s covenants and reminds the people of their promises to follow them. Of course, they fail miserably and often, right up to the end, an entire generation destroyed. God wants to save his people, to give them all they need. He persists in calling His people back to Himself, reminding them of His lovingkindness, His mercies, forgiving again and again.
Yes, the news of failure goes on and on. But the dismal news will ultimately be replaced by such glorious news that Israel (and we) can barely grasp. There is a Saviour, waiting in the heavenlies! There are hints and whispers. But they must wait … the people are still on the Plains of Moab…
Apply Repetitions in the Hebrew Bible tell us that God is absolute about His word. In chapter 30, “… with all your heart and soul” is stated three times: verses 2, 6,10. His admonition not to fear, that He will be with them and not forsake them is His strong admonition to trust Him and His word. He will not fail them nor forsake them.
And shouldn’t this be comforting (in the sense of ‘strengthening’) to us when we face unknowns of any description? As we hold fast to Him, we find He is [our] life and length of days. (30:20b). His word is near us – in the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament. As we read and inwardly apply His truths, they lodge in our hearts and minds as His Spirit plants them deep within, but so accessible. And as we learn Him and take Him at His word, we walk with His Son on the road to His ever-new life. We have trustworthy leaders who faithfully preach His word and love Him. We move together in trust and faith, absorbing His true Word, sharing His life with others, walking a long obedience in the same direction.
Ask So – have we decided? How shall we then live?
Pray Lord of love, bring us into the joy and freedom of loving You with all our hearts, minds and strength because You loved us first; give us the grace to Shema – listen!
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.