Deuteronomy 30:15-20 “Therefore Choose Life”

Posted on April 27, 2012. Filed under: Devotions- The Mark 12 Life |

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bryan E. Walker


A lot of times in Reformed circles we so focus on the Sovereignty of God (because the rest of Christianity seems to ignore it…?) that we tend to ignore those passages that command us to Choose. There is a balance within the Scriptures of commanding us to choose, to repent and believe, and the deeper explanations of God’s sovereignty and our helplessness. In Deuteronomy 30 there is a clear passage that commands us to “Choose life”, which I read earlier this week and now want to meditate on for a while.


The context of the verses I want to examine is stated in 29:1- they are in Moaband Moses is renewing the covenant between the 2nd generation, those who were children when God delivered the Israelites fromEgypt and who have grown up in the Wilderness, and the LORD. They are poised now to cross theJordan River and take over the Promised Land which their parents had refused to do 40 years prior. Moses is going to die so he will not be leading them further; that will be left to Joshua. So this occasion is very similar to the events at Horeb/Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19-24 (see especially 24:3-8) where the first generation of redeemed slaves swore to obey all the words that the LORD had spoken.


Moses now (Deut. 30) tells God’s people, “I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.” People today do not generally like these kinds of contrasts; we really tend to prefer gray areas, mushy zones of moral relativism, ambiguity, and warm, fuzzy worship that is doctrine-lite. But Moses boils it all down to life and death, good v. evil. There is not much room for negotiation there, and I, for one, find comfort in that bold line.


What the Lord offers is life, abundant life, eternal life, because He alone is Good. The only other option is evil which leads to death. God is the author of life and he determines what is Good. Evil is anything that goes against God’s will and character or that does not perfectly fulfill the Good which God wills. This contrast between good and evil, life or death, comes from Genesis 1-3 where we see God speaking light into existence and the Author of Light draws a stark contrast between light and dark, day and night. Notice that the dark is not so much something as it is the absence of something- light. Then, in the Garden of Eden, there are the two trees, one representing life and one representing death. Adam was commanded to NOT eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because on that day he would surely die.


What life and death choice is Moses speaking about in Deut. 30? “If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God…then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land….But if your heart turns away…you shall surely perish!” Obedience leads to Life and Blessing, but turning away leads to death!


Moses goes into a bit more detail about what it means to obey the commandments of the LORD, “by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules…” To obey God, then, is more than a blind, mindless obedience. God intends for us to obey out of love. This points us back to an earlier verse in Deuteronomy, 6:4-6 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” This passage, combined with Lev.19:18“…you shall love your neighbor as yourself” are quoted by Jesus in Mark12:29-31 in answer to the question, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”


Moses links obedience and love; they are inseparable. And this gets to the core of my main point: we are to choose life. We choose things based upon our will, our desires, what we love or value most highly. When we are lost, separated from Christ by our sins, it is impossible to choose Good, because our heart is only evil all the time. But once the Holy Spirit regenerates our heart, replacing our heart of stone with a heart of flesh, opening our eyes to the gospel and to Christ, then we can choose the Good, Christ. Regeneration must precede conversion. It is only as we are born again that we are enabled to freely choose Christ. As the Holy Spirit gives us the twin gifts of faith and repentance, our hearts are warmed towards Christ and we understand our own sinfulness and Christ’s wonderfulness…and we obey his command to follow out of love.


Moses saw what was ahead for his people. They would cross theJordan Riverand begin a long war with the Canaanites and conquer the Promised Land. They would face many temptations along the way, not the least of which would be to worship the false gods of the land. He commands them to love the God who has delivered them enough to obey Him.


This speaks to our sanctification today. If we want to enjoy the blessings that God has for us, we must choose to obey out of love. When we choose to not obey, we choose curses. Moses exhorts his people, and us, to hold fast to Him, for He is your life….So to choose life is to choose Christ, and to choose Christ is to choose life, and blessings.


My problem is, of course, that all too often I love other things more than God and choose…curses. Anytime I choose against loving God, against God’s will, I choose to hold fast to an idol, a false god- which brings death.


Pray for a heart that loves God so that we will choose life and obey Christ out of love.


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