A couple of months ago I began reading through the Bible in a year in chronological order, and I’m just finishing Deuteronomy. I don’t have a clue how many times I’ve read through that book, but this time, Moses’ admonition to the nation of Israel near the end of Deuteronomy, just before they were to enter the promised land, resonated with me in a way it hadn’t before.
Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.
17 But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.
19 Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the lord, you will live long in the land the lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The choice to God’s people was clear: cling to Him and be blessed, or turn their backs on Him and be destroyed. So much else went along with choosing life: purity, holiness, a definite difference between the Israelites and the rest of the world. Moses’ language is stark because the choice was that severe — and that important.
It’s no secret that we live in an increasingly dark world. Sometimes it’s an easy temptation to give up the fight and go with the flow. But rereading Moses’ words makes it clear to all of us who follow the God of the Bible that we cannot.
Now, the phrase “choose life” conjures images of the abortion fight, but the concept applies to every area of our lives. What does it mean to choose life? Professor Tyler Mayfield notes that choosing life is more than opting for mere existence:
We are not talking about simply a decision to subsist. To be or not to be: that is not the question really. God’s admonition to choose life, as we find it in this passage, is defined rather clearly here and within the whole book of Deuteronomy.
The idea of choosing life encompasses eternal life, for sure, but it also means opting for the “rich and satisfying life” that Jesus promises in John 10:10.
If we are to choose life, we must remain pure and holy. We cannot allow ourselves to fall in line with a culture that gives up more and more ground. We must be noticeably different — set apart enough that others take notice of our lives. Choosing life means standing up for what we believe, but doing so in a way that speaks the truth in love. In fact, it includes loving even those with whom we disagree!
Choosing life means obeying God and His commands. If we choose life, we must commit to spending time in God’s Word and in prayer. Exercising spiritual discipline and making disciples are essential for anyone who decides to follow the Godly path.
If we claim to love and follow the God of the Bible, why wouldn’t we choose the path He has laid out for us? The choice is clear: we must choose life and obey God, because the world needs to see His love now more than ever.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.com / pathdoc