Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 27-30
“Today the Lord your God has commanded you to obey all these decrees and regulations. So be careful to obey them WHOLEHEARTEDLY. You have declared today that the Lord is your God. And you have promised to walk in his ways, and to obey his decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything he tells you. The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands.” – Deuteronomy 26:16-18
What a great description of the covenant relationship God set up with His people. If the people would declare their obedience, not just in word but with all their heart, they would be his special treasure. Love and obedience were both necessary in this covenant relationship with God. If they chose love but not obedience, or if they chose obedience but not love, they were breaking their covenant with God.
God was looking for more than just token obedience – following a set of rules, doing the bare minimum required. He was looking for a wholehearted commitment. The psalmist put it beautifully when he declared, “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free” (Psalm 119:32). Can you picture the path and the choice to RUN WITH VIGOR the path marked out ahead? God’s commands provide the boundaries for the path and He gives us direction as He calls us to walk this love journey with Him.
Moses laid out for the Israelites all the blessings that would be theirs if they would FULLY obey the Lord and CAREFULLY keep all his commands (28:1). He also laid out the curses that would come and “overwhelm” them if they chose their own path or walked outside of the boundaries God’s commands had established (28:15). In fact, he spent 14 verses describing the blessings and 54 verses describing the curses. All together, these 68 verses laid out the terms of God’s covenant with the people of Israel (29:1,29).
Moses showed them that this covenant relationship was for all of them standing there that day and also for future generations. If they chose to break the covenant and disobey, it would affect the next generation and the generations to come. Someone will ask, “Why has the Lord done this to the land? Why was he so angry?” The answer will be because the people abandoned their covenant relationship with God. They thought they were safe and could follow the desires of their own stubborn heart (28:24-25,19). But if you return to the Lord, the Lord will have mercy and do a work in your heart. He will transform your heart so that you love him with all your heart and soul. He will give life and you will be successful in all you do.
“The Lord will delight in you if you obey his voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.” – Deuteronomy 30:10
This next passage is one of my favorites and I have been anticipating getting to it. I love how Moses lays out the choice before God’s people – the choice for life or death, for blessings or curses.
“This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ it is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’ No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.
“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 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.
“But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 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.
“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! 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.” – Deut. 30:11-20