“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God…” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Once again we find ourselves looking at Deuteronomy, studying Moses’ final words to the Israelites. The great leader who had shepherded his people out of Egypt and through the wilderness had reached the end of his journey. The Israelites were on the precipice of entering the Promised Land, but Moses would not be going with them. His mission would be ending now, just shy of the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants. Moses would see it—the land flowing with milk and honey—-from the mountaintop, but he would not enjoy it in this life.
Moses goes before the people of Israel and instructs them on how they must live once they go into the land that God had set out before them. He reminds the Israelites that God had made a covenant with the previous generation at Sinai—-that they would be His people and keep His law—-and in turn, He would be their God and bless them. The Israelites of the previous generation agreed to these terms and were sprinkled with the blood of a sacrificed animal to show their acceptance of the covenant, yet this was the same group of people who got cold feet when they reached the border of the Promised Land. They were too scared of the giants that inhabited it and too intimidated by the other obstacles that were before them; they did not have faith in God to keep His promise to give them the land. For this, they were forced to wander in the desert for forty years, until that faithless generation died.
Moses is now before the new generation, one that is faithful and will enter and inhabit the Promised Land. He goes over all the terms of the covenant with them, the good and the bad. He spells out for them the blessings that they will experience if they follow after God and seek Him and hold up their end of the covenant. He also details the numerous disasters, plagues, and sufferings they will endure if they fail to abide by the terms of the covenant. Moses put it simply for the Israelites: “I’ve made it clear for you,” he said, “I’ve set before you two options: obedience and blessings or disobedience and curses; life or death.”
“Choose life,” was Moses’ exhortation.
All Israel had to do was obey God, and they would experience blessings and life.
Where have we heard language like this before?
Think back—-way back-—to a time when everything was perfect: Eden.
After God completed creation, He told Adam and Eve that they could eat from any tree in the garden, except for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. “Do not eat from that tree,” said God, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
God told man to obey and choose life. Man disobeyed. He sinned. He chose death.
God is the Fount of All Being, He is the source of all life. To seek after God is to seek life. To do what God wills is to choose life. To seek after anything else is sin, and that is to pursue death. To choose anything over God is to choose death.
In Deuteronomy, Moses is telling the new generation of Israelites that they have a unique opportunity: God is presenting them with a beautiful and bountiful land, and they can stay and live there as long as they choose to seek after God—-as long as they obey Him. In a way, Israel is getting a second chance at the choice Adam had; to obey and choose life or disobey and choose death.
Israel chose to seek after God for a time, but then their hearts began to turn away. They began to serve false gods and failed to abide by the terms of the covenant. As punishment, they were driven from the land God had given them, just as Adam and Eve had been driven from Eden. Israel broke its covenantal vows. They had disobeyed, just as Adam had; they forsook the Promised Land, just as Adam forsook Eden.
God knew this was how the story would unfold. He knew even before Adam fell what would have to happen to restore the proper relationship between Himself and His creation. His son—-God-Incarnate and Immanuel—-Jesus Christ, would have to come to Earth. Christ would seek God in everything He did. He would live a perfect life; He would choose life. Christ would do all of this so that He could die to create a New Covenant, one that He would seal with His own blood; whoever is covered in the blood of this New Covenant will have eternal life. Christ is the New Adam, the perfect Adam, who didn’t stumble where the Old Adam or Israel did. He perfectly upheld the covenant so that He could be the perfect covenantal sacrifice. Those who seek after Him choose life—not only here and now, but also when He ushers in the New Heaven and the New Earth and restores everything to Edenic perfection.
So kneel before the cross at Calvary, where Christ, the Son of God—the New and perfect Adam—chose to die, and choose life.
photo courtesy of ms-reseacrch.com