Saturday 19 November 2016

Bible Book:

“Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.” (v. 19)

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Saturday 19 November 2016

Psalm: Psalm 53


This passage brings to an end the long speech reported to havebeen given by Moses - a speech which detailed not only the laws bywhich the Israelites should live by, but the offer of the covenantbetween them and God that they were being invited to enter. AsMoses's life was drawing to a close, and as he explained to hisfollowers that he wouldn't be able to travel with them in to theland beyond the Jordan river (Deuteronomy 31:1-2), it's notable that heconcludes his speech with the exhortation for his people to "chooselife".

Once again the offer God was making to them was made clear. Theycould obey the commandments given to them and in return have aprosperous future, or they could adopt the religious practices ofthe people they were shortly to live alongside and by doing so havea life of adversity (verse 15). The choice was stark, a choicebetween life and death.

If Deuteronomy was based on the law book produced in the templeduring the reign of King Josiah (2Kings 22-23), whether written then or as some scholars believeat the earlier time of the reforming King Hezekiah (2Kings 18-20), the authors would have been well aware of thetroubled history of the Israelites. They would have known theancient stories now contained within the books of Joshua, Judges,Samuel and Kings, known as the Deuteronomic history. These wereaccounts of the entry into the Promised Land, the battles andsetbacks, the establishment of a kingdom only to be followed by itsdivision and throughout it all a constant attraction to follow theindigenous religious customs and rituals. The authors will haveknown that all too often the Israelites made the wrong choices.

One of the tasks therefore was to re-establish the truth of theoneness of God and the proper way of worship, then centred on thetemple, for this was a vital way of rebuilding the nation, not onlyat the time of Josiah but also after the period of exile. It was atime once again to make the right choices, to obey thecommandments, "loving God and walking in his ways" (v. 16). For thesake of the future of the nation, it was time to honour thecovenant with God and "choose life".

To Ponder

  • Throughout Deuteronomy the suggestion is made that the peoplewill prosper if they obey God's laws. How would you explain that tothose living in poverty today?
  • What are the idols today that could make it difficult for us to"choose life"? And how should we help those facing thisdifficulty?
  • We often pray for doctors, nurses and carers, but rarely forlawyers or those whose task it is to uphold the law. Pray for thosewho have responsibilities relating to the law, both in society andin the Church.
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