The book of Deuteronomy is (among other things), a record of Moses preparing Israel for life in the promised land. Chapter 28 is part of a concluding section of Moses’ address given to the nation shortly before his death (34:1-8). Not long after his passing, Israel entered Canaan under Joshua’s leadership.
We reach a crescendo in the book as Moses starkly outlines Israel’s options—they could follow God and be blessed (28:1-14), or not follow God and be cursed (v. 15-68)—there was no middle ground! Moreover, following God did not mean following their own inner voice or mystical impulses as the Canaanites and Egyptians did (see Leviticus 18), it meant obeying the objective laws of the covenant God had given through Moses. These laws could be read, learned, and obeyed and offered true spiritual guidance (read Psalm 119 and think about Jesus’ joyful compliance to the Law of Moses).
Everything came down to whether they would make the decision to submit at the heart level to God. Although He wanted everyone to be obey and be blessed, He refused make that choice for them. He honored the capacity He had created them with by leaving the choice to follow Him up to them. God puts His faith in us to make the right decision. (Ponder the richness of that!).
For Israel under the covenant given by Moses and for us today under the covenant given through Jesus, this means that our destiny isn’t about chance—it’s about choice. This is Super Bowl week and an estimated 50 million people will bet over $16 billion on the game. That’s a lot of people foolishly taking a chance on chance. After all, who can say what will happen? We can’t even predict the weather for tomorrow! God arranged things so that our eternal destiny is not a result of chance but choice.
Some view choice as something that is about them and no one else (abortion is a classic case of this). Others understand that life doesn’t work that way—we are all connected so that our choices can’t be made in a vacuum and they affect everyone to some degree. But the healthiest perspective is to see choice as containing one more element—it is an opportunity for us to personally respond to God. Did someone say or do something hurtful toward us? We have a choice to hold a grudge or forgive them. If we think of our choice as a personal response to God, we are more likely to do the right thing and forgive them.
Our goal as disciples should be to make faithful choices. No one is going to make perfect choices, so we don’t need to get paralysis for analysis and act as if the fate of the universe hangs with our every decision. It doesn’t. But we should strive to make choices that are faithful—consistent with the faith we have in God and the way He desires us to live.
Choices are important because in the end, we become what we choose. It we consistently choose to love only those who love us, then we’ll be mediocre people living a mediocre life. If we choose to embrace all people as Jesus did, we’ll experience life at its most challenging and rewarding.
The choice is ours!