Introduction from the collect or special prayer for the week: We worship a Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son was revealed to destroy the works of the devil which lead us into God’s wrath, but rather to make us children of God and heirs of eternal life.
First of the readings for the week leading up to Sunday, November 19.
(an additional reading)
Choose life and prosperity in covenant with God, or the death and destruction that results from independence.
11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.
12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”
13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”
14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
- ‘Not too difficult” v.11 and “very near you” v.14 are different expressions of the same thing. This is a word “in your mouth” i.e. one that can be memorised and spoken out, and “in your heart” i.e. one that you can feel and respond to. We would say colloquially that it’s not too big a stretch for us to ‘get it’.
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.
- As they get ready to move out and enter the Promised Land, there is a clear choice to be made.
16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
- Not just a choice: obedience to what is commanded is a pre-requisite.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them,
18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
- The danger of being attracted to other gods would be greater as they approached Canaan and found themselves surrounded by pagan practices.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Choose life by following God’s word and God’s ways
The nation of Israel at the time of Moses didn’t have what we take for granted; in particular, they didn’t have the salvation history of Israel to refer to. However, Moses impressed upon them that the word was “near”, in other words, by no means out of reach. They had heard it and it was in their oral tradition.
We have a lot more points of reference and education, not to mention a personal relationship with God. They related to Yahweh through priests and sacrifices and the Law. We have a choice not available to them – knowing God through Jesus and by revelation from the Holy Spirit.
But we “choose life” through the same fundamental commitment: to walk in His ways and not our own.
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