Moses gathered the Israelites at Moab, just southeast of the Dead Sea. Their next step was to travel just 30-40 miles north to cross the Jordan and begin their conquest of Canaan, the Land of Promise. In preparation for this monumental move, Moses had taken the time to review the history of God’s people and the Law by which they were to live. He had warned them of the curses that would be brought down on them if they did not obey these commandments. It was a frightening picture of God’s judgment against unfaithfulness. Having explained the force of the wrath of God, Moses then explained the incredible mercy and compassion of God.
In verses 1-10, we find a recipe for revival that is specific to Israel, but transferrable to you and me. If the people had forgotten God and forsaken His Law and were suffering the consequences of their sin, they could “return to the Lord” and begin obeying Him again (v.2). God would respond with compassion, receive them back, and restore what they had lost (v.3). They would find His love to be as fierce as His judgment!
So Moses presented God’s gracious offer, a choice of two options for how they could proceed. He had set before them life and good, death and evil (v.15). It was the decision that would determine their destiny: would they love God and serve Him, or would they love the world and reject Him? There was no third option. There was no avoiding the choice. They were free to choose, but they were not free not to choose.
This choice was not about robotically going through the motions of obeying God’s Law. It was a matter of the heart: if you love God with all your heart you will obey Him, but if “your heart turns away” you will not (v.16). Do you love God? Do you really love God? According to Moses, real love for God is proven by your actions: “by keeping His commandments and His statutes and His rules.” Religious talk is cheap; you can say you love God but it isn’t real unless it is confirmed by your behavior.
I don’t know about you, but I really needed the encouragement of verses 11-14 today. My paraphrase: “You can do this! This is not too hard for you! God has made clear what you should do and He is right here to help — you can do it, so just do it!”
This chapter ends with an amazing statement of compassion (v.19-20): “I’m giving you a choice, and I want you to choose life! I want to bless you, I want to walk with you, I want to fight your battles for you, I want to provide for you and protect you!” That’s how much God loves you. He wants to do all that for you. And He has made the choice very clear. You can choose to live for Him or to live for other things — but you cannot choose the consequences of your choice. Choose life that you may live.