“Look, buddy, I’ll say this one more time: You may have this or that. That’s it. That is your choice. Those two options, only!”
This is a pretty regular conversation in my house. My son, the ultimate negotiator, likes to lay everything out and look at all his options before he makes his choice. The more choices, the better. Sometimes it is agonizing to watch him mull over decisions, especially when I know what will be best for him in the long run.
The stakes are, of course, a little bit higher for the Israelites and thereby for us. Summing up what we’ve learned in the preceding verses, we show our love for Him through our obedience to his commands. He shows His love for us by pouring out an abundance of wonderful gifts. To turn away from Him is choose death. I can hear his passion in the pleas of verse 19, Therefore, choose life that you and your offspring may live! But of course, love isn’t really love unless there is free will. So, though God pleads with the Israelites, and us, to please, please…choose life, we really do have the choice. He will not force us to live a life of abundant blessings if we don’t want to. (How crazy does that sound when we put it that way?)
Reading our verse for this week reminds me that this choice of life or death, blessing or curse, is the same choice he gave us way back in the beginning when he placed man in the Garden of Eden.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
Have you ever imagined the week of creation and what the world may have been like when it was new? Imagine the heavens – the stars, the planets, and all the heavenly host watching the Lord mold man, breathe life into him, and place him in the garden. I imagine the earth, the animals, fish, birds, and even the trees, rocks, and mountains waiting with baited breath to see what the man, the image bearer of God, would do. How painful and heartbreaking must it have been when Adam and Eve chose death?
Now in Deuteronomy 30:19, the Lord calls on heaven and earth to witness again the choice set before us.
We need only look up at the stars or across a field dotted with wildflowers to remember that His Word is not too high or too far out of reach. It is as near as our hearts and as simple as believing that Jesus is Lord.
“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:8-10)