Choose You This Day: Love At the Heart of Obedience

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, which was written and recorded by Moses the servant of the LORD. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters twenty-eight through thirty of this Old Testament book. As you read the words which are found within this particular portion of Scripture you will notice two distinct truths that are contained therein. Upon initially reading the words contained in these chapters you will find the clarion call given by Moses the servant of the Lord unto the congregation of the children of Israel to not only hearken unto his voice and unto the words which he had spoken unto them, but also to do everything which the LORD their God had commanded them. What’s more, is that directly linked and directly connected to their obedience to that which the LORD commanded is a powerful promise of blessing that would not only pursue, but also overtake them. With that being said, however, Moses spoke unto this generation of the children of Israel and declared unto them in very clear and simple terms the blessings which would come upon them if they obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the commands He gave unto them, as well as the curses that would come upon them if they failed to obey the commands, the words and the statutes of the Lord their God. There is this powerful call given unto the congregation of the children of Israel that they not only hear, but also hearken unto the words which Moses had spoken and delivered unto them to obey them with all their heart. Perhaps the most intriguing truth that is found and contained within this Old Testament book is not only the rehearsing of the commands and statutes which the Lord had spoken unto their fathers, but also the words which Moses was not repeating in their hearing. That first generation would stand before the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness and would hear Him speaking directly unto Moses, and would see and behold the manifestation of His glory and presence, and it would be in the midst of that encounter they would receive the commands and statutes the LORD their God was calling them to hear and obey. As we read the words found within this passage of Scripture you will continue to discover that the entire book was a reminder and rehearsal of the commands and statutes of the living God, which the LORD had given unto their fathers in order that they might obey and follow that which the LORD has instructed unto them.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be gripped with some of the language that is used in this particular portion of Scripture, for the words contained therein is a strong language concerning the word which was found in the presence of the congregation of the children of Israel, and was nigh unto them. Towards the end of the rehearsal and reminder of the words which the LORD their God had commanded, Moses proceeded to speak unto the congregation of the children of Israel and declare unto them that the word which they were hearing on that day—the word which was before them and was to be their life—was not some distant or some foreign word, but was a word that was very near and very close unto them. If you begin reading with and from the tenth verse of the thirtieth chapter you will find the following words which were spoken by Moses the servant of the Lord concerning the word which was being spoken before and among them in their presence. Consider if you will these words which were indeed spoken by Moses unto this generation of the children of Israel which would enter into the land which the living God had promised to bring them into:

“If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep His commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deuteronomy 30:1-14).

With these words Moses was making a powerful statement and powerful declaration unto the congregation of the children of Israel concerning the word which was not only being spoken unto them, but also which was very near unto them in their hearing. As you read the words in this brief passage of Scripture you will find that Moses declared unto the congregation of the children of Israel that the commandment which he commanded unto them was not hidden from them, nor was it far off. These words which were spoken by Moses clearly indicate unto this generation of the congregation of the children of Israel that the commandment which they were to adhere and which they were to obey was present before them in their midst, and that it wasn’t something they needed to go searching for. Stop for a moment and think about that tremendous reality—the reality that the word which the generation of the children of Israel needed was not something that was hidden and concealed from them, nor was it anything that was far off that they needed to go and search for it. The word which was to be the lifeblood of the congregation of the children of Israel was very close and very near unto them, and was something they had direct access to. How absolutely astonishing and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that as Moses stood before the congregation of the children of Israel on this day in the plains of Moab he was clearly indicating unto them that the word which they were to carry with them into the land of Canaan was present with and present among them, and was not something that was somehow being concealed by the living God. The LORD their God wasn’t playing games with them, and He wasn’t withholding that which was necessary for them as they prepared to enter into the land promised and sworn unto their fathers. The LORD their God had clearly spoken unto them and had clearly given them the words, the commandments and the statutes which were to be unto them life and blessing in the midst of the land into which they were coming. The word was not something far off that needed to be searched and sought after, nor was the word something hidden that somehow needed to be found. The word was not as you read in the New Testament “the treasure buried in a field,” which a certain man found while he was in the midst of the field. The word and commandment that was given unto the congregation of the children of Israel was very near and close to them, and Moses would indeed declare that the word was even in their mouth, and in their heart.

In the generation of their fathers there was a need for Moses to ascend the mountain and enter into the presence of the living God in order that he might hear and receive the word which the LORD would speak unto them, and Moses would indeed come down from the mountain with the words which the LORD had spoken unto them. That first generation requested that Moses speak with God, and that God speak with him, and that Moses would speak and deliver unto them all the words which the Lord would deliver unto him. When Moses was instructed to come down from the mountain at the time of the golden calf and the idolatrous worship that was being performed before it, he came down carrying the tablets of stone which had inscribed on them the laws and commands of the living God. Please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this, for it demonstrates the tremendous reality that there was—in that first generation—a tremendous need for Moses to ascend into the presence of the living God in order that he might receive that word which was spoken unto them. Up to that point the congregation of the children of Israel had not experienced the presence, nor the glory of the living God, and the congregation of the children of Israel had not heard the voice of the Lord their God speak to them. They had witnessed and beheld His judgments, His signs and His wonders in the midst of the land of Egypt when He executed judgment against Pharaoh, against his rulers and princes, and even against the gods of Egypt. This congregation would experience the power and might of the Lord their God at the Red Sea when the LORD would cause a strong wind to blow throughout the night causing the waters of the Red Sea to become for them walls on either side. The congregation of the children of Israel would indeed pass through the waters which were a wall unto them on the right and on the left, and when the Egyptians tried pursuing them in the midst of those same waters, they were thrown into confusion, and were ultimately drowned in the midst of the sea. The congregation of the children of Israel had witnessed and beheld the great power, the great strength and the great might of the living God, yet they would not actually hear His voice until they would come unto Horeb, the mountain of God in the wilderness. It would be at the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness the congregation of the children of Israel would indeed and would in fact hear the voice of the Lord their God speaking directly unto Moses in their presence, and would hear the sound of thunders, and the sound of the trumpet waxing louder and louder.

During that first generation there was indeed a great need for someone to ascend up into the presence of the living God in order that the word which would be spoken unto the congregation of the children of Israel might be received. It would be Moses the servant of God who would ascend into the midst of the thick clouds and thick darkness in order that he might receive the words which were spoken unto the children of Israel, as well as deliver it unto them. When the congregation of the children of Israel would receive the words, the commands, the statutes, the decrees, and the Law of the LORD their God it would come through Moses, as it would be Moses who would speak directly unto the living God, and it would be Moses who would hear and receive the words the LORD would speak. It’s quite remarkable and astounding to think about and consider the fact that as Moses stood before the congregation of the children of Israel in the plains of Moab there was not demonstration or manifestation of the presence and glory of the living God. As the congregation of the children of Israel stood before Moses in the plains of Moab that they might hear and receive the words which the LORD had spoken unto their fathers, there would be no thunders and there would be no lightning. There would be no thick clouds and there would be no darkness that would cover the place where Moses was, as he would stand before them and deliver unto them the words and commands the LORD would speak unto them. There was no sound of a trumpet waxing louder and louder, and the mountain which was present before them in the plains of Moab would not tremble and quake under the tremendous weight and pressure of the divine presence and glory of the living God. As the congregation of the children of Israel would stand in the plains of Moab on the verge of entering into that which the Lord their God had for them they would hear—perhaps for the second time around—the word which the LORD had spoken unto their fathers during that first generation. I keep coming back to this particular reality, but I find it to be truly unique to think about and consider the fact that this generation which would enter into the land of Canaan would not receive some new revelation from the living God, nor would they receive a new word from the Lord which they would take with them into the land of Canaan. The generation of the children of Israel which entered into the land of Canaan would not need some new and some fresh revelation and vision from the LORD as they prepared to enter into the land of Canaan, for the word which was already spoken and delivered unto them would be the only thing they would need.

I have to admit that I absolutely love the language that is found within this passage of Scripture, for not only do we find the word being spoken unto this generation of the children of Israel, but we also find Moses emphatically declaring unto them that the word was neither hidden, nor far off and far removed from them, but was nigh unto them—both in their mouths, and in their hearts. Pause for a moment and think about this reality, for with the word being in their mouths the congregation of the children of Israel were able to speak the word that was to be their life and light in the midst of the generation they were in. With the word in their hearts the congregation of the children of Israel had within themselves the word which would directly impact the way they lived and the way they spoke. It’s incredibly interesting to think about and consider how Moses directly connected the heart and the mouth with the congregation of the children of Israel—particularly and especially when you consider the fact that it was Jesus Himself who declared that it is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. It was Jesus Himself who emphatically declared to His audience that the truest and greatest testament concerning the condition of our hearts is found in the words which proceed from our mouths. Even James the half brother of Jesus spoke to this effect in his epistle when he declared that the tongue is such a small part of our bodies, and yet it has the ability to control and maneuver every area and part of our lives. It is absolutely necessary to consider the absolutely tremendous reality that when Moses was speaking unto the congregation of the children of Israel he was directly linking and directly connecting the heart and the mouth, and was connecting the two with the presence of the word which had been spoken unto them in their hearing. Within this passage—not only do we encounter and come face to face with the fact that the word was in their heart, but the word was also in their mouths. The word was something that was to be present within themselves in their hearts, and the word was something which they were to speak with their mouths. This must be carefully considered, for it demonstrates just how powerful and just how transformative the word truly is within our hearts. You will notice that even the apostle Paul makes this connection and builds upon—not only the words which Jesus spoke, but also the words which Moses spoke here in the plains of Moab. Consider if you will the words found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Roman Christians:

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those tings shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the deep: (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the LORD Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same LORD over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world? But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:4-21).

With these words which were written by the apostle Paul unto the Christians at Rome we not only find the direct connection and link between the heart and the mouth, but we also find a direct connection between these two members of our body and the word. Within this passage of Scripture we encounter the power of confession with our mouth, and the power of belief with our hearts—a reality which the congregation of the children of Israel desperately needed to learn. That first generation had the same word which was spoken unto the generation of their sons and daughters, and yet not only did they not believe the word that was nigh unto them, but neither did they confess the word which was in their heart. That first generation received the same word which the generation of their sons and daughters would receive, and that first generation would be given the same opportunity as their sons and daughters would, however, they chose not to believe the word that was in their hearts, nor confess with their mouths that very same word. The entire forty year journey in and through the wilderness has at the very heart and foundation of it the confession of the word which was given unto them, as well as belief in the word which was present within their hearts. That first generation had been given everything they needed to enter into the land of Canaan and to take possession of it, and yet instead of believing and confessing they chose to doubt, rebel, transgress, and tempt the Lord their God. When Moses was speaking unto their sons and daughters he declared unto them that the word was nigh unto them, and was even in their mouths and their heart. The word which they needed was not distant, nor was it far removed, hidden or concealed, but it was the same word which was and had been spoken unto their fathers in that first generation. How absolutely wonderful it is to read the narrative of this first generation and to consider the tremendous truth that they had been given the very same word which their fathers had been given, and that the word was very near to them—even within their very hearts, and mouths. The word which Moses was speaking unto them would be a word which they would not only confess with their mouth—something only Joshua and Caleb were willing to do forty years earlier—and believe with their hearts. It would be the very same word which their fathers received, and ye which they would choose not to mix with faith, and not confess with their mouths, and as a direct result would not only keep them out of the land of Canaan, but would also cause their bodies to fall in the wilderness.

If you continue reading the words written and recorded within this passage of Scripture you will find that the thirtieth chapter ends and concludes with Moses presenting this congregation with a decision and choice which they needed to make. It was true the congregation of the children of Israel would enter into the land which the Lord their God had promised them, however, before they entered into that land they would need to firmly settle within their hearts whether or not they would be altogether different from their fathers. Before the congregation of the children of Israel would even enter into the land flowing with milk and honey they would need to settle this matter within themselves and within their hearts whether or not they would not only heed the commands which the LORD their God had spoken unto them, but would also obey them all the days of their lives. In all reality—when it came to the commandments which the LORD their God had given and spoken unto them—they were given two distinct choices and decisions they would make. As it pertains to the commands and statutes which the Lord their God had spoken and given unto them, the congregation of the children of Israel would not only need to obey the commands which were given by the Lord, but they would also need to teach those commands and statutes to their children. The word which the LORD their God had spoken unto them were not only words which needed to be obeyed and followed by them, but it would also need to be something which they taught their children that they might walk in the same obedience and teach their children. In all reality—when we think about the Law of the LORD, and when we think about the word which He has spoken and given unto us, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize that the word is not only something that is meant to be obeyed, but also something that was meant to be taught. With every generation that emerges in the earth there are two distinct decisions and choices they must make as it pertains to the commands and law of the living God—the choice to listen to the voice of God and obey everything He has spoken and commanded, and the choice to take what the LORD has spoken and commanded and teach and instruct others that they might walk in the same obedience we ourselves have walked.

SEE, I HAVE SET BEFORE THEE THIS DAY LIFE AND GOOD, AND DEATH AND EVIL! If there is one thing which must be carefully understood when reading the words which are found in this book it is that the congregation of the children of Israel were given a tremendous choice concerning obedience and rebellion, as well as between faith and doubt. As you read the words which are found in the thirtieth chapter of this Old Testament book you will find that in the context of the congregation of the children of Israel receiving the word which was spoken unto their fathers you will find Moses giving them a choice between two opinions—a choice between life and death, between blessing and cursing, and between good and evil. It’s worth noting that what determined which one of these realities the congregation of the children of Israel experienced was their decision to either obey the word and command of the Lord, or to rebel against that which he had commanded. Whenever you think about any generation that emerges within the earth you must always recognize and understand that each one that emerges is given the choice and decision whether or not they can and will obey the voice of the Lord their God, and whether or not they will heed that which was spoken. The generation of the children of Israel which stood before Moses in the plains of Moab were in fact given a choice before they ever stepped into the land that was sworn on oath unto them, and it was a choice and decision whether or not they would obey the commands of the Lord. With that being said, we must also understand that this wouldn’t be the first time the people of Israel were given this opportunity to choose between two opinions. The congregation of the children of Israel were given the opportunity to choose between these two realities in the plains of Moab before they ever entered into the land flowing with milk and honey, but they were also given the same choice just before Joshua died and went the way of his fathers. Even more than this, you will find that the same opportunity to choose between two opinions was found during the days of the prophet Elijah who prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel. Consider if you will the words which are found in the thirtieth chapter of this Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, as well as the words which are found in the final chapters of the Old Testament book of Joshua, and in the eighteenth chapter of the book of First Kings:

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passesst over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou maytest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD saware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

”Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt: and serve the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD< choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers serve that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; for the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: and the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel. And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey. So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem” (Joshua 24:14-25).

“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? IF the LORD be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:21”

If you read each of these three passages and consider them in direct connection and relation to each other you will quickly encounter and come face to face with the reality that they all point to one simple and very powerful truth—namely, the manifestation of choice that was given to the people of God. As Moses prepared this new generation to rise up and enter into the land of Canaan into which they were being brought, he brought them to what is perhaps the single greatest place they could possibly be in before entering into the land. In the previous generation their fathers were given the chance and opportunity to mix the word they had received with faith and to rise up and take possession of the land which was before them. Instead of allowing faith, trust and confidence to lay hold of their hearts and go up at once and take possession of the land, they shrank bank in fear. What’s more, is that they complained against Moses and Aaron, as well as the LORD their God who had delivered and brought them up out of the land of Egypt. As a direct result of their rebellion and complaining before and in the sight of the living God—not only would they never leave the wilderness (for it would be unto them a tomb and a grave), but they would not be permitted to enter into the land which the Lord had sworn on oath unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now here we are a generation later and we are presented with the generation of their sons and daughters, and even their sons and daughters, and they are preparing to enter into the land of Canaan which their fathers had forfeited. Before they could rise up and enter in the land, however, there was this complete and underlying matter that would need to be addressed—namely, a choice and a decision they would make to serve the Lord their God wholly, faithfully and completely. If and as you read the words which are found within the final verses of the thirtieth chapter you will find and discover that before the congregation of the children of Israel would enter into the land which the LORD had sworn on oath to their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they would need to settle in their hearts what type of people they would be. It was true that a generation earlier the LORD their God had descended upon Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai and had delivered unto them the Law which would govern their entire existence, and would set them apart from other nations of the earth. It was true that a generation earlier the LORD their God had spoken from the top of Mount Sinai and had delivered unto them His laws, His commands, His statutes, His decrees, and that which He required of them as His holy people. A generation earlier the LORD their God had delivered unto them that which He would require and that which He would expect of them, in order that they might be peculiar people and a special possession of the living God in the midst of the earth.

In all reality, I am convinced that everything you have read, and everything you have found within this Old Testament book of Deuteronomy has in fact led up to this particular moment within these chapters. As you read the words found within this writing you might be asking yourself what the words and language found in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy has brought the congregation of the children of Israel to, and in order to answer that you must recognize and understand that while we view these words in black and white in our Bibles, or perhaps on a tablet or cell phone screen, they were words which were spoken by Moses unto the congregation of the children of Israel as they were encamped in the plains of Moab preparing to enter into the land of Canaan. When and as you read the words found in this particular book of the Old Testament you must understand that these were words which Moses the servant of the LORD delivered unto the congregation of the children of Israel as they prepared to exit the wilderness which had been their home and dwelling place for the last forty years. With that being said, it’s necessary to recognize and understand that the words which were and have been found in this book—everything that has been spoken by Moses unto the congregation of the children of Israel—were designed to bring this generation of the children of Israel into a powerful place of transition, yes, but also a place of choice and decision. IN THE PLACE OF TRANSITION THERE IS ALWAYS CHOICE! IN THE PLACE OF TRANSITION, THERE IS ALWAYS A DECISION THAT NEEDS TO BE MADE! While the congregation of the children of Israel were indeed preparing to depart from the wilderness and transition into an entirely new phase of their journey and walk with the Lord their God, they would need to confront something that would not only dramatically impact their entrance into the land of Canaan, and would not only impact their time within the land. In fact, you would not need to go more than seven chapters into the Old Testament book of Joshua, and even the following book of Judges to encounter and discover just how dramatic and powerful this concept of choice and decision truly is and truly was for the congregation of the children of Israel. The Old Testament books of Deuteronomy and Joshua speak to that new generation which had emerged in the midst of the wilderness after that first generation had perished and fallen in the wilderness which was to be their tomb and grave. The Old Testament book of Judges would also be a book that would center around a new generation, and there would arise a new generation that would emerge and would arise in the land of Canaan after the death of Joshua that would not know the signs, the wonders, the judgments and the works of the Lord in the land of Egypt, nor the works which the LORD did in the midst of His people in the wilderness. As a direct result, you will find perhaps something unexpected, for you will find a generation which knew not the LORD, nor His works, His judgments, His signs, His wonders, and I would even dare say His Law, his commands and statutes.

As you read the words which are written and found within the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy you will find that all the words which Moses spoke and delivered in the hearing of the congregation of the children of Israel were words that were meant to bring them to a place—not only of transition, but also a place of choice and decision. This generation of the children of Israel would enter into a powerful place of transition within their lives, for they would prepare to depart from and once and for all leave the wilderness behind in order that they might enter into the land that was to be their inheritance and possession within the earth. With that being said, however, it is absolutely necessary that we with this transition would come a truly wonderful and remarkable place of choice and decision, for with any period of transition within our lives we are and will always be brought to the place of choice and decision as we determine what type of people we are truly willing to be. As we think about and consider our lives it is necessary that we recognize that with any period of transition that takes place within our lives—regardless of how major or minor that period of transition actually is—we are and will be brought face to face with the need to make a decision on what type of individual and what type of person we are willing to be. In the final verses of the thirtieth chapter of this Old Testament book of Deuteronomy we find Moses the servant of the LORD declaring unto the congregation of the children of Israel that he was setting before them on this day life and good, as well as death and evil. It would be in that place between two opinions, and it would be in that place between two choices and decisions they would need to make Moss would command them once more to love the LORD their God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments. If there is one thing we must learn and one thing we must recognize it’s that this reality of choice was and would not be something new, for it would date all the way back to the time of Adam and the garden of Eden. If you turn and direct your attention back to the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find that after Adam was formed of the dust of the ground, and after the Lord breathed into his nostrils the breath of life he became a living soul. Once he became a living soul the LORD would then take and plant him in the midst of the garden of Eden—in a place that was filled with countless varieties of trees and fruits which were to be unto him a source of meat and life. In that place, however, the LORD gave Adam a very specific command which would not only place him in the place of choice and decision, but also what type of man he would be.

It would be in the midst of the garden of Eden the LORD would declare unto Adam that he could eat of every tree that was present in the garden save one—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What’s more, is that within the garden there was even the tree of life, and Adam could have freely partaken of the tree of life all the days of his life. In all reality, the choice and decision that was set before Adam in the midst of the garden was the choice between life and death, for on the one hand there was the tree of life which would indeed produce and give life, while on the other hand there was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which would produce death. As early as the garden of Eden which was planted in the earth man was given the ability to choose between two opinions—between life and good, and death and evil. What we find and what we read in the thirtieth chapter of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy was not the first time man was given the opportunity to choose between these two opinions, and as you witnessed and beheld in the books of Joshua and First Kings, man would be given and offered the choice between these two realities within their lives. The congregation of the children of Israel would not be the first, and they certainly would not be the last to be brought into a place where they would choose between two opinions, for the children of Israel would before the death of Joshua be brought into the place of choice and decision once more. Just prior to his death Joshua would speak unto the congregation of the children of Israel after they had conquered and subdued much of the land of Canaan, and he would declare unto them that they would choose them that day whom they would serve, for either they would serve the gods of the land of Egypt and the gods from the other side of the flood, or they would choose to serve the true and living God. In fact, this was the same decision and choice which was given unto the children of Israel atop Carmel during the days of Elijah the prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel, for there atop the mountain Elijah would bring them to the place where they would choose between serving the Lord the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or Baal whom Jezebel had appointed priest and an entire religious system among them during those days. Three distinct generations which are mentioned within the Old Testament, and each generation was brought into the place of choice and decision and what type of people they would be. What we must understand is that these three passages are by no means exclusive and all inclusive of the choice and decision the people of God would be brought into, for throughout their history, and especially during the days of the prophets of the northern and southern kingdoms we find the people of God being brought to the place where they would not only choose what type of people they would be, but also which God they would serve.

WHAT TYPE OF PEOPLE ARE YOU WILLING TO BE? WHICH GOD ARE YOU WILLING TO SERVE! Upon reading the words that are found in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy you will find repeated language concerning their not making unto and for themselves any graven images—and not only not to make unto and for themselves any graven image, but also to destroy any and every trace of idolatrous worship that was already present within the land. It’s important for us to recognize and understand this, for within the land of Canaan the congregation and children of Israel would not only need to determine what type of people they would be, but they would also need to determine which god(s) or God they would serve. There was constant language that was found within the words which Moses spoke—not only concerning driving out and dispossessing the inhabitants of the land, but also to destroy all the altars, all the images, and all the images of idolatry that was present in the midst of the land. The purpose and reason for this is actually quite clear and spelled out for us within this Old Testament book, for the LORD was a jealous God, and He desired the affection and desire(s) of the people whom He brought into the land of Canaan. The LORD God of the children of Israel desired that His people would love and serve Him with all sincerity, with all truth, and with everything they had within them. In fact, if you turn and direct your attention back to the sixth chapter of this Old Testament book you will find Moses speaking unto the congregation of the children of Israel and declaring unto them that the LORD their God is one LORD, and they should love the LORD their God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this single and simple truth, for everything the congregation of the children of Israel would be and would do flowed from this simple truth. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand that who the congregation of the children of Israel became and everything that they did would indeed and would in fact flow from this place of the LORD their God being one LORD, and their loving Him with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might or strength. If you were to summarize everything that is found within the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy—all the commands, all the statutes, all the decrees, all the words which the LORD had commanded the people of Israel—you must summarize it in terms of their love for God. What’s more, is that you must not only summarize it in terms of their love for the Lord their God, but also loving the Lord their God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might.

The more I think about the words which are found within this Old Testament book and the more I consider everything Moses commanded the congregation of the children of Israel the more I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the reality that at the very heart of all the invitations to obedience, and at the very heart of the call to walk in obedience and faithfulness to the living God was loving the LORD their God. It would be very easy to read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and to get caught up in a list of commands, a list of decrees and a list of statutes. The truth of the matter, however, is that everything that is found within this book can be summarized in the single greatest command which was ever given unto the congregation of the children of Israel—namely, that the LORD their God was one LORD, and that they were to love the LORD their God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their strength. We tend to think of obedience as something that is somehow independent of our love for the LORD our God, and yet I am absolutely and completely convinced that we do not walk in obedience before the living God out of some compulsory or obligatory reality within our hearts and lives. If we walk in obedience before and unto the Lord our God we must do so from the place of love and affection for and towards Him. We dare not be naïve into thinking and believing that obedience somehow acts independent of love, and that choosing life and good over death and evil is separate from loving the LORD our God who is one. In fact, if you journey into the New Testament narratives of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find examples of those who dared and those who would tempt Jesus concerning the commandments of the LORD, and which commands were the greatest. As you read the four gospel narratives that are found within the New Testament you will find that when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He responded by emphatically declaring that the LORD God was One, and that man was to love Him with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their strength. What’s more, is that directly linked and connected to this are the declarations which Jesus spoke unto His disciples when He declared unto them that if they loved Him they would do His commands and would obey His words. I am convinced that in order for us to understand that which is found in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, it is absolutely necessary to consider the words and language which is found in the New Testament gospel narratives which were written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ:

“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely, this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that ask Him any question” (Mark 12:28-34).

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you” (John 15:16).

“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comfortoer, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but he know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfort less: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love Him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:15-21).

These three passages are absolutely astounding when you take the time to think about and consider them, for within these three passages—not only do we encounter the tremendous reality that the first and greatest commandment was to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, but also that the second commandment was likened it, for we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. What’s more, is that Jesus emphatically declared unto his disciples that if they loved Him they would do His commandments and would keep His word. It is necessary for us to think about and consider these words, for when you read the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy you will find Moses rehearsing in the hearing of this new generation of the children of Israel the commands and word which the LORD had spoken unto their fathers a generation prior in the midst of the wilderness at mount Sinai. As you read the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy it is absolutely necessary that you recognize and understand that all the commands, all the statutes, all the decrees that were spoken in the hearing of the congregation of the children of Israel flowed from a genuine and authentic love for the LORD their God. When Jesus was asked what the first and greatest commandment was—undoubtedly the scribe which presented the question and all those which were present on that day would have been reminded of and considered the Law of Moses and all the commandments that were found and contained therein. What is so incredibly captivating about the words found in in the gospel narrative of Mark is that Jesus drew from the words which Moses had spoken unto the congregation of the children of Israel in the plains of Moab, for Jesus declared that the first and greatest commandment was indeed and was in fact to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our strength. This understanding is absolutely critical, for it is this understanding that helps us understand that this place of choice, and this deciding what type of people they would be, and which god(s) or God the children of Israel would serve flowed from this single and greatest commandment. We cannot, we dare not and we must not think and/or expect to obey the commands and that which the LORD our God requires and asks of us without and apart from understanding that it flows from a place of loving the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength. Loving the LORD our God with everything that is in us and every part of us is vital when thinking about and considering the commands found in this Old Testament book—and even the Scripture as a whole for us as the people of God—for obedience to the commands would flow and has always flowed from a place of loving the LORD our God. The question I present to you at the conclusion of this writing is whether or not you truly love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and whether your obedience has at the very foundation and center of it a true and genuine love for the living God. The Pharisees, the scribes, the chief priests and the elders of Israel might have kept much of the commandments that were found in the Law of Moses, and yet the underlying question that must be asked is whether or not they did so out of love for the LORD their God, or whether they did so out of some compulsory and obligatory reality within their hearts and lives. What we must settle and determine within our hearts and lives is whether or not we truly do love the LORD our God, and love Him with all our soul, with all our heart and with all our strength.

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