Thursday, February 27
Theme: Choices and consequences
Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
It’s interesting: Yesterday’s scripture was also about obedience. In Isaiah 58, the prophet proclaimed that although God’s people thought they were obeying God through their ritual fasting, the rest of their lives were disobedient. Giving only part of their lives to God, while pretending to give him everything, had damaged their relationship with God.
Today’s passage is about obedience, too. The focus here is on choices and consequences.
After 40 years of wandering in the desert, God’s chosen people stood on the threshold of the promised land. Through Moses, God prepared his people for their new life, teaching them His laws so they would be prosperous and peaceful.
God concluded His instructions with a choice: In the clearest terms possible, he said they could choose to walk obediently with God, or they could choose to go their own way.
We should note, God is respecting their free will. He is letting them choose their path, even if that means they choose to reject Him.
And yet, the choice before them is a sobering one: a choice between prosperity or adversity, even between life and death. God’s people were essentially asked to make a life or death decision.
Black or white. No grey. There’s no “medium” choice here, no in-between place where they could obey God, sort of, or obey Him sometimes, like when it was convenient or comfortable, and only if it didn’t cost them something.
If the people chose God as their one and only Lord, He promised to be lavish, passionate and even reckless in showering them with Himself and His blessings.
Or, they could reject His love and gifts.
In verse 18, God predicts what will happen if they don’t choose Him: “I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.”
Some might read this as a threat to punish them for making the wrong choice. Like when a parent says, “If you don’t eat the rest of your dinner right now, you’ll go to your room without dessert.” That would be a punishment.
I read this as a prophecy, a peek into the future. If God could send His people in a time machine to the future they would create for themselves with their disobedience, they would see death as the natural, inevitable consequence of their actions. They won’t just miss out on dessert. They will perish. They will be expelled from the promised land that they have waited 40 years to enter!
It’s a lot like telling someone what will happen if they choose to step down to safety from the edge of a cliff, versus what will happen if they throw themselves off the cliff. It’s that person’s choice. And that person will experience the full consequences of their choice.
Our choices haven’t changed today. In our present, there might seem to be a lot of grey areas. Or a lot of latitude. We might think that we can “sort of” obey God, sometimes, and it’ll be OK. He’ll be fine with that.
If we could only get in that time machine to our future and see the full harvest of consequences that will grow out of the seeds we plant—or fail to plant—as we make our choices. Wouldn’t we choose God?
Let’s make the choice to obey God today. Let’s lean into His close, intimate, loving presence during this 40 days together.
- Why does God ask us to live within certain rules and parameters that He has given to us?
- Is there anything in my life that may be tempting me from choosing God and His way?
- What are three blessings and gifts God has given me for which I can thank Him today?
Father, we are still listening to learn what obedience really means to you. We want to hear your voice and choose to follow you, no matter the inconvenience or cost to us. You may promise your lavish and abundant blessings if we choose you. But the greatest blessing we could ask for, the only blessing we really need, is simply you. Even if you give us nothing else in this life, if we receive you, we have everything we need, and more than we could ever imagine.
Thank you for urgently shepherding us to choose life. We ask for your Holy Spirit to guide is in all things, and to attune our hearts to your voice so we never miss your instructions. We ask for your courage to obey.
We love you.
Watch a video story about how God lovingly pursued a man who had run away from Him.
Invite your friends and family to participate in our Lent prayer and fasting journey. Post a link from our website to your Facebook or Twitter accounts.