And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
Moses said these words first to Israel. But God says them to each of us, to every one who has a conscience, a sense of right and wrong, and sense to see he ought to do right and shun wrong. I have heard a great man call this the granite on which all other spiritual beliefs rest, and so it is. It is taken for granted and built on in all God's revelation, in all Christ's atoning work, in all the Holy Spirit's operation. This is a choice we must each make, not, like the fabled one, for once, but day by day, continually. It is the resultant of all our life.
I. This daily endeavour to be holy, to be like Christ, will be a spring of interest which will never fail, when other interests fail with our failing selves.
II. If we choose well, we must end well. If we grow here fit for a better place, pure, kind, hard-working, unselfish, we cannot be a failure.
III. It is not for ourselves only, either here or hereafter, that God bids us choose good. We have got in our keeping the worldly peace of others.
IV. Love to the Redeemer, who died for us and lives for us, is the great spring of all right-doing. Only by the grace of God can we choose good.
A. K. H. B., The Graver Thoughts of a Country Parson, 3rd series, p. 177.
Reference: Deuteronomy 30:15-20.—Parker, Christian Chronicle, July 16th, 1885.
Deuteronomy 30:19There is one choice which we must all make; and if that choice is once well made, it will very much secure all other choices, for the reason why we so often choose badly is because we have failed in that one great choice of all.
I. "Therefore choose life." Why "therefore"? (1) Because the option rests with yourself. You are free to take which you will. (2) Because the alternative is tremendous, and there is no middle space; it must be life or death. (3) Because life is everything. All that is worth having in this world or the next is in that word "life." "Therefore choose life."
II. What is life? (1) The source of life was originally the breath of God. That life was lost when man fell, but only lost to make way for a better restoration. By a mystical process, which we cannot explain, Christ became the Head of a body. "Because He lives, we live also," and live for ever. This is the source of life. (2) Look at the substance of life, what it is, its reality. Everything is real in proportion as it is consistent with and carries out its own element. Your element is a "body and soul and spirit." Life's real substance is to know God, to enjoy God, to serve God. It might be safe to sum it up and say, Life is work: the inner work in one's own soul and the outer work of Christian usefulness. The great thing every one has to do is to find out his own proper work, what God has given him to do. And that work is life.
III. What is life's object? There may be a series of motives, but the end of motives is the glory of God. We must not seek our own glory, because God seeks His. All is His, and therefore to take any glory from anything is robbing God.
IV. Christ has said, "I am the Life." Choose the Christ who has so long chosen you, and you will live. He will be in you a necessity of life; you will live for God and with God for ever.
J. Vaughan, Sermons, 15th series, p. 157.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20I. "I call heaven and earth to record against you," says Moses. This was no idle rhetorical formula. The open sky over his head was the witness and pledge of permanence, the sign that in the midst of perpetual change there is that which abides. The earth at his feet had been given to man that he might dress it and keep it, and bring food for his race out of it. The one said to man, "Thou art meant to look above thyself. Only in doing so canst thou find endurance, illumination, life." The other said, "Thou art meant to work here. Thou must put forth an energy which is not in me, or I will not yield thee my fruits."
II. But Moses says, "I have set before thee life and death," etc. There is no hint given to the Israelite upon which he can build a dream of security; he is warned in the most fearful language against forgetting the things his eyes had seen. But all the terrible warnings and prophecies of what he and his descendants may do hereafter imply that he is in a blessed condition and that they will be.
III. And therefore he goes on, "Choose life." Say deliberately to thyself, "I do not mean to give up the ground on which I am standing. God has placed me on it; all that is contrary to God will not prevail against God, and therefore need not prevail against me." "Choose life" is still the command at all times.
IV. The great reward of choosing life is, "that thou mayest love the Lord thy God" etc. The growth of love and knowledge is always proclaimed in Scripture as the reward and prize of a man who walks in the way in which God has set him to walk, who chooses life, and not death.
V. "That it may go well with thee and with thy seed after thee." The great lesson that the fathers are to teach their children is, that God will be the present and living Guide of each succeeding race as much as He had been of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
F. D. Maurice, The Patriarchs and Lawgivers of the Old Testament, p. 289.
References: Deuteronomy 30:19.—H. Alford, Sermons, p. 1; Homiletic Magazine, vol. x., p. 68. Deuteronomy 30:19, Deuteronomy 30:20.—C. Kingsley, Westminster Sermons, p. 271. Deuteronomy 31:7, Deuteronomy 31:8.—W. Landels, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 195.
And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.
And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:
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.
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 passest 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 mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.