Sermon for Sunday, 02,16,2020
Theme: Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Theme: “Choose Life”
I want you to imagine this morning that today or the next few days being your last here on earth, and there you find yourself surrounded by those you love and care about. What would be your last words to them? Will you encourage or challenge them? What would you say to your wife, kids, grand kids, other family and friends and others who know and believe in you?
Sensing that his death was near based upon the threats and attempts on his life, Martin Luther King, Jr., the renowned civil rights leader, on April 3, 1968, spoke these final prophetic words to his fellow African Americans fighting for racial justice.
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop…..And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land…. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
On April 4, the very next day following these words, Martin Luther was assassinated.
Like Luther several centuries after, our text this morning consists of Moses’ final words to the Israelites. For forty years, Moses had led them through thick and thins. He had watched the entire generation that left Egypt die out gradually because of their lack of faith. So, this message was addressed to a second generation of Israelites. They were the children of those who left Egypt.
In this sermon “The Great Farewell Address of Moses,” as one of my commentaries calls it, which covers Deut. 29, 30, Moses reminded the Israelites of how God had been faithful to them, and how God had won great victories, provided and sustained them over those forty year. He reminded them of how God has given them the Ten Commandments and other Laws, and explained God’s expectation of them, and told them obeying those laws was the key to their success in the Promised Land. He told them that they would live long and prosper if they obey. But he also warned them of the consequences, if they disobey and went after other gods. That would mean death and destruction for them.
Now in the concluding part of this long sermon, (30:15-20), which is our text this morning, Moses is standing and looking across at the Promised Land, and looking back at those forty years as he recounted all that God had done for them.
Do you look back at your life at times to see how far God has brought you? In the midst of all the challenges, health and otherwise, here you are here today. In Liberia we say that you are still being counted among the living. Sometimes in order to appreciate the present and be grateful, it takes a moment of reflection. You probably want to look back at those moments when you or your love one was on that hospital bed, wondering if you or your spouse would ever make it, but here are you today. Looking back at my own life is our source of strength on my faith journey.
The first part of our text (v.15-17), focuses on choice and promise. He tells them, “See today, I set before your life and prosperity, and death and adversity. If you obey the LORD’s commandments, by walking in his ways, then you shall live and prosper in the land you are about to crossover to, but if your hearts turn away from God and follow other gods, then death destruction will be upon you.
Moses tells the Israelites that look, you have a freedom of choice, given to you by God, but know that your choice has consequence. I call upon heaven and earth to be our witnesses, that today, I have set before you, life and death, blessing and course.
Every day, we face choices. From restaurant menu, to grocery shopping list, from private school voucher to health care, to political platforms. We are a people inundated with choices. Therefore, a text like this may challenge our cherished value of freedom and autonomy and even present God as an autocrat. But no! God’s law especially the Ten Commandments, is not a burden; it’s not ordinance of a dictatorial God bending us to his well, nor is it so much about personal perfection, as it is about a covenant relationship with God and our relationship with one another.
God’s intention is that the Israelites and even we today will live in covenant relationship with him, which calls for loving God and loving others. Every time we disobey God whether by neglecting him and choosing something else above God, or when we, for instance, violate our marital covenant with our spouse, we fracture our relationship with God and with one another and there is a consequence.
Therefore, in his concluding lines, Moses urged the Israelites and urges us today, to choose life. We choose life by loving the LORD our God, by walking in his ways, and holding fast to Him. And the fact that we are urged to choose life is an indication that God’s desire for us is to be blessed and not cursed, to have life and not death.
Choosing life calls for obedience to God’s Law, which Jesus summarized into only two: “Love our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind.” And the complementary law to this is, “is to love our neighbors as ourselves.”
We choose life when we worship God regularly with all of your heart, pray genuinely, love and serve our church, and believe that God’s loves US. We choose life when we give to the poor and needy, care for the hurting, treat others fairly, share our food with the hungry and give clothes to the naked.
Therefore, as you leave from here this morning, remember that God, through the words of Moses, is urging us this morning to choose life.
God bless you.