CHOICES FOR THE WILDERNESS AHEAD 

Moses reminds the children of Israel of the many ways God has delivered them over the last forty years.  Do you think he has made these choices clear enough yet?  This Old Testament is the perfect place for Christians to learn though.  We are often just as slow to learn as any of these Jews ever were.  Let us remember the deliverance we have seen. 

These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.  And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land;  The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles:  Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.  And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.  Deuteronomy 29:1-5 

Israel has already conquered enemies, even before crossing the river Jordan.  These lands were given to three tribes of Israel already. 

Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God.  And when ye came unto this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, came out against us unto battle, and we smote them:  And we took their land, and gave it for an inheritance unto the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the half tribe of Manasseh.  Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.  Deuteronomy 29:6-9 

Moses has Israel assembled to charge them to keep the commandments.  They are invited to enter a covenant with God to become his people.   

Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel,  Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water:  That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day:  That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.  Deuteronomy 29:10-13 

All of these are gathered to a great promise, rich, poor, young and old.  Foreigners and workers, leaders and followers are all aware of the errors of other nations they have seen.  The also share an open door to a great prosperity in the covenant of God. 

Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; But with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:  (For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by;  And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:)  Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;  Deuteronomy 29:14-18 

The temptation of idolatry should always be repulsive to them, as a disease or rottenness.   They should not be attracted to that which will bring sin and death. 

And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst:  The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven.  And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law:  So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it;  And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:  Deuteronomy 29:19-23 

The destruction and suffering God warns them of can come if they abandon the commandments in rebellion and idolatry.  The land will return to barren desert if they ignore the deliverance of God. 

Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?  Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt:  For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them:  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book:  And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.  The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.  Deuteronomy 29:24-29 

With the loss of this injury will come the insult of humiliation before the nations of the world.  They will know that Israel had served a real god by the evidence of his power in punishment.  Yet the world will also see the power of God to show mercy and forgiveness. 

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,  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:  Deuteronomy 30:1-4 

Israel has this promise that their captivity can be repaired if they remember to turn to the Lord their God.  God has promised to bring the lost sheep of Israel home if they seek him. 

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.  Deuteronomy 30:5-8 

When you have a promise like this from the creator himself, how can you miss?  A nation is appointed to prosperity for simple obedience. 

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.  Deuteronomy 30:9-14 

This is a nation set aside and protected by God, chosen from a righteous father.  Their generations have been weeded out to eliminate the rebellion of their fathers.   

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.  Deuteronomy 30:15-20 

Here in the word of God is the record of heaven an earth that Moses has offered the free will choice of life or death to Israel.  God is their life, and he knows what they will choose already.  The righteous man Abraham has given his children an inheritance from the creator himself.  Will the children reflect the righteousness of their father Abraham?  The flesh of man has a great challenge ahead to meet the demands of the law. 

For the Christian the Old Testament shows us how well believers grow in faith.   We can gain the understanding of God without gaining the ability to perform it.  We understand the letter of the law, but not always the spirit of it.  These patriarchs will show us both. 

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