Today’s reading begins with a restating of the blessings for obedience and concludes with Moses challenging the Israelites with the choice between obedience and disobedience.
The reading for today is a restating of the blessings and consequences that the Israelites would face based on their choice of obedience or disobedience to all of the LORD’s commands that was found in Leviticus chapter 26. The list of blessings waiting for those who choose to obey is lengthy and the list of curses for disobedience is substantial. It would seem obvious to anyone hearing the words of Moses which is the proper course of action.
Why choose disobedience and the consequences this course of action will lead to and pass up a lifetime of goodness? The message of the books of the Law is consistent: do the right thing and your life will be blessed or do whatever you please and your life will be cursed. As always, to the reader–in this case me–the choice is obvious: obedience. How could any person choose otherwise? The temptation as always is to look at the Israelites, scoff, and conclude that they were somehow different from me. I wouldn’t choose disobedience and curses over blessings, but unfortunately, sadly this is what I and all the rest of the world have consistently chosen.
What’s so alluring about disobedience? Is it the hope for a better life? Is it the hope that somehow I will somehow escape consequence for my actions? I don’t have a good explanation. I don’t have any brilliant words to speak. I’m as guilty as everyone else. I guess the word temptation would be meaningless if there wasn’t something alluring to entice me to a particular action. I think, in general, that it’s the hope that by doing ‘this’ I will make myself happier–in some self-deceived sense. I suppose it could be the exact same thought that took hold of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: God is holding out on us.
Adam and Eve had God’s daily physical presence with them in the Garden. The Israelites had God’s daily physical presence with them in the form of the pillars of cloud and fire. If they chose disobedience, it seems highly likely that we will too.
The end of the reading today contains one of the final charges to the people of Israel that Moses made before his death. In it is the well know phrase: “Choose life, that you may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19b (NIV). It seems like this would be the best course of action for any and all people. Thankfully, God’s mercy grants us time to come to that conclusion.