Deuteronomy 30:15-20. Choosing
life or death??? 4/9/16
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity,
death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to
walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you
will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you
are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not
obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them,
18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not
live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as
witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and
curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you
may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the
LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give
to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
According to our reading here this
morning there are two ways to live life – one leading to life and prosperity and the other to death and destruction. God calls us here to make a choice on which
we would want for ourselves. Now that would seem to be a bit of a dumb
question, doesn’t it? Of course we want life
and prosperity, don’t we? Don’t we all long to have health, wealth and
happiness; with a long life, with as few a hassles as possible?
So why is it then that we have the
opposite? Why is pain, suffering and death the order of the day for most of us;
or dare I say it, for all of us? Despite the constant spin that we are
constantly confronted with, about how good life is and how good we have it.
Underneath, and in many cases out in the open, we all, to a greater or lesser
degree, are confronted with death and destruction.
Life for all of us is not what we
know deep down it should be for us. It promises so much and yet it is far, far
from what we know it should be. For so many, life is a living hell: sickness,
broken relationships, poverty, abuse and war are but a scratching of the
surface of what life really is like. No matter what mask we put on, or how
glitzy our surroundings, life does not measure up.
But interestingly, that is the life
that we have chosen. Even though we have life
and prosperity placed before us and given free access to it, we have chosen
to turn our backs on it and have thereby received death and destruction instead.
You see, we want this good life, but
not the God who makes it possible. We think that we can have this life without
taking seriously the God who has created life itself. Even if are prepared to
acknowledge him, we simply want him to give us what we want, without us taking
what he has to say seriously. We want life to be what each one of us selfishly
thinks is what is good. That naturally leads to death and destruction, are not doing what is good for us all.
This takes us right back to the
Garden of Eden. Now I know that most people today don’t believe in the reality
of it. After all, science has told us the we are simply products of an
evolutionary process. Sadly, even many ‘christians’ go along with this,
claiming to believe that God was behind this whole process. But that then makes
a mockery of what he tells us in the Bible and even Jesus Christ himself say in
this regard. Not to mention, that if death and dying happened for millions of
years before humanity came into existence, then death as a result of sin is
In turn that makes a nonsense of
what God tells us with regard to Jesus death on the cross for the forgiveness
of sins. The results today then are that we have many ‘christians’ downplaying
sin; and then also the true significance of his death on the cross. Then we
also no longer follow what the Bible says in many other areas as well. We want
to play at religion on our own terms. Life again then is about our ego and not
what the creator say is good and right.
So just as was the case in the
Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve chose to ignore what God had told them and
instead to do what was pleasing to their own eyes; so also has humanity all the
way down through history done the same thing. Remember also that God told them
and us if we do so we will die; death and
destruction will be a part of life for us.
As Luther brought to the fore in his
time, so also for us today; we are trapped in this life of death and destruction. Because of this sin that clings so closely
to us, we are bound into this way of life. Our natural tendency is to do what
we want, especially when it goes against God’s will. So death and destruction follows us all the way to the grave. It would
seem that we are trapped in a horrible mess with no way out.
However, God in his wisdom has
chosen to give us a way out, if only we would take it seriously. He sends his
Son into our world as a human being so that he can take the punishment that we
deserve for our self-centredness and sin on himself. He dies the ultimate death and takes the real destruction from us, by dying on the
cross. In its place he offers us forgiveness of sin, life and prosperity.
He has made possible for us the very
best of everything, including eternal life in heaven, where there will be no
more death, dying, suffering, pain our anything bad. He there has a mansion
prepared for us where we can have the very best that there is to be had. There
we will live with God without fear or favour, receiving everything that we need
for a happy and contented life.
Even here in this life we already
are assured that we would be able to live free from the pall of death and destruction that hangs over
us, and which we also readily experience in our own lives. We are now assured
that they are not the end of the story for us, but now a means which he uses to
draw us and others to himself and the life
and prosperity that he has for us.
He uses the troubles and heartaches
that we experience to remind us that sin and selfishness brings these things to
bear in our world. When humanity goes its own way, ignoring God and what he has
to say, that is why death and destruction
is all around us. When we twist or ignore his Word to suit what we would like
to see and experience, then we reap the rewards. He wants us to repent – that is
turn to him and not only receive forgiveness for our sin, but also all the help
that we need in order to live this new life.
Let us remember that God has given
us very clear commands for us so that we can live happily with God, each other
and ourselves; if only we would heed them. They are simple, easy to understand
and follow if only we would follow them, instead of ignoring, twisting or
changing their intent to suit ourselves.
Even when we fail, as we all to
readily do, he has given us a way out and a fresh start. As well as the
constant reassurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God in
Christ Jesus. He pledges his ongoing forgiveness and help throughout. In fact,
he even promises us his own Holy Spirit to lead and guide us as we go about our
Week by week he calls us into his
presence in Divine Service so the he can reassure us and help to cling to the life and prosperity that he has for us.
Through forgiveness of sins, Word and Sacrament he constantly and tangibly
gives us what he knows is good and helpful for us.
Through these means he wants to
reassure us that he loves us, forgives us, and has good for us as we live out
our lives every day. There he also guarantees us of the eternal life that he
has in mind for us. So we can live with confidence and hope, in the midst of
the death and destruction that is all
So now we have life and prosperity
placed before us as a free gift. It is all there for us to make the most of. It
is all ours. God has even given us the faith to believe that this is all true
and good. So we have every reason to get on with life, boldly and confidently.
So why is it then that we choose to
turn our backs on this wonderful gift, and then reap death and destruction in abundance? Are we so stubborn and
self-centred that we will not let even God Almighty himself give us what we so
desperately want and need? Are we so rebellious that we will not take him and
what he has to say seriously? Instead seek to live as we please, even though
the reality is that we will reap death
Let us take seriously what God says
to us here in this reading when he says: See,
I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I
command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and
to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and
the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
Then even more so when he goes on
and says: But if your heart turns away and you are not
obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them,
I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not
live long in the land you ………. enter and possess.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses
against you that I have set before you, life and death, blessings and curses.
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love
the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is
your life, and he will give you many years in the land he has promised.
So with that in mind let us make the
most of living that life of prosperity
that God has given us, instead of choosing the way that leads to death and destruction. Let us take God and
his Word and promises seriously; after all he is truly God and Lord to whom
belongs all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.
Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish.