Year C – Proper 18 – Deuteronomy 30:15-20

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Summary— What should have been a short trip from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion—from Law to Communion—had taken 40 years, due to Israel’s disobedience. The Law is God’s fence: if His People break it, they become feral. The first generation who heard the Law had done just that; as a result, they were not brought into God’s Land.  Now, after a generation’s delay, a second generation is being given the opportunity to hear God’s Law afresh.  This second generation is standing on the borders of Canaan, ready to do what their parents did not.  Moses, immediately before handing the reins over to Joshua and dying, is reiterating everything their parents had heard.  And the final portion of his address is the passage above: obey and be blessed and live, or else disobey and be cursed and die.

Insight— This is not the first time that God has put life and death before His People.  He said the same thing, essentially, to Adam and Eve in the Garden: obey and live, disobey and die.  And it is not as though Adam would start living after enough obeying—no, Adam was already alive, so his obedience would earn him nothing; but, his disobedience would put him out of God’s Land and kill him. 

Child Catechism—
  What happens to those who do not care about God’s Law?
A: They are kicked out of God’s Land.

Discussion— In the Garden and in the Law, God blesses His People before they have obeyed, so that they have nothing to gain, but everything to lose.  How does this pattern carry into the New Testament?

Prayer— Lord, You have given us Your Land—the entire earth—to enjoy and to spread Your love through and to have dominion over.  Keep our hearts that we might keep Your Law and thereby keep our inheritance, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

[Contributed by Scott Cline]

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