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Life And Death

March 12, 2011

Life and death.

That's a topic that would get most people's attention.

Maybe it's a good book.
Maybe a movie.
For others - maybe an exciting adventure.

But what if it's something we face each hour of every day of our lives?

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.

That's a message for all of us. And it's followed by a choice for us - which to choose and what the outcome of each will be.

Where's this from? Deuteronomy 30:11-20 --

The Offer of Life or Death

Dt 30:11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

Dt 30:15 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 his ways, 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.

Dt 30:17 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.

Dt 30:19 This day I call heaven and 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.


Yes - this offer was made by God to the Israelites in the Old Testament.

But look at what it really represents.
The Old Testament is, in many ways, a foretelling of what was to come.
In those days, the life and death choice - with the prosperity or destruction choices were very much in the life of the people while they were on earth. When the people turned away from God - their life on earth got very miserable. When they returned to Him and called out for His help - things got better.

But - in it's reference to the days to come - which we are in now - the life or death decision to make is in relation to Heaven or Hell. Life is eternity with God - death is eternity without God.

So - we need to look at the outcomes from our choices as being in the future - after we pass away from earth.

But - the choices - the rewards - the warnings - and the payments - they are very much real - relevant - and important.

Let's look first at verses 11-14 -

Dt 30:11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.


It is not too difficult for you - which is a good thing. That means it's something we can successfully do. Having said that - God doesn't say it's easy - just that it's not too difficult. In the King James version - it says "not hidden from thee". This makes the point more obvious than "not too difficult". To take it a bit further - going back to the Hebrew - hidden is translated as -








Now it's even more clear - if God wanted to, He could have made it impossible for us to do what He commanded us to do. He could have created us with desires that would have made it impossible to do what He wanted. He could have set the bar so high that we could never live up to what He wanted. But here He says we can do it. That shows that He cares for us - wants us to succeed.

Oops. Wait a minute. If that's true - why did the Israelites have so much trouble in the OT? Why do we have so much trouble today? Why does that bar seem to be so high and why do we seem to want to do practically everything except what God wants?


Let's look at verses 12 and 13 - maybe there's a clue in there -

12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”

Well, it doesn't exactly say what "it" is - just that whatever this thing is that we're supposed to do isn't in Heaven and isn't across the sea. So it would seem to be something close enough for us that we can reach it.


Maybe we should keep going. Let's see what verse 14 says -

14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.


the word is very near you - "the word" - that sounds very familiar. How about "The Word"?

In the OT days - originally God was with the people. But - as they turned away from Him, things changed. By the end of the OT - and up until the time of John the Baptist, there was a long period without even a prophet.

But then John came on the scene.
And then Jesus began His ministry.

The Gospel of John (the disciple, not the Baptist) starts off with these 2 verses in chapter 1 --

Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

So in the time of Deuteronomy - the people had the word of God (literally) from Moses. Today, we have The Word - Jesus.


So these things that seem to be so impossible - they really aren't - if we seek help from the Word - just as the Israelites were to do back then.


In verse 17 - we are warned that if we turn away from God - if we reject His help - then we will be drawn to other gods - and we will be destroyed.

You may wonder why we're drawn to other gods. I have.

There's this saying - nature abhors a vacuum. It was first proposed by Aristotle in his Fourth Book of Physics. It essentially says that empty things don't like to be empty.

Interestingly enough - that's the way that God seems to have created us.

He could have made us with a desire for nothing but Himself. But then there's no choice - no free will - no love. In a certain way - it could be considered sort of cruel if He had created us wanting nothing but Himself - creating us to be mindless robots. So while we may wish we were created differently sometimes - I can also see why it had to be the way it is.

Anyway - to get back to the point - rather than make us with a mindless need for Himself - God seems to have made us with a need for something / someone.
This is a good thing - it gives us desires - gives us an incentive to do things - and gives us choices - free will - some level of control over what we do.

But - with that comes responsibility. We need to be prepared to reap the rewards / pay the consequences of what we do when we make those decisions.


What we have then - is a loving God who created us with desires and free will.

We also have a loving God that makes the rewards / penalties very well known.

And we have a Loving God that has identified the path that leads to both of them - the path to life or the path to destruction. It would be incredibly cruel to say there are two paths - and not to tell us what each of them led to.

And - we have a loving God that tells us the path to life isn't impossible - but can't be followed without Him. After all - it would be equally cruel to tell us which path goes to which destination - but then tells us that the only one we can hope to follow is the one to destruction.


It seems so much these days like we all want free will - but so few want the responsibility that goes with it.

At this point - I feel like I could be writing this in "why the government can't save you" - but that wasn't my goal. It's just where this seems to be going for a while.

As much as we may try to blame other people for our choices - and want the government to clean up after us - or take care of us - after we make bad choices - we have no such thing with God.

He does give us that free will that we all want. But - He also tells us very clearly that the responsibility for what we do is ours. The path to destruction leads to destruction.

Almost / maybe.

“Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

I'm not going to say which verse this is from - because in this case - I don't think it matters.
What's important is that Jesus said it.

And what's really important if we're on that path to destruction - it's an instant ticket to the path of life.

Is that in the passage from Deuteronomy too? Check out verse 14 again -

14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.


All we need is The Word (Jesus) in our hearts and on our mouths.
Yes - it's in Deuteronomy.

And if it's in our hearts and mouths - we're on the path to life.


Think God doesn't care?
Look at what He's done for us.
He cares a whole lot.

To Him - it's a life and death issue.