Summary: Israel was given a choice between life and death. They chose poorly. That same choice is offered to us. Life or death? Blessing or curse? The choice is ours to make. Choose wisely.
So often in scripture the thundering voice of judgment is followed by the loving voice of hope. Israel did forsake the Lord for idols and the Lord did bring upon his people judgements stated in his covenant. Israel had a choice, and they chose poorly. But interestingly enough, no nation in history has ever suffered more than the nation and yet no nation has given so much spiritual wealth to the rest of the world. In this chapter, as Moses has begun his decline, nearing the close of his life and writings, he looks down through the centuries and sees the future restoration of Israel in their land and under the blessings of God.
I have always believed, and scripture supports this belief, that God is a God of choice. He doesn’t force people into a relationship with Him, He gives people that choice. He doesn’t keep people in relationship with Him, we choose to stay or go, just like make we make the conscious choice to sin and to seek forgiveness. God sent his Son as a means of restoring that broken relationship, but doesn’t force people to accept Him. God gives us the choice of whether we want grace, forgiveness, joy, peace, and happiness, as He did with Israel. Their choice was to love and serve Him and be blessed, or serve other gods and be destroyed. Had they chose the former, who knows that kind of world we would live in today.
But choice. We all make choices every single day, whether out of impulse, habit, or a process of discernment. We all have already made several choices this morning. We chose to get up. We chose to brush our teeth, take a shower, comb our hair, get dressed, get in our car, and come to church. You made a choice of whether to open you heart to God or close it off. Perhaps you’ve already made the choice of whether or not you are going to listen to the message. And later, you will be making another choice of what you want to do for lunch.
If were to ask you to choose between a million dollars and a candy bar it would be a no brainer. If I asked to choose between a million dollars and two million dollars it would be easy. If I asked you to choose a penny and a candy bar it would be easy for me because I haven’t had breakfast. But if I were to ask to choose between two of your favorite candy bars, that might be a little more difficult. One of the most difficult choices in my house is what do we want for dinner. We will start by deciding whether we want to go out or stay in. Either decision opens to the door to more choices. If we chose to go out we play a little game called, “What does my wife want for dinner?” We will narrow it down to two places. One of them might be what she wants, or both of them might be a very poor decision.
Surely we’ve all made some poor choices and I want to give you some of the world’s worst choices. Sam Phillips sold a small recording company to RCA in 1955 for $35,000. It included an exclusive contract with a young man named Elvis Presley. Tom Sellick turned down the role of Indiana Jones. A thief in American stole two live lobsters and decided to hide them in his pants. In America, a thief robs a liquor store at gun point. The clerk asks to see their ID and the thief complies. A South African hang gliding instructor saw a beautiful sun bathing on her roof below his flight path. He decided to make an obscene gesture to her, unaware of her nearby husband cleaning his gun.
The girl who told Bill Gates, Microsoft creator, that it’s me or the computer. The Leyland P76. If you don’t know what that is, it was an Australian made vehicle supposedly to rival the Ford Falcon and the Chrysler Valiant. Due to poor design and build quality, the car failed to even come close to meeting expectations and is considered the bane of the Australian Automotive industry. If you were planning on buying one, you’re welcome. Pausing for moment when your wife asks, “does this make me look fat?” All bad decisions.
I would also add to that list choosing death over life. Patrick Henry at the close of his famous speech, which I encourage everyone to read, said this: “It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace – but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others make take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”