Summary: God in the Old Testament was a good God and the same as today as long as we have faith in Him. This faith we need to share with others.
Feb. 13, 2011 Deuteronomy 30:15-20 C & Z “God Is Good….”
This is the day before a very special day of the year, Valentine’s Day. For many people and couples this is a day full of memories. I’m going to go out on a limb here and hopefully I won’t get into too much trouble with Sharon but this has really not been that special a day as far as I’m concerned. Some people say that it is a holiday that has been perpetuated by the greeting card companies. Others say other things. I find that Valentine’s Day is not that special because the day before was my little sister’s birthday, that would be today. Her birthday kind of overshadowed this holiday. Also most of us grownups realize that to a young lad, Valentine’s Day is one of least thought of holidays that there could be. Anyway our household would always make a big deal out of birthdays so we didn’t do much for this holiday. That was a choice that my parents made and I think it was a rather wise choice. This morning we are going to take a look at a choice that every person in the world must make at some time. It is a choice that has eternal consequences and it is a choice that has been around since the beginning of time.
I would like you people who are in school to listen up for a minute. This story is told by Davon Huss about some students who were in charge of the choices they made. This happened at Riverside Brookfield High in Chicago. There was a teacher there who found a great way to make students pay for their school crimes. The troublemakers were forced to stay after school in the Frank Sinatra Detention Club. They had to be there for 30 minutes and they had to sit still, not talk, not do homework and no snoozing while they listened to Frank Sinatra croon his songs. The kids absolutely hated it. They were miserable. But the teacher, Mr. Janu, was a huge Sinatra fan and he wanted to make detention more fun for him and less fun for the kids. One of the students said, “It was so boring that I just couldn’t stand it!” Mr. Janu wasn’t heartless however as he would allow the students to sing along if they wished. All the kids who were in detention and hated it, had made their own choice to be there. They could have followed the rules or got the grades or whatever was the problem and they wouldn’t have been there. But they didn’t and it was their choice and their choice only.
Before we take a look at this piece which was written about 3000 years ago, I would like to say ahead of time that this might get a little heavy handed in places. There is lots of good news in this passage but there is also a lot of bad news. I would like to begin this by looking at the bad side so that we can end on a positive note.
This passage takes place in the wilderness just before the Israelites cross the Jordan to the Promised Land. As a people they had been slaves in Egypt. God had worked through Moses to have them set free. If you remember, they hadn’t always been slaves in Egypt. Remember that Joseph had been a part of the ruling class. It wasn’t until sometime later that the Egyptians decided that the Jews were a threat and they made slaves of them. We don’t know a lot about this time but I would guess that there had been a time of falling away from God because that is the history of Israel. They would follow God for a generation or two of prosperity and then they would fall away into times of despair.
I did read something interesting this week as I was preparing this. Remember when Moses went to the Pharaoh to free the Israelites and God sent ten plagues on the Egyptians. Each of these plagues was a direct and opposite response to one of the Egyptian gods. For instance, they thought that lots of frogs were a good thing because it meant that the Nile was high and there would be plenty of water for the crops. They had a god for the frogs. Then God sent so many frogs that they destroyed crops and things which was just the opposite of what their god would do. Each plague was like that, it was an answer to an Egyptian god.
After this they fled Egypt and God had led them through the Red Sea and into the wilderness. They had wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years and now their time was up there. The reason that all of these bad things had happened to the Israelites was that they had not obeyed God. They had made bad choices. At best when they were led out of slavery in Egypt, they were grumbling all the way, at best. They thought that they were better off being slaves than following God. They were disobedient when the 10 Commandments were given. They were disobedient when they tried to enter the Promised Land the first time. Even Moses knew that he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience. What we need to remember about all of these things is that these were all choices that the people made. Everything would have been different if they had actually followed God and made the right choices. Their last hurdle would be crossing the Jordan River.