Summary: Moses had some parting words for the Israelites who were getting ready to leave the desert and enter the promised land. He revealed to them that they had an important choice to make. We have the same choice to make. Let’s see how Moses' words apply to us.
LIFE OR DEATH—IT’S YOUR CHOICE
Introduction: The Israelites were getting ready to leave the desert and enter the promised land-Canaan; the land of milk and honey. Moses had some words for his people as he was not going to be joining them but leaving them in the capable hands of his successor-Joshua. Let’s see what we can learn from these words of Moses and how they apply to us.
1) Everyone can understand (11-14). Moses makes it clear that the commands of God are not too difficult-they are not too difficult to understand nor too difficult to do (beyond your reach). The commands of God can seem like they’re impossible to achieve, and they are-apart from him giving us the ability to do them. No one can be obedient to God without God giving him the ability to obey. No one can understand what God’s will is apart from him revealing it to us. But Moses is making it clear that this is what God has already done for us. He has made it so that the word of God is near us. We don’t have to wonder if we will somehow have the opportunity to hear and understand God’s will. No, God has brought his word to us so that it is close to us, not far away. God has made it possible for us to choose to place his word in our hearts so that we would obey it.
But some will choose not to understand. Rom 10:1-11. 1-4: They were zealous for God but they were not righteous before God because their enthusiasm was not based in knowledge. They didn’t know the righteousness that came from God not because they didn’t have the opportunity to know but because they didn’t want to know about the righteousness that came from God, which is salvation through Christ (16-21). They chose to not submit to God’s righteousness. Instead, they wanted to claim a righteousness that was of their own doing-of their works (law)-of their own heritage as a descendant of Abraham.
Jesus dealt with this himself. In John 8:31-37, Jesus told the Jews that if they held to his teaching they would know the truth and the truth would set them free. They thought because they were descendents of Abraham that they didn’t need to be set free. Jesus told them that because they were sinners, they needed to be set free by him. They didn’t want to accept that. Jesus told them that they had no room for his word. They could’ve made room in their hearts for what Jesus was telling them but they didn’t want to. They could’ve chose life but they chose death instead. There are religious people today who have a zeal for God but it’s not based in following Jesus it’s based in following traditions. We can understand if we want to but some are not willing to submit to God. They’re not willing to accept the righteousness offered through Christ because they are more comfortable establishing a righteousness of their own-apart from faith in Christ.
Rom. 10:5-11: here we see Paul reiterating the words Moses used in Deut. We don’t have to bring Christ back down from heaven in order to understand his gospel. We don’t have to bring anyone up from the grave to understand what happens after you die in order to understand.
Jesus talked about that in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31). Both had died but while the angels had carried Lazarus to Paradise where Abraham was, the rich man went to hell and was in torment. He asked if Lazarus could be sent to warn his brothers so they didn’t end up where he was. He was told, “They have Moses and the Prophets, let them listen to them.” The rich man replied, “No, if someone goes to them from the dead they will repent.” Abraham replied, “If they won’t listen to Moses and the Prophets they won’t be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
There are no excuses for those who don’t choose Jesus. We have enough to understand. We don’t need to figure everything out; we don’t need to comprehend every aspect of the bible; we don’t have to experience a miracle in order to make the right choice. We just need to have faith and trust.
2) Life and prosperity (15-16). Last week I shared these verses in my sermon on living an abundant life. We can choose to have life-both eternal life and the fullness of life here and now. Jesus said in John 10:10 that he came to bring us that. And Moses explains how that is achieved (16). If we are going to have a prosperous life (and by prosperous it doesn’t mean financially wealthy it means spiritually wealthy), if we are going to live a fulfilled, successful life, we need to love God and follow his ways. We need to submit to Jesus in order to live a blessed life. Don’t get me wrong, there are people in this world who have been blessed by God who don’t care at all about God. But that just shows how loving God is-he blesses even his enemies. However, there are many blessings that you just cannot receive until you come to Christ. Many people seem like they have it all but yet they are still depressed and suicidal. We just had a reminder of that with the passing of Robin Williams. I have no idea where he stood with God but here was someone who had a lot of success and talent, a person who many people admired yet he was someone who was depressed and struggled with addiction. A person who ended up deciding that life was not worth living anymore. Many people have an abundance of money, power, fame, things like that but are empty when it comes to the more important things like peace, joy, hope, contentment and love. If you want life and prosperity then you need to love God and follow his ways-that’s the formula for success.