For generations in Egypt, a small but growing group called
the Hebrews lived in slavery, brutally oppressed by the
powerful Pharaoh. Their circumstances changed when God led
them out of Egypt to a mountain called Sinai. There, God taught
them how to live as free people, giving them two tablets naming
ten ways to live in right relationship with God and others. God
hoped that when these people came to establish a land of their
own, they would embody a different way than the one modeled
by their Egyptian oppressors.
Now these liberated people stand on the edge of the Promised
Land. After their wandering in the desert, God invites a
new generation to reaffirm God’s way. Recognizing that new
temptations lie ahead, their leader, Moses, begs them to commit
heart, soul, and body to a vibrant relationship with God and one
another. “Choose life,” Moses says—a challenge that means far
more than continuing to breathe in and breathe out. It means
saying yes to God’s vision for human thriving. It means deciding
to live in a new way.
Moses knows such a choice will be harder than ever when
the people enter a life of relative comfort, finally settled in their
own land. They may find themselves, for the first time, stronger
than others. How will they use their newfound power? Again
and again, they must choose the new way God has laid out
before them rather than the oppressive ways they have known
in the past.
Today what does it look like to say yes to life as God
intends? How is God calling you to live out an alternate vision
for human thriving, an approach that differs from the oppressive,
hierarchical ways of the world around you?
God, you continue to set before us life and prosperity, death and adversity. Help us choose the way that leads to life not just for ourselves but for all your beloved children. Amen.
How are Christians to understand and relate to the Jewish law? The text from Deuteronomy confronts Israel with a sharp choice: Follow the commandments of Yahweh or bow to the gods of the Canaanites. Choosing the law means choosing a way of life. Psalm 119 praises the Torah as God’s gift bestowed on Israel to be the authentic guide as to how life should be lived. Jesus becomes the authoritative interpreter of the Torah, the one who pushes beyond external behavior to a consistency between disposition and deed. Christians are invited by the text to be different and become what Paul describes as “spiritual people.”
• Read Deuteronomy 30:15-20. How do you go about choosing between the call of God and the call of the idols that surround you?
• Read Psalm 119:1-8. How has keeping God’s command- ments been a joyful experience in your life?
• Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. What do you consider to be the “milk” of the gospel versus the “solid food” of the gospel?
• Read Matthew 5:21-37. Which of the “But I say to you” teachings of Jesus surprise you the most? Why?
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