Moses brings the people together, EVERY ONE OF THEM, to pose a question. This is the same question that was posed to their fathers before them. How will they respond?
The forty years of wandering is drawing to a close. At Mt. Sinai, near the beginning of their journey into the wilderness God gathered ALL the people together to speak to them. He had a question for them. “Will you be My people and abide by My words?” The people as a whole answered “Yes” to His question but they didn’t live out that yes.
God gave them multiple opportunities to live up to their answer. He gave them enough evidence to “convict” if He were on trial. Yet they still didn’t truly give their hearts to Him. Moses states here a possible reason why. “But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear” (verse 4).
God didn’t do a miracle in their hearts. He left the choice up to them. They individually had to do the work on their hearts. They corporately had to decide to TRULY trust the Lord with their lives. They had to choose Him above ALL else. Above the draws of the past. Above the problems that were surrounding them. Above the uncertainty that lay ahead. Above even their own family. Joshua and Caleb made that choice forty years ago. Now God was going to ask this group to make it too.
“You are standing today, all of you, before the Lord your God” (verse 10a). It is time to make your own choice. Each and every one of you, from the leaders to the children to the foreigner who lives among you. What will you choose?
Moses carefully reminds the people of all that God has done to bring them to this place. He recites an abbreviated listed of the miracles God did along the way. He reminds them that this is just the beginning of God’s promise He made long ago to the fathers of their very nation. And he tells them flat out that this is an ongoing choice that their children and their children’s children will have to make. A right choice today will lead them into the future God has for them.
Each individual has to make this choice. There will be no hiding in plain sight for those who don’t choose to follow Him. Your family’s decision won’t be your protection. “Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart’” (verses 18b-19a). It will cost more than the one life. It will impact the whole nation because that root will begin to spread again.
God was at the point where He was NOT going to let that “root” grow. He would deal with it on an individual basis. “The Lord will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and His jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven” (verse 20). This was personal responsibility to the max. To protect the many the one must be removed.
We know Israel’s history. This personal responsibility and immediate action by God didn’t continue to be as severe after they had finally come into possession of the land. If it had Israel never would have fallen away the multiple times it did. But to start them off in a healthy direction He had to be firm.
Today, after Jesus’ work on the cross, God has returned to the individual responsibility again. He doesn’t blot everyone off the face of the earth who doesn’t turn to Him, right now, but it is coming. Each of us has a decision to make. It doesn’t matter what our neighbors are deciding. This is a decision we can only make for ourselves. It is WONDERFUL if our family and friends make the same decision we do! But it can’t be the basis for our decision.
It comes down to trust and faith. We don’t know what tomorrow will hold. We don’t know the exact road He has for us to walk. We don’t know the obstacles that will face us. We don’t know what Heaven looks like. We honestly don’t understand all there is to know about God. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this Law” (verse 29). Do we trust Him enough to live with there being questions we won’t find answers to? Do we trust that what He has told us is TRUTH? Are we willing to accept Him and His word for our own lives? Am I? Are You?
Father God, my answer is YES! I have seen enough to sell me on Your love for my whole life. I trust You to keep Your word. No. I don’t have all the answers and I seem to come up with more questions all the time. But I trust that when we finally meet face to face You will open my mind to receive those answers, IF that is what You choose to do. I trust You to know best even then.
The years in the wilderness were not easy but were necessary to bring Your people to a place where they could truly answer this question. My “wilderness times” were to bring me to the same place. Some were before my first answer and some were after. But each time brought me closer and closer to You. Thank You for those wilderness lessons. I won’t say I enjoyed them but I am grateful for the outcome. My answer is YES.