“Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.”–Deuteronomy 30:19
The book Deuteronomy is one of the most captivating books in the Old Testament. In it, we are given a peek into the life of a people who were preparing to inherit the promise made to them by God.
The people of Israel were on the verge of entering a new day in their collective life. Moses, the liberator who had led them out of Egyptian captivity, was preparing the people to possess the “Promised Land.” The Promised Land was the promise of the covenant made between God and Israel’s ancestral patriarch, Abraham. Generations upon generations of the Hebrew people had been waiting for the day in which God’s promise to Abraham would be fulfilled. The possession of the land would be the realization of God’s promise.
Deuteronomy has also come to be known as Moses’ farewell discourse. Moses, because of his disobedience to God, will not enter the land, but he wants to ensure that the people do not ruin their inheritance by being disobedient. He demonstrates what it means to be a selfless leader who is not simply preoccupied with his future, but he is concerned about the future of those he is called to lead.
The people are all gathered in the land of Moab, and Moses tells them of the blessings that will come with obedience to God and the curses that will come with disobedience. Moses knows that Israel’s habit of infidelity, in their relationship with God, can have catastrophic consequences if they carry that behavior into the Promised Land. He knows of the temptations that wait for them in the Promised Land, but he is hopeful that, by their obedience to God, they will not turn the place of promise into a place of pain.
After Moses outlines the blessings and the curses, he says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.” Moses understood that the choice to obey God was a choice for life–a choice to live in the prosperity of life that comes with fidelity to God. Moses knew that the people were going to enter the Promised Land, but the issue was what kind of life would they live: a life filled with blessings or a life filled with curses? The people of Israel had to make a choice.
As we enter a new year, we stand at the threshold of new possibilities. With every new season come transformative opportunities that have the potential to enhance life and give life. I think this is why so many people make resolutions with the entrance of a new year. There is the hope that the new year brings with it the prospect of starting over, getting things right. Sren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, believed that life was shaped by the choices we make and our willingness to live with the good, bad or indifferent consequences.
This new year does bring new opportunities, but those opportunities will be determined by the choices we make. Let 2013 be a year in which you make life choices–choices that augment your quality of life. Do not make choices that diminish you, but instead make choices that empower you and contribute to your physical, mental and emotional well-
being. The choices you make today can have generational impact. So like Moses, I say choose life this year so that you and your descendants may live.