Daily Update #217

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25 Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’

27 ‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’

John 11:25-27

11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it.

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Deuteronomy 30:11-20

Our passage in Deuteronomy is from the end of that great sermon by Moses as he is summing up his instructions and commands to the people of Israel.  He makes it clear that his instructions are straightforward and easy to understand and implement.  No-one needs to go up to heaven to get these instructions.  No long distance overseas travel is necessary.  God’s word, mediated by Moses, is right in front of them, it’s in their mouths and in their hearts.  All they need to do is to obey it.  

What is the choice before them?  It is put in a clear and simple way by Moses.  On the one hand, life and blessing.  On the other hand, death and destruction.  If they chose to love God, obey his commands, life and blessing is their destiny.  The alternative is turning away from God, disobedience and idolatry, which will certainly lead to destruction.  

Moses emphasises his instructions by calling the heavens and the earth as witnesses.  He implores the people, in the strongest possible terms, to choose life.  He tells them that the Lord is their life, and will give them many years in the promised land which lies before them.  

Simple choice, surely?  Which of us, faced with these options, would hesitate for a second?  

Yet we know that it all goes wrong.  Even before it does, God tells Moses that it will all go wrong.  The Lord knows that the people will forsake him, break the covenant he has made with them, and prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are about to enter.  (Deuteronomy 31:15-16). 

So what can we learn from this?  What is to be done?  

The reality is that all mankind is in exactly the same fix.  This is not just the people of Israel, this is the whole of humanity.  Collectively, we are steeped in sin and unable to save ourselves, as Matt showed us from Psalm 51 yesterday.  There is no health in us, as the Book of Common Prayer underlines.  

What we really need is the Lord himself, as he is our life (30:20).  The spiritual transformation that is needed is radical.  We need the Lord to change us from the inside.  We need him to save and rescue us from ourselves.  We need the Lord’s Messiah to change us into the people the Lord wants us to be.  By ourselves, death and destruction are inevitable.  If we put our faith and trust in him, then eternal life and blessing are ours forever!  

The Lord Jesus knew the mission, he knew precisely what was at stake.  Talking to Martha in Bethany, he invites her to confirm her belief in him.  Immediately she replies:  “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”  The miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead confirms her faith and reveals God’s glorious plan of salvation for all.  This is the life and blessing we are all offered, through faith in the Lord Jesus.  Thanks be to God for being our life, through the life-giving blood of the Lord Jesus, shed for each one of us on the cross.  

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  

Psalm 51:7

Tomorrow’s passage:  Isaiah 58:1-9a

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