The Tree and the Law

Blogging has come to a standstill the last while, but I’ll make a post today to break the pattern.

Deuteronomy is a tough book to get through for me, but it may be starting to grow on me. This part talks about God’s law:

The Choice of Life and Death  (Deuteronomy 30:11-20)

11 “For this commandment that I command you today tis not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 uIt is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

15 “See, vI have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God1 that I command you today, wby loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules,2 then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if xyour heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 yI declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, zblessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice aand holding fast to him, for bhe is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in cthe land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

The essence of this is that what God expects of us is rather simple and clear. The moral principles are in the commandments He gave to Moses. Jesus confirmed them as loving “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27). Looking at this, it appears entirely possible to do, and entirely reasonable for God to ask of us. Perhaps this is one reason why people can be reluctant to admit they haven’t fulfilled it; it seems so natural and to be expected. It is both sobering and encouraging to know that it is not hard for us. The word is near, and when we have it upon our hearts and mouths, we can do it.

Prior to the commandments given to the Israelites, God gave another relatively simple command to Adam, and thereby to Eve: do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or “you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) This precedent command of God was again simple and clear, and entirely reasonable for God to ask of Adam and Eve. When Eve did not have God’s word near upon her heart and mouth but listened to the cunning words of the serpent and let them nestle in her heart the desire to eat of the forbidden tree, and when Adam blindly followed suit, they both became reluctant to admit they hadn’t done what was not hard.

The human heart and its desires don’t change much.


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