God loves us so much! His love is deeper, bigger, and more powerful than you or I could ever grasp. He knows we will sin. He knows we will choose to gratify the flesh. Yet when we choose to be born again, He chooses to see us as His righteous and treasured possession. He loves us so much that He disciplines us in order to bring us to maturity so that we can bear His image and reflect His glory to the world. He chastises and chastens us to make us into the people He created us to be.
Moses continued speaking to Israel before they entered the Promised Land and now God spoke to them about the fact they would suffer and be carried off to captivity and scattered. Because even before they stepped foot over the Jordan, He knew their obedience and their disobedience to come. But He also knew that they would repent. He knew that ultimately this message would be for us and that He would one day gather us from the world and bring us into New Jerusalem, like He would bring them back into the Promised Land. Verses 1-5 read,
“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, 2 and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. 4 If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. 5 And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.”
How do we respond to God either conveys love or hate, life or death, worship or disregard to Him. Obedience conveys love, verse two says when we obey His voice with all our heart and soul He will restore us. He didn’t choose the words randomly. He chose them because it should ring with the familiarity of “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30).
When Israel was in captivity and as they were scattered it was this promise and prophecy that would give them hope to keep them persevering through whatever they experienced. This is the hope that keeps us persevering through this life. This is the hope that enables us to rejoice through it all and testify to the love and salvation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Why do we suffer now? Because God loves us so much that He wants us to be made into His image. Why do we persist through trial after trial? Because God loves us so much that He has made us His bride. Why do we remain hopeful through every tribulation? Because God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Verses 6-10 read,
“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. 7 And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. 8 And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. 9 The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
God doesn’t punish because He hates us. He disciplines because He loves us. Circumcision is painful. When a baby is circumcised, he has no choice in the matter and he forgets the pain the moment he is put at his mother’s breast. Penile circumcision was the outward sign of the covenant God made with Israel. Choosing circumcision of the heart is the inward sign of salvation through Christ and it shows itself on the outside through new attitudes of new identity. Repentance requires breaking our hearts, realizing the gravity of our sin. God will not give us a new heart unless we want it. He won’t take an unbroken heart and replace it with a new one. Joel 2:12-13 reads,
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.”
All those who refused to repent, who hated us and hated God, they will receive the punishment they tried to hurt us with. They will have their comeuppance. God will avenge us. That thought sometimes comforts us. But should it? Don’t you know that God forgave you of so much and He wants to forgive them too? Don’t you know He loves them dearly? The hope we carry is about being united with Christ, not about our enemies being cursed for eternity. If we love God with all our heart and soul, then we will love our neighbor enough to give them a chance to repent and turn to God as well.
The mystery and the message is right here within our hearing and grasp. It is right there waiting to be taken hold of by the lost. He put the Gospel into you so you could tell them, show them, and love them. Someone loved you enough to tell you. Someone loved you enough to be a doer of the word and not a hearer only. Verses 11-14 read,
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It 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.”
Do you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Have you considered what it is to love God with your strength? It is active obedience to do the word of God, loving God with all your might glorifies Him to the lost. God gave you the choice and He has given them the choice. The choice is blessings or curses and life or death. Verses 15-20 read,
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, 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 your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I 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, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
Life and death are before you, not only to receive but to give. The person living in the image of Christ will choose life. The person who loves God with her entirety will choose life. God gave you life and He doesn’t want you to keep it secreted away, but He wants you to shine with it, exude it, and live it. The promise of eternal life awaits. Choose life.