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 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 we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so 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.
Today we get to finish chapter 30 with the verses above where there are four instances of the word obey or obedience. In a latter verse there is one more occasion of the word obedient. This chapter has had a very strong focus on obeying or obedience.
In the verses above it is interesting to note how they begin with two rhetorical questions about where the commands will come from they are to obey – not from heaven nor from across the sea. Then from where?
Stated succinctly No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. It is necessary for it to be in your heart and then come from your own mouth if the word is to be obeyed. If obedience does not come from the heart, disobedience will not be far away. Joshua understood the choice very well and spoke from the heart when he said
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Many homes have part of the above on a poster or a peel and stick in their homes to remind them: As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Just like the Jews as they entered the promised land today Jews and Christians alike make a decision from the heart to serve the Lord. And having such a reminder around always helps.
What happens if they refuse to follow the Lord who led them to the promised land? The answer comes in the following verses
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.
We know the nation of Israel was destroyed and the people were scattered throughout the earth when they thought they could go through the motions of serving God, while their hearts were elsewhere. He knew their hearts – as He knows our hearts – and He followed through on His promises. Nonetheless, He ends this chapter with the clear cut choices He is providing His people.
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.
Consider how you have given your heart to Jesus, choosing life eternal with Him, listening to His voice, holding fast to Him. Or choices are not so different.