“Choose Love – Choose Life” – Deuteronomy 30:1-20

April 22nd, 2018

Dt. 30:1-20

“Choose Love – Choose Life”

Aux. Texts: Jn 1:1-14

Call to Worship: Psalm 36:1-9


Service Orientation: Obeying God’s Word brings life.  Jesus is God’s incarnate revelation of His Word.  Jesus is life.  If you have Jesus you have life.  If you do not have Jesus you do not have life.  Get a life.  Get Jesus!


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  And this is the testimony:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. — 1 John 5:11-12


Background Information:

  • The theme of (Dt 4) vv. 1-4 is that doing the commandments leads to life, a theme occurring throughout Deuteronomy, the corollary to which is prolonged life for Israel in the land (4:1, 40; 5:33; 6:2, 24; 8:1, 3; 11:8-9, 18-21; 16:20; 25:15; 30:6, 16, 19-20; 32:47; cf. Lv 18:5). (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 235)
  • Deuteronomy 30 represents the climax of the gospel according to Moses as he has proclaimed it in this book. Employing the second person of direct address, Moses brings his present audience into these future events.  Much of the theological freight of this section is carried by key words.  The most important of these is the root šûb (“to return, turn back”), which occurs seven times, with some variation in meaning.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 694)
  • As Paul emphasizes in Rom 2, Dt 30:1-10 provides a paradigm for the way God establishes a covenant relationship with those who earnestly seek him. On the one hand, a positive relationship with God calls for a change in our disposition as we come to our senses and recognize the rebellion of our ways; a change in orientation as we move away from the path of evil and rebellion; and a willingness to hear the voice of God, calling us to faith and establishing the course on which we must go (Acts 3:19; 8:22).  The message of Scripture is consistent:  The human preconditions for relationship with God include faith and repentance, which Paul speaks of as putting on the new self (Col 3:9-10).

On the other hand, this spiritual renewal is effected by a gracious divine act.  When God withdraws his hand of judgment from us who deserve it–for all fall short of God’s glorious standard (Rom 3:23)–when his disposition and orientation changes from wrath to compassion, and when he circumcises human hearts by a gracious and undeserved act of transformation, a relationship with him is established.  All whose hearts are circumcised will love him wholeheartedly and will demonstrate that love in joyful obedience to his will.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 704-5)

  • (v. 1) That a dispersion of Israel is still in effect can be seen by the population distribution of Jewish people. In 1990 according to various almanacs and encyclopedias, there were about 13 million Jews scattered throughout the world and only about 4.4 million in Israel–for a total of 17.5 million.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 188)
  • (v. 5) The present section, with its singular address, is directed, in principle, to a future generation (cf. Sonnet 1997: 109). In one sense that generation is seen as continuous with the Moab generation that forms the immediate audience of Moses’ words.  However, the perspective belongs to the message in these latter chapters of Deuteronomy that obedience to the Torah that Moses is bequeathing to the people is continuously renewable.  (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 425)
  • (v. 6) The circumcision of the heart is closely connected with the characteristic call of Deuteronomy for love and obedience from the heart, and the term “heart” occurs frequently in the present passage (three times in the present verse). On such a complete and genuine turning by the people to Yahweh depends their “life.”  The preconditions for life in Deuteronomy had previously been expressed as the keeping of the commands and standards of the covenant (cf. 4:1; 8:1; 16:20).  Now it is the consequence of Yahweh’s circumcision of the heart, which leads in turn to Israel’s love of him.  (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 427)
  • (v. 11) Israel’s “life” is the goal of the covenant; they have every means at their disposal, by Yahweh’s grace, by which to take the opportunity; and all depends on their decision to be faithful to the covenant–not just on one occasion, but continually, as the preaching has tirelessly made clear by its rhetorical use of the term “today.” (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 430)
  • (v. 11) “Not too difficult” which also means “not too mysterious, hard to understand or incomprehensible” (see 17:8). “Beyond your reach” which means “not far distant.”  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 190)
  • (vss. 12-14) In Rom 10:6-10 the apostle Paul cited Dt 30:12-14 to prove that salvation is by faith.  He used Moses’ rhetorical questions regarding the revealed commands of God as illustrative of attempting salvation by bringing Christ down from heaven or up from the grave–neither of which is necessary or effective.  It is rather that the word of faith is “in your mouth and in your heart” as Moses declared.  This then became the basis for Paul’s great affirmation, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  As in Moses’ time, so in NT times, the Word of God was in their mouths and in their hearts.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 190)
  • (v. 13) The ancient hero Gilgamesh sought to discover the secret to life by seeking out Utnapishtim (Babylonian Noah). Gilgamesh asserts, “I traversed difficult mountains, and I rowed all the seas,” in order to gain the secret of life from Utnapishtim.  He further declares that “man, the tallest, cannot stretch to heaven.”  The origin of this magnificent epic lies far back into hoary antiquity (ca. 2000 B.C. or earlier).  It has Sumerian analogues and predecessors.

Ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature found it impossible to discover the way to life.  Hidden was the reasoning and the intentions of the gods, as the Righteous Sufferer declares.  In the Babylonian Theodicy the friend of a sufferer indicates that people cannot grasp the divine purpose.  “Who is tall enough to ascend to heaven?”  The Babylonians believed that mortals who dwell on earth could not attain the wisdom of the gods, who dwell in heaven.  Not so for the Israelites, whose God had clearly and publicly set forth what was right in his eyes for his people to follow.  (John H. Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Vol. 1, 512-3)

  • Yahweh always keeps his word; the question here is, will the people keep theirs? (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 711)


The questions to be answered are . . . What is Moses communicating to us in Deuteronomy 30?  What does this have to do with being a Christian?


Answers:  Moses is telling us that obedience to the Word of God brings life.  Disobedience brings death.  Jesus is the Word of God. Life and death are now found in God’s incarnate expression of His Word:  Jesus.  


From the HFM  message for August 1st, 2010   “The Life” :  The question to be answered is . . . What does the Pentateuch mean by life?

Answer: The Pentateuch describes LIFE as being in harmony with the will and purposes of God.  It means living in Shalom.  It means living in obedience to the Law and will of God.  It means enjoying a life of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  It means living a life filled with meaning, significance and hope.  It is a life that is Spirit led and “in Christ”.


The gospel is a matter of life and death.  John puts this in unmistakable terms when he says, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 Jn 5:11, 12).  It is a choice between life and death, between salvation and damnation.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 624-5)


Genuine religion is urgent religion.  I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death.  Sooner or later everyone must face a challenge like that which Jesus gave the rich young man, “Sell all that thou hast,. . . and come, follow me” (Lk 18:22).  “He that is not with me is against me” (Mt 12:30) and “He that is not against us is for us” (Mk 9:40).  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2, 510-11)


We often talk about our delighting in God and his Law.  But we do not talk as much of an even greater truth–God delighting in us!  I found seven places in the OT where it says that God delights or takes pleasure in us.  I found three instances, including the verse we are looking at, that say God takes delight in loving and blessing us (Dt 28:63; 30:9b; Micah 7:18).  I also found one statement that God delights in our welfare (Ps 35:27).  This means there are eleven references proclaiming that God’s children bring delight to him.  That is the way good fathers are.  Observing and thinking about their children brings them great joy.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 621)


We have faced so much disappointment, rejection, and pain from people who we thought were committed to us that we cannot think that anyone, even God, loves us enough to be thrilled about us.  Until we come to accept this truth about God, we will never know the joy about which the Bible talks so much.  When the most significant person in your life is thrilled about you, you will really be happy.  When you realize that this person is the Lord of the universe, you will be thrilled.  Let us make understanding the extent of this amazing love of God one of our main pursuits in life.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 621-2)


The Word for the Day is . . . Life


Everything has been figured out, except how to live  — Jean-Paul Sartre


Zōē can mean lifetime (Lk 16:25).  It also indicates life as the native possession of God (Jn 5:26) and as His gift to mankind whereby people are able to feel, think, and act (Acts 17:25).  In Acts 5:20 it is used as a substitute for the word “gospel.”  It often denotes life on the highest plane as redeemed and devoted to God (Jn 10:10).  It is the only term for life with which the adj. “Eternal” is used (17:3).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Three, 129)


What is life?  In all its various levels and types, life is power to act and respond in specific kinds of relations.  For example, a cabbage has certain powers of action and response and a corresponding level of life.  There is a big difference between a cabbage that is alive and one that is dead, though the dead one still exists.  This can also be said of a snail or a kitten.

But a live cabbage can make no response to, say, a ball of string.  That is precisely because of the kind of life that is in it.  Though alive as a cabbage, it is dead to the realm of play.  Similarly, a kitten playing with the string can make no response to numbers or poetry, and in that sense the kitten is dead to the realms of arithmetic and literature.  A live cabbage, though dead to one realm (that of play) is yet alive in another–that of the soil, the sun and the rain.  The situation is similar with the kitten.

Human beings were once alive to God. They were created to be responsive to and interactive with him.  Adam and Eve lived in a conversational relationship with their Creator, daily renewed.  When they mistrusted God and disobeyed him, that cut them off from the realm of the Spirit.  Thus they became dead in relation to the realm of the Spirit–much as a kitten is dead to arithmetic.  God had said of the forbidden tree, “in the day you eat of it you shall die” (Gn 2:17).  And they did.  (Dallas Willard, Hearing God, 192-3)


What is Moses communicating to us in this text?:

I-  Choosing to obey the Word of God brings life.  (Dt 30:2-10, 16,see also: Lv 18:5; Dt 10:12-22; 28:2; 32:47; Prv 3:17-18; 4:13, 22-23; 8:35; 10:11, 16-17; ; 11:19, 30; 12:28; 13:14; 14:27; 16:17; 19:16, 23; 21:21; 22:4; Jer 29:11-14; Mt 7:14; 10:39; 16:25; 19:17; Mk 8:35; Lk 9:24; 17:33;Jn 3:1-16; 5:24; 6:63; 8:51-52; 12:25; Rom 2:7; 5:17-21; 7:10-11, 20; 8:1-13; Gal 2:19-20; 3:21; 2 Cor 3:6; 1 Tm 4:16;  6:19; 2 Tm 1:9-10)


In the life of obedience, therefore, two things come together: man in the image of God, and the law in the image of God.  In declaring his law, the Lord declares what he is; in obeying the law we are being fundamentally true to what we are.  Because the law reflects his image, it is the true law of our true nature.  In obedience we are living according to our revealed definition, we are ‘being ourselves’.  The law of the Lord is the ‘Maker’s Handbook’ for the effectuation of a truly human existence and personal human fulfilment.  (Alec Motyer, Look to the Rock, 77-8)


Because we love God, obedience is not just some duty that we perform to satisfy the authorities.  We want to please the one we love.  Then it involves “walking in his ways.”  We have chosen God’s way as our way, the way we love to live.  As Paul put it, we “walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:16).  This reminds us that we are in relationship with God through the Spirit.  To walk in God’s ways is to walk with God, as Enoch did (Gn 5:22, 24).  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 625)


To choose life means to demonstrate covenant commitment (“love”) to Yahweh in actions that serve his interests, to “listen” to the voice of Yahweh, and to “hold fast” to him alone.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 711)


The OT word hāyâ has a range of meaning which includes “to prosper, to sustain life,” or “to nourish” (Gn 27:40; 45:7; 2 Kg 18;32; 1 Sm 10:24; 2 Sm 12:3) or “to restore to health, to heal, recover” (Josh 5:8; 2 Kg 1:2; 8:10).

In contrast to the ancient near east, where men sought to link themselves with forces of life thought of in terms of nature deities, by magical recitations of myth accompanied by appropriate magical ritual, in the OT life is decided by a right relationship to the righteous standards of the Word of God.  Moses places the people in a state of having to decide between life and death by laying the word of God before them (Dt 30:15-20).  Israel is called upon to choose life, “for this word is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life” (Dt 32:47).  Bultmann notes that Ezekiel “frees life from all false supports and obligations and relates it wholly and utterly to the Word of God (Ez 3:18ff.; 14:13ff.; 18:1ff.; 20:1ff.; 33:1ff.)” (TDNT, II, p. 845).  In Proverbs, man is again called upon to make a decision for life, by embracing Wisdom (Prv 2:19; 5:6; 6:23; 10:17; 15:24).  By cleaving to God, the righteous have life (Hab 2:4; cf. Amos 5:4, 14; Jer 38:20).

But there is also the somewhat less concrete meaning where one “lives” by the words of God, “not by bread alone” (Dt 8:3; Ps 119:50, 93).  Some would insist that this refers to prosperity as the gift of obedience rather than to the spiritual quality of life, as Jesus seems to have interpreted Dt 8:3.  But considering again the biblical unity of man’s nature, it obviously refers to both.  (R. Laird Harris, Theological Wordbook of the OT Vol. 1, 280)


Eugene Peterson writes, “The Bible is not a script for a funeral service, but it is the record of God always bringing life where we expected to find death.  Everywhere it is the story of resurrection.”  (Rebecca Manley Pippert, Hope Has Its Reasons, 122)


Moses never taught Israel that they were justified by obeying the law.  In his first book he stated that Abraham was justified by faith in the Lord (Gn 15:6).  Here Moses is speaking to a believing people about fellowship, not justification.  His point is simply that Israel’s full enjoyment of life is based on their obedience to God’s word.  Although the people could not be justified by the law, they could be blessed because of their obedience to it.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 301)


The Bible teaches that the Word of God can keep a person from sinning.  Ps 119:11 says “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”  The Word stored up in the heart can also help a person who has sinned to repent!  The biographies of some famous Christians who came to Christ only after a time of sinful rebellion against God show that the truths that they had been taught, often in their childhood, had a part to play in their return to God.  Today some Christians say that people are not interested in Bible exposition and that the push for relevance would dictate that preachers look for other ways of preaching.  Indeed, we have to adapt to our audience, and our styles may change.  But our content must always come from the Bible.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 616)


The Israelite does not build his view of life on a developed mythology.  He does not seek to link himself with creative life by magical rites or mysteries.  The Word of God sets him in the decision between life and death.  And this belief is so strongly developed that the primitive story and its statements regarding the impartation of life are almost emptied of significance.  For the implanting of life at creation is far less important for those who know that its actual attainment or loss depends solely on the Word of God, so that there is constant need of the blessing of life.  In the promulgation of Deuteronomy Moses lays before Israel life and death (Dt 30:15-20), and Israel is to choose life, “for this word is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life” (Dt 32:47).  Thus Dt with its variations on this theme reaches the paradoxical conclusion that man’s life does not depend on bread alone but on the Word of God (Dt 8:3).  Nor is this view peculiar to Dt.  Amos considers the possibility that hunger for the Word of God will bring disruption and overthrow (Am 8:11ff.).  The sharpest development of this line of thought, however, is to be found in Ezekiel.  In broad doctrinaire discussions he freed life from all false supports and obligations and relates it wholly and utterly to the Word of God.  The obedient chooses life, the disobedient death, and the expositions all lead to the somber reflection that the just does not receive any special blessings but does remain alive, whereas the disobedient must die.  Ezra seems to expect the speedy death of the sinner.  This is the culmination of the relationship between the natural process of life and the Word of God.  The theological deduction from this belief is obviously that Israel is to understand elemental life quite radically in terms of grace.  This life is not merely an aspect but the very foundation of the state of salvation.  Only by faith, i.e., by cleaving to the God of salvation, will the righteous have life.  It is obvious that life is here understood as a gift.  Indeed, in a new development of the ancient oriental estimation, it is understood as enjoyment both of real goods regarded as the blessing of Yahweh on the one hand and of living fellowship with God, whose unshakable certainty gives joy to the righteous, on the other.  (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the NT, Vol. II; 845)


II-  Choosing to disobey the Word of God brings death.  (Dt 30:17-18, see also: Dt 4:26-31; 8:19; 28:15-45; Prov 8:35-36; 10:16-17; 11:19; 14:12; 16:25; Mt 7:21-27; Gal 6:7-8)


The man who believes he was created to enjoy fleshly pleasures will devote himself to pleasure seeking; and if by a combination of favorable circumstances he manages to get a lot of fun out of life, his pleasures will all turn to ashes in his mouth at the last.  He will find out too late that God made him too noble to be satisfied with those tawdry pleasures he had devoted his life to here under the sun.  (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 94)


Moses tells the people at the close of this covenant renewal ceremony that they have two ways to walk.  Joshua will repeat the same before he dies (Josh 24).  One way leads to life and good fortune, the other to death and misfortune.  The road to life consists in loving Yahweh, walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments.  Not only will Israel live by walking in this way, it will multiply and enjoy Yahweh’s blessing in the land it is about to enter.  The other way consists of turning away from Yahweh and going after other gods, worshiping them and serving them, and if the people choose to walk in this way, they will perish.  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 826)


More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.  —Woody Allen


III-  Every one of us is accountable for what we choose to do with the Word of God.  (Dt 30:19-20 see also: Dt 4:7; Josh 24:14-24; Prv 30:4, 18; Jer 21:8; Mt chps 5-7 {7:13-14}; Mk 4:3-20; Rom 10:3-10)


God in the covenant has made his offer.  The decision is one for the free choice of the people.  But, the passage affirms, let it be clearly and soberly understood that the alternatives are definite and clear-cut.  They are nothing less than good over against evil, life against death, for these are the blessing and the curse respectively.  Note here the typically biblical conjunction of evil, sin, and death, as against the good which is life and which involves loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him (cf. 10:12-22).  Precisely because of the covenant aspect of Israel’s faith it is impossible actually to enter it and remain partially neutral, or to be sentimentally tolerant of all things good and bad which may be lumped together.  Instead the God of the covenant demands a definite, concrete decision.  Issues are sharply defined.  Their edges are not smoothed so as not to scratch the comfortable.  One is required to make a decision and a commitment, for it is realized that without such decision belief without faith and without life will result.  Instead one will be tolerant of idolatry, and that is the one tolerance which the God of biblical faith will not abide (cf. vss. 17-18).  The choice is either for God or for idols; the Bible understands this as the real decision which must be made (cf. Josh 24:14-24).  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2, 510-11)


My friend, you don’t have to go to heaven to get salvation.  You don’t need to cross the ocean to get it.  May I say to you, it’s right near you.  It is as near as your radio; it is as near to you as a preacher or another Christian who will give you the Word of God.  And you are responsible to act upon what you have heard.  That is where your free will comes in.  It is my business to get out the Word of God–I try to get it right up to your eardrums by radio, and right before your eyes by the printed page.  That is as far as I can go.  From then on, it is up to you.  (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: Dt, 184)


While Israel failed collectively, God’s response to individuals who choose life offers inspiration to all.  Although we must caution against an unhealthy individualism, the facts remain that God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone (Ezek 18:32), and that the course of life is open to all.  Ezek 18 emphasizes that there are no victims; people’s standing before God and their ultimate destiny–life or death–is in their own hands.  Such is the gospel according to Moses, and such is the gospel according to Jesus, who invites us to “enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Mt 7:13).  This is not only a warning against choosing the wrong path that leads to death and destruction, but also an invitation to choose the path of life.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 717)


The law is intelligible to all and accessible to all.  Thus, to say that the law is not too difficult does not mean that obedience is easy but rather that it is simple.  It is not complicated and distracted by obscure philosophies, complex rules, or esoteric religious rituals, accessible only to the privileged few.  All those who are included in the covenant relationship (cf. 29:10-15; 31:12-13) are deemed capable of understanding and obeying the covenant law.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 291)


Paul was heartbroken at the sight of his own countrymen rejecting the good news the Lord commissioned him to preach.  Why did they refuse their Savior?  “Since they did not know the righteousness for everyone who believes” (Rom 10:3, 4).  Then, paraphrasing Moses’ words, Paul said we don’t need to try to climb up to heaven or descend to the deep to find Christ and his gospel:  “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming” (Rom 10:6-8).  The good news that we are declared right with God by grace through faith in Jesus wasn’t a distant, secret message.  The Savior makes his forgiveness available wherever people hear, read, study, and learn the Word of God.

Luther remarked that Paul hadn’t meant to quote Moses word for word, but “with overflowing spirit” he used Moses’ words “for composing a new and fitting text against the work-righteous.”  Moses and Paul weren’t trying to make the same point, but their words agree on this:  God hasn’t kept his word a secret; its’ all around us.  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 287-8)


The two spatial metaphors (up in heaven. . . beyond the sea), significantly rule out the idea that the law is somehow only for those capable of rising to the heights of understanding it or that it is attainable only after great struggles and journeys.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 290-1)


Paul’s use of this verse in Rom 10:5-13 is entirely Christocentric.  His argument should not be seen as a mutually exclusive contrast between the law and faith, since he quotes from Leviticus and Deuteronomy (both part of the law) on both sides of his argument.  Rather, his point is that in Christ the true response to the law (i.e., faith and obedience), expressed in the law itself, is possible.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 291)


It is important to recognize that Paul’s use of these verses in Rom 10 is intended not to negate the law as such, but to affirm that the law, as something good, was always intended to be lived out by faith in the God who gave it.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 293)


The Lord’s commands that will bring prosperity and a restored condition are not beyond Israel’s reach.  God’s truth is not up in heaven where it cannot be known; it is revealed.  Neither is his word beyond the sea, where it is impossible to see or hear.  Because Moses had expounded the law, God’s truth is fully accessible to all who desire to meditate upon it and obey it.  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 341)


God’s commandment is not too difficult, nor is it beyond your reach.  The law is not among those things that the humble person does not bother with (Ps 131:1) or that even the wise find beyond their understanding (Prv 30:18).  It is not, therefore, impossibly idealistic, impracticable, unachievable.  We have noticed earlier the balance achieved between ideal standards and earthly realities.  The idea that God deliberately made the law so exacting that nobody would ever be able to live by it belongs to a distorted theology that tries unnecessarily to gild the gospel by denigrating the law.  The frequent claims by various psalmists to have lived according to God’s law are neither exaggerated nor exceptional.  They arise from the natural assumption that ordinary people can indeed live in a way that is broadly pleasing to God and faithful to God’s law, and that they can do so as a matter of joy and delight.  This is neither self-righteousness nor a claim to sinless perfection, for the same psalmists are equally quick to confess their sin and failings, fully realizing that only the grace that could forgive and cleanse them would likewise enable them to live again in covenant obedience.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 290)


IV-  It is never too late to choose life.  (Dt 30:3-6, 15, 19-20 see also: Dt 4:29-30; Neh 1:9; Ps 106:45; 147:2; Jer 29:11-14; 30:16-20; 32:37-39; Ezek 34:13; 37:1-14; Lam 3:22; Heb 9:27)


The terrifying picture of the curses which accrue to apostasy is followed by the affirmation that the door is always open for the return of the prodigal.  Wherever the sinful people may be scattered, let them turn again with a mind to love God and keep his commandments, and he by his mighty power will bring them home again.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2, 507-8)


More than almost any other passage in the Bible, this one has kept alive the Jewish hope for an ultimate return to their land.  Under the impetus of Zionism, hope for the re-establishment of Israel’s home has been realized.  Certainly this nationalistic movement involves many who no longer claim the ancient faith.  Yet it is the spiritual flame of the faithful that has kept the scattered people intact and brought so many back again.  The way back to God is forever open.  The faithless one can never really burn his bridges behind him.  God himself is the Good Shepherd seeking his sheep, or the Hound of Heaven breathing upon the necks even of those who flee him.  Therefore the prophet of God must woo the sin-sick and despairing.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2, 508-9)


Moran says:  “Curse can never be the final word on God’s people; exile can only be a means God uses to effect a conversion of the heart.”  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 817)


Among all the nations where Yahweh their God has banished them, they will come to their senses.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 696)


The promise that the Jews would return to their land was fulfilled in part when exiles returned to Judah in several waves, beginning in 538 B.C., but it finds a larger and more complete fulfillment in the Lord’s gathering of his “new Israel”–both Jews and Gentiles in the NT church.  Paul told the church at Rome:  “Not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.  Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. . . It is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring” (Rom 9:6-8). “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29).  This new Israel–Abraham’s spiritual descendants–can claim the promises made to Israel in a new and fuller way, including a better Promised Land at the Savior’s side in heaven.  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 286-7)


Where the call to repent and the assertion of Yahweh’s grace are polarized, it is unhelpful.  The rhetorical structure of 30:1-10 is often neglected in these debates.  As we saw, it effects a balance between Israel’s repentance and Yahweh’s grace that cannot be reduced.  The need for repentance is absolute; so is the decision of Yahweh to act in grace and compassion.  The reconciliation of these two imperatives in the Bible always requires travel through a certain moral terrain, from apostasy through reprobation to restoration.  This typical journey asserts God’s ultimate intention to do good to people in a way that respects and preserves the need for righteous behavior.  The same point emerges from the structure of the flood narrative (cf. Gn 6:5-7 with 8:20-21) and the apostasy at Sinai (Ex 32-34; note 34:9).  (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 432)


No matter how severe the judgment or how distant the exile, God will restore the people.  All hope is placed in God, who is the subject of most of the verbs in these verses.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 289)


The repentance that God expects of Israel is more than merely turning away from an evil past.  It involves a wholehearted commitment to obeying God’s voice.  Present forgiveness and future blessing is contingent upon Israel’s obedience to God.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 298)


The condition that frames the promise of restoration is Israel’s wholehearted turning back to God in obedience (vv. 2 and 10).  But the central verse (v. 6), by its repetition of the key phrase with all your heart and with all your soul, makes it clear that even such turning cannot happen apart form the gracious decision of God to circumcise the Israelites’ hearts so that they could love him in that way.  Thus the fundamental demand of the law (to love God with all one’s heart and soul) is presented as the ultimate fruit of God’s grace in the human heart.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 289-90)


Since their dispersion into unknown countries might have altogether annihilated their hope of restoration, Moses anticipates this doubt, and teaches them that, although they might be driven out into the utmost regions of the earth, the infinite power of God sufficed to gather them from thence; as also it is said in Ps 147:2, “The Lord doth build up Jerusalem; he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.”  (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. III, 284)


Exile will not be the end.  God’s people will have a future.  In the distant places to where they have been dispersed, they–and their children–will take the blessings and curses to heart, return to Yahweh their God, and commit themselves to obeying Yahweh’s commands.  Their return will be heart and soul.  Then Yahweh will restore their fortunes and, more important, will have compassion on them, gathering them from all the places to where they have been dispersed.  No matter where they have gone, Yahweh will fetch them and return them to the land promised to the fathers, the land of Israel.  There they will possess it as before, and there Yahweh will actively bring about this new day, circumcising the hearts of people and their children so they will love him and in so doing find life.  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 820)


The God who scatters is the God who gathers (Jer 23:3; 29:14; 31:8; Ezek 11:17-18).  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 818)


No matter how far distant the dispersed one is, Yahweh will fetch that person and bring him/her back to the land of Israel.  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 818)


After two thousand years in the diaspora, the descendants of Abraham from all over the world have recreated a state in the land promised to his descendants.  This is evidence of a most remarkable providence.

Even so, we recognize that the present state of Israel is not the fulfillment of Moses’ vision or of the vision of the prophets who succeeded him.  The preconditions established for the renewal of the covenantal triangle have not been fulfilled.  While some Jews scrupulously follow ritual and kosher laws of Judaism, Israel today is essentially a secular state; furthermore, their treatment of Palestinians and other aliens in their midst exhibits little evidence of a national movement characterized by a circumcised heart and the moral vision summarized in Dt 10:12-22.  Apart from the faith and the fear of God demonstrated in actions that seek the well-being of the next person ahead of one’s own, there is no divine right to the land.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 704)


It is never too late to live happily ever after (sign at HCMCF 11-19-15)


CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: What does this text have to do with being a Christian?:

A-  God revealed Jesus as the Word of God incarnate.   Therefore review points 1-4 substituting Jesus for the Word of God.  (Jn 1:1-14; 1 Jn 1:1-3)


Participation in Christ as Word.  Origen:  But consider if perhaps all people participate in him insofar as he is Word.  This is why the apostle teaches us that he is sought within the seekers by those who choose to find him.  He says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who shall ascend into heaven?’ that is, to bring Christ down; or, ‘Who shall descend into the deep?’ that is, to bring Christ up again from the dead.  But what does the Scripture say?  The Word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart.”  This is as though Christ and the Word which is sought are the same.  (Commentary on the Gospel of Jn 1.269)  (Thomas C. Oden, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Vol. 3, 325)


John’s conception of zoe as present is even more radical.  This is connected with the fact that he traces the resurrection of Jesus to the fact that as the logos of God and the eternal Son of God He is life and has life in Himself, not merely as the power of His life as a living creature, but as the creative power of God.  (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 870)


The word of Jn 1:1 is now presented as the Word of life (1 Jn 1:1).  As the Word, He is the faithful and true Witness; as the life, He is the eternal Son of God, whom death could not hold.  He is risen and alive for evermore.  He is even equated with eternal life (5:20).  The concluding portion of the Epistle (5:13-21) is largely devoted to this theme.

In the book of Revelation the distinctive feature of the treatment of life (zōē) is that the word is always coordinated with some other term:  breath (11:11), tree (2:7; 22:2, 14, 19), crown (2:10), book (3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27), water (21:6; 22:1, 17).  Nothing in the heavenly setting fails to exhibit the perfection and permanence of the living God and His operations.  It is also noteworthy that the key to the unfolding picture of victory and glory throughout the book is provided in the opening chapter, where the son of God proclaims Himself as the living one who has survived death and is alive for evermore (1:8; cf. 1 Tm 6:16).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Three, 133-4)


Worship Point: When you get a life worship will come quite naturally.  If you struggle to worship, it is an indicator that you need to get a life.  Get to know Jesus who alone is life.  (Jn 3:36; 11:25; 14:6; 1 Jn 5:11-12)


It is as impossible for a man to live without having an object of worship as it is for a bird to fly if it is taken out of the air.  The very composition of human life, the mystery of man’s being, demands a center of worship as a necessity of existence.  All life is worship…The question is whether the life and powers of man are devoted to the worship of the true God or to that of a false one. (G. Campbell Morgan, The Ten Commandments)


Gospel Application:  There is life in obeying the Law (Dt 30).  Jesus obeyed the Law perfectly (Mt 5:17; Lk 23:47; Acts 3:14; Rom 5:19; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 5:9; 7:28; 10:14; 12:23; 1 Pt 2:22; 3:18; 1 Jn 2:1; 3:5).   In Jesus there is life (Jn 3:36; 5:39-40; 11:25; 14:6; 17:2-3; Acts 11:18; 1 Jn 5:11-12).  Choose Jesus.  Choose life. (Rom 3:19-26; 5:8-21; 6:23; 10:4)


The law which itself reveals the pattern of good works should drive us to Christ.  Christ is the point of the law; Christ is the goal of the law; Christ is the meaning of the law.  So if you try to follow and obey the law, but avoid Christ, you have missed the whole point of the law.  (R. C. Sproul, The Gospel of God: Romans, 178)




The law had been given, but nobody could keep it; teachers have taught, and so have philosophers and others, but they have not helped at all.  It is just as if they had never lived.  Why?  Because man is completely helpless.

So it comes to this:  the gospel of Jesus Christ not only establishes my guilt, but establishes that I am so rotten by nature that I must be born again.  It tells me that I cannot possibly love my neighbor because my nature is wrong.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 13, 188)


The apostle recognized that mankind falls into two groups:  the so-called natural man, who is spiritually dead (unresponsive) to God (Eph 2:1), and the Christian, who because of his acceptance of Christ has become alive spiritually, sharing the life of the Son of God (Rom 6:11).  The former group included Paul himself in his pre-Christian period.  Complacent in the possession of the law, he did not realize his true condition (Rom 7:7-12).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Three, 133)


Christ has indeed fulfilled the law (and the prophets, Mt 5:17), which means not only that he is the perfect embodiment of all that the law demands and the perfect interpreter of its meaning, but also that he represents the climax of the narrative that includes Yahweh’s gracious self-disclosure at Sinai and his mediated self-disclosure through Moses on the plains of Moab.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 38)


The future of Israel, therefore, is real yet spiritual in nature, and is brought about by the special act of God.  These two strands of this great chapter may be brought together with some further reflection on vv. 11-14 in the light of Rom 10:5-10, which points to a Christological fulfillment of the Deuteronomic call to obedience.  These verses mean that the perfect obedience to the Torah has been accomplished on Israel’s behalf by the Messiah, Jesus, and also that fulfillment of it by faithful people is henceforth achieved by preaching and believing in him.  This, according to N. T. Wright (1991: 240-6), is what is meant by “Christ, the end of the law” (Rom 10:4).  The argument depends on the idea that Israel was bound to fail to keep the Torah so that, in the person of its Messiah, it might suffer and die on behalf of all (1991:243).  (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 432-3)


More frequently zōē is used in Paul to mean something other than mere physical existence; it refers to a unique quality of life which comes through faith in and union with Christ.  (Gerald F. Hawthorne, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, 554)


For, since all mankind is implicated in the curse, there was no other mode of deliverance, except that Christ should substitute Himself in our place.  Nor was God unmindful of His sentence, when He suffered His only-begotten Son to be crucified.  Hence it follows that He submitted Himself to our condition, in order that we might receive God’s blessing; since He was “made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21).  (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. III, 48)


In reality, God’s unbridled Law doesn’t wrap you up in a Snuggie of God’s love.  It picks you up by the scruff of the neck and kicks your butt all the way around the block.  God’s Law does not offer life; it bludgeons you.  It doesn’t offer comfort; it points an accusing, ten-foot bony finger in your face.  It wakes you up in the morning in a half-sleep state and gets you to wonder, My life is a mess.  Am I even a Christian?  The Law is merciless.  It doesn’t let you off the hook and give you a pat on the back; it judges your every move.  It doesn’t come to save, but to condemn and throw you in prison.  (Matt Johnson, Getting Jesus Wrong, 89)


When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, of the fruit of the vine, he said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Lk 22:20).  Through the work of Christ we are brought near to God to enjoy covenant relationship with him; through Christ we come to know the Father; through the sacrifice of Christ our sins are forgiven; and through Christ and his Spirit our minds are renewed and his Torah is inscribed on our hearts.  The work of Christ, whose mission was established before the foundation of the world (1 Pt 1:18-21), provides the basis for all God’s covenants.  Through Christ’s work the holiness of God is satisfied and his wrath toward us is lifted and replaced with mercy.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 705)


Paul does not say that Moses said this, but rather the “of-faith-righteousness” is the speaker.  Paul is not making a substitution of faith here for the Law.  The passage in Deuteronomy is prophetic and speaks of a day when Israel will turn to God with all their heart and soul (See Dt 33:10).  It looks forward to the new covenant which God will make with Israel.  (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: Dt, 185)


They had the Law for 1500 years and they knew it as a matter of rote and ritual, but it had not brought righteousness.  Christ had come to them just as the Law had come.  It was not something that was far off, and Christ had come among them.  He died and rose again in their midst.  The “of-faith-righteousness” was available to them as it is to us because it has been preached down through the ages. The Law bore witness to both the righteousness by law and righteousness by faith.  It is not “the commandments” in Deuteronomy 30, but “commandment.”  The “of-law-righteousness” had not brought salvation, but the “of-faith-righteousness” does bring salvation.  (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: Dt, 185-6)


Rom 10:5 and 6-9 do not represent opposing notions, as if in its original context the law offered a “works righteousness,” in contrast to the “righteousness by faith” for which Paul appeals.  Rather, Paul hereby corrects a contemporary misinterpretation and misuse of the law.  His Jewish detractors treat obedience to the law as the ticket into the kingdom of God, when that ticket is to be understood as a gracious gift to be received only by faith.  Paul and Moses agree that divine soteriological favor is not won through obedience to the law; rather, willing obedience to the law is proof that one has accepted by faith the grace that God has offered (cf. Dt 6:20-25).  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 714)


Spiritual Challenge: Know the Law (Ps 1; 19:7-14; ch 119; Jn 8:32-36; 2 Tm 3:16-17).  Know that life comes by obeying the Law (Dt).   Know that Jesus alone perfectly obeys the Law (Mt 5:17; Lk 23:47; Acts 3:14; Rom 5:19; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 5:9; 7:28; 10:14; 12:23; 1 Pt 2:22; 3:18; 1 Jn 2:1; 3:5).   Allow this knowledge to drive you to repent and choose Jesus.  See also: Gal 3:24; Jn 3:36; 6:33-68; 8:11-12; 11:25; 14:6; 17:2-3; Acts 3:17; Col 3:3-4; 1 Jn 5:11-12


The sad fact is, when the evil in man’s heart is unchecked, God knows that men and women will simply destroy themselves.  He understands all too clearly the roots of murder that grow in the human heart.  And were it not for His intervening grace and restraining hand, man could very well have eliminated himself from the world and ended his own history–probably a long time ago.  (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 151-2)


In order for a society or a culture to become greater or to transcend its current status it must be guided or informed by a world-view that is greater or transcends its current world-view of operational paradigms.  Otherwise it will be perpetually stuck in its own limited perspective on how life should be lived and the guiding values that dictate that life.  — Pastor Keith


The standard of ethical conduct is the law of God (Gal 5:14; Rom 13:8-10).  The liberating power of the Spirit operates so that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in those who walk according to the Spirit (Rom 8:2-4).  Thus, the “perfect law of liberty,” the “royal law” (Ja 1:25; 2:8) with sovereignty over every area of life, becomes a light and guide to the Christian.  The law was “for life” (Rom 7:10); that is, not to give life but to function as a rule and guide in a personality where the life-giving, liberating power of the Holy Spirit is operative.  The present ethical manifestations of life by the enablement of the Spirit are constantly oriented toward a goal of perfection.  (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: Vol. Three, 929)


These events of the impartation of life and the entrance into life are gifts of God’s grace (Rom 6:23) and are based wholly on the redeeming work of Christ (Jn 20:31; 1 Pt 1:3-5; Tt 3:5-8).  This kingdom relationship in life through the Spirit is also a relationship to the new covenant or promise (Gal 4:24, 28, 29; Heb 8:10-12; 9:15).  (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: Vol. Three, 928)


As Paul expressed it, Christ is our life (Col 3:4), not in the sense that He extinguishes or suppresses our life, but rather in the sense that He controls and permeates our life, conforming it to His holy nature as much as we permit Him to do so. To share Christ’s life in the ultimate sense promised to the Christian is the heart of the believer’s hope (Tt 1:2; 3:7).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Three, 133)


In making Jesus Master and Lord of your life He begins the process of changing the object of the desires of your heart from those that enslave you to those that liberate.  — Pastor Keith (Ps 37:4)


A recurring theme here and a relentlessly recurring theme in the Bible, is that to experience the miracle of God’s grace, we must continually face the mess within.  One leads to the other.  Knowing that God is our creator and that he is good, it would be insanity, not to mention self-defeating, not to do as he instructs.  Thus, whenever our life is in conflict with God’s truth as revealed in the Bible, we must change.  When the self contradicts the will of God, we deny the self.  When the self chooses sin, we say no to it.  When the self wants to put our interests above the interests of others, we side with love against the self.  There are times we sacrifice our desires for the other’s sake.  Surely any parent knows this lesson firsthand.  To live the way of the cross means we say yes to God and no to self.  But we will eventually be amazed at the new self that emerges as a result.  (Rebecca Manley Pippert, Hope Has Its Reasons, 161)


Why would God give us this warning?  Because He knows that when I love Him above all else and put Him first in my life, I will not injure anyone.  It will not be in my heart to offend, slander, hurt, humiliate, destroy, or write anyone off.  Instead, I will have His heart toward men, women, and children.  (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 154)


God knows that without Him, we will wound people.  We will make our lives and the lives of those around us miserable.  Without Him, we’re going to hurt people.  Without Him, we’re going to be an angry, impatient, self-centered people.  Unless He heals me and touches me, there’s no way I could do anything but be offensive and ultimately hurt the people I love most.  (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 159)


The land of promise is desecrated by a lack of respect for human life.  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 253)


Man was created in the image of God and can only know his true identity when he is rightly related to God.  Schizophrenia or having multiple personalities, is perpetuated by a frustrated sense of identity.  The schizophrenia of man is increasing as he moves farther from the One in whose image he was made.  Conversely, as we draw closer to Him, we come to know clearly who we really are.  As we draw closer to Him, we will become the most consistent, decisive, stable people the world has ever known.  External situations and social pressures will no longer bend us and shape us.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 41)


The gospel according to Moses and the gospel according to Jesus call on the redeemed to treat all human beings with the respect due them as image-bearers of God.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 507)


Postmodernism and its dogmatic tolerance can lead only to despair, as Sayers wrote and as we witness in the lives of so many today.  Despair in turn leads to slothfulness, and slothfulness to boredom.  In spite of our great technological advances and the highest level of education and material advances any society has ever achieved, we have managed to suck all of the meaning out of life, to destroy any basis for human dignity or human rights, to undermine moral and rational discourse–to leave ourselves adrift in the cosmos.  (Charles Colson, The Good Life, 210)


What if being human means to keep vigil, to long to be free, to battle with pain, to be discontented with the fallen world in which we live to weep, to hunger, thirst, to mourn to wait.  What if to become inhumane is to accept this fallen world as the norm?  (Paraphrase of Henri Nouwen; Reaching Out, 24)


Criminals are indeed responsible for the crimes they commit, but they are not solely responsible.  When a person violates the righteous standards of God, unless the community responds to the crime, the guilt of the individual rests on the heads of all.  We may be calloused to the culture of death in which we live–expressed in four thousand abortions per day in this country, the senseless killing by drug dealers and users, the exploitation of violence in the media–but God is not.  It is time to wake up to the curse that hangs over our land, and God’s people should lead the way in promoting rituals that will remind us of our sinful condition and the hope of catharsis.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 492-3)


The blessed life begins when obsession with self ends.  — Pastor Keith


Ignatius of Loyola defined sin as refusing to believe that God wants my happiness and fulfillment.  Human rebellion began in the Garden of Eden when God said in effect, “Trust me.  I know what is best for you.”  Adam and Eve failed the test, and we have paid the consequences ever since.  (Philip Yancey, Vanishing Grace, 79)


God’s presence and Word with our loving and obeying God is life.   Believers are created in God’s image and should be the Body of Christ; his ambassadors and priests to the world.   When believers fail to be Christ-like, we rob unbelievers of contact with the only real life they will ever know. You are the light of the world.  — Pastor Keith


Still, lest they should presume on God’s kindness, and only seek for pardon in a perfunctory manner, serious conversion is required, the results of which should appear in their life, since newness of life accompanies (genuine) repentance.  Nor does Moses speak only of the outward correction of the life, but demands sincere desires to obey, for we have elsewhere seen that “all the heart” means with integrity of heart.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. III, 283-4)


Paul’s identification of Christ with Yahweh is not intended primarily to contrast the law as a way of works righteousness and the righteousness that comes by faith, but to up the ante for his Jewish audience.  Whereas Moses challenged the Israelites to demonstrate faith by choosing life and submitting to the Torah, Paul declares that in view of the death and resurrection of Christ, those who would be saved must put their faith in Jesus Christ, who is Yahweh come in the flesh.  As “the end of the law,” Jesus is both the perfect embodiment of Torah righteousness and the embodiment of Yahweh himself, the source of the Torah.  Thus the incarnation goes far beyond the revelation involved in the Torah.  Whereas Moses could only mediate divine grace by teaching Torah, in Jesus grace and truth are embodied (Jn 1:17).  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 716)


We Pray for the Kingdom in Ourselves.  Origen:  The “kingdom of God,” according to the word of our Lord and Savior, “Comes not with observation”; and “neither shall they say:  Behold here, or behold there”–but “the kingdom of God is within us” (for “the Word is very nigh unto” us, “in our mouth and in our heart”).  So it is clear that he who prays for the coming of the kingdom of God rightly prays that the kingdom of God might be established and bear fruit and be perfected in himself.  (On Prayer 25.1)  (Thomas C. Oden, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Vol. 3, 326)


You change your life by changing your heart.  (Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven, 116)


Why don’t people ask us about our hope?  The answer is probably that we look as if we hope in the same things they do.  Our lives don’t look like they are on the Calvary road, stripped down for sacrificial love, serving others with the sweet assurance that we don’t need to be rewarded in this life.  (John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, 109)


So What?:  You want a life?  You must choose Jesus, the Word of God incarnate, and find yourself in Him.  He alone can give you a new heart.  (1 Sm 7:3; 1 Kgs 8:47; Jer 24:7; 31:31-34, 44; 32:39-40; Ezek 11:19-20; 18:30-32; 36:26-26; Jn 3:36; 5:21-26; 11:25; 14:6; 17:2-3; Rom 2:25-29; 2 Cor 5:17-21; Gal 6:7-8; Col 2:11; Heb 8:8; 1 Jn 5:11-12)


The greatest power we possess is the power to choose.  Our most important choice, whether on the plains of Moab or in today’s fast-paced world, is between “life and good, death and evil” (v. 15).  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 301)


Talk of a new or changed heart looms large in Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s preaching (Jer 24:7; 31:44; 32:39-40; Ezek 11:19-20; 18:31; 36:26-28), becoming for Jeremiah the centerpiece of his “new/eternal covenant” prophecy.  In Jeremiah (Jer 31:33: 32:39) and Ezekiel (Ezek 36:26-28), as also here, Yahweh must bring about the change; the people cannot do it themselves.  Later rabbis were keen to make this point.  In the NT, Paul has his own interpretation of circumcision and circumcision of the heart in Rom 2:25-29 (cf. Col 2:11).  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 819)


Moses realizes that in their present state, the people can never love God enough to remain obedient to the law; there must be a change of heart.  The key to will power is “want power.”  People who want something badly enough can usually find the will power to achieve it.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 299)


What then is life?  The reply Jesus gives to the rich man who asks such a question is authentically scriptural (cf. Mt 19:17; Lv 18:5).  In the words of verse 16, life is loving God, walking in his ways and keeping his commands.  In the words of verses 19f., life is loving God, listening to God, and having loyalty to God.  Life, in the end, is not found in the law itself, but in the God who gave it, for ultimately, the LORD is your life.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 292)


Real life consists of loving the Lord, letting his ways guide one’s path and growing in his character.  Those who chose this option would live and increase and would know the blessings of God in the land.  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 341)




The Sophists improperly and ignorantly wrest this passage to prove the freedom of the will.  (They allege) that Moses here declares the precepts of the Law not to be above our reach.  What?  Does he state that the keeping of them is within the compass of our strength?  Surely the words convey nothing of the sort; neither can this sense be elicited from them, if his intention be duly weighed.  For he merely encourages the Jews, and commands them to be diligent disciples of the Law, because they will easily understand whatever is enjoined by God therein.  But the power of performance is a very different thing from understanding.  Besides, Paul, with very good reason, accommodates this passage to the Gospel, (Rom 10:8;) because it would profit nothing to comprehend the doctrine itself in the mind, unless reverence and a serious disposition to obey be superadded.  But he takes it for granted, that to have a good will is so far from being in our own power, that we are not even competent to think aright.  Hence it follows, that what is here stated falls to the ground as frivolous, and spoken to no purpose, if it be applied simply to the Law.  Paul also considers another thing, viz., that because the Law requires a perfect righteousness, it cannot be received by any mortal fruitfully; for however anyone may study to obey God, yet he will still be far from perfection; and, therefore, it is necessary to come to the Gospel, wherein that rigorous requirement is relaxed, because, through the interposition of pardon, the will to obey is pleasing to God instead of perfect obedience.  For Paul insists on the latter verse, “The word is nigh in the mouth, and in the heart, that the people may do it.”  Now, it is clear that men’s hearts are strongly and obstinately opposed to the Law; and that in the Law itself is contained only a dead and deadly letter; how then could the literal doctrine have a place in the heart?  But if God, by the Spirit of regeneration, corrects the depravity of the heart and softens its hardness, this is not the property of the Law, but of the Gospel.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. I, 413-4)


Obedience is the sign of true repentance.  John the Baptist called for the people to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Lk 3:8).  The surest fruit of repentance is a heart desiring to obey God.  Note how Moses says that they must obey with “all your heart and with all your soul” (30:2).  To obey in this way is to desire to obey.  We obey not only because it is our duty and because the Word says to do it, we obey because we want to obey.  We will see below that God gives us this desire as our hearts are filled with a love for him.  Indeed, there are times when earthly desires overcome us and we desire things that are not of God.  But deep down we want to please God.  So we ask God to give us godly desires.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 618)


Many preachers do not talk about the Biblical attitude toward possessions or the poor or social justice or sexual morality because they think these teachings are impractical today.  Moses, however, says that God’s commandment “is not too hard for you.”  If we open up our heart to God and let him circumcise it, then he will help us obey.  This teaching is taught more clearly in Romans 8 as a part of the work of the Holy Spirit.  There is hope for the sincere Christian who is caught up in a sin or is addicted to a habit and is finding it difficult to give it up.  The Bible says we can do what God commands us to do!  The Holy Spirit is there to help us.  We can hope that we will be freed!  We may fall in spite of our resolutions, but there is no excuse for falling.  The grace of God is there to forgive and to help us start again, believing that we can win this battle.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 622)


Without Jesus we face a hopeless end.

But with Jesus we have an endless hope.






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