12/8/13: The Greatest Story Ever Told — DEUTERONOMY (Part 3)
Last Sunday’s lesson on Deuteronomy focused on the God who chooses his people. This week we looked at the flip side of the coin: God’s people must choose him.
What does choosing God look like? For the Israelites it meant keeping God’s commands. “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it,” instructed Moses, “but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you” (Deut. 4:2 NIV). Obedience is a mark of the New Testament believer as well. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). We had fun reviewing the Ten Commandments as a team of boys and girls competed in building human pyramids. Both teams did great — but the boys took the prize.
A commitment to keeping God’s commands includes examining our thoughts, words, and actions. We paused to reflect on Scripture’s sobering challenge to “be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:5-10) through careful self-evaluation. Students quietly considered this question:
- What do my choices say about my commitment to God?
What kind of choice is it? As Mark Dever describes so well in The Message of the Old Testament, Deuteronomy tells us at least four things about this choice to know and follow God. It’s a personal choice — we can’t hide behind our family or our church on this one. It’s a choice between God and idols — and God suffers no rivals. It’s a choice that affects God personally — he is a jealous God passionately opposed to spiritual adultery (Deut. 6:15). Our choices to sin are choices not to trust God, and that offends him. As Dever notes, “Every sin, no matter how unconnected with religion it seems, is really a short, sharp message to God, saying, ‘I don’t like you. I would rather have these things than you. They give me what I want’” (Message of the Old Testament, p. 167). Fortunately, it’s a choice that can be forgiven. Even when we betray our God and trample his love in the mud, we can cling to the promise that “the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you” (Deut. 4:31 NIV). Such mercy should motivate us to examine ourselves closely:
- What do my choices say about my love for God?
How will my choices affect the world? As we learn in Deuteronomy, God uses our choices to show the world who he is and what he is like. When the world saw Israel blessed for choosing to obey God’s commands, they praised God for his love and goodness (Deut. 28:10). And when the world saw Israel experiencing the consequences of her many wrong choices, they feared the holiness and justice of God (Deut. 29:24-25). Our obedience — or disobedience — reflects the character of God to the world around us. And that led to one final application question:
- What do my choices tell the world about God?
We ended our teaching on Deuteronomy with a look at “The Gospel According to Moses.” In the song that Moses taught Israel (chapter 32), he speaks quite bluntly about their unfaithfulness to God: “They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger…” (vs. 16). But before the song comes to a conclusion he reminds them of a God whose faithfulness and love cannot be shaken: “For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free” (vs. 36).
How should we respond to a God who has chosen us for himself as his own treasured inheritance? By choosing him in return — every day of our lives — by our thoughts, words, and actions. And when we fall short of his glory and goodness, let us run for refuge to the Rock of our salvation.
FOR DISCUSSION WITH PARENTS
- Do my choices reveal a commitment to obey God?
- What am I saying to God when I choose to sin?
- How does God treat those who make bad choices?