The Joy for Those Who Obey
Deuteronomy 30 is the close of Moses' speech to the Israelites, which began in chapter 1. After the horrors of chapter 28 (see my last entry), it is full of welcome joy.
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...
It is an excellent closing arguement, because it emphasizes the certainty of God's character and the importance of choosing wisely.
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, 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.
What is interesting here is how Moses structures his speech as a call to action. "Do you desire blessing?" he seems to say. "Pursue it! Pursue it rightly, by repenting of sin and walking in obedience. Love God, love your neighbor. Enter joy by living in submission."
Recent days reminded me of the challenge presented by the world's self-centeredness. An atheist friend of mine recommended a book (called The Alchemist) which tries to beautify one young man's pursuit of his life purpose- conveniently ignoring the way he forsakes all duty, relational connections, and responsibility for the sake of finding what he wants. It is attractive because your mind tells you that the path will fulfill your longings.
After all, wouldn't it be nice to leave your spouse and family, leave your responsibilities, leave your problems? Do what you want, when you want? Never have to feel guilty?
It does sound nice. It is also a lie.
God calls us to something else entirely. He calls us to submission and sacrifice, to responsibility and suffering, to glorification of Him rather than of ourselves. And yet strangely, impossibly, and wonderfully- this path of suffering is the true path of joy and prosperity. What a God we serve.