I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving, obeying, and holding fast to the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Moses has come a long way. He led his people out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. He travelled up Mt. Sinai to meet God face to face. He came back down and shared God’s word with the people. He survived 40 years of wilderness travel and has come close to the Promised Land. Now, nearing death, Moses has one more chance to say something to the people of God.
If you look up this text in a bible, you’ll discover that Moses has been preaching for a long time. Moses has shared what many of us know as the Ten Commandments and the Great Commandment. He has conveyed God’s instructions on worship and food; tithes and sabbaticals; war and murder; marriage and divorce; parenting and ploughing. Moses preaches for a long time, and miraculously, the people are still listening. Now, at the end of his speech, at the end of his life, Moses tries to drive his point home. He urges the people to reject the ways of death, and choose life: loving, obeying, and holding fast to God.
You may know that many years later, Jesus relied on the words of Moses as he preached his first sermon (Matthew 5-7). Like Moses, Jesus uses the strongest possible language when talking about the importance of God’s law. Neither speaker wants to take any chances about whether we’ll understand what’s at stake. They provoke us to discover the distance between ourselves and the divine, the distance between ourselves and our neighbors, the distance between our habits and practices that truly honor all life. They provoke us, so that we might begin to liberate ourselves from death and despair, and choose, or choose again, a path of life.
I like to think of God’s law as a valentine for us: a letter of love, designed to help us live fully and well. When we are able to live this law that Moses and Jesus share with us so urgently, we become Valentines, too: messengers of life, messengers of love, God’s awkward and aging cupids.
Consider looking up what Moses and Jesus had to say about a life well lived. What might a way of life look like for you? How can you choose life today?
Source of all life, teach us your ways, and help us to be messengers of love in the world. Amen.