Toward the end of the book of Deuteronomy, after a long discourse on what will happen to the people if they disobey the Lord and violate the covenant promises, Deuteronomy 30
begins with a promise that even if they fell into disobedience and were punished with exile, God would nevertheless restore them to the land.
That is, if they repented and turned from their evil ways.
Read Deuteronomy 30:15-20
. What are the options presented to ancient Israel here, and how do these options reflect what we have seen all through the Bible?
The Lord is very clear: He, Yahweh, has set before them one of two options, basically what He did with Adam and Eve in Eden. In fact, the Hebrew words for “good”
(tov) and “evil”
(ra‵) in Deuteronomy 30:15 are the same Hebrew words used in Genesis for the tree of the knowledge of “good” (tov) and “evil” (ra
‵). Here, as in all through the Bible, there is no middle ground, no neutral place to be. They will either serve the Lord and have life, or they will choose death. It′s the same for us, as well.
Life, goodness, blessing, in contrast to what? Death, evil, and curses. In the end, though, one justly could argue that God really offers them only the good, only life, and only blessings. But if they turn away from Him, these bad things will be the natural result, because they no longer have His special protection.
However we understand it, the people are presented with these options. It′s very clear, too, the reality of their free will, their free choices. These verses, along with so much of the Bible, Old and New Testament, make no sense apart from the sacred gift of free will, free choice.
In a real sense, the Lord said to them: Therefore, with the free will that I have given you — choose life, choose blessing, choose goodness, not death, evil, and curses.
It seems so obvious what the correct choice would be, doesn′t it not? And yet, we know what happened. The great controversy was as real then as it is now, and we should learn from Israel′s example what can happen if we don′t give ourselves wholly to the Lord and choose life and all that this choice entails.