- The Explore the Bible lesson for February 16 focuses on Deuteronomy 30:1-10,19-20.
Last year during spring break, my family and I traveled to Colorado. I always wanted to visit Colorado and run on its the beautiful trails. One day, while visiting the Cheyenne Zoo in Colorado Springs, I noticed a beautiful trail. I asked my wife if I could run for a few miles after visiting the zoo, and she agreed. After our zoo visit, I laced up my shoes and took off, excited to be running in Colorado. It was an amazing feeling! I could see the Rocky Mountains in the background and Pike’s Peak in front of me.
Suddenly, I came across a fork on the road. When this happens, I usually take a left, because that’s easy for me to remember. Then another fork appeared, and another, and another. After 3.5 miles, I decided it was time to head back to the parking lot. On my way back, I took a wrong turn and was lost. I tried not to panic, but the warning sign about wildlife in the area made it worse. (Spoiler alert: I made it back).
In life, we constantly are challenged to make decisions. Some have serious consequences and others don’t. Moses challenged the Israelites to make the right choice, but because of their disobedience, they made the wrong choice and paid the consequence when they were scattered during the exile.
Restored People (Deuteronomy 30:1-5)
This section in Deuteronomy anticipates the chaos awaiting the Israelites. Moses, in his role as prophet, laid down an essential prophecy about the people. The prophecy was about the exile caused by the disobedience of the people. This curse would cause the Israelites to be dispersed and create many more calamities (see Deuteronomy 28:15-68).
Despite all these catastrophes, the Lord promised them restoration and compassion. God promised he would gather them again from all the nations where they were scattered. But before this could happen, the people needed to repent (return to the Lord) with all their heart and with all their soul. Have you experienced God’s restoration in your life?
In this section we witness God’s character and faithfulness. The Israelites were going to be scattered, even to the most distant land under the heavens. But God promised he would gather them, restore them, bring them to the land, and make them more prosperous and numerous than their fathers. There is comfort in these promises. There is comfort even for us, that one day God will redeem us and make everything new.
Renewed Hearts (Deuteronomy 30:6-10)
This section deals with the renewal of the heart. In Genesis 17:1-14, God called Abram and made a covenant with him. The covenant entailed a great nation and a blessing. At this point, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham (father of many) and asked him to keep the following covenant as well: Every male among you shall be circumcised. “You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you,” God commanded.
The circumcision of the flesh was part of God’s covenant with Abraham. In Deuteronomy, God spoke about the circumcision of the heart. The circumcision of the heart represents removing old behaviors that keep us from loving God with all our heart. For the Israelites, this act of obedience denoted getting rid of pagan cultures, gods, costumes and behaviors in order to love God with an undivided heart.
In the New Testament book of Romans, the Apostle Paul emphasizes the importance of the circumcision of the heart. He states: “The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcised, are lawbreakers. A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outwardly and physical. No, a man is Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.” (Romans 2:27-29).
Paul argued that circumcision no longer is a matter of ethnicity or physical evidence. Circumcision is a matter of the heart. The circumcision that really matters is the circumcision of the heart, when we let the Holy Spirit change our behaviors, heart and the way we think we renew it to make it obedient to Christ.
Righteous Choice (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
Moses drew a line in the sand and challenged the people to make the right choice. He called upon heaven and earth as witnesses, perhaps because of the magnitude of the covenant. Moses presented the people a choice—life and death, blessings and curses. Moses wanted the Israelites to choose life, because choosing life meant to live a life in alignment with God. Choosing life would make them love God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. It was a wonderful promise.
Choices are part of daily life. In fact, according to an article in Psychology Today, the average person makes about 35,000 choices per day. Some choices that don’t have any serious consequences—choosing your shoes, your clothes, etc. Others can have an impact on our daily routines. However, the choice that the Israelites had before them was a choice that had eternal consequences. They came to the fork on the road and were challenged by Moses to choose right.
Jaime Cortez is discipleship pastor at First Baptist Church in Athens, Texas.