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<< Holy Land Moments with Rabbi Eckstein

A Choosing People - Holy Land Moments with Rabbi Eckstein - June 27, 2018

  • 2018 Jun 27
  • COMMENTS

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.—Deuteronomy 30:15

At the very foundation of the Jewish and Christian faith is the concept of the covenant, or brit In Hebrew. The Bible teaches us that God chose and initiated a covenantal relationship with us — one that defines events of the past and assures us of promises for the future. This is one of six devotions related to these divine contracts that eternally bind us with God.

We make choices every day. We choose what clothes to wear, what we will eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, how we will spend our free time. Most of those choices are rather innocuous and don’t have long-term effects – with the exception of our continually choosing to eat dessert after dinner! Other choices carry more importance — who we will marry, where we will live, what job opportunity we will pursue.

Our ability to choose is something we treasure — particularly for those who are blessed to live in democracies like Israel and the United States. We have the ability to choose who will govern us, how we will worship, and what will be the principles that will govern our lives.

We are a choosing people.

God created us this way, and He incorporated our ability to choose as part of our covenantal relationship with Him. In the case of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, God reached out to His people, Israel, who, in turn, were required to respond to this divine initiative by accepting Him and obeying His word. In this way Israel is both the “chosen” people of God and the “choosing” people. A covenant relationship is not a matter of God simply extending His promises; we also must respond.

Thus, God’s reaching out is only one dimension of the covenant.  Covenants require two parties and two dimensions. The second dimension is man’s response – an act of mitzvah we call it, which in Hebrew means fulfillment of and obedience to God’s commandments. 

In Ezekiel 36:28, God said, “‘You will be my people, and I will be your God.’” We each have our own set of responsibilities in covenant with Him.

But, ultimately, the choice to obey God rests with each one of us. That is clear in Moses’ address to the people in Deuteronomy 30:15: “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” This is a life-and-death matter. Moses challenged the people: Obey and God will bless you; disobey and you will certainly be destroyed.

God allows us to make that decision, but He wants us also to realize that the stakes are high. God wants us all to choose to obey because He knows that is in our best interest and will lead to the best results. Daily we need to make and affirm that choice.

What do you choose today?

Learn more about God’s covenantal relationship with us in this free issue of our Bible study series, Limmud (“study” in Hebrew), “The Covenant: God’s Eternal Contract.”

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