Choose Life — Part One

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. . .  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:9, 16-17

Did you catch that? At the very dawn of human history, there was not yet the vast gulf of sin between man and God, but there was a choice. The first couple was given a garden to tend, a garden planted by their Creator in which there was plentiful fruit that was both “pleasant to the sight” and “good for food”

Two trees are mentioned by name: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is important to note that God did not forbid the couple to eat from the tree of life; He merely made the tree of knowledge off-limits.

Though they could have chosen to ingest life,  the first couple decided instead to blaze a trail to the one forbidden thing in all of creation. They chose to feed their pride, believing the devil’s claim that eating of the forbidden tree would make them “like God.”

The first thing to die was their innocence and they felt  something new — shame. The slow decay had set in and their bodies would one day follow in death.

Centuries later,  Moses stood before the people he had led out of slavery and gave them one final admonition before his death. He, too, had chosen to blaze his own path rather than comply with the Lord’s command, and so he would not lead the people into the Promised Land. The people themselves have just spent 40 years wandering in the desert because they had more confidence in their own, frail understanding than in the God who had parted a sea for them. But the time to enter the land was near. Among Moses’ final words to the people was this heartfelt plea:

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….”
Deuteronomy 30:19-20a

There it is again, the same choice God had given Adam. This time God was explicit, “Choose life!” I encourage you to backtrack and read the verses previous to these closing statements. God has laid out a very clear, very specific plan for the people. If they will obey, if they will keep up their end of the covenant, blessings will abound.

But He leaves them with the choice to rebel… the choice to decide for themselves what is good and bad, what is right and wrong. They swore to do so, but sadly it wasn’t long before they wandered away from the reliable path He had laid so clearly before them.

Today, I want us to take a look at our own choices. Are we trusting God fully? Have we chosen to give Him Lordship over every element of our lives, even when it seems better to us to do things another way? Are we choosing to drink deeply and be satisfied with the water of life He has given us — the very Word of God? Or are we allowing our culture to press us into its service, putting off intimacy with God until things settle down?

Are we setting our minds on the flesh, which is death, or on the Spirit of God, which is life? (see Romans 8).

Tomorrow, we will look at the ultimate choice.



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