15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.
One only needs to glance at the wrenching poems of Lamentations to understand the consequences of choosing wealth over charity, power over service, privilege over community. Both Jerusalem and Samaria, the capital cities of the divided kingdom, chased fame and fortune, prosperity and power rather than a community of justice and compassion as commanded by God. The words of Moses came true. They chose death and adversity.
Despite the prophetic warning to seek justice, the nations played power politics and lost. The northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians; the southern kingdom of Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians. Those who survived were scattered or taken into exile. Death and adversity.
It’s not punishment. It’s about foundations. When you build on sand, the flood sweeps you away.
We have choice. All the Lutheran language about being “in bondage to sin” doesn’t mean we don’t have a choice to make. It is the word of God that captures the wandering human heart, but I choose whether or not to set myself before that Word. I choose whether or not to put myself in that place where the voice of God can work its work within me. I choose between football and worship. I choose between the television and a time of devotion. I choose what I do with my anger, my money, my sexual desires, my fears and jealousies and the sweet delight of talking about others.
I cannot make myself fall in love with God, but I can spend time with God and let him woo me. That’s the idea in the Lutheran language about sin. By nature we, like Adam and Eve in that fateful day in Eden, are hiding from God. We don’t come out from the bushes until God calls us. But they had a choice. They came when called. God didn’t drag them out by their heels.
We have a choice. And life in the presence of God is much better than the bushes.
So whether it’s tithing or holding my tongue, protecting my neighbor’s marriage or honoring Sabbath, speaking truthfully in court or using fair weights and measures, I have a choice to make. And the choices we make as individuals and society will spell prosperity or adversity, life or death.