16 In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
Moses knew when he spoke these words that he would soon be dead and the Israelites would be moving into a new territory where they would be tested by the culture of the tribes that already lived in the Promised Land. He told them that they had a choice. Later, Joshua would tell them the same thing and give them the same choice as they prepared to cross the Jordan River.
We may not realize it, but we have the same choice as well. We can obey the laws of God and live and multiply in peace, or we can choose to abandon God and try to go it alone and suffer the consequences. Moses didn’t tell them that they wouldn’t suffer, that they wouldn’t face challenges or that they would always be happy. God doesn’t promise us that either. What we are promised is that He will be with us as we face those challenges. Just as the Israelites would be tempted by the culture into which they would be moving, we are tempted by the culture in which we live. A culture of pleasure that has few if any moral values; a culture of division that doesn’t look at the children of God as belonging to the same family! This is a culture that promotes looking out for oneself instead of looking out for others.
We choose how we will respond to these temptations. The Israelites started out strong but soon they began to listen to those around them and they adopted those very behaviors that Moses had warned them against. We can start out strong in our faith as well, but it can be easy to be lured away. It’s Lent, a time of reflection and renewal. Let us stay strong!
Loving and forgiving Father, we need you to be with us as we face the demons of this world that look so good on the surface but are determined to take us away from you. Help us to renew our faith in you. Amen.