Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. – Deuteronomy 30:11-20
In this passage God reassures the Israelites that following Him, and His commandments, may be hard but it is not beyond their reach. This passage is reassuring to me as a Christian as well, especially when the going gets difficult or confusing. God is reminding us that following Him as a Christian is not beyond our reach.
I really like the imagery that God uses here when he tells the Israelites that following Him and His commands is not as hard as crossing over the sea or ascending into heaven. I live near Lake Michigan which, although not an ocean, is a very big body of fresh water. You cannot see across it even on the clearest day. Crossing Lake Michigan without a boat or some other help is pretty much impossible. It is too far to swim and unless I learn pretty quickly to walk on water it is beyond my capability to cross.
What God seems to be saying here is that He will take us “across the sea” not by our own ability but by His ability to carry us. God said as much when he said he would carry us like a son or daughter. Jesus is the great sea crosser, the one who walked on water, and the one who spanned an incredible spiritual gulf to come to earth and become a man.
I’m reminded of a scene from movie The Matrix. Although this movie has its share of gratuitous guns and violence it also explores some interesting philosophical Christology. Morpheus, sort of an edgy John the Baptist is talking to Neo who he believes is “the one”:Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets? Morpheus: No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.
In a way God is telling the Israelites, and us, that when we are ready to trust Him to help us across the great sea that separates us from God we will already be there — “The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart”.
Prayer: Thank you God for spanning the gulf that separated us from Your love by becoming a man and dying on the cross.SDG