I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.
If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
In the Old Testament, God does a lot of the choosing, and man spends a lot of time trying to determine God’s will for him. This is pretty much the traditional idea of “religion.” This view is not much different from the ideas about fate found in other religions at the same time: Try to figure out what fate has in store for you, then learn to accept it, so that you can be happy with your material circumstances.
The insincere critics of the Bible love to parody the God of the Old Testament as some kind of frothy, intemperate, incontinent, blustering sadist who beats people up until they do what he says. Religious law, they say, is imposed on the dumbed-down people against their will and against their best interests. Then the clueless Christian theocrats join the chorus, insisting that God’s Law must be imposed on the hapless multitudes for their own good, to save them from damnation. The iron might of the holy central government, so they say, must be used to work God’s will on intransigent sinners.
I spent some time at a conference with some of these theocrats. I liked talking to them until they started in on their political strategies for leveraging a hardcore Christian minority into swinging elections for Republicans and enacting God’s Law throughout the US. I’m sorry to say that as long as they think that way, those folks will always be losers. They are so predictable that politicians can always count on them to deliver the votes, no matter how many times they are betrayed. “Next time,” they say, “next time we’ll do it. Next time we’ll win a simple majority and put God in charge. Yeah, next time God will finally have a chance to do His will in this country.”
Now I’m totally disgusted, just thinking about these idiots. They don’t even realize how they are buying into a pagan ideology, because they don’t really understand the purpose of the Law. The purpose of the Law is to enable men to establish order on earth so that they can live in peace and prosperity. It is a voluntary social contract; although it may have been instituted in the past, as in the case of Israel, each generation chooses again who it will serve. If they fail to choose wisely, they will suffer in social turmoil.
Am I supposed to feel sorry for the crowds if they are stupid? God has shown them the way governments and societies work, so that they are without excuse.
Every generation needs to have witnesses and prophets, but that has nothing to do with political power grabs by greedy hypocrites. Although they may force people to obey their laws, that won’t gain them any blessing from God, and it won’t save anyone from damnation.
God has set before you life and death, blessing and curse. So choose life in order that you and your children may live by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve, either your parent’s idols or the idols of today’s world; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.