Deuteronomy 30:15-20 – Choose Life!


Deuteronomy 30:15-20


In a dramatic appeal, Moses urges each member of the community to “Choose life!”


In some ways this is the climax of Deuteronomy. More than just a collection of laws and legal precepts, Deuteronomy is a covenant document that demands the wholehearted commitment of God’s people. That demand is voiced here. Its simple structure lifts up the two choices being offered, as well as the consequences each choice will produce:

A The choice between life and death (v. 15)
B Obedience means life (v. 16)
B′ Disobedience means death (vv. 17-18)
A′ The choice between life and death (vv. 19-20)

Luther, and others following in his wake, have often had difficulty with this aspect of Deuteronomy. But it must be stated that Israel is not being asked to accept the covenant or become a covenant partner. In the narrative Israel had already become a covenant partner at Mt. Horeb. The relationship itself is even longer established, going back at least as far as the Exodus. Moses urges obedience here, not acceptance, because obedience leads to life and prosperity, while disobedience leads to death. In verse 15, “life” is equated with “the good” (hatob) and “death” with “the bad” (hara). By couching the sermon in the second person singular (“you”), each individual Israelite is confronted with the seemingly rhetorical question, for who would not “choose life”?