• Home
  • Posts
  • Faith Column by Marek Zabriskie: The Two Most Important Words in the Bible

Faith Column by Marek Zabriskie: The Two Most Important Words in the Bible

By The Rev. Marek Zabriskie

The Bible’s two most important words are found in the book of Deuteronomy – a book that most people never read. Yet, here we find God’s very best advice.

These two words can provide a spiritual compass to guide every decision that you make for the rest of your life and help you to discover a good life and share it with others.

If you’re in a difficult situation, lost a loved one, have a vital decision to make, are in a strained relationship, or are confronting a major illness, read Deuteronomy 30:19, and follow its advice.

Deuteronomy is the longest sermon in the Bible. It’s twenty-six chapters long. Moses delivered it from his pulpit overlooking the plains of Moab to all of Israel gathered around him.

They surrounded Moses for his final sermon, his valedictory address. This was the second giving of the law or “Deuteronomy” as the book is called. Moses never preached again. After this sermon, he descended from his pulpit, climbed a mountain, and died.

Moses had led the Jews through many peaks and valleys, shepherding them along the way. Now, he knew that his end was near. So, he gave his farewell address.

Moses reminded his listeners of all that they had gone through together, through slavery, being chased the Egyptians, and crossing the Red Sea. They had walked under the scorching sun, nearly died of hunger, and suffered dreadful thirst.

They had gone through so much. Now, Moses reminded them of what they were capable of doing and what God created them to do. They were meant to live holy lives and to be part of a spiritual revolution.

They had taken a long time to grow up. But now they were poised for greatness. They stood on the mountain overlooking the Promise Land – a land full of milk and honey. God let Moses know that the Israelites could enter the Promise Land, but Moses could not join them.

So, Moses told his people that if they were to lead a good life, they had to care for others. Living the good life included cancelling the debts of the poor (15:1-11), pushing the government to guard against excessive wealth (16:18-20) limiting punishment to protect human dignity (19:1-7), restricting those who can be drafted (20:1-8), sheltering runaway slaves (23:15-16), paying employees fairly (24:14-15), and leaving part of the harvest for those who needed it (24:19-22).

Moses said that if you want to live a good life, you have to focus on a good life for everyone, not just for some. This pleases God. The people of Israel had heard about the law, the commandments, and the covenant.

Now, as they prepared to enter the Promise Land. Moses offered the Bible’s most important advice. He said, “…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him…” (Deut. 30:19).

Memorize this verse. Use it as a spiritual compass. In whatever challenging situation you find yourself, ask yourself, “How can I choose life?” Then follow that path.

“Choose life.” If you have trouble determining the most life-giving path, then pray and ask God to reveal it to you. If you still struggle, ask a priest, minister, rabbi, counselor or trusted advisor or friends and family members. Discuss your options and ask which is the path that leads to life and blessings.

Throughout the years, I’ve met many people who acted as if they didn’t have choices. They believed that every path was closed off. They were caught up in emotions and couldn’t think rationally. Often, they focused on the path behind rather than the path in front of them.

I knew a woman who had gone through a bitter divorce. She self-medicated and drank heavily. She said, “I’ll never marry again. I could never trust another man.” Every time her daughter offered suggestions, her mother dismissed them. She chose death and curses rather than life and blessings.

“Choose life so that you and your descendants may life,” said Moses. Life is the path out of despair, the way to hope, the door to healing, and the key to a brighter future.

We are choosing people. We must claim our freedom. The worst thing that we can do is to act helpless. When we take steps to plan our future, we regain control and confidence.

Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” When we stew in a bad situation, we violate what God dream for us. It also impacts those around us. We settle for a fraction of the abundant life that God envisions for us.

Abundant life won’t be served to us on a silver platter. We must partner with God and others to find it. We must choose life, joy, and blessings, and then work hard with God and others to make this a reality for ourselves and for others.

Jesus knew all about Deuteronomy. He quoted it frequently. It influenced his life and teaching. He built upon the transformative ministry of Moses. Jesus told his followers, be whole. Have integrity. Be in sync with God, and he recruited people to the vision.

More than 2,500 years later, these words of Moses can influence your life. No matter what challenge you are facing, you have the freedom and the moral obligation to choose the best path forward. Choose life and blessings and it will be a gift to yourself and others.

The Rev. Marek P. Zabriskie is Rector of Christ Church Greenwich – a Bible-centered congregation.

Related Posts