“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.”
Explanation and Commentary of Deuteronomy 30:19
Moses has thoroughly laid out all the points and sub-points about what it means for God’s chosen people to be holy and like him in their ways. He says in Deuteronomy 30:11-14 that the commandment is not too hard for them, that it is very near, and they can do it, if only they will. Now he says that he calls “the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you.” This speaks to the eternal nature and fundamental truth of the commands of God. If they disobey, the heavens are there as a witness to the fact that they knew right from wrong, good from evil, and they have chosen the wrong and evil. If there need be two witnesses, then the earth will back up the claim that if the Israelites choose to bow down to false God’s, to shun God’s good decrees, to fail to acknowledge him in all their ways, they will have absolutely no excuse.
God’s ways are life. Jesus is the life and the light of men (Jn 1:4). Every choice of whether to do good or evil always comes down to the choice between life and death. What makes a human who is created in the image of God choose death over life can only be that his or her nature is stained with sin. Because of this, God sent his one and only Son, Jesus to redeem us, and to fill us with his Holy Spirit, whereby we can actually begin to change. Even Spirit-filled Christians can sometimes temporarily choose death. If they have been shaped for a long time by the evil choices they’ve made, the process of transformation to Christlikeness could be slow, but if it is true then it will be sure.
No matter how wrapped up we get into the theological debates about the sovereignty of God, the inevitability of sinners to sin, and the election of the saints, God never stops saying to all flesh, “What I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach” (Deut 30:11).
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Deuteronomy 30:19
#1 “This day…”
The Bible is the living Word through which God never ceases to speak to us. Hebrews 3:13-15 says, “13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’”
#2 “I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you…”
Moses is the speaker and the author who called the heavens and earth as witness to what he has been teaching the Israelites who have been rescued from slavery in Egypt. This rhetorical device is meant to show that the whole universe and heavenly realm will hold them accountable because the way of life he’s shown them comes from the basic principles of how things are because they are how God made them to be.
#3 “…that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.”
God’s blessings equal life. His curses equal death. We choose whether to be blessed by God or cursed by God, choosing between life and death. God’s heart for the Israelites was to be conscious in their choices, rather than like most who are only semi-aware of the choices that are either killing them or building them up.
#4 “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”
That they would do well to choose life has been made abundantly clear. Here, Moses reminds them that their children’s lives are also at stake. The choices the parents make do not negate that their children will have their own choices, but their choosing righteousness will definitely increase the likelihood that their children will do the same.
Expert Overview of Deuteronomy
Biblical Translations of Deuteronomy 30:19
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.
Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.