God has spoken once, twice have I heard it; That power belongs to God
Deuteronomy, and Moses' life, are both drawing to a close. He is with Israel in Moab, and has spent the last few chapters offering up his final directions to the people God has seen fit to raise up out of slavery in Egypt, to guide them through the desert for 40 years (without the clothes on their backs or the sandals on their feet rotting) and to give them a Promised Land to live in as a people blessed by their deliverer. Those directions have proven to be a double-edged sword hanging over the heads of the tribes of Israel. There is an edge for their adherence to the Covenant: blessings. There is an edge that is for their apostasy to the Covenant: curses. One edge gives life to Israel, and Moses testifies that all the nations will see these blessings and know that God is great. The other edge brings curses to Israel, and Moses offers blood-curdling curses that will prove to the nations that God is great. Either way, God is great; and so Moses adjures Israel to keep the Covenant: better the blessings than the curses. Better to live into what God offers us, yes. As well, says Moses, do not presume that because God chose to make you a holy people that God gives you an undisputed pride of place. Under covenant, we have a LOT of work to do in our pursuit of God's blessings.
If that doesn't disturb our sleep, then I do not know what will. Placing that hard teaching into context for us as followers of Christ needs no small degree of mediation and interpretation. Our assumptions about how anointed we are as God's chosen can too easily transform a humble faith into arrogant pride of place.
In our reading today from Luke, Jesus continues to tangle with the Pharisees as he teaches in the Temple. Today, he is challenged over his authority to teach and preach: who gave him license? He faces questions over who has temporal authority: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar? He addresses a nuanced question about who belongs to whom in the resurrection: If someone is married multiple times after being widowed multiple times, whose wife is she? All of these questions route us back to life under the Law, and all of them challenge Jesus' listeners to respond to his answers: Our loyalty, and our lives, are directed to God alone; render to Caesar what is his and to God what is God's; in the resurrection there is no marriage, only union with God and communion with each other.
All of the above bring me around to that line from the Psalm I used as the title for this post: God has spoken once, twice have I heard it. In bearing witness to Moses' testimony and Jesus' teaching I stand in awe of a Deity who creates us with the purpose to create, to abide in Covenant and to be a witness to grace, redemption and forgiveness. I give praise to God for making that witness a free choice: we can choose to live into that blessing; or to depart and struggle with the curse of separation from God.
God is continually offering us that opportunity: choose life, choose communion and union, choose mercy and justice. It is our choice.
May God give us the wisdom we need to make that choice....