Moses said: “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,” (Deuteronomy 30:19, ESV)
Throughout the book of Deuteronomy Moses is preparing the people of Israel to enter the Promised Land. He makes it very clear that the key to things going well in the land flowing with milk and honey was for the Israelites to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. In the verse above he calls on heaven and earth as his witnesses against them. This raises the question, “How do heaven and earth bear witness?
We know how people bear witness. They are called to the witness stand. They are asked to swear to tell the truth. And then they are asked a series of questions by both the prosecution and the defense. Obviously, that is not possible with heaven and earth so how do they bear witness?
Heaven and earth bear witness against us by never changing. Every day the earth spins on its axis. Every day the sun rises and sets. Every day the moon circles around the earth. Every spring the trees put out their leaves. And, as we all know here in MN, every year, without fail, winter descends upon us.
The sun never gets up in the morning and says, “I don’t want to shine today so I won’t shine.” The moon never says, “I don’t want to orbit the earth today so I won’t orbit the earth. So heaven and earth bear witness by never changing.
As humans we are not nearly as consistent. We may start serving the Lord and stick with it for a week or a month or a year but then we get bored or lazy and we stop. Countless times we have tried to keep God’s laws but not stayed with it, at least not nearly as consistently as the earth orbits the sun.
In Matthew 22 Jesus summarizes God’s law as follows: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)
And as with all of God’s commands he wants us to keep them all day, every day, just as consistently as the heavens and earth move in their appointed routes. When we fail at being consistent heaven and earth bear witness against us.
The Good News is that God, for the sake of Christ, forgives us. And sometimes Scriptures expresses God’s gracious forgiveness in heaven and earth language.
Jeremiah says in Lamentations: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23, ESV)
God mercies never come to an end they are new every morning.
And then there is Psalm 103:10–12
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (ESV)
And Psalm 8:3–6
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
Psalm 36:5–9 uses the heavens, clouds, mountains, the depths of the oceans, wings and the river of his delights to express God’s love:
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. (ESV)
And Jesus also called on the things of this world to testify to God’s goodness: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12: 6-7, ESV)
So yes, heaven and earth do testify against us that we are not very consistent in following the Lord. We can do well for a while but then we falter. But the same heaven and earth that testify against us also testify to us about God’s unlimited goodness and mercy. They soar higher than the mountains and are new every morning.