THE LAW OF GOD (His heart revealed)
I would like to share a few thoughts on the law. First let me say that the law is good, it is holy and just - but most of all, the law reveals God's heart. The law defines and manifests His love. God is a jealous God. He loves His people and all people. He wants to be our # 1 priority. He wants to be foremost in our lives. He also wants us to behave toward others with respect and consideration of each as a person created in His image. He also wants us to respect another's possessions and relationships. If you look at the Ten Commandments, they can be summed up in "Love God, and Love your neighbor." <Lk. 10:27> Who could argue with any of that?
God’s loving nature
That part of the law has never changed, because God's heart has never changed. His actions and methods may change (and usually do with each experience), but the nature of God never changes. He will always be the same, loving, merciful, forgiving, patient, gentle, good, etc. Yet He is also holy, faithful, righteous, just, etc. That's why it is so important to develop a personal and intimate communion relationship with Him, in order that we can get beyond the "written law" and deeper into the heart of God.
Purpose for law
Why did God give the law? Was it to
give man a set of rules to live by? What was God's motive for giving the law?
The answer is very complex because the law can be taken on many different
Think for a moment about Israel. God had given them a land flowing with milk and honey. But also in that same land were giants (Nephilim). Not just men of large stature, but people who worshipped the creature rather than the Creator. People who not only had given themselves to serve other gods, but also given their own children! People who worshipped just about anything and everything EXCEPT the One True God. People who through their living and intimate relationships with their gods had polluted the land.
God gave His people the law to protect and preserve His people from that environment and danger. As long as they followed that law they were safe. God knew they would make mistakes and not always be obedient, so He made provision through the law for that. So even by removing the relationship side of God with His people, the law was a loving safe-keep for them. Of course God desired His people would go much deeper and find Him personally. His desire was to have a people who would let Him be God in their lives and reveal Himself and His nature to them in every life situation.
Unfortunately only a few of the OT saints realized and desired that. They not only worshipped God, tried to obey His commandments, but went further to get to know their Creator intimately. There are many examples of such: Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abe, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, Caleb, Samuel, David (a man after God's heart) and many of the kings and prophets. Their relationship with God went beyond "religion" and the outward compliance to the law; it went to the very heart of God Himself!
Are you ready for this?
I don’t believe God ever wanted anyone to stop short by just outwardly complying with the law. In fact, I’d dare say God intentionally gave man a law that he could never keep. Can you accept that? Let’s go a bit deeper. He gave the law to show us how weak we are and how desperately we need Him. It was a test, just like the test Jesus gave the ‘rich young ruler’. “Oh, you think you kept the law? Well, try this: go sell all you have and give it to the poor, then FOLLOW ME.” See this man was looking for something he had to do (Mk. 10:17-22). <I think the Father revealed to Jesus just what laws the man thought he had kept. Those were the very ones He mentioned. Jesus didn’t go down the list of the “big 10,” but skipped around (out of order). Could it be that what Jesus was hoping to do is get this rich feller to realize he couldn’t do that, but he still wanted to follow Him. The tragedy was he probably didn’t hear that last part, “follow me,” and went away sorrowfully L.
If we analyze Ex. 19 closely it is very interesting, notice the chronology. In vs. 3 Moses leaves the people to talk to God on the mountain for the first time (before this is over, Moses becomes quite a mountain climber). God mentions to Moses His desire to covenant with His people in a special and personal way. His desire was that ALL the people be His procession, a kingdom of priests (v.6). This was God’s heart desire. We know God’s heart never changed because it’s mentioned several other times in the NT, I Pet. 2:5&9, Rev. 1:6; 5:10.
God’s covenant was initiated by God and would be kept by Him as well. It was basically a God sided covenant with the people as the recipients. <Sorta like when Jesus reminded His disciples, “I chose you.”> So Moses comes down to tell the people what God shared with Him. However Israel is already thinking like the rich man (above mentioned). Their response, on the surface, sounds commendable. They say, “all the Lord has spoken, we will DO, or so they thought. They didn’t conceive what God was saying and offering them. He wanted a relationship with them. But first, He would need to test their hearts and hunger for this new covenant relationship. How badly would they want Him, no matter what the outward appearance might be?
Next comes the test. I love verse 17, “And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God...” WOW, can you imagine – meet the God who brought you out of Egypt! The God who opened the sea, gave them water from the rock, the God who wanted to call them out to a feast with Him! But the climate changes, the mountain is covered by a thick cloud and begins to quake, lightning and loud thunder rattle through the camp far below the mountain. A strict boundary is established and warnings of death to those who violate it. <I wonder if at this point, the people were beginning to question what they are getting into. Are they really sure they still want to DO all God said?>
God begins speaking to Moses while the people stood by watching and trembling at the loud trumpet sound and thunder of God’s answering Moses (v.19). Did you catch that? God ANSWERING Moses. God and Moses were having dialog before the people! God was manifesting and confirming His authority and personal relationship with Moses.
In ch. 20 we have the “Ten Commandments” given. The chronology here is kinda hard to figure out. It seems to me that God is writing on the tablets of stone while Moses is with the people. In 20:18-19 (after the commandments have been recorded), the people (still trembling) speak to Moses saying, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, lest we die.” They failed the test L. Rather than wanting to hear and speak with God, they chose to let someone else talk to God and tell them. Hmmm does that not sound familiar?
Missing the mark (which is sin)
The really sad thing about all this is that not only did God’s people fail the test, but totally missed the whole point. We all know about the golden calf incident which proved they were still thinking outwardly. They took something so wonderful that God’s heart longed for, a people for Himself that He could love, train, care for and enjoy as well as represent Him to others and made it into something God hates – RELIGION!
What about today?
Jesus came to make the path FREE and CLEAR to have the same intimate relationship with His Father that He had, and that that relationship would also spread to one another (Jn.17:20-22; IJn. 1:3,7). Jesus died to make that possible for us, by being the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29), and God raised Him up by His Spirit to live forevermore! PTL! Now that very same Spirit that raised Jesus, dwells us in us (Rom. 8:11)! More good news! PTL! We now have a direct link to God through the same Spirit via our spirit, i.e. spirit to Spirit, and Spirit to spirit communion (I Cor. 6;17). What intimacy that is!
When Jesus came to earth He found His people continuing and even compounding in making THEIR religion, Judaism, even more complex and exclusive. He was looking for faith among His people. <Faith is impossible outside of a relationship. “Faith comes by hearing…” and hearing requires a relationship first and foremost. Religion cheats people out of a relationship with God. Programs, teachings/doctrines, traditions, and controlling men take the place of that relationship. The Israelites at the foot of the mountain were content with Moses having the personal relationship with God. Religious people today are content with “a man” to tell them what God wants them to do. They are willing to even PAY for it (and boy, do they ever pay!!) Men actually take the place of God and receive the worship of the people and make for the people their own golden calf to worship as well. These religious leaders become filled with pride. They will do whatever it takes to protect and preserve their religion. In fact, the religious leaders in Jesus’ day had become so proud of THEIR religion, they were willing to kill for it!
Jesus spoke of a simple widow woman who was continually being oppressed. She would not give up on crying out for relief. Eventually an unrighteous judge finally vindicated this widow from her “opponent.” <I wonder if she was being oppressed by religious persecutors in some way. Most of Jesus’ parables are illustrating the Father’s heart and kingdom in contrast to religion.> At the end of the parable, Jesus asks a very interesting question. “...when the son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Lk.18:8) He had a hard time finding faith on earth when He came the first time. Whadaya think?
Charlie Lafferty - 2006