Is the Law, a fence or a tunnel?
“These are the laws you are to set before them” (Exodus 21:1). We are now entering the section of Exodus more focused on the law, beginning with the 10 commandments last week and now going into details of everyday life. The topics range from social responsibility to protection of property, from guidelines of justice and mercy, to the design of the tabernacle and what should be offered there.
It might look like following the rules was the way to be in relationship with God, but it was not. It is clear that God started a relationship with the people back in Exodus 3. He had seen their misery and offered to rescue them. The response that was expected from the people was to have a meal in God’s honor, the way he said to and put some of the blood from the lamb that was served that night on their doorpost. That would show that they trusted God (Exodus 12). Then, the people went on their trip to a land flowing with milk and honey.
So, what is the purpose of these laws? They are like a fence, put around the people to protect them and help them understand who God is. It is not a list of rules to obey so they could get a relationship with God. They already had that. It is rules for those who already know the love and rescue of God and are called to live in a new way.
This gives a great insight for the whole of Scripture. We do not engage in good works so we can have a relationship with God. Instead, good works become evidence of those who know they are loved and want to live like they belong to Christ.
Tips for Reading - (Observation tip #11)
Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It will be building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over last week to get the whole picture.
We are at the last “W” and then we will address some new ideas.
“Wherefore” is the question of difference. You could paraphrase it “So What?” What difference would it make if I were to apply this truth? Wherefore is the question that gets us doing something about what we’ve read.
Remember, the world of God was not written to satisfy our curiosity, or even to give us deep truths as much as it was written to change our lives. For example, what about knowing that the law is meant for our protection instead of meant to gain God’s love. How could that apply to your life? Does your life have the enjoyment that Moses seems to have in tough times? What about in rush hour traffic? Or in a struggle in the home over when to go to bed, or how work was done today? Where are some practical places God wants you to experience joy? How can you apply these truths?
When we get to the section on Application, I will give you a number of ways to answer these questions, but for now it’s a good reminder as to where we are headed.
Notes from David’s Journal
This week, pay attention to the more specific laws given by God to Moses. At first blush, you may be tempted to do a cursory reading of these chapters without much interest. However, the entire Bible is inspired by God. Therefore, rich spiritual truths are to be discovered, yes, even in these verses!
Primarily, I'd like to ask you to do some study in the number of verses that call for God's care for the poor and oppressed. Justice is a major concern in the heart of God and note how often he asks for justice for the slave, the poor, the disenfranchised, the hurting. You can see God's love manifested in His laws. He wants the foreigner and wayfarer to be cared for. He wants those to whom harm has been done to receive fair treatment. God's fingerprints are written all over His laws. Read them closely. They're really not boring at all, but reveal the heart of a compassionate God who wants His children, in and outside His covenant community, cared for.
Finally, in chapters 26 and 27, you'll see the beginnings of God's plan for the Tabernacle, His mobile worship center! Keep reminding yourself as you read these chapters (and the ones next week), God's intricate design for worship. Every piece of the Tabernacle points to an aspect of God's glory, majesty and honor. Each piece gives us insight into why God is worthy to be worshipped and praised.
His Law and His presence magnifies our worship. To Him alone and always belongs all the glory, honor, praise and worship!