Few, if any, of us would raise our hands affirmatively to the question, “Who likes laws?” Self-rule, not submission, comes naturally to us. Hence, many of the predicaments in today’s world that we find ourselves in. Rules, the old saying tells us, are meant to be broken. That saying, unsurprisingly, did not originate in Scripture.
God’s rules are meant to be kept. In the Old Testament, He gave the Mosaic law to Israel for various reasons. One was to graciously instruct imperfect people on how to live in His perfect presence.
God has always desired to dwell among His people. His first sanctuary on earth was the garden of Eden, but Adam and Eve’s desire for self-rule forced their removal.
So God chose another sanctuary. In His providence, He set His affection on the Israelites and placed them in Canaan, where God manifested His presence in the tabernacle (and later the temple). He gave Israel rules to help them respect and reflect His holiness, including the Sabbath and redemption laws of today’s Scripture reading.
These were all part of His covenant with Israel. Covenants—a binding agreement between at least two parties—were common in ancient times. A sovereign king would often make one with those in his kingdom. But no covenant was quite like the one God graciously initiated with Israel. He redeemed them from slavery and chose to bless them to make His greatness known among the nations. What was their end of the bargain? To follow His rules. To worship and obey Him with all their hearts. If they did, He would bless them.
Today, we as believers wait for our final redemption when we will dwell with the Lord face to face and enjoy the entirety of our covenant blessings forever. But until then, God still walks among us. His Spirit dwells in the hearts of all His children and bids us to follow Him.
Having been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, we are people of a new covenant, enjoying countless blessings. We don’t follow God’s rules to earn salvation or win His favor. We do it out of love and obedience to the sovereign King who has invited us into His heavenly kingdom.
God is not a petty, brooding ruler waiting to strike us down whenever we stray. He is a loving heavenly Father who desires to pour out His covenant blessings upon us. James 1:25 describes God’s commands as “the perfect law of freedom.” Laws that bring freedom? Rules that bring blessing? What a concept! Only the glorious Lord of heaven and earth could bring about such a thing. As His blood-bought covenant people, may we worship and obey Him with all our hearts.