What are your first thoughts when you think of law? Police officers, traffic tickets, judges, and jail? Or do you think of restrictions, rules, authoritarian parents, and punishment? Or, perhaps, do you think of order, harmony, stability? Or maybe even … love?
The Hebrew word torah, translated “law” in our Bibles, means “teaching” or “instruction.” The term can be used to refer to all God’s instructions, whether moral, civil, social, or religious. It implies all the wise counsels God has graciously given His people, so they may experience an abundant life both physically and spiritually. No wonder the psalmist could call the man blessed whose “delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2).
As we read the law or Torah — the instructions and teachings recorded in the books of Moses that became a part of Israel’s covenant — we are impressed with the wide range of instruction. The law touches upon every part of Israel’s lifestyle — agriculture, civil government, social relationships, and worship.
Why do you suppose God provided so much instruction for Israel? (See Deuteronomy 10:13.) In what ways were these instructions for their “good”?
The work of the “law” within the covenant was to provide guidelines to the new life of the human-covenant partner. The law introduces the member of the covenant to the will of God, whom one comes to know in the fullest sense through obedience by faith to His commandments and other expressions of His will.
The part played by the law within the living reality of the covenant relationship showed that Israel could not follow the ways of other nations. They could not live by natural law, human needs, desires, or even social, political, and economic necessities alone. They could continue as God’s holy nation, priestly kingdom, and special treasure only through uncompromising obedience to the revealed will of the covenant-making God in all areas of life.
|Like ancient Israel, Seventh-day Adventists have received a wide range of counsels pertaining to every phase of Christian living through a modern manifestation of the prophetic gift. Why should we view these counsels as a gift from God rather than a detriment to independent thought and action? At the same time, what dangers do we face of turning that gift into something legalistic, as the Israelites did with their gifts? (See Romans 9:32.)|