Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Simple Law of God

"He has showed you, O man, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you,

but to do justly, to love mercy,

and to walk humbly before your God?"

Micah 6:8

For many years now, I have taught that ancient Israel failed in her walk with God because the Law that God gave to Israel was so simple, not because it was so hard. Israel, I have taught, simply did not have the faith to believe that God was as good and generous as Moses' Law showed Him to be. Nor could they believe that God would supply all their needs in this life and give them eternal life in the world to come if they did only the few simple things God required of them in the Law.

It is a blessing to hear this simple, undeniable truth stated from a different angle by others. The following is an excerpt from a paper being written now by my daughter, Rebekah, who is in the graduate school of theology at Fuller Seminary, in Pasadena.

"If serving YHWH [the principle Hebrew name for God] was a back-breaking task, one would expect that Israel would fail to serve Him properly in the areas of the Law which were exceptionally difficult to carry out. If the problem was with the law-giver and not the law-followers, then one would expect to read about either a group of dedicated people who tried as hard as they could to obey but always fell short and paid the cruel price or a group of people who did not even attempt to obey the difficult parts of the Law because they felt it was a pointless endeavor. Yet, each time we see Israel angering God, it is in the simplest things. It is in ways that cause the engaged reader to no doubt share in God’s feelings of frustration, disgust, and disappointment. "Do not worship other gods." "Take care of the poor." "Treat one another justly and righteously." "Love God." Are these commandments really so taxing? How could they be less taxing? Surely they are less taxing than the demands of the gods they chose to worship instead — gods such as Molech, whose appeasement and protection required mothers to watch babies they had nurtured inside and outside of their bodies for nearly a year burn in the merciless hands of its graven image."

Is that not an excellent, undeniable fact of biblical history? Anyone who knows the OT knows those words of true. The overall goal of Rebekah's paper will be to compare the behavior of Israel, rejecting the simplicity of God for the cruel and complex ways of other gods, to the behavior of NT believers, rejecting the simple and pure way of life in the holy Spirit for the ostentatious, ritualistic ways of earthly religions, especially the religious system known as "Christianity".

I am thankful for the truth and for the ones God has also blessed to be able to spread it. Jesus confessed before Pontius Pilate that his whole purpose for coming to earth was to "bear witness to the truth". Now, what are we here for?