A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 5, You Version Bible app, days 29 through 35.
In my younger days I thought Leviticus a really boring book of the Bible. I’ll have to admit, it’s still not my favorite, but I’ve come to appreciate its rules and regulations a lot more as I’ve come to understand the bigger picture of God’s Story and His plan for us.
You see, the big picture of God’s story is His incredible desire to live face to face with us. But there is this problem we created. We brought sin into the world. We broke that relationship with Him and He has been working to get it back. But God cannot live where there is sin. So His Story tells us how He is working through history to exact His plan to bring us back into that perfect relationship that existed in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve chose to disobey Him.
An interesting concept we need to understand about having an intimate relationship with God, though, is this. If expect to get along with God, we must be able to get along with each other. My kids hated time out growing up. They knew the rules of the house and when they broke them, that was often where they ended up...timeout. Sitting on the sidelines instead of participating in whatever was going on around them. But my wife and I wanted to have a relatively peaceful home. In fact, I’m not sure my kids ever heard me holler at them. That doesn’t mean I’m the best parent in the world. I was absent a lot because of military service. So much of their good character is my wife’s fault. But she and I decided early that we would enforce the rules and from a very early age, they learned there were consequences for breaking the rules.
Kids need fences. They need to know what the limits are and they need to know those limits are firm. When the boundaries change every day, they get confused. They will test those limits and push them as far as you will let them. Never learning there are consequences for disobedience until one day it is too late and the consequences are much greater than either the child or the parent ever expected.
The same is true for adults, though. We need boundaries, too. We need rules as surely as our children do if we expect to live in community with other people. And that’s why God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai those centuries ago.
The last six of the commandments are not unique. Many cultures had those same rules imposed on their people. It’s how communities ensured people got along with each other. Respect your parents, don’t murder, steal, lie, commit adultery, or covet the things someone else owns. These six commands keep us in check with those that live around us.
The first four commandments were unique to this new nation God was building through His chosen people led by Moses. Keep God first, don’t make any idols or images, honor and respect His name, and set aside a day each week to remember and worship Him. These four rules keep our vertical relationship in perspective. The last four keep our horizontal relationships right.
But we grouse at the commandments. Why do we need rules? Why can’t I do my own thing? Well, we want rules for everyone but me. That’s the thing. In our selfishness, the very core of sin, we want something that holds everyone else in check but don’t want to be bound by those same expectations. And that’s the problem. We don’t want anyone speeding past our yard when the kids are playing, but we don’t want that ticket when we are guilty of the same crime. After all, I’m in complete control of my car at all times, right? I know what I’m doing, right? Wrong.
God gave us the commandments so we could get along with each other. They model the relationship that exists within the trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit have existed eternally living within these boundaries and know that we can only get along when we observe these same boundaries. So God sets limits on our behavior to help us live in community with each other so that He might restore our community with Him. He wants so desperately to return to those walks in the garden with us.
The rules also told Moses how to build a place for God to stay. He wanted to be right in the middle of this new nation, so Moses constructed a tabernacle, a big tent, for God. If you read about the layout of the camp, the tabernacle was right in the middle of those three million people. Three tribes on the north, three tribes on the east, three tribes on the south, and three tribes on west with the tabernacle smack dab in the middle of the camp. That was where God wanted to be in regard to His new nation.
But the tabernacle also had to be built to perfect specifications. Special wood, special materials, special utensils, special dimensions. Even special people doing the work and handling everything associated with His new house. In fact, the priests could not even go inside because of their sin. God is a holy God. He cannot tolerate sin and will not live in the presence of sin. So when His house was built, not even the priests could go inside when He was present.
Sin was a problem. God gave Moses instructions on how to allow the priest to come into His special sacred spot once a year. He gave him a way for atonement for his sins and the sins of the people. A perfect lamb was sacrificed and its blood shed in atonement for sin.
God pointed toward this act back in the Garden of Eden when He killed some animals and took their skins to make clothing for Adam and Eve. These rules for atonement, shedding the blood of an innocent animal point to something bigger coming when He sacrifices His own son for us. But it tells us the innocent pay for our sin. That’s pretty bad. Adam’s offspring, us, pay the consequences of Adam’s disobedience.
Do you ever think your sins might be hidden? Guess again, the innocent pay for your sins. Your spouse, your children, your neighbors. The innocent pay for your disobedience. And oh, by the way, you pay for the disobedience of someone else! You see we are all in this together. We have to learn to get along. God gave us those rules for a reason. He wants desperately to live among us and walk with us in His garden. But until we can get along with each other, we can never get along with Him.
Jesus said it in answer to the question, “What is the greatest commandment?” “Love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.” If we can’t love our neighbor who we can see. If we can’t live with each other? How can we expect to live with a holy God?
Why did God give us the Ten Commandments? To show us how the trinity lives and how we should live in community. They prepare us in the furtherance of His bigger picture to live with us again in His perfect dwelling place.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.