Do you ever wonder why the Lord has commanded certain things? Have you ever tried to figure out the rationale behind his commands? Sometimes we can see it clearly. Sometimes it is not so simple. The command not to murder is an obvious one. The command for Israel not to eat certain foods during a certain period of the nation’s existence, that is tougher.
But we get an insight into some commands of God in the thing that God says to Moses just before the Lord begins to provide miraculous food for the people in the wilderness.
Exodus 16:4 – Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.”
God told Moses that he was about to start raining down food on the people, providing for their needs on a daily basis. But notice that this provision is also a test. The provision is an opportunity for the people’s hearts to be displayed. Will they love and trust God enough to obey his command to the letter or not? Will they respect the Lord enough to do what he says in the way that he says it or not?
Of course, the test is not for God’s benefit. He knows the hearts of men. But the test is for the sake of the people. God reveals to them their own hearts as they either obey his word or disobey.
The same is true for us in many ways. The Lord has given us commands. Some of his commands are out-of-step with the society we live in. What will we do? Why would we still do things in the way prescribed by Scripture?
The answer to why we obey is not pragmatic. Not all of God’s commands will make our lives easier. The reason we obey, however, is the same as the reason the Israelites were to obey. We obey in order to demonstrate that our hearts are yielded to the lordship of Christ. We obey in order to declare that we belong to Jesus and he is our Master. We obey to show the watching world, the watching angels, and the always-present God that the Lord, he is our lord, and we will obey him as our king.
Consider how easy it is for us to want to look at an unpopular commandment in Scripture and put it away. We see the way that God has told humanity marriage is to work, for example, but that is no longer socially acceptable. Biblical standards of sexual morality are not in step with our culture. How easy it is to want to tell people that anything is OK so long as you do not hurt another person. But the Lord shows us that his commands, besides being good, are a test for our hearts. The question is not whether or not certain behaviors are harmful; nor is the question whether or not those behaviors are natural. The question actually is, “Will you obey the Lord?” If God is your God, if the Lord is your master, then you obey his commands in order to demonstrate your submission to him.