Law as a Gift

What do you think of when you think of the law of God? Do you think of something mysterious and perhaps ugly? Do you think of standards that nobody can meet? Do you feel a little repulsed by the bloody sacrifices and odd laws about diet and blended fabrics?

If the law of God is off-putting to you, there is something that is missing in your understanding of what the Lord did for his people. Look at the words that Moses speaks to Israel as he finishes reiterating the law before the people entered into the promised land.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14 – 11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

See what Moses emphasizes about the law of God. First, he tells the people that this law is not too hard for them. Stop and read that again. Moses said it is not too hard for them. This law was not impossible for the nation to follow. It is not impossible for a nation to not eat the foods God forbids. It is not impossible for a nation to exercise actual justice. It is not impossible for a nation to refrain from casting and worshiping idols. It is not impossible for a people to obey God’s standards for marriage, sexuality, gender, and family. It is not impossible to refrain from cruelty and to do kindness. It is not impossible to love God and love neighbor.

This requires a quick note. No, God is not saying that the people of the land can live out the kind of righteousness that would make them enter into his favor as individuals under the covenant of works. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The law does expose for us how much less than perfect we are. But, as a nation, as a people, living as a society, these laws are not too hard. And the people who live under these laws will live as a prosperous nation, the people of god, who would eventually birth the Messiah into the world. These same people also have the temple system and its sacrifices which help them to find salvation by God’s grace through faith as they obey his commands to sacrifice animals which point to the ultimate and perfect sacrifice of Jesus. This is how the law is not too hard.

Then Moses points out that the law is not distant. God has not kept his standards a secret in heaven. No mythical hero has to climb a ladder into the clouds to find out how not to incur the wrath of God. Nor does a sacred ship need to be commissioned to traverse the seas to go and find the law. No, the law of God is right there. Moses has told them. The people can speak it. The people can read it. The people can love it in their hearts. The law of God is revealed.

That, dear friends, is a tremendous gift. God giving us the rules is grace. How? What if he did not? What if God told us just to please him, but then he still enacted justice based on his standards? Our natural instinct is not righteousness. Our reflex is not holiness. We would make choices that damn us all because our ways are not the Lord’s ways. That God would give his rules to us is a kindness beyond anything we can imagine. He tells us what he demands. He tells us what is just. He told the Israelites how to sacrifice to have their sins covered. He tells us now how to trust in the sacrifice of Jesus to be forgiven. Those commands, that word, is a treasure worth more than anything else on earth.

With those thoughts in mind, perhaps you will reconsider how you feel when you think of the law of God. It is not too hard. It is not far away. The law of God was given to the people of God to help them to love God and live in his favor. For Christians who have a completed canon of Scripture, we must love the word of God from beginning to end.