Summary: God lays down the law because He konws what we need to experience blessing in life.
“Law & Order: SPU – Laying Down the Law”
Ex. 19:1-25; Ps. 19:7-13
Their teenager, with a brand-spanking new drivers’ license, is asking to use the car at night for the first time – and to pick up several friends to go to the mall. So mom and dad lay down the law, placing restrictions and tight boundaries around what she can and cannot do and about when she must be home. Surely, she thinks, my folks are the strictest of all my friends; they just don’t trust me; they don’t want me to have any fun. Why is it that parents feel they need to always lay down the law?
The players listen in a state of disbelief as the new coach lays out his rules for being a team member. They can’t believe the requirements or the schedule or the restrictions placed them. He is even telling them how to behave when they’re not with other team members. Certainly he won’t last long; no one will want to play very long for him; he’s taking all the fun out of it. Why is it that coaches feel they need to lay down the law?
God brings His newly freed nation to the foot of the mountain. He has Moses tell them that He’s about to lay down the laws by which they are to live. They are not free to live as they wish. As awed as they are by the fire and smoke, they begin to question their new life. They knew their freedom was too good to be true; they’ve barely begun and God is already placing restrictions on them; surely He’s taking all the joy away from them. Why is it that God feels he needs to lay down the law?
I can’t speak for all parents and coaches, but I do know that God knows something about true freedom, about we need to experience f blessing in life. God lays down the law, first of all, because WE NEED A PLAN to get where we’re going. Life often feels like a maze; we’re just can’t see our way through to the other end; we’re not sure how, or if, we’re going to make it; we get lost trying to find the way. Life is, in fact, a maze of options, voices, choices, decisions, directions, loyalties. There are many ways and many roads by which to be lost. Ever felt that way? And how do we find the way? To whom or what do we listen? What is our map? There’s an old Danish proverb which states that “HE WHO BUILDS ACCORDING TO EVERY MAN’S ADVICE WILL HAVE A CROOKED HOUSE.” We need a reliable map. It is the map which gives direction, shape, and purpose to our life.
The 10 commandments are our divine map for life. They lay down righteous actions and attitudes which lead to full, healthy living. The prophet Jeremiah said (10:23), “I know, Lord, that a person’s life is not his own. No one is able to plan his own course. So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle.” Would you take a pre-school aged child and say to her, “I don’t want you to be unduly influenced and I want you to learn by experience how to live. So from now on I’m giving you no advice, no rules; you’re on your own?” Of course not. The child would never make it. She needs guidance and direction. Are we not CHILDREN OF GOD? WE NEED HIS GUIDANCE to make it through life. We are lost without it. As Isaiah wrote (53:6), “All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” And where has it gotten us? As the Psalmist wrote (Ps. 119): “Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found....I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments...I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your statutes...Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.” The 10 commandments are the map to get where we’re going.
God also lays down the law because WE NEED A PATTERN by which to live. We need to have the discipline, the structure, the system which enables ud to survive the trip. We need the ‘HOW TO MANUAL’ SO WE ARE PREPARED for whatever might happen along the way. Think of a mechanic – he is able to repair automobiles because he has the manufacturer’s guidelines and computer programs which point out the problem and tell him what to do. They give him the structure and systems by which he can maintain engines for optimal, long-lasting performance. What’s true for automobiles is true as well for people, nations, and groups. There are patterns, structures, procedures which enable us to function smoothly and achieve the ends for which we were created.