The Old Testament is saturated with references on loving God’s law.
Love a law?
Apparently it’s such a big deal with God that He had Scripture-writers to urge it everywhere. The First Psalm, for instance, goes: His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on that law does he meditate day and night. And the 119th Psalm mentions the law in each of its 176 verses. We’re talking serious affection for the law here.
Normally, in our minds at least, we substitute the word “law” with “the Word.” Meditating on the entire Word of God seems to make more sense, and is something I find myself doing easily and often.
But love the law?
Until two days ago, the idea made little sense to me. But then I saw something on the side of the interstate that has changed forever how I think about that.
Driving down Interstate 59 below Hattiesburg, Mississippi, I noticed a burned out automobile off on the shoulder. No more than a day or so earlier, it appeared, that spiffy little sports car had had a malfunction which resulted in a fire. The fire had consumed it.
Here’s the thing.
Every automobile engine contains two elements that, when mixed, are highly explosive and extremely dangerous: fire and gasoline. Designers and manufacturers keep these materials separated and protected from each other for obvious reasons, and allow for them to be released and brought together in specific, tightly controlled ways.
When your car is operating, the fire and gasoline are coming together and exploding inside the engine, albeit in properly restrained amounts and methods.
Let either of them get out of control–the fire or the gasoline–and you have a major problem.
The human contains explosive elements, too, which must be tightly controlled to protect against disaster.
At the very core of every person on the planet–within his heart, mind, soul–reside powerful forces with great potential for good or ill: temper, anger, love, hate, passion, emotion, conviction, possessiveness, compassion, a sense of justice, the need for wrongs to be righted. He has the power of speech, a physical strength with which to fight, and other gifts bestowed by the Almighty.
These must be tightly controlled.
At the appropriate time and in the right situation, these powers may be unleashed in the right amounts to be helpful and effective.
God’s Law was given to control these forces.
Man needs controls to be built into his system. Without strong controls, he may become “uncontrolled” and a threat to everyone around him.
Those who take God seriously are given commandments which forbid murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting. God’s commands are given to restrict these powerful forces within His people.
Murder results when anger and temper and passion are unleashed and intermingle. Without proper controls, an explosion occurs.
You do not want to be anywhere near when it happens.
Adultery occurs when passion and hunger, love and impatience, all arrive at the same time, flooding the human system in bucketsful. We will control our lusts or tragedy will occur.
Each human is capable of the worst of things. We are flawed beings in a fallen world.
God’s Law is a gift of His grace.
Enough of this business of saying the Old Testament is a book of law and the New Testament a book of grace. It’s all grace, my friend.
God’s laws were given to bless mankind, to keep the forces within us from intermingling in uncontrolled ways and burning us up on the side of the highway.
It may be necessary for some readers to emphasize that by God’s “law,” we mean far more than the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20. As New Testament believers, however, we primarily mean the teachings and instructions of this book–the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles.
A sampling of the laws given the Lord’s disciples in the New Testament include the following–
“…leave your offering there before the altar, and…be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matthew 5:24).
“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you….” (Matthew 5:44).
“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Matthew 6:6).
“Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven…for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).
“Judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1).
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
“Beware, and be on your guard against greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3,5).
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
What the Lord is doing is holding back our zeal, our enthusiasm, our passion–which might otherwise be spent on lesser things–and directing them under His Spirit’s control into worthwhile endeavors that will bless the most people in the greatest way.
Otherwise, we end life as useless as a pile of ashes on the side of the highway.
So, let us say with the singers of old, “We love Thy Law, O God.”
“I shall delight in Thy commandments, which I love. I shall lift up my hands to Thy commandments, which I love; and I will meditate on Thy statutes” (Ps. 119:47-48).
“Oh, how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:95).
“Therefore I love Thy commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold” (Ps. 119:127).
“Those who love Thy law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps. 119:165).
And finally, this:
“Let my tongue sing of Thy word, for all Thy commandments are righteousness” (Ps. 119:172).