My thoughts (Vivian Wyatt):
For if any kind of rule-keeping had power to create life in us, we would certainly have gotten it by this time.
My mom believed in rules, and — whether they made sense to me or not (curfews, time spent on the telephone, length of my skirts) — I had to keep them. The same went for the Israelites. Some of the rules given in Leviticus, for example, probably had them shaking their heads and sighing. I can see a farmer looking at some beautiful fruit on one of his trees in the third year and thinking, I wish I could eat this, but the law says I have to wait until the fourth year (Leviticus 19:23).
Why the fascination with laws? There was a rule for everything from when to harvest fruit to how to make a sacrifice.
As the Message states, the law’s “purpose was to make obvious to everyone that we are, in ourselves, out of right relationship with God, and therefore to show us the futility of devising some religious system for getting by our own efforts what we can only get by waiting in faith for God to complete his promise.” Simply put, the law was to show that we are not where we should be with God and that we cannot fix this state by creating religious rules. We have to wait, in faith, for God to complete what God started.
“Until the time when we were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were carefully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic Law.” This is much like my mom’s rules; they were there to protect me until I was mature enough to make good decisions for myself. So it was with the many rules in Leviticus and other Old Testament books; they were there until the Israelites were mature enough to receive the love and grace offered by God.
Prayer for the day: God help me to seek your face and not just follow “rules” blindly. Help me to accept the love and grace you want to give me. Amen.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.