Originally in 3 parts
This message is one of my favorites to teach cause it draws examples from the whole bible. Which is an amazing thing to consider.
Now we will be moving back and forth a bit so I apologies and I will make available my scripture reference for anyone who would like to see it I can email it to you.
We are going to begin with this primes: simplification
We are going to start a head of where the point actually begins just to offer some understanding and perspective.
1 Samuel 8 New International Version
6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.
The Israelite are acting like kids sometimes do. Why cant we have a pool? All the other kids in the neighborhood have a pool. Why cant we have a king? All the other peoples of the world have a king.
God is saying but you were supposed to be a people set apart. While I made you to be special you are begging to be like everyone else.
He allows this he gives them a king but what happened here is that we made what was simple more difficult.
2 Samuel 7 (NIV)
7 After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
3 Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”
4 But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:
5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelite up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelite, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’
I love the words here. No one really thinks poorly of the building of the temple but here we see a slightly different perspective. God is saying when did I ask you to do this? We have been working out of a tent which was the design God gave. This is God he wasn’t being conservative with the building materials and despite popular opinion God doesn’t need to modernize he knows what he intends to do and he had a plan he wanted the temple to be mobile but in the effort to make things grander for God we again took something simple and made it harder
now lets look back a little bit from here to the book of genesis. I have had people ask me this question. “If God doesn’t change? Then how come the 10 commandments weren’t given in the garden? And on the face of that sounds like a tough question.
In fact God did give a single command in the garden and we all know it, do not eat of this one tree. This was simple but in trug it was the very same as the law as it came about eventually this was just the simple version. The simple version was: I am God, I have told you not to do this… so don’t do this.
We of course know what ended up happening there. Continue reading with us on this topic, check back soon or subscribe to be notified as soon as it is published.
An interesting and reliant idea to keep in mind here is this. When you are a bible nerd such as myself and look into this its sort of mind blowing. The old testament covers right about 4,000 years of events. Thew contrast is the new testament which covered about 40 years of events. The book of genesis alone however covers right between 2,600 and 2,700 years of that total time. Moses came on tot he seen right around the 1,300 B.C area and he was over 80 before he brought the 10 commandments down from Mt Sinai so we are looking at a solid 2,700 years without the write law of Moses.
This is relevant for a few reasons. This book that covers more time than any other technically depicts a time where the law of God weren’t yet centrally located on a tablet of stone to go and refer to and study.
What happened furring this time?
The story of Cain and Abel, The Flood, the Patriarch Abraham Issac and Jacob the story of Joseph in Egypt who interpreted Pharaohs dream
All this happened in this time frame and we know from the text that God was not missing at all from the scene. But as a continuation of the previous question asked me : why the commandments were present in the garden, people as this: How did the people of Genesis know what to do and not to do, how did they know about sacrifices and what was pleasing to the lord? They had not yet received the written law.
Abraham as one example here was called a friend of God and a man of great faith and righteousness. How can someone who doesn’t know the Law of God be righteous by that law?
Just as in the Garden the answer is simple… See in the garden God walked physically with Adam and Eve when you read the first few chapters of Genesis its quite beautiful the descriptive language used to show just how amazing this relationship was. Adam and even could see God and Speak to him just like they could to one another. the law was summed up in one command don’t eat the fruit. We had a simple and close relationship with God. And it was called perfect. We crossed that line. On the outside of the garden God didn’t leave us. Unfortunately we could not maintain the relationship Adam and Eve had, we couldn’t stand in the presence of God anymore. We were sinners now and in very presence of God sin can not exist so the relationship changed God spoke to the people but he wasn’t able to walk with them the way he did with Adam and Eve the way he intended.
Even still his presence was clear. He spoke to the people directly.
In the garden there was one rule, after the garden there was more definition to the rules but God was happy to have that personal relationship with people where we went to him about everything and he guided us.
This is what a relationship really is. We hear the phrase often .
Christianity is not a religion its a relationship
This is what that relationship is meant to look like.
We can go back to where we started with The Israelite and again with David at the beginning of this message and we can connect the dots now.
We had the perfect relationship with God but we wanted more for ourselves and we sinned and we were removed from the garden. Gods grace endured and keeps us in that he maintained personal relationship with us one on one and very intimate and personal and eventually we as a people came to a place where we made simple things more difficult just like the Israelite did in wanting a king and just like David did in wanting to take the temple out of a tent and make it a grand building.
The commandments came written down because we were again taking another step away from God. In other words it was like saying, Instead of coming to you for guidance on everything, cant we just get like a list of things we can handle ourselves and then we can come to you with bigger issues?
The law of God didn’t change we just went from a place of simply obeying God to a place where we expected him to spell out every single rule every idea and every possible contingency.
This may seem counter-intuitive to us cause we have schedules and we write things down so we remember to do them but this is not quite the same things see in all these instance we are talking about from the written law to having an early king to building the temple are all examples where we jumped over the reason and went right tot he action.
Its not always done with bad intentions but we take the simple things God gives us and try to make them more. Let me streamline this for you God. We forget God altogether and go and get to work.
But an action without a reason is an empty action.
How can we verify this whole theory? This whole understanding I have laid before you.
Let us now fast forward to the new testament. The 4 gospels we see over and over the conflict between Jesus and the Phrases because of this exact thing.
Now we didn’t ask for the law to be written down but God saw that this is where we had come to. We were moving further away from God and didn’t even know it.
The problem is when we had that law so clearly defined (an a side note here is that we all know the 10 commandments but traditional Jewish people recognize 613 commandments from the books of Moses. Not just 10. they defined life and almost any situation you can imagine by law.
The people went right to work memorizing it which sounds good but the problem is when you have memorized something you can do it on autopilot. I was speaking with someone recently about the Our Father prayer. Jesus tells his disciples this prayer and its perfect he says pray like this and he is referring more to the proper structure than the specific words. The structure of the our father prayer is a whole sermon unto itself so we will move on for now but the point here is that you can say a perfect prayer like the our father while you’re half asleep you aren’t engaged or involved you are just reciting.
Isaiah 29:13 New International Version (NIV)
13 The Lord says:
people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
In Matthew Jesus says this very thing
Matthew 15:8-9 New International Version (NIV)
people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.
God is speaking in Isaiah and Jesus is speaking in Matthew and in both cases in the old testament and the new God is pointing out the error of jumping over the reason and getting straight to the action
See we started with the perfect relationship with God and over the course of time we moved away from him we started relying on the rule to make us holy. We relied on Kings and rulers to guide us we relied on Grand temples to make us feel like we were giving tribute to God we skipped God all together.
In our rush to make Christianity easy for ourselves to understand we have stepped around the purpose of the relationship the real relationship with God and not just a knowledge of his rules or his stories but a knowledge of the God himself. We need to reclaim the reason…