Covenant + Law

Why did God give Israel the Law?

The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he swore to you, if you obey the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you bear the LORD’s name, and they will stand in awe of you. Deuteronomy 28:9-10

Now, Israel, listen to the statutes and ordinances I am teaching you to follow, so that you may live, enter, and take possession of the land the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You must not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, so that you may keep the commands of the LORD your God I am giving you. Deuteronomy 4:1-2

Then God spoke all these words:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
Do not have other gods besides me.
Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow in worship to them, and do not serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ iniquity, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commands.
Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God, because the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses his name.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work — you, your son or daughter, your male or female servant, your livestock, or the resident alien who is within your city gates. For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.
Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
Do not murder.
Do not commit adultery.
Do not steal.
Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.
Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. Exodus 20:1-17

God gave Israel the law to teach them how to live and to show the world what He is like. The whole law is summarized in the greatest commandments.

God’s people, the Israelites, had just come out of their slavery in Egypt. They’d been there for generations, for centuries. Their great-great-great-great-great grandparents had been enslaved to Pharoah. And God had rescued them. Through a series of miracles, He’d brought them through the Red Sea to Mount Sinai because they were His special people.

But what happened next was surprising, shocking, and even scary. Thick clouds of lightning and smoke wrapped around Mount Sinai. The Israelites were far too scared to approach. You can imagine what they thought. What is happening? Had God brought them out of Egypt only to destroy them at this mountain? 

One Israelite whom God had appeared to—Moses, their leader—approached the mountain and slowly wound his way up to the top, into the middle of the thick clouds. And he stayed there for hours, then days, and then weeks.

Many of the Israelites thought that he had died. And, many were ready to make new plans, until one day a bright-shining Moses slowly made his way down the mountain.

What had happened to Moses in that cloud? 

And then they could see it: two tablets of stone, with writing on each one. God had not forgotten His promises to Abraham and to his children. God was not going to leave Israel on her own. He’d given His people the law, instructions on how to live life: He would be their strength and guide as they faced the challenges ahead.

Spend some time today thinking about the fact that, no matter how dark and confusing the clouds in your life get, God has not given up on you. Just as with Israel, God has not brought this far to leave you alone. He’s going to give you instructions and be your guide because He loves you.

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