(NOTE: this week is actually Shof’tim, which I did last week. Last week should have been Re’eh, which I am doing this week.)
This parashah has many of the commandments we live by in our daily life. Eating, treatment of others, finances, worship, etc. This is just one of a couple of places where we are given His laws, commandments, rules, and regulations (I have never really gotten a good explanation of the differences. Anyone know?) As with most times when we are told how we should worship, eat, and treat each other (pretty much how we live), there are the two promises that precede God’s commandments: the blessings we will receive if we obey, and the curses we will suffer if we don’t.
Sounds a little unfair, doesn’t it? I mean, God says if you do as I say you will get blessed, but if you choose not to do these things you will suffer. There’s no discourse, there’s no give-and-take, there’s only His way or the Hell-way. Really? I don’t count, is that it? What am I- chopped liver?
Actually, no. You are a worm. You are a sinner from before you left the womb, and your righteousness is nothing more than filthy (the true interpretation is: menstrual) rags before the Lord.
On the other hand, you are a child of God, esteemed and loved, above the angels, and a treasured diadem.
Oy! Make up your mind, already!
There are people who would say God isn’t fair because He makes all the rules, and we don’t get a chance to decide which ones we want. After all, it is a covenant, right? Two people, two sides, two opinions. Why don’t we get a say in this?
Because He is God. He does make the rules, He does get to choose, He doesn’t have to listen to us. Frankly, I trust His judgement about what is best for me much better than I trust my own, and I got no problem with God being totally in charge. The only problem I have is actually doing as He requires, even though I want to. Sounds like that nice Jewish boy from Tarsus who said he doesn’t do what he wants to do, and does what he doesn’t want to do. He called himself a wretch, and all I can say is: amen to that! I know how he felt.
I think this is what makes it hard for many people to give themselves to the Lord. They simply do not want to give up control of their life. The world teaches us to be in charge, to watch out for Numero Uno, and never trust anyone. We are actually looked down upon by the world when we give total control of our life to the Lord. We are told that we are weak when we patiently deal with people who are mean to us, and when we accept our problems as part of living and “give it to the Lord” we are told that we use Him as a crutch to avoid dealing with our problems.
I don’t think giving our life to the Lord means we lose control of it. We have free will, we can make decisions, and we are given the rules (as in this parashah) that direct how we should live, yet we still can make plans for ourselves, we still can choose what we want to do as a career, we can sail along on God’s super liner to Eternity or we can jump ship. God is not requiring of us to do any more or less than our society does when requiring us to obey its laws. True, as a society we make our own laws, different cultures have different laws to reflect their own needs and desires. So why is it different when God tells us His laws? Maybe because we don’t get a vote. Well, like it or not, that’s how it is, folks.
Is it really very different? After all, when humans make laws we get to vote on them, and if you didn’t vote for the law, you still are subject to it. If you break it, you suffer the consequences.
God makes laws that we don’t get a vote on, and if we break them we suffer the consequences. Oh wait a minute!! We get a break. We have a Messiah who took on our sin for us, so (as far as spiritual consequences go) we don’t have to suffer for our failure to obey. In this existence, i.e., the physical world, we do suffer for our sins, but thanks to Messiah Yeshua we don’t have to suffer for all eternity.
Where do you find that in the law books at the City Courtroom? Any precedence for eternal salvation from the Supreme Court? Maybe the Governor can pardon you, or the President, but that’s as close as it gets. And they do it, case by case: Yeshua did it for everyone. Everyone who is living, everyone who has lived, and everyone who isn’t even born yet. Until the end of time.
Whoa! That’s not so bad.The laws in society I get to partake in making, but even if I don’t like them I will have to live with them. If I obey them, I get nothing. If I break them I go to jail. I may get a pardon for a single occurrence, but that is exceptionally rare.
The laws God makes I don’t get a vote on, but just like in society, I still have to live with the ones that exist. If I obey them I receive wonderful blessings. If I break them, I get cursed, which really translates to I don’t get the blessings. In other words, when I break God’s laws I get nothing from God and live in a cursed world. As for a pardon, it’s not rare, it’s not just for a single occurrence, and it is for all eternity. All I need to do is accept it, and do T’Shuvah (to atone, to “turn” from my sinning ways.) Thanks to Yeshua, we have an eternal “Get Out of Jail” card. It’s not a license to sin, and although it is an escape clause we have to live up to it and change our ways or it doesn’t count.
Still, all in all, it’s a lot better than the laws we make ourselves.
In the end, I prefer to accept, willingly and gratefully, the laws that God has given me for how I am to live my life. They come before the laws of Mankind, as far as I am concerned, and since most human laws are based on God’s laws, they aren’t all that different. It’s really our attitude that makes all the difference; acceptance or refusal. In other words, pridefulness or worshipful humility. Oohh- that hurt! That hits home, doesn’t it? You mean if I don’t like the fact that God tells me what to do without me getting a say I am prideful?
In a word: yes. God is above all, he is the Almighty, the Creator and King, the Everlasting One, The Holy of Holies, He dah Man!! If you don’t want to receive His laws and commandments with joy, then you must think you are better than Him. That’s human pride speaking.
God’s laws are the best; yes, we don’t get a vote in them. But then again, this is not a human kingdom we are dealing with. It’s not like the Colonial Days when we cried ” No taxation without representation!” It’s way more than that. It’s Eternity. It’s how we live now and where we live forever. It’s the way it is, take it or leave it.
You know, because we can choose to live in accordance with His laws or reject them, we do have a vote, don’t we? When you cast your ballot, I recommend you vote for God.