Kids sometimes rebel and do foolish things. Rebellious kids—all kids—need laws to guide them and protect them. We might say something like this to our children: “Okay, sweetheart, you need to find clothes and wear them to elementary school. And you, son, need to stop smoking and finish third grade.” Parents—good, loving parents—create these laws to keep their children safe, healthy, and productive.
When God gathered his children at the base of Mount Sinai and talked to them and gave them his laws, he was not saying, “Do these things and I will adopt you.” Instead, he was saying, “I’ve adopted you, and I need you to do these things because I love you and because they’re good for you, and they’re good for others.”
Part of our struggle with law is this: If law is disconnected from the Lawgiver, we could misunderstand the heart of the law. This is why the Pharisees, many years later, loved the law but not the Lord, because they focused on the law more than the Lawgiver.
The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, and the Hebrew word in Exodus for law is torah. We have a hard time translating that word into the English language, so we use the word law. It’s not necessarily a bad word, but it can cause some problems because we think IRS tax code and speed limits—cumbersome governmental bureaucracy and middle management at our companies. It’s also a word that is used in Proverbs when the loving father teaches his kids how to live wisely so that they might flourish and have life. The father said it this way: “My son, open your ears and listen to my torah.” It’s different than “listen to my law.”Parents, don’t just drop laws on your kids. We need to sit down with them, look them in the eyes, kiss them on their foreheads, tell them we love them, and pray over them. We need to tell them that we can’t love them any less or any more because we’re wholeheartedly devoted to them no matter what. And then we can tell them that we want their lives to flourish and we want them to be blessed, and so we’re going to talk about some things and lay down some rules because we want them—and others—to avoid suffering. That’s the father heart of God.
If we separate the law from the father heart of the Lawgiver, we end up questioning God. We ask, “Is God good? Does God love me? Does God care? Is God interested, or is God just a faraway dictator who sends laws? And if I obey them, am I simply a good citizen? If I disobey them, will I burn forever?”
Laws from God our Father are for our good because He is good.