Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, November 4, 2023
Shabbat Shalom *|FNAME|*,

Commandments as Windows (Part 2)
by David Harwood, reprinted from 2004

The Lord redeemed Israel, His covenant people. Immediately afterwards, He gave them the foundational statutes, the Ten Commandments.

Why? What motivated Him? This: He was seeking to preserve their covenant relationship.

The purpose of these commandments revolves around enabling the redeemed ones to maintain their relationship with God. Through them God sought to form Israel into a people with whom He could establish an ongoing, harmonious, fellowship. Because of God’s nature, this required guidelines which might govern their behavior.

There are attitudes and actions which are conducive to God’s abiding, relational, presence. However, there are some things with which God is utterly incompatible.

Once, my wife, Elaine, shared a definition of God’s holiness from a book she was reading. It described God’s holiness as being “an essential goodness.” And then it said, “God’s goodness is incompatible with evil.” (I don’t recall the book’s name.)

Through the giving of the commandments God sought to preserve a people who could dwell with His presence.

In Numbers 6:22-27, the high-priest of Israel was told to invoke the Name of God upon the people:

Again Adonai spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to Aaron and to his sons saying: Thus you are to bless Bnei-Yisrael, by saying to them: ‘Adonai bless you and keep you! Adonai make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you! Adonai turn His face toward you and grant you shalom!’ In this way they are to place My Name over Bnei-Yisrael, and so I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22–27)

Where God’s people are conforming to His nature, God is able to be in harmonious fellowship with them. When the covenant people are being transformed into a reflection of the Kingdom of Heaven, God’s Name can be invoked upon them without bringing forth judgment. Where sin is part and parcel of the society, God’s presence becomes a means of judgment.

Israel’s priests were called to careful consecration: … the kohanim who come near to Adonai must consecrate themselves, so that Adonai does not break out against them.” (Exodus 19:22)

Peter wrote of this principle:

For the time has come for judgment to begin with the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17a)

Since that is so, we see the loving necessity of the commands. Without them, the people of God can not dwell with God. He cannot have harmonious fellowship with a nation of thieves or adulterers.  His motivation and activity, and theirs would be diametrically opposed.  Consider these questions:

For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14b)

God is Light. He cannot have harmonious fellowship with those who walk in darkness. The external commands were given to help those He loved stay in relationship with Himself. After all, His desire is to welcome His people, be their God, and relate to His people as a Father.

God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. … I will take you in. I will be a father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says Adonai-Tzva’ot.” (2 Corinthians 6:16, 17b–18)

We’re prone to wander. His commandments help enable our mutual harmonious fellowship.  They also reveal His nature. How? We’ll explore that next.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 4-Nov -2023 20th of Cheshvan, 5784 Parashat Vayera
Ge 22:1-24 2 Ki 4:1-37 Heb 11:8-19