God's Law: Is It a Burden or a Blessing?
The most common teaching today about the law God gave to ancient Israel is that it was a burden—one that Jesus Christ had to remove. In essence, advocates of that view claim that God freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery merely to enslave them again to a system of law so strict and unreasonable that they claim it is actually oppressive.
Is something seriously wrong with this reasoning? The apostle John says there is. In combating similar arguments in the first century, John states unequivocally, "His commandments are not burdensome," explaining that "this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments" (1 John 5:3).
So why did God give His law? He repeatedly states that He gave it to benefit the people—to bring great blessings on them. Notice how clearly the following verses state this truth:
• "You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days" (Deuteronomy 4:40).
• Immediately after giving the Ten Commandments, God exclaimed: "Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!" (Deuteronomy 5:29).
• "You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess" (Deuteronomy 5:33).
• "You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you" Deuteronomy 6:17-18).
• "Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you . . . You shall be blessed above all peoples" (Deuteronomy 7:12-14).
• "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13).
• Psalm 119 (the Bible's longest chapter) is an extended praise of God's laws for the wisdom and blessings that result from obeying them.
Many other passages express the same point, some even spelling out specific blessings for obeying specific commands. Two entire chapters—Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28—provide a vivid contrast between the wonderful national blessings that would result from Israel's people keeping God's laws and the terrible consequences they would suffer for rejecting them.
God's laws were designed to bring blessings. They define behavior that naturally results in peace, safety and prosperity. Deuteronomy 4:5-7 tells us that if Israel had obeyed God, they would have reaped God's promised blessings to the extent that neighboring nations would have stood up and taken notice—and then would have chosen the same laws for themselves so they could enjoy the same wonderful benefits!
Clearly God's laws are not a burden, as some people think, but a blessing!
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