Why make commandments? Especially when you know people can’t keep them

Why did God make laws? Especially when his commandments are really tough to keep. No work on the Sabbath? When was the last time that one got followed? Why make laws when you know that people will end up breaking the rules?

I’ll give you a hint of the answer:

To make us realize our need for God’s grace.
And because God loves us.

(Okay. That was two hints.)

Crossing guard

The next time you are driving in the car with the kids, ask them why you should have to stop whenever you see a red sign of a certain-shape?

Steer them to realizing the purpose of laws: They keep people safe.

Next, ask them why they think your family has rules? (Such as: no playing in the street when there is traffic.)

Direct them to realizing that you have rules to keep them safe and because you love them!

God had the same reason for giving us the Ten Commandments: he loves us!

Wait a minute (you may say)… laws can be restricting. They make life no fun!

And this is for love?
A bit of backstory is needed. When God first handed out his laws, the intent may have seemed as though it was to bring order to an unruly bunch. The newly freed Israelites were at a point where they needed:

  • To recognize who God was,
  • To remember God’s past provision,
  • To recall God’s covenant with their forefathers (and foremothers),
  • To learn how to honor God, (How to stay in love with God!)
  • To establish a new life together learning how to live (and how to act) as God’s people.
Hmm. Those reasons for laws still apply to us today!
The  words of Exodus 19:25

It’s time for a bit of discussion at the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together.) If needed, cover this over several days.

This family discussion guide can be printed! Click here.

  Bring out a toaster, or a hair dryer, or other small electrical appliance that has a cautioning label on the cord. Have your family read the warning tag. Ask them why do you suppose the manufacturer placed it there?

  Recall your earlier conversations in the car (or ask those questions now).

Why did God want to give his people laws? (Accept all replies.)
Then perhaps offer some answers:

A.  Because they were misbehaving left and right! They needed laws! (Nope.)

B.  Because God felt like being in charge! (Nope.)

C.  Because God loved them and wanted his people to be safe!  

  Read together Exodus 19:3-6.

What does this passage tell you about how God feels for his people?

Pay close attention to verse 6:

Open quote markNow obey me completely. Keep my covenant. If you do, then out of all of the nations you will be my special treasure.

God continually seeks a connection with humanity!
God looks on all of us as his treasured people!

Let that sink in. (I’m awed.)

When you are ready for more…

  Re-read Exodus 19:3-6. And then read 1 Peter 2:9.

What does God mean that we are to be his “kingdom of priests?”

In Bible times only priests could have close access to God. (A priest would
be similar to Rev. Doug or Rev. Nancy.) To be a “royal priesthood” means that everyone can have a loving relationship with God!

Ask: If God really loves us & gave us laws to keep us safe & guide us, why are his laws so hard (okay, impossible) to keep? (allow all replies)

What do you feel like doing when something seems hopeless?
(You might want help, right!?)

God’s laws make us aware of the seriousness of sin.

(Sin is whatever we do, or don’t do, that pushes God, or other people away.)

God is pained by our sin but is always willing to forgive us when we ask.
Our inability to keep God’s laws helps us to see how much we need God!

Ask: Do you suppose that if you could perfectly follow the Ten Commandments that you’d win extra special points with God? (nope!)

God sent his son, Jesus, to take the punishment for our sin and to establish a new way for us to enter into a relationship with God.

A relationship based on love!

Photo credits:
Kids crossing by jeweledlion. Exodus 19 by thekmochs. (All photos licensed on Flickr under a Creative Commons License and found via photopin.)
Toaster and other clip art from the public domain via WPClipart.com.

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