Why So Many Laws?
by Mary Kate Hipp
I was recently greeted by a seventh grader who exclaimed, "MK! I decided to start reading through my Bible starting in Genesis." To which I replied, "Wow what a feat! That's awesome, how is it going so far?" He said, "It's really good, but I have a lot of questions...like, why are there so many laws? And what do they have to do with me?"
Have you ever asked the same questions? Wondered the same thing? I know I have. The margins of my Bible are lined with the many questions I have had through the years. Many of these questions I have jotted down are in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, all pertaining to the law. Is there more I am supposed to know to understand the laws? Do I need to be an ancient near eastern history buff? Are these laws only relevant to the Israelites way back then?
Although having a fuller contextual understanding of these passages is often helpful, I do not think it is necessary in this instance in order to know what these laws are getting at. As I read through this passage over and over, I notice a pattern (one which is seen throughout the rest of Scripture as well): our Lord is Lord alone. He is a jealous God who desires our faithful love.
This is the very reason that Christ came and that we rejoice in His gospel. God does not desire our sacrifices, He does not delight in our good deeds or offerings (Psalm 40:6-8). He desires only faithful love (Hosea 6:6). It is true that these laws were written to promote good and restrict evil when necessary. More importantly though, they were written to drive us to Him. Though these laws may explicitly regulate or dictate certain situations, they all also serve to propel us to Him, to faithfully love him.
What is also notable about this passage is the large chunk devoted to God's care for the marginalized, the oppressed. From the beginning the Lord shows care and provides protection for the vulnerable. In fact, throughout Jesus' ministry He demonstrates care and concern for the marginalized (Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10). He proclaims that the Gospel is for even the least of these (Matthew 20:16). The law ought not to give us a sense of entitlement, but a posture of humility in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are a plethora of laws all written for the purpose of driving us to him. They have everything to do with us, even now in 2023. Serve God alone. Cling to Him. Give Him your faithful love and devotion.
Lord, we come to You as sinful people who are unable to save ourselves. May we cling to You, may we serve only You, may You drive us to You each and every day. Amen.