I’m always trying to convince my kids to obey. If they will just listen the first time, do what I say, and follow our family rules – life will go much better for them (and me). We will extend them freedoms, build trust with them, and enjoy our time together so much more. Some of my kids “get this” more than others. Someone recently pointed out to me that the only command specifically given in Scripture to children is honoring and obeying parents.
After all, the rules and standards we have set come out of our great love for our children. We want them to treat each other with respect, take care of their things, and learn to work hard because we know these practices will bring blessing and favor in their lives. Yet they seem to constantly resist by speaking harshly, leaving their socks all over the house, and asking to watch movies or wear clothing that they know we won’t approve. They call our standards unfair and have even claimed on occasion that we are “ruining their lives.”
When these situations come up (as they often do with 4 preteen/teens in the house), we stand our ground knowing that our heart for them is blessing not frustration. As I’m reading Leviticus this morning, I see God’s parenting heart for us. He longs to shower us with favor, take care of us, and see us win the battles we our fighting. God spells out very clearly (and seems sometimes tediously in the books of the law) His expectations and regulations for His people.
In Leviticus 26, God tells them if they will “keep my laws and are careful to obey my commands” He will:
- send seasonal rains
- land will yield crops
- trees will produce fruit
- “you will eat your fill and live securely in the land”
- “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep without fear”
- protection from enemies and wild animals
- all your enemies will fall beneath the blows of your weapons
- look favorably on you and multiply you
- surplus of crops so that you will need to throw away leftovers to make room for more
- “I will live among you, walk among you, be your God”
- no longer be slaves, “you can walk free with your heads held high”
This is how God wants us to live. As a parent He wants to provide for us, protect us from danger, have victory over enemies, and have extras to share with others. He wants us tolive without fear and “walk free with our heads held high.”
He goes on in the chapter to warn His people what disobedience brings. He says when they follow their own path, other nations will rule over them. They will “run even when no one is chasing you.” (17) This passage mentions living in imagined fears three times. Another repeated regulation throughout Leviticus is rest. They were to rest on the Sabbath and let the land rest every seven years. God says when they disobey His rest rules, He will force the land to rest by taking them into exile.
Of course God’s compassion even in His punishments win out. He says even when we disobey, He will walk with us through our consequences and restore us when we turn back to Him. (44-45) Like a parent can never forget her children, God never abandons us. He allows us to eat the bitter fruit of living our own way, but longs to see us restored to the blessings of obedience when we turn to Him.
Just as I long for my kids to obey so that we can enjoy peace and close relationship, God calls me to live His way. I want my kids to trust me enough to know that my rules are for their benefit. How much more can I believe that my great God has my good in mind when He asks me to forgive, care for the poor, take time to rest, spend time in prayer, and live a life of integrity? We no longer live under the Old Testament laws for Jesus ushered in a new covenant. He summed up the law and the prophets with only two commands – Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.
I pray your day is filled with obedience blessings as you love God and love people. Even when His commands seem frustrating or difficult, lets remember He is our perfect parent wanting to pour out His gifts on us through our obedience to Him.