Rules for Heaven’s Agents
October 5, 2019
Some very interesting things often happen at camp. While there is no scientific evidence or statistical data to support this, it still appears to be true.
At the very beginning of an evening meal, junior campers were packed into the cafeteria, filling the hall with a roar of busy noise.
At one table eight boys pressed in together, hungry and ready to devour their meals. One boy named Brendon tore into his food, stopping only long enough to see if they were serving seconds. He was eating so fast that it seemed impossible that he was able to take any breaths.
Leaving his vegetables to the end, he picked up a knife and a fork to reduce the size of his carrots down to more manageable pieces. His right hand gripping the knife, he pressed forcefully on a stubborn carrot.
It didn’t give. He lunged even harder at the carrot, but his hands, greasy from the French fries, slipped. The carrot flipped, the knife slipped, and the bottom of Brendon’s forearm hit the edge of the table with an awful crack.
Everyone, stunned by the loud cracking sound, stopped eating, and someone rushed out to get the nurse and a car to take him to the hospital.
Time did not seem to be easing the pain. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the doctor began examining the X-rays of Brendon’s arm. The lighted board was filled with the skeleton pictures of his arm. The doctor pointed to the break in the bone and said, “That’s a good one, partner.
Did you get bucked off a horse?”
The fierce encounter with the helpless carrot brought laughter every time it was told and retold.
All X-rays look similar—a 12-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl, an 8-year-old child. Their bones may be different sizes, but they all look the same. Without skin, bones are bones. That’s the thing about skeletons— they have no personality, no individuality, no character.
Until Christ came in the flesh, we had only a skeletal view of what God was like—the Ten Commandments. After Jesus came, lived, and died, the ancient words of the Old Testament came to life with flesh, muscle, and beauty in the Person of Christ.
Memory Text: “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8, NKJV).
Our Beliefs, no. 19, The Law of God: “[The Ten Commandments] express God’s love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God’s covenant with His people and the standard in God’s judgment.”
Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 48-52
Read Matthew 5:17-20.
Kim loved her sister, but her sister had changed quite a bit as she grew older and went away to college. She once heard her sister’s roommates talking about religion, God, and how they were raised in the church to be loving and caring.
Kim had listened as these college students questioned the way they were raised. Kim’s sister was quiet—too quiet for Kim. It was clear to Kim that her sister was confused about a lot of things, including her faith in God and the way she had been raised. What do you think Kim could say or do to encourage her sister? What should she focus on?
Read Exodus 20:1-17; Romans 8:3, 4; Ephesians 2:8-10.
In all creation—in every detail of nature—we can see God’s laws at work. He did not set the universe in motion and then walk away and hope everything would figure out how to work. God’s laws will help us know how to get along with each other, with nature, and with Him. If we look closely, we will discover the character of God in everything around us, and in doing so, we will come to see and know God.
How do God’s laws help you discover who He is and what is in His heart?
“God’s law is the transcript of His character. It embodies the principles of His kingdom.”—Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 305.
Read the following verses and use them to make a list of God’s attributes.
Exodus 33:18, 19
Exodus 34:6, 7
John 3:16, 17
1 Timothy 2:3-5
Now, in your own words, write a description of who God is:
Read 1 John 3:2.
It’s pretty clear when you read the Bible that God is interested in finding “law-abiding citizens“ for His kingdom. When Jesus came to this earth and walked with His Father in an intimate relationship, He created a bridge for all believers. He showed us how to love God by connecting the dots. You remember the connect-the-dots exercises you did when you were little children? You can’t see the picture—really—until you connect the dots together.
Every page of Scripture, whether written on a stone or in a book, has had one purpose: To reveal our loving, amazing God to you. Every rule, such as “Don’t rip off your classmate“ or “Respect your parents,“ can either be an empty law that becomes irrelevant or it can remind us of the personality of God. God is fair. God is faithful. God loves unconditionally. These traits are visible in the person of Christ and anyone else who practices them. The choice is up to you. There is more to the rules than meets the eye. In order to get beyond the rule, you need to discover the heart of the God behind the rule.
Look up the texts below in the New King James Version, then match them with a phrase.
A. Matthew 5:17-20
B. Deuteronomy 6:5, 6
C. Psalm 40:8
D. Proverbs 7:2, 3
E. Jeremiah 31:33
F. 2 Corinthians 3:2, 3
G. Deuteronomy 32:45-47
1. “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today . . .”
2. “Till heaven and earth pass away . . .”
3. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart . . .”
4. “I delight to do Your will, O my God . . .”
5. “You are our epistle . . .”
6. “I will put My law in their minds . . .”
7. “Keep my commands and live . . .”
Read 1 John 4:16.
Review the memory text.
Before the commandments were ever written on stone, in what form were they visible? Only in one form—the Person of God. The law was summed up in one word: love. That is why the Bible says, “God is love“ (1 John 4:16, NKJV). The rules of the kingdom were simply stated in the amazing personality of the King. God’s greatest desire is for you to know Him, and we only know people by being with them, walking with them, living and learning and experiencing life with them.
If you find that all you can really see are the rules and all you really feel are the impossible expectations of obedience, then step back for a minute. Imagine for a moment what God wants most: your unwavering obedience or you? He wants you to know Him. Have you failed before? Join the club of every other believer who fails miserably but knows that the King’s kingdom is about mercy and that only in Him is the power to do what He asks. He’d rather have us come to Him with our many mistakes than stay away and miss out on the friendship of a lifetime.
Read 2 Corinthians 3:2, 3.
The following verses are short, lawlike statements that can be seen as either rules or pictures of what God is like. You decide. Choose one or two of the rules below that you think would make the most difference in your life. Ask Him to help you flesh it out in your life this week.
How would your church be different if it chose one of these verses and looked to Jesus to find the greater meaning of God’s laws? Which would make the greatest difference for your church?
Luke 6:31 (NIV)
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.“
Matthew 22:37 (NIV)
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart.“
Matthew 22:39 (NIV)
“Love your neighbor as yourself.“
Zechariah 7:9 (NIV)
“Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.“
Zechariah 7:10 (NIV)
“Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor.“
Zechariah 7:10 (NIV)
“Do not plot evil against each other.“
Mark 10:9 (NIV)
“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.“