Thursday, 17 March 2011

Love: The Goal of Law

Deuteronomy 6-8

Having been led out of Egypt by the Angel of the LORD (or Jesus under cover as Phil Moore would say) and taken all the way to Mt Sinai to meet the LORD who descends from Heaven, one could be left thinking: If these two LORDs have a disagreement, who do we go with? 

That question is not as dumb as it sounds to us moderns. The Greek gods wrangled for power amongst themselves. For people who still live in tribal settings, the dilemma is not "Can I be bothered to worship a deity?" but which deity is it most important to appease with sacrifice and which can we get away with ignoring?

Here Moses sets the record straight with the great declaration that these two persons (The LORD our God and the LORD) are (is) one. They are unified, in the Spirit. (This oneness is echoed in the symmetry of marriage). They will not go AWOL on each other.

This tri-unity of deity is to be loved beyond all other loves. The best way to show that love is to obey what they have spoken. The best way to do this is to commit what they have spoken to memory.

Scripture memorisation has largely fallen out of fashion in our always at your fingertips information age. But (and I speak from experience) when the fires of temptation come raging, I don't usually have the presence of mind to reach for the iBible so having a heart and mind pre-soaked in Scripture will at least buy you time in mustering a counter attack and at best deliver you from the fire altogether.

Here's something more on the benefits memorisation and the reflections / meditations that can spring from it. If memorisation of classical poetry had these great benefits, then how much more the words of the Bible?
Some of the ancient methods... strike a modern mind as “servile”: but the paradoxical result of this early servitude was mental liberation. Augustine... came “to love what he was learning. He had developed, through this education, a phenomenal memory, a tenacious attention to detail, an art of opening the heart, that still moves us as we read his Confessions.” In Virgil’s epic picture of the multiple passions of human life—paternal, filial, pious, romantic, patriotic, heroic—Augustine found a key to understanding his own heart, and in the rhetorical perfection of the Aeneid’s speeches he found a key with which to unlock the hearts of others.
There is a strong allusion to Passover here as the people are told to write these laws on their door frames. God's laws are written and fulfilled in the blood of his own Son.

When I was at Sunday school, I was told that it was easy to serve God when the going is good, but hard when you come under fire / stress. There is of course a truth in this, but more often it's the good times that provide the greatest temptation to forget / forsake God. Chapter 8 clearly lays that out. Instead of being grateful and remaining humbled by God's gracious intervention in our lives, we come to think that our exalted state in life is the result of our own efforts and luck.

This works on both a national as well as an individual level. The intellectual, moral and economic growth of the last 500 years that has seen the tiny geographical wart on the end of the Eurasian plate known as Western Europe dominate the rest of the world for so long was once attributed that greatness to the God of the Bible and the Protestant reformation. These days it's attributed to scientific rationalism, the growth of free markets and the supremacy of "Man." Humankind has the brazen cheek to hijack the works of God and claim them as his own achievements.

The Goal of the Law is not economic prosperity, but love to God and (then) man.

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