How many rules were in your house growing up? Ever stopped to think about it? I never did until someone started talking about all the ‘rules’ in the Old Testament.
Here’s quick list I put together in 30 seconds:
- Make your bed
- Keep your room clean
- Brush your teeth after meals
- Don’t talk to strangers
- Wash your hands before you eat
- Wash your hands after using the bathroom
- Wash the dishes
- Feed the cat/dog
- Walk the dog
- Respect your elders
- Children should be seen and not heard
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all
- Bed time
- Don’t lie
- Don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you
- Don’t talk back
- Don’t stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open
- Shut the light when you leave the room
Were some of the rules harder to follow than others? Did some of the rules only apply when you were inside your house? Did some apply only outside? Were some positive rules (‘do this’)? Were some negative ones (‘don’t do that’)?
When I think about my parents rules (many of which I used for my own household), I realize they were all geared to raise me into a responsible adult, with respect for others. So these rules were not just rules, but teachings.
Not long ago I learned that the word ‘Torah’ actually means instruction and teaching. So God’s Torah, containing 613 rules, are the teaching and training He gives to us. It is His standard of right living, just as my parents’ rules were their standard for right living.
I’ve heard it said, about God’s Torah, “If you’re going to keep one law, you have to keep all 613.” I often wonder where that saying came from. It makes about as much sense to me as saying, “If you make your bed every morning, you have to keep all the rules at home.” Yes! Exactly! But not because it will allow me to stay in the house. No, rather the obedience to my parents shows that I love and honor them; that I respect them and appreciate all that they provide for me – out of their love for me, not obligation because I followed their rules.
We should have the same attitude about God’s rules, His Torah – we don’t follow it to get Him to love us. We follow Torah as a response to His amazing love for us. He is our Father, we are His children.