If you ever plan to visit Singapore, be sure to leave chewing gum off your packing list. “Smuggling” gum into the country carries a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail. This is just one of many legal oddities around the world. It’s also forbidden to feed the pigeons in Venice, to play pinball in South Carolina under the age of 18, or to spit publicly at Daytona Beach.
I’ve been reading lately through the book of Deuteronomy, and some of its laws sound equally strange: Do not plow with an ox and a donkey together (Deut. 22:11). Do not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together (22:12). Do not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk (14:21).
So many rules! But none of them were arbitrary. God was not a cosmic killjoy trying to make life miserable for the ancient Jews. He was looking out for their well-being. “What does the LORD your God require of you … but to keep the commandments and the statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deut. 10:13). God was protecting His people from their pagan neighbors and setting them apart as a holy people. He was trying to spare them much guilt, pain, and regret.
Many Jewish customs and laws no longer apply to us today because they were fulfilled in Jesus (Matt. 5:17). Yet the New Testament still includes many duties: We are called to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44), to read our Bibles (Rev. 1:3), to stay sober (Eph. 5:18), to remain sexually pure (1 Thess. 4:3), and to gather for worship (Heb. 10:25).
God’s rules are always for His glory and for our good. They test our faith and prove our allegiance to God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Even if we don’t understand God’s laws, we can rest assured He has our best interests in mind. And that should turn any duty into delight.
This article first appeared in today’s edition of our local newspaper, the Hi Desert Star.
Question: What commands has God used to test and grow your faith? Click here to leave a comment.