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Monday, May 11, 2015

God Doesn't Want Anyone to Have Fun!

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You've most likely heard the comments and criticisms: "Look at the Old Testament! It's just full of rules and restrictions. God doesn't want anyone to have fun!" 

It's hard to know how to respond because even we might wonder what's with all those rules? And for some of them, they just don't make sense and thus contribute to a distrust of God.

From www.freedigitalphotos.net
by David Castillo Dominici

I've been studying some of the Old Testament and commentators point out some things that I think will help us and build our trust in God's goodness. After all, if we think He's withholding something from us and restricting us for no good reason, our trust in Him can dissipate. (By the way: isn't that what Satan used for the first temptation? "Oh, look, Eve, God is trying to withhold something good from you." (Tweet this:) Satan really doesn't have any new ideas, does he! 

So here are some ideas:

The Laws clearly state God's plan for being close to Him. He wants fellowship with us and the "rules" and "restrictions" let us know clearly how to avoid becoming separated from His holiness. When I thought of that idea from a parenting standpoint, I could see God as a loving and good Father. 

Maybe you were one of the many children who didn't know the rules of your family. Sometimes your parent(s) came down on you hard on something and other times, for the same disobedience, they didn't. Or sometimes you didn't even know what was allowed and what was forbidden. You went through your childhood feeling insecure not knowing either what was right or your parents were capricious in their response. Would you face a smile of dismissal or anger?

With God's clear and specific rules, there was no insecurity. The Israelites knew what God expected and what to expect if they disobeyed. There was great security in that and God revealed His goodness and lovingkindness. 

Secondly, there were a lot of rules about "clean" and "unclean." Today, when we think of "unclean," we think of "shameful." But that wasn't God's intention. The point was to protect the people from things that could hurt them. It wasn't about their value or worth. It wasn't saying that God no longer loved them. It was for the good of the community because God always intends good, because He is a good God. 

Consider a rule like a woman being declared "unclean" after giving birth and thus is unable to go to worship. Guess what, gals? It was God's way of saying, "You get a break! You've just gone through something that is taxing on your body. Stay home and rest! You aren't required to go to Temple. You don't have to feel guilty because you don't feel up to going. I care about you. I'm a good God and you need to concentrate on your baby and your own health." Sounds good to me!

Remember the rules about mold and leprosy? Those things hurt others if they came into contact with people. God still loved a person with leprosy but unfortunately, there weren't medicines to heal that disease. And there wasn't anything that could take away mold other than destroying the building it was in. Today we know the danger of mold but God first taught them. He cared about them, yes, even the leprous person, but for the good of the community, drastic measures had to be taken. Those with leprosy weren't shameful, they didn't make an ungodly choice, but they shouldn't be allowed to spread it to others.

All this points to God being a good God! He wants what's best for everyone and sometimes that means that restrictions and rules must be enforced.

Does this make sense? It does if we look through a lens that says, "God does everything for good because He is a good God, even rules and restrictions."

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