Wednesday of the Third Week in Lent

Dt 4:1,5-9; Ps 147:12,13,15,16,19,20; Mt 5:17-19:  Without the Word of the LORD there would be no People of God.  The glory of Jerusalem and the praise of Zion is that God has spoken to his people.  In speaking through Moses and all the Prophets the LORD has made his command clear and his ordinances available.  These words of guidance are formative for the national identity of biblical Israel. With his Word, the LORD has blessed the children of Zion by giving them an understanding of his purpose and his will. The LORD provides his Word that spreads like snow white as wool covering the nation with protection against the elements.  The LORD strews frost like ashes to cover the land with the resting season of winter. The Word of the LORD proclaimed in season and out of season by all the prophets has given Israel a clear vision of God’s purpose for his Holy People.  Among all the nations on earth, the LORD has made known his loving intention to gather all people into his family, into his eternity, into his glory.  “He has not done thus for any other nation; his ordinances he has not made known to them.”  The LORD has done this for Israel so that his holy people might run swiftly at his word and with his word summoning all people into the delight of relationship with the LORD of Glory.  When the LORD spoke to Moses the future generations were seen as blessed because they would learn what their parents had learned that “the LORD is God and there is no other”.  The Lord Jesus continues to reveal the value of obedience to the Law of the LORD.  He commands all who follow him to obey even to the mystery of total self-giving upon the cross.  For this is total obedience and true sacrifice.  Something the gift of Lent is always teaching.

Moses knew full well that the statutes and decrees that he taught Israel would not be heard much less listened to if the people ever forgot “the things which your own eyes have seen”.  There is no sufficient motivation for obedience save love.  If the children of the escaped slaves did not hear from their parents about the marvelous signs and wonders the LORD worked for them in the land of Egypt and all through the exodus, they would have no reason to rejoice greatly and obey gladly.  The very life of Israel is in entering and taking possession of the land of promise. This movement into national identity is impossible without observing and teaching the statutes and decrees of the LORD. If they obey and delight in obedience they will “give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations”. No other nation in all of history has ever been given such a covenant.  This unique privilege is not for Israel only.  Indeed, it makes Israel a living witness to the Living God.  If his holy people remain faithful to his covenant then the blessing that begins in the praises of Jerusalem will extend to the ends of the earth.  Soon, even swiftly, the whole world will be a wise and intelligent people.   Swiftly, the nations will recognize the blessing of boundaries, the blessing of guidelines.  The Ten Commandments will be seen as a true gift for all the people of every nation.  With obedience to the Law of the LORD, all human beings will honor and respect one another.  Gradually, this mutual love will convert every human heart.  Gradually, all will recognize what God intended in creation, to make all of us brothers and sisters of One Father.  Only then will we be a truly wise and intelligent human race.

The Lord Jesus reveals himself in Saint Matthew’s gospel as the New Moses, and during his Sermon on the Mount, he reaffirms the value and permanence of the Law of the LORD.  Just in case some of his critics think that his intimacy with Abba and his authority as a teacher means that he is abolishing the law and the prophets, the Lord Jesus proclaims, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill”.  As long as there is a heaven and earth, as long as the new heaven and new earth are still in the future, the Law of the LORD is still needed.  It is still the law of a Holy People, a nation set apart for the glory of the LORD.  Indeed, we still have mixed motivation; our desire to do good and avoid evil is still tainted by self-interest.  As long as we are still on our way to total conversion and full freedom as children of our Father, the all-holy creator of heaven and earth, we will need the wise and intelligent boundaries that the commandments of the LORD set for us.  To disregard this Law is to invite chaos and relativism to take over the human community and individual lives.  The only way to grow into wisdom and intelligence is to obey the Law of the LORD.  The LORD has brought us out of slavery to the idols of Egypt and every other nation. In our freedom from bondage to the tyranny of sin, we have come to mature in love.  This love we have learned from the New Moses, Jesus Christ who obeyed his Father’s command even unto death, death upon a cross.  In this loving obedience, the Father has raised him up to reveal our true way to lasting holiness and eternal joy.  Indeed, our greatness here and now, and forever and ever, is in our obeying the Law of the LORD and in teaching others to obey it.