We’ve been studying Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers in our women’s bible study this year. At first glance I wasn’t the least bit excited. The Old Testament can be difficult to study. And, these three books in particular are chalked full of lists, rules and regulations!
Exodus documents the Israelites rescue from slavery, with Leviticus and Numbers chronicling their journey back to the Promised Land. At the start of the Israelites journey out of Egypt, God promised them blessing and protection if they heeded His instruction along the way. Likewise, they were warned that defiance would yield the reverse. Unfortunately, they choose the latter.
The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.Exodus 15:2
The boundaries God set forth for the Israelites were intended to establish holy living before entering the Promised Land. They were deliberately laid for Israel’s well-being. Those of you whom are parents are likely familiar with this concept! Children are prone to wandering…..especially toddlers and teenagers! It tends to be a prolonged period of testing and correction, frustrating for both the parent and child. As parents, we lay down boundaries for our children to keep them safe and healthy. Foresight and wisdom on most matters far exceeds that of your children because you’ve previously walked along a similar path. You desire to protect them and boundaries are a natural way to offer such guide rails.
Unfortunately, the disobedience and stubbornness of a child can lead to destruction and consequences. This was certainly the case for the the Israelites throughout the forty years they spent in the wilderness. What should have been a two-week journey ended up taking the Israelites forty years because of their dogged resistance to God.
For those that have particularly strong-willed children, the heartache of seeing your child go through difficult situations can feel almost unbearable. Trust me, I have one. And, oh by the way, I was one.
If you asked my mother, she would tell you that I routinely tested the boundaries she placed on me as a teenager. In response to feeling oppressed by these boundaries, I can vividly remember mouthing back to her “In a room full of red moms, you would be blue!” To this day, she also remembers this remark. They were piercing words to hear I’m sure. If I could peek back in time, my guess is that I may have seen my discouraged mother exhaling in frustration, with head in hands, wondering what in the world she did wrong. Probably not too much of a stretch to assume that God may have felt the same way with the Israelites.
Twenty-five years later, as a mom of four teenagers myself, I’ve certainly been on the receiving end of such comments. It is hurtful at times, but in a stroke of irony…..or maybe penance….I now understand and sit in my mother’s position, proudly carrying on the legacy of blue mothering! Hindsight…..20/20 isn’t it?! For those of you who have raised teenagers, I do believe there is a special place in heaven for us!
Hopefully as adults, you’ve by now learned that healthy boundaries set a framework for true freedom within our lives; freedom from enslavement to the consequences of living outside of those boundaries. God knew this from the start of time. Most of us can attest to the spiritual, physical and/or emotional cost of having stepped beyond a healthy boundary. The price paid probably helped solidify what we knew in advance, but failed to obey in the first place.
God is the perfect parent and can always be trusted. The terms of God’s covenant with the Israelites were not intended to be burdensome. They were for their protection. Today, God offers us a New Testament covenant with humanity through Jesus Christ, one that promises eternal life with Him if we are willing to obey and follow Him! The sum of the Old Testament laws and regulations are now fulfilled by Jesus. Long gone are the days of having to make physical sacrifices to atone for our sins. Instead, atonement comes through a belief in Jesus as our savior.
How many of you have wandered in the wilderness for too long, disregarding boundaries that were intended to help you flourish? We are blessed to have a New Testament intercessor to guide us along a path of obedience. Take today to repent of areas you’ve knowingly or unknowingly gone astray and boldly ask the Lord to lead you back to the path that He has for your life!