This is one of several lists of laws or “prohibited” acts at a wonderful place I have stayed at in Peurto Rico. Willie the proprietor of this vacation rental wants to help ensure all his guests enjoy themselves so he is clear about what is allowed and what is not. I think he also wants to make sure his property is well cared for by those who visit. As someone who has lived in or near vacation destinations for most of his adult life, I think I know what he is up against!
You see many folks when they have the freedom of a vacation tend to lose their minds! Ok, not technically, but often they forget the basic rules of living amongst others. Once I heard a story of a man who had been pulled over for OWI who protested his innocence with the statement… “But I am on vacation!”
Vacationers, on the whole, tend to be very self-centered, so subtle and not so subtle reminders that others are affected by our actions are necessary.
Our actions do not occur in a vacuum, and our freedom is only as expansive as our neighbor. When the children of Israel were freed from bondage in Egypt, they went a little nuts. You can’t blame them really. If you think you are ready for a vacation after 50 weeks of work can you imagine not having a break for 50 years!
It is into this situation that God comes to Moses with the gift of law. That is right I said gift! For the law in its purest form is a gift, and in the words of our Psalm the other day… it is more precious than Gold. (Check this video, love it!)
I find the peoples reaction to God’s presence fascinating. They were more than willing for Moses to interact with God and to get the law, but they’d rather not risk an actual meeting with the Almighty. I wonder if it isn’t like when I would tell one of my children to tell the other what to do. Often it wouldn’t get done until that child met me face to face; then the choice was gone. Maybe if they didn’t actually have to come face to face with God, they could feign misunderstanding when they didn’t live up to the law or see it as the gift it was.
During this Lenten season, the letter of the law drives us to Christ. It tests us, and we are found failing, but that is not the end, in Christ we have one who has fulfilled the law for us so that we might live by the grace of the law in life serving one another in Jesus name.