Paul uses several analogies to explain his point about the law. They all culminate with the understanding that the law was to help guide us until God was ready to deliver us.
Because of our time in history slavery is much less an issue than in Paul’s days, so his first analogy is a little rough for me. I recognize his intent though. A child has no more understanding of how to properly use his inheritance than the person who never expects or is entitled to one in the first place. There is no need for a child to be burdened by the requirements of managing a business. They could never understand it simply for lack of maturity and experience.
The same holds true with the fullness of God’s promise. The Jews didn’t grasp the full meaning of the promise or how they were supposed to get from point A to point B. They needed step by step directions. God provided this to them in the law.
My husband and I were listening to Leviticus the other day on his GoBible. He was not enjoying hearing all the “do’s” and “don’ts” and asked to shut it off. I used to be that way too. It is dry reading and doesn’t apply to us anymore. But as I listened to all the required sacrifices for the specific sins, I was reminded of stories in the bible where those sacrifices would have been called into play. I listened for the lessons behind the lecture instead of the lists of requirements. I still can’t tell you why God required a specific animal or way of arranging or burning but I can appreciate the need to get the individual’s attention on clearing up the matter correctly before God.
But God didn’t leave us with specific precise instructions forever. He kept us between the boarders until he was ready to give us the fulfillment of HIS promise; restoration of what was lost. His promise to restore us to right relationship with Him for eternity.
I am reminded of a cattle shoot. When trying to get cows from one area into the next they are sent through an ever tightening set of barricades. They don’t immediately start off in a tight confining space but are gradually worked closer and closer to the narrow tunnel leading them to their destination. Often times their trip through this narrow tunnel involves hardships that they have to endure, like banding, branding, and shots. When they arrive at the other end life is much different than it was in the beginning.
In my shoot the cows are going from a crowded pen to wide open range. Before they leave the shoot they are marked with the brand of the master. They are clearly identified as his property. No one else has any claim to them. Not their former owner nor a thief trying to sneak in. They are protected in the master’s field and cared for every day. They don’t have to fear not having enough to eat or drink. They simply enjoy being in his field. They do have to abide by his fences or they will become injured. But even then, the master brings them right back into the heard once he gets them back in line. They don’t have to go back through re-branding or re-banding. They are his for life.
I belong to my Master for life. He branded me with His image. He adopted me as His own. I don’t ever have to go back and do it all over again and hope to get it right the next time. His stamp took the first time. I am to stay in His “field” but I never need worry again. He is training me with love instead of a stick. He is training me to be a wonderful representative of His love. His offer of hope.
Father God, I know I went way afield! I don’t know how we even got here but I have learned over our time together to go with the flow. I hope I haven’t confused anyone else with this strange journey. If I have, would You please iron it out for them? It wasn’t my intention to confuse, simply to just be with You. Thank You for allowing me to see the lessons in Your word in unique ways. Thank You for speaking to me through passages that I once dreaded going through. I have been having trouble getting excited about the reading we are doing now because it’s not the same kind of story Jesus told. But I have come to appreciate spending time together, no matter what the topic under review. Thank You for that too. Keep me coming for “story time.”