Last week, a commentator named Mark Steyn was guest-hosting a radio program I listen to. While Steyn does not believe like readers of this site, he is a very intelligent and educated man with a unique sense of humor. In one of his analogies he likened the proponents of global warming with a stereotype of the religion of a fictional primitive island people. These would be primitive people who sacrificed virgins to volcanoes thinking that was what the volcano wanted. If they sacrificed the right person, the volcano/god would be assuaged and the impending doom would be staved off. However, they had to guess that the volcano wanted a virgin or some other human sacrifice and, in Steyn’s analogy, if it didn’t work, they had to make up reasons why the previous human sacrifice was rejected and then guess at what traits the volcano/god wanted in a sacrifice. Steyn was using his analogy to poke fun at the global warming crowd because they seem to say ANY change in the weather/climate, whether real or perceived, “scientifically” justifies their theory. However, I want to borrow his analogy for a different purpose.
You see, the “grace only” or “New Testament only” believers are like the fictional islanders. They have to guess about God’s will because they have thrown out the instruction manual! From 1 John 3:4 we know that sin is the transgression of the law, but when one is taught the law was nailed to the cross yet sin remains, how does one define sin? It can’t be defined and chaos ensues. Imagine how difficult it must be to teach the sanctity of marriage and of running a Godly household, both of which are under attack by the popular culture, but being unable to justify these truths by using the Torah? Imagine a preacher preaching against adultery or theft a week after him preaching about the law being nailed to the cross? Imagine the same preacher railing against covetousness, but also doing that without being able to reference the foundation of Torah? We don’t have to imagine because this happens all the time and it is perplexing.
The beauty and of adopting a Torah observant lifestyle is that we have the framework for a Godly lifestyle! Granted, we know that the sun rises on the good people and on the bad people, so a works based lifestyle is not being suggested here. However, we do have the luxury of understanding the definition of sin and which books of the Bible to study to learn how to get that sin out of our lives. And following Torah is just a framework. It does not reveal to us where to live, what careers to have, or who to marry, but it does provide a holy outline for living that will help guide us to understand Yahweh’s plans for us.
As my friend Alex wrote recently, we don’t even need to understand the why of following the law. Some of the deeper points of the law don’t appear to make sense to us. Ultimately, understanding the “why” is not necessary because our actions are supposed to display our blind faith in the Creator. The Israelites observed the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost for a very, very long time before it was understood that those days pointed to Yeshua. Some understood those days a little, some maybe even not at all, but those who obeyed were blessed and when the fulfillment of those days was revealed, it had immense impact.
There are great reasons for following the law besides “God said it, I believe it, that settles it”, too. Observing the Sabbath has plenty of positive benefits apart from the commandment. Not stealing from or murdering anyone tends to make someone a much more pleasant sort to be around. Not cheating on your wife or husband will tend to make life a whole lot easier as well. The list goes on. But one of the best reasons I can think of is that it is a blessing to understand God’s will, at least in part.