Bound to God
In this morning’s first reading in the Second Book of Kings, the priest Hilkiah and the scribe Shaphan rediscovered the Law and read it aloud to the king and the people. This changed the morals of the people as the got to know again the covenant that God had long established with them. They saw at once how they drifted away from the Will of the Lord and re-committed themselves to following the Law.
Although some Bible commentators see in this passage a romanticization of the Law by deuteronomist sources, it still presents to us how the Law is central to the life of the people of God. It stresses how the Law shapes and guides the relationship of the people with God.
One thing I realized in the reading is that for a long time the people became ignorant of the Law. It is easy to miss that during those times, books were not abound and common. It must have been easy to lose the written Law on scrolls. Because they didn’t have a record and reference of the covenant, it was easy for Israel to forget the Law. This reminds me of how important it is for us to write down important information instead of just committing them to memory. We are forgetful creatures.
Another thing I realized is that the Law is not a list of do’s and don’t’s from God. While most of it is prescriptive – it sets down rules of behavior for Israel, it is but the second part of the covenant. To be bound by a covenant with God means that one has entered into a relationship with God. When these covenants are made, it is always God who made the first move.
The Law then defines how Israel should respond to that first move of God. What was God’s first move towards Israel and to humanity? God first loved us so that we may learn how to love Him and one another.
This too is reflected in Jesus’ New Commandment of love: love one another as I have loved you. The Law is binding because we have been loved first. The experience of the love of the Lord should transform us and shape us as His people. This is the essence of why the Law was given.
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