God’s Rules; July 4, 2020

Daniel 1:15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.

Here we have a clear example of the practicality of God’s rules. There was no understanding of nutrition for most of human history. Even King Henry VIII of England would have lived much longer and in better health if he had eaten, for example, raw cabbage on a regular basis, because vitamin deficiency was a significant factor in his death. So here, there was no scientific knowledge, but Daniel and his friends had the fear of the Lord, and that is certainly the foundation for true wisdom. (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10) That not only gave them the courage to resist the rich food Nebuchadnezzar prescribed (that incidentally had been offered to idols), it also set them up to learn a lot of things, as it talks about in verse 17. The simple fact of the matter is that we can’t know everything, so God gives us rules to help us steer clear of pitfalls we otherwise wouldn’t avoid. People perversely think they are being “free” when they flaunt God’s rules, not realizing that they are walking straight into the devil’s traps. Dietary restrictions might not seem to have much spiritual importance – and indeed, under the New Covenant we are freed from those (1 Timothy 4:3-5) – but the principle is one of obeying God, which the Bible calls “the fear of the Lord.” People who rightly fear God do not live in abject terror, constantly thinking they are about to get “zapped.” Rather, they make God their first priority and their highest authority. In other words, if God said it, then that settles it. When we are fully listening to God, we will be good stewards of our bodies, as Daniel and his friends were, and we will have wisdom and insight when it comes to everything else as well.

The Lord blessed me with a high IQ, but I have learned the hard way that’s not the same thing as wisdom. We see people all around us who demonstrate that reality! I’ve learned that my analysis of a situation never has all the facts, so by definition I can’t make the best decision about it on my own. However, God has laid out general operating principles in the Bible, and if I seek to follow those, He “tweaks” my instructions however is necessary. He uses various methods to do that, speaking to me through people or events, or most often by internal nudges to do one thing and not another. However, if my attitude isn’t one of submission and obedience to Him, I’m not going to recognize those specific instructions. I have learned that indeed, “His commands are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) As the hymn says, “There is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.”

Father, the more I look back over my life the more overwhelmed and grateful I am at Your incredible grace. Left to myself I would have gone off the rails more times than I could count, but You hemmed me in in various ways and protected me. I identify with the writer of Psalm 119 more all the time! Help me be faithful in my obedience, not just for my sake but so that I will be an effective tool in Your hands for the blessing of those around me, building up the Body of Christ for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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