Regulations; September 17, 2020

Numbers 6:27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

In reading the English I was struck by the expression, “put My name on,” but then when I read the Japanese, I discovered that it said “pray My name for.” That’s quite a difference! Given that the NIV agrees with the preponderance of English translations of which I am aware, my guess is that the Japanese is an interpretation as opposed to a translation. In any case, God was saying that His covenant name, Yahweh, was to be associated with the Israelites. That makes it ironic, even tragic, that in an effort to keep from misusing that name, (Exodus 20:7) Jews bend over backwards to keep from using it at all. That’s what happens when humans expand and amplify God’s commands. That actually happens because of our own lust for power. We think that the more ways that we can control others, the more power that gives us. We see that in abundance in politicians, some of whom have been running wild with regulations using the COVID virus as an excuse. (And then they turn around and ignore their own regulations themselves.) The spirit behind that is evident, because “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) It is of major significance and importance that the name of Yahweh be associated with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but they themselves use Adonai, Lord, instead, even when reading the Bible where it gives the name explicitly. I am reminded of Jesus’ rather cutting statement, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” (Mark 7:8) Jesus Himself was referring to Isaiah 29:13, which He had just quoted. We tend to feel that if one regulation is good, 10 regulations are better, but that is substituting regulations for submission to the Holy Spirit, and that never works. That’s the whole problem with legalism. Augustine of Hippo had it right: “Love God and do as you please.” The only problem with that is that few if any of us love God enough! I find it very interesting that John MacArthur, who is well known as a rather legalistic preacher, has become something of a “point man” in opposing the anti-Christian regulations in California. I’m sure the Lord is teaching him some things about regulations! We are certainly not to ignore the regulations in Scripture, but we are to “serve [God] in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:6)

I have always been something of an anti-legalist, but that has opened me up to the temptation to think that I personally know best, rather than being humbly submitted to the Holy Spirit. I need to keep pressing in for more of God and His Spirit, and that will not happen if I am rebellious. I am not to ignore human laws and regulations, certainly, even when they are a pain in the neck, which is often enough. However, I am not to let human regulations supersede what God has said clearly, through the Bible or directly to my heart. As a pastor I am to let people know of God’s holiness, and that we are called to be holy as He is, (1 Peter 1:16) but I am not to mandate that holiness by human regulations. I am to admonish firmly when people are clearly astray, (Colossians 3:16) but let God be the ultimate Judge in every case. I don’t have the wisdom to do it all right, but God does, and He will guide me. (James 1:5)

Father, thank You for this reminder. I have quite a track record of setting myself up as the Authority, and it’s never worked out well. Help me indeed be fully submitted to You and flow with Your Spirit, so that Your purposes and nothing else may be fulfilled in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

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