December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.’ Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.”—Exodus 15:26–27 (NIV)
“Why?” It’s a child’s favorite question.
As a parent, I understand all too well why my kids shouldn’t drink Coca-Cola every day—it’s bad for them! Every rule and direction I give them is for their benefit, development, growth, wellbeing, and future.
Nonbelievers and believers look on at the commands of God and question, “Why?” When people see 613 commandments, they think prohibition instead of provision, protection, and prosperity. They defiantly ask why to laws while failing to see the why behind the law.
Today’s passage does a great job of showing us that why: “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
Friends, there’s a clear principle for all the laws of God: Our wellbeing is connected to our obedience. In this case, the physical health of the Israelites was tied to their obedience. God promised to keep the people free from the diseases He wrought against the Egyptians. Scholar Walter Kaiser said the miracle of the water from the rock we read about yesterday “was connected with a promise . . . from now on obedience to commands and statutes would bring healing, both physically and morally.”
In his book None of These Diseases, Dr. S.I. McMillen noted that “many of God’s laws to Israel had a direct impact of hygiene and health.” What laws? Things like circumcision, washing oneself in running water, and eating kosher made a major difference in keeping Israel free from disease.
The laws of God are, and always will be, for our benefit. They keep us safe and healthy physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. They draw us closer to the Lord as we humbly, and in devotion of heart, follow them. They enable us to live a life of blessing, purpose, and fulfillment and keep us free from a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety in life. This is why David said, “Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight” (Psalm 119:111 NLT).
Now, what about for us today who are not under the law but under grace? It means the same thing! Obedience to the Word of God leads to blessing, purpose, and fulfillment. This doesn’t always mean material blessing (though it may for some), it doesn’t mean we won’t experience some sort of disease (we live in a fallen world after all), and it doesn’t mean we won’t walk through trials, tribulations, or trauma. What it does mean is that as we obey the law of Christ, we’ll have spiritual health and wholeness in Him, we’ll be equipped to walk in the will of God with joy, hope, and holiness in every circumstance, and we’ll be able to walk in the freedom of God, know the peace of God, and have the contentment of God.
Pause: What does this passage teach us about the law of God, both in the Old and New Testament?
Practice: Spend time over the next few weeks to read through some of the Old Testament laws as well as commands we receive from Jesus and the exhortations and directives we receive from the apostles in the New Testament. Identify why the Lord has directed His people in this way.
Pray: Lord, I pray the words of David today, “Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart. Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found. Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money! Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you. Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good. I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness” (Psalm 119:33–40 NLT). Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.