“For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’”
There is a common misconception about how God wants to relate to humankind. So often, God is perceived as a giver of rules; a speaker of “Do”s and “Do Not”s. While the Ten Commandments are definitively in The Bible and while there are extensive books of rules and regulations, these verses serve as a reminder that God did not begin with rules, He began by offering relationship.
This can be seen as far back as Eden, where God walked in the cool of the day to spend time with the first man and woman. It is also seen in Enoch, who walked with God. There is no mention made of offering sacrifices or of following some prescribed set of rules and regulations, only the companionable action of walking with God. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel, even on down to Moses. And it was in the time of Moses that God spoke the words of which He reminds Israel (the nation, not the individual) in these verses.
As with the Father, so with the Son. Jesus extended offers of relationship repeatedly. He told all who are weary and heavily burdened to come to Him and He would give them rest. He followed that up with telling us to take His yoke. Animals that are yoked together walk together; work together. Jesus offers not only to walk with us and share the load of our lives, but to also make us a part of His work. The yoke works both ways. Not only is His strength available for the things that I must do, but I am tied into the things which He is doing.
I do not want to make it sound as if there are no rules. There absolutely are. But it is not rules that God offers to all who would come. It is a relationship with Himself. Rules are helpful. Relationship is so much more. Rules allow us to get into the neighborhood of God. Relationship allows us to snuggle in close to our Father.
Rules are good. Relationship is better. What God wants is best: a relationship that is so intimate that we know His heart on matters without Him saying anything. My wife and I have been married for five years this summer. It is not a long time, but there are things that we no longer need discuss, because we know one another’s heart on the matter. We might still touch base (and often do); verify that we are correct in our surmise, but most often the surmise is correct and the intimacy of relationship begets an intuitive understanding of one another. That level of intimacy is what God wants for my relationship with Him.
God wants relationship. He wants to be my friend as well as my God and my King and my Savior. Will I let Him get that close? Will I get that close to Him? The choice is mine.