We often speak about a relationship with God. However, it is very important for us to know what kind of relationship we have with him. There are just two possible answers. Either we have a relationship of faith with him, or a relationship of law. In other words, if we have any relationship whatever with him, it depends either on law or on faith.
Faith means active belief and trust in God. In other words, someone with faith believes and trusts God. When we have faith, Godís promises are for us (Hebrews chapter 11). We receive the benefit of those promises.
God gave his law to Moses, and it is good, holy, and right (7:12). It teaches how a person must live in order to please God. However, if we try to follow its rules without faith, then the law will only bring Godís anger against us. That is because, to obey the law truly, we must obey every command completely (James 2:10-11). When we do not obey any part of it, we are guilty. None of us can live by Godís standards (3:23).
In ancient Israel, most of the people did not have a personal relationship of faith in God. However, their nation had a relationship with him because of the promises that God gave to Abraham. God separated Israel from the other nations by the laws that God gave to Moses. So, Godís law taught Israelís people how they should live in their land (Numbers chapter 34). They received that land and they lived in it. However, many of them would not obey Godís commands. They lived like the people in the nations round them. They chose false gods and they behaved in an evil manner. God warned them many times but in the end he had to act against them (2 Kings 17:7-20; 2 Kings 21:10-15). In his anger, he permitted their enemies to force them to leave their land; few of them ever returned. Godís law had not changed and his promises to their nation had not changed. They suffered when God wanted them to know his kindness.
However, later members of their families did have faith in God. They believed Godís promise that they would return to their own land (Jeremiah 29:10-11). You can read about their return in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
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© 2017, Keith Simons.