Following the Law alone…the Torah…the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament ordinances…carries the very real risk of falling back into self-autonomy…of creating our own rationalized ways of measuring up to our own standards for judging our performance. But a biblical-quality journey of faith, divinely crafted out of the mind of God, offers no such option for wiggle-room manipulation on our part…because a God-composed journey of faith has a definite life-script storyline…a plotline…with a premeditated, end-point outcome having a pathway of intended events and circumstances that Jesus described in His Sermon on the Mount as the “narrow gate” (Mt. 7:13-14).
In other words, if we have the whole program in the form of the 613 Mosaic laws of the Old Testament…if the entirety of the information package of our religious experience is in our possession…we then have the ability to tweak and to adjust the more difficult elements to suit ourselves.
But a biblical-quality, God-composed journey of faith that is revealed to us incrementally as we travel along our faith-journey…does not always allow us to see too far ahead and thus tempt us to take an alternate detour path because the true path gets narrow, steep, and seemingly “dangerous” to our conventionally limited way of thinking.
This is a part of the incredible genius of God-composed journeys of faith as recorded in the Bible…as guiding templates of instruction for our own journeys of faith.
While Moses and the Israelites were in their wilderness journey they were collectively as a group all experiencing an adventure of faith…momentarily bereft of their own individual plans and schemes…and as a result of their shared common goal of recapturing their Promised Land of Canaan…they had no other worldly conventional choice than to give all of themselves to God. The unacceptable alternative would be to go back to Egypt.
It was their learned-faith in God in the hardships of the desert wilderness that enabled the Israelites to go on to conquer their promised homeland. It was learned-faith in the middle of an adventure of faith that enabled them to eventually capture their destiny…through faith in God, new-found confidence in themselves, and uplifting adherence to a divine set of laws and rules.
Even though from time to time, overcoming faith pops up in the numerous deliverances during the period of the judges in Israel, during the reigns of godly kings, and during the times of prophets like Samuel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, yet the Jews over time fell back into following the Law exclusively and forgot about their divinely sanctioned, universal access to the adventures of faith patterned in the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, and David.
It is much easier in terms of our self-willed, humanistic bent to follow laws, rules, and religious practices that we can conveniently tweak, manipulate, and interpret to suit ourselves, than it is to step out into the unknowns of a risky journey of faith not of our own making… that has a divinely crafted storyline of definite trajectory, direction, and intention…that cannot be toyed with.
We see this in the biblical narrative stories of faith in both the Old and New Testaments.
When viewed in the context of the fundamental purpose behind all of our efforts in many fields of research and in the arts to find purpose in life, this concept of a God-invented journey of faith…leading to an understanding of the knowledge of good and evil that simply eating the fruit from a tree in the Garden of Eden could not possibly fully achieve…rises to the very top of all philosophy, science, history, politics, economics, and religion.
By the practice of following Torah alone (easily susceptible to becoming corrupted into autonomous self-rulership apart from God) the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus…sadly and tragically miss faith.
The Jews were supposed to do both…follow the Law and walk in individually personalized, God-composed journeys of faith. In missing the all-important half…an adventure of faith…these Jews in the first-century time of Jesus were in the most profound way missing their special heritage of personally experiencing the faith journey of Abraham the “father of faith.”
Spirit-born Christians today must be careful not to make the same mistake by exclusively following institutional Christian church practices as their sole experience, while neglecting a genuine adventure of faith following Jesus Christ after the pattern of God-composed life-scripts recorded for us in the pages of the Bible.