The Rule of Law: First Things (27)
Click here to watch a brief video introducing this week’s study. This week’s video is the same as for lesson 2.
“If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and thatyou may prolong your days.” Deuteronomy 22.6, 7
The works of God in creation declare His goodness, wisdom, love, and glory (cf. Pss. 19.1-4; 145.5-12). Creation bears witness to God, and, as it does, it prompts us to recall His Word, which speaks about the scope and purpose of His works. His Word, in turn, guides us in the proper use of His creation, for His glory and our good. This statute is an example of Scripture’s teaching about our responsibility for exercising proper stewardship over the creation. And, as we can see in this example, creation can prompt us to recall and honor the Law of God.
The Apostle Paul said that God left a witness to Himself in the agricultural work of pagan peoples (Acts 14.17). Regular seasons of sowing, growth, and harvest are a testimony to the goodness and faithfulness of God. They bear witness to Him, even though few receive that witness for what it is. Such witnesses from creation should call to our minds the providential goodness of God in upholding the world and providing for our needs through it, as His Word explains (cf. Ps. 104).
God loves His world, and in His Law He taught His people to love it as well, and to see in it reminders of His sovereign rule over all things, and of His counsel concerning our stewardship over creation. This statute and Deuteronomy 20.19, 20 speak to our responsibility to use the creation wisely, bearing in mind at all times that the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it (Ps. 24.1). People must not exploit the creation but care for it, so that it may continue to flourish and serve their needs.
Undoubtedly this statute about mother birds and their chicks would have been applied in other contexts as well – hunting, perhaps, or using different trees at different stages of growth, or even the uses to which running water might be put. As God’s people study His Law they begin to understand the creation as He does. And as they use the creation in the ways God intends, they are reminded by the creation that God’s Law is good. God uses His Law to preserve and honor His creation, and His creation to further embed the teaching of His Law in our minds.
Thus, besides the examples we saw previously of everyday reminders in clothing, cattle, and sowing, the whole creation serves the people of God, to remind us of the goodness and wisdom of His Law (Ps. 119.89-91).
T. M. Moore
The Law of God is the soil which, fertilized by the rest of God’s Word and watered by His Spirit, brings forth the fruit of the Christian life. If you’d like to understand this process better, and how to make best use of the Law in your walk with and work for the Lord, order the book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, from our online store.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.