God has the power and priviledge to set out “might makes right” rules and precepts. Without getting too philisophical about the nature of God, it’s amazing to me that he didn’t. Many an ancient deity would establish covenants which were more of pseudo-divine protection rackets: pay up or get it. The Egyptian gods mocked by the 10 Plagues may be an example.
Some misconstrue YAHWEH God as that kind of god (at least, in the OT). “It’s my way or the highway.” While this is true — there really is no other way but God’s — He’s given us choice and presented himself as the best option by right of love over fear. Or, at least that’s the way I think he meant it. Sure, he calls for fear in the terms of respect. But isn’t healthy respect a part of love?
As the higher power, he sets the terms of the covenant. Instead of demanding tribute, he just demands loyalty. It’s almost like his covenants just say “Show me you want me, and I’ll stay with you.” Yes, there’s discipline, but that’s the marker of a loving and responsible father. He’s so gracious that even when mankind messes them up over and over again, he’s still faithful to his promise.
Think about it from his perspective: he said to all mankind, “I’ll bless you. Give me your hearts and I’ll give you new life, rescue you from death, and bless you beyond your wildest dreams.”
Man’s response: immediate gratitude followed by amazing ingratitude. In the garden Adam and Eve had it made. Food, simple occupation, no shame or guilt. God’s only stipulation: don’t partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In the Bible “knowledge” is an intimate concept (they knew each other in the biblical sense…). It implies more than just posession of fact, but also personal familiarity and realization. God told Adam and Eve, in effect, don’t get aquainted with knowing good and evil. All they previously knew was “good.” Instead, by ignoring God’s directive, they found out the hard way what evil was like–by in a small way, becoming it. They experinced what God said they should never have to experience…but I digress.
Follow the Bible story through the Exodus, the period of judges, to the coronation of the first king. The repeated theme: God loves man. Man snubs God. God brings man back, because God loves man. Man snubs God…
Wouldn’t it just be easier to be faithful? I’m glad God is.