When your son asks you in time to come, “What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?” then you shall say to your son, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.”
Moses seems to have known what kind of questions children ask. They might not say, in as many words, “What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded us?” but will almost certainly ask the same question in its abbreviated form: “Why?”
“Why mom?” “Why dad?” or perhaps the forms we start using as adults: “Why pastor?” Why God?” “Why obey?”
It’s a very good question, not necessarily disrespectful or rebellious, often wanting to know: Why obey God? Deuteronomy gives a great answer, for children and adults. We obey because God has been good to us and wants what’s good for us.
Sometimes we have to obey when we can’t see why. Sometimes we have to obey when it seems costly. Nonetheless, God’s commandments are not essentially arbitrary tests to see whether we like him enough or not. God’s commandments are “for our good always, that he might preserve us alive.” They are “righteousness for us.” We obey God because he wants what’s good for us.
We trust that God wants what’s good for us because God has been good to us. Yes, we are asked to have faith, but only in a God who has proved Himself faithful.
In the heat of the moment, there are a lot of answers we could give our kids to the never-ending “why?” In fact, in the heat of the moment, there are a lot of answers we give ourselves. Yet, we will most want to obey, most be able to obey, most benefit from obeying God when we remember that this is the God who has been good to us and who wants what’s good for us. He’s not jerking us around. He has freed us and He knows us; He loves us and He has shown us. This is why we can delight to obey.