Have you ever seen some one be pulled over to the side of the road by a police man? (Thankfully, you all have not yet experienced this!) Often when a person is pulled over for speeding and ticketed, once they are done and drive away, they tend to drive very cautiously and obey all laws. There is an instantaneous “heightened” awareness of the driving laws and obeying them.
That is the feeling I get when I read about the Israelites in today’s portion of Scripture. They were at that “heightened awareness” point. Today’s verse is just one of an entire section regarding how the Israelites obeyed God’s laws precisely once they were permitted to return to rebuild the temple. They built altars and celebrated the God-prescribed festivals. I can’t put it any better than the Life Application Bible notes that say: “Almost immediately after arriving in the new land, the returning exiles built an alter… after many years in captivity, they had learned their lesson. They knew that God does not offer protection to people who ignore him. They had been carried off by the Babylonians when they were strong; now they were few, weak, and surrounded by enemies. If ever they needed to rely on God’s power, it was now. They realized the importance of obeying God from the heart and not merely out of habit.”
It is good to have times of heightened awareness that bring us back to obedience, but far better to just stick to obedience. Wouldn’t it be better to not have to worry every time you see the police, than to fear them? It is very simple to reach this point: Drive the speed limit. Obey the law. It is not much different with God, but instead of fear of a ticket, obedience is to our advantage in that we will have God’s protection and blessing on our lives. Ignoring God and his commands has serious consequences. If we don’t stray from obeying-than there is no fear of “getting caught.” Instead, we can live in the joy of the Lord and freedom from fear.