As Christians, we know that our world has been in an unhappy state ever since the Garden of Eden, but today’s instantaneous access to news accentuates this truth. Every day we hear of rioting and theft, disease, family breakdown, lies presented as truth, godlessness, restlessness, and bitterness. Where can we turn in this mad world to discover a better way of life?
Does the Bible have answers? We are told repeatedly in God’s Word to “keep the commandments,” which to some, means to follow restrictive laws. Some time ago, however, I was pondering the use of the word keep. Today we use it casually to refer to things as mundane as the decision to keep or throw away leftovers or the clothes in our closets that surely will fit us again sometime in the future. However, a little research revealed that the original word for keep in both Hebrew and Greek means guard. I was reminded that the “keep” in an old English castle was a storage space for the weapons that were used to defend the castle and keep it safe.
I began to wonder what I guard—what is valuable to me? It is certainly not the leftovers in my refrigerator or the junk in the back of my closet. I do value my home and all it represents. It’s my castle, and though it doesn’t have a keep, I do have tools that I guard very carefully—the keys to my house. Those keys don’t look very impressive, but they represent safety, rest, protection from the weather, and protection for valuable personal belongings. Similarly, my car keys represent freedom to explore, access to food and other needs, and fellowship with friends.
What does this have to do with the keeping of God’s commandments? Perhaps when we “keep the commandments” we are guarding the keys to the kind of life that God intended us to have. The most famous of God’s laws are the Ten Commandments, so I decided to explore them and discover what kind of life they guard. The first three commandments describe our relationship to God. They tell Who He is and how we are to honor Him. The last seven are the keys to the kind of world that God planned for us to live in—both before sin corrupted it, and even after the Fall. What are the treasures being guarded by these commandments, or keys?
The fourth commandment safeguards our physical rest.
The fifth shows us that God values healthy families.
The sixth defends the miracle of life.
The seventh tells us that faithfulness to promises is precious to God.
The eighth implies that each person is an individual in God’s eyes with gifts that are unique.
Finally, the ninth and tenth commandments give us tools with which to guard truth and contentment.
Now look again at the treasures listed here: rest, family, life, faithfulness to promises, individual worth, truth, and contentment. What a contrast with the list in the first paragraph of this article!
People today have done no better than the ancient Israelites in guarding the keys that God gave us on Sinai. But thankfully, this is not the end of the story. Jesus has made it possible for us to personally possess each of these treasures, even amid the chaos and confusion of our world. Listen to some promises from God’s Word, that describe how the New Covenant enables us to keep His commandments.
There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. (Hebrews 4:9)
See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are (1 John 3:1).
Whoever has the Son has life (1 John 5:12) .
He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23) .
I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone
that no one knows except the one who receives it (Revelation 2:17) .
These words are trustworthy and true (Revelation 21:5).
I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content (Philippians 4:11) .
These are only a few of the verses that describe how Jesus unlocks the blessings that we couldn’t seem to keep for ourselves. I encourage you to look through the Scriptures and be amazed at the treasures promised to each of us and to the whole world when His work of redemption and healing is complete.
—A retired homeschool curriculum editor and former teacher, Miriam loves to learn new things, whether by
reading or by exploring back roads near her home in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Scripture verses are from
the English Standard Version.