I have thought for a while why the commandments of God are also known as the testimonies of God. This seems a strange name for them and, in one Canon, its use this term rather than commandments for the canons seemed to carry less force for the need of obedience. However, recently an understanding has dawned on me about the significance of the use of testimonies for the canons. It rather fits in very well with something that I have thought to be true for sometime and it confirms this thought more strongly than the use of the word commandments does. What is this understanding?
The understanding is that the testimonies of God are the witness of God. They testify to the presence of God. Thus, the canons are not merely arbitrary rules or rules to manage a human organisation or system but they are rules that testify to the presence of God. They provide a tangible means of knowing God and of guiding us to live and act in a way that testifies to God’s presence in the Church. This gives the canons much more weight than the idea of arbitrary commandments. Rather, they are the framework of the door through which God is present in the Church in various ways. Just as God did not become Incarnate through any woman but only through the purest virgin, so too God is not present in the Church through any structure or way of life but only through that which He has determined as proper to Himself. These rules are not so much about man qua man but about man qua God. Thus, the rules are required to have God present in man. Because God is unchanging and always the same, these rules too take on an unchanging quality so that the one same God is properly able to be present in the Church and in each of us. They are testimonies of Him and His life and not of ours. They do not change through time because He does not change through time. The Incarnation gives the commandments of God and the testimonies of God even more force than in the Old Testament because God is more fully present in tangible man having taken humanity to Himself and united us to it through baptism and the Eucharist. The form of the door is now fixed as Christ, in both His divinity and humanity, and so the framework cannot change else it will not be fit for the door.