The Bible is a book of law. It lays down fundamental principles and rules for the conduct of men and women in their daily lives. It also gives civil laws for perfect government – the only laws that can bring peace, happiness and prosperity to the individual and the nation.
We live in a lawless society! Crime and violence are increasing at a fearful rate. There is practically no respect for law or constituted authority among the nations of the world. There is no law and order in our cities. Riots and demonstrations are now commonplace .Mob leaders teach the philosophy of “obeying only the laws you like.”
It is also a sick society plagued with social diseases and problems of all kinds. Our cities are troubled with traffic jams, crime on streets and subways, breakdowns of public services, racial friction, filth, squalor, polluted air and inferior schools.
People worry about a shortage of water, high taxes, strikes, unemployment, the cancerous spread of decaying slums and “ghettos.” They complain about the corruption that is seeping through the layers of city, state and national government. This is the world in which you live!
People of this world do not know that serving and obeying the laws of God is the way, and the only way, that leads to increasing and perpetual prosperity, peace and happiness. All the problems that cause people to suffer could be eliminated by obeying God’s laws. They are for our good. The nation is suffering and facing doom because it is living in flagrant violation of laws God set in motion at Creation.
Before you can live by obeying God’s law, it is necessary to know what it says. Too many brethren in God’s Church neglect to study God’s law. They often don’t even know, much less understand, the laws God gave to His people Israel.
Even though you have heard much about God’s Ten Commandments, can you say them from memory? Do you know where they can be found in the Bible? You should know these very basic points.
Let’s face it, many of you are just not as well acquainted with God’s law as you should be. Why you should acquire this knowledge should be obvious. God’s law defines sin (I John 3:4). If you don’t know what God’s law says, you could very well be sinning and not know it. And how can you judge and rule nations in the millennium if you don’t know God’s law? The study of God’s law, then, is a very important matter.
The Ten Commandments are God’s basic spiritual law. This is the great, fundamental, invisible spiritual law which regulates man’s relationship with his Creator, and man’s relationship with his fellow man. The purpose of this spiritual law, like all of ‘God’s laws, is to make possible man’s happiness, to bring man peace and joy to make life really worth living.
Most people have no real standard of judgment or conduct. They don’t know of any supreme authority that can tell them what is right and what is wrong. They have no standard of conduct because the only righteous standard has been rejected.
God’s law tells us the difference between right and wrong. If defines sin. Sin is breaking God’s Spiritual law – the Ten Commandments (I John 3:4). This is the standard for a perfect moral code. But instead of obeying the laws of God that govern morals and affect men’s minds, men are desperately trying to work out their own system of morals.
The result is that there is now occurring a total breakdown of moral authority in this country. And if you don’t have moral authority, the other authorities are no longer effective. They erode away very rapidly.
Most of the Ten Commandments warn us what not to do. They warn us how to stay out of trouble, how to keep well, how to avoid pain, heartache and grief. Sin always brings on a penalty sooner or later. But God’s law helps us avoid what is bad for us, the way that seems so right to us, yet brings on problems later. Happiness can only come when man gets in harmony with God’s law.
We can observe nature and see that there is law and order working in the animal world. The behavior of bees and ants, for example, is highly organized and in order. There is no rioting, warfare, unemployment or any social problems such as in the world of human beings. They live and conduct their lives by instinct, the way of life set in their brains by Almighty God the Creator.
But man doesn’t live by instinct. He must learn how to live by following the Revelation given by God. God not only told man in His Word how to worship Him, and get along with his fellowman, He also revealed other laws that would regulate society and prevent social problems. Although man can learn about the physical laws of the universe through experimentation, it is impossible in this way to come to an understanding of God’s law pertaining to justice, equity and moral conduct.
This world in general remains in ignorance of these laws because it has forgotten the very source of all law and authority! Your Bible says: “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy” (James 4:12).That Lawgiver is Almighty God.
God is the one source and origin of all basic laws. This is true whether they govern the material universe, the physical creation or the spiritual, moral and economic life of man. God is the fountainhead of all law and order. It was God who revealed to mankind His laws which govern an orderly creation.
God did not put Adam and Eve on earth without showing them the way to live. Law is the essence of life. Our very health and prosperity, our conduct individually, socially and governmentally are all governed by law. If we, individually or as a nation, keep and observe these laws, we will be blessed with peaceful, prosperous and abundant living. Notice what God said to Israel: “And all the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live” (Deut. 8:1).
But if we violate God’s law, retribution and suffering will follow in the form on injustice, poverty, distress and war. Obedience to God’s law is encouraged by blessings and enforced by curses. Rewards are promised to those who keep God’s law and punishment is threatened to those who violate it. These blessings and curses are listed in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 and these are still in effect today.
Those who obey God’s law are promised the blessings of fruitfulness, happiness, health, longevity, peace, prosperity and safety. On the other hand, a curse is pronounced on those ‘that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them” (Deut. 11:28; 27:26).
God said in Deut. 28:15, “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee”.
Then follows 53 verses foretelling the terrible price of disobedience which our nation is actually paying today! They portray a story of poverty, hardship, famine, vexation, unhappiness, fear, pestilence, warfare, defeat, mildew, degenerative disease, mental disease, blindness, heart disease and almost every other disease and trouble imaginable.
How simple it would be to prevent all this anguish. All we as individuals or as a nation would need to do is to obey God’s law. This law is summed up in the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. But these Commandments existed from the very beginning, since creation. About Abraham, God said: “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen. 26:5).
Not only did Abraham keep God’s commandments, but also statutes and laws. What were these statues and laws? The Ten Commandments formed the basis of God’s law given to His chosen race. But in addition to these Commandments, many other common statutes were also given for the general well-being of the people, together with judgments for the protection of everyone’s legal rights.
Statutes are expressions of a lawmaker, usually commanding or forbidding that certain things be done. Judgments are binding decisions of judges based on God’s previously revealed law. They are used in settling disputes and to render a sentence or verdict.
The Commandments apply to individual conduct, the statutes to national administration, and the judgments to decisions rendered under the Commandments and the statutes. These statutes and judgments are all perfectly just and designed by God for the perfect working of the nation. God’s law embraces all the needs, activities and requirements of men and nations. They cover every possible situation and give the solution to every moral, social and economic problem likely to affect the individual or nation. They limit, guide and direct man in all the things that should, and should not be done.
God’s law contains statutes for regulating all the activities of modern life – sickness, disease, commerce, labor relations, legislation, farming, land tenure, international affairs, finance, sex and marriage, warfare, state and religious ceremonies, politics and government.
This perfect law forms the basis of all human relationships, as well as man’s relationship to God. It provides the basic general rules affecting every phase of man’s life. God’s law protects a man’s life, property, character and reputation. It sets the rules for successful agriculture, for safe sanitation, for public health, and for international peace.
There are commandments and statutes which govern religious life and man’s relationship to God. They direct the individual and nation in the right kind of faith and worship – forbidding false teaching and idolatry.
Since the family is the building stone of the nation, there are commandments and statutes for the purpose of protecting family life. A man’s relationship to his parents, wife and children is governed by laws designed to preserve the blessed sanctity and dignity of the home
There are statutes in God’s law dealing with next-door neighbors and friends. Civil relationships are dealt with respecting murder, larceny (theft), adultery and perjury. There are many statues governing economic and social life.
God’s law is complete. It is expressed in commandments, statutes and judgments. It contains-- in brief summation—basic principles that encompass all the positive and negative obligations of the perfect, rightly balanced life. It expresses and reflects the very character of God!
This law, in its basic principles, defines the whole man (Eccl. 12:13).It is the blueprint for the building of individual lives and establishes the character of a nation. Without it a nation will collapse. By building in harmony with this law expressed in commandments, statues and judgments, the life and character of an individual will be established and can endure.
The very happiness of people depends upon the system of law under which they are required to live. The system of law God gave to Israel is perfect, not obsolete in any way. David said: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Ps. 19:7-9).
When God gave this perfect system of law to His nation Israel, He came “down also upon Mount Sinai, and spake with them from heaven, and gave them right judgments, and true laws. Good statutes and commandments. And made known unto them the holy Sabbath, and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant” (Neh. 9:13-14).
How righteous, how just, and how equitable was God’s law – not only the Ten Commandments, but also all His statues and judgments which followed.
When King Alfred the Great first founded the British Constitution he drew up all its statutes and judgments on lines similar to the Law of Israel. He recognized how unsurpassed they were. Alfred’s code, or “Alfred’s Dooms” as they are called, are an almost exact parallel to the judgments given in Exodus 21, 22 and 23.This is why English law is still considered the best form of law to this day. But it is incomplete and does not adopt many of the statues God gave. This is one reason why social problems still exist.
No system of law can be effective without proper administration. The happiness of the people depends both on the system of law and those who administer it. A good system of law may be made very burdensome by bad administration. Along with the knowledge of the right system of law, there is a need for an effective instrument or organization through which the law may be administered for the benefit of all men.
God chose Israel as the nation to receive His perfect laws – laws designed to build an ideal social organization. If these laws were properly administered, enforced and obeyed, Israel would be an example to the nations around about. God taught Israel His statutes and judgments and said: “Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and understanding: in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say. Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great that hath statues and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day” (Deut. 4:6-8)?
Israel was to set an example to demonstrate to the world the perfection of God’s law in operation. This system of law made Israel great as long as they administered and obeyed the statute s and judgments God gave. The days of Israel’s greatest glory was at the time of King Solomon. God gave abundant peace, wealth, health, and happiness to Israel because King Solomon, like his father David before him, led the people into the way of obedience to all commandments, statues and judgments of the Lord.
As David was about to die, he told his son Solomon to “keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep His statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turned thyself” (I Kings 2:3).
Israel’s prosperity was a marvel to other nations, Many people, including the Queen of Sheba, came to admire and wonder – not only at the wisdom which God had given Solomon, but also at the prosperity, health and happiness of the Israelites (I Kings 4 and 10).
After Solomon built the temple, he dedicated it by offering a prayer to God. Read this prayer in I Kings 8:23-53. Compare it with what God said in Leviticus 26 and Deut. 28. Notice the similarities.
Then Solomon blessed the congregation of Israel and said: “The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us: that he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statues and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers. Let your heart therefore he perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statues, and to keep his commandments as at this day” (I Kings 8:57-58, 61).
God then made a covenant with Solomon, promising to establish his throne upon Israel forever if he kept the commandments, statues and judgments. If he didn’t Israel would be cast out of God’s sight (I Kings 9). But Israel didn’t continue to obey God. The people went into practicing idolatry and forgot the true God. They stopped observing the Sabbath and the other days God set apart as holy time. Solomon himself began worshipping the pagan gods of his foreign wives. The curses that God pronounced for disobedience began to take their toll.
God said to Solomon: “Forasmuch as this is done to thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant” (I Kings 11:11). Israel then became a divided nation.
Jeroboam became king of the ten tribes of Israel. God spoke to him through the prophet Ahijah: ‘”And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee” (I Kings 11:38).
Jeroboam also forgot God and led the people into idolatry (I Kings 12:28). God again punished Israel “because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin” (I Kings 14:16). Jeroboam’s son Nadab, followed his father’s bad example and leadership and also led Israel into sin (I Kings 15:25). Baasha, Elah and Zimri all did the same.
Then Omri began to reign over Israel. “But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him: For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities”(I Kings 16:25-26).
Ahab, the next king, did even worse than Omri (I Kings 16:30). Israel had troubles as a result and Ahab was so blind to the truth he couldn’t see why. He even accused the prophet Elijah for bringing these problems on Israel. Elijah spoke the truth: “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim” (I Kings 18:18).
God holds the leaders of the nation responsible for leading the people into sin. He held the kings of Israel responsible and he holds the heads of our nations today responsible. If our leaders live in corruption, can the people who follow them be expected to do any better?
Israel didn’t heed the words of Elijah. They continued to sin against God. Read through the books of Kings and Chronicles and notice what the Bible says about each king. Mark these scriptures. Also notice the troubles and strife that existed in Israel. But Israel went deeper into idolatry.
When Jehu began to reign, he killed the worshipper of Baal. The idolatrous images and temple of Baal were destroyed. He made a good start in rooting idolatry out of the country. But even so, “Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin. In those days the Lord began to cut Israel short” (II Kings 10:31-32).
God finally allowed Israel to be captured by Syria (II Kings 13:2-3). Syria oppressed Israel all the days of King Jehoahaz. But God had compassion, love and mercy toward Israel. During the reign of Jehoash, Israel was able to shake off the Syrian yoke (II Kings 13:22-25).
The following kings of Israel did no better than those before them. Jeroboam, son of Jehoash, Zachariah, Menahem, Pekahiah, Ramaliah are all given the same character description: “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin” (II Kings 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28).
Israel was then taken into captivity by Assyria. How Israel sinned against God is enumerated in II Kings 17:7-18. Notice verses 15-16: “And they rejected his father’s statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them concerning who the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God.”
Notice the ultimate penalty for Israel’s national sins: “And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight” (v. 20).
While the kings of Israel were always sinful and continued to disobey God’s law, some of the kings of Judah were righteous and did obey God. Jehoshaphat was one such king. “And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first way of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; but sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel” (II Chron. 17:3-4).
The princes and Levites taught the Law of God throughout the cities of Judah. ‘And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat” (v. 10).
Hezekiah was another righteous king. “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places and brake the images. He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth” (II kings 18:3-7).
But Hezekiah’s son didn’t follow in his steps. Manasseh restored idolatry and seduced the people to do even more evil than the pagan and wicked Amorites (II Kings 21:2-11). “Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord” (v. 16).
Manasseh’s son Amon was also an evil king (II King 21:19-22). After Amon was assassinated, his son Josiah became king. Here was an exception. Josiah “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (II Kings 22:1-2).
Josiah read all the words of the book of the covenant to the people. He then made a covenant before God “to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of his covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant” (II Kings 23:2-3).
Josiah had all the images and idols destroyed. He reinstituted the Passover and led the people of Judah in obeying God’s commandments and statutes. “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (II Kings 23:25).
But because of Manasseh’s horrible sins, God had to also remove Judah from out of His sight. Josiah was killed in battle. The three kings that followed Jehoahaz, Jehoiakin and Zedekiah – all did evil in God’s sight. Judah was finally taken into captivity by Babylon.
During Judah’s captivity God raised up Ezra to lead His people in the right direction. Ezra “prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10). Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, allowed Ezra and the Jews to return to Jerusalem to worship and live as they wished.
At Jerusalem, the people assembled on the first day of the seventh month, the Feast of Trumpets and Ezra began reading from the book of the law. Ezra and the Levites also helped the people to understand the law. “So they read in the book with an interpretation (marginal reference), and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neb. 8:1-8). This was just like our Church service today.
The people were amazed at what they found written in God’s law. They discovered that God commanded them to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. This they did (vs. 14-18). Then after the Feast, the people again assembled for fasting and worship. They confessed their sins and the iniquities of their forefathers. Read the confession of the Levites in Nehemiah 9:5-37. It gives the sad and sinful history of Israel. It shows how God blessed Israel in love and mercy. “Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocation” (v. 26).
Notice verse 34: “Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor out father, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them”
This little remnant of Judah then made a new covenant with God, “to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our God, and his judgments and his statues” (Neh. 10:28-29).
By now you should see how important it is to observe God’s law – His commandments, statutes and judgments. To have a good society, you must have good people.But people must also have good leadership – kings and rulers who can set the right example and rule with justice and mercy. The lesson of history shows this is impossible without God’s Holy Spirit to change the hearts of carnal-minded human beings who have a nature that battles against God and His righteousness – “for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).
A perfect government must have perfect laws administered by righteous rulers. This will never be achieved in our day and age before Jesus Christ returns. But when Christ comes to establish His government on earth, God’s law will again be administered. “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:33).
God’s law will be kept in the spirit as magnified by Christ, rather than the mere letter. It will be administered with love, compassion and mercy. Those who show real repentance and change their wicked ways will be forgiven and allowed to live – rather than stoned to death.
There still will be strict law enforcement. It will be swift and certain. Judgment will be given to the saints (Dan. 7:22) – divine Ones able to read human minds and hearts. There will be no escape for the guilty. There will be no miscarriage of justice. As a result, men will have such fear to do wrong that crime will disappear! No one will fear thieves, murderers, and gangers. There will be peace and safety – and the only fear will be the fear to break the law!
But, we, whom God now calls to salvation, are to teach God’s law then, and enforce them. Our life now is the training ground to educate and prepare us for that grave responsibility and wonderful opportunity.
Study God’s Law. Become a Biblical lawyer. Prepare yourself to be a king and ruler by studying the statues and judgments given in Exodus and Leviticus, Numbers and especially Deuteronomy.
In the Book of Deuteronomy – the Book of the Law are written the commandments, statutes and laws which would produce national and individual blessings, if followed, and national and individual curses if neglected, ignored or disobeyed. This Book was to be studied by ever king of Israel (Deut. 17: 18-20). The Law in this Book is binding according to its spirit and intent on us today.
The statutes and judgments magnify and expound the Ten Commandments by revealing how the Ten basic principles are to be applied. We are to keep this part of the Law, not in the strictness of the letter, but according to its spirit and intent. Only the ceremonial customs and rituals of the Law of Moses have passed away. The laws in Deuteronomy were given to a physical nation to regulate physical conditions. When Christ returns again, He will rule over a physical and carnal nation. Laws will be needed to regulate the physical conditions that will then exist.
Study God’s law to see how His commandments, statutes, and judgments apply to your life now. How will they be applied and executed in the Millennium? Teach them to your children (Deut. 4:9-10; 11:18-20). Meditate on God’s law as Joshua 1:8 says: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shall mediate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shall make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
God gave His law so we can learn to live the right, the sensible, and the happy kind of life. God’s eternal, spiritual law – the Ten Commandments-- together with the spiritual statutes and judgments are the basis for that way of life. Study it and learn how to live now and throughout all eternity.