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The Highest Law

Author: Terry Dasher

The Bible declares that man is created in the image and likeness of God. The Bibles declares that God used His own hands to form man out of clay; therefore, man is inexorably connected to the earth. Maybe that’s why man is at his best when he’s outdoors, close to the soil. Man is just more in tune with himself and the scheme of things when his hands are in the dirt.  Moreover, man can listen to God. Man can hear God speak because God gave him a spirit with ears to hear. Man can see God’s beauty. Man sees God’s hand revealed in His creation; and looking at the great expanse, man cries out to God because he needs, he’s made for God’s fellowship. Man is unique in the created rank and file. He’s made to reflect God’s image.

With that said, man is made like God so that he might care for his own. Man is the caretaker to his wife and children because God is the eternal caretaker. Man esteems, he honors his wife and children, they respect him. God honors those who honor Him. Man seeks fulfillment and peace because God is the Prince of Peace. Man is created in God’s image to be like Him, to find his peace in Him, to worship Him. Man is a special being in the created order.

Conversely, the question is raised: Why is man so prone to evil? Man is a “fallen” creature. He has stooped to sin and unless he turns to his God for rescue, he plays the opposite to a good and merciful Creator. Because man is made like God, he has the potential to do “good” or with his free will (God is a free moral agent) choose to do evil. And it can be a destructive evil—killing, maiming, slandering, deceiving, hurting, fracturing, splintering, dividing, and conducting terrorism in the name of a god.

Nonetheless, man and woman are God’s highest created beings, ranked just under God. The Bible says, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings [Or than God] and crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8: 4-5).

Moreover, God has gone to extremes to win humanity’s love. The greatest feat that God performed for man, in reason to rescue him, was allowing Jesus to redeem (purchase, ransom paid in full) man from sin. That’s what Calvary is all about. God is still rescuing men and women through the Cross. Anyone who cries out to Jesus for rescue, according to scripture, will be eternally saved.

The Highest of all Laws

The highest law was established long before man came into the picture. Why is this? God is the first cause in the universe. He was in the beginning before man was. God was the Law unto Himself. By His Law, He has the right to exist because He is the self-existing one.

There is nothing, no power, no authority in the entire universe that can deny Him this. He has the right to speak because He spoke the universe into existence (that includes creating man). He has the right to create life because He made man from the “dust of the earth”; God “breathed into man’s nostrils and man became” an animated being. God created man in His image, therefore, man is given God rights. Man is endowed by His Creator to live, to speak, to create and no man may take that right away.

Some of the greatest discoveries in archaeology have been ancient civilizations’ codes of law. For example Hammurabi, the sixth king of the Amorites, compiled and simplified a code of laws for his people about 1700 years before the birth of Christ. This code of laws is known as the Code of Hammurabi. The Mosaic Law of Israel, which came later, is not unlike the Code of Hammurabi. Both systems of law provide moral, civil, and criminal codes for each respective civilization. There is, however, a significant difference between the Code of Hammurabi and the Mosaic Law.

The Mosaic Law is unique from all other codes of law. The Mosaic Law is monotheistic (one God) and given to Israel by God Himself. Because of this truth, the Mosaic Law has been revered throughout Israel’s history as sacred and has helped sustain Israel as a Hebrew people to this very day. This feat alone is supernatural, considering Israel’s long history. (Scattered for 2000 years throughout all nations of the earth, they returned to their nation in 1948 and remain there to this day.)

Every ancient civilization that has ever existed on the face of the earth has either pledged to or rejected some system of law. The Bible states that every man who has ever lived on the earth has witnessed the reality of God by seeing Him revealed in His orderly expanse. Every man born is born with a conscience that should guide him to God. The law is good and ordained by God to protect, preserve, and propel civilizations forward. After all, history teaches us that great civilizations flourish when the law, government, and enterprise are upheld.

Law and universal Order

What does the Bible say about law and order? It says much. In Exodus 19: 5 we read, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, (6) you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” Here the Lord tells Israel that they will be unique from all other nations if they revere Him.

Every nation holds a special and unique relationship to God if it willingly honors God. God is not a “respecter of persons.” He does not prefer one nation to another nation. What He does for one, He will do for anyone who meets His conditions.

Throughout Israel’s early history, all crimes were crimes against God. Why was this true? It was true because God wanted to be Israel’s King forever and fight her battles for her (I Samuel 12:9-10). The day that Israel refused God as her King, wanting to be like the other nations, is the day she began to stumble, eventually falling into gentile captivity. God expected His people to follow His Law or suffer the consequences. The consequences are severe.

God never overlooked wrongdoing because of His love for His people, but by His love, He punished the “wrongdoer.” Upholding right and wrong by the threat of punishment or the promise of reward is not a bad thing. It sets guidelines; defines boundaries; it maintains order. The Bible says that “God is not the author of confusion.” He is the God of order. God is for law and order.

Also, the Mosaic Law regarded all life as sacred, unlike other nations’ codes of law. The Bible declares that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Man is the highest ranking order of all God’s creation. The Bible says that Christians are ranked above angels in the created order. Man is given a privileged position in creation’s rank and file; therefore, human life is especially precious to God. It should be special to man. God’s moral laws are universal. It’s just as wrong to murder in America as it is to murder someone in England, France, Australia or anywhere else on this planet. It is never right.

God’s Law Values Life

Life was considered sacred to the Jew. God instructed Israel to celebrate life, to protect it, to care for it. This does not seem to be the case with a casual reading of the Old Testament. It appears quite the opposite. Israel is led in one brutal war after another. Carnage is everywhere present. But why did Israel fight? The Bible is clear on this point. God wanted a race of people, a nation to be His instrument of righteousness to the world. He wanted a nation that was unique, unlike the polytheistic and devil worshipping nations around them. It was imperative that Israel remained a nation of right standing with God and His law and order. If Israel had to go to war to uphold its sacred values, then so be it.

God would one day bring His Son into the world as a Jew. Israel was groomed by God, at times severely (dispersion, gentile rule, and etc.), in order to accomplish His purpose of delivering the world through Israel’s Messiah. Jesus Christ lived in Israel during the time of Roman occupation—gentile rule. Because of His humble roots, not all Jews believed He was their Messiah. He didn’t fit the part.

The Jews were looking for a political ruler that would lead them against the Romans and establish God’s Kingdom, once and for all, on the face of the earth. When Jesus died on the cross, the Jews felt justified in their belief. Jesus was no Messiah, or so they thought. Seventy years later, Israel was crushed under the foot of Rome and the Jews were disbursed throughout the world once again (Jesus had predicted this). The Jews would not reclaim Palestine, their ancient lands, until 1948.

Christianity and God’s Law

When Christianity was in its infancy, it was considered just another sect of the Hebrew religion. It carried out the same philosophies as the Jews, preached from the same scriptures (Old Testament) as the Jews, and centered in the same capital as the Jews—Jerusalem.

It wasn’t until Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD that Christianity stood as a separate and distinct religion from Jews in the eyes of Rome. Also, at this time the church, still relatively small, was persecuted relentlessly by Rome as an unlawful religious sect. Notwithstanding the plight of the Christians by Rome, Christians continued to elevate human life as sacred, just as the Jews had done before them. That was not the case for the pagan Romans.

Rome cheapened life. Rome began its decline morally during the last days of the Republic and continued the decline throughout the Pax Romana. Contentment was replaced by greed. People looked to the government to supply free grain and public amusements. Family life disintegrated, divorce and immorality abounded, and superstition increased.

Once the backbone of Rome, a hard-working patriotic citizen was now hard to find. The Roman father had the right to accept or reject the birth of his children. The life of a divorced woman was terrible. She ranked in prestige with the cattle of the field. Infanticide was rampant.

By the third century, mighty Rome was overrun by the barbarians. The Roman Empire was no more an Empire. Christianity was lifted to prominence with the Edict of Constantine. It became the official religion of the Roman Empire when the capital of Rome was moved from the west to the east. Christianity did much to restore morality and lift the sanctity of human life to a higher place in the state.

Unfortunately, the church went through a decline during the years that followed and was sometimes the culprit in lowering the sanctity of life because of immorality in the Catholic priesthood, the dark ages, the misappropriation of scriptural truths, and the Crusades.

Philosophy and God’s Law

History is divided into three parts: ancient history, the Middle Ages, and the current Modern era. The greatest turn in history was the Reformation in the modern era of history. The Reformation birthed and nurtured science, art, and religion like no other period of history before it.

On July 10, 1509, John Calvin, destined to become one of the most influential Protestant leaders of all time, was born in Noyon, France. After studying law and the liberal arts and mastering the ancient classical books, Calvin became associated with a group of Renaissance French scholars who were very critical of Romanism. Sometime before 1534, Calvin wrote that God “subdued…[his] heart to docility [obedience] by sudden conversion,” and Calvin was henceforth committed to the Protestant faith.

Calvin had the opportunity to put many of his ideas into practice in the city of Geneva, Switzerland. Exiled Protestants from all over Europe found refuge in Calvin’s Geneva. Future leaders of the Reformation in other lands received training in the basics of faith and practice, and Geneva became known as the “Protestant Rome.” John Knox the Scottish Reformation leader, who spent several years in exile in Geneva, called the city “the most perfect school of Christ.”

At the heart of Calvin’s system of theology is his strong belief in the sovereignty of God. Calvin believed that God “predestines” all things according to His own will. Everything God does is for His glory, although men and women do not understand God’s ways. Calvin applied his teaching concerning the sovereignty of God to everyday life in Geneva. He sought to build a Christian community based upon the Word of God.

Taking the Bible, especially the Old Testament, as his law book, Calvin made sure that the city statutes conformed to scriptural teaching. He stressed the independence of church and state, but he believed that both were subject to the rule of God. He asserted that the duty of the state was to promote piety, punish evildoers, and assist the church by providing an atmosphere that would encourage godliness in the lives of church members.

The Separatists of England adopted Calvin’s emphasis on the rule of law. The Separatists of England became the Pilgrims who journeyed to the “New World.” The Mayflower Compact that was drafted in the Boston Harbor by the Pilgrims was a model of government rooted in the ideas of Calvinism. Calvin’s rule of law was rooted in the Old Testament of the Bible. From the Pilgrim’s Compact came the foundation of America’s Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

There were other ideas that would seed the Declaration of Independence and the U S Constitution, which came from the Age of Reason (18th century). For example, political reform was one of the chief concerns of the 18th-century philosophers. John Lock, who certainly was not a friend to religion, advanced the idea that men possess certain natural and inalienable rights—rights that can not be transferred or surrendered. Also, Montesquieu believed in political reform. He believed that government should be separated into three powers: the executive, the legislative, and judicial. Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, and their writings were spawning new ideas of government throughout the world, namely England (Glorious Revolution), America (American Revolution), and France (Revolution).

In America throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the concept of faith instead of Enlightened philosophy was taking a beating. The Enlightened authors of the 18th century questioned all things that could not be proven by either inductive or deductive reasoning. When Darwin published his works on Natural Selection in the 19th century, it only added fuel to the fires of the Enlightened class of intellectuals who believed that organized religion was doing more harm to societies than good. Along with Darwin’s ideas arose other thinkers, and traditional thoughts of theology went into a steep decline.

Some Bible scholars and philosophers began to argue that God was dead. (Nietzche—“God is dead and we have killed Him,” nihilism, which reject all established authority, and Utilitarianism.) This decline in traditional beliefs of theology that had held constant since the Apostles was affecting the social fabric of America. Schools, especially higher institutions of learning, were embracing a new theology called modernism.

The rebellion against traditional faith came to a crescendo in the 1960s. America’s Supreme Court judges began propounding philosophical law that supported modernism—prayer in school was banned. In the 1970s abortion rights activists were successful in the ruling of Roe-v-Wade. Today after 30 years of modernism influencing our courts, now we’ve come to the Postmodern era.

We need a Revival in the land. We need to stand up and preach the Gospel without compromise. America needs a spiritual boost, to say the least. We, the church, must teach the dangers of postmodernism. Postmodernism is nothing more than the “wiles of the devil” creeping into American society “unawares” because Satan has caught Christians asleep at their posts. We must awaken to righteousness and speak truth.

We’ve got to stand up and be counted. Here are some ways we can be counted: (1) pray for America (2) give witness to our faith without compromise (3) tell our Representatives how we believe (4) register and vote in elections. (5) join active ministries that keep us informed about the work of the evil one—the devil—in the governments of men as well as the “world.”

By all means, stay encouraged! Jesus has given us all authority to advance His kingdom among men.

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