Just when it looked like we would never see another newscast that didn’t focus on some aspect of the Coronavirus pandemic, the death of a man while in police custody has, at least temporarily, taken over. As a video of the awful event began to run non-stop in every form of media, a reactionary process began. Shock morphed into deep-seated anger in some areas, and anger grew into a rage that poured out onto the streets. The flames fanned by the media intensified in the crowds gathering to “protest.” Protests quickly became riots, and riots became an open invitation to destroy innocent people’s property. Laws were rendered meaningless and as boundaries disappeared, looting, arson, unrestrained physical violence, and, of course, bloodshed followed.
Questions Emerge ~
This episode has demonstrated a flagrant disregard of the law on many levels, and the impact is frightening. Many of us are wondering where all those prominent public figures are, who love to declare with righteous indignation that “No one is above the law.” That statement has never been true, and these latest riots are just another example. We see abundant evidence over and over where unlawful deeds are committed, but the perpetrators are never even charged, much less prosecuted or convicted. Witnessing such open defiance of the law causes some to question the entire system and/or to lose respect for the law altogether, but these events can, and should, also be a reminder that there’s an entirely different legal system at work in our world, and one that is worth contemplating–and even celebrating.
Times like these reveal how fragile and vulnerable the laws designed to protect us can become, and how quickly personal safety and security can disappear. Thankfully, God has designed another system of laws in place that has no such vulnerability, and whose authority extends to everyone on earth, from the lowest pauper to the most powerful and ostentatious potentate. A legal system like that can sound frightening, but in reflecting on it, one of God’s inspired songwriters reacted quite differently. He erupted with boundless praise, and declared:
Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Psalm 119:97 (NKJV)
Pulled in Different Directions ~
It’s easy to feel good about laws that restrict the actions of others, but when it comes to those that limit our own behavior, the feelings aren’t so good. How is it, then, that the Psalmist could experience a deep sense of love for a system of rules and regulations that seem to place burdensome constraints on all our natural tendencies? Laws often feel more like a threat than a blessing, and most of us are more drawn toward finding ways around them than more effective ways of obeying them. So how do we explain the inspired songwriter’s deep affection for laws that directly contradict his human inclinations? Perhaps he had come to understand the heart of the great Lawgiver and why He gave those laws in the first place.
God made it clear that the Law was given for our blessing and benefit, not to laden us with a painful burden to be borne. In revealing His intent in giving His authoritative judgments, God directed Solomon to present them in a special context. He chose to picture the Law in the framework of family relationships. Solomon wrote as a father instructing his son, telling him how to avoid behaviors that would be detrimental to his welfare on every level. God wanted us to react to His Law as we would to the instruction of a wise and loving father. Notice the tone and the intent of God’s heart in Solomon’s words.
My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands: For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. Proverbs 3:1-2 (NKJV)
My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; When you sleep, they will keep you; And when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life. Proverbs 6:20-23 (NKJV)
My son, keep my words, And treasure my commands within you. Keep my commands and live, And my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; Write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” And call understanding your nearest kin. Proverbs 7:1-4 (NKJV)
Purpose Matters ~
Appreciation and deep affection for God’s Law is easier when we understand that His commandments and ordinances were as much a product of His love for us as the cross of Calvary, with which the Law was intimately connected. The Psalmist’s praise resulted from his recognition that the Law of God was given to . . .
- protect us from those who would harm us–even from our own foolish and destructive inclinations,
- promote peace and prosperity and multiply opportunities for blessing and growth,
- provide instruction–to give understanding and guidance in moral and relational issues,
- to differentiate between right and wrong and to define human righteousness, both in concept and pragmatic, day-to-day application, and
- as a basis to ensure that there is no bias in judgment and that all are held to the same standard regardless of personal differences.
But as positive and beneficial as the Law of God is, there’s another important aspect that must be considered. There are awful consequences for failing to obey it, and not even one violation can be overlooked. Add to that the fact that none of us is equipped to live totally within its boundaries and the Law doesn’t look so appealing anymore. Suddenly the whole matter begins to be confusing. Why give a perfect and beneficial law that can’t successfully be kept? The answer is that the Law of God has a dual purpose–a mechanism to bless and benefit those who endeavor to keep it, and to universally condemn us because we can’t. As the Apostle Paul declared,
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Romans 3:19 (NKJV)
A Glorious Qualification ~
That sounds frightening and hopeless, but it is that very condemnation and absence of hope that makes us candidates for redemption, because …
- no one is forgiven who isn’t first condemned,
- no one is pardoned who hasn’t first been declared guilty,
- no one is cleansed who hasn’t been declared unclean,
- no one is redeemed who hasn’t first become a slave,
- no one is set free who wasn’t first imprisoned and bound,
- no one is saved who wasn’t first declared to be lost, and
- no one is resurrected who wasn’t first pronounced dead.
Jesus didn’t come to incite anarchy by defying the Law of God. He came to fulfill it by keeping every internal and external aspect of it, and then to take the consequences belonging to every one of us who have been justly condemned by it. Then, we can rejoice as the Apostle Paul did when he wrote this profound declaration:
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)
Perhaps even amid all the anger and violence surrounding us today, we can pause and reflect on the genius of God in creating a Law that can ultimately lead us to a place where peace will reign forever. Then we can exchange anxiety for celebration, and declare with God’s anointed singer,
Oh, how I love Your law!
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly to this article through Twitter.
“Appreciation and deep affection for God’s Law is easier when we understand that His commandments and ordinances were as much a product of His love for us as the cross of Calvary, with which the Law was intimately connected.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“The Law of God has a dual purpose–a mechanism to bless and benefit those who endeavor to keep it, and to universally condemn us because we can’t… It is that very condemnation and absence of hope that makes us candidates for redemption, because …” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“Jesus didn’t come to incite anarchy by defying the Law of God. He came to fulfill it by keeping every internal and external aspect of it, and then to take the consequences belonging to every one of us who have been justly condemned by it.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
“Amid all the anger and violence surrounding us today, we can pause and reflect on the genius of God in creating a Law that can ultimately lead us to a place where peace will reign forever … Then we can exchange anxiety for celebration.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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