LIVING UNDER GOD'S LAW
A STUDY BY
"Think not that I am come to destroy
the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. For
truly I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle
in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:17-18)
The verse just
quoted tells us that Christ did not abolish the Law of Moses. On the
contrary, His aim was not to change the law, or replace it with another
set of laws, but to fulfill it. And, by fulfilling it in our stead He
freed us from its bondage and curse (Romans 7:4, and 10:1-4).
Furthermore, on the day of Pentecost three thousand Jews experienced
that freedom when they turned to Christ (Acts 2:41, Romans 7:4).
Walking by faith, the burden of feeling that their salvation depended
on their ability to keep the law was lifted. They no longer had to
offer up animal sacrifices, or avoid certain kinds of food (Acts
10:10-16, Hebrews 7:12). However, they still had to be subject to the
political laws of Israel, not because their salvation depended upon it,
but because those laws were the law of the land (1Peter 2:13-14).
POLITICAL LAW OF ISRAEL
religious or cultural laws of the Old Testament, the political laws of
Israel all relate to the Ten Commandments, and either deal with civil
litigation or have punishments attached to them (Exodus 21 and 22,
Leviticus 20, Deuteronomy 14,15 and 16, or Leviticus 4 and 5).
because the political law of Israel is the wisest and most just system
of law ever devised, many of the laws we associate with good government
were taken from it. Nevertheless, those who advocate the use of force,
in order to make everyone comply with its religious and cultural
regulations, have given it a bad name. Such people fail to see that any
attempt to impose punishments where God has not, is rebellion against
His law (Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32).
At any rate,
because the rulers of one nation often get ideas from the laws of
another nation, there is nothing wrong with getting ideas from the laws
of Israel. In fact, every ruler has a God-given right to learn from the
laws of Israel, and to incorporate those laws into the legal system of
his own nation (Romans 13:1, Philippians 2:1).
English Constitution does not consist of one document, but of many
documents and laws that determine how the English government is
constituted, the code of laws adopted by King Alfred (871-899 AD) forms
the basis of English common law. Furthermore, while King Alfred took
into consideration the code by which his predecessors had ruled,
because he saw God's law as the source of principles basic to all good
laws, he borrowed freely from the Bible. As a result, he incorporated
the Ten Commandments and other political laws of Israel into the code
of laws that he established for England [878 AD]. Three other important
documents which shaped the English constitution were the “Magna Carta”
(1215), the “Petition of Right” (1628), and the English, “Bill of
Rights” (1689). [See “From Alfred to Henry III,” by Christopher
Biblical law into his own code of laws, King Alfred freed that law from
those who would interpret it in a rigid and legalistic way, and gave it
a flexibility that is in accord with Christian freedom. That
flexibility allowed those laws to conform to English culture. Moreover,
when English people migrated to North America they carried that English
system of law with them, making it the basis of the colonial
governments that they founded.
As a result, when
the English colonial governments sent delegates to Philadelphia, and
empowered those delegates to adopt the Declaration of Independence and
later a national Constitution, those documents simply developed and
added to the governmental structure that already existed. Therefore,
even though the severance of ties with England necessitated changes to
the state constitutions, the state governments continued to operate
much as they had before our national Constitution was adopted. Thus,
far from making a radical break with the past, the federal government
built upon and added to the civil establishment that already existed.
That is why American lawyers, for almost a century after the War of
Independence, trained by studying Blackstone's, “Commentaries On The
Laws of England.”
In short, the
purpose of the war of independence was not to abolish the existing
colonial governments, but to protect them from usurpation on the part
of King George. The people objected to the fact that the king was
treating them as if they had no constitutional rights — the rights of
Englishmen. Therefore, when our Declaration of Independence speaks of a
right to “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” it is claiming
for Americans the same right to life, liberty, and property guaranteed
to all Englishmen by the Magna Carta.
That being the
case, because our American system of government is founded on the
English Constitution, the Ten Commandments are just as much a part of
our government as that document which was adopted in 1789. In fact,
that is why the Ten Commandments are posted at the Supreme Court
Building in Washington, D.C. You could even say that the American
system of legal jurisprudence is founded on the Ten Commandments.
For those who would
like to know more about the roots of our free system of government I
would like to recommend the book, “A Better Guide Than Reason” by M.E.
Bradford. The better guide, that Professor Bradford refers to, is the
guide of past experience. He believes that history has proved
experience to be far more reliable than ideology. He also explains the
“Old Whig” political tradition that shaped the worldview of those men
who wrote our Constitution. For that reason, I see his book is one of
the most valuable contributions to political literature to come along.
Consider the following quote from an address that John Dickinson gave
at the Constitutional Convention:
must be our only guide. Reason may mislead us. It was not Reason that
discovered the singular and admirable mechanism of the British
Constitution. It was not Reason that discovered the odd, and in the eye
of those who are governed by reason, the absurd mode of trial by jury.
Accidents probably produced these discoveries, and experience has given
sanction to them. This then was our guide.”
At present, the
Biblical foundation of our system of government is being attacked as
never before. Atheist lies have so obscured the truth that many people
actually believe that it is unconstitutional for our government to
promote the Ten Commandments. Therefore, if we are to preserve and pass
on our free system of government, we need to know something about the
role that the Ten Commandments have historically played in our system
of government, and why those Commandments are fundamental to both
freedom and justice.