Vol 12 Edition 3, 2002: Who Makes the Rules - God or Man?

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The Quest for Supremacy

In any culture the source of law is the god of that society.1

In the Bible, God says "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me." 2

In the South African Constitution man says, "This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic; law or conduct inconsistent with it is invalid, and the obligations imposed by it must be fulfilled." 3

The Bible consists of 66 books written by 40 prophets and apostles over 1 500 years in 3 languages on 3 continents.4 The South African Constitution was written by about 490 people, taking about 3 years, in one language.5

The Bible is the inspired Word of God. The Constitution is the collective wisdom and compromises of conflicting political parties and lobby groups.

Which should be supreme?

A MATTER OF PRINCIPLES

God's Law is Unchangeable 
"God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 23:19

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

"Jesus said 'Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.'" Matthew 5:17

Applying God's Law Will Lead to Justice

God's promised One will establish His Law - "He will not falter or be discouraged till He establishes justice on earth. In His Law the islands will put their hope." Isaiah 42:4

God's Law sets the standard for justice. Rulers must pay careful attention to it.

"When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this Law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this Law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the Law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel." Deuteronomy 17:18-20

Blessings come from obeying God's Law - and curses follow if we do not.

"If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all His commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth." Deuteronomy 28:1

Solomon's wisdom to apply justice was acknowledged as being from God (I Kings 3:28). A pagan king even commanded Ezra to administer justice by applying God's Law (Ezra 7:25).

God Has the Rights - Man Has the Duties 
God is the Creator and His rights include worship and praise6, the earth and all property7 and the obedience of all people and nations.8

Man has the responsibility to worship, praise and obey God. Man is set as a steward over the creation.9 As God's Laws are applied, evildoers are punished and law-abiding men's interests are protected.

Why Should Christians Get Involved?

1. Salt of the Earth, Light of the World
We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.10 If Christians refuse to be involved, the world will be in darkness and decay.

2. Administering Justice is a sign of Faith
"… Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets … through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised" Hebrews 11:32-33

3. We don't want to be least …
"Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 5:19

4. God's Law is a tool of evangelism
"See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'" Deuteronomy 4:5-6

"Listen to Me, My people; hear Me, My nation: The Law will go out from Me; My justice will become a light to the nations." Isaiah 51:4

5. To Live in Peace, with God's Blessing
"When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers." Proverbs 21:15
"Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully." Proverbs 28:5

6. The World Can't Figure it Out
We have the revealed truth of God. Sinful man cannot "naturally" figure out what's right and what's wrong. Right and wrong are reliably defined in God's Word - we need to use it!

7. If we don't …"
In the last century, few Christians have insisted that all legal systems must be founded on God's Law. As a result, in South Africa we see:

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The justice system is a very complex mix of Roman-Dutch law, principles decided by the courts, laws made by parliament, constitutional law and even indigenous law. It's too complex, unpredictable and contradictory for the man on the street to know, understand or expect justice.
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The justice system is inaccessible to the poor because of its complexity. Expensive lawyers are also required in many cases and so poor people do not have justice.
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The emphasis is on procedure, not justice, and so the guilty are being acquitted on "technical grounds".
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It's normally not worth the effort to try to get criminals to pay for the damage they have done.
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Some offences "prescribe" (they are no longer prosecuted if too much time has passed since they were committed) and so justice is not done.
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It takes a very long time for cases to come to court, and trials can also be long.
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There is bribery and corruption in the system - dockets are lost and criminals escape.
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Without the death penalty, career criminals have no fear for their lives from the "justice" system .
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Rebellion and abominations are now being promoted as just e.g. homosexual co-adoption and "marriage" and the legalisation of prostitution is proposed.
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In divorces, the innocent party can be financially penalised and lose custody of the children to the adulterous party.

But How Would it Work?

God has told us that men entrusted to implement His justice have to know His Law, be capable and fear Him.

"Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people - men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain - and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens." Exodus 18:20-21

There would be many judges in this system, and so justice would be accessible to people in their local area. Interestingly, in South Africa, there are informal justice systems (makgotlas) that work on this principle to provide justice to those who find the courts inaccessible. God is very concerned that the poor not be denied justice.11 If a person thinks they have not received justice, they can appeal upwards.

But it's not enough for just the judges to know the law - everyone needs to know God's standard of right and wrong. To ensure that this would happen, the Israelites were commanded to come together as a nation every seven years and read the whole Law so that everyone would know it and fear God (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).

Applying God's Law to murder, we see that deliberate murder is to be punished with the death penalty.12 However this is not required for accidental killing.

For theft, a thief had to pay back 2 to 5 times what he had stolen - to the victim, not the state.13 Of course, many thieves don't have money. The Bible makes provision for debt service - the thief's future labour can be sold to the highest bidder. This is in conflict with the South African constitution, which says no one may be subjected to slavery, servitude or forced labour (section 13). As Christians, are we going to believe God's Word or the South African constitution? Which provides justice - to both the criminal and the victim?

Two or three witnesses would be required to establish each matter.14 The penalty for lying in a court case was very severe - the false witness would receive the sentence the man he was trying to harm would have received.15

Much more could be (and has been) written on applying Biblical Law today - as the Psalmist said in the longest Psalm in the Bible: 

"To all perfection I see a limit; but Your commands are boundless. Oh, how I love Your Law! I meditate on it all day long." Psalm 119:96-97

We need to remember that we will never have perfection on earth, even if we apply Biblical Law. We are limited and will not be able to establish some matters because two or three witnesses are required. However, we can trust that on Judgement Day, all matters will be judged with perfect justice.

"The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the Day of Judgement, while continuing their punishment." 2 Peter 2:9

"Your Kingdom Come …"
How do we get from our Godless legal chaos to a Godly ordered system?

Study the Bible - how many times have you read through the Bible? Do you read through the whole Bible, or only the bits you like? Start reading systematically through the Bible (if you read 4 chapters each day you'll get through the Bible in less than a year). 

"Seven times a day I praise You for Your righteous Laws. Great peace have they who love Your Law, and nothing can make them stumble." Psalm 119:164-165

As we study the Bible, we will see how far from God's plan we are. We need to pray prayers of repentance, for God's forgiveness, insight and victory.

"'Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our fathers; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the LORD our God.' 'If you will return, O Israel, return to Me,' declares the LORD. 'If you put your detestable idols out of My sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, 'As surely as the LORD lives,' then the nations will be blessed by Him and in Him they will glory.'" Jeremiah 3:25-4:2

Read good books - who needs to incessantly watch TV anyway? See the back page for reviews of some great books - buy them for yourself and your family for Christmas. 

Implement Biblical principles in your family. For example, make restitution to (repay) those you wrong, and teach your children to do so too. When disciplining your children, teach them the Law of God and make sure that the punishment for crime is swiftly carried out!16

Use your church to decide disputes between believers.

"If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?" 1 Corinthians 6:1-2

To do this, your church needs to implement Biblical discipline. She must cleanse Herself of those who will not submit to God's standards.

"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." 1 Corinthians 5:11

Victory Guaranteed!

In Psalm 2 we read how the nations try to throw off God's rule. He rebukes them, because Jesus is God's anointed Ruler, and all things will be put under His feet. Wise nations will obey God and take refuge in Him. Psalm 110 describes how all of Jesus's enemies are to be made into a footstool for His feet.

"In His days the righteous will flourish; prosperity will abound till the moon is no more. He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. The desert tribes will bow before Him and His enemies will lick the dust." Psalm 72:7-9

"The only reason why the Devil is so often winning, is that the Church is so seldom fighting!"17

"He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the Law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands." Psalm 78:5-7

Jeanine McGill
National Co-ordinator


Recommended Websites
Christian Liberty Books (a great selection of books available) -www.christianlibertybooks.co.za 
Over 900 Christian Reconstruction books and articles, downloadable for FREE atwww.freebooks.com
Chalcedon - the relationship of Christian Faith to the World www.chalcedon.edu
Douglas Shaw - legal questions answered www.dougieshaw.com/lawspecifics.html 
Frontline Fellowship - www.frontline.org.za

1. Rousas John Rushdoony, "The Institutes of Biblical Law, Volume 1", p4, The Craig Press, 1973.
2. Exodus 20:2-3
3. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996, Chapter 1, Section 2.
4. Dr. Peter Hammond, "The Great Commission Manual", p55, Christian Liberty Books, 1998.
5. South African Institute of Race Relations, "South Africa Survey, 1996/1997".
6. Romans 1:21
7. Psalm 24:1-2
8. Genesis 49:10, Revelation 17:14, Ephesians 1:20-22
9. Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 9:1-7
10. Matthew 5:13
11. Exodus 23:6, Leviticus 19:15, Psalm 140:12, Proverbs 29:7, Ecclesiastes 5:8, Isaiah 10:2, 11:4, Ezekiel 22:29, Amos 2:7, 5:12
12. Exodus 21:12-17
13. Exodus 22:1-15
14.. Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15, Numbers 35:30, Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Timothy 5:19, Hebrews 10:28
15. Deuteronomy 19:16-21
16. Ecclesiastes 8:11
17. Peter Hammond, "Faith in Action", 1989

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa info@christianaction.org.za - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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