Time and again, Christians are treated with contempt because they judge one sin but not another, or appear to avoid certain ‘laws’ in scripture, but concentrate on others. In particular, if they condemn, say, homosexuality, or demand the death penalty, the instant retort is “What about…” this or that in Leviticus, etc.? Usually, they say that if we condemn homosexuality or demand the death penalty, then why do we not also comply with the various other laws in scripture given to the Hebrews.
In this article I wish to show that these critics are just unbelievers who have no idea what they are talking about. And, unfortunately, neither do most Christians! I hope to set out an outline argument you can use against these atheistic unbelievers. Do not think they will just accept what you say, however! They will argue as vehemently as before… because they do not WANT to believe!
Law is Law?
Not all laws apply to all situations at all times. For example, a country might have a stringent law against illegal immigration. It ONLY applies to immigrants who enter a country illegally. So, is it reasonable to demand to know why a natural-born citizen does not comply with the immigration laws, simply because they are on the statute book? Stupid notion? Yes, just like the stupidity of critics whose only interest is in destroying biblical truth.
What about the law on house planning? Am I being hypocritical if I do not bother with these laws, when I am not planning to build or alter my house? Of course not: they only apply to the people the law was written for. They would only apply to me if I intended planning a house, or want to structurally-alter my present one
So, the law is the law… but all laws have a specific targeted population, and only apply to that targetted population. However, there are laws that apply in all time to all people. Laws against murder are an example. It does not matter who you are, in what century, and in what society; murder is condemned and the law applies to everyone. But, a law that restricts, say, the making of bricks to a particular size ONLY applies to – brick manufacturers. A simple logic that appears to evade atheists and homosexuals, whose output is continually anti-intellectual (though they always think they are being ultra-clever)!
Laws of God
The laws of God are universal and apply to all people in all times in all places. In the legal sense, it is irrelevant if people accept or reject God’s laws: if they break those laws they are still culpable. As a general law states: ‘Ignorance is no defence’.
The Decalogue is an excellent example of universal law. Every one of the clauses in the Decalogue are to be obeyed without fail and without change. They apply in every era of mankind and to all human beings. The fact that many in mankind do not wish to obey is irrelevant – the law itself is mandatory and there are no exemptions. Failure to keep it attracts a righteous judgment and a penalty. And, in any civilized nation, the penalties are those of scripture.
But, there are other laws in scripture. Some of them may be called ‘Mosaic laws’. Are these obligatory on all people in all times and in all places? Obviously not; they were given to the Hebrews alone. This much is very obvious, for messengers did not travel the known world taking the laws with them, demanding that heathen and pagan countries should obey. No, they were intra-Hebraic.
These ‘other’ laws and demands may be called ‘Localised Laws’. To use these laws to accuse Christians with, is absurd and ignorantly foolish. Indeed, the intellect of some who persist in accusing Christians, is seriously in question!
Universal Laws and Localised Laws
Universal laws are for everyone, regardless of nation and belief. There are people who love violence and will murder on a whim, yet the law against murder is plain, even though these people ignore it with disdain and scorn and do whatever they wish. Does this mean the law is not universal? No, it just means some are wicked and break the law.
The same applies to homosexuality. It is soundly condemned by God. Are His laws on this sin void because some wish to indulge in the very sin He condemns? Of course not! It just means that those who ignore His laws on the matter are bound for hell and are wrong. Talking about not keeping the Mosaic laws on shellfish, etc., is just a very stupid ploy created by people who are biblically ignorant and intent on committing a variety of sins. What they think is clever argument is just stupidity.
If you want some kind of parallel – think of national laws. These apply to every citizen in the land; they are ‘universal’ in that land. Then you have local council bylaws. These are ‘localised’ laws. It means that a bylaw that applies to those who live in, say, Belfast, do not apply to anyone living in Manchester.
Scripture contains both kinds of laws and only the unbelieving-wicked cannot see the difference! In biblical terms, they are ‘barbarians’. They yell and scream of their rights and of our own refusal to implement the most minute Mosaic laws, thus displaying their ignorance and inability to make an intellectually-sustaining argument.
I do not intend to give you a full list of these kinds of laws. A few will suffice as examples.
The very first universal laws are perhaps not recognised as laws. They are the commands of God shown in Genesis 1 and 2. They are universal laws because none of them has been rescinded and they pertain to all of history. God ordained universal laws that sustain creation. Yet, today, meddling environmentalists attempt to replace these with their own finite and rather stupid ‘laws’ as they attempt, like schoolchildren, to order creation about, after their own image. They think they can alter climate by applying draconian human laws to carbon emissions, even though carbon is a natural product and vital to our own existence on earth! That is how stupid they are… and I use the word ‘stupid’ in its correct sense.
Because of this stupidity, environmentalists declare that the next ‘law’ is found in Genesis 2:15, where God told Adam to dress and keep the Garden of Eden. But, this was a localised law – it has no relevance to any other person outside of Eden, the place of which was, of course, denied to Adam and Eve after they sinned, and completely covered by water during the Noahic Flood! (It would be an error to say that the first universal law was God’s command not to eat of a certain tree, because the command was specifically for Adam and Eve; it was a ‘localised’ law).
The next universal law is in Genesis 2:24, where we are told that a man and a woman will come together in marriage. This forever denies the homosexual agenda. Or, more correctly, the homosexual agenda defies God’s law. And so we could find the other universal laws in scripture.
The most obvious universal law, the Decalogue, consists of sub-laws, the total being a statement of what God demands of all men in all ages.
It could be argued that the Decalogue only applied to the Hebrews (a localised law). Verse 2 identifies God as being the God of the people brought out of Egypt. The full list of commands is therefore primarily given to the Hebrews. Does this, then, relegate these laws to a lower order, or to the status of localised laws? No, it does not. They are universal and apply to all people of all ages.
How can I say that? I say it because many texts in scripture refer to certain individuals or groups or nations, but they apply, by implication, to all who belong to God. Thus, later peoples are subsumed (as believers). Read Romans 9:4-8…
“Who are Israelites; to whom [pertaineth] the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service [of God], and the promises;
Whose [are] the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ [came], who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”
What we see here is that to be the “children of God” the Israelites had to be “in Isaac”. Yes, Hebrews could be born into the physical nation of Israel, but this did not make them ‘children of God’ unless they were the “children of promise”.
“For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel”. “In Isaac shall thy seed be called”. These were, and are, spiritual Israel, and spiritual Israel consists only of those who are predestinated and elected to salvation. That is, both Jew and Gentile. The “children of the flesh” (e.g. born into the physical nation) “are not the children of God”.
“The children of the promise are counted for the seed.” This is explained further in Matthew 13:38…
“The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked [one];”
The “seed” are, then, ALL who are the “children of the kingdom”. ‘Seed’ is the Greek word, sperma. You might expect that this obviously refers to human means of procreation. Like so many Greek and Hebrew words, it has a number of possible meanings, the true interpretation relying on the context. The word can refer to this, but it can also mean a family, or to the divine power of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.
The meaning in this text is the latter, because it is obviously not referring to physical, human procreation. Thus, the “kingdom” in the text is not a physical kingdom on earth, but the reign of the Messiah, Who told us that His kingdom was not of this world, but was spiritual. Therefore, those who are believers are His, and belong in that kingdom. We are also told that members of that kingdom will come from both Jew and Gentile.
That all this does not just apply to Jews is discovered in Romans 4:17,18, which, talking about Abraham, states: “(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, [even] God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.” In other words, the true seed belong to “many nations” and not just to Israel. And all other nations are called ‘Gentiles’.
As Matthew 12:21 says: “And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” Thus, Christ is “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:32). We are left in no doubt that the Gentiles are also the “seed”: “And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 10:45). “And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.” (Acts 11:1).
What has all this to do with universal law? Well, if the true seed are both Jew and Gentile, and God gave the Decalogue to His people – who are, “the seed” – then the Decalogue was given not just to the Hebrews, but to all men in all places of all nations. That is, the Decalogue was not just a localized law, but is universal.
We have seen that Christ came to save His national brethren, the Jews. But, He did not come to them alone, for in His Gospel was contained the later call to the Gentiles. Or, as it is put in John 3:16, to all who would believe. God gave Moses the Decalogue to hand to the Hebrews. Because the Gentiles were to be included in the call of the Gospel, and anyone who believes is of the true seed, then it means that the Decalogue was intended for all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile. And so the Decalogue is an universal law.
As Peter shows us, even the laws of Moses were to no avail when Christ came. He told his listeners this after he had received the vision of the sheet (Acts 10:11). God rebuked Peter for not eating the animals in the sheet, saying no man may call unclean what He had called clean. In this way God Himself swept aside the many Mosaic laws, which were given to the Hebrews only. The vision tells us that the law that Jesus came to uphold was NOT the law of Moses, which was localised, but the universal law of God that applies to everyone all the time.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
If Christ had meant the law of Moses, he would have said so. Instead, He spoke of the law of God; the “commandments”. Under the old promises the ‘law’ included the laws of Moses. When Christ came, He cast aside the old ways and the old Judaistic religion and concentrated on the universal law of God, which demanded faith and not rituals. God Himself said He was not interested in rites and rituals, but only in the state of a person’s heart – his spiritual status. Christ came to reinforce God’s law, not to destroy it. The laws of Moses were not those of Christ and His kingdom: “For the law was given by Moses, [but] grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17).
This is why Acts refuted the continuance of Mosaic laws: “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, [Ye must] be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no [such] commandment:” (Acts 15:24). Remember, too, that Paul had a hot argument with Peter because Peter insisted that new converts must follow certain Jewish laws.
The law of God is nomos – it makes a man acceptable to God (if the man obeys it in spirit and heart). Before Christ came to earth, the law to be obeyed was what Moses delivered to the Hebrews, which included rites and religious observances. After Christ came, these were rejected and obedience was in spirit.
The texts show us that the localised laws given by Moses (and later by Pharisees) did not apply to Gentiles, but Christ came and said that the law of God DID apply. This immediately tells us there were two kinds of law – God’s and that given by Moses. The latter became null and void when Christ came, because spiritual life was the requirement, not rites, etc. Therefore, the various detailed laws in Leviticus et al were localised laws (one rabbi listed 613 of them, but this number is uncertain: over half of these are ‘negative’), for the new nation of the Hebrews.
From verse 1 of Leviticus 1, we find God referring to the “congregation” – the Hebrews only. Verse 2 tells Moses to speak to the Hebrews of God’s demands. God did not speak to Gentiles at that time, and so the localised nature of these laws are plainly stated. For unbelievers who know nothing of God or His scriptures to argue these points with Christians is absurd and insulting! We must take no notice of their jibes… which are not designed to invite proper discussion, but only to insult and mock. They have no interest in truth or proper scriptural exegesis.
When ‘the law’ is referred to in scripture it can be either Moses’ localised laws (mitzvot) or God’s universal laws; the context usually tells us which is meant. It should be very obvious that certain laws are localised and not for believers under the new covenant. The most obvious are all the laws referring to sacrifice, the temple and similar things. These were for the Jews only, and not for Gentiles. In Chapter 5 we come across touching a dead animal considered to be unclean. God Himself told Peter that no animal was now unclean, so these laws were cast aside. Therefore, these laws are localised and not universal.
Localised but Useful
However, some localised laws may well be adopted by Christians. An example is, say, the opening command in Leviticus 6. To me, this is sound legal practice. Of course, the part referring to priests may then be rejected. This is not picking and choosing, but common sense and principles for civility.
There are other localised laws that can apply, too. For example, Exodus 22. If that was taken up as law, how many young men would make their girlfriends pregnant? And how many would so easily commit incest (Leviticus 20)? Here we also find the abomination of homosexuality and bestiality (Leviticus 20). Both are universally loathsome activities, repulsive as well as godless, an assault upon decency and common sense, which makes it all universal. (The latter is also condemned in the New Testament, which clinches their universality; Romans 1, for instance).
It behoves a Christian to read the various laws in the way they were intended. Do not be misled by scornful unbelievers, who have no idea what they are talking about! They will throw in shellfish, clothing, and a host of unhelpful and useless data. The contexts will often tell us whether or not a law is localised or universal. Usually, too, common sense and inward revulsion against certain acts or beliefs, will add their weight. Universal laws have extra-weight behind them, and their application should be immediately obvious to the righteous. It is sad that Christians cannot discern what is universal and what is temporary (localised), whereas unbelievers have no spiritual tools with which to fully understand; hence their ignorant and rather stupid accusations and demands.
© December 2011
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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