Biblical Law: Divine Justice

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chances are that divine justice is not at all what you might think it is.

Most likely you bear a wealth of assumptions about law, justice and reality itself that are foreign to Scripture. Most people seem unable to recognize that the Bible is an Ancient Near Eastern book arising from an Ancient Near Eastern religion. That cultural and historical background is radically different from the Western world. Even people who know this intellectually have a very difficult time fleshing out the implications in their own mind. They are so overwhelmingly pickled in Western Civilization that they cannot even imagine that their basic assumptions are not generic, not at all the default in terms of human history.

More importantly, modern Western assumptions about divine justice are frankly hostile to what Scripture teaches. Because the vast majority of Western Christians inject their Western bias back into the Bible, it becomes quite a task to explain justice from the biblical viewpoint. Rather than belabor so much the failure of the Western assumptions (as covered in my book, A Course in Biblical Mysticism), we will lay a fresh review of the Ancient Hebrew approach. This is more or less what the Christian viewpoint ought to be.

Chapter 1 - Biblical Logic

God is Creator. He does not reside within Creation, but His existence is rooted outside of it in a separate higher dimension. Nonetheless, Creation is infused with His divine character. In other words, our reality reflects His personality. This includes our human nature. By design we would naturally act on His moral character while living within His Creation.

This means that we have within us a faculty for connecting to that higher dimension of existence outside of this universe. With such faculty in bloom, we would naturally perceive what constitutes a proper course of action that conforms to His will and satisfies the demands of His glory. So far as we are concerned, our purpose for existing in this realm of Creation is to glorify Him.

The path to His glory is claiming His promises for our lives. We gain the leverage for this by allowing that higher faculty to reign in our souls. The Fall was, in essence, a decision to place human reason on the throne of our souls, a faculty much weaker and far less capable of discerning God's character in the various opportunities confronting us in His Creation. Indeed, human reason is wholly incapable of discerning His character, and is thus unfit to rule human conduct. If all we have is our intellect, we will only by accident ever do what is just and right in the eyes of God. Indeed, we would remain in our sins for the very reason of silencing that higher divine faculty for seeing His truth.

The intellect exists solely as the organizer and implementer of truth leaking down into our consciousness from a higher faculty. The Bible refers to this higher faculty as the heart. It is considered the seat of the will, the part of us capable of interfacing with the Spirit Realm. The Bible describes it as a sensory organ all its own, a superior faculty that was designed to rule over the intellect. The will is not a part of the mind, but is an element in the conscious soul when we allow it to rule. If it does not rule, it says mostly nothing at all. This leaves moral character to random guessing.

Western Civilization presumes there is nothing higher than the intellect, enslaves the heart to the reason. It is primarily man-centered, in contrast to the Hebrew God-centered thinking. The entire range of Western assumption is that this universe is all there can be, and that man can theoretically plumb the depths of all possible knowledge. Thus, it hardly surprises anyone that the entire range of Western thinking about law and justice is man-centered. Insofar as there is anything higher than man, it is nothing more than human-derived ideals, a disembodied myth of objective truth. In the Bible, all truth is a direct reflection of God's Person and character. It is wholly dependent on Him as a living Person in dynamic interaction with His Creation. If something does not reflect His divine nature, it cannot be "truth."

Thus, we come to the realization that man does not have some noble task of reasoning his way to some objective truth about reality. Justice is not some human effort to abstract a reasonable set of controls that would be realistic when tested analytically by wise minds. Rather, divine justice is revealed. While an active ruling heart could reasonably hope to discern some measure of His divine truth in Creation, mere intellect would utterly miss the point for lack of capability. Intellectual development matters, but moral development of the heart is far more important.

More importantly, Biblical logic finds ludicrous the notion that what is generally reasonable is reasonable in all contexts. That is, it is downright silly to assume that justice can be objectified and formulated as a universal guide. Divine justice is intensely personal in nature, and always contextual. The underlying fabric of truth cannot be stated objectively or formulated in convenient human language. It is living and active and morphs with the context, so that it requires a developed heart that senses the dynamic moral priority within the current situation. The Bible characterizes Creation itself as a living being, and divine justice is simply the Person of God manifested in proper moral choices consistent with His personality.

Nobody imagines that any Western government would pretend to understand such an approach, much less bend itself to the demands of revelation. By the same token, no one who has a living and active heart will ever imagine any Western democratic government is in any way supported and actively protected by God on moral grounds. All human political activity is passively permitted or actively guided by God, but not a single human authority under current secular state assumptions pleases God. They ignore Him and He uses them indirectly. They are all illegitimate under His revelation.

Chapter 2: Justice as Proposal

You can blow it off as a figure of speech, but the Bible takes this business of the sensory heart very seriously. It is impossible to understand, much less explain, much of what happens in Scripture using a mere cerebral approach. Relying on the intellect is the very substance of the Fall. Redemption is moving our lives back as close to Eden as possible. The guide to what's possible consists of the various Law Covenants God revealed in the Bible.

They were not legislation in our modern Western sense, but were expressions of something far higher than what can possibly come across in any human tongue. They reflect the character of God, and the language He used for His revelation was never meant to restrict, as if language was just a vehicle for carrying truth. Rather, Hebrew language was used as sign posts indicating directions for further exploration.

If you committed yourself to carefully obeying all the written prescriptions in the Law Covenants, you would not have implemented divine justice. God's Law is a proposal for personal commitment, not a proposition. The mythology of "propositional truth" is an entirely pagan notion dreamed up by Greek philosophers. It is utterly foreign to the ancient Hebrew people. Thus, Scripture records how such pedantic obedience never did much good, but that those who obeyed from the heart of commitment to God's favor always managed to find His favor despite very real human failures.

Thus, the fundamental nature of divine justice is personal and relational. It is a personal commitment of the individual soul to the Person of God. This was the underlying assumption behind all the Law Covenants. Thus, our first reference to God's revealed Law comes from the mouth of His Son, Jesus Christ.

And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" Jesus said to him, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:35-40 NET)

In this, Jesus quotes a portion of a common ritual pronouncement taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and a portion from Leviticus 19:18. It should be obvious to anyone that the love Jesus said we owed to God is not any mere emotion, but a long-term commitment of the heart. It follows in standard Hebrew logic that you cannot love God and fail to love your neighbor. The passage in Matthew goes on to attack the Jewish concept of "neighbor" by telling the story of the Good Samaritan. In other words, Jesus restored the ancient Hebrew concept of neighbor that the Jews had abandoned long before Christ came. Jesus had this discussion with a Jewish lawyer, who had been long and thoroughly steeped in the more recent Hellenized form of reasoning popular in rabbinical colleges, a solid departure from Hebrew intellectual traditions. (Hellenism refers to the Classical Greek intellectual traditions, a fundamental element in Western Civilization.)

The point Jesus made was that divine justice was personal, and could not possibly be objectified as Judaism had done. He was calling them back to their ancient Hebrew roots. This was a giant leap for Jewish minds, because it was twice removed. On top of the shallow rule-bound thinking of dead hearts, Judaism was also highly analytical and semantically dissected Moses' writings in a thousand ways utterly foreign to Hebrew language. While the lawyer recognized what Jesus was saying, he found it completely out of his personal reach. Thus, we have here the summary of disjunction between legalistic reasoning that objectified God versus a very personal heart-centered commitment to God's character.

So this is not about Jewish Law, because Jewish legalism is a frank rejection of the ancient biblical standard of justice. Whatever Judaism might have been in Jesus' day, it was not Moses, and it has drifted only farther since then. At Sinai, Israel was told they were entering into a covenant of adoption as Children of God, heirs of His divine justice and His glory in Creation. Like Esau, they valued it only as it filled their bellies. The otherworldly focus was completely absent. Precious few in the Nation of Israel throughout her sordid history ever seemed to understand what a grand privilege it was to hold in their hands God's own personally edited copy of revelation. They wasted no time in throwing aside their identity as Israel-the-Mission and clung greedily to their imaginary status for preferential treatment as Israel-the-Chosen race.

The starting point for understanding Moses and the national covenant is in the words of Jesus as He answered that lawyer's question that day. A critical element in understanding our duty to glorify God is that we embrace His character and manifest it through our actions. All those rich promises were conditioned in part on conforming to the moral fabric of Creation. More than just observing the provisions in Moses' Law, it was reaching through the Law to God's Person and seeking His favor. Creation is pre-programmed to respond in some measure by cooperating with such a genuine effort. Love God and love your neighbor and you can expect nature itself to be happy to see you and ready to make God look good by meeting your needs.

Chapter 3: Basic Biblical Law Code

The Covenant of Moses was for that people, in that land, at that time in history. It was never meant to be universal. Further, it ended at the Cross. Jesus was the final fulfillment of the purpose of the Law Covenant. The nation was no longer a special project of God, just another tribal nation in a sea of humanity. Jesus had already said their DNA didn't mean a thing: "God could raise up children of Abraham from these stones" (Matthew 3:9). This was a shocking contrast to the Jewish attitude that, God having once elected them as His Chosen, even He could not rescind that decision. Yet there is ample evidence from the prophets and the even as far back as the day of adoption at Mount Sinai that the Covenant was entirely conditional upon their faithfulness.

Though that covenant is now an artifact of history, Paul warned Timothy that it remained as the record of how we should think about God. So we study the Old Testament as the source from which we abstract a proper image of His divine character. While the particulars of the Law no long apply to anyone at all, they portray God as He preferred to be seen by mankind. It was by far the clearest expression of His nature. It was not as if He chose Israel from among many other candidate nations. He created Israel specifically for this purpose. Indeed, the prophets indicated they were easily the worst nation God could choose, often suggesting that, had any other nation been in their place, the story would have ended quite differently. But it did end and we are left with the legacy of their failure to study and understand.

At the same time, there is a far older Law Covenant still in force today. It was not a national covenant, but universal in scope: The Covenant of Noah. So long as there are rainbows in the sky, Noah is still binding on the human race.

While we generally shouldn't trust the Talmud - what Jesus dismissed as the "tradition of the elders" - for much, what it says regarding the Noahic Laws seems consistent with Scripture. There are seven according to official sources:

  1. Do Not Deny God (prohibition against idolatry)
  2. Do Not Blaspheme God (more specifically, cursing His name)
  3. Do Not Murder
  4. Do Not Engage in Incestuous, Adulterous or Homosexual Relationships (includes prohibition against bestiality)
  5. Do Not Steal
  6. Do Not Eat of a Live Animal (also stated as meat with blood in it)
  7. Establish Courts/Legal System to Ensure Law Obedience

You will notice that the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 echoes these same laws. It should be simple enough to recognize that they saw no need to restate 2, 3, 5 and 7. Blasphemy was too obvious, and the rest were covered under civil law already. It's the remaining provisions that would have been news to most Gentiles. What we notice is that the Council considered these applicable to Gentiles, while Jews would have already been in the habit of obeying Moses. The two were more or less equivalent in that sense. (We note the Council read the sixth as a matter of meat with blood in it, in that context a reference to pagan ritual strangling.)

Indeed, given that Noah preceded Moses, and still stands after the end of Moses, we surmise that Moses was rather like a particular expression of Noah, being far more detailed and narrowly tailored to Israelis. You will also notice the Seven Noahic Laws parallel the Ten Commandments somewhat. However, the Decalogue is part of Moses, and not specifically binding on us today. Rather, like the rest of Moses' Law, we use it reveal the moral character of God.

So how do we get those seven laws from the rather simple declaration in the Flood Narrative in Genesis 9? The business of not eating blood is clearly stated, but it seems the focus is on executing murderers. The folks who extrapolated those extra requirements were quite familiar with the very different assumptions people held back in the days of Noah. Is anyone surprised that those who wrote the ancient Scripture were addressing their own social context? Why would they state the obvious when they had no idea what would be forgotten in future generations? Our task is to make some effort to recover as much of that social and intellectual context as possible. Not in the sense of slavish emulation, but to understand why God chose to reveal Himself in that context so that we can discern what applies to us here and now.

Again, this Code of Noah remains binding on all human governments, and the entire human race as individuals. This becomes the basic reference for biblical law. However, there was a raft of basic assumptions about life that Noah and his immediate descendants held that are completely missing from our world today.

Chapter 4: Feudalism or Futility

In essence, the Law of Noah is hard-wired into human nature. That is, the Law of Noah reflects what God revealed as the best way to live after the Fall. It would prevent the necessity of another global destruction of the human race until the End of Time. It answers to the Flaming Sword at the entrance to Eden (Genesis 3:24), the revelation of God that is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). It is as much as we can know about the fundamental nature of reality as God created it.

Of course, man has done his best to obscure that instinctive knowledge. Placing human reason on the throne of the soul and silencing the heart has produced a plethora of cultural diversions from God's truth. We struggle to peel away all the man-made trash to recover what Noah and his kin took for granted.

The first and most shocking necessity for Westerners to grasp is that we are hard-wired for Ancient Near Eastern feudalism. The Genesis narratives all assume this as the standard form of human government that was the one best answer to God's demand in the Covenant of Noah. Someone has to bear the sword and execute those who forget that blood is sacred in God's eyes. In the broader biblical context, it requires something horrific in the human soul to treat any bloodshed with casual indifference.

On the one hand, God mentioned to Noah in passing that, when gathering animals into the Ark, some were clean ("kosher") but the rest were not. Noah was to collect seven each of the clean animals, but only a breeding pair of all others. These were acceptable offerings and safe to eat. On the other hand, God also told Noah that he could hunt down any animal as necessary. Animals are not on par with humans. While the blood of animals is sacred enough to require they be drained before eating, human blood is even more sacred in the eyes of God. It was more than simply a dead heart that did not treat blood as sacred; it was a demonic threat to God's Laws that anyone should refuse to respect life.

Here we note echoes of shalom that arose later under Moses. The whole point of having a government is to protect human life, but more, to safeguard social stability. The Hebrew word shalom is more than mere peace, but all the things necessary for a peaceful life. It's another way of describing social stability. The whole point of government is to promote a stable life that lends itself to the same predictability that God promised Noah. If Noah would institute a stable social life under ANE feudal government, then God would provide a stable cycle of seasons. All the other forms of government man has dreamed up since then are inferior in God's eyes, because every part of His revelation assumes the ANE feudal government and the ANE tribal social structure to go with it.

Thus, we note that ANE feudalism is not about land and physical possessions, but regards people as the greatest treasure. In the ancient world outside of Eden, where most of humanity now has to learn how to reawaken the sensory heart, and learn the moral purity necessary to get nature to cooperate in sustaining life and health, any community would need all the bodies they can get. More people living together in a single community mean greater safety and comfort, and a better chance at the material prosperity necessary to live.

At the same time, they hardly objectified the value of human life as Western society does. We say "life is precious" but then use that phrase as an excuse to make vast stretches of humanity utterly miserable. This is an example of human reason perverting God's revealed truth. If all you have is your reason, then you cannot help but get everything wrong. ANE feudalism is not slavish about keeping every human heart beating, but rather clings to the moral value of reducing human suffering to a minimum. Some human suffering is simply part of the Fall; there is a legitimate level of misery built into our existence. Along with that is a legitimate level of mortality. Westerners are schizophrenic about death - the worship it even as they exhibit a rabid hatred for it. In the ANE, death was simply a part of life. There is no fear of death in a sensory heart, but there is distaste for unnecessary human sorrow.

Thus, with the proper moral priority on minimizing the natural human sorrow, we find that whatever flaws there might be in ANE feudal government, nothing else man has dreamed up can come close to answering God's demands. The only hope for satisfying the Law of Noah is that ANE feudal government and a tribal social structure. That is, you generally expect to live among your kinfolks in extended family households. In each household there is a dominant male head, with a supporting female head, and everyone knows your personal business. We have a very poor grasp of just how much freedom was still offered in that setting. It was messy and inefficient with lots of time wasted on trying to convince folks to go along on a vast wealth of details in daily life. But it was safe and supportive, and thus quite stable.

Meanwhile, by various means some families rose to a higher influence than others within a clan, and some men rose to greater prominence. It was organic, with customs simply minimizing the risk of past sorrows. At some point, there was always a male chief who took responsibility for recognizing that one of their clan was a threat to social stability. Whatever their conduct, if the malefactor could not be restrained and the damage contained, they were executed to prevent them destroying shalom for everyone else. It was always personal, and there was no passing the buck to some outsider. Each family cleaned up their own messes. The same basic idea was extended to when one of your kin threatened the shalom of some neighboring clan or tribe, as well. Depending on the nature of the offense, you would either execute them yourself or turn them over to their victims.

Again, the stark reality: No other system of government and family life will satisfy the Covenant of Noah. This was not some random happenstance. God designed and created the ANE feudal society as the one best way to meet human need, to meet the fundamental nature of our wiring, and to meet the nature of reality itself.

Chapter 5: Property

Unlike Western feudalism, where land was the primary object of ownership and the serfs simply belonged to the land same as animals, ANE feudalism is very personal and holds people as the primary treasure. Material wealth could be recovered easily enough, but people were the source of wealth, not land. It was a burden on the chiefs and other rulers to maintain justice so that Creation would actively support reasonable prosperity. The leaders' moral stature was a major issue and could never be presumed simply by virtue of position or role. It was a heavy burden and men were rightly somewhat reluctant to accept the mission of shepherding more than their own immediate household. The head of household was responsible for bearing a very indulgent affection for everyone, and God required his blood for theirs if he failed.

While it would always be obvious that the nature and use of some physical objects prevented more than one person claiming it, most property was familial. In more primitive pastoral societies, it would be said that the chief owned all the flocks, but it meant that he was responsible for feeding, clothing and housing everyone in his extended household with those animals. Disowning a family member was serious business. It was quite rare because most problems resulted in either stern discipline within the household or in such extreme measures as execution. Otherwise, it was share and share alike. When it's all blood kin sharing, we don't call it "communism."

Furthermore, one could become family by covenant. A woman married into her husband's family most of the time, and was thereby an equal member of the household. There were other forms of covenants with varying degrees of application, but in general, covenants were more binding than -- took precedence over -- blood kinship. It was a broadly recognized custom that a natural heir could be disinherited, but a covenant heir could not.

There was no such thing as contracts, which in theory bind property only. All business was personal in ANE feudalism. You weren't permitted to invest without a blood kinship or covenant tie with the titular owner (and family) of a business or property. If you weren't there to work it with your own hands, you had to send a family representative. This guaranteed a full bond of responsibility for all parties in both directions. There could be no such thing as property owned indirectly. Even rental was full personal ownership for a limited term. If you weren't personally involved in occupying the property in some way, you didn't own it and had no claim. Our modern property laws are pure perversion up against divine justice.

In similar fashion, various forms of liability were all personal. Our civil, tort and criminal justice systems are an ugly insult to Creation itself, and rather like poking God in the eye. We whine about slavery but our prison system is actually far worse than ANE slavery. We grant conflicting ownership claims and use conflicts as an excuse to enrich the powerful. Perhaps the greatest abomination of all is the notion that the state has any claim on the individual against the family. In a broad sense, God Himself permits violent resistance of government agents who interfere with domestic affairs. That doesn't mean it will necessarily be effective, but that was never the point. It still requires you are sensitive to the context with your heart and understand the nature of divine justice. This crime of breeching the sanctity of the family structure alone justifies God destroying any nation.

In divine justice, there is no such thing as The State. If it isn't the people directly involved, it cannot be a valid government in His eyes. Abstracting roles as if they were legitimate third parties is dehumanizing, a moral holocaust. In essence, no one has any legitimate say in your daily life unless they are kin by blood or covenant. If your government is not your family first and foremost, it is illegitimate by God's revelation. You will never be property of the state in God's eyes.

Chapter 6: Far Away

Let's have just a moment of historical review here. So far as anybody can tell, among the current populations of Europe, the oldest occupants were Celts, Jutes, Frisians, Gauls and the like. Some few centuries after the time of Christ a horde of Germanic tribes invaded from farther east. Those tribes went by names like Franks, Burgundians, Vandals, Goths and so forth. They brought with them a mythology and culture that overwhelmed everything. They crashed head-on into the last vestiges of the old Greco-Roman Civilization and eventually absorbed what was left. That includes compromises with the existing church hierarchy that had long since paganized, more Greco-Roman than biblical. The result is that "European" means essentially Germanic with their ancient mythology and morals. But they were pagan morals, utterly contrary to those in the Bible.

Here in the US, our social mythology and morals are essentially Anglo-Saxon. Our religious mythology is somehow more like Norse, in the sense that we tend to view the God of the Bible like some grouchy Norse deity. How we got in this mess is a long story in another book (see my A Course in Biblical Mysticism for details). But it leaves us holding the system sacred, with the polar tendencies to either slavishly obey authorities under the system or use that reverence as an excuse to revolt and kill them all because we imagine the authorities violated it. Of course they have, but we aren't supposed to notice.

We cynically reject the whole thing, but by no means would a follower of Christ with an active sensory heart prepare to resist our unjust Western governments. We've already covered the basic principle that God is no longer involved directly in politics. He uses human political entities for His inscrutable purposes, but our mission of walking in the truth has nothing to do with that. For the most part, we attempt to ignore human politics as much as possible.

So what do we make of Romans 13? It would help if folks read the whole chapter. Paul enunciates the basic guideline that you avoid provoking government officials. Do what they say -- though no one in their right mind imagines Paul suggests slavish obedience to unconscionable demands. Instead, Paul eventually tells his readers in that same chapter (starting in verse 8) that the twin principles of divine sacrificial love for God and neighbor fulfill your obligations as far as God is concerned. Thus, we are right back where we started: Let your sensory heart rule, not your head. A conscience led by the heart trumps all human law.

If you pretend to evaluate government demands on the grounds of our Anglo-Saxon heritage, you cannot please God. If you make the effort to shift over to biblical justice, you begin to understand how flexible you must be within the context. There are precious few rules, but a massive load of personal accountability to a very Personal God.

Thus, any talk of objective human rights does not come from the Bible. It becomes blasphemous to suggest that there are rights granted by God; it wasn't the God of the Bible. Rather, it's yet another scheme dreamed up by pagan philosophers along with silly notions of popular consent for government. Political power does not arise justly from the popular will. In Scripture, government arises from the family relationship and the necessity for someone to stand before God accountable for His justice. Since no government anywhere in the world does it God's way, it's simple enough to note with holy cynicism that all power is from violence and deception. The language of human rights is simply another tool of deception and an excuse for oppression.

There is no such thing as fairness in the Bible. No two of us are alike and no two of us have the same need or capability in glorifying Him. He alone decides what each living soul must return to Him. The notion that any of this can be objectified with blanket rules or precepts is blasphemous, an open rejection of the God who made us. It requires denying that God can make a sensory heart by which we each find our own path to His favor. It requires denying the substance of His revelation.

Whatever it is we do in our daily lives under various modern secular states, we dare not embrace the language and concepts of those who flatly rejected the revelation of God.

Chapter 7: Hostile World

We live in a world that is hostile to divine justice. We are not surprised that Paul warns the Roman Christians of his day that all Creation cries out for relief (Romans 8:18-25). Most of humanity has no heart, so they are unable to hear it.

Your first step is to awaken your heart as a sensory organ. There are no nifty exercises or training anyone can put into clinical terms. You simply have to be aware that it is possible and pray for God to reveal it. The biggest threat is substituting emotion in place of it or somehow imagining that random crazy ideas come from your heart. That's not how the Spirit works. While it is likely emotions will be stirred at least part of the time, it has to work when there is no emotion at all. It also contains no rational content, but is expressed always as a drive without words. It comes upon your soul as an imperative that demands you work out in your mind how to obey it.

A primary symptom that it is working is that you'll hear that anguished cry of Creation for divine justice. It won't be in your ears, but you'll feel a pull on your heart. It doesn't work the same for everyone, but if elements in our natural world do not seem vividly alive and rejoicing in the love of the Father, it's probably not working. This is far more than merely enjoying the wonder and beauty of nature. Rather, you sense a drawing and kinship, a burden of responsibility, as if nature were very much alive and calling your name. Be aware that it works best with native natural flora and fauna, not something exotic or highly domesticated. There can easily be far more to it than that, but this is rather the minimum.

What is really exciting about this is when you encounter other people who share this gift. On the one hand, this is how the Lord made us all, and it is potentially available to every human alive on the planet. On the other hand, Western Civilization has been implacably hostile to this faculty from the beginning. Hostile to the notion of a sensory heart is hostile to God and to divine justice.

Nor should we expect to recover every aspect of divine justice. It will likely be a major struggle to train your own children to live this way against a Western society with so many diversions. ANE feudalism is the divine model, but we were warned it would be increasingly difficult to call people into God's divine justice. Rather, this is chiefly for our own awareness. Instead, we should hope that we can nudge things here and there, incrementally instituting His moral character where possible. Whenever the context allows you some freedom, do not follow the path of our deeply fallen age. Always choose divine truth as the path of life itself, regardless how inexplicable it may be to others.

Then again, it never hurts to explain when possible. You'll have to find your own way of telling the truth in any given context, though it begins with simply living by the wisdom of your own heart. The New Testament emphasizes the readiness to answer the inevitable questions. However, that doesn't mean sometimes you really can't tell them anything useful. Sometimes you simply have to allow them to label you as crazy or alien because your head is most assuredly in an alternate universe. If your calling is to be somewhat prophetic about it, then you'll have to spend a lot of time learning how God wants you to present His truth. For most of us, it's a major victory just recognizing that truth.

And it's not as if your heart needs no training. Scripture often uses the language of searching your own heart before God, a figure of speech for striving to reshape your commitments to match every new discovery you make along the way. Unlike Jesus, we are not born fully morally developed. Even our hearts are cluttered with misunderstanding and false values. When you are striving for God's favor, there is no shame in making adjustments every day. Indeed, we should find it disturbing if so much as two weeks pass without being somewhat a different person than before. A critical element in bringing Him glory is that we change, and how we go about it. We are alive and growing morally.

Catch the vision: You represent a tiny minority of humanity that has awakened all the faculties God granted us at Creation. We are natively in tune with reality itself. There are flaws in our discernment, but God is more concerned with the fundamental desire to please Him than with any success. As noted in Romans 13, it is that sacrificial love and communion with our world that fulfills the Laws of God. All Creation longs for us to grow and become stronger in our obedience and seeking His glory.

Chapter 8: What Now?

Now you understand all of David's blather in Psalms about loving God's Law; His Law is love itself. The single greatest reward for this kind of lawful living is more of that love coursing through your soul. It becomes its own reward.

For this reason, the laundry list of blessings attached to lawful living seems mere icing on the cake. We don't obey to earn our pay, but because we would rather obey than be captured by material rewards. On the one hand, God's glory comes in part when people see how God blesses those who embrace His character. On the other hand, we have a chance to speak the truth when people notice we miss out on some material blessings because we aren't willing to play along in the worship of Mammon. We really don't want for much when we view this life through the lens of our hearts. All we really want and need are opportunities to bless His name.

Thus, we recognize that all Creation exists as a mere tool for His glory. We embrace that and internalize it as our sole reason for living. You don't need any other justification for taking up space; no other human has any valid claim on you as a resource outside of the pursuit of God's glory. The same goes for the rest of Creation -- nothing and no one has to justify their existence. In every encounter with things and people, the only question is what God requires of you for His glory, in part by our seeking to redeem the context as much as we are able. When all else fails, we are quite eager to go Home to be with Christ.

We have been warned that the world will only get worse as we drift toward the End of Time. A critical part of that warning is that we not somehow imagine that this broken world will actually see redemption. To the degree redemption happens, it is within our souls. We are the battlefield, not the world around us. It becomes necessary to understand the ancient concept of dominion: the portion of your world God has delivered into your stewardship. Most Westerners assume that, because there is some mythology of "consent of the governed" that God wants us to change the political situation. Often the excuse is "for our children." This is pure worldliness.

While we may well fight for our children against an evil secular world, the greatest gift we can give them is an active sensory heart. Short of that, the best gift is to let them see our otherworldly focus. Exercise divine justice over the limits of what God has granted you. He most certainly did not grant us a democratic political philosophy. Again, that is a wholly pagan ideal based on rejecting God's revelation. A proper divine justice takes place only within the limits of where your faith operates. That is, your faith and your heart ruling over your mind after you have purged the damned nonsense about political activism.

We have no intention of fixing this broken world, only using it for His glory. The human political situation is just as much entirely His domain as is the natural. Nothing within human power can bring His mercy and grace to bear on things. Rather, we operate within the context He gives to exploit every opportunity to bring Him glory. We should never be surprised that His promises seem shaved a bit by circumstances. The Laws of God living in you will change things, and nature will respond, as will human nature itself, but there remains a truculent grip on the mythology that blinds the world to the truth. People will often respond to the truth in spite of themselves, but only God can grant a living heart.Jesus told His disciples:

"I give you a new commandment -- to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples - if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 NET)

Naturally, the only way those early disciples could do this was by first sacrificially loving God. Rather, Jesus emphasized here His Second Commandment, adding the context of His sacrificial love, with the Cross looming before Him. It was the same as commanding them to love as God loves. And while John does not record it, we know that numerous references to that Last Supper elsewhere in the New Testament describe Jesus establishing a New Covenant based on that sacrifice. We celebrate that in our highly abbreviated version of the Passover Meal with our communion ritual.

But it's all just words and rituals unless your heart comes to life and rules over your head. You can just about obey the Law of Noah without it, and perhaps reap some measure of shalom in worldly terms. However, you cannot truly obey His Law of Love in Christ unless something much better than your brain takes over.


Ed Hurst
21 March 2015, revised 09 February 2016

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