Volume 8, Issue 2: Magistralis
The Beauty of the Law
When was the last time you visited a courthouse or an attorney's office just to
leaf through the statute books and make your spirit sore? Have you ever meditated
on the waste water treatment standards until you were giddy? Does your heart
sing with "The Code of Federal Regulations is perfect, converting the soul?" People
pay me money to wade through such stuff, but as much as I like law, it has never
transported me anywhere near the third heaven.
Meditating on the law of Jehovah produces joy beyond measure. David describes
the righteous man as one whose "delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His
law he meditates day and night" (Ps. 1:2).
The law of Jehovah is "perfect" (Ps. 19:7). It is perfect, it is complete. That
which is perfect is whole and entire. No parts are missing, and nothing is lacking.
The perfect law never need be amended, supplemented, or changed. No conventions
or assemblies ever need be called in heaven or on earth to review and revise
what God has done.
Jehovah's perfect law is from above, being one of His perfect gifts (James 1:17).
It is therefore transcendent, unchanging, and eternal; it is not subjected to
the bondage of corruption and futility (Rom. 8:20-21). Man's governments rise
and fall; man's ability to dispense justice ebbs and flows. The best of man's codes
and constitutions, depending on his self-righteousness for their efficacy, are
neglected, forgotten, and eventually discarded. But "till heaven and earth pass
away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Mat.
Jehovah's law converts the soul (Ps. 19:7). No law of man has such power, being
of necessity only able to judge and affect the outward appearance (1 Sam. 16:7).
A human judge can only afflict the body for a short time. But the eternal Judge
"is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Mat. 10:28). His word is able
to save the filthiest soul (James 1:21).
Jehovah's perfect law is, like Him, without injustice (Deut. 32:4). The negative
accentuates the positive. It is not only that God's law is just. Even the most
corrupted legal systems of men, being unavoidably bastardizations of the laws
of God, exhibit elements of justice; we can point to some parts and affirm that
they are just and right. But God's law is more. It is entirely without injustice,
which is a claim that no law of man can make. Before God's judgment seat no innocent
man will be wrongly accused and no guilty man will go free. No ruler faithfully
executing his office as God's civil minister can ever become a tyrant. No one
can ever stand before the eternal throne and complain that his rights were not
protected or observed, or that he was treated unfairly.
Jehovah's law is a law of liberty (James 1:25). The Pharisees made it a burden
and a means of damnation (Mat. 23:4, 15). But when seen through faith in Christ,
it frees us from the bondage of temptation and sin, and we may become doers of
the word and not hearers only (Mat. 11:29, 30; James 1:25).
Jehovah's law produces both fear and awe. When the law was first delivered to
Israel, it was accompanied by such thundering and lightning, such thick darkness
and smoke and noise of trumpets, that the people were terrified and would not
go near the mountain (Ex. 20:18-21). Yet so beautiful were the commandments,
that Moses declared that all the peoples who heard it would recognize and envy
the wisdom, understanding and greatness of Israel (Deut. 4:5-8).
Jehovah's servants extol the virtues of His law repeatedly in scripture. "The
statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD
is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Ps. 19:8). God's law is truth and His judgments
are right (Ps. 119:75, 142), and those who keep them in their hearts need not
fear the reproach of wicked men (Is. 51:7). The psalmist hid God's word (including
the law) in his heart that he might not sin against Him (Ps. 119:11).
Yet the law is good only if it is used lawfully (1 Tim. 1:8). The requirements
of the law are righteousness, but that righteousness is only found when it is
sought by faith in Christ (Rom. 8:4, 9:31, 32, 10:4). The Pharisees doggedly
pursued the righteousness of the law, searching the Scriptures for eternal life.
But the Scriptures testified of Christ, the end (goal) of the law for righteousness
to those who believe (John 5:39, Rom. 10:4). The Pharisees misused the law, meticulously
tithing even from their spices but neglecting "the weightier matters of the law:
justice and mercy and faith" (Mat. 23:23, 24). The "weightier matters" were the
entire point of the law. The greatest commandment was not found among any of
the particular rules and regulations, but in the simple admonition to "love the
LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and
with all your strength," and to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30, 31).
A faithful scribe truly stated that this was " more than all the whole burnt offerings
and sacrifices" (Mark 12:33), not because the sacrifices were unimportant, but
because they were a lesser means to a greater end.
When was the last time you read Exodus 20 just to make your spirit soar? Have
you ever meditated on the law for the offerings until you could no longer contain
your joy? Does your heart sing with David's testimony that "the law of the LORD
is perfect, converting the soul"?