Hebrew Roots/The Law/Introduction
INTRODUCTION TO THE LAW OF GOD[edit | edit source]
The idea of 'law' can conjure up in one's mind the concept of judgment, restriction, suppression and control which inhibits our freedom of expression and limits our creativity as individuals to cause unnecessary restraint and bondage. It is the nature of fallen man to question and rebel against set standards and not accept/believe that the stated consequences and results of breaking the rules will come upon us. It’s our nature to seek out our own knowledge through experience, and to believe out of our experience of the resulting consequences, rather than to trust and obey as Yahweh God has asked us to do from the beginning in the Garden.
DEFINITION OF LAW[edit | edit source]
A Dictionary definition says that a 'law' is "a rule established among a community and enjoining or prohibiting certain action, the system made up of these rules, its controlling power, the order produced by it, its administration" etc. .. (The Australian Oxford Dictionary)
So we have the word defined as a rule or set of rules which prescribe or prohibit our actions to conform to a certain order or pattern of behaviour. The 'Law of God' has many aspects and there are a variety of words used in the Hebrew text, for the different categories within His Law which identifies their classification.
The word 'torah' is the Hebrew word for teaching and direction for life and the one mostly used for the laws/principles which Yahweh God has given to His people for their benefit and spiritual well-being. This is a different concept from the meaning which we normally attach to the word 'law' and its penalties.
The other categories for instance are,
The Judgments (Mishpatim) are the methods of administering justice in human affairs.
The Statutes (Chukkim) are the precepts or regulations for Health Care and Hygiene etc.
The Testimonies (Edot) are the earthly types that give witness to His plans and purposes (Tabernacle, Feasts)
The Commands (Mitzvot) are the ordinances or commands related to the terms of the covenant
The word 'law' is used in very general terms in the New Testament, to cover a wide variety of meaning unlike the Hebrew of the Old Testament. The word in Greek is NOMOS which according to Vine's Expository Dictionary means "to divide out, primarily that which is assigned, hence, usage, custom, or by statute; .. .. .. .. nomos became the established name for law as decreed by state and set up as the standard for the administration of justice. In the New Testament it is used in general expressing a general principle relating to law."
Youngs Analytical Concordance gives the rendition of 'nomos', as 'law, ordinance, custom'.
The term 'law' then in the new Testament was used for every aspect of the body of the Law , whereas, in the Old Testament we have several Hebrew words for our English 'law' which cover the varieties of meaning from laws, statutes and precepts to directions or teaching. The Greek and the English words don't classify them.
THE REASON FOR LAWS[edit | edit source]
The whole creation is established on set rules for its function. Governments and social structures are based upon agreed-upon rules for their functioning as are all organisations and groups. Sometimes those rules are informal as an agreed upon code of ethics between its members, but just the same, any organised activity has to have rules of conduct for the participants and share common goals. Without that there is anarchy.
Rules set the standard for any activity as the guidelines upon which it is to function and define that activity. Those who desire to engage in the activity have to accept the rules. so, the rules are not really the focus. We engage in activities because we enjoy and find fulfillment in those activities and the achievement of the set purpose of the activity. So it’s more about what our goal is, than about what the rules are and it comes down to the focus of our interest and how important it is to us to be involved in the activity or achieve the set goal.
A participant who hasn't got a clear focus or enthusiasm for the goal, may object to the rules of engagement. Yahweh runs everything by rules too. Yahweh's Law, as recorded in the Bible, identifies the moral standards He wants humanity to live by. If Yahweh's law didn't exist no one would know right from wrong. Because He is the ultimate Ruler, He has the right to set the standards and make the rules of engagement.
There are 'rules' or principles involved in having a relationship with Yahweh God through Yeshua, His Son. He sets before us the goal of knowing Him and having eternal life with Him in the kingdom of God (John 17:3).
The rules are a means to achieve the end purpose and not an end in themselves. We are not following a set of rules but a Person with whom we desire to have a relationship; which relationship just happens to be governed and defined by a set of rules to achieve that purpose. To anyone not interested in a closer relationship with God, then His rules are a restrictive burden to follow, which will appear legalistic. Whereas, someone who is passionate about knowing Him in a deeper way, will eagerly embrace the 'rules' as that means to the end.
WHAT IS GOD'S LAW[edit | edit source]
The Scriptures are His rule book on how to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and on how to love those around us, as ourselves. Those rules instruct us on how to interact socially and morally with our neighbors, how to interact with our enemies; how to deal in business and with property and contain the blueprint for every aspect of life in the kingdom of God and how to avoid the path which leads to death.
When we study His rules and apply them to our lives, we will enter into a deeper measure of covenant relationship with Him (John 15:21). Whereas when we break His laws, His Spirit withdraws from us.
"Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4)
Breaking His law is sin, and sin separates us from a holy God. Therefore, "... if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." (Matthew 19:17)
"The law of Yahweh is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of Yahweh is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of Yahweh are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of Yahweh is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Psalm 19:7-8)
Those rules were given to the nation of Israel, as the Constitution of the nation, to guide every decision in the government, in the judiciary system and in both their religious and private life.
Where a nation is not established upon God's laws, those by-laws which apply to governmental and judiciary systems are redundant and superfluous because they cannot be put into effect. That however, does not imply that those laws have changed or been done away with. They will be instituted in the Kingdom of God. His laws are eternal and unchanging but the implementation of some laws are suspended now until the kingdom of God is established on earth. For now, it remains for each individual to apply the principles of His righteous laws within the framework of the society in which they live, and to the extent that they have personally responsibility. Yahweh's laws are eternal and the high level of principles which they embody will be inscribed on true believers' minds and hearts and will be instinctively obeyed throughout eternity.
"All his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness." (Psalm 111:7-8)
Everything is going to be judged by His Law. That is the plum-line against which everyone will be measured.
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." (Revelation 20:12)