Summary: 1) The Principle of Mosaic Law. 2) The Perspective of Divine Truth.
Fallout is continuing over a gaff from Health Canada this week in sending body Bags to a remote Manitoba First nations community. Although an apology was made by Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, Garden Hill Chief David Harper did not accept it. When we look at the history of relations between aboriginals and the rest of Canada, mistrust and resentment are prevalent. We see examples of pride, lawsuits, hostility and vengeance from both sides. We can see these things because the situation involves human beings.
When our supreme concern is getting and keeping what we think is rightfully ours, then whoever or whatever gets in our way-including the law-becomes expendable. Since it is not possible for everyone to have everything anyone wants, to insist on our own way invariably tramples on the rights and welfare of others. Respect for law and for the welfare of others is always among the first and major casualties of self-assertion. When self is in the foreground, everything else and everyone else is pushed to the background.
Probably no part of the Sermon on the Mount has been so misinterpreted and misapplied as 5:38–42. It has been misinterpreted to mean that Christians are to be sanctimonious doormats. It has been used to promote pacifism, conscientious objection to military service, lawlessness, anarchy, and a host of other positions that it does not support. The Russian writer Tolstoy based one of his best-known novels on this passage. The thesis of War and Peace is that the elimination of police, the military, and other forms of authority would bring a utopian society.
But Jesus already had made plain that He did not come to eliminate even the smallest part of God’s law (5:17–19), which includes respect for and obedience to human law and authority.
How can we come to grips with Jesus` extraordinary directives here while living in a world of hostility, greed and vengeance? The way not to do it, was the way of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20). Their plan included was their insistence on personal rights and vengeance. In His fifth illustration contrasting their righteousness with God’s, Jesus again shows how rabbinic tradition had twisted God’s holy law to serve the selfish purposes of unholy people. Here he shows 1) The Principle of Mosaic Law. Matthew 5:38 and gives four illustrations on: 2) The Perspective of Divine Truth.
1) The Principle of Mosaic Law. Matthew 5:38
Matthew 5:38 "You have heard that it was said, ’An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ (ESV)
Please turn to Deuteronomy 19
This quotation is taken directly from the Old Testament (Ex. 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21) and reflects the principle of lex talionis, one of the most ancient law codes. Simply put, it required that punishment exactly match the crime. The same idea is carried in the expressions tit for tat and quid pro quo. The earliest record of lex talionis is in the Code of Hammurabi, the great Babylonian king who lived a hundred or so years before Moses. It is likely, however, that the principle was in wide use long before that time.