Summary: There is a need for law and order so God has given His law with specific purposes and powers.
“Law & Order: SPU – Why All the Fuss?”
It hits the news on a fairly regular basis. Someone, somewhere, is upset because the 10 commandments are posted in public view in a public place – and they want them taken down. Meanwhile, another party, just as passionate, battles – even through the court system – to keep them right where they are. Why all the fuss? Why do people get so excited about these 10 commandments? Why are there such passionate feelings? Why are some people so offended by them? Why all the fuss?
I suspect that the commandments produce such passion and fuss because merely reading them, and knowing the claim that they come from God, forces people to make a choice – to choose whether or not God has any right to rule their life. And that arouses great passion. But I’m actually glad that there is such a fuss because it keeps before us the role of law and order in society. And that’s a good place to begin.
The truth is THERE IS A NEED FOR LAW AND ORDER. Without law and order, there is only chaos and only the strong survive. Just read the book of Judges and see what happened every time there was no righteous judge – each person did what was right in her own eyes, and there was chaos. LAW MAINTAINS ORDER. As has been said, law is the cement that holds societies and groups together. So law maintains order, first of all, SO THAT WE CAN EXIST TOGETHER PEACEFULLY. If there were only 2 people in the world, they would need some laws in order to exist in peace together. How does each expect to be treated? What will happen when they’re hungry, or when their clothes get dirty? Who will sleep where? What will they do if they cannot agree on something? There must be some laws to maintain order or they will not live in peace.
Think about a busy freeway, like those in Chicago, Los Angeles, or Washington DC; 6 or 8 lanes of traffic on one side of the median, zooming along at high rates of speed. Imagine the chaos if there are no laws. What’s to stop me from going only 25 mph or going up to 100 miles an hour? What’s to stop me from deciding to turn around and head in the other direction? I could just decide to stop and make a phone call, or eat, or get out of the car to take a picture. All of these behaviors are possible – but they all would lead to chaos and injury. Law and order are needed to make the freeway system work.
We need these boundaries in our activities and our lives. Can you imagine playing basketball, football, hockey, soccer, or baseball – any game or sport – with no boundaries? It doesn’t work. Law and order make it work. Law maintains order so that we can exist together peacefully.
We need law also TO GUIDE US THROUGH LIFE. When we travel we use a map or a GPS. Why? So we know how to get where we’re going? A ship has a compass. Why? So it knows which direction to go when there are no other signs or markers. Detour signs are posted when construction takes place on our roadways. Why? So we know how to get around the blockage and get back on course. When a doctor performs surgery, there are certain well-delineated steps or medical laws she follows before, during, and after surgery. Why? So the patient receives the best and healthiest care. Good laws get us where we need to be safely. Law gets us through life safely.
This is why NATIONS HAVE LAWS. Let’s look at Israel as an example. ISRAEL actually had three types of law – civil, ceremonial, and moral. The CIVIL laws were those that governed Israel as a nation. They included guidelines for waging war, land use, regulations for debt, prohibitions against things like murder, and penalties for specific violations. Many of their civil laws may still exist but they are not binding upon us because we live in a different state under different civil laws.
The CEREMONIAL laws included regulations for celebrating religious festivals, for worshiping God in the sanctuary, for the conduct and duties of priests, and for offering sacrifices. These laws are no longer in effect because they all pointed forward to Jesus Christ. As Col 2:17 states “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” As such they are no longer binding upon us.
The MORAL law is what is summarized in the 10 commandments and it pertains to the standard for righteousness and contains rules about one’s relationship with God and others. Our passage in 2 Kings is all about the moral law and how Israel failed to obey it. These laws have not changed and are still binding on us today. They still represent what the Bible calls ‘perfect righteousness.’ The New Testament teaches us that the law was fulfilled in Jesus and that this moral law is written on our conscience so that no one has excuse for breaking this law.