Limits of the Law

Atheistic and evolutionary historians at times promote the idea that social elements have evolved through time from primitive and ineffective concepts to more advanced and higher level concepts which we employ today. I well recall the huge emphasis I was subjected to in the 1960’s that society evolved from cave-man culture to our modern, highly evolved concepts. That concept of social development is false and is to be challenged.

God has been engaged with humanity from the day of creation. Mankind has not evolved and man’s basic social needs have not changed. Also God’s revealed wisdom and grace has been available from the earliest of times, and so many men and women have operated at a very advanced level from ancient time.

A good example of the supremacy of ancient ideas given to mankind by God is found in the law given by God to Moses, some 3,700 years ago. That’s pretty ancient and, if one believes in social evolution, should be a simplistic and limited legal reality that has been improved on since. So, have a look at this and see if you think this ancient law is primitive.

Eye for An Eye

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A repeated theme in the Mosaic law given by God from Mount Sinai in Arabia, 1,700 years before Christ, is that of an “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”. See these quotes from the early books of the Bible.

“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” Exodus 21:24,25

“And he that kills any man shall surely be put to death. And he that kills a beast shall make it good; beast for beast. And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he has done, so shall it be done to him; Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he has caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. And he that kills a beast shall restore it: and he that kills a man shall be put to death.” Leviticus 24:17-21

“And your eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” Deuteronomy 19:21

Principles of Law

I have heard this idea of an “eye for an eye” discussed as a most cruel and primitive form of justice. It seems barbaric to poke out someone’s eye, knock out their tooth or crush their foot, in the name of justice. However, take a look at the amazing high-level legal principles enshrined in this supposedly ‘primitive’ pronouncement.

Application of law has been effectively and beneficially limited by God’s decree about an “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”. This is not some primitive and savage elementary legal maxim but a vital and important lawful principle decreed by the Living God. Consider these clear legal principles which are anchored in the “eye for an eye” requirement.

Justice

No judgement is to demand from the guilty anything more than equivalence to the damage done. This protects everyone from the abuse of so-called Justice. No ruler or judge can exercise tyranny over the accused or extract from them disproportionate punishment.

Consider how our modern law allows people to make exorbitant and exploitative claims to attack people’s assets. Lawyers today are good at looking for the money, creating a claim against those with assets and running a legal case for a share of the profits that can be extracted from someone. Some people see litigation as a way of making a living or getting things they have never earned or worked for.

God’s amazing principle of justice would put an end to that legal industry overnight. If an injured party gained only the restitution and justice directly related to their loss there would be no room for exploitation and nothing for the greedy lawyer to go hunting for.

Just Punishment

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How often do we see criminals get off lightly? It is a common complaint that a convicted criminal gets a soft sentence. But this cannot happen under God’s prescription of justice. The criminal must provide full and equal compensation, facing a penalty fully equal to the damage done.

Full punishment is to be extracted. It is not right that someone perpetrate a heinous crime and be let off lightly. The punishment must fit the crime. It must be sufficient, but it must not be excessive. Praise God for such a clear limit and definition of justice.

Application of God’s standard of justice would go a long way to dissuading criminal activity if full, equal restitution was always extracted each time.

Just Cause

Here is another amazing legal protection given to us by God, through the simple “eye for an eye” requirement.

No penalty can be extracted without Just Cause. If no eye has been lost, no eye can be demanded.

No fine, penalty, judgement or other imposition can be applied to a person until and unless an “eye” has suffered (so to speak). You cannot sentence someone on the basis of “An Eye for Nothing”. It must be an Eye for an Eye.

Everyone who comes to the court must prove just cause for their claim. If they have not suffered, then there is no claim.

This is probably the basis for common law action, since English common law sprang from application of Biblical law. Common law requires there to be an injured party bringing charges based on injury to person or property. If there is no injury there is no case. If there is no injured eye then you cannot demand an eye from an alleged offender.

Equality Under the Law

But that’s not all. Another wonderful legal principle given to us in a simple three word phrase “eye for eye” is that of equality under the law.

The eye of a king can only be paid for by an eye. The eye of a wealthy man can only be paid for by an eye. The eye of a slave or a foreigner is lawfully the same as the eye of a policeman or a queen. There is no favoured treatment here. The principle is not, “An eye of a king requires 100 eyes from his subjects”.

The specific intent to create equality under the law is clearly stated by God in this ancient law. After demanding that there must be “an eye for an eye” God concluded the pronouncement by insisting that the same law is to apply to all.

“You shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 24:22

Moses further emphasised this point when he set up judges who would assist him.
“You shall not respect persons in judgment; but you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it to me, and I will hear it.” Deuteronomy 1:17

Think Again

Now, if the archaic, barbaric legal principle of “eye for eye” is not some superseded and unworthy thing of the past, but a lively and rich source of guidance and high level standards, then is it not also likely that other things you have been brainwashed to despise might be equally as valuable and impressive.

Think again about the Bible and the instructions given us by God. People have gone to great effort to turn your thinking away from God’s Word, even if you are a Christian and especially if you have gone to Bible College or done religious studies. Your mind is likely closed to truth and you are blind to things that God has given you.

Be encouraged to put aside the deceptive programming of your mind and see with new clarity the value that God has given you, but which others have beguiled you into abandoning.

Speaking With Authority

I saw something sweetly tantalising in a familiar Bible text on Sunday. It has to do with Authority which is a bit of a thing with me over the past year or so, linked in to such things as Jurisdiction, personal sovereignty and such like.

What I saw is that authority is directly linked to speaking authoritatively, so that things happen as a result.

Now, guess where I found that in the Bible. It is in a passage that is often quoted in reference to authority – the comments by the Roman Centurion to explain why he was confident that Jesus could heal the centurion’s servant simply by speaking the word.

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“And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, begging him, And saying, Lord, my servant lies at home paralysed, grievously tormented. And Jesus said to him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to those that followed, Truly I tell you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Matthew 8:5-10

Now, in case you missed the salient point let me remind you that this dialogue is about Authority. The centurion is absolutely confident that Jesus has the Authority to heal the sick servant. And that confidence about authority is directly linked in the Centurion’s mind to speaking.

The Centurion is saying, “I know how authority works. When you have authority all you have to do is give a command and it is obeyed. Jesus, I know you have authority so all you really have to do is give the command and the healing will be done.”

As you explore your own authority remember that it is directly linked to your words. When dad gives an instruction to his children or says “No” to their request there is great power in that expression of his authority. When a person who has authority speaks up in a meeting, to raise a question or press a point, the words have effect.

People who don’t have authority are ignored, shouted down, disregarded and silenced. If that is you, then you need to talk with God about what you have to do to recover your personal authority, or the authority of your place (as parent, husband, leader or whatever).

Another key from that passage about the Centurion is that a person has authority not inherently of themself, but because they are “under authority”. The Centurion said “I am a man under authority, and so I am able to tell others what to do.” If you have lost your authority it may be that you need to repent of having rejected the authorities which God has placed over you (your parents, husband, boss, leaders, etc).

I encourage you to discover the authority God has given you, reclaim and heal it if it has been damaged or lost in some way, and then Speak Up! Speak as one with authority, so you can release that authority into those you are responsible for.

The image of Jesus with the Centurion, above is “A Centurion’s Plea” from Clay Illustrations by Georgia Cawley