Moreover, I gave them statutes that were not good and judgments by which they could not live, and I defiled them by their own gifts in their passing of every firstborn through [the fire], that I might devastate them. I did it that they might know that I am the Lord.Ezekiel 20:25
Moses charged the Israelites to learn the law and obey it, and then sent the people into the Promised Land. He was not allowed in with them of course, but perhaps that was for the best. After a short honeymoon, the people plotted against each other and fought viciously. Saul attacked David relentlessly, and the Israelites battled the Judeans for hundreds of years. Moses no doubt knew it would be a disaster.
This law contributed to the internecine warfare:
If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.Deuteronomy 13:6
No doubt it helped cause the sinat hinam that fragmented the Jewish peoples and destroyed us many times, including the destruction of the temples and our repeated exiles.
However the law has a positive side: it refines our skills at argumentation, persuasion, logic and cooperation, and breeds us to excel in all manner of scientific and artistic fields – because winning was a matter of life and death. Thus we have many prominent lawyers and politicians, and they fought on both sides of the recent impeachment fiasco: Schiff, Nadler, Schumer, Dershowitz, Barr, and Sekulow (some have converted to Christianity). This kind of high stakes contest is nothing new for the Jews.
An adverse consequence of this skill is our propensity to gang up and bully to impose dangerous laws and policies on our home countries, such as censorship and open borders, that backfire resulting in our destruction. Pogroms and the Holocaust were the result of this. And of course, we’re experts at relentless persecution of the Palestinians and demonization of them as ‘terrorists’. Fortunately the effectiveness of these deplorable tactics is waning.
Furnace of Bad Laws
Such bad laws offend our modern sensibilities. People today look back at biblical strictures in horror and contempt. We consider them to be monstrous and blame today’s problems on that kind of thinking. Ironically our self righteousness, thirst for justice and legal acumen are the fruit of this law. It shaped us as a people and helps explain both our successes and our debacles. It was another ‘furnace’ not unlike slavery:
But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day.Deuteronomy 4:20
For you, O God, have tested us;Psalm 66:10
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
Biblical law wasn’t meant to be perfect. How could it be? Its purpose was to breed us into a great people. It was part of the first covenant to bring us from slavery to freedom. It was never meant to be permanent, though of course many Zionists are still living in the age when you can take land by force and target people for sniping with the accusation of “Amalek” (‘antisemite’, ‘jihadi’, ‘terrorist’, etc).
The purpose of this harsh law is not only to force the people to understand the law, but also to induce us to modify it as necessary. The bible has many examples of amending the law. For example, the granting of property rights to the daughters of Zelophehad can be considered an early assertion of equal rights.
Once as a people we can understand the law, learn the law, perfect it, and universally obey it, we can enter the Promised Land. This is the point of the New Covenant announced by Jeremiah: the covenant of peace. In this covenant, we establish equality with other nations, and everyone knows the law:
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.Jeremiah 31:33
The purpose of knowing the law by heart is so that we no longer need judges or governments. As slavery in Egypt was imposed by outside tyrants, bad laws are a form of self-inflicted oppression. We were given freedom in stages and certainly backtracked many times. Free speech as we know it today was established when the US Constitution proclaimed liberty in 1786. This achievement leaves no doubt that all people are capable of knowing the law. We need only do a better job of sharing our values of freedom and prosperity with the rest of the world.
Fulfilling the Law
Jesus rescinded many of the ‘bad’ laws and ordinances, such as stoning for adultery and expanding the menu of edible foods. As a gay man, he was no doubt motivated by the prohibition on homosexuality, even if he never referenced it. Most importantly he established equality with the other nations: they are all perfectly capable of learning and obeying the law so that we can all live together in freedom:
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.Acts 2:1
This is the reverse Tower of Babel when God confounded us and dispersed us, and we continue this process of reintegration today.
Thus Jesus ‘fulfilled’ the law of Moses and the prophets on a newly transformed people, as predicted by King David:
I will tell of the decree:Psalm 2:7
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.”
This achievement was the essence of his appeal among the Jews, as well as the source of scorn and condemnation. The rabbis were still holding onto the old ways and didn’t want to forfeit their charter on right and wrong. Zionists still cling to the precepts of the old covenant such as attacking Amalek and taking land by force. The ultra orthodox study the ancient law and know it better than anyone. This inflates their sense of supremacy, but they fail to appreciate that the purpose isn’t just to know it but to practice and perfect it to create the Garden of Eden. They are stuck in time, having misconstrued God’s promise.
Contempt for the ‘bad laws’ that inspired socialist doctrines reassures them that they are God. Bernie is hailed as nothing less.
America has been tremendously successful in perfecting the law, including implementing equal rights for all. We must end the wars on drugs, guns and ‘sex trafficking’ among other hysterias, and gradually scale back our police state. We must also abolish entitlements including social security and medicare. But these things will happen. Everyone will not just know God’s law, but they will agree to it (love it) and obey it. Then we can live in safety and abundance in the land the Lord swore to give to our fathers.
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;Psalm 2:10
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.