Law affects each one of us, be it civil, moral, scientific - or spiritual!
We all live under 'law'. From a secular point of view, 'law' is a system of rules usually enforced through a set of institutions. For example, Criminal Law pertains to crimes and punishment (acts of intentional harm to individuals or the wider community), Civil Law (based on Roman Law and Corpus Juris) deals with the private relations between members of a community, and Common Law (as in England and America) is the legal system where decisions by judges in courts are explicitly acknowledged to be legal sources.
Then we have the scientific laws of mathematics, physics and chemistry which determine the functioning of everything from the atom to galaxies!
Lastly, we have the concept of 'moral law' which might be defined as a set of rules of behaviour that an individual or a group may follow out of personal conscience, and usually to the benefit of society. Sadly, such rules are not necessarily part of legislated law and so are not legally enforceable. So for example, the biblical indictment against adultery is often ignored by western media and by society in general.
So our lives are governed by sets of rules, most of which are unseen until we 'rub up against them'.
1. The Effect of Law
When we naturally obey a law (be it criminal, civil, common, scientific or moral), then we are largely unaware of the law. But when we deliberately or inadvertently break a law there are serious consequences:
So the operation of a law for an individual or nation might be stated as follows:
If you do action A then action B will follow
If action 'A' conflicts with the law then action 'B' will be some form of reprimand. Conversely, if action 'A' is good, then action 'B' will also be good. For example, if we keep our car speed well below the legal limit, then there will be a significant saving in fuel.
2. The Origin of Law
Christians argue that the concept of law (as in rules or statutes) originates from the God of the Bible. For instance, God gave man basic criminal law (as in stealing, Exod 22.1), and He gave man basic civil law (as in the release of debt, Deut 15.1). He created scientific laws (as in circulating air currents, Eccl 1.6, and in Job 38), and He set out basic rules governing right and wrong in the Ten Commandments (moral law).
Clearly, things have developed and OT criminal, civil and ceremonial laws must be seen in their historic context. Also, neat divisions between different forms of law should be avoided. Today, we are called to keep the modern-day equivalents of such law, including God's moral Law. Jesus said;
"I did not come to destroy the Law ... but to fulfil" (Mat 5.17)
and He told us how we can keep the Law by defining it in generic form:
"You shall love the Lord your God ... and your neighbour ... on these two commandments hang all the Law ..." (Mat 22.37-40)
Sadly, today's society largely ignores such biblical injunction and so is breaking this crucial generic law. In fact, as shown below, this law spans all aspects of our lives: how we talk, how we live, how we work, how we treat others, how we treat the environment, and how we relate to God. It also applies to nations. It could be called 'God's Hidden Spiritual Law'.
3. God's Hidden Spiritual Law
As discussed, it can be argued that the well-known forms of law (criminal, civil, common, scientific and moral) all stem from one parent, universal law, namely God's Spiritual Law. This is described as 'the law of the LORD' (Ps 119.1), or God's precepts (Heb piqud), statutes, mandates and commandments (Ps 119.15). It was underscored by Jesus (Mat 5.17) and so is not to be ignored. Like other laws God's Law is usually hidden until we 'rub up against it'.
Spiritual Law is tightly linked to God's Will and to truth. For example, Jesus claimed that He spoke the truth when He said 'there is only one way to God' (Jn 14.6). This is an important example of God's Law, statute or decree: through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, there is now only one way to God. God has decreed it that way; it is the truth. Likewise, God has decreed that the earth will one day be 'burned up' (2 Pet 3.10) - a scientific law - and the truth behind this biblical statement is endorsed by NASA scientists. See video:
A Red Giant Sun and a Fried Earth
A Red Giant Sun and a Fried Earth
Spiritual law is the mysterious or hidden law of the Kingdom of Heaven and stems from the only source of truth, Jesus Christ. Jesus said to His disciples:
"It has been given to you to know the mysteries (hidden truths) of the kingdom of heaven, but to them (unbelievers) it has not been given." (Mat 13.11)
Here, Jesus is saying that, since truth is spiritually revealed (Jn 16.13,14), then God's Spiritual Law is unlikely to be fully appreciated and understood by unbelievers. Nevertheless, whether believer or not, God's Law is written on man's heart and he knows when he has violated it through his conscience:
"When Gentiles, who do not have the Law, by nature do the things in the Law ... show the work of the Law written in their hearts ... their conscience ... accusing or else excusing them ..." (Rom 2.14,15)
But even Christians are unaware of many aspects of God's Law. It affects everyone and every nation and is inescapable. Let's illustrate two complementary aspects of this law, bearing in mind the logic concept 'if A, then B':
4. God's Law determines the prosperity of nations
Where there is democracy, most voters believe that an election and change of government can improve their lives and the general state of the nation. The majority of voters do not bring God into the process. It doesn't matter to them if they are voting for a government which is in open rebellion against God's Law in the sense that its ethos conflicts with biblical teaching. The majority are not concerned about voting for a government that condones abortion and homosexuality for example on the basis of 'choice' and 'equality', and they are not concerned when Christians are made redundant for simply exercising free-speech and expressing their faith in God.
So can a government that ignores and sometimes even defies God's Law (e.g. by promoting gay marriage) really determine a country's well-being? Does it really have overall authority and power over a nation's prosperity? Doesn't God's Law override all the economic and political plans of such a government? Consider:
"If that nation against whom I have spoken turns from evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it." (Jer 18.8)
"... the rulers take council together, against the Lord ... (but) the Lord shall hold them in derision ..." (Ps 2.2-4)
"There is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." (Rom 13.1)
Clearly, according to the Bible, it is God, not government who has overall authority and power. He can either bless a nation (Isa 19.19-25), or judge it (Isa 21, Isa 60.12 and Zech 14.16-19), and He might use man's democracy in the process.
As the OT prophets stressed, God may allow corrupt government to rule for a time in order to punish the people or refine believers, but eventually such governments fall. Pagan Rome persecuted the early church, but then fell. If you are in a western-style democracy, ask yourself if your nation is angering God and in danger of falling:
If the answers are essentially 'yes', then how should we pray for your nation? Daniel prayed for his nation (Israel) which was in a similar situation to that of 21st century democracies, so this is a good model. Note that it is a plea for God's mercy and not for repentance: we cannot repent on behalf a nation; it is up to individuals to repent. Here are a few prayer suggestions:
On a more positive note, how can a nation receive true well-being and prosperity? How can it receive God's blessing? Consider:
So in the light of God's Spiritual Law, will our election vote make any positive difference to the well-being of the nation if the choice is between openly rebellious political parties that ignore and even defy God's law? Probably not, in which case the only way forward is to pray, bearing in mind that prophecy suggests that all nations will eventually become spiritually dark (Isa 60.2).
But if you value democracy then voting is important (and sometimes mandatory). So how should we vote? Can we really vote for a leader who openly supports abortion, gay marriage and homosexual behaviour? Instead we might consider:
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD" (Ps 33.12)
Bible quotations are from the New American Standard Bible