Magnifying the Law
There is a direct and inseparable connection between Christ’s role as the Revelator of the Father’s character an as the Magnifier of God’s law. Scriptures have already been quoted which state that Christ came to show humanity the Eternal One as he really is. Now is presented this text in regard to the work of Christ and the law.
The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; he will exalt the law and make it honorable (Isaiah 42:21).
It would be a serious mistake to think of this as being a separate and different work from that of the unfolding of God’s character.
His law is a transcript of His own character, and it is the standard of all character (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 315).
This is made plain the truth that the character of God is directly and accurately expressed in His law. To see one is to see the other. This means that the character of God, Christ, and the law are identical. Between them there is no difference even though it is difficult to grasp this. There is inclination to think of God as Being of living power with infinite possibilities of exercising His will. We tend to see the law as being a much lesser thing, merely the spoken will of the Supreme Ruler and certainly not something which is the expression of Himself.
The law of God is as sacred as God Himself It is a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, the expression of divine love and wisdom (Patriarchs and Prophets p. 52).
The broken law of God demanded the life of the sinner. In all the universe there was but one who could, in behalf of man, satisfy its claims. Since the divine law is as sacred as God himself, only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression. None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with heaven (Ibid., p. 63).
The law of God is holy as He is holy, as perfect as He is perfect. It presents to men the righteousness of God (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings p. 54),
Therefore to place God on a level of infinite greatness while relegating the law to a lesser plane is to hold a position of serious error. They must be thought of as being as holy, as great, as infinite, and as sacred as one another.
Likewise, the understanding that Jesus came to reveal the Father is to comprehend that Christ came to magnify the law. These were not two separate tasks to be accomplished in turn of even in concert. They were one and the same work. The revealing of God’s character was the magnification of the law.
Great stress has been placed upon the truth that the last conflict will be over the law of God. This has not been overdone. Despite all the emphasis, there has not yet been conveyed the real significance of the place of the law in that final struggle. Generally, it is thought that the issue will simply be proving that the seventh day is the Sabbath, with the corresponding exposure of Sunday as being the day of the man of sin. But the issue will go vastly deeper than this. It is true that the Sabbath versus Sunday will be the focal point of the issue, but the whole of the law will be contested, not just one point of it.
The deepest spiritual implications and ramifications of the law will be explored, presented and controverted. But the law is the very expression of the righteousness or character of God, the issue will involve the question of how God keeps the law. Does He kill, destroy, punish, annihilate, execute? The time will come for the final settlement of the great questions of the law and the character of God to be made before the second advent.
But why should there be a controversy over the law of God? Surely the declaration of Scriptures are clear enough! Surely there is need of nothing more than to prove that the Ten Commandments mean just what they say!
Surprising as it may seem, the simple commandments, “Thou shalt not steal, bear false witness, or kill,” have one meaning in the bible and another in philosophy of humanity. This erroneous concept has its origin in Satan who has systematically taught these ideas into human minds for the express purpose of undermining faith in the law and of thereby fostering disobedience to it.
It was to correct this distorted understanding of God’s law that Christ came to magnify the law and to make it honorable.
In the Old testament is found the direct word of God, which says,
Thou shalt not kill, steal, or bear false witness.” Of those words there are two separate and opposed magnification. There is one provided by Satan and generally accepted by humanity. It is a magnification as misshapen as that produced by a lens warped out of normal symmetry. No one can possibly understand the real truth of the law and character of God through this medium.
Then there is another magnification as provided by Jesus Christ. This magnification is so powerful that every detail is brought to view, leaving no remaining questions. It brings us to the position where “all that man needs to know or can know of God had been revealed in the life and character of His Son” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 286). The magnification has been provided. Christ is the microscope.
Let a comparative consideration be given to the magnification of the law as it exists on the one hand the minds and practices of human beings and on the other in the life of Christ, the Word of God.
Individuals actually inject another word into the Scriptures. They say that the law really means, “Thou shall not lie, steal, or kill -unlawfully.” Or they express it in these words, “Thou shalt commit no murder,” a distinction in meaning being made between the words kill and murder. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines “murder in this way: “To kill (a human being) unlawfully with premeditated malice or willfully, deliberately, and unlawfully.”
In human minds there is a distinction between lawful and unlawful killing. There are three situations at least in which people regard it being lawful to kill another human being.
At any time if the slayer can prove that he or she was forced to kill his or her attacker in order to save his or her own life, the slayer will be judged a killer within the bounds of the law and will be set free.
The second situation in which killing is judged to be lawful is when a person has been tried and found guilty of taking a human life. The state then claims every right to take the person’s life in return. This, they say, is lawful killing.
The third is when an alien army invades the borders. People regard it as being perfectly lawful, necessary, and expedient to slaughter as many of the enemy as necessary to prevent the invasion from being successful.
Human beings of every nation on earth throughout human history accept these working principles. To most people’s minds, not only are these guidelines right but they are the only solution to the problem involved in these situations. They firmly believe they can do it this way and still be keepers of the law. In fact, high honors are heaped upon military personal in war who can destroy the most.
To ensure that people never weaken in these convictions, the whole educational system, built up under Satan’s direction, is geared to systematically, continually, and persistently reiterate these ideas. Never in history has Satan been better equipped to do so than in this age. Now he has at his command not just the verbal storyteller, the limit of his facilities in the beginning, but the stupendous volume of cheap novels, radio, movie theaters, and now most present and insistent of all teachers, the television screen.
As people sit before these media, they think they are being harmlessly entertained, but in actual truth they are being thoroughly educated in Satan’s doctrines. With every appreciative view of the usual television story, the watcher is more firmly entrenched in erroneous notions of God’s character.
Thus is made apparent as soon as a candid analysis of the message of the movie is conducted. Here is the typical plot. It is found with minor variations in western, detective, police, military, espionage, and other tales. The message is always that the law must be broken in order to uphold it.
The film introduces the watcher to a segment of society. Maybe it is a ranch family or a small town in the West or a town of farmhouse in case of a war story.
Care is taken to show this capsule of humanity as a clean, respectable, law-abiding group of people. There is love, trust, and cooperation between them. A little friction may intrude at times, but that is purely incidental and designed to show that they are not super humans but everyday folk just like the viewers. The viewing audience has no difficulty in identifying with the people on the screen. A sense of fellowship and brotherhood is established.
Then the lawbreaker is introduced. In westerns he appears as a dark man clad in black clothes, riding a black horse, and armed with black guns. With him is a gang of men who look like their leader. They are hard-faced, tough, callous, and ruthless, with a total disregard for human life. Any who stand in their way, great or small, are simply gunned down. They achieve their ends by lying, stealing, and killing.
As they direct their attacks against the happy segment of society previously introduced, the audience is apprehensive and indignant, even more so as the victims are powerless to protect themselves from the desperadoes. Every instinct and desire of the audience clamors for the punishment of the outlaws.
Up until this point the universal problem of humanity has been presented with truthful accuracy. The people of this world, generally speaking are, on the surface, law-abiding people. They are good neighbors; they help each other and live clean lives. They are pictured by the ranch or village as the case may be in our film illustration.
Just as those people are threatened by a desperado and his gang, so today, the world lies under the threat of Satan and his followers. Humanity is entirely unable to rescue itself from the power of the devil and his angels.
Thus Satan has presented the problem of the human family in a truly accurate form. As a problem requires a solution, one is offered in every film. In the western it is the arrival of a lone champion on a beautiful white horse. In contrast to the robber, he is dressed in white clothes, has a handsome, open face, carries white guns, and is stirred to the depths as he realizes the plight of the oppressed. Alone an unassisted, at any sacrifice even to life itself, he pledges to set them free and to relieve the earth forever from the scourge of the terrorist. For his services he seeks neither fame nor reward. He does it as a mission, his only motivation being that of dedicated service.
So far in the story there is the continued portrayal of the truth, for just s the solution to the film is found in the advent of a champion of self-sacrificing spirit and character, so did Jesus Christ come in that way to redeem humankind. Like the hero in the story, His soul was stirred with indignation as He beheld the predicament of humanity, and He resolved that he would save them, no matter what cost. He would not do it for the price nor reward but only from the motivation of love and mercy.
The great white hero with his pearl-handled guns rides forth on his white charger to deal with the liars, thieves, and murderers. But in order to outwit the liars, he lies; to catch the thieves, he steals, for if he suddenly needs a horse, saddle, or rifle, he will simply help himself to another person’s and to end the murderous reign of the killers, he kills.
When he is finished, the lawbreaking is ended. The law has been upheld, but the message of the film has been that in order to achieve this, the law had to be broken. Only by lying, stealing, and killing could lying, stealing, and killing be brought to an end. The law has to be broken in order to ensure that it was kept. This is Satan’s message. He does not say that the law is wholly bad and should be entirely done away with. He admits that under certain circumstances it is good and should be obeyed. But he continues that the law is not perfect for there are situations where it must be disobeyed in order to solve the problems arising.
Both evil people and their master, the devil, want a law. They want it composed so that it protects them from other people but not other people from them. It is impossible to have such a law for every person. But it is possible for a privileged class to have it at the expense of the masses.
Such, then, is the message contained in Satan’s educational program. In his classrooms there is no dissent. When the hero lies, steals, and murders, the viewers applaud. They honor him for what he has done and consider him very smart to use such weapons in his campaign.
To them the villain was unlawfully lying, stealing and killing, whereas the hero was doing it lawfully. Therefore, the villain was a criminal, but the hero was not.
Why do people take such an attitude toward this problem? There is a very real psychological reason for it. As noted above, every person consciously or subconsciously longs to be in the position where they are protected by the law but do not have to keep it themselves.
Such is Satan’s and, in turn, humanity’s magnification of the law that states “Thou shalt not kill, lie, or steal.” We know that it is of the devil because such a philosophy finds no place in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
Having examined the magnification of the law as set forth by the devil, the time has come to consider its enlargement as presented by Jesus Christ. Without doubt or question, we know that it will be the truth, for Christ is the very fountain of truth.
Jesus showed that there is no such things as lawful and unlawful lying, stealing, and killing. He lived His whole life upon this earth devoted to ending all such things. Yet in order to accomplish that, He never once lied, stole, or killed.
Under every circumstance, every possible pressure, threat, or danger, Jesus told only the truth, respected the property of all, and took the lives of none.
In doing so he demonstrated forever how we are to keep the law and how, in turn, the Father and He keep the law. He showed that when God said in a few simple words. “Thou shalt not life, steal, or kill,” He did not add provisions and exceptions. No matter what the circumstances, pressures, dangers, threats, needs, or any other seeming justification for breaking those commands might be, the words were still “Thou shalt not . . . .” No distinction whatever exists in God’s mind between lawful and unlawful killing. With God there is only unlawful killing.
God has spoken in His Word, saying, “The law of the LORD is perfect” (Psalm 19:7). It could, of course, be none other than this, seeing that it is the transcript of the character of the Eternal. He is perfection in the absolute sense. Therefore, His law is likewise perfect. Such perfection does not mean that it is the perfect answer for certain situations but needs to be modified or even abrogated to suit other institutions. On the contrary, it means that no matter what circumstances. Situation, or pressure may arise the law is still the one and only code for perfect behavior.
Such perfection does not mean that it is the perfect answer of certain situations but needs to be modified or even abrogated to suit other situations. On the contrary, it means that no matter what circumstances, situation, or pressure may arise the law is still the one and only code for perfect behavior.
When any person claims that it is lawful to kill when the commandments so distinctly say, “Thou shalt not kill,” is in the moment saying that the law, and the God of the law, is imperfect, less than infinite, and therefore less than God. It is also to deny the whole witness of Christ’s ministry. It is to declare the truth of God a lie.
The point which the devil is bent on making is that the law must be broken in order to be maintained. The life and teachings of Christ deny this. So does the message of God in the Old Testament.
There is the story of two people who adopted the policy of breaking the law in order to ensure that it be kept. It is the story of Jacob and his mother in their quest for the promised birthright. Before the birth of the two children, God, foreseeing with infinite accuracy the character of each, declared that Jacob should have the birthright instead of the elder son, Esau.
And the Lord said to her; “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).
Rebekah clearly and correctly understood that the last sentence in the verse was a promise to Jacob that the birthright should be his, not Esau’s. Rebekah remembered the words of the angel, and she read with clearer insight than did her husband the character of their sons. She was convinced that the heritage of the divine promise was intended for Jacob. She repeated to Isaac the angel’s words, but his affections were centered upon his elder son, and he was unshaken in his purpose.
Jacob had learned from this mother of the divine information that the birthright should fall to him, and he was filled with an unspeakable desire for the privileges which they would confer (Patriarchs and Prophets p. 178).
God’s selection of Jacob to inherit the birthright was not an arbitrary one. The directions given by God were done so on the foreknowledge that Esau would disqualify himself from the right to its possession. Without question, Isaac should have accepted the decree made on this basis, especially when Esau’s behavior confirmed the rightness of God’s decision. The law stipulated that should a young man marry among the heathen then he automatically forfeited all right to the birthright. This Esau had done. Polygamously, to make matters worse. “When Esau was forty years old, he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah” (Genesis 26:34, 35).
Upon Esau’s doing this, Isaac, in strict obedient to the law, ought to have relinquish his paternal preference for his elder son and prepared to confer the birthright blessing on Jacob. But he allowed his affections to overrule his conscience so that he chose his own way in preference to the clear will of God.
Rebekah exerted all the influence she could to dissuade him from his fixed determination to confer the birthright blessing on Esau. She pointed out the disinterest in, and disregard, for the spiritual responsibilities involved in the birthright, which marked Esau’s life. She reminded him of the prophecy made before the boys were born and of Esau’s marriage to the heathen. She pointed to the contrasting spirit, attitude, and consecrated life of Jacob, but all her reasoning and pleadings were to no avail.
The only thing she did achieve was a deferment of the day when the blessing was to be bestowed. But as the infirmities of age advanced on Isaac, he realized that if he did not pronounce the blessing soon it would be too late. He determined on a secret session rather than the joyous family affair that was the usual way. He called Esau and instructed him to take his weapons and catch his favorite venison. They would have a little feast together after which the son would receive the prized blessing. It is to be noted that Esau’s interest lay in the material blessing, for the spiritual had no attraction for him. Rebekah was listening in as the supposedly secret instructions were being given, and with a chill in her heart, she realized the implication of what her husband was about to do.
Rebekah divined his purpose. She was confident that it was contrary to what God had revealed as His will. Isaac was in danger of incurring the divine displeasure and of debarring his younger son from the position to which God had called him. She had in vain tried the effect of reasoning with Isaac, and she determined to resort to stratagem (Patriarchs and Prophets p. 180).
With great clarity she saw that Isaac was about to act in direct opposition to the stipulations of the law, thereby incurring Divine displeasure. She saw that by so doing Jacob would be deprived of the blessing that was rightfully his. Therefore, she reasoned, she must prevent Isaac from breaking the law, both for his won good and for the good of Jacob.
She had worked hard for years to forestall such an action by appealing to Isaac. That had proved unsuccessful, so she reasoned that she now had to use other means.
To what method did she turn?
In order to save Isaac from being a lawbreaker, she became a lawbreaker her self and induced Jacob to become one with her. They turned from God’s way to their way. They acted out the same principles, or lack of them, as portrayed by the heroes of the silver screen, the novel, or any other form of fiction. It was an evil sowing that brought them a bitter reaping even though they achieved their objective to a point. Jacob did obtain the spiritual blessing, but the material wealth and power fell into Esau’s hands just the same.
Jacob and Rebekah succeeded in their purpose, but they gained only trouble and sorrow by their deception. God had declared that Jacob should receive the birthright, and His works would have been fulfilled in his own time had they waited in faith for Him to work for them. But like many who now profess to be children of God, they were unwilling to leave the matter in His hands. Rebekah bitterly repented the wrong counsel she had given her son; it was the means of separating him from her, and she never saw his face again. From the moment when he received the birthright, Jacob was weighed down with self-condemnation. He had sinned against his father, his brother, his own soul, and against God. In one short hour he had made work for a lifelong repentance. This scene was vivid before him in the after years when the wicked course of his own sons oppressed his soul.
Rebekah and Jacob broke the law in order to keep it from being broken. They were wholly wrong in so doing, as it proved by the sad punishment they had to bear for their mistake. Let not their mistake and its consequent troubles be of no value to those of us facing the final confrontation over what the law really means. Let it be that we shall see with great clarity that the law cannot be upheld by its being broken..
The words, “Thou shall not bear false witness, steal, or kill,” set forth the pattern of behavior no matter what the circumstances, pressures, threats, demands, necessities, advantages, or whatever else it may be. In God’s kingdom and under His principles, the end can never, never, never justify the means. Therefore, in every situation, the law, and not expedience, is to be consulted and obeyed. When God has a people who will stand by these principles and be guided in this way, he will have a people whom he can trust to finish the work, and it will then be finished.
In our next post we will explore the concept of “Going the Second Mile.” Does this fit with God’s character?
In the Old Testament, God apparently instructed the people to function under a compensatory, retributive, retaliatory legal system. It was called “Eye for Eye,” but God came down in Jesus saying. “Not so, here is what God is like and what He wants you to be like? Turn the other cheek and love your enemies.” How do we deal with this dichotomy?
Is there a “sunset clause” on God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness? When is it reached?
If we hold that God’s way is not retributive, punitive, and “eye for eye,” that his mercy and love endures forever, do we say that Satan and the wicked get to go on forever in their ways, never coming to full justice?
If you have not had an opportunity to read the other posts on this subject of God’s Character, you are invited to click the links below which will take you to each post.