Immediately after the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, Moses gave the ordinances (Ex. 21:1) of the Old Testament law (Exodus 21-23). These are the implementing regulations. The ordinances define what the Ten Commandments look like in practice. We can't claim to subscribe to the Ten Commandments if we reject the ordinances.
They include laws governing marriage, assault, murder, kidnapping, theft, tort, accidental dismemberment, restitution, perjury, abortion, and more. Each one of them relates back to one of the Ten Commandments.
Any nation neglects the Old Testament Law at its peril. Deuteronomy 28 spells out the blessings and cursings associated with national obedience to the Old Testament Law.
We can protest that it was written for the ancient Jews, but that will get us nowhere. The Gentile nations around Israel were held accountable to the Old Testament Law (Amos 1,2) and Jesus said not a jot or tittle has passed away (Mt. 5).
In spite of our protests the curse has found us out in 2008 just as God promised. Everywhere we turn there is confusion and frustration in everything we undertake to do (Dt. 28:20). We have economic meltdown, international conflict, and breakdown of our health care system. In Biblical terms that is "famine, sword, and pestilence."
The reign of King Josiah was preceded by the very short reign of Amon and the very long and wicked reign of Manasseh. The Bible records that Manasseh was an extremely evil and
Into this moral wilderness was born Josiah, a boy of remarkable spirit, who assumed the throne when only eight years of age. In his eighteenth year he commissioned extensive repair for the house of the Lord, which had been grossly neglected. During the course of this construction Hilkiah the priest discovered a copy of the book of the law, the Bible of that day -- the Old Testament Law.
Upon reading the Book and consulting with the priest and the prophetess Huldah, Josiah embarked on the most thorough reform in the history of Judah, based on a written covenant. First, He renewed the covenant with God (II Kings 23:3) and then he purged the land of all its idols and restored the Passover of the Lord. In many ways, Oliver Cromwell was a latter day Josiah.
The Rule of God
This example pertains to us today. First Timothy 1:8-10 declares that a lawful use of God's law in the New Testament era is to publically restrain lawbreakers. The king’s responsibility is to uphold this law; the citizen’s responsibility is to obey it.
This is the essence of theocracy – rule of God -- under God's oath-bound representatives. "Theos”=God, “cracy”=rule of. Will we reject the rule of God, because we are uncomfortable with the word theocracy? Theocracy was one theme of the Reformation, although leader John Calvin sent mixed signals.
Unfortunately, the name for this arrangement has been laden with pejorative connotations, but the word “Theocracy” means simply “Rule of God”. In a theocracy both church and state are separate and cooperative institutions, but both are accountable to God. This arrangement provides for true liberty under law to replace our current secular theocracy in which the state has taken the place of God.
“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully. Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless...for murderers...for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. According to the glorious gospel...(I Tim. 1:8-11)
Here we learn that Old Testament law against such crimes as murder, homosexuality, kidnapping, perjury, etc., is applicable to civil government in New Testament times. Modern governments are not left to improvise when it comes to the codification of law. They are required to look to biblical law as the model on which to pattern civil law. This is in complete accord with the glorious gospel of Christ.
The book of Nehemiah is a handbook for civil rulers in every age. This section explores in depth Nehemiah’s renewal of the national covenant with God after the captivity. This national covenant is obligatory for the gentile nations today. The covenant encompasses all facets of national life and culture, including such things as the leadership role of women, health care, education, and government regulation of the economy.
But sometimes American Patriotism will trump the law of God. We often hear the complaint, “You can’t impose all of those harsh Old Testament death penalties on people today!” They forget that the Old Testament law had a built-in provision for a ransom to allow the offender at least one opportunity to repent if the victim agreed (Ex. 21:30).
The Biblical Law Code Project
Let’s say we’ve gotten beyond all of that and you’ve been given a very special magic wand. This magic wand empowers you to wipe the lawbooks clean and start over with a completely fresh slate. How would you proceed?
This is more than just an academic exercise. While there are a number of commentaries on Old Testament law, to our knowledge a complete law code based on Biblical case law has never been written. Ancient law codes such as Justinian's Code were based on natural law and Roman law (Romulus), not Biblical law.
My hope is that together we might develop the rudiments of such a Code that could be offered as model legislation at some point in the future. We could call this the Biblical Law Code Project.
Here are some suggested categories of law that might be included in the Biblical Law Code Project. Feel free to submit additions or corrections:
I. Legal Principles & Definitions
V. Property Crime
VI. Family Law
VII. Sexual Offenses
X. Justifiable Force
This project should be based on groundwork laid in many fine commentaries on the law of God, most of which have been produced since the early 1970s. Some of the best include:
Clark's book is out of print, but I can provide a copy if anybody is interested. Weiland's Booklets will soon be published in a single volume entitled, God’s Covenant Law: Yesterday, Today and Forever. Rev. Weiland is also writing an excellent Biblical critique of the U.S. Constitution, which is currently available online.
A good primer on the subject is my book Discipling the Nations, sold on this website. Please click on the footer box at the bottom of this page to link to the Bookstore.
The humanists have nearly a 30-year head start on us. In 1962 The American Law Institute presented its Model Penal Code "to stimulate and assist legislatures in making an effort to update and standardize the penal law of the United States of America."
The standard on which they based their revision was "contemporary reasoned judgment." The Law of God was of course ignored. Four states have adopted this Model Code in its entirety and many others have adopted portions.
The Model Penal Code was developed during an era when Christians were "asleep at the switch," disengaged from the culture. But the humanists were wide-awake, reconstructing America in their own rationalist image.
You Be The Legislator
Pick one modern legal problem or law that isn’t working and write your own law. There’s only one stipulation: your law must be based on an Old Testament judicial case law statute (I Tim. 1:8-10). Please follow the examples of proposed legislation below the entry form.
Biblical Laws Other "Legislators" Have Enacted
Click below to see laws written by other "legislators" for the Biblicial Law Code Project ...
II. Procedural Stipulations
Theory Of Law Comments: Theocracy is rule by God not us
“Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the …...
V. Title: Property Crimes, Theft
V. Title: Property Crimes, Pollution.
X. Self-Defense Not rated yet
"If the thief is caught while breaking in, and is struck …...
VIII. Assault Not rated yet