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Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 11 September 2014


By Jim Jordal

“I have written unto him the great things of my law, but they were considered a vain thing.”                                                                                            Hosea 8:12 NKJV

This Bible verse is troubling because it details the sad portrayal of a nation that once possessed the great things of God’s law, but allowed them by disuse to sink into triviality and meaninglessness. Hosea’s message, as he spoke for God, was to the tribe of Ephraim, one of the larger tribes of Israel.

Arguably, the United States is the only nation in history to be founded upon principles of freedom, morality and justice. The Founders believed these principles came from God, and they had their Bibles with them when they reached the New World. Believing they had founded the New Order of the Ages, they immediately undertook to create a new nation under law and dedicated to the proposition that righteousness and justice were vital in nation-building.

As we know, the episodes and moral teaching of the Old Testament are intended to provide examples and instruction for later Christians, including those living today. We are spiritual, if not racial, descendants of these same people, so we benefit or suffer in direct response to what we do with God’s law.

Moses in Deuteronomy 4 puts it this way: “this [the law] is your wisdom and understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people….And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day.’ “

Projecting forward some 34 hundred years from 1451 B.C. when Moses wrote these words, we see the same moral and ethical principles surviving today with little change in the principles of English Common Law and the U.S. Constitution. But now we see these ethical principles and precepts threatened by recent Supreme Court decisions and public policies aimed at favoring the top few percent of our people against the remaining masses. This is not the righteousness and justice envisioned by the prophets, nor is it what the Founding Fathers thought they were creating.

In the process of dating biblical episodes scholars have evidently decided that the much-venerated Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God at the same time (1451 B.C.) as the provisions of biblical Jubilee (Lev. 25) that we have virtually left in the dust of history. One can’t help but wonder why both gained inclusion in our versions of the Bible, but one is enshrined in religious and political culture while the other is generally ignored.

My thought is that it had something to do with God’s inerrant timing of events in human history. The Ten Commandments were necessary for the new nation of Israel to survive over the first years after entering the Promised Land, since they dealt with interpersonal relationships and God-consciousness vital to public order and progress toward institution-building. Jubilee could come later after the new government was firmly established.

Is it now time for Jubilee justice administered by Jesus Christ to reign over the earth? I think if you ponder the disastrous news breaking every day, you’ll begin to think so. But have we had enough economic, political, social, and ecological shock so that we’ll finally turn to God? Not quite yet, it seems!

So where is grace and the church in all this? Grace does not substitute for law; it fulfils it. The “great things of my law” concerning justice and righteousness (right relationships) still remain, but due to our misapplication of grace they have largely been forgotten. What has changed is not the law, but the reason why we honor and obey it: We now obey, not from fear of punishment, but from the love we offer to God for his magnanimous gift of life in Christ.   Only the ceremonial and sacrificial law was abrogated by the death of Christ. The remainder, like Jubilee, remains, awaiting the time for unveiling upon the earth. As Isaiah said, then the “trees of the field shall clap their hands.”