Ministry Comments

No Nation Can Exist Without a Basic Body of Law

No nation can exist without a basic body of law that its citizens swear to uphold. In Exodus 20 we see that Jesus Christ, as the God of the Old Testament and head of the nation of Israel, delivered his foundational law to those he governed. In like manner, every great empire that has lasted more than one generation has had core beliefs that governed their society. These fundamentals of a nation are the adhesive strength that binds the people to their nation. When the basic law and core beliefs are eroded and replaced by dictates of individuals, the adhesion of the citizens to their nation’s foundation are eventually destroyed.

The account of much of the Old Testament about Israel is the history of a nation that had the greatest foundational body of law ever possessed by a people. Yet the nation could not resist the power of errant leadership that substituted their foreign values for the perfect law of God. Christ, the founder, the One who gave Israel its perfect law, knew that law alone was not sufficient to control the hearts of the Israelites. The Old Testament stories give ample proof of that. He knew a people had to have a heart inclined to keep his law, not only in the letter, but also in the spirit. It was not enough to just possess the understanding of the technical do’s and don’ts of the law.

Contrary to what many theologians have concluded from Ancient Israel’s failures, God’s laws are not strangling regulations from which we need deliverance. Instead they are timeless, perfect principles that teach how society and individuals should conduct themselves. They are meant, not only to create order, but are intended for a higher purpose—that of nurturing the wholesome spirit of the nation: they bring health, peace and proper relationships to those who adhere to them. Happiness is the intended benefit. For example, Christ taught a person should not only refrain from committing adultery, but a true follower of the law is not to lust after one of the opposite sex. This example explains that the central purpose of this law is to protect the basic building block of a nation, the family. It is not just an arbitrary moral standard. The consequences for breaking the law were built in to prevent the nation from going into a moral slide that would negate the benefits derived from keeping the law.

Thus the vital key to keeping the spirit of God’s law is to understand the purpose behind the law. In Matthew 12:9-14 Christ’s confrontation with the Pharisees reflects the lack of their understanding of the spirit of the law and is an example of Christ’s perfect teaching of the intent of the law for all who would read and understand:

Matthew 12:9-14
9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:
10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. KJV

The release of that man from the burden of physical disability was a perfect example of the core value of the Sabbath. The Sabbath blessing is to release humans from the daily burdens of this world. Thus we, in this modern age, should strive to spiritually keep the Sabbath so that we have rest from the demoralizing challenges of living in this increasingly decadent world. Israel, on the other hand, could never accomplish keeping the Sabbath spiritually because their hearts were fixed on controlling human behavior rather than lifting up the spirit of the nation. In addition they failed to safeguard the keeping of the Sabbath from those who through lust and greed sought to tear it down.

This contrast between regulatory burdens and failure to properly value the Sabbath are the two opposite ditches that mankind’s nature tends to fluctuate between. That is why there is such a great need for what occurred on the second Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 (Please take time to review this chapter). Ancient Israel’s failures demonstrated the need for something more if mankind was ever to truly appreciate the necessity and benefits of keeping God’s laws. It takes the exercise of another spirit, God’s holy spirit, working in the mind and heart of a person to discern this.

The Feast of Pentecost is a memorial of two great events: The giving of the Ten Commandments to all mankind, not just the nation of Israel, and the pouring out of the holy spirit of God on his Church (Exodus 20 and Acts 2). Without both there could be no lasting Kingdom of God.


Have you ever considered the difference a few prudent uses of the word “no” could have made in the course of mankind’s history? The word “no” used properly can open as many doors as it closes, for “no” is not necessarily a negative word, although it is always powerful.

We see the word “no” many times during the course of an average day. “No” can even save your life. A roadway sign at an intersection is a “no” sign—“No” proceeding without first stopping and making sure it is safe. Many two-lane rural roads have no-passing zones; these are signs that prevent accidents. They are a “no” that saves lives. Some beaches have “no swimming” signs. Why is this? Because there are undercurrents in those areas, currents unseen, but deadly. You can see how the word “no” can be life-saving. The Bible has many examples where the word “no”, or rather the lack of the word “no”, literally changed the course of history.

We are all familiar with the temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden. What would life have been like if Eve had said “no” to the serpent? What if Adam had said “no” to Eve?

We know that Jacob (Israel) had twelve sons, and of these twelve sons Reuben was the first born, but despite this he did not receive the greatest blessing as was the custom. Reuben disqualified himself by his sin with Bilhah who was one of Jacob’s concubines (Gen: 35:22 and Gen. 49:3-4). Would the entire history of Reuben’s family be different if he had said “no” to temptation?

In the book of I Samuel we read of Eli the priest. Eli had two corrupt sons, Hophni and Phinehas, and you can read of their corruption in I Samuel 2: 12-17. Beginning in verse 22 we learn Eli was aware of his son’s sins, and he spoke to them about their behavior. Put in today’s vernacular, Eli said, “You boys shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing.” Eli merely expressed disapproval and cautioned them, he did not stop them. He didn’t really say “no”. Eli was the priest, he was their father, and could have put an end to what was happening. He did not do so, however, and God held Eli responsible for failing to stop something that was within his authority to stop. In God’s eyes Eli was honoring Hophni and Phinehas more than he was honoring God. All of this could have been different if Eli had said “no” to his son’s behavior. Undoubtedly Eli cared deeply for his sons. Perhaps he just couldn’t bring himself to take the stand he knew he should. Whatever the reason, God held him responsible, and there were horrible consequences as a result of Eli’s ambivalent approach. What a difference an unequivocal “no” would have meant to Eli and his family.

What about you and your family? Is your family affected by your hesitance to use “no”? As parents there are times that we must say “no” to our children or spouses. That “no” should spring from your knowledge and understanding, not from your emotion, fatigue, or impatience. When the principles contained in God’s word make it clear the answer should be “no”, then say “no” and do not deviate. There may be more hanging in the balance than you could ever imagine. It’s doubtful that Adam, Rueben, or Eli had any inkling of the long term repercussions of their decisions. Often, that is how life unfolds. We acquiesce on some seemingly inconsequential issue and then months or years later we realize the needless suffering that resulted from our failure to stay the course. Often we use yes in order to have peace; only to find out later the peace was short lived, followed by long-term suffering.

The individual we most need to practice using the word “no” with is ourselves. Of all the people our human nature hates to say “no” to, we head the list! Unfortunately human nature tends to be very indulgent of itself. In Jeremiah 17:9, God tells us “the heart is deceitful above all things.”

Quite often, the person one deceives the most is one’s own self. A person will reason, rationalize, spiritualize, and intellectualize himself into problem after problem. He will justify himself into possession of whatever he desires. Then when the fruit of his own doing comes back upon his head, he declares he is under attack from Satan. Make no mistake, Satan is real and he does strike at God’s people at every opportune moment, but all too often, when we find ourselves in serious problems, they are of our own making. We allow ourselves to be enticed by our desires and then fail to say “no” to ourselves. Consider James 1:13-15; Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God” for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

If you have been in God’s church for several years or more, you possess a reasonable understanding of God’s law. You know right from wrong. But seldom is a lack of knowledge concerning God’s law the problem. The problem is often lack of application of that law to our lives. Our desires entice us, and we fail to say “no”. Do not allow your desires or your fears to convince you that “no” is not necessary. If “no” is needed, then use it and stick to it.

Remember the account of Nebuchadnezzar’s huge golden image (Daniel 3)? After having it erected, Nebuchadnezzar commanded that everyone should bow down and worship it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to comply, even in the face of Nebuchadnezzar’s rage and fury. They knew the consequences of their refusal. There are times when we must say “no” to man in order to say “yes” to God. If there is a conflict, “we ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). It is worth noting that God respected the three men’s obedience to Him, and preserved their lives.

There is a technique that can help; us in this struggle to say “no”; Work to change some of your desires. Remember James 1:14 where it is written, “a person is drawn away by his own desires.” We must each affect a transformation of the way we think and what we desire. We each spent any number of years in this world before God began to work with us. During this time, we went along with the world to one degree or another. We thought as the world thought; we behaved as the world behaved; and the inordinate evil desires of the world became our inordinate evil desires.

Also, refer to I Peter 4:1-3: “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.”

Those evil desires will change if you will set your mind on those things that are above and not the things on this earth (see Col.3:1-2). This can be done, not by might or power, but by the Spirit of God working in you, if you will yield to it. If you are yielding to God’s Spirit, you will correspondently be saying “no” to the desires that once ruled your life. In Philippians 2:5 we read, “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” As we allow that mind to be in us, many incorrect desires will, in a slow but sure process, begin to change. We will desire, above all else, to please God by obeying Him. An important aspect of pleasing God is to say “no” to desires that do not please Him.

Enjoy the freedom that “no” can bring, and realize that in exercising that freedom you are saying “yes” to God’s way of life, and ultimately to your place in His Kingdom.

In 1st Corinthians 1:25 Paul writes, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” What does Paul mean by this?

To be sure, Paul is not saying God is in any way foolish. Rather he is saying men who are vain in their thinking consider their worldly wisdom superior to what they read in God’s word. But does God teach foolishness in any way? Of course not. In the second half of this chapter Paul refers to the “foolishness of God” in order to explain how limited man is in his understanding. The mighty and the powerful seek their own wisdom . The simple straight forward statements by God in His word are rejected as uneducated and unenlightened.

Possibly, the most maligned portion of the Bible is chapter 1 of Genesis. Without embellishment, this chapter proclaims God to be the source of all things that exist. It does not explain how each aspect of the creation came about. But does that mean these statements in Genesis 1 are scientifically inaccurate and are thus a myth? Are they just so much “foolishness”?

Further, can Christians accept that the foundational chapter of the Bible is a myth? Is that possible for someone who also believes in the resurrection proclaimed by the Bible as the ultimate goal in life? The answer is no, we can’t. A Christian must, rather, be careful not to be selective in his acceptance or rejection of the straightforward matter-of-fact statements God gives to explain his actions or his plan for our lives. So let’s examine why we can accept the simple statements given in Genesis 1 as a true account of creation—statements many, including modern Christians, dismiss as myth.

In the first chapter of Genesis Moses wrote the following in verse 16: “and God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also.”

Moses said the sun was the greater light. That is scientifically accurate. We know the sun is about 6 million times bigger than the moon. But how did Moses know that? Moses could not have reached that understanding through observation. The sun, without modern astronomical instruments, appears smaller than the moon. We have all seen the huge harvest moon. Its size is impressive. To Moses and all those of his day, the logical conclusion would be that the moon is the greater and larger light. But through revelation from God, Moses stated accurately that the sun was in fact the greater light. It took thousands of years after Moses before scientists began to understand the size and power of the sun. Until Copernicus, the science of the day explained that the sun orbited around the earth; we now know that is not true.

In stating the fact the sun is the greater light, God was not informing mankind of a detailed scientific fact. He was directly making the point that He brought our world into existence, and only gave the barest of details of its placement among other astral bodies in the universe.

If understood properly, the scientific accuracy of Moses’ statement is even more impressive. Moses didn’t say that the light of the day was the greatest light in the heaven; but he only compared it to that of the moon. His greater understanding was revealed by what he did not say. It is apparent he knew there are much greater lights in the heaven. These are suns (stars) that are 60 million times greater than our sun. These stars appear as small twinkling lights to man as he stands and observes the heavens at night. There is no way that Moses or the scholars of his day could have known that the sun was not the greatest light in the universe. Only through God’s revelation to Moses could his statements have been accurate. What he was inspired to write then, has come to be common knowledge today.

God revealed many facts about the universe to Moses that are based on true science. However, God did not have Moses write three thousand pages of explanation about how the universe works, the distances in the universe from one point to another, and how the different bodies of the universe relate. He inspired Moses to write only the foundational fact that He created it all. He left the discovery of the awesome breadth of His creation for man to study and to marvel at. Unfortunately, most of mankind has rejected God’s simple statements about creation to come up with their own explanations that often prove to be without any basis in fact – amounting to chosen foolishness that attempts to make sense of God’s awesome creation. How foolish they will all appear when they stand before God.

David O’Malley