In the last post of this series, we took up the task of Defining The Law Of The Land. Here we will consider the purpose of “The Law Of The Land.”
The Purpose Of The Law Of The Land
What the paintings above illustrate is that to obtain justice we will do terrible things, so terrible the justice of doing such things is at least dubious. Yet justice is highly sought after. All we need to learn that is to have someone wrong us and escape punishment.
Is the pursuit of justice the purpose of “The Law Of The Land”? It would seem so. Some suggest that government has larger purpose, but the People will hate any government that fails to provide justice, and they will soon rid themselves of it. Whatever else it does, the People expect their government to administer the “The Law Of The Land,” to provide a “due process” for obtaining justice.
Unfortunately, governments are run by people, and people are not always worthy of trust. Consider Romans 13:1-7. Even as the Roman Empire began to persecute Christians for several hundred years, martyring millions, the Apostle Paul counseled obedience to the governing authorities. Why? As awful as that persecution was to become, no government, the absence of any agency respected and powerful enough to keep order, would have been worse.
Romans 13:3-4 New King James Version (NKJV)
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
What is evil? What is it about evil that requires a sword of justice, even if that sword is in the hands of a vile ruler? We can only surmise, but I think this passage reveals at least part of the answer.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 New King James Version (NKJV)
2 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The Apostle Paul hoped for more than justice or mere vengeance. He hoped for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Yet where men are constantly fearful, struggling to survive amid chaos; not much thought is given to the knowledge of the truth.
What would God think the best kind of government, the one best suited to give each of us an opportunity to come to a knowledge of the truth? The Bible doesn’t say. 1 Samuel 8 (see ONE OF THE SINS OF THE JEWS) makes a powerful case against monarchy, but the Bible does not prescribe a form of government for Christians. The Bible does, however, have much to say about justice. In most translations, the word “justice” occurs about 125 times. The word “justice” seems to occur more frequently in the more literal, modern translations.
What did our nation’s founding fathers say about the purpose of “The Law Of The Land”? Instead of “The Law Of The Land,” the most authoritative document, the Declaration of Independence, speaks of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Even the word “justice” only occurs three times in that document. That part that speaks most directly to the purpose of government does even not include the word “justice.”
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (from here)
It seems the founding fathers desired a just government and the results of having a just government. Consider. When government provides justice — when government justly enforces “The Law Of The Land” — the People are safe and secure in their rights. Then the people have the opportunity to pursue Happiness, even to come to the knowledge of the truth and to be saved.
What is to follow in this series?
- The Means of Persuasion — Ethos, Pathos, Logos
- Why Must We Choose A New Leadership?