The Way of Jesus wisely wields reason and facts to end violence, curtail force, and embrace peace. The ideals of the Law of Moses and the Prophets—implemented in the Way of Jesus—provide perfect photos and maps for people, communities of wisdom, families, businesses, nations, and civilizations to find the Way to the abode of light, by knowing the laws of the heavens, and by establishing God’s dominion over Humanity.
We frequently hear calls to respect “the rule of law”. This is often tied to the statements that we are “a nation of laws and not of men.” And that “no man is above the law.”
Of course, nowadays we update these proverbs by using gender inclusive words: “we are a nation of laws and not of persons” and “no one is above the law.”
In addition, I want to insert the word “wise” into these proverbs: “the rule of wise laws”; “we are a nation of wise laws and not of persons”; and “no one is above wise laws”.
Otherwise, we risk having people forget that no law or person is above God—and that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom. (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10).
As with any proverb, there are many insights and applications from “respecting the rule of law.”
Among these insights and applications are the ways that the rule of law enables us to end violence and curtail the use of force. We need wise decisions based on laws and facts, rather than violent actions based on trial by combat!
Among individuals, communities of faith, families, and businesses, it’s essential that mediators and courts resolve disputes instead of having individuals, communities of faith, families, and businesses resolve their disputes by fighting and killing others.
Among nations and civilizations, it’s essential that wise international laws and wise norms of conduct resolve disputes.
Among nations and civilizations, it is essential to form coalitions and alliances with other wise nations and wise civilizations that encourage respect for the rule of wise laws—ending violence, curtailing the use of force, and embracing peace.
To apply the rule of law wisely—to know good from evil—relies on reason, facts and wisdom. (Genesis 3:5).
To apply laws and customs wisely, we need to heed the call of the LORD to “Come now, and let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18 KJV).
Throughout his public ministry, Jesus repeatedly relied on reason to apply the ideals of the Law of Moses and the Prophets. (Matthew 4:1-11; 5:1-7:29; Luke 2:46-47; 10:25-37; 11:1-10; 15:1-32; 24:26-27,32,44-47; John 3:1-21; 4:7-42; 13:1-17:26).
Throughout his public ministry, Jesus repeatedly relied on reason to refute those who opposed him. (Matthew 12:1-12; 15:1-20; 16:11-13; 19:1-9; 21:23-45; 22:15-31; 26:55-66; John 5:31-40,45-47; 6:25-59; 7:50-8:20; 10:1-38; 18:19-24,33-38).
The Law of Moses repeatedly relied on reason to apply its ideals and to refute those opposed to it. (Genesis 1:1-3:24; 18:16-33; 32:1-33:17; 41:33-57; 47:11-26; 50:20; Exodus 18:1-26; 21:1-23:19; Leviticus 10:1-11; 11:1-27:34; 26:3-45; Numbers 5:1-6:27; 12:1-15; 27:1-11; 30:1-16; 35:1-36:13; Deuteronomy 4:23-40; 5:1-6:25; 10:1-11:32; 11:13-28; 13:1-4; 14:1-30:20; 17:8-11; 19:15-19; 28:1-48; 29:29-30:20; 31:9-13; 32:45-47; Ezra 7:73-8:12).
The Prophets relied on reason to apply their ideals and refute those who opposed them. (1 Samuel 7:15-17; 12:23; 2 Samuel 12:1-10; 2 Kings 17:13-15; Psalm 1:1-6; 19:1-14; 119:1-176; Isaiah 1:15-20; 5:7-31; 10:1-4; 32:1-8; Jeremiah 7:1-15,22-28; 8:8-9; 31:33-34; Ezekiel 18:1-32; 44:21,23-24; Daniel 1:17-20; Micah 4:1-4; Malachi 2:4-10; 4:4).
To apply laws and customs wisely—to know good and evil—we need to rely on facts.
Throughout his public ministry, Jesus repeatedly relied on facts to know good from evil (Matthew 7:3-5,15-20; 11:2-5; 12:33,35,37; 18:15-17; Mark 12:38-44; Luke 1:1-4; 6:39-45; 7:20-23; 20:45-21:4; John 3:19-21; 10:32,37-38; 12:37-43; 14:8-11;23-24; 15:5).
The Law of Moses provided that important facts must be established by at least two witnesses. (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 19:15). Moses didn’t rely on social media to know good from evil. Moses never tweeted!
Jesus insisted that facts be established by two or more witnesses. (Matthew 18:15-20; John 8:14-18).
As did Paul. (2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 & 2 Corinthians 8:16-24).
Of course, there are some questions that can never be answered solely by relying on reason and on the facts available to us. That’s why reason and facts need to be wielded with Wisdom.
For example, in the book of Job, the LORD asks:
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?”
As for the debate among Job and his “comforters” about the Problem of Pain—why do bad things happen to good people?—the LORD asks:
“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? . . . .
Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.
Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!” . . . .
Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s Belt?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
In the face of these questions and of many other questions that the LORD asked Job—questions that can never be answered solely by relying on reason and on the facts available to us—Job replied to the LORD:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
In terms used by Isaiah, Jesus and Paul, now Job’s eyes and ears were opened so he was no longer “deaf” and “blind”. Now his ears heard and understood. His eyes saw and perceived. (Isaiah 6:8-14; Matthew 13:13-17; Mark 4:9-12; Luke 8:8-10; Acts 28:25-27).
Isaiah himself recognized the limits of reason and facts when trying to comprehend “The LORD! The LORD! a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7).
And so, Isaiah wrote:
“Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteousness their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD,
and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts
neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the LORD.
“‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”
The Way of Jesus reveals to us the abode of light, the laws of the heavens, and the Way to establish God’s dominion over Humanity. (Job 38:19,33).
To paraphrase the opening verses of the Gospel of John:
In the beginning was Wisdom, and Wisdom was with God, and Wisdom was God. Wisdom became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:1,14).
Does this mean we should not rely on reason and facts when lighting the world with the laws of the heavens to establish God’s dominion over Humanity? No!!!!!
In our lives, we’re used to the idea that different photos are useful for different purposes.
To know what someone’s face looks like, we take a photo on our cell phone.
Similarly, sometimes reason and facts are sufficient by themselves to discern and heal “health” problems (such as violence) in our lives, communities of faith, families, businesses, nations, and civilizations.
But sometimes we must probe deeper.
We use lab tests, ultrasounds, x-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs to discern and heal deep, underlying health problems.
Similarly, in addition to reason and facts, we sometimes need to use Wisdom to discern and heal deep, underlying “health” problems (such as violence) in our lives, communities of wisdom, families, businesses, nations, and civilizations.
In our lives, we use different maps for different purposes.
For example, if we’re taking a road trip, we need a map that shows all the interstates, including places where we’ll be slowed by construction and places where we need to be vigilant for speed traps.
But if we’re hiking in Yellowstone National Park, we need a map of hiking trails, including places of interest and places where we need to be vigilant for dangerous conditions and dangerous animals.
The ideals of the Law of Moses and the Prophets—implemented in the Way of Jesus—provide perfect photos and maps for people, communities of wisdom, families, businesses, nations, and civilizations to find the Way to the abode of light, by knowing the laws of the heavens, and by establishing God’s dominion over Humanity.
The Way of Jesus wisely wields reason and facts to end violence, curtail force, and embrace peace.
For additional thoughts about ending violence and curtailing the use of force, please read my blogs “Ending Violence: Putting Faces With Names”, “Ending Violence: Embracing the Spirit of Peace”, “Curtailing Force: Replacing Nails With Glue”; and “Curtailing Force: The Rule of Wise Laws”.