The Law of Love and Liberty
People struggle with the notion that God could not be good if He did so many cruel deeds in the past. What most persons fail to realize that our human intellect and reason cannot comprehend the workings of a Mind divine in its very nature. God who can see the end from the beginning is not subject to man’s laws but to an eternal manifestation of His purpose for us. The law of love prescribes that what is dirty and unclean must be removed for healthy systems to grow and flourish without putrefying and polluting other systems around them. Hospital wards have to be sanitized, disinfected and fumigated to get rid of all the germs, viruses and unhealthy microbes that are bringing about the death of patients in them. Allowed to fester, more and more deaths would naturally occur.
The Israelites were protected even before their departure from Egypt. The ten plagues God sent to remove the stony heart of Pharoah did not affect the Israelites. Their pilgrimage out of Egypt was further relieved by the provision of manna from heaven and a covering cloud to protect them from the harsh sunlight during the day and light to counter the darkness during the night. The parting of the Red Sea to allow their escape from their would-be captors, the waters of which swallowed them up, all added to their beneficence. Despite these and more evidence of God’s goodness to them, did they think that obedience to God was necessary?
No, the law of sin that Paul, the apostle, wrestled with, dominated their lives and instead of being fearful of God’s wrath, they stoned or killed the prophets whom God sent to bring them out of their darkness. If sin is left to go unchecked it grows exponentially. Ecclesiastes 8:11 “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” God had no choice but to get rid of the sin that He saw growing unabated amongst the people He thought would be the ones to set an example to the surrounding nations. Instead they were adopting the very behaviour He abhorred. 1 Kings 16:30 says “And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him (32) and he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria (33) And Ahab made a grove ; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” And in Ezekiel 14: 6 “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God: Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.”
God could have let the twelve tribes of Israel die out from pestilence, famine, drought or any form of death. But out of His great love for them, He preferred to warn them repeatedly of what He would do if they did not change from their apostasy and sinful behaviour and obey His Word. He gave them several opportunities to rethink their ways. Perhaps, like the Chief Priest, Ananias, He thought it would be more appropriate for one man (His prophet) to die rather than the whole nation perish. John 18:14 “Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.”
Paul shows the Jews that the law, although just, holy and good, cannot save. The law given to Moses (not the decalogue) was only in force until the advent of the Messiah. Out of His great love for us, God sent His Son to save mankind from their sins, by shedding His blood, dying a shameful death, death on the Cross. Jesus, born of poor and humble parents knew what His role on earth was. He read from the book of Isaiah in Luke 4:16-19:
(16) So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. (17) And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: (18) "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; (19) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."
This is exactly what Jesus did, He went about the countryside doing good; He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, cast demons out. Only love can accomplish such healing. 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” and “Love never ends.”
The law of love embraces the law of liberty. Without liberty the idea of love would be meaningless. Enforcement and coercion would preclude love; that is why God gave us freedom of choice. Jesus proclaimed liberty to the captives of Satan’s power and to set at liberty those who are oppressed by the weight of Satan’s control. The love of Jesus gives us the power to choose good rather than evil. By believing in Him, He allows us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. He has placed His Word in our hands, our minds, our hearts to teach us, to edify us, to warn us, to instil in us right from wrong, to make us better persons by trusting in Him.
James 2: 11&12 warns us not to become a transgressor of the law, so speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. In Galatians 5:13&14 Paul writes, “For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty, only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
I close with an Adam Clarke’s commentary: “The bondage of sin is the most grievous bondage; and freedom from its guilt and influence is the greatest liberty.”