You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you s hall judge your neighbor. — Leviticus 19:15
A generation has passed since the philosopher and theologian, Francis Schaeffer, described the American culture as a “cut flower culture.” He saw America as being like that bouquet of cut flowers adorning the dining room table. It is beautiful in so many ways, but we know that it will not last, because it is cut off from its roots. Schaeffer saw America as having cut itself off from its biblical, Judeo-Christian roots.
It was while Rita and I were reading in Leviticus 19 last week that I thought of Schaeffer’s words. In Leviticus 19 are the roots for a nation’s liberty and rule of law. In this chapter the Lord God is establishing the foundation for justice in the land. Here God provides for such matters as not defrauding your neighbor, not stealing, not keeping back the wages of a laborer, not putting a stumbling block before the blind, and leaving part of your harvest for the poor to glean. Each provision is enforced with the solemn words, “I am the LORD.” Each command comes with the weight of divine authority, and each person will ultimately answer to God.
But it was when we came to verse 15 in our reading that I felt a wave of sadness come over me as I thought about what is happening in our nation: “You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great; with justice you shall judge your neighbor.”
I was sad in reading verse 15 because we seem to be spurning the rule of law in our land. We are told to approve judges partial to the poor and elected officials who defer to the great. Much of this is done by ministers and religious leaders under the guise of a so- called “Liberation Theology” that pits classes and races against each other. Some ministers even encourage “civil disobedience” for their causes. I wonder if we are becoming like ancient Israel at the desperate time when “all the people did that which was right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25).
An important taproot for our republic’s life and health has been a treatise by the Scottish clergyman, Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661). Rutherford titled his treatise, Lex Rex, and set forth the biblical teaching that the Law is King, (Lex Rex), rather than the King is Law (Rex Lex). That’s not just a semantic difference but the difference between liberty and tyranny. Even kings and politicians are not above the law! “I am the LORD God.”
Won’t you join me in prayer that we might return to God and to our biblical roots and be one nation under God?
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. — II Chronicles 7:14
Back to our roots! Tim Smith