August 28, 1991
Did you know it was once illegal in Toronto to wear a felt hat in a steam bath? It is also illegal for chickens to cross the road in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and for a man from Pictou to kiss any woman on Sunday, including his wife. In Canada, it is illegal to send a telegram threatening a bird or to enter an airplane while it is in flight.
Silly, pointless laws are probably never enforced; they just make good fillers in a joke book. However, not all laws are silly and most fulfil definite purposes. In our justice system, many laws come directly from Scripture, rooted in the laws of God which were planned by Him with the good of man in mind. Consider Psalm 19:
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.” Souls who do not know Jesus Christ are separated from God in a state God calls “dead in sin.” God wants life for each one, so through His perfect laws, sinners become aware of their need for revival and aware of what to believe so they can receive new life from God.
“The (laws) of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” Proverbs says wisdom begins by fearing the Lord and departing from evil. The wisdom found in the trustworthy laws of God clearly explain what is good and what is evil so even the most naive, uncomplicated person can learn how to follow the former and avoid the latter, and become wise.
“The (laws) of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.” Sometimes we become downcast over the mess in the world and perhaps the chaos in our own life. We may wonder if there is anything anyone can possibly be happy about yet when the despair of life makes our hearts heavy, God promises His law will give joy, even a joy that our trials cannot overwhelm.
“The (laws) of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Darkness is a metaphor for moral and spiritual confusion. Surely we live in a time where both prevail. We need light for our turbulent national situation. We need light for personal dimness of vision. God says light comes from focusing on His radiant laws and turning to Jesus Christ, the Author of both light and life. In Him, we can see clearly and avoid confusion.
“The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.” Some of man’s laws come and go because they become obsolete, no longer serving justice. But God’s laws are always sure and to the point, addressing the need for righteousness no matter the era or culture.
“They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” Some law may be called precious but God’s law is also sweet, even like honey, a pure food, easily digested and pleasant. His laws are bitter only to those who rebel against Him.
“By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” The laws of God remind us that God is concerned about the way we live. Those who break His laws will suffer the consequences but He promises a reward for those who keep them.
Some people think freedom means being able to do as one pleases but clearly love and restraint of selfish desires give a greater freedom to everyone. That is why Jesus summed up the law of God in two laws: “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” If we obeyed this dual law of love, we would be better off for it. Not only that, all other laws would be automatically included... maybe even those silly ones that protect chickens from crossing the road...