Monday, January 16, 2023

Is it Ever Acceptable to Break God's Law?

For those who have read a significant number of my blog posts, you might think that I will answer a definite "no".  But there is one problem with that:  The purpose of Yahweh giving his Law in the first place.  That purpose is to promote life.

Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you. [Deuteronomy 4:1; NKJV]

You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess. [Deuteronomy 5:33; NKJV]

Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. [Deuteronomy 8:1; NKJV]

You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you. [Deuteronomy 16:20; NKJV]

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. [Deuteronomy 30:6; NKJV]

in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. [Deuteronomy 30:16; NKJV]

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; [Deuteronomy 30:19; NKJV]

If the purpose of the Law is to promote life, which it is, then it should stand to reason that if a situation comes up where obedience would put a life in danger, then the preservation of life would take precedence over God's Law and we would not be guilty of sin.  And that the exception to this rule would be if a person or animal committed a capital offense.  So, are there any instances in the Bible where people broke the Law to preserve life and not guilty of sin?  As a matter of fact, there are.

In 1 Samuel 21:1-9, David and the men who were with him ate from the holy bread in the House of God, which is against God's Law, but were not guilty of sin.  If we take a look at the chapter before, we find that David and his men were fleeing from King Saul, though they had done nothing wrong.  They ate the consecrated bread because that was the only thing available.  In Matthew 12:1-8, when the Pharisees asserted that it is against the law to glean the fields on the Sabbath (human law, by the way), Jesus responded by pointing out what David did, and said that he was innocent.  He also made mention of the fact that the priests on Sabbath duty actually break the Sabbath, but are also innocent.  Later on, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, saying that God's Law allows us to do good on the Sabbath, citing the fact that a person would help their animal out of a ditch on the Sabbath.  That by the way, is something else the Pharisees forbade (for the people, not for themselves).

In another instance, in 1 Samuel 25:2-35, Nabal's wife Abigail rebelled against her husband after he refused David's request, and went to David and his men with gifts and an apology, saving the lives of every male in Nabal's house.  For David intended to destroy him and his house by morning.  The Law of Yahweh makes it very clear that a woman is under the authority of her husband.  But had Abigail not broken God's Law by rebelling against her husband, every male in the house would have died by the hand of David.  By the way, Nabal had a heart attack when he heard what David had intended to do.  And he died ten days later, but was the only one in the house to die.

So not only is it acceptable for the preservation of life to take priority over God's Law, but it is also acceptable for a person's well-being to take priority over God's Law.  This does not mean that a person deserving of the death penalty should be spared such a penalty (which would pervert justice), or that it's okay to set aside the commandments of Yahweh because it is convenient to do so.  It does mean that we should not abstain from doing good in instances where it would break one of God's commandments, because a person's life and well-being take priority.  But when a person's (or animal's) life or well-being is not in danger, then we must not by any means set aside God's commandments.

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