|Volume 20 Number 10 October 2018||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
A scofflaw is “a contemptuous law violator” (Merriam-Webster) or “1. a person who flouts the law, especially one who fails to pay fines owed. 2. a person who flouts rules, conventions, or accepted practices” (Dictionary.com). There’s a lot of that going around these days. It seems that almost no one obeys the rules or respects the laws of the land. On every hand, multiple people simultaneously openly violate laws, their only remorse, if any at all, merely being that they were caught and penalized. The volatile, reckless Israelite history about which one reads in Judges 21:25 appears to be the general attitude shared by contemporary people. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (NKJV).
There is hardly a roadway anywhere where a driver obeying the speed limit isn’t at least passed by a hoard of traffic zipping along with excessive and unlawful haste. Several speeders, though, bully other drivers by tailgating, blowing horns, flashing headlights, shouting obscenities, making offensive gestures or sometimes simply by forcing their way through with a crash-and-burn mentality (get out of my way now or else because I don’t care whether either of us lives or dies!). Often, drivers of vehicles overtaking other cars on Interstate highways are fully involved in their cell phones—texting or pushing digital buttons—combining speed and inattentiveness. Other driving violations are too numerous to enumerate all of them (e.g., running red lights and stop signs, parking in fire zones, etc.), but suffice it to say that drivers are some of the most obvious scofflaws.
Modern society oozes with drunkenness, drug additions, adultery, fornication, sexual sins of all kinds, stealing, home invasions, armed robbery and murder. The general citizenry is unashamed to flaunt the laws of both civilized society and of Almighty God, too. Polite thieves scam and embezzle whereas ignoble offenders resort to brutality. Both seize opportunities to take advantage of anyone else, wherever and whenever they can. Employees often steal from their employers. Looters excuse themselves because of power outages, storms or social frustration. Many taxpayers cheat on their income taxes, and several proudly boast about it. How people finagle and plot to get ahead at somebody else’s expense would be better applied to honest labor (Ephesians 4:28). Nearly in every direction to which one might cast his eyes, he sees a myriad of scofflaws.
Every country has laws—some with which we may agree, and some with which we may not agree. Furthermore, the God of Heaven has decreed that nations have a right to make laws, and that the citizens of those realms are obligated to obey those laws (Romans 13:1-7). Hence, to disobey a country’s laws at the same time constitutes disobeying God Himself. The only exceptions for which a person may disobey mankind’s laws, without raising the ire of God, are when laws directly contradict the divinely inspired Word of God (Acts 5:29). God does not look favorably on scofflaws.
Sad but true, there also are spiritual scofflaws—religious people and even members of the Lord’s church—who are contemptuous law violators or who shamelessly flout the Word of God. The list is extensive depicting the biblical areas that even Christians are willing to readily dismiss or to adapt to their own preferences (e.g., marriage-divorce & remarriage, singing versus instrumental music in Christian worship, disregarding the God-given roles of men & women, deemphasizing baptism for the forgiveness of sins, elevating salvation by grace while abasing obedience to the perfect law of liberty, ecumenism instead of accepting the uniqueness of Christ’s church, jettisoning modesty, favoring so-called social drinking, lying, etc.).
A number of biblical characters essentially were scofflaws, and things did not end well for them (e.g., the generation contemporary with the Noahic flood, Nadab and Abihu, Korah, Uzzah, etc.). Scofflaws of today who flout the laws of God (the New Testament) may think that they have escaped the penalties that they deserve for their sinfulness, since God is not now exacting judgment against them. Not so!
…knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:3-10 NKJV)
“Scofflaw.” Dictionary.com. < https://www.dictionary.com/browse/scofflaw?s=t>. 24 Sep 2018.
“Scofflaw.” Merriam-Webster. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scofflaw>. 24 Sep 2018.
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
When God enlisted Moses to free God’s people from Egypt, He appeared to Moses in a bush, though engulfed in an inferno, which was not consumed (Exodus 3:1-4). As Moses approached this awesome scene, God warned Moses of the sacredness whereon he stood. “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5; cf. Acts 7:33). Years later, the Captain of the Lord’s Host (pre-incarnate Jesus) appeared to Joshua with the same message. “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot: for the place whereon thou standest is holy” (Joshua 5:15). These two awesome occasions remind readers that the real estate where God is present is sacred, sanctified and holy beyond man’s inventions. Today, there is no physical real estate that is holy. There is no longer any such thing as a holy building or a holy hill. Even the buildings in which we often worship are not “sacred.” The question is then, “Is there any sacred real estate today?” While there is no sacred real estate in the physical sense, the sacred real estate whereon we must tread lightly is the Word of God. Because God gave us the Bible, we must approach it as sacred and holy. We must never open its pages with a flippant attitude, for when we study Inspiration, we are “standing on holy ground”! Consider the following.
Firstly, note the statements. The statements God’s Word makes for itself show that it is indeed holy ground. The Psalmist declared, “For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth” (Psalm 33:4). “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160). So holy and sacred is His Word that man cannot truly live without it (Deuteronomy 8:3; Job 23:12; Matthew 4:4). God’s Word is compared to many things that, indeed, show how wonderful it really is. God’s Word is compared to raging a “fire” (Jeremiah 23:29), an illuminating “light” (Psalm 119:105; 130), necessary “food” (Matthew 4:4), “a precious pearl” (Matthew 7:6), a powerful “sword” (Ephesians 6:17), a reproducing “seed” (1 Peter 1:23), a demolition “hammer” (Jeremiah 23:29), nurturing “milk” (1 Peter 2:2), sweet “honey” (Psalm 119:103) and sustaining “meat” (1 Corinthians 3:2). God’s Word is truly awesome and uniquely holy ground!
Secondly, note the scoffers. There have always been those who flippantly and without respect disdained the Word of God. Nadab and Abihu did not approach God’s Word as holy ground, and it cost them eternity (Leviticus 10:1-3). Jehoiakim failed to realize the sacredness of Holy Writ, and “he cut it with the penknife and cast it into fire…” (Jeremiah 36:23). While Jehoiakim thought he was accountable to no one, when he walked arrogantly on holy ground, God had the last word!
Therefore thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not. (Jeremiah 36:30-31)
Hananiah (Jeremiah 28), King Saul (1 Samuel 15), Jeroboam (1 Kings 12) and numerous others serve as examples that God’s Word is holy ground and must be handled respectfully.
Lastly, note the steadfastness. God’s Word is steadfast and sure. His power today is shown through His Word. Men, nations, ideas and trends all rise and fall, but the Word of God remains. Interestingly, those who have scoffed at God’s Word in the past are dead or will one day die, and yet, the Word about which they scoffed is still alive! Peter was right; God’s Word lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23). The Lord Himself knew, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). The holy ground on which we find ourselves each time we open the pages of Inspiration is here to stay. So much so is this the case that every man living or dead will one day come face to face with the Book (John 12:48). God’s Word is steadfast and sure!
What is your attitude toward the Word of God? Do you reverently and respectfully see it as the holy ground it is? Often, our attitude toward the Word of God is seen in our study (or lack thereof) of it. How about our commitment to Bible class at the local congregation? Do we take Him at His Word and obey His commands? Dear reader, God’s Word is holy ground. May we tread thereon prayerfully and reverently! “Oh, how I love thy Law…”!