Many people act as though the laws of physics are more reliable and predictive than the law of God. I used to tell my children that ignoring the law of gravity (saying you didn't believe in it) wouldn't stop you from falling on your face if you tried to fly off the roof. A physical law would continue to operate in spite of one's ignorance of or disbelief in it. On the other hand, understanding the law of gravity allows benefits such as air travel or safely cutting down a tree. Understanding how a physical law operates allows people to take dominion. Likewise the laws in the Bible are tools of dominion if they are properly understood and applied.
Think of a scenario in which residents of an apartment building race to the roof to escape a fire below. If they are knowledgeable about the laws of gravity they can rule out certain options as being untenable or ineffective. But if they understand that jumping across to a lower building will utilize the law of gravity to help them successfully escape being burned to death, they benefit by that knowledge.
In the same way, a working knowledge of God's law gives righteous options when we face a dilemma or problem. When our thought processes are Biblically based and when we have knowledge of God's Word, we can avoid sinful solutions even in dire predicaments. Thus it is not enough to have children learn the Ten Commandments by heart. They must do more than that. They must learn the implications of God's commands and become well versed and practiced in solving the problems of life using Biblical reasoning to sort them out. In fact, parents should spend a good bit of time discussing various situations their children are likely to encounter and prepare them to think through sticky or sensitive situations Biblically. The book of Proverbs is an excellent backdrop to this process and should be studied with children from an early age. Rushdoony notes,
The book of Proverbs is essentially a book about the law as the direction and guide of life ... [A]ll direction rests and must rest on God's fundamental torah law, or direction. A parent's law, a teacher's or employer's law, must be an application of God's law. God's law when so applied becomes the fabric of life and the direction of society.1
When studying literature, history, mathematics, or any other subject, the law of God is the lens which identifies the good guys and the bad guys, and which shows the correct course of action as well as the sinful one. Without the glasses of Scripture, we can forget the reality that there is no such thing as brute factuality.
For a consistent and Biblically governed faith, all the facts of nature and history are the creation of the triune God. The facts of nature and history are totally governed by the God who ordained them and created them and who, by His eternal decree and comprehensive counsel, absolutely undergirds their every detail. All facts are thus God-given facts. As Van Til stated it, "All that may be known by man is already known by God. And it is already known by God because it is controlled by God." All knowledge therefore is of God-created and God-interpreted facts.2
Meditation Day and Night
Psalm 119 powerfully shows the reality of the law of God as the fabric of life and the means of sanctification in the life of the believer. The psalmist demonstrates repeatedly his reliance on God's law to bolster and sustain him. Rushdoony comments,
[I]t is not enough that there be conformity to the law in any formal sense. God must be served "with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart," or else there is not true obedience at all. Formal obedience is merely the prelude to actual disobedience. This stress on true obedience, on a joyful and heartfelt pursuit of the law's purpose and order, is basic to an understanding of Psalm 119. The psalmist by faith obeys, and his delight is in the law of the Lord. His only liberty is under law. The law is his mainstay against evil, and his guide and light on his daily path. Life for the psalmist means God's law.3
This psalm reads like journal entries in the life of David. His utter reliance on the law of God is voiced in almost every one of the 176 verses. These words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, provide God's people with a way to strengthen themselves in their Christian walk and sanctification.
Parents who desire to obey God, by providing a Christian education for their children, need to arrange the curriculum so that the Kingdom of God is the top priority. This is the essence of the direction God gave Moses as He gave him the law. The purpose in the giving of the law was so that the people of God would learn it, live it, and teach it. In fact, as Dr. Miles Jones4 has pointed out, God not only gave them the commandments by which to live, He also gave them the means of transmitting it to their children, and ultimately the rest of mankind.
The Sinai Covenant was a teaching covenant. "I will give thee ... commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them" (Ex. 24:12). The Hebrews were commanded to teach the word of God and the writing of God. "Thou shalt read this law" (Deut. 31:11). Moses first read the holy writing to the assembled nation of Israel, then Aaron and the Levite priesthood taught reading to the heads of households. Finally, every believer was to teach the word and the writing of God to their children. "And thou shall teach them diligently unto thy children ... And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates" (Deut. 6:7-8). The commands to read and write make it clear Sinai was a literacy covenant. Since the letters were also used as numbers, it was also a covenant to teach numeracy as evidenced by God's many directives requiring mathematics in the book of Numbers, "According to the commandment of the LORD they were numbered ..." (Num. 4:49).
The Lord did not simply command believers to have knowledge of the law but also the ability to read, write, and teach it to their children. Exodus 19:5-6 was a statement that believers would have the task of preserving and carrying the word and the writing of God to others, "for all the world is mine." Because of this great commission, learning the characters of the alphabet and their use was a major purpose of the Sinai Covenant. The writing of God exemplified the alphabetic principle of one symbol for each consonant sound of the language. At Sinai, the Israelites received the alphabetic principle of the writing of God as surely as they received the moral principle of the word of God. The word and the writing of God guided the Israelites' path and that of mankind as well. These two principles became the basis of law and literacy in Western civilization.5
As we face the self-destruction of humanism, our task is to be prepared, and to prepare our children, to lead in terms of the Kingdom of God. This must include evaluating all subject areas, occupations, political decisions, and family and community life according to God's law-word, and do so deliberately and self-consciously. If we fail to do so and continue to use the old wineskins of humanistic/statist law, the results are predictable.
God's law, in its Biblical statement as well as when faithfully mediated through family, church, state, or school, is the God-ordained means of light, the valid means of prediction. Man, walking by faith in obedience to God's law, walks to a great degree by sight. To walk without law is to walk in darkness.
The mediated law cannot take the place of basic law, God's tora. The mediated law must in fact be identical with the divine tora. Application, not innovation or addition, is the duty of a mediating person or agency ...
If a man denies God's law or direction, he has denied himself any relationship to God, and "even his prayer shall be an abomination" to God, a moral offense, for to pray to the God whose direction we despise is to add insult to our offenses.6
Reconstructing our lives to conform to God's law not only prevents His wrath, but showers us with His blessing. Thus, instead of a retreatist mentality so prevalent among many professing Christians, or a mindset which equates the Kingdom of God with nationalistic political action, our perspective must include a practical adherence to "every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4).
[O]ur Lord emphatically declares that the test of faith is a very practical one: do men bear good fruit here and now (Matt. 7:15-20)? "The peaceable fruit of righteousness" (Heb. 12:11) is simply the result of God's chastening of His sons, to cleanse them of fruitlessness and to lead them into righteousness, and it means results here and now. "The night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4). If Christians have a blocked future, then the world is in a fearful condition, because it is Christians who are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13-15).7
Teach by Example
Teach your children to delight in the law by demonstrating in your own life how the law equips you to avoid problems and dilemmas you face. Parents should share with their children how they reach their decisions and why they pursue certain courses of action. For instance:
- Do your children see that you tithe? Do you share with them how you determine how to distribute it?
- Do your children see that you live debt free? Do they understand how you set aside money for the things you want rather than rack up credit card bills?
- Do your children witness you making choices about what you will read and watch based on applying Phillipians 4:8?
- Do your children see you actively pursuing fellowship with other believers and obeying the Great Commission (making disciples and teaching God's law) with those outside the faith?
- Do you correct your children using God's law as the standard and helping them see how each and every offense is an offense against God?
- Do you share with your children circumstances where you had to make a choice that was difficult because you knew the law must be followed?
A Case in Point
There are many family stories I could share about living out the law of God in real circumstances. However, one stands out as a great example of how the law acted as a lamp and light for my family. It is a story that each of my children heard when they were old enough to understand it, and one that continues to strengthen me to this day. It was one of many times that Psalm 119 became a "personal" psalm in my family.
It was December 1984 and I was pregnant with my second child. The dealership where my husband worked at the time had a Christmas party for the sales people. After the salesmen's dinner, before the men got their Christmas bonuses, the management provided "entertainment." It involved strippers.
My husband was faced with a dilemma. He knew he didn't want to have anything to do with this, but was concerned that if he left, he might forfeit his bonus which totaled almost $2,000 -- money that we could immediately put to good use. Because he was a student of God's law, who had been practicing its application, he knew that he could not stay. So, he got up and left as soon as he realized what was about to take place. The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies (v. 95).
He found the nearest payphone (that was before the cell phone revolution) and called me up quite frazzled. He was talking so fast that all I could gather was that he was sorry that he gave up the $2,000 bonus but he couldn't in good conscience stay. When I finally heard the story, tears came to my eyes. I told him that I was grateful God had given me a husband who valued his Savior and his marriage enough to do the right thing. Therefore, I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way (v. 128).
After he got off the phone, there were two other salesmen waiting to talk with him. Each explained that they were uncomfortable with what was happening and knew it was wrong but didn't want to anger their boss and decided to stay put and not leave. However, when they saw my husband exit, it gave them the strength to do the right thing. Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies (v. 79).
As it turned out, the next day at work his bonus was waiting for him. My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly. I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee (vv. 167-168).
We must live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4). We must learn it, live it, and teach it. This is the real Kingdom work and it is only possible by God's grace as we take His every law as a command word. As Rushdoony puts it,
God through His law speaks to every man. With the coming of Christ and the new creation, beginning with His resurrection, and continuing in our regeneration, the law is now written in our hearts (Jer. 31:31-34). Every man in Christ must be a walking law and an evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit. God's government of the world begins with the self-government of the Christian man.8
1. R. J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, vol. 1 (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1973), 689-690.
2. Apologetics: Facts and Presuppositions, Adapted from Word of Flux: Modern Man and the Problem of Knowledge (Chalcedon website). See http://chalcedon.edu/topics/ap...
3. R. J. Rushdoony, Law and Society: Institutes of Biblical Law, vol. 2 (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1982), 231.
4. For a greater insight on this topic listen to my podcast with Dr. Miles Jones available at www.chalcedon.edu entitled "The Call From Sinai."
5. Miles R. Jones, The Writing of God: Secret of the Real Mount Sinai (Dallas, TX: Johnson Publishers, 2010), 13.
6. R. J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, vol. 1, 692.
7. R. J. Rushdoony, God's Plan for Victory (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books,  1997), 17.
8. R. J. Rushdoony, Sovereignty (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2007), 11.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].