Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
YEHOVAH'S Law and Our Neighbor
The source or foundation of all law, order and society rests upon authority. Human lawgivers in a democracy declare that all power is from the people and in the people; but how blind are these lawgivers, for the Bible clearly tells us that "there is no power but of God." This statement is the underlying principle of all just governments. When the citizens of our countries realize this fact, then and then only will Satan and his kingdom be destroyed from the face of the earth.
by John D. Keyser
For those who come to the realization of the national need to keep YEHOVAH God's commandments, statutes and judgments, a question often comes to mind: What can we do about it? It is, of course, impossible for any one individual to put into operation the statutes of national administration or government. But we can, insofar as national violation of YEHOVAH's laws are concerned, POINT OUT the righteousness of the law and PROTEST its violation -- thus calling attention to the penalties being exacted from us as a nation today for such violation. Essentially it is a word of WITNESSING: a voice in the wilderness, as it were, CALLING ATTENTION to the ways of righteousness -- pointing out the need of a NATIONAL RESTORATION of the administration and keeping of ALL of YEHOVAH's laws in order to secure the blessings of peace and prosperity.
Individually we do not have to wait until the nation makes that restoration before complying with the law and coming under its benefits. Many of the requirements of the law can now be kept by individuals -- such as the rules for health as well as the required attitude toward YEHOVAH God and towards our fellow man. Therefore, while it is impossible to have the perfection of administration and peace promised by YEHOVAH as the result of the nation keeping His commandments, statutes and judgments as the law of the land yet, insofar as the law applies to the individual we can, as a committee of one, conform to its requirements. It should be self-evident that keeping every requirement of the Ten Commandments (or Words) brings specific blessings and an inward spiritual peace. This, then, is the answer for those who -- having heard of the need to keep the law and of its national administration -- ask the question as to what the individual can do about it!
The relationship of man to his Creator is set forth in the first half of the Ten Commandments. There can be no orderly society when these requirements are ignored. Unless men place YEHOVAH first, and recognize their proper relationship to Him, men are INCAPABLE of having a proper relationship to their neighbor. Immediately following the requirements governing man's relationship to YEHOVAH, He sets forth the relationship of men -- one to another.
Domestic tranquillity and peace is simply IMPOSSIBLE in any community that ignores these fundamental laws. Thus, while the greatest of all commandments is to love YEHOVAH your God with all your heart and mind, the second is like unto it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
The Sixth Commandment
No man can violate the last five commandments (beginning with the sixth) and love his neighbor as himself. The sixth commandment is: "You shall not murder."
But there will be men who will violate this law. Unless authority is vested in some organization with POWER to enforce its observance, society will suffer from the result of violence and crime. Because this is so, YEHOVAH authorized the establishment of governments -- delegating to man the power to administer His laws and authorizing the bringing to justice of the individual who violates His commandments.
Now understand this: Individuals have absolutely NO RIGHT whatsoever to set up a standard of personal conduct! That has already been done by YEHOVAH through the Ten Commandments. It is also equally true that NO NATION has a right to say what type of punishment shall be meted out to those who violate any of the commandments! The punishments have already been laid out by the statutes and judgments of YEHOVAH God.
Capital Punishment Mandatory
The original statute, "Whoever sheds man's blood, by MAN shall his blood be shed," was enlarged upon by a statute of judgment given to Israel at Mt. Sinai. Notice: "The assembly [i.e., the governmental assembly of Israel] must then judge between the striker [slayer, the one who has taken life] and the avenger of blood [the executioner]...And these [things] must serve as a statute of judgment for you throughout your generations in ALL your dwelling places. Every fatal striker of a soul should be SLAIN AS A MURDERER...And you must take no ransom for the soul of a murderer who is deserving to die [not even the substitution of life imprisonment]...And you must not pollute the land in which you are; because it is blood that pollutes the land, and for the land there may be no atonement respecting the blood that has been spilled upon it except by the blood of the one spilling it" (Numbers 35:24-33).
Under this very law every nation is justified in executing the murderer. THIS LAW MAKES SUCH EXECUTION MANDATORY and the nation that refuses to carry out this law is guilty of failure to administer justice in the land. Such failure will result in a land filled with violence and crime.
In order to PROTECT the man whose duty it is to execute the criminal, a judgment was rendered under this sixth commandment: "And [if] the avenger of blood [the executioner] does slay the manslayer, HE HAS NO BLOOD GUILT" (Numbers 35:27).
Contrary to popular belief, the Bible does not hold life cheaply. It is a serious thing in YEHOVAH's eyes to take life, and for the taking of life the murderer must forfeit his life. But those who ACCIDENTALLY cause the death of another person are confined in a city of refuge until the death of the High Priest. In some cases this could amount to life imprisonment. Such a law certainly produced a healthy respect for life and made a man careful of the life of his fellowman. Automobile accidents would be reduced to a minimum today if this law was in operation. A driver of a car would be as careful of the life of another's husband, wife, daughter and son as he would be of his own loved ones -- for none would want to forfeit his freedom.
Swiftness of Justice
It has been a fact of our history that when crime becomes intolerable the Anglo-Saxon mind unconsciously reverts to the ancient Israel laws of administration. This was very evident in the early days of the American west when vigilante committees were formed to deal with crime. The SWIFTNESS with which justice was executed soon restored law and order to a troubled community. This swiftness of justice was the method YEHOVAH God demanded in the handling and punishment of the criminal. The case was tried and before sunset of the day following the verdict the murderer was dead. The man or woman who feels such swiftness of justice will not have a law-abiding effect completely fails to understand human nature. A man desires to live -- not to die. YEHOVAH knows this and therefore gave laws and judgments which would deter men from committing crimes. In the swiftness of judgment He said, "So shall you put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear."
Certain cases would be difficult to decide, so judgments were rendered by YEHOVAH to cover this: "He who fatally strikes a man shall be put to death. If he did not do it by design, but it came about by an act of God, I will assign you a place to which he can flee. When a man schemes against another and kills him treacherously, you shall take him from My very altar to be put to death" (Exodus 21:12-14, The Jewish Bible (Tanakh) translation).
Also: "He who strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death" (Exodus 21:15, Tanakh).
When two men strive or fight together and one becomes injured and is confined to his bed (or hospital) and the one responsible is uninjured, then the uninjured one shall pay for the loss of the injured man's time and bear all the expense necessary to effect a cure. Notice also --
"And in case men should get into a quarrel and one does strike his fellow with a stone or a hoe and he does not die but must keep to his bed; if he gets up and does walk about out of doors upon some support of his [crutches], then the one who struck him must be free from punishment; he will make compensation only for the time lost from that one's work until he gets him completely healed" (Exodus 21:18-19).
If an ox should gore a man or a woman the ox shall be killed and the owner be free except in the case where he knew the ox was vicious. In modern society this could apply to a dog (i.e. a pit bull) that kills someone. If the owner knew the animal was vicious the DEATH PENALTY could be pronounced upon him, but under this judgment he could redeem his life by paying substantial damages.
When a thief is found breaking and entering someone's home at night and if the homeowner kills the intruder, then the homeowner would not be guilty of murder (Exodus 22:2). If the crime occurs during the daytime and the intruder is not killed, the thief can redeem his blood and if he has nothing, then he can be sold for stealing. These, and sundry other judgments, were passed by YEHOVAH to guide in the matter of administration.
There would be cases where a murder has been committed and the perpetrator of the crime is NOT DETECTED. In such scenarios the city in which the crime was committed, or if in the country the nearest city, is to make atonement -- see Deuteronomy 21:1-9. Here we have community guilt established when the individual responsible for the crime is not detected and punished.
We cannot leave this subject without referring to the New Testament. Yeshua stated that hatred of a brother without cause was equivalent to murder. Thus the inward desire to destroy another is considered murder in the sight of YEHOVAH.
In the New Testament exclusion from the Holy City -- which is emblematic of the coming new order -- is pronounced upon "the cowards and those without faith and those who are disgusting in their filth and murderers and fornicators and those practicing spiritism and idolaters and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death" (Revelation 21:8).
The Seventh Commandment
Next to murder, YEHOVAH condemns the pollution of the life-stream of His people. The corruption of family life was to be guarded against at all costs, therefore the seventh commandment is: "You must not commit adultery."
A vigorous, prosperous, healthy nation depends upon a healthy and vigorous family life and relationship. History has demonstrated time and time again that when a people depart from the laws of decency and morality, that nation declines rapidly. The Bible is very clear in its instructions regarding the proper relationship between the sexes -- for ignorance of such matters is not considered a virtue in scripture.
Death for Adultery
YEHOVAH pronounces severe judgments on those who fail to keep these laws. Respect for womanhood, motherhood and for the rights of one's neighbor would prevent violation of this commandment. DEATH is the penalty for its violation. "Now a man who commits adultery with another man's wife is one who commits adultery with the wife of his fellow man. He should be put to death without fail, the adulterer and the adulteress as well" (Leviticus 20:10).
Yeshua cites this commandment and rendered a judgment under it when he said: "But I say to you, that whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart." Under such judgment thousands -- even millions -- become guilty, for in this statement Yeshua has taken this commandment from the Table of Stone and written it upon the heart. By outward appearance men can seem virtuous by force of circumstances, but the man whose heart is right will not think or desire to do evil. He will refrain from all evil in thought and deed -- regardless of conditions and circumstances.
Very strict rules are given under the law governing sex relations and hygiene. Close marriages among blood relatives are absolutely forbidden. DEATH is pronounced for the crime of sodomy (homosexuality) and for carnal relationships with animals.
Women engaged to be married are treated, under the law, as though they are married -- with the DEATH PENALTY for the man who molests them. A problem, the mishandling of which has caused untold suffering, involves young people who have been compelled to get married. Under YEHOVAH's law it was mandatory that they marry and it is stipulated as an atonement that the young man pay a sum of money to the girl's father. In addition to this, the law declares that the young man MAY NOT divorce her for any reason all the days of his life. Thus, by his act, he has made binding upon himself the need of keeping, supporting and cherishing her to the end of his life.
Adultery is the ONE GROUND under the law that Yeshua proclaimed was justification for divorce. He said: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery" (Matthew 5:32). The reason for this is clear: According to the law of judgment, death was the penalty for adultery. Therefore, under the law, the one who committed adultery was legally dead -- and whether actual death followed or not divorce was justifiable.
There are certain cults and priesthoods of some religions (i.e. the Catholic Church) that teach against marriage. Timothy 4:1 unequivocally declares that it is giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons for anyone to follow such teachings. The Bible declares that marriage is honorable -- but adulterers will be judged by YEHOVAH (Hebrews 13:4).
Solomon said, before going astray: "My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with you. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them upon your fingers, write them upon the table of your heart. Say to wisdom, You are my sister; and call understanding your kinswoman: That they may keep you from the strange woman, from the stranger who flatters with her words." He also said, "But whosoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding: he that does it destroys his own soul."
The Eighth Commandment
Having given the commandments respecting life and virtue YEHOVAH proceeded to set forth man's relationship to his neighbor's possessions. The violation of this eighth commandment is responsible for more violence and suffering than perhaps the violation of any of the other laws. Violence and murder -- and, in fact, the whole category of crime -- can often be traced to the violation of this commandment. The eighth commandment reads: "You shall not steal."
A wide variety of activities in modern business and financial life violates this law. Every phase of human endeavor that undertakes to secure SOMETHING FOR NOTHING when such acquisition is a loss to others is STEALING. Withholding tithes is stealing from YEHOVAH according to Malachi 3:8.
Judgments for Stealing
The judgment for stealing varied with the type of goods stolen. It ranged from restoration and other penalties to even death. If oxen and sheep were stolen and found in the hand of the thief, he was to restore DOUBLE. If, however, the thief had sold or killed the stolen animals, he was then to restore FIVE oxen and FOUR sheep for the one ox and the one sheep which he had taken. While this law applied to an agricultural community, it nevertheless sets forth a principle which can as readily be applied to a highly industrial civilization. YEHOVAH's law removes all profit from stealing and imposes severe penalties upon those who steal. When money is stolen, the thief must make DOUBLE restoration.
In the case of kidnapping -- or the stealing of a man or woman to sell them for ransom -- YEHOVAH's judgment requires that the thief should surely be PUT TO DEATH.
A natural question that arises is: "What shall be done with a thief who cannot make restitution?" YEHOVAH said: "If he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft." That is, HE MUST WORK OFF HIS INDEBTEDNESS. If such a law was in operation today, any financier or business magnate who had taken millions from the needy and/or elderly through stock manipulations would spend the balance of his life working to RESTORE DOUBLE that which he had fleeced from his poor victims.
Under YEHOVAH's law two, four and even five times increase in restoration over that which was stolen and with double the money taken to be returned by the thief, many would-be thieves would FEAR to do wrong. Manipulation of finances and reorganizations for the sole purpose of squeezing out the small investor -- in fact, ALL SHARP PRACTICES by which much stolen wealth has been accumulated in the past would cease under the righteous administration of such laws.
For certain borderline cases that would be difficult to resolve, YEHOVAH has judgments, under the law, to handle these. Let's take a look at a few of them, for the Bible definitely BLESSES AND PROTECTS PRIVATE OWNERSHIP.
If a man digs a pit or hole in the ground -- and an ox or other animal of his neighbor falls into it -- the owner of the pit must make good the loss. If one man's ox (or animal) hurts another's so that it dies, then the live ox (or animal) is to be sold and the money divided, and the dead ox (or animal) is also to be divided. But if the ox (or animal) was known to be vicious -- and the owner fails to keep it confined -- he must then make good the ox (or animal) his neighbor has lost and the dead ox (or animal) will be his.
If a man causes a neighbor's field to be eaten by his animals, he is to make restitution. If he lights a fire and it accidentally burns his neighbor's goods, he must make restoration of the goods destroyed. When a man delivers goods or money to his neighbor for safekeeping and it be stolen from out of his neighbor's house and the thief is caught, then the thief must make DOUBLE restoration. If the thief, in this particular scenario, cannot be found then the judges must decide as to whether the man to whom the goods or money had been entrusted is himself guilty; and if the judges condemn him, HE must make DOUBLE restoration.
If a man delivers his stock to a neighbor for safekeeping, and it die or be driven away by wild animals (with no man seeing), he must take an oath before YEHOVAH that he did not personally harm his neighbor's stock. If it be stolen from him he must make restitution to his neighbor -- but if it is torn to pieces by wild animals and he brings it in for evidence, then he need not make good.
If a man borrows anything from his neighbor -- and it is hurt or dies or is damaged in any way while in his hands (and the owner is not present with it) -- it must be made good. But if the owner is present with it, he shall not make it good for it is hired and the owner, being present, is responsible for its care. These judgments of YEHOVAH establish principles of law that are applicable in every age.
YEHOVAH God said: "You shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another."
The Ninth Commandment
Thus it is that the life, wife and the possessions of his fellow men are to be respected by man. YEHOVAH now set forth the relationship of men towards the good name and reputation of their neighbors. The ninth commandment is, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."
There are many ways in which one can bear false witness regarding his neighbor. It can be set in motion by word, act or deed -- for often a false report can be started about another by a lift of the eyebrow, the shake of the head or the shrug of the shoulder at the mention of a name. In many instances, action can be a more powerful method of circulating a false report than even the spoken word.
YEHOVAH forbids the making of false oaths -- as well as committing any fraud. "You must not follow after the crowd for evil ends; and you must not testify over a controversy so as to turn aside with the crowd in order to pervert justice" (Exodus 23:2)
Examination of Witnesses
Bearing false witness in court proceedings was more readily detected under YEHOVAH's laws than it is possible to detect it today. Each witness was examined separately and out of the hearing of the others. This minimized the possibility of collaboration between witnesses as well as the opportunity to escape detection if testimony is falsified.
When the judges detect the possibility of falsification the case stops and the judges make a thorough investigation. If the testimony was found to be false, "Then shall you do to him as he had thought to have done to his brother." The man who testified falsely would have to bear whatever the judgment would have been had the defendant been found guilty. If it would have been death, then it meant death for him. If the judgment were to be restitution, then the witness had to pay the equivalent of that restitution. The result would be as YEHOVAH declared: "And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you."
Bearing false testimony is greater in scope than testifying in court cases alone. YEHOVAH said, "You shall not raise a false report; put not your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness."
Also -- "Whosoever privately slanders his neighbor, he will I cut off."
The Bible has a lot to say about those who harm their neighbors by gossip. "You shall not go up and down as a talebearer among your people." It is interesting to note that the truth or falsity of the matter is not raised -- for if you truly love your neighbor as yourself you will not privately bear witness to his harm, be the gossip true or false. YEHOVAH only knows the untold heartaches that have resulted from the violation of this commandment and the amount of suffering which has resulted. James had these facts in mind when he said: "The tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles!" (James 3:5).
Many otherwise respectable people look down upon an unfortunate brother who may have violated some of the other laws of YEHOVAH, while they themselves are breaking this ninth commandment. However, Yeshua warns: "But I say to you, that every idle word that men speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." YEHOVAH God demands swift witness and judgment against false swearers -- and against those who oppress the worker in his wages, the widow, the fatherless and that turn aside the stranger from what is rightfully his; and those that do not fear Him.
The Tenth Commandment
The final commandment which the Israelites heard from the voice of YEHOVAH at Mt. Sinai was: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbors." Yeshua also added: "Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses."
It should be noted that this last commandment sums up the cause behind most of the violations of the rest of YEHOVAH's commandments. Covetousness leads men to commit murder and adultery; it is the first cause leading man to steal the property of his neighbor and is often behind the giving of false testimony. YEHOVAH has declared, "Woe to them that devise iniquity and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away; so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage."
Reason for Violence
Violence and blood have filled the earth as the result of the breaking of this tenth commandment. The desire to acquire the possessions of others has resulted in destructive competition in business -- which is itself WAR when carried on under the Babylonian system -- leading to armed conflict between nations. The desire for commercial supremacy as nations strive to destroy competition is but coveting world markets, even to the point of waging war in order to take that which is coveted. There will -- and can always -- be legitimate trade in the buying and selling of goods and the exchange of one's increase. But, unfortunately, methods are such under the present Babylonian system that men are not content to live and let live. Instead men covet power and wealth -- and in their desire to bring their plans to fruition have drenched the pages of history with blood.
YEHOVAH God gave to men an inheritance in the land forever, but modern business and the Babylonian system of administration we live under has DENIED men their God-given privilege. In a world order where foreclosure of mortgages, tax sales and interest charges can be imposed upon a people -- and used to acquire the property of one's neighbor at a greatly reduced value -- such has served those who have coveted their neighbor's possessions. Covetousness is the FOUNDATION of evil desires and lusts.
If the Ten Commandments that YEHOVAH has set before His people are kept (and they can only be kept by a people in whose heart they have been written) there will be peace and contentment in that community, with freedom from strife.
When the question is asked as to what we can do regarding YEHOVAH's law, the answer is to keep that law insofar as it is possible for the individual to comply with its requirements. No individual can do less as he yearns and works for the restoration of YEHOVAH's law as the law of the land.
This article contains but a brief summary of the last five of the Ten Commandments -- making reference to certain of the statutes and judgments which are for the purpose of forcing men to comply with the requirements of the commandments. Until our nation makes this enforcement part of their national administrative activities, only men of good will will strive to keep the requirements of YEHOVAH's law.
While no honest man can deny the importance of the Ten Commandments yet they are no more important to the individual who strives to be right with YEHOVAH than are the God-given statutes to the nation that would have YEHOVAH's blessings on all their undertakings in the righteous administration of equity and justice for all.
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