Long before the great Nebuchadnezzar established his rule over most of the known world, his Babylonian predecessor, more than one-thousand years before him, established a “code of laws”; his name was Hammurabi and he ruled from 1792 to 1760 BC. What makes this fellow interesting is that his code was written down for generations future to him; his injunction was that “all coming generations” were to observe the laws and not to “alter the law of the land which I have given.” Discovered in 1901, the stele (an upright stone or slab), continues to be an archeologist’s dream, offering a window to the past in culture, language and law.
One of the most novel features of this find was the idea that rulers were not supposed to rule arbitrarily, changing the laws to suit their every whim and mood but, instead, were to hold to a standard of justice that applied equally to all citizens. It has been noted: “Respect for the rule of law remains one of the fundamental hallmarks of successful governments.”
Perhaps, a part of the reason for our cultural dysfunction can be attributed to our governmental leaders who side-step justice and law for selfish purposes. From the founding of our country, the documents our forefathers wrote (Constitution, Bill of Rights, Amendments) was initiated on the basis that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights.” When these documents are disregarded, redacted or given the status of a “living document” (code for whimsically changing it to fit our fancy), justice and equity fail and we are destroyed.
Christians today have this same issue in the church. Our written document, the Bible, does not change (Malachi 3:6), contains all truth (Psalm 119:160) and is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). When Christians disrespect this “code of laws”, justice, righteousness, truth and equity all fail. That was Isaiah’s synopsis of God’s people in his day, and the reason for their total rejection by God: “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice” (Isaiah 59:14-15).
The beginning of the end for any people starts with an ignorance of and disrespect for the written code of law. This is the case for America; this is especially the case for God’s people (Jeremiah 12:16-17; Hosea 4:6). When we change, ignore or reject God’s Code of Laws, we are destroyed.