What Is The Law?
This week (Nov 11) on Shabbat Night Live, the Torah is often referred to as a legalistic burden — but the truth is that it is a legal document that defines our freedom.
Steve Siefken presents the first in a four-episode series that examines the Torah as a national constitution with legal rights, responsibilities, consequences, and means of escape.
Watch the episode — included in this blog post.
While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) How does the notion of the Torah as a legal system that is applicable to nations and peoples serve to dramatize the inherent lack of precedent in man-made systems like Marxism-Leninism? How does our own separation of church and state suggest the constant negotiation between Judeo-Christian law and secular issues that must be part of bipartisan government?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How does the comprehensive nature of the Ten Commandments – particularly their resonance with the later proclamation of love for God and neighbor by Yeshua – underscore our collective failure to recognize the intrinsic evil in permissiveness? How has the evangelical trend of overemphasis on selected verses from the gospels and Paul’s epistles led to neglect of ancient divine strictures that keep us from sin?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how does an overlooked verse like Proverbs 18:13 serve to admonish those who have a simplistic or sophomoric approach to a serious matter like salvation? How might this passage be revived in popularity and importance as a mandate for enduring self-education by students of scripture, who recognize the ethos of precedence in any engagement with YeHoVaH?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How has a pervasive ignorance of this notion of the Law as a divinely-sanctioned precedent also resulted in a loss of definition for “spirit”? How have conflicting interpretations and nomenclatures regarding this word in both sacred and secular contexts served to render this term almost meaningless without recognition of its essential component of “intention.”
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) How does our current political situation in the United States, marked by bitter division and controversial leadership, pose a serious dilemma for believers who strive to be conscientious citizens? How does the freedom to vote without coercion indirectly dramatize the need to both familiarize ourselves with particular legal systems and adhere to those we have failed to influence?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 37:00) Why has the Law, as articulated in the Ten Commandments, been viewed by many believers as proscriptive rather than prescriptive? How has the phrase “thou shalt not” become a reductive cliché that has encouraged a perception of YeHoVaH as a punitive disciplinarian rather than a loving creator who seeks to convey a comprehensive standard of conduct for those who seek salvation?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) Similarly, how has the concept of “witness” become separated from its original context of legality when invoked in discussions of spirituality? How is the common evangelical practice of self-revelation often based upon a subjective testimony of experience rather than an informed sense of justification through obedience to scriptural precedent or verifiable evidence?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How does Paul’s distinction in Galatians 3:13 regarding the curse of the law recall not only the sacrificial nature of Yeshua’s execution but also the complexity of faith as a practice by all conscientious believers? How does the dynamic between adherence to the law and intention in this chapter serve as a caution against the presumption of easy salvation through mere belief without obedience?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) How has our collective ignorance of biblical precedent and terminology in legal matters led to a pervasive cynicism regarding the practice of law? Aside from the caricature of the mercenary “bloodsucking lawyer,” how have many citizens lost sight of the inherent Judeo-Christian ethos behind such a fundamental precept as presumption of innocence in matters of defamation, whether in private or public spheres?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) Similarly, how has the problem of unskillfulness in communication within a presumably literate society resulted in negligence regarding the interpretation of legal language? How does the failure to acknowledge definitions and recognize ranges of meaning serve to encourage our human tendency to create new laws or discredit extant laws, which is categorically prohibited by scripture?