There is an interesting scripture in Acts 21:20 which is quite remarkable and which I believe needs more attention from especially those evangelicals among us who look to the original Jerusalem church as a pattern worth restoring in our day. Let’s look at verses 19-20:

“And when he (Paul) had saluted them (the Apostles and Elders of the Jerusalem church) he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it they glorified the Lord and said unto him, thou seest brother how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous for the law.”

I am about to write some controversial things here so let me put these two scriptures in their historical context so you can get the impact of how important this is. This is Paul’s fourth and last visit to Jerusalem to meet with the church leadership of Apostles and Elders before his being taken to Rome for trial and martyrdom. It takes place about 56 AD and about 20 years after his first visit to Jerusalem three years after his conversion on the road to Damascus. His first visit caused consternation among the Jerusalem church as they were afraid he was there to persecute them They were basically an underground persecuted church then. Twenty years later many thousands of Jerusalem residents had been converted. The persecution had basically ended because so many had been converted. Paul tells the Jerusalem leadership of the great many Gentiles saved under his ministry, the Jerusalem Apostles rejoice with Paul and tell him how many thousands of Jews had been converted under their ministry. Everyone rejoices at the great move of god over the last 20 years.

Now consider this. The Apostles have had more than 20 years of fulltime ministry deep in prayer and study of the Word and richly anointed of the Holy Spirit . They have been teaching for more than 20 years. They are not new at this. They have developed their theology by this time. They understand the ministry and the mission that Jesus gave them. And they proudly proclaim to Paul the results of that preaching and teaching over the past 20 or more years…”thousands of Jews who are zealous for the law”.  

So I ask you this; after 20 years of ministry in your local church and ministry from books, conferences, TV and tapes can you say with the Jerusalem church Apostles that you are “zealous for the law”? I know your immediate response: “Wait a minute brother, we are not under law but under grace!” And I respond to you, yes I agree but I think it is time we give this issue a closer look and if we haven’t thrown the proverbial baby out with the proverbial bath water. I agree with Paul on Law and Grace (Romans and Galatians are clear on this). But I also think it is time to discover if there isn’t something to be learned from the Apostles in Jerusalem and why their disciples were so zealous for the Law.  And by the Law I mean what they were studying, the Torah or what we call the Pentateuch.

Let me make something abundantly clear before there is any misunderstanding as to where I am going with this. I am not surreptitiously trying to bring in those old issues such as Saturday as Sabbath or should we eat pork etc. Those are just surface issues that do not get to the intent of what I believe the Lord gave us the Law for. I am concerned with reexamining the Torah, the Law of the Lord to see what wisdom can we extract there to design our Christian communities in such a way that reflects a Godly life to the world. I want to have a set of living arrangements that declare to the world this is who we are and this is how we live. In applying this to the old issues of Sabbath and pork here is my take: I know it is Godly and wise to rest one day of the week (frankly I think it can be Friday, Saturday or Sunday) but what about the commandment that goes with it, that every seventh year was to be a Sabbath year? The Sabbath folks of course never talk about that. So I ask myself, how can we design an economic system in such a way that every person can work 6 years and then take a 7th year off (called a Sabbatical) and during that year do what rested land was supposed to do: restore ourselves for greater productivity for the next 6 years of work by studying to increase our skills, or maybe just do community service or go on a mission. And pork? I think the Lord wants us to know there are foods good for your health and foods bad for your health. Let’s find out with our modern dietary science what is good and what is bad for our health. The issue is not pork, the issue is healthy food, healthy bodies. God raised the issue in the Torah we need to take it further into all areas of our diet. The same with Sabbath. The issue is not Saturday. The issue is proper rest and restoration for greater productivity.

In the weeks ahead I want to raise issues of Law that I believe are applicable today. Don’t kid yourself, you can sing that great old chorus “I am not under law, but under grace” as much as you like but you get up Monday morning and you enter a world of laws, all manmade and all meant to favor some at the expense of others. Politicians the world over legislate numerous new laws every year. The American Federal Register has more than 60,000 pages of laws and regulations with bureaucrats adding thousands of new pages every year. Today it is almost impossible to go through a day without breaking some obscure law.

But I know what you mean. Jesus abolished by His death o the cross the ceremonial and sacrificial laws of the Old Testament. We all know that. The Jerusalem church leadership also knew that and yet they were zealous for the law! So what can we take from the Torah that can still be applied to our lives today? I have been researching this issue for a long time and have come up with some surprising results. Apart from the laws of sacrifice that were abolished by Jesus, there are over 1500 biblical laws, statutes, judgments, principles, exhortations and guidelines under 22 different subject headings that speak to us today. Some of these subject headings include: Relationship to God; Relationships to Others; Law and Justice; Marriage and Divorce; Family Law; Animal Regulations; Government and Civil Officers; Capital Laws and Offences; Feasts and Observances; Foreign Relations; Labor and Work; Etiquette and Moral Issues; Food and Health; General Welfare; Economic and Monetary; Property Rights; Military and War; Personal Character Development. God has given us guidelines on how to organize our government, our economy our social interactions and not just our spiritual lives. We ignore these guidelines at our cost. Let me give you a quick example…

Example of Economic Law

Most Christians and church leaders simply ignore these issues and the scriptures relating to them.  A case in point is economic prosperity. Somehow tithing has become the key to prosperity and the only “law” still applicable today. Most consistent tithers I know are in deep financial trouble because all the other economic laws of the Bible are ignored or not deemed applicable and somehow the Lord can be held to ransom by the “Law of Sowing and Reaping”.

The Law of the Lord in fact gives a number of other regulations about achieving economic prosperity which I will enumerate without expanding on them in this blog…I will however cover them in future blogs:

  1. You are to have no King, the Lord is your ruler. We call this today a Republic, the rule of law. The Lord warned Israel if you choose to have a king he will greatly tax you and take you children into his service and get you into wars. Prosperity Principle: the less government the less taxes, more money in your pocket.
  2. You are to have equal weights and balances. That means your money must have the same value today as next year. Prosperity Principle: God hates inflation which is a theft of people’s purchasing power.
  3. You are to have right to private property with no tax allowed on property.
  4. You must have debt release every six years. That means no means to place you in perpetual debt serfdom. Lenders beware! Prosperity Principle: If you fail you can start over again, God teaches limited liability.
  5. Each person must have their own vine and own fig tree. That is the Lord wants you to have income from capital assets as well as labor income. You can never be really prosperous from just wage income. The Lord wants you to own income producing capital assets.
  6. Every 50 years you are to have a Jubilee which is actually different from a seventh year debt release. At the Jubilee all the capital assets of the nation are to be distributed to the families of the nation. Families are to own the capital stock of the nation, not corporations.
  7. Your personal prosperity actions: avoid fools, work hard (“six days of the week shalt thou work!” Not five!), seek knowledge and skills and apply them with wisdom, serve others by producing products and services that others need and want and do it cheaper and with better quality. Etc etc. (read Proverbs!)

There are lots more but you should get the point. God gave us economic laws thousands of years ago but they are only being discovered applied in recent times. It’s called Free Enterprise Capitalism which is to say not the same as today’s Corporate Government Capitalism (which is actually Fascism). If we Christians want prosperity we are going to have to go back to the economic laws of the Bible. Most of course cannot be applied in today’s Banker Capitalism we suffer under. Which again brings me back to the point of this website:

If we want to move into the next level of the abundant life that the Lord has for us we will need to get out of this Babylon world economic system that is crumbling in any case and start establishing our own communities where we can apply the Lord’s great Laws to our lives and to our relationships with one another and really be a witness to the world: This is who we are and this is how we live! 

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