A few years ago, many of us were astounded to learn that urban terrorists had placed canisters of deadly sarin gas on several crowded Japanese subways. In this incident, some 5500 people were injured and 11 were killed. There seemed to be no other purpose to this mindless act other than the mass destruction of fellow human beings. This is certainly not an isolated incident. In recent years there have many such incidents, although few of them have been so malicious and daring as this one.
We can surely say that lawlessness is on the increase in our world. Often it is subtly expressed in the widespread and popular “do your own thing” approach to life and morality. It has certainly shown up in today’s seemingly pervasive corporate fraud. We also see it in the rapid increase of con artists functioning in all levels and areas of society. The rise of such lawlessness is a great challenge to individuals, to governments, and to the church as well.
SOCIETIES ARE BASED UPON LAW
Every society on earth is dependent upon law in some way. In many cases it is biblical law that has formed the basis of societies, either directly or indirectly. For instance, those of us from the US consider English Common Law as the foundation for much of our legal system. Yet, behind this common law there is a great evidence of biblical law, brought to England by the Jews.* At this point we simply cannot determine just how much the Law of Sinai has influenced many other nations, but there is evidence it has had a great impact upon them.
Almost every society today is dependent upon such things as honesty, integrity, trust, and faith in their fellow man in order to function. Imagine what would happen to the world’s great financial institutions if all these qualities were suddenly taken away. Yet, virtually all these things are derived, either directly or indirectly, from the biblical heritage. It is true that the world had systems of law before Sinai. There was the famous Code of Hammurabi for instance. However, the legal system of Sinai dealt with justice from God’s perspective and not just from man’s. It introduced such intricate concepts as damages; it set limits on revenge; it placed value upon the unborn (Ex. 21:12-23); and it even dealt with man’s inner motives (Ex. 20:17).
Christianity in its proper understanding should highly regard the importance of law. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” The false teaching known as antinomianism has been around a long time, but seems to be growing in popularity today. It has certainly made its appearance in the church. Christians who hold to this idea propose that they can live by grace and faith, and virtually without law or obedience. There are many scriptures that point out the impossibility of this approach (cf. Lk. 6:46; Jas. 1:22-25). The whole New Testament, especially the teachings of Jesus, is based upon law. It is clear that people are blessed as they heed these teachings (Jas. 1:25; 1 Jn. 2:5).
In the last three decades there has been a strong move abroad in our whole society to throw off the fetters of law, particularly all biblical restraints. Today the Postmodernists teach that it is improper even to question what a person believes or does. All this is not something new though. Even as far back as David’s time we perceive these trends. In Psalm 2:3, we have evidence of them. In this Psalm the heathen are saying, “‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters.'” This seems to be an early reference to God’s holy people, Israel, and the moral restraints that they have introduced into the world.
What would a world be like without law? We may soon find out. I suspect that it would be something like a six-way intersection with no stop light, and with cars speeding through at 100 miles per hour from all directions. For sure, it will be a world in which few of us would wish to live.
A UNIVERSE OF LAW
Our universe is a universe of law. Sometimes things appear chaotic, but this is in appearance only. The tiniest cells operate with incredible order. Planets move through the heavens with extreme precision. Natural life around us proceeds in a complex and well organized system. The exception to this, of course, is man who has fallen into sin, and who has refused to live by God’s order.
All indications are that the universe, being a universe established and operating upon God’s law, is convulsed by lawlessness. Lawlessness is like sand thrown into this delicate machinery. We see some evidences of this in scripture. Fire and brimstone quickly fell from heaven on the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their homosexuality and perversion. Apparently, even the hornets fought against the evil Canaanites as Israel conquered the land (Deut. 7:20). Later, the stars in their courses fought against evil Sisera (Jud. 5:20). The land of Canaan vomited out the inhabitants because of their lawless deeds. God promised the Israelites that if they forsook his law and practiced lawless deeds, the land would also vomit them out (Lev. 18:24-28). They did, and it did.
Earth’s systems seem to unite to attack lawlessness just as cells in our bodies unite to attack a disease germ. They often seem to focus their wrath specifically upon the lawbreakers. Consider just one example of this. Some years ago a massive earthquake struck California. The quake’s hub was a previously unknown fault centering on the Northridge area. At the time of the quake, few people knew that this area housed nearly ninety-five per cent of America’s pornographic industry. The industry was left in shambles.** As was later reported by the Jerusalem Post, the largest egg farm in America was just eight kilometers (4.8 miles) away. The extent of the damage there – a broken water line and a single broken egg.
LAWLESSNESS TO INCREASE
As we approach the end days, the Bible indicates that the human race will become exceedingly lawless. Jesus himself warned us that evil would increase in the end days (Matt. 24:12). Some of the lawless deeds of the end times are vividly described in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul warns us in this passages: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”
Today there is already a great move on to establish lawlessness. In Israel, the rise of Yasser Arafat underscores this trend in the political arena. Here is a man who has over the last 30 years proven himself completely lawless. He has ruled by deceit, threats, intimidation, murder, graft, theft and yet he has been lauded by many of the world’s leaders, including Israel’s left, as the worthy head of the Palestinians. He has long been the darling of the media. He has even been awarded the world’s highest honor by receiving the Nobel Prize. Were he not presently confined by the Israeli Army he would no doubt still be wined and dined in the world’s capitals. Arafat may not be the Beast spoken of in Daniel, but he certainly illustrates how easily such an evil person can arise and be honored by the whole world.
We see the trend to honor scoundrels all over today. It seems that if a person can prove himself absolutely worthless and beyond redemption, he will likely become the idol of this age. In Proverbs 28:4 we read: “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law resist them.” The righteous can certainly long and pray for the day spoken of by Isaiah. He says of the end days: “No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected” (Isa. 32:5).
It seems apparent that the revulsion to biblical law creates an atmosphere of wickedness. This atmosphere of lawlessness may be the key to Antichrist’s rise. The Bible assures us that “…when rebels have become completely wicked…” that the Beast or Antichrist will come (Dan. 8:23). It is very interesting that in the Greek language of 2 Thessalonians 2:8, this evil world ruler known as Antichrist is called “the lawless one.” It seems that the one thing that restrains his rise is law, particularly biblical law. It is sad indeed that God will surely give people who desire lawlessness their wish. They will someday be under the control of a completely lawless world ruler.
As a direct result of the rise of this lawless one, the whole earth will immediately be thrown into chaos. Mountains will erupt, stars will fall, natural systems will collapse (Rev. 8:6-9:21; 16:1-11). Evil men will be plagued with unspeakable horrors – all apparently as a result of their own sin. Yet these evil men will not call upon God or choose to live by his rules. Instead, they will curse God all the more (Rev. 16:11).
GOD’S LAW AT LAST
The day is surely coming when God’s law will be established. The law will proceed from Zion to the ends of the earth. Perhaps out of pure frustration with lawlessness, many will beg to go up to Zion. “Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The Law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:3).
God’s King will rule from Mt. Zion. His name is Jesus (Yeshua). He is known as the “ living word, ” and from this we can conclude he is also the “living Torah” or living law. It seems clear in scripture that he will have to deal in a rather forceful manner with many warlike and lawless nations still on the earth during this reign of peace (Mic. 4:3). As he begins to reign, the world will begin to run by the “manufacturer’s handbook,” as one writer put it, or by the Word of God. The world is groaning and in pain awaiting this day (Rom. 8:22).
God is calling his people to fear him and to walk in his ways. This walk must be a walk of obedience to his word and to his precepts. Jesus came to the world to reestablish the rule of God and the rule of his law. The true children of God in this day should be crying out for God’s rule and law to be established. The prayer of God’s people as we approach this era of coming lawlessness, should be the prayer we have been taught to pray in Matthew 6:10: “your kingdom come. your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
*The Jews and Their Role in Civilization, Louis Finkelstein, Schochen Books, NY, 1974,
**Nature Out of Control?, M Basilea Schlink, Kanaan Publications, Radlett, England,
This updated article is presented courtesy of Bridges For Peace, Jerusalem, orig. pub. date 1995.