Law And Lawlessness


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.”

                                                                                                                -Jim Gerrish


*The Jews and Their Role in Civilization, Louis Finkelstein, Schochen Books, NY, 1974,
pp. 1-25.
**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.