Our Maker knows the human soul, better than anyone, and gave the world a just law and then showed how truth and justice must be balanced with mercy and grace. In doing so God showed why the recent spate of leaders making Mandates globally didn't work.
Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:42-45)
I read this as I hear of protests globally against government mandates from emergency powers. Though mandates are a clear case of the great ones exercising authority, my thoughts took another direction as I read also of the covenant of the Law made in Sinai, and I thought of law and grace.
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. (Deuteronomy 4:6)
Many misunderstand Paul's arguments as to Law and grace as if there was Moses law and then in Christ there is grace, but Paul's point has nuances because in his day the way the law was applied by (self appointed) Authority was without grace, but it was not meant to be the case.
Let us understand why the Covenant was made between Moses and the People and the God of Israel – in any agreement both parties must enter willingly. Both parties have rights and obligations. This is not a mystery as all engage at some point in businesses and even a sale of an item is an exchange based on trust of payment for an agreed action to hand over an item as advertised.
Moses.. took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. (Exodus 24:7)
They were willing to agree to Do what was written for the Blessing it would give. It's transactional, but both sides are extending grace to each other. One is graciously giving obedience the other is graciously giving abundance.
The laws of most nations were and are arbitrary based on the whim of the ruler(s). Most laws were and are non negotiable and had no reason to be obeyed except the fear of punishment of the whim of the ruler(s). We have the famed unchanging law of the Medes and Persians, a royal statute, a firm decree that any shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of the king shall be cast into the den of lions. (Dan 6:7). If you think mask mandates and ever varying and confusing restrictions are a whim (and I remember when masks were not recommended as they were in short supply and needed by the medics), imagine it, the whole kingdom paralyzed none able to asking for help from another, other than the king! If we have any doubt that it was not just one occasion of a mad whim, the rule of Ahasuerus of Persia and Media should live us pause. His wife flouts his imperious command and he and his cronies make a law that a man must rule his house and all women must honour their husbands (Esther Chapter 1)!
There is much evidence beyond the Bible of the role of whim and power in the rules of nations. One exception is the utter lack of enforceable rules that characterise certain aboriginal populations, where raw human will-power of the elder in small tribe-like units prevailed, but that could not deliver a civil society or any infrastructure including crops as all could be taken by another tribe.
The covenant offered to Israel was a wise set of laws as standards that could not be changed and could not be added to by whim. But from the beginning the laws required grace and wisdom in both obedience and administering. It was not up to a king and his cronies, but a set of wise men who were impartial judges!
Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. (Deuteronomy 1:13-17)
Moses was not saying that they were as God- but that God as watching them to make true and right judgement. They (and we) are told that God is gracious so they knew they must also be gracious.
As long as people were willing with a full gracious heart to keep the covenant as best as they could, the burden of law and judgement was small. When the people thought they knew best and despised the laws, the burden of judgement increased and those judges and lawyers enforcing laws had to become more draconian. By the time of Christ the law had become a terrible burden of religious detail and lawyer's codes and rules of practice.
But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them. Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. (Luke 11:42-46)
Paul being educated at the feet of Gamaliel in the considerable body of law of his day could see the purpose in it, but he knew also its great burden.
The grace in Christ is not an abrogation of the law, but a renewal of the covenant of willing obedience, the new covenant is the old one renewed.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:17-20)
If we have any doubt let us hear the Apostle John who knew,
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1John 5:3)
Did the commands change? Did Yahweh Elohim the God of Israel change? Malachi 3:16 says I change not!
How did the God of Israel present his law? Consider.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isaiah 1:18-20)
Did he force choice with immediate death. No! They could choose to rebel and there it was, the sword came. Right from the beginning after the nation chose the Covenant there was choice to keep up their end of it or not,
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: (Deut 30:19)
The point of this is that fundamentally all law to be truly successful requires that the people keep it willingly for a benefit.
The grace and mercy given in the law allowed the removal of sins prefigured Christ. There were only a few sins that resulted in death and one only – that of manslaughter - that resulted in imprisonment and that only for a limited time. Christ's law of grace as set out in Mathew 5 askes far more of the faithful than the Covenant Law ever did.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:21-22)
The law of grace is asking not just obedience to God's Laws in outward appearance but also a willing heart.
And this is the key to why the mandates do not work. There were studies that showed that masked mandates made no statistical difference to the outcome. I read scientific studies that showed limited use for effective N96 P2 masks, as they told me that I did not need one, then afterwards mandated masks. Why was the effectiveness of the limited studies not translated? If people willingly chose to wear masks and know the limits of masks and keep them clean they will wear them with effectivity - if they are forced to keep the law there will be significant non compliance, no willingness to seek how to make it effective, possibly even infection from the masks themselves, and the hated despised masks disposed of to end up in streets and drains and the oceans.
Of interest is God's law of isolation for those with an issue. If the law of isolation of God was understood and obeyed willingly there would be no great spread of any disease – In addition it is known from studies that isolation works to control the spread of disease but the Mandated Lockdowns showed no statistical difference, no matter how much the leader's 'excersied authority' to control all life. As the lockdowns always had exceptions deemed 'essential' all infections were pushed into narrower denser streams, but mostly if the people are not willing hearted then there is significant chance of place for a virus, often involving the non compliant behaviour of the leaders and lawmakers themselves who disproportional represented early cases. If it is not in the hearts of people to value a law, the people work about it and negate it.
The law of love, or Royal Law (James 2:8) is about the laws being written in the heart. If a leader cannot convince their people the law is just and right they will need to coerce them using fear. Thus perfect loves casts out fear. (I Jn 4:18) This is how God's right Law of grace was from the beginning, from the heart.
If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. (Deut 30:10)
If right be matter of word but not of the heart there is failure.
He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. (Mar 7:6)
If the matter of right becomes of mandates of stone, not of the heart, there is failure!
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Cor 3:3)
I have learnt that Yahweh Elohim of Israel was wise in how He brought law and re-taught thought Christ's ministry how it must be kept willingly of the heart. The entire history not just of Gentiles but of Jews shows the failures of those who rise up and excerise the Lordship of Authority and become oppressors. It is much harder to patiently in detail explain why a law is necessary as a servant of the people, especially if it is willful, than to mandate it as an imperious lord. Life, especially in the noahic age of increasing permissiveness and violence, teaches us why the law of God is necessary. All of the revolutions of history and lost or repealed laws shows the failure of mandates which are the excercise of authority.
As we have seen dramatically in the last two years nothing has worked to stop a virus – no law – no mandate – not the fear of death, nothing. It is because at no point was the true law of how to deal with it written in all the hearts, even of those who feared the 'mandated' fear. More would have been achieved if all had feared God, but the world would be entirety different if all loved God and his Laws and good was poured out (Exodus 23:25)!
There is coming a time when those who have learnt by experience of good and evil the law of love, which is not permissiveness, in the time of grace in probation and failure will be joined by those of the house of Israel who will also have learnt that human law is a foolish willful excerise of 'lordship' authority and God's Law needs to be written in the heart,
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33 cp Hebrews 8:10-16)