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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Plague of Lawlessness

It's hard to imagine the chaos and suffering of truly lawless countries, but they do exist today. In North Korea, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Somalia, or a dozen other countries, there is no legal system or justice as we define it. Tribal dictators rule according to their whim. No one's property is safe from theft, and anyone can be imprisoned and killed. Poverty reigns and productivity is reduced to a bare minimum. There is hopelessness and no personal security. This is life as it was lived in the Stone Age.

Civilization began about 5,000 years ago when humankind awoke to the presence of God within, and people realized that laws and effective law enforcement were mandatory for progress. When Moses codified God's laws and formed the nation of Israel there was a surge in productivity, security, power, and national wealth. The Greeks and Romans discovered that the more refined the laws were, and the more fairly and universally they were enforced, the more orderly and sophisticated economies and society could become. These civilizations collapsed when their respective legal systems were breached by corruption.

Much of modern history since the Renaissance has been focused on rediscovering, recreating, and refining  the accomplishments of the ancient Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian world.  The Charter of the United Nations, with its statements on human rights and the intrinsic worth of the individual, is modeled on the Declaration of Independence; which in turn was entirely inspired by Judaism and Christianity. The Book of Job in the Old Testament teaches that we can challenge and wrestle with God; and Jesus gave himself up for all humanity, rich, poor, black, white, male, or female.

Almost everyone who reads these words lives in a nation or state that has laws that protect them to some degree, but probably all of us are beginning to feel the awful sense of insecurity that comes with approaching chaos. There is an ongoing global breakdown of lawful institutions, and more distrust of government now than at any time since the Great Depression.

People of little or no conscience are on the ascendant. Like the captain of the Costa Concordia (who ran his ship into the rocks, abandoned it, and jumped into a lifeboat), government, law enforcement, and business leaders all over the world are trying to escape blame for their stupidity, corruption, egotism, and incompetence. They will not escape, and the reckoning is approaching. Time is running out. God is forgiving, but not infinitely forgiving.

This is from the Gospel of Matthew, 3:7:  "But when he [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.  And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’. For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.  Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
"I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me [Jesus] is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

This is happening now. God is leveling an indictment on the world, and it has three facets based in law:

1) Reckless endangerment
2) Implied malice
3) Depraved indifference

No matter where in the world or in what kind of society you live, these are crimes. Civilization cannot survive in any meaningful form unless those who commit these crimes are stopped and brought to justice. But what exactly do these terms mean, and why are they so important?

Reckless endangerment often refers to child abuse, but it is becoming common in national and military leaders. It is the callous disregard for the lives and fortunes of others.

Implied malice is related to reckless endangerment, and speaks to motive. Craven disregard for the lives, limbs, and property of others indicates clearly that malice - criminal intent - is present.

Depraved indifference can be seen every day in the world, particularly in leaders such as North Korea's recently deceased Kim Jong Il. At least two-million people starved to death during his seventeen-year reign, and North Korea's economy is an ongoing catastrophe. Kim's son is now imprisoning people who weren't sufficiently mournful over his father's death a few months ago.

What is sufficient punishment for those who violate God and have perpetrated these crimes? Only God knows our hearts and can decide, but it will be terrible. Conversely, those who are on God's side in this conflict will have glory, honor, joy, riches, wisdom, and eternal life on a new earth.