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If a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge, between degrees of guilt for bloodshed, between one judgment or another, or between one punishment or another, matters of controversy within your gates, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses. (Deuteronomy 17:8)

It is understood that judges and officers would be established in all the cities and villages of Israel in order to render judgments in judicial matters that arose. However, there was also provision for situations that required rulings from the Priests, Levites and judges who served in the Sanctuary. Specifically, those who ministered at the Holy Place made decisions in regard to how the laws of the Torah were to be executed. This stipulation lay the groundwork for what would later be known as the San Hedrin, a body of men who rendered Torah-related decisions.

Such a court was needed because, if every opinion and interpretation of Scripture was considered legitimate, there would be many “torahs.” In other words, people could potentially assemble enough support for their opinion to do whatever pleased them, and all in the name of God. The San Hedrin was thus authorized to resolve disputes about the most difficult matters — issues where Torah was not specific — and anything in which the local magistrates were in dispute. The goal was to work in accordance with the Sanctuary to sustain the integrity of the Law.

Obviously, these men were expected to be true to God’s standards of justice and truth, and just as importantly, the people were to adhere to their rulings. It must be presumed, then, that those who made these rulings understood the importance of the role and, hopefully, hearkened unto God’s voice.

It is clear that God established structure and sanctioned positions of authority and declared that His people were to abide by that structure, even when those in authority weren’t the best of men. Messiah made it very clear that His disciples were to abide by the rulings of those who sat in Moses’ seat regardless. “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do” (Matthew 23:2) In other words, obey their judgments because they are in authority, even if they don’t obey those judgments.

I realize that this is a tough one for many of us, especially in this evil day, nevertheless, we are instructed to obey those God has set over us to rule — even if they break every rule. If we do not, we contribute to the lawlessness of the day and that is not who we are. If everyone was allowed to do as they see fit, the results would be a fragmented, anarchic society. Understanding that there are some extreme cases where we are bound to “obey God rather than man,” still we must acknowledge that God is the One who establishes order and it is He who raises up those in authority. So then, we’ll close with this admonition from Paul: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1).

Blessings and Shalom,  




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