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I Know My Rights!

May 14, 2011


"I know my rights!"

How often have we all heard that?

I heard it again last Saturday. I often take the dogs on a "road trip" to McDonald's for Saturday breakfast (for me - they go along for the ride). Dewey especially likes to bark at the trucks, buses, motorcycles, and anything else that makes noise.

Anyway - I was in the drive-though line and someone pulls into a space near us - a woman steps out and is saying "I know my rights!". The man gets out the other side - says something I can't understand - and then she says, "I'm thinking of calling a lawyer."


So - I'm thinking this would be a great lead-in to the "rights" that God gives people.

Like the right to accept or reject Him - that thing called free will.


That was last Saturday. Didn't have time to write anything.

Now it's a week later - another Saturday. And I still haven't come up with anything that seems like a good way to write this.

But - God tells us not to worry - He'll give us the words.


So - I have some "free" time while waiting for an appointment for someone to come to the house and do some work.

It seems like a good time to catch up on some reading - like the "through the Bible in a year" schedule that my wife & I are going through.

That gets me to 2 Chronicles.

And there are the words!

Perhaps an appropriate exclamation might be Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!


Everybody seems to think we all know the law. Like I said - how many times do we hear people say they know their rights - or they ought to get a lawyer - or they're going to sue someone?

But - do we really know the law?

There's an example from the Old Testament that may be interesting to consider.

Check this out from 2 Chronicles 17:1-11 --

Jehoshaphat King of Judah

2Ch 17:1 Jehoshaphat his son succeeded him as king and strengthened himself against Israel. He stationed troops in all the fortified cities of Judah and put garrisons in Judah and in the towns of Ephraim that his father Asa had captured.

2Ch 17:3 The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. The LORD established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. His heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.

2Ch 17:7 In the third year of his reign he sent his officials Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah to teach in the towns of Judah. With them were certain Levites—Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tob-Adonijah—and the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the LORD; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people.

2Ch 17:10 The fear of the LORD fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not make war with Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines brought Jehoshaphat gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought him flocks: seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred goats.

So we have Jehoshaphat sending people through all of Judah (his territory) teaching people from The Book of the Law of the LORD.

Certainly these people should know the law. They were taught by the Levites & Priests. And the king sent them out so that the people would know the law.


But -- there's that word again - But - they were, after all, people.

Something happened - in the very next chapter. Rather than put in the entire chapter of 2 Chronicles 8 - I'll give the "reader's digest" version to set up what happens next.

Jehoshaphat - in spite of what he did in chapter 7 - makes an alliance with Ahab, the King of Israel - who does not follow the ways of God.
Ahab wants the two of them to go to war against Ramoth Gilead.
Ahab has his "prophets" proclaim that "God" is with them.
Jehoshaphat knows that Ahab's prophets are not from the True God - and asks if there are any in Ahab's area.
There is one - Micaiah - who says that God will destroy Ahab if they go into battle.
Jehoshaphat goes with Ahab anyway. In fact - when they go Ahab is in disguise and Jehoshaphat is the one dressed as a king.
Jehoshaphat is wounded - Ahab dies.

After that, 2 Chronicles 19:1-3 - Jehoshaphat hears from God about his choice to go to war along with Ahab --

2Ch 19:1 When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, the wrath of the LORD is upon you. There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God.”

God's not too happy. However - God also knows that Jehoshaphat is trying to seek Him.

To that end, we see in the very next verse -

2Ch 19:4 Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim and turned them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers.

Not only does Jehoshaphat work on himself - he goes out to the people as well. He knows that he is the leader - and the people will follow his ways. So he goes out to return them to the ways of following the Lord as well.


But - yet again that word comes up - But, something happens again in chapter 20:35-37 --

2Ch 20:35 Later, Jehoshaphat king of Judah made an alliance with Ahaziah king of Israel, who was guilty of wickedness. He agreed with him to construct a fleet of trading ships. After these were built at Ezion Geber, Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the LORD will destroy what you have made.” The ships were wrecked and were not able to set sail to trade.

Proves one more time - whenever people are involved - we seem to find it impossible to completely follow God - no matter how much we want to.


Since this is about the law and knowing rights - there's one more interesting thing in the middle of all of Jehoshaphat's mistakes and turning back to the Lord. It comes in 2 Chronicles 19:4-11 -- he appoints judges.

Jehoshaphat Appoints Judges

2Ch 19:4 Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim and turned them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers. He appointed judges in the land, in each of the fortified cities of Judah. He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”

2Ch 19:8 In Jerusalem also, Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites, priests and heads of Israelite families to administer the law of the LORD and to settle disputes. And they lived in Jerusalem. He gave them these orders: “You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the LORD. In every case that comes before you from your fellow countrymen who live in the cities—whether bloodshed or other concerns of the law, commands, decrees or ordinances—you are to warn them not to sin against the LORD; otherwise his wrath will come on you and your brothers. Do this, and you will not sin.

2Ch 19:11 “Amariah the chief priest will be over you in any matter concerning the LORD, and Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the leader of the tribe of Judah, will be over you in any matter concerning the king, and the Levites will serve as officials before you. Act with courage, and may the LORD be with those who do well.”


Can you imagine if we had judges like this today - judges who were given the command - “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”

Yes - judges are people too - and they won't be able to follow this exactly - and from time to time they'll lose sight of what the command was, or what it meant.
But from time to time - as Jehoshaphat did - they will return to the Lord as well.


And with that in mind - the story goes on further. Let's go to 2 Kings 22:1-13 - which is earlier in terms of placement in the Bible - but later in terms of when it actually took place.

The Book of the Law Found

2Ki 22:1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

2Ki 22:3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the LORD. He said: “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the LORD, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the LORD— the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are acting faithfully.”

2Ki 22:8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

2Ki 22:11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD'S anger that burns against us because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”


Even the title of this section gives some idea of how far things have gotten away from following the Law of the Lord.
The Book of the Law found!
That means it was lost!

And given how hard it was for them to follow it when they had it - think what's been happening when they didn't have it.

2Ki 22:11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD'S anger that burns against us because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”


Things got pretty bad.
But eventually God puts in a king who will being the people back.



OK - I'm pretty sure the two people in the car weren't arguing about whether God's law was being followed or not.
For one thing - the license plate on the car made it pretty obvious that at least the owner of the car wanted nothing to do with God.
For another - there's wouldn't be a need for a lawyer to enforce God's law. He's perfectly capable of doing that Himself.

But - in the end - which law is more important?
Man's laws are important - but "in the end" - God's laws are the ones that really matter.

We think we know man's laws.
We may think we know God's laws too.

God's chosen people probably thought they knew His laws too.

But look what happened with Jehoshaphat and Josiah.

Up until the time he actually had the book read to him, Josiah had no idea what it really said. He was so devastated and afraid that he tore his robes - a sign of great distress in those days.

And even though he knew the Law and had his father as a good example before him, Jehoshaphat still strayed.


This was the OT days.
What about now?

Do you know the Law?
Do you know your rights?


When asked what is the greatest commandment in the Law, Jesus answered as it says in Matthew 22:34-40 --

The Greatest Commandment

Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher,

which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When asked what work God requires, Jesus answered as it says in John 6:28-29 --

Jn 6:28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jn 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

If you look for the word "rights" in the Gospels - it's not there.


If we expand that to cover the letters in the NT - there are 4 times the word is used. The best example of the four is from Paul, in Galatians 3:26-4:7 --

Sons of God

Gal 3:26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Gal 4:1 What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

So Paul is saying that as a Christian - we have the right to be an heir of God - as we are now sons of God. Once we become a Christian - we have that "right".


Sounds good - but this is one of those cases where the translation to make it more readable, loses some of the original flavor. If we go to the King James version, for verses 4 & 5 - we see --

4 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Three words / phrases in there probably need some explanation to really understand what it says -

to buy up, i.e. ransom; figuratively, to rescue from loss (improve opportunity)

(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

from a presumed compound of NT:5207 and a derivative of NT:5087; the placing as a son, i.e. adoption (figuratively, Christian sonship in respect to God):

(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

from NT:575 and NT:2983; to receive (specially, in full, or as a host); also to take aside

(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

Now we see that it's not so much a "right" as we use the word today.

It's something we receive from God - after we become His adopted children - after we accept His Son as our Lord and Savior.


So what some may say is a right - may be more correctly considered a gift that we receive form God after accepting His gift of salvation, Jesus - who paid the price for our sins and redeemed us from loss (having to pay the price for our own sins).


Then - what "right" do we have?
Or do we have no rights at all?


Keep reading in Galatians 4:8-11 --

Paul’s Concern for the Galatians

Gal 4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

There's the right that we have.
The right to exercise free will.
The right to follow God - or not.

The right to follow God - or (some other) god.


That's a pretty simple right.
Easy to understand.
No lawyer needed.

The judge - that'll be Jesus, as we see in John 5:24-27 --

Jn 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

And the result of the "trial" - that's given in Romans 6:23 --

Ro 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


So there it is.

Know your rights - to follow God or not.

Skip the lawyer - none is needed.

Know the result - life or death.


Who is your "god" -

The God who created you -

paid the price to adopt you as His son -

will share with you as an heir if you choose Him

or

some other god

that didn't create you -

that has done nothing good for you -

that has nothing to offer you, except the wrath of the God who did create you.


Choose wisely.

And remember your choice.

Know your "rights".