Sunday, December 21, 2008

Natural Law is God's ordinance

Reference: Jeremiah 31:35, 36; 33:25 NKJV

What is Natural Law? What is its role in God's participation in His relationship with His people?

Natural Laws are what the New King James Bible calls "ordinances". These are physical or metaphysical routines or behavior that have been ordained and established by God. Gravity is one example. The orbit of planets in the solar system and the exact distances between celestial bodies so that there is very little, if ever, possibility of collision between the planets are another example.

Other examples are consequences of events. For example, heavy rain clouds mean the high probability of rain. If the temperatures were at freezing point or below, we would have falling snow or hail instead. Two cars driving directly into each others way will collide head-on.

Less obvious examples are consequences of behavior. Too much refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in one's regular diet would lead to diabetes or other metabolic syndrome diseases like hypertension or even arthritis. An overdose of aspirin, sleeping pills and alcohol could lead to death.

Now, you may ask, what is the point of discussing the above and others like them?

The answer is a key to understanding the biblical perspective on answered prayers and rejected prayers.

Prayer is a petition to the God who ordains these natural laws or these divine ordinances, to intervene into the natural course of events as he originally ordained and, by such intervention, to change the course of events into something that is favorable to the petitioner. It is obvious that petitional prayers or prayers of supplication seek to change the mind of God either by altering His natural law or by simply changing the natural course of events had He left things alone as He originally ordained them.

This is such an important concept to bear in mind of a Christian who claims to have a real relationship with God. The petitioner needs to know if he is requesting something that would please God and honor Him, or is the petition tantamount to tempting or testing God in a negative sense.

Let me explain. Does God give us privilege to seek healing for a man born blind? or for a leper? or for a demon-possessed person? or for a child bitten by a venomous snake either due to the child's carelessness or adult negligence? In most cases, I would tend to think so, and I believe that the petitioner is in a strong position with the loving God to expect a favorable response.

On the other hand, similar to the Israelites continually tempting God in the wilderness during the Exodus years, does a Christian have the right to ask God for strong lungs if he is a habitual smoker? Can he petition for a healthy liver and kidney if he is a drunkard? Can a Christian who overdoses on alcohol and sleeping pills ask for a long life? More subtly, can a Christian who habitually stuffs herself with refined sugar diets and high fructose corn syrup juices have the right to ask God to heal her from diabetes?

In such cases, I think that these are patterns for prayers that will be rejected by God. In the same way that God wants us to reckon ourselves dead to sin in order to be alive to God, the above scenarios require a drastic lifestyle change before God can even begin to deliberate on the petitioner's case!

It is important for a Christian in relationship with God to realize the strength of his petitions based on what he has been doing with or against the natural laws of God before he even begins to make request for divine intervention. Christians who continually and stubbornly defy these ordinances, e.g., the cult where they play with poisonous snakes in their rituals should not expect any response from God at all. These are all part of "turn from their wicked ways" before God can "hear from heaven and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14). This could be another angle in understanding what it is to pray "according to His will".

On the other hand, we must realize that natural law is something we NEVER have to pray for. Gravity will be gravity without our prayers. A man jumping from the top of the empire state building does not need to pray to God in order to land somewhere down below. We never need to pray that the planets in our solar system will not collide. They just won't until God decides to end everything. We don't need to pray that the ground gets wet when it rains.

Hence, petitional prayer is essentially a request for divine intervention for God to change the natural course of events in our favor. be continued...
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