Human law is not always righteous nor is it eternal. In recent US history the Jim Crow laws are a prominent example. These were state and local laws enforcing racial segregation. As a body of law, Jim Crow institutionalized economic, educational, and social disadvantages for African Americans living in the South. The Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Human beings are flawed – and so are their laws. God’s laws on the other hand are righteous and they won’t be overruled. His laws continue on in perpetuity. Even so, misinterpreted by flawed human beings God’s law can become skewed. Jesus addressed this issue while walking through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, picked some heads of grain and ate them. This did not escape the attention of some Pharisees and teachers of the law who happened to be close by. Their interpretation of the law made the innocent act of snacking on grain an infraction of the Sabbath rest. They said to Jesus: (Matthew 12:2):
“Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
Jesus is the Word made flesh. If anyone is an authority on God’s law, Jesus is. Quoting from the book of the prophet Hosea (Hosea 6:6): “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” He challenged the Pharisees and teachers of the law. On yet another occasion Jesus pointblank called them hypocrites. Hypocrite is the Greek word for actor. Ignoring an important part of the law they turned into actors who just pretended to follow the law. Here is what Jesus said to them (Matthew 23:23):
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
Besides justice and faithfulness, mercy is an integral part of God’s law. Neglecting mercy we actually violate His law. God’s love shines through every letter of His Word. His love is eternal. So is His Word.