The Old Testament is replete with types and symbols found in ceremonial and judicial case law.  Types are ordinances that have a prophetic element.  Old Testament messianic prophecies had present value, but pointed to future facts.  For example, the Passover lamb, and holy of holies represented a type of the work and person of Jesus Christ.  Symbols show in visible form a spiritual principle.  For example, the burning incense symbolized the prayer of saints and intercession of the Mediator.  Although the Old Testament ceremonial laws have expired and the judicial case laws are abrogated, they are still in the Word of God.

The ceremonial laws were added to the moral law to typify and prefigure the Lord Jesus Christ.  They were given to the “church underage” so that the types and ordinances represented the person, work, and benefits that believers have in the Lord Jesus Christ. Those external ceremonial laws were given for worship at the place prescribed by God.   In due time God appointed the place to worship, the temple of Jerusalem.  With its destruction the ceremonial laws are now abrogated because they put aside by the completed work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:14-17; Ephesians 2:15-16).

The judicial case laws expired with the disestablishment of the Old Testament political state of Israel, as a church underage.  Then what value are those judicial case laws to Christians in this present age?  The Westminster Assembly used the terminology “general equity” in the application of those laws under the new covenant.  Long before Westminster gave its counsel, John Calvin had  said, “the form of their [the nation of Israel] judicial laws, although it had no other intent than how best to preserve that very love which is enjoined by God’s eternal law, had something distinct from that precept of love. Therefore, as ceremonial laws could be abrogated while piety remained safe and unharmed, so too, when these judicial laws were taken away, the perpetual duties and precepts of love could still remain” (4.20.15).  The Biblical principle of retributive justice (lex talionis) applies to all human government.  The primary basis for that view is based on the biblical concept of natural law (i.e. Romans 2:14, 15).

The Word of God has not expired nor has it been abrogated.   There are five biblical principles found in the Pentateuch that have a place in the lives of all New Testament Christians.  A biblical principle is a fundamental truth of doctrine derived from the entire teaching of Scripture.  These principles are established on the foundation of God’s covenant relationship with His people of all ages.  New Testament Christians will benefit from these godly principles if they will search the Scriptures and discover the truth found in the whole counsel of God.

The first principle is the agrarian way of life.  A rural society based on agricultural production is the fundamental principle of the agrarian way of life.  One of the most popular advocates of the agrarian way of life is Wendell Berry.  “We agrarians are involved in a hard, long, momentous contest, in which we are so far, and by a considerable margin, the losers. What we have undertaken to defend is the complex accomplishment of knowledge, cultural memory, skill, self-mastery, good sense, and fundamental decency—the high and indispensable art—for which we probably can find no better name than “good farming.” I mean farming as defined by agrarianism as opposed to farming as defined by industrialism: farming as the proper use and care of an “immeasurable gift.”  Mr. Berry explains his understanding of industrialism in relation to the agrarian way of life.  “THE WAY OF INDUSTRIALISM is the way of the machine. To the industrial mind, a machine is not merely an instrument for doing work or amusing ourselves or making war; it is an explanation of the world and of life. Because industrialism cannot understand living things except as machines, and can grant them no value that is not utilitarian, it conceives of farming and forestry as forms of mining; it cannot use the land without abusing it.”  (Orion Magazine, Summer 2002, “The Agrarian Standard”, by Wendell Berry)

There is every reason to believe that the agricultural enterprise was the dominant factor in God’s plan to provide for this people.  Without question the Hebrew institutions from the creation until the death of Moses were instrumental in producing an agricultural society.  Man was created and placed in a perfect world that was perfectly agrarian (Genesis 2:15).  God was perfect able to create a city to place the man in, but God chose a garden for Adam to cultivate and keep.  After the fall there was a change in the garden, but Adam was still in a unique relationship to the ground (Genesis 3:17). 

Agriculture and land are inseparable.  A rural society seems to be favored by God.  Cain began his life as an agrarian, but turned to urbanization which requires an industrial and commercial way of life (Genesis 4:2; 17).  The earliest recorded history of cities found in the Word of God carried with it negative and sinful connotations (Genesis 11:4).   God established laws to protect the land for agricultural use, but not for cities (Leviticus 25:25-30).  A rural and agricultural society is more suited to ignore class distinctions found in urban populations.

The agrarian principle has merit today just as it did when God created Adam and put him in the garden.  Think hypothetically one moment.  If every family in this country had a small garden and worked that small garden, it would have a radical effect in every area of life. It was instill the principle of God’s provision from the ground, not from the commercial grocery store.  It would promote a biblical work ethic which is commanded in the 4th commandment:  “Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9).  Urbanization, commercialization, and industrialization, is a breeding ground for a discontent society because there is no covenantal connection between them and God’s provision for human existence.

The second principle I draw from Old Testament Hebrew institutions is relative to the practice of foreign policy and trade.  In the early days of Israel, she did not try to expand her trade and commerce by entering into covenants with foreign nations.  Phoenicians came to trade with the Hebrews, but the Hebrews did not build a naval force to reciprocate.  God warned His people not to enter into a covenant with foreigners (Exodus 34:12-16).  International trade leads to international obligations.  The Lord warned the Israelites not to borrow from other nations (Deuteronomy 15:6).  To observe the laws of foreign nations was detestable to the Lord.  The entire history of Israel from the time of Solomon until the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C. is a testimony of what happened to a country entered into agreements, trade or military, with other nations.  Foreign trade has the potential to denigrate the value of the land and the labor of the citizens who own the land and produce the goods. The principle application of Hebrew institutions relative to foreign policy and trade in our present age is self evident. 

The third principle is found the Old Testament Hebrew ordinances regulating the economic financial transactions.  The Old Testament legislation was specific relative to the regulating land ownership, monetary transactions, and indebtedness.  God owns all the land on this earth.  God created land and while we are alive God allows us to use the land.  We are allowed to live on it and use it to provide for our needs.  The Old Testament Hebrew ordinances regulated the disposition of land (Leviticus 25:23-34).  Money was transferred between various parties by means of precious metals such as gold and silver.  The way to determine the value was by weight and the use of scales.  Honesty was not merely a virtue, it was commanded by God  (Leviticus 19:35; Deuteronomy 25:13-16).  Indebtedness was not a sin, but it was regulated by God’s ordinances.  Money could be loaned but not with interest except to the foreigner (Deuteronomy23:19-20).  Debt cancellation was the means to protect the poor from a life time of suffering.  God called on the Israelites to open the hand wide to the poor, even if the year of debt cancellation was at hand (Deuteronomy 15:7-11).  The principle still stands:  compassion, but not communism.

The fourth principle was the military policy of Israel.  Two outstanding features found in the Pentateuch:
1.  No empire expansion
2. No colonization

A covenant is an agreement based on stipulations and promises between the two parties.  The philosophical principle that necessitates the covenant concept between equals is the sinful disposition to engage in war.  Israel was not commanded to have a standing army like the other nations so that once a year they might engage in war.  It was normal for other nations to fight for land and conquer for reasons other than just war.  God has given us one whole chapter that defines the principles governing warfare (Deuteronomy 20:1-20).

Three philosophical categories that deal with the concept we call war:

Activism – All war is permissible.  Unbending obedience to the civil magistrate.  “My country right or wrong.

Pacifism – All war is wrong.  No involvement in war.  Anabaptists and Mennonites.

Selectivism – Some war is justified, therefore the just war theory is legitimate

God created everything including a rational creature, called man.  God established a peace treaty which we call a covenant.  The man desired to assume God’s role which violated God’s original covenant.  When man broke the covenant it was like breaking a peace treaty.  With the peace treaty broken, naturally God had every right and obligation to declare war.  God had every right to exercise individual, international, and even cosmological justice.  It was properly a holy war and it was a just war.  The question before us is this:  Does man have the right and authority to declare war?

Let me make a prefatory statement before we engage any further in this discussion. The human race cannot blame God or Satan for that matter on the crisis we call war.  Sinful man is responsible for war.  The sinful man-centered desire for self preservation, self interest, and self esteem will inevitability lead to war.  Nations are unjust and ungodly because the people of the nation are unjust and ungodly.  The inspired proverbial doctrine is defined in these terms:  “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

I believe that activism is a sin against God and mankind.  Dr. R. L. Dabney describes it in more graphic terms.  “Unprovoked war is the most monstrous secular crime that can be committed:  it is at once the greatest of evils and includes the worst forms of robbery and murder” (Systematic Theology, page 403).

Although pacifism has noble and generous goals, it is not conceivable or possible in a post fall world.  The inevitability of war requires a biblical response to war.  I believe the biblical response may be classified under the category of just war.

The preface to any war is the offer of peace (Deuteronomy 20:10).  If the enemy refuses the covenant, then war may be the only alternative.  The Word of God does not prescribe war, nor does it proscribe war.

I believe the biblical principles of war have been largely ignored in the history of Western Civilization.  I also believe those principles provide guidelines that would be more sensible and productive toward peace on this planet.

The fifth and most significance principle was the establishment of a graded judiciary to govern the people. 

The nation of Israel consisted of 12 tribes.  Their religious, social, and civil lives were particular to them because of God’s covenant design.  God’s grace was in His covenant promises to His children.  Their King and Governor was the Lord God almighty.  They were joined together which means they were confederated as a particular people by a sovereign monarch.  The Lord then appointed Moses to select qualified men to judge the people (Exodus 18:21-26).  Eventually, the people turned away from God’s government, in favor of man’s government (1 Samuel 8:5).  It proved to be the destruction of a nation.  The application of God’s plan is closely related to a confederated republic.  Each tribe, state, etc has its own leadership, but is confederated with other tribes, states, etc for common purposes.