I am a fan of J.R.R. Tolkiens great novel, The Lord of The Rings. Recently I had the opportunity to read the book again and I was struck by the following passage. For the sake of context, the Fellowship of The Ring which was made up of four hobbits, two men, an elf, a dwarf and a wizard has been broken up. Frodo and his faithful servant Sam have gone off alone towards Mordor but Merry and Pippin, the other two hobbits have been captured by a band of Uruk hai and are being pursued by Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. In the land of Rohan they meet up with a group of horsemen led by Eomer, the nephew of the King of Rohan.
‘How shall a man judge what to do in such times?’ ‘As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.’ ‘True indeed,’ said Eomer. ‘But I do not doubt you, nor the deed which my heart would do. Yet I am not free to do all as I would. It is against our law to let strangers wander at will in our land, until the king himself shall give them leave, and more strict is the command in these days of peril. I have begged you to come back willingly with me, and you will not. Loth am I to begin a battle of one hundred against three.’ ‘I do not think your law was made for such a chance,’ said Aragorn. ‘Nor am I indeed a stranger…’
As I read this I was reminded of what Jesus said in reply to the Pharisees who accused his disciples of profaning the Sabbath in Matthew 12:1-8:
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath.’ He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? And if you had know what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’
Without going in depth into the Sabbath law, the Pharisees were ridgidly applying the Law in ways that God had never intended for it to be applied. The Law of God reflects His Holy character, it is not a set of arbitrary rules. This, of course highlights the need for the transformation of our minds and an earnest pursuit of God, that we may know Him and live as He intended, rightly dividing and applying the Word of Truth.