Law, Prophets and Wisdom - the order matters

Recently it was shared with me that the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) is divided into three sections: Law, Prophets and Wisdom. This was not news to me when I heard it, and it may not be news to you as well. What was news to me was that the order matters - Law then Prophets then Wisdom. The order matters because it reflects the maturation process. 

When we are younger we need clear boundaries to help guide us in ways to grow. We need the "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots" because as children we may not know what can harm us or the community. Every person that works with children knows this. When we are in this stage, if we do not have clear boundaries then we and society can run into chaos (see the biblical book of Genesis which takes place prior to the "Law").

As we grow we begin to question, push and challenge the Law that we received. This is sometimes seen as rebellion, and sometimes it is. Many times however this stage is one like the prophets who call out hypocrisy, call us to live what we said how we were going to live, get back to the roots/cause/why as to what we are doing. We see this in adolescents and teenagers. This is also the stage when we think we know the right way and that everyone else is "doing it wrong". The Prophet stage at it's best helps us know how to break the rules properly and at it's worst this stage can lead to resentment and arrogance. 

Finally (hopefully) we mature into the Wisdom stage. This is the only stage that is not a given in life. It is a given that you will have people tell you what to/not to do. It is a given that you will challenge those around you. It is not a given that we will mature into a stage that incorporates and transcends both stages.  While the Law comes with birth and the Prophet comes with growing up, Wisdom comes through intentional practice and learning. In the Judeo-Christian scripture it says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Put another way, humility is the beginning of wisdom. 

While these stages are on a fluid continuum - we can progress and regress in our maturation - it is the work of the spiritual life to move our roots toward wisdom. If we want to change the world, we cannot decree it or shout at others we can only model it.

That is where the rub is, if we model ways that we desire others to be then we have to be humble - a way of being that is driven by forgiveness and love than judgement and truth. I fear that our time is motivated to live like the later more than the former.