Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 2016
Noah and Babel vs. Pagan Government and Progressivism
Keeping Faithful to Our Lord in a Growing Hostile Culture
2016 North Stonington Bible Church Labor Day Conference
Central theme of Scripture: Romans 12:1-2 (KJV), “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
Thank you Larry, it’s always a pleasure to be here. As I say we’ve been coming here for a number of years and we’ve actually attended this church longer than any other church that we’ve ever gone to, so it just seems like homecoming to both Carol and me.
As we approach the Word of God let’s pause for a few moments just to pray, just to think about the Lord who authored this wonderful library of information to us: “Father, we thank You that You have once again allowed us the freedom to gather together when many brothers and sisters at this hour are fleeing for their lives or meeting in underground churches because they do not have the liberty that we have.
We give thanks for that. We think, for example, of the many, many centuries of time and the number of martyrs; the fact that more Christians have been murdered in the 20th century that the entire 19 centuries before; and we know that You’re coming, the second coming of Your Son grows close. We know that each day of our lives is one day closer to the grand culmination of history.
We thank You, therefore, that we have an identity that doesn’t depend on our feelings; it doesn’t depend on things we crank out of our soul, but it depends upon Your revelation, for You made each one of us personally and individually. We know we have Psalm 139 that tells us the fact that while we were in our mother’s womb, You wove us together with a foreview of the life that we would then live, and we so thank You for giving us that information and telling us about our true identity.
We ask now that Your Holy Spirit will illuminate our hearts, that we might be careful and not be deceived by the powers of the world, but that we would be submissive to Scripture and faithful to what You’ve told us, for we ask this our Savior’s name, Amen.”
Well this is Session 4 and in this session we’re going to advance further in the progress of revelation. We’ve dealt with Creation; we’ve dealt with the Fall; we’ve dealt with the Flood; and in this session we’re going to deal with the contract that God made with the human race and with all air-breathing animals, and the implications this has for theories of government.
Of course, that is involved and we are in an election year, our minds are involved with politics. You can’t help but open the media, every time you turn on the media there’s something about politics. But we as Christians need to pay attention to what the Word of God says about politics and government: how it was set up and how it was supposed to function versus how our culture thinks of it today.
Once again, our theme verse: Romans 12:1–2, “Be not conformed to this age,” aion, and on the other hand, it says, “be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”
We want to turn now, your handout has got four slides there, and for those who will be seeing the whole framework on the websites, I want to go to the slides 30 and 31 because I want to again show that the mold that Paul talks about, “being conformed to”. In that Romans passage, the word suschematizo there is a word that is dealing with how to compress, how to put things into a mold. We want to be careful that we are not unintentionally allowing our minds to be molded by how the world wants us to think.
On these two slides here, slides 30 and 31, I’ve depicted the mold as we have studied it so far. In the conflict over creation, so again, this is Chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis, and the event of Creation, it’s not just a story, it’s an event, and an event has implications.
But the problem is that in order not to feel under conviction for our sin, not to feel under conviction because of how the Lord has worked out history; that we are going to be ultimately responsible. Because of all that, men and women both create a fantasy world like Adam and Eve did. What we wind up with is this kind of thing, where we have used something called deep time, which means millions and millions of years. We need that deep time to try to explain natural history by normal slow processes.
But you don’t need that deep time if they were rapid processes, and so that’s why say, in this thing we’re using low-power events to explain the current state geophysically of the planet. But power is work divided by time, so a high-power event is able to do the same amount of work faster. So we pointed out that now only recently we’ve got two examples of high-power events that had never been observed before and in such detail.
One was Mount St. Helens, when it exploded and the debris came down from that mountain at 90 miles an hour and amazingly laid down perfectly laminar flow. That had never been photographed before. That is a new observation and mathematicians are working right now to try to figure out what are the fluid dynamics involved in a slurry mix, and that’s what happened.
So here is a rapid situation; if you go back a year or two later to Mount St. Helens you’d swear by that laminar flow, that that must’ve taken millions of years to lay down by the slow erosion processes that we know.
Then we have the tsunami in Japan, and that tsunami took the entire archipelago of Japan … Remember, Japan is not just one island, it’s a series of islands; that entire archipelago was moved 8 inches east in a matter of minutes. If you think of the power that must’ve been involved on the tectonic plate in the western Pacific Ocean to move Japan 8 inches, it’s an enormous power, a tremendous power. Those are the kinds of things that are surprises, because when you project back, you don’t need deep time in your mathematics if this is a high-power event.
Then we have the impersonal cosmos. One of the things that philosophers have struggled with is that if we are the only creatures in this vast universe, it’s like it’s a lonely place. This is why there is a search: on one hand, we want to explore outer space, because it’s part of God’s creation; on the other hand, there’s a tendency to be almost religious about seeking other life forms in the universe. And part of that, I believe, is a spiritual vacuum in our hearts; that if we think of reality as just an impersonal, physical material thing, we are lonely creatures in this vast, vast universe. But on the other hand, if God, who is an infinite Person, created it, who we can have fellowship with, then we’re not cosmically lonely. We have a Creator.
Then we go to the Darwinian thing, and we covered that. Then we dealt with man as a product of nature. Then we have, additionally, a reaction not just against Creation, but against the Fall and the Flood. We discovered the fact that now [there is] good and evil in nature, this is not just humans, but good and evil in nature; the storms; the earthquakes; the tornadoes; that is considered to be normal.
We consider it, as Christians, not to be normal. It was not the way God originally created the external nature of the natural world. This is a cursed natural world, and it was cursed, not because we were careless about the environment—it was cursed because we are sinners, and the human race sinned against God and God judged it. So we live in an abnormal world—not as it was originally from the hand of God.
Then we dealt with the issue of “The Bible is bad for nature.” I gave you quotes; the entire depth of the modern ecological movement is very hostile to the Judeo-Christian faith. It’s hostile because the Christian faith argues that man is unique in nature; and man has higher value than anyone else; any animal is lower than man. That is not true [according to] Newkirk’s thing, “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy,” and so on. Her idea is that all creation, well she doesn’t think it’s creation, but all animal life is equal in value.
That’s why, for example, we have the endangered species list. I worked with endangered species for years at Aberdeen Proving Ground with the bald eagle. So I know a little bit about endangered species. But endangered species are considered to be so valuable that we can accord them higher value than we can accord human life. That’s an inversion of the Bible.
So there’s great tension, and we as Christians need to be conscious of the fact that when we say we are Bible-believing believers. Just understand that in saying that, we put a person who is very thoughtful in the green movement in a position of antagonism. The Bible is bad for nature [in their minds].
Finally, in the issue of personal identity: the identity crisis that separates meaningfulness from trying to generate your own meaning; your own identity. Now it’s got into the fact that gender is not necessarily related to your anatomy, and so on. So the identity issues come not from us trying to create our own identity out of our own resources, sort of operation bootstrap. That’s not how you create your identity. Your identity and my identity are what God tells us in Creation. So we dealt with the identity issue.
Well, the theme of this conference is that every time we allow the mold to mold our thinking, it compromises us and does damage to us spiritually. It attenuates the strength of our perception of God’s attributes. When we pray, do we really pray conscious of God’s omnipotence; that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think; do we really believe that?
It’s hard to believe that, if you believe that nature is self-transforming and all-powerful. You can’t have two things that are all-powerful; either God is all-powerful or nature is all-powerful. So we tried to show how these attributes get compromised. We’ve gone over that, and you have to go to those particular four slides in your handout. So slides 30–33 in the PowerPoint file are these four slides that I put in the handout.
We’ve dealt with some of the effects of rejection. But what I want to do now is I want to go to after the Flood. There was a revelation that came from God, very important. It’s one of the key passages that in political thinking—the political doctrines of the Scriptures you have to go back to.
So let’s go back to Genesis 8. We’re going to look now at the Noahic Covenant, and as we go back there, I want to recall a word here. We use the word “covenant” a lot, and we use it so frequently that it becomes so familiar to us and we aren’t conscious of the core meaning of it.
The word “covenant” in the Bible is the Hebrew word, b’rit, and b’rit was used in cases where, for example, a shepherd, like Abraham, who shepherded sheep flocks, they needed water for all these animals that they were raising. But the problem was that water was scarce. They didn’t have wells every mile to get water. So there were people who owned property with a well on it.
We have a story in Abraham’s day where he made a covenant with the guy that owned the well so that he could get water for his business, for his flock, and that was called a covenant.
So what does that tell us about the meaning of that noun? That’s a noun, and it has meaning. It is a synonym to [the word in] our language, “contract.” Now, if you will substitute mentally, the word “contract” every time you see the word “covenant,” it might help you think through the fact that contracts have a lot of implications.
When we think about contracts, why do we make contracts in the first place? We make contracts in the first place to control a personal relationship—a relationship that’s business; a relationship that’s with government; whatever. It’s to monitor the performance of the relationship. Isn’t that why we have contracts?
When you make a contract with the bank to borrow money for a car, that’s a contract that requires you to do certain things and it requires the bank to do certain things. It’s stated in a document, and that document needs to be literally interpreted. You don’t interpret contracts allegorically. Wouldn’t that be delightful, to interpret your automobile contract, or your mortgage allegorically? I don’t think the bank think would like that. So, automatically, by talking about covenants as contracts, we settle the whole hermeneutic issue. It’s all settled. Contracts have to be interpreted literally.
The other thing about contracts, and it’s important when we come to this one in the way of contracts because this is the first explicit mention of contract in the Bible. When you have a contract, what else is true besides interpreting it literally? Let’s say, think about your mortgage, maybe you have a 20- or a 30-year mortgage on your house. During those 20 or 30 years, what is the function of the contract? It’s to define obligated behavior.
So, for example, if a contract is violated, you have contract breaking. You’ve got a problem with one or two parties to that contract. Divorce is a good example. Here we have the contract implying not only literal interpretation, that settles the whole hermeneutic issue right there, but you also have the fact that after the years go by on your mortgage, if you are faithful to pay those monthly payments every month, what happens to your credit rating? It goes up. Why does your credit rating go up after you’ve paid, over the last 15 years, your mortgage payment on time? Your credit rating goes up because you are now considered to be trustworthy of a loan. So a credit rating is basically a measure of trust; a measure of character.
Well, how does this apply to the Bible? Let’s just think about this … When God makes a contract, what are the implications of that with regard to His behavior? If God makes a contract and He specifies that He will do X, Y, and Z within a certain amount of time, or just eventually, we have a historical record to check on whether He “made His payments”; whether the prophecy was fulfilled.
What does that do now to what corresponds to a credit rating with God? It increases it. This is why, folks, two-thirds of this book is the Old Testament—two-thirds of the library that we hold has to do with the Old Testament. Why is two-thirds of the Bible devoted to the Old Testament? It’s because that’s the period of history where God’s performance has been monitored.
Now we have a record objectively in history that God did this for the tribe of Jacob; He did this for the tribe of Ephraim; He did this for the tribe of Judah; He did this for the king of Judah; He did this for the Messiah. So we have all the prophecies of Jesus fulfilled. So what does this do? That is an objective, not a subjective feeling thing.
We can dismiss all this romanticism. Our faith is not built on romanticism. It’s not built on how we feel about God. It’s built on God’s character as demonstrated historically.
Now here’s why this is so important. This is not a minor point: there is no other religion in history that has that record of God—the Buddhist’s don’t have it; the Hindus don’t have it; Islam doesn’t in the sense that they say, “Well we don’t have a real Old Testament.” All these religions don’t have a historical record of the trustworthiness of God that they purport us to believe in. We have a record that is objective and therefore a demonstration of the faithfulness of our Lord.
Let’s look at Genesis 8:21. This is the background for the first explicit contract in history: “And the Lord smelled the soothing aroma.” This is just another side comment here on aroma and smell. The power of smell is very interesting. Unlike the power of sight and the power of touch, the power of smell has scientifically shown that you can detect a person’s emotions through the olfactory sensation.
This has been shown by various experiments where they take people and put them in a video situation where they have to respond to fear, or they have to respond to some happy situation, and they take their perspiration and then they put it on a card and they let an observer smell that, and they don’t know how this works, but somehow the sense of what that crisis is, it’s not clear in all cases, but it can be done.
So there’s a strange characteristic to smell. It’s no accident that in the Bible the prayers that come up to God are viewed as an aroma. In the Bible, what did they burn in the temple? Incense. So there’s the idea of incense. Incense for who? It’s a picture of God smelling; and He is smelling something that is telling Him about the heart of His people.
Back in Genesis 8:21–22: “God smelled a sweet savour; and then the Lord said in His heart, I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake; although the imagination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
What is this verse teaching us about the geophysical environment? Is it constrained or is it not? There’s a certain stability geophysically, and it’s not just the geophysical stability of planet Earth. God could not fulfill this promise if He didn’t also stabilize the sun, and stabilize the solar system, and stabilize our galaxy, because there are extraterrestrial effects.
There are other planets out there. The problem with the planets that you hear about is their stars are not stable like our sun is. Some of these stars just suddenly emit radiation. If we were on those planets we’d drop dead. We are particularly blessed in our solar system for a stable star called our sun.
So here we have God geophysically creating stability. You see, this is how you have to have to read the Bible. You can’t read the Bible as just a storybook. The Bible has to be read as though it’s true truth and the implications span the whole universe.
Genesis 9, now here we get into the details of the contract: “God so blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” Once again we have the command to have babies; to fill the earth.
I was just talking to an airline pilot here and he was saying when you fly over America from coast-to-coast and you look down on the land, there’s no overpopulation. Where you have overpopulation and why it’s a crisis is because you have corruption.
One of the most overpopulated, population-dense places on earth is Hong Kong. The people are doing fine in Hong Kong because they have a reasonably functioning government, a functioning economy, and they’re okay.
There are some areas on earth, like Syria right now, that are a real problem. Why? It’s not because they’ve got too many people. It’s because they’ve bombed the place, destroyed it, and their economy is shot and people are dying.
The point is that God says, “be fruitful and multiply”, which implies that we ought to be able to grow. Population density per family has to be 2.1 in order for a society to continue. Any society that has a birth rate less than 2.1 is destined for destruction and erasure from history. There are several places on earth right now that are in a crisis.
I have a Japanese daughter-in-law. Japan is in a mess. The young people are so discouraged they don’t even want to bother with marriage or family, so they’re not having babies. Now what happens is you’ve got a progressively older population. Who pays for the older people now that you don’t have any young people to pay?
You have a destruction of the economy when you don’t have population growth of 2.1 or more. Europe, apart from the Muslim population, is going down with less than 2.1. In our nation, the red states, the conservative states, they’re greater than 2.1. On the East Coast and the West Coast where you have liberalism, the blue states, they’re population is dropping below 2.1. So guess what that has by way of voting implications for the next 30 years.
You’re not worried in this congregation because you’re having babies all over the place. But the point is that God commands this, and we don’t have to worry about population bomb or anything like that. “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move in the earth, on all fish of the sea” (Genesis 9:2, paraphrased).
What does that say about man’s dominion? It says the animals react differently in this civilization than they did apparently before: they are given, “Into your hand, every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; I have given you all things, even as green herbs, and you shall not eat flesh with its life; that is its blood. Surely, for your life blood I will demand the reckoning from the hand of every beast I will require it; from the hand of man; from the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed” (Genesis 9:2–6, paraphrased).
There are some things about this passage that I want to explore by way of implication, but before I do that, there’s a slide I want to show you. This is slide number 34, and unfortunately I did not put this one on the handout. This is the latest research, just published within the last couple of months, from the Creationist Geneticist working with the Institute for Creation Research (www.icr.org).
What they did is they went back into this enormous DNA base of the world’s population, and they wanted to ask the question that if we trace the accumulated changes in the DNA from different people groups and we go back in time, what do we find by way of commonness?
For example, we have two lines that converge in the sense that as we go back in time there is a certain place where they have all in common and that tells us descent. The interesting thing is when they did a computer analysis of the database, they found, lo and behold, three nodes: one there; one there; and one there. All the people groups on the planet have three convergence points.
How many sons did Noah have? Three … now the boys, Noah’s sons, all have their dad’s DNA and their mom’s DNA, so what caused this? The wives of the sons ... So here’s the latest stuff on DNA and what does it show? Just what the Bible has been saying all along: the whole human race came from three families—Japheth, Shem, and Ham.
That has implications, as I say, there’s no such thing as racism in the Bible. We’re not different races—we are different tribes. So all this jazz about racism, and this is the buzzword on campuses, if you don’t like somebody you call them a racist—just name-calling. We learned in fourth grade not to name-call, but we still do it on the college campus. So we have the idea of racism, and it’s baloney; there’s only one race, and it’s the human race because we all have the genes of Adam and Eve.
What we have though are tribes that are different. Shem, Ham, and Japheth had a certain tribal influence on human history. If you want to explore this, there’s a book, Noah’s Three Sons: Human History in Three Dimension, written years ago by a Canadian who’s dead now, [Arthur C.] Custance. It’s an interesting book because he points out that every major invention in history, every major basic invention comes from the sons of Ham.
He also points out that monotheistic religion only comes from the sons of Shem: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Why is that? Because somehow this tribe, this great Shemitic tribe, has Arabic and Hebrew; language which is very conservative with times. So God designed that whole Shemite tribe to have a very conservative language so that when He revealed Himself in that tribe, they would be custodians of His revelation.
Then Japheth. Most of us come out of an Indo-European background. We have, probably most of us here have, the genes that came out of Japheth, and Japheth is interesting because the Bible says that Japheth will, “dwell in the tents of Shem,” (Genesis 9:27). It’s interesting that Western civilization, a Japhetic product, is rooted on biblical ideas. That’s why it’s so hated on the college campus today. It’s not that Western civilization, white Western civilization that they’re against—they’re against the Christian influence in white Western civilization.
So no racism is allowed in the Scripture. We all got off of the same boat. The difference is that we have these tribes. But what’s fascinating is this biblical story of Noah, his three sons, and his three daughters-in-law. Here’s what an objective computer analysis shows of human DNA. So it’s once again, if we would just trust the Word of God and go about our scientific research, we will discover these kinds of things. That’s an example of a recent thing that supports the Scripture.
One of the things that we notice in here at the end of this section that we just got through reading is the diet of man changes from a vegetarian to an omnivore diet—the killing of animals. But look carefully at what He says. Look where He says, “But you shall not eat the flesh with its life, that is the blood.” The Jewish Orthodox people still do this to this day and that is when you kill an animal for food, there’s almost like a ceremonial procedure of draining that animal’s blood.
I believe that God put that in there so that in our civilization from Noah on, we would be conscious that when we kill an animal for food, a life has been shed that we may live. God doesn’t want us to treat the animals that we kill for food casually. They have life, and the Hebrew says they have nephesh. We are taking life in order that we may eat.
I had an encounter with someone that was a former Muslim. He was in Lebanon, and he was telling me one time that after he became a Christian he couldn’t get hold of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross. He believed it, that but it didn’t strike him as to what was going on. Why is Christianity so centered on the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ? And then one day he was eating a hamburger at McDonald’s in Beirut, Lebanon, and it dawned on him. Of course, this was the first time I had ever heard of theology over a hamburger, but the point that he made was that an animal died that he could eat; an animal died that he can live.
Ever since I had that conversation with him I wondered if one of the reasons, besides health reasons, one of the reasons for this ceremony in here: “You shall not eat the flesh with its life,” is just a little point reminder that when we eat, and of course we don’t kill animals, they’re killed for us by butchers, and so we don’t get involved in the killing, we just eat the meat. But when we do eat the meat, we ought to think about the fact that an animal has died that we may survive—that we may live—that we get the protein.
So the other thing to notice in this passage by way of implication is: “By every hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man” (Genesis 9:5). There’s the value of human life. Capital punishment is mentioned here: “whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.” That is recognition of the value of human life. It is ironic that we have today, all through Europe—you can’t be in NATO if you believe in capital punishment.
You have to get rid of capital punishment; that is why Turkey is having a problem, because they wanted to bring back capital punishment after the coup happened last month or two months ago. So the issue now is there is an argument against capital punishment that’s valid. And that is our judicial system is so screwed up we don’t know whether a person is guilty or not. We have cases where people have been in prison for life and all of a sudden a DNA test comes out [and shows that] they weren’t the guy; somebody else killed the person.
So in the Bible, interestingly, though capital punishment was authorized, it was probably very infrequently administered, and here’s why: the rules of evidence in the Mosaic Law code. Before somebody can be convicted of murder you had to have two eyewitnesses to the crime—two or three witnesses. Why? To avoid violation of the Ninth Commandment of perjury. You had to have coherent witnesses.
The problem is that in our country capital punishment was authorized in cases where circumstantial evidence was used. That would never have happened in Israel. You had to have eyewitnesses, and, of course, that’s infrequent. The point is that God says capital punishment is what I would like, but you guys aren’t always able to do it right so I have strict rules of evidence to control it.
The idea here is that capital punishment is not destruction of human life. It is precisely the opposite. Capital punishment is given to commemorate the value of the victim that nobody’s worried about. A thing like [the recent events in] Baltimore in the Old Testament; any city that would allow the murder, like Chicago and Baltimore. Do you know what God says about cities like that? He says that the blood cries out from the streets at Me for the death of the people that you are killing on your streets. When you read the Old Testament, that’s what God says. That’s His heart, and He goes back to these kinds of passages.
There’s one thing more I want to say about eating animals that’s kind of interesting: You saw in Genesis 9 this restriction that you can’t eat the meat unless you first have allowed the blood drain out of it. There’s only one case in the Bible where you have to eat the meat with the blood: John 6:55–56 when Jesus says [paraphrased], “My flesh is food indeed, My blood is drink indeed; he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood dwells in Me.”
There He’s taking the metaphor of the Old Testament and He modifies it because now it’s both His flesh and His blood commemorated in communion, not literally, but commemorated, and this is our salvation. So, this whole idea, and see how interwoven the Scriptures are, here we go back 2,000 years or more, and God is having this restriction about don’t eat an animal until first you drain the blood so that you will be conscious of what an animal has given for you.
Now we come to the New Testament, and Jesus speaks of His life given for you and for me, and He says, “You have it all. I have given all My life to you.” There’s no hesitancy. Alright, so that’s the background of this—of the covenant—the contract.
Let’s go to one other event in this time. Let’s turn to Genesis 11. In Genesis 9 we have the establishment, in theory, of the government and civil power. Think of the symbol that is used for civil power in the Bible—Old Testament and New Testament—what’s the symbol? You see it over and over. In Romans, what’s the symbol that Paul writes about when he wants to designate civil authority? The sword. The sword is a lethal weapon. The sword was what the angels used to stop people from going into the sacred space of Eden.
So the sword is the power, and what’s amusing is that during a debate done years ago by Gordon Clark and a pacifist, a Mennonite pacifist, the Mennonite pacifist was trying to interpret Romans 13 so that the sword was allegorical. So Gordon Clark, a very witty man, when it was his turn to respond to that said, “Well, I’m so glad to know that the sword in Romans 13 is metaphorical. That must mean that the taxes in Romans 13 are also metaphorical.”
The point is that civil government, and this is another fundamental debate we’re having in our society, marriage and civil government are considered in the Bible to be divine institutions. They are not social constructs. The whole argument over same-sex marriage presupposes that marriage is not a divine institution. It presupposes that a court can redefine marriage any way the court sees fit to define marriage. Wrong. That would be like saying the court has just decreed that 2+2 is now 5 because we want to soften it for people who have a D– grade in arithmetic.
We change the definitions, but we’re changing definitions we have no business changing the definition of, because marriage is structured on how we are designed. Civil power in the Bible is execution. That’s why the sword is the symbol of civil power—that was given to the human race, reluctantly, to preserve it.
So we have an issue here: what is the function of civil power in the Bible? This is a fundamental question. Every political issue funnels from whatever answer you give to this question. What is the function of civil power and the power to take life? The function in the Scriptures is that civil power is there to preserve society against its self-destruction. Civil power is to judge some forms of behavior.
Civil power can’t judge your heart. There’s no judge on Earth can judge your heart. All a judge and a jury can do is deal with overt behavior patterns, and only certain overt behavior patterns. So the power of civil government is constricted to restraining certain behaviors so that we have consequences for evil decisions. That’s the limit.
Now we come to Genesis 11. This happened after civil government was established. Watch what happens, and it’s still going on today. Genesis 11:1–7: “Now the whole earth had one language, and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and dwelt there.”
Notice the first verse: they were all one language. This is very profound because with all due credit to the post-modernist today, they at least recognize that language forms a social group.
Rosaria Butterfield says, as an English professor, “We use words, but words use us.” When we employ words in our vocabulary, we are importing into that conversation all kinds of backgrounds and nuances from those words.”
That’s why we were talking about the missionary situation in Laos: what noun do they use for “God”? Wycliffe Bible translators had big argument over what to do when they translate the Bible into Arabic. What is the noun for God? If we use the word “Allah”, which is the common Arabic word for God, now we’ve got confusion in the people reading the Bible in Arabic, “Oh, well that’s the same [God] as Islam.” No it isn’t. There’s a triune God here.
See the struggle of a translator? Language is so important and translators struggle with this, trying to figure out how to translate the message of the Word of God over into another heart language. It’s not an easy thing to do. Language is that important. “Then,” these people said, they said together, “come let us make bricks.” Watch what they’re saying here, watch what they’re saying. This is a society, a social group, whether represented by the leadership or not. This is a consensus of what a society should do. What is the society deciding they want to do?
Read carefully the next few verses: “They said to one another;” so there’s the social conversation. “Come let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly. They had brick for stone; they had asphalt or mortar; and they said come let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens. Let us make a name for ourselves lest;” purpose clause. Purpose clause: “lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
What did God say in Genesis 9 to do? Fill the earth. What does this society say they’re not going to do? Fill the earth. They might have had reasons—the earth and climate might’ve been vicious as they were restored from the Flood. They might’ve been scared. We don’t know what the circumstances were, but they decided they were not going to do God’s will. They were not going to spread across the earth.
There’s a time problem here, and it’s interesting. It’s just like the two animals coming into the ark. We realize now it was DNA selection going on. Now we realize that there was an ice age right after the Flood, when you had all the water on the planet. And a lot of the water on the planet turned into the ice on the land and what happened to the ocean levels? They dropped probably by 200 or 300 feet. What do dropping ocean levels do to [the ability to] migrate from Asia to America? It creates a land bridge.
The point here is that God told them to expand; do it now while you’ve got the sea level low so you can fulfill My mandate. “Well, we don’t want to do it now.” “Well if you don’t do it now, the North American and South American continents aren’t going to be populated, so I want you to do it now.” But they don’t want to do it now. Interestingly they also say, come let us build a tower, build a project. They’ve got a building project.
Notice too that this is high technology, and this is another thing we want to understand about trends in history. Just because a society has advanced technology does not mean that they are morally advanced. You can have technological innovation and moral degradation simultaneously. You can have primitive societies that are quite ethical and quite moral too. They are not correlated.
But then embedded in this, after you see the clause: a tower whose top is in the heavens, what’s the next clause? Besides making a city and a tower, what next? They’re going to make a what? “A name for ourselves.” Gee, doesn’t that sound like identity problem?
We are going to define our identity and you know why that’s so important? This is Genesis 11. What happens in Genesis 12? When God speaks to Abraham, He blesses Abraham and He says, “I will make your what great? I will make your name great.” So right in the next chapter, God intervenes and He says, “Abraham I am going to give you an identity. I am the sovereign. I define existence. I define your identity.”
Well here the human race wants, “We will make an identity for ourselves.” See what’s going on here? Babel is an extremely important thing, and I regret that when I did the original Framework series I did not devote enough time to Genesis 11. It is a profound moment.
Now the next sentence: “But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men built;” and there’s a sarcasm here, did you detect it? “We’re going to build all the way to heaven,” and God has to come down to see it. See there’s a humor in this text: the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men built.
This is the picture, people, of our own arrogance, when we think we’re so great. We have all this arrogant attitude and God says, “Oh yeah? Let Me get down there real low so I can see what you’ve done for Me.” And the Lord said, “Indeed, the people are one; they have one language and so on, and so let Us come down and we will confuse their language.” Now He linguistically enforces tribes. So you have the tribal division, which is genetic, and then to make sure the tribes get out, He confuses the language, so that forces them to go out.
Now we come to the theories of government. There are two questions here. What is civil government? Civil government is a divine institution that God established. It is not a social construct that man established—fundamental difference. That means things like in England, the Divine Right of Kings; kings of England thought they were so great that they could control the religious beliefs of England.
And we had the fight that went on from the Scots, who were all Presbyterians, and that made a covenant: “We defy the English. We defy the king telling us that we have to be Anglicans. We are not Anglicans. We’re Presbyterians.” That battle between the Presbyterians of Scotland and the Anglicans of England set in motion the literature that was used by our Founding Fathers.
One of the pieces of literature I brought here years ago: Lex Rex. I got it out of Harvard University. I had them copy it for me. Lex Rex was written to justify the Presbyterian defiance of the kings of England. They defied the king because they said, “You do not have unlimited rights as king. You are limited.” They use Deuteronomy 17, by the way, as their proof text.
There are other cases. There are the pharaohs of Egypt. Remember in past times that I’ve been here and I showed you the Egyptian pillars and their art, and there’s Pharaoh’s name right down the pillar? And associated with that are the scepters between Earth, at the bottom of the pillar, and Heaven, the artist put up at the top. And then in between there’s Pharaoh’s name. What does that tell you about the theology of ancient Egypt? That “I am the Pharaoh. I am the mediator between Heaven and Earth.”
That’s the picture of civil government after Babel. Babel confused the whole theory of civil government. Civil government, given the power of death, in the hands of corruptible people, is a very dangerous combination. That’s why people who know the Word of God have always believed in limited government. Why? Because we’re so great? No, because we believe in the corruptibility of people because we live in a depraved, abnormal world and we are not going to invest the power of life and death to an arbitrary group of people. That is asking for trouble and that’s why unlimited versus limited government is grounded on the Scripture, both scripturally and historically.
We come now to a biblical text where the Jews had to deal with this. Let’s turn to the other political text which is 1 Samuel 8. In 1 Samuel 8, you’ve been through this, I’m sure that Larry and Steve have taught it, but I just want to go through this quickly. 1 Samuel 8:1–3: “And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn …” They go into the family names. “… and his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside.”
Then 1 Samuel 8:4: “All the elders of Israel gathered together, and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said unto him, ‘Look you’re old, your sons do not walk in your ways’ ”. What do they propose? Let us have a king like all the other nations. Now they just had a social collapse in their society. That’s the whole story of the book of Judges: every man did what was right in his own eyes—the society’s a mess, their economy is a mess, their families are a mess, the kids aren’t following their parents, the men haven’t taken responsible leadership, so they have to have Deborah and the women take over leadership.
The women are the ones that kill the bad guys, and women are the ones leading the military thing. So you have a complete inversion of responsibility. Men are just sitting around letting the women do everything. Then we have the economy destroyed and so the whole thing is in a mess.
Now we’ve made a bad decision socially, and we’re experiencing the bad consequences. So now in a brilliant move we’re going to make another stupid decision so we can increase the bad consequences, by having a king like all the other nations. He just told you what the pharaohs were like. You want another king like that?
Who was the king? Well let’s look at the text: “The thing displeased Samuel, so Samuel prayed”; thank God Samuel prayed! I saw a sign one time: ASAP… as soon as possible. Well a Christian had modified ASAP… Always Stop And Pray. I think that’s a neat slogan.
Samuel prayed to the Lord. He didn’t panic. He decided, “This thing smells; this is another bad decision on top of a previous bad decision, and I want to talk to the Lord about it.” So the Lord said to Samuel, and here’s the poignant theology of what went wrong; here is God’s analysis of why a society destroyed itself. Why did this society that had so much potential wind up prostrate?
Conquered militarily. Destroyed economically. Families going to pot. The whole educational establishment lost their history. What went wrong with this? Here’s the answer: “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Go ahead, heed the voice of the people and all they say to you, for they have not rejected you Samuel, they have rejected Me.’ ” See? It’s the same problem. They rejected what God told them.
God was their King. They said that [He] should not reign over them. They had a king. Can you name another nation on earth, ever in all of human history that had God as king? This is the only nation that had God as king and look how they screwed up. Do you know what this is telling us? You can’t get millennial conditions unless you have an incorruptible civil government.
How are you going to get an incorruptible civil government? Only when you have resurrected people running it. That’s why the Millennium cannot come on Earth until Jesus returns in His resurrection body with the Church and the resurrected believers become the administration of the Millennial Kingdom. Now we can have millennial conditions because we’ve got an incorruptible … it’s not necessarily more brilliant, it’s not an intellectual problem, it’s an ethical problem of corruption.
So in 1 Samuel 8:11–17 there’s a famous passage about what’s going to happen, and quickly summarizing it: it is one big bureaucratic mess, and the king’s going to do this. He’s going to take captains over thousands. He’s going to plow his ground. Notice all the personal pronouns here on all these nouns—his ground, his harvest, his weapons, for his chariots. He’s going to take your daughters. He’ll take the best of your fields, the best of your vineyards, your olive groves—the confiscation of private property, as every tyrannical government does. He will take one tenth of your grain. Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if we only had [to give] one tenth?
He will take your male servants, female servants, and you [conclusion] will be his slaves. That’s the story of unlimited government when you combine two lethal things: the power of capital punishment and lethal force, and you combine that with corruptible people, you will always get tyranny. Thank God, the Founding Fathers in the Constitution put checks and balances. Of course, nobody pays attention to the Constitution anymore, but the point is it was put in there.
Well let’s move on, and we see what’s happened. Babelesque thinking existed and still does today. So now we want to specialize in one area, and that is the idea of “progressivism.” That’s the buzzword in the 20th century. “Oh, we’re progressive;” yeah, notice what we’re doing. To show you, however, that the elite—remember I started this whole lesson by quoting Edenhofer—remember what he said about climate change? This is not about climate change; this is about global redistribution of wealth. This is about globalism—not about climate change.
Now interestingly, if we turn to slide 35. Here’s a painting in 1563, of the Tower of Babel—it’s a very famous painting. When the European elite wanted to create the first preliminary world parliament, they went back to this painting in 1563 and designed the parliament of the European Union. Those architects knew exactly what they were saying; they went back, they researched the painting, and they asked themselves, how can we construct the parliament of Europe so it depicts the Tower of Babel? [Slide 36]
And you say why on earth would they pick the Tower of Babel as the architectural model for the European parliament building? Simple: “We are going to do what Babel stopped doing. We are going to complete this vision.” This is why Isaiah 2:4 is on the UN building in New York City—the guys who put it on there were borrowing from the Scriptures.
So just to make sure that we know what they were doing, look at the next slide—slide 37. Outside one of the European buildings (this is not the same building), here’s a statue, a modernist statue; and it’s hard to see from this angle, I couldn’t get a good picture, but obviously there’s a horse here—a modern version of a horse? On the horse is a naked woman, and she’s riding the horse. Now does anybody know the Bible in the book of Revelation? You know what they’re imitating? The harlot of Revelation; these artists spent millions of dollars doing this. They’re not fools, they’re smart people. What they’re arguing for is, “We are defying this! We will finish what Babel ended. And we will do, and you people that are worried about being Christians; worried about the harlot. We are the harlot and we are going to take over the world!”
These are well-defined things, and it’s interesting that they’re using biblical imagery to communicate. They’re not unintelligent people. These are well-read artists and architects. But it shows you that the idea of Babel is not dead, people. It’s just as alive as it has ever been.
Let’s go further: Where did the idea progress? I already told you about the role of covenants. Outside of the Bible, there is no such picture of progress in history. All paganism was cycles. But here we have Albright, the father of American biblical archaeology. What does he say? Only the Hebrews had the idea of a contractual relationship.
Now we define Jewish history by a series of contracts. [Slide 38] See why Jews make good business people? Abraham bargaining with God over Sodom and Gomorrah, “Oh, just a little bit less, a little bit less.” It’s very humorous when you think about that passage.
Combine what Albright says with what Kaufmann says [slide 39]—he’s looking at the effects of the contract over time. Remember what we said? What’s true of a contract? It’s a monitor of subsequent behavior. Are we conforming to the contract, or are we not conforming to the contract?
Kaufmann says, “What makes the history of Israelite prophecy sui generis is the succession of apostles of God that come to the people through the ages.” Such a line of apostle-prophets is what in paganism? It’s unknown. That 66-book library, which you are holding in your lap this morning, is the only book, the only history, of a divine contract ever in the history of humanity. “The pagan prophet incorporated a unique, self-contained divine power; and there its ‘mission’ ended with him.”
The idea of progress was stolen from the Bible. It did not come from paganism. What happened in the beginning of the 20th century is that you had a number of thinkers who said, remember the Depression at the end of 1900, with Bertrand Russell talking about bad things. They had to feel good, so they had to have this idea of progress, and of course of current 20 th century is a great progress.
More Christians were killed in the 20th century than in the 19 centuries before. We have 30 million people murdered by atheist communism. Remember that one by the way, when somebody tells you that religion is the cause of all the problems. Tell that to the Russians who died under an atheist regime. We have these deaths—massive numbers—the 20th century is a mess.
So we have all of this and we now go to one of the thinkers. Here is how progressivism got started politically in our country. [Slide 40] Here’s Walter Rauschenbusch; he was one of the social gospel guys. Notice the book: A Theology for, what? A Theology for the Social Gospel. This is the first thing where we are going to discard—the gospel—and we’re going to talk about human welfare and social development—progressivism. He says, “We need a restoration of the millennial hope which the Catholic Church dropped out of eschatology. It was crude in its form but wholly right in its substance … We hope for such an order for humanity as we hope for heaven for ourselves.”
That’s the thinking that the artists and the architects of the UN building [had about] why you put Isaiah 2:4 on the UN building. He’s borrowing the idea of progress and the ultimate kingdom, because our hearts cry out for that. You can understand this. We want a society without war. We want a society at peace. We want a society that’s prosperous—there’s nothing wrong with wanting this.
The problem is how you get there. You can’t get there if you have a corruptible society. He wanted to get the idea of the Millennial Kingdom, but he wanted to subtract the gospel and subtract the way we get there by getting there through resurrection [i.e., a resurrected global administration that would therefore be incorruptible].
This has had implications for today, and the next slide, slide 41, we have the University of Buffalo secular sociologist, [Ernest] Sternberg. What Sternberg is arguing here is that there’s something going on globally. We all feel that. But I think this man at the University of Buffalo puts it well: “We are in the midst of the worldwide rise of a non-religious chiliastic movement.”
For those of you might not know what “chiliastic” is, he’s talking about the Millennium—one thousand years. Here’s this millennial idea. Where did it come from? Pagans? No, it came from the Bible. “We are in the midst of the worldwide rise of a non-religious chiliastic movement, announcing global human renewal and predicting planetary catastrophe as its woeful alternative … [This myth says] that it is possible now, amid present corruption and degradation to build a glorious New Rome.” That’s what those architects that built those buildings did.
So I hope I’ve shown from Sternberg and others, that the idea of Babel that we just read in Genesis 11, combined with 1 Samuel 8, tells you what is going on and gives you insight as Christians. Your non-Christian neighbor will not have this insight because he doesn’t hold the 66-book library you do. But you understand this now. You understand the motive going on of trying to create a global millennial world government to bring peace and economic prosperity on earth. It came from the Bible. It comes from our hearts. We want that, but it’s naïve because it denies what God’s Word says. This can’t come. It cannot come to a corrupt society.
So we conclude by just a review again. Every time we get into these things we are suppressing God’s attributes. We are doing spiritual damage to our hearts. The mold suppresses. When we deny that nature is abnormal, that humans are not fallen—do you realize that one of the founders of modern public education in the United States, Horace Mann, believed in the perfectibility of children.
Of course, every mom here knows about the perfectibility of children, but he believed in the perfectibility of children and that these little monsters don’t have sin natures. I don’t know whether he ever had children of his own. I don’t know Horace Mann’s personal life, but whatever it was, somehow he lost out and he believed in the perfectibility of man.
This is alive and well today—that humans are perfectible. “We the elite will tell you how to be perfect.” We go on and you’ve seen these slides [#42–44] before—man’s redemption and so on.
Years ago an artist made this for me [slide 45]. I think this so symbolizes our problem: here is the fact that I do not want God’s Word affecting how I think. I am going to do it myself—just like Babel: “I will create a name and identity for myself, independent of God.”
Folks, that’s the issue: are we going to submit to the Word of God or are we going to do it ourselves? You can see the social damage that is happening all around us now from a society that is bound and determined that it is going to do this independently of God. It’s an idea that’s not new, it’s an idea that goes back to Eden.
But it’s taking a certain form in our day, and a very dangerous form in the sense that it is centered on the millennial vision of the Bible but jerked away from, ripped away from, the biblical context—very dangerous indeed.
What does John the Apostle say, “Who is greater than the world? He that is in us.” The Holy Spirit is greater, and our God is the One that calls the shots.
If you feel depressed as you think about this, please don’t feel depressed. Remember that your Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, rose from the dead and then He did something else, didn’t He? What did He do forty days after He rose from the dead? He ascended into Heaven, and where is He in Heaven? The Bible in Ephesians and other passages says He rose far above all principality and power that is named in this age or any age to come. Our Lord and Savior sits at the Father’s right hand, and you and I have access to Him 24/7.
This is better than any cell phone. You never get out of range. You don’t pay a monthly fee. You can pray to Him at the spur of the moment. And the other thing is you can pray about conditions that are located anywhere on earth. You can pray for a missionary 8,000 miles away instantly. You may not have good cell phone connections and Skype may not work, but you’ve got prayer.
“Father, we thank You so much for the access that we do have. Thank You for being greater than he that is in the world. Thank You for being our Savior, and thank You for giving us the riches of grace in Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray, Amen.”