Deuteronomy Lesson 28
Moses’ Concluding Appeal to the Heart: Conditionality of Blessing
8 June 2010
© Charles A. Clough 2010
Since we’re resuming after a long layoff, it’s going to be basically a review thing tonight. Unfortunately some of the diagrams didn’t come out too good on the handout on the back sheet. Most of those you’ve seen before so I think we can work just the way we are.
On the handout I put down the major topics and the subsections that we covered last fall and last spring. Just to remind you that the book of Deuteronomy is written in a kind of format, a special format. The format has been appreciated in the last 30 or 40 years as more archaeology work has developed. It turns out that in the ancient Near East that there were treaties made – different kinds of treaties.
While we don’t have to say, “Oh gee, because the archaeological format is thus and such there for the Word of God is thus and such.” It’s the other way around. The Word of God is such and such. Apparently the pagan nations around about in order to have some security arrangement arranged their treaties and covenants with certain formats. Most of these are kind of intuitively obvious if you think about it. But it does turn out to be useful tool for those of us who believe in inerrancy of Scripture.
For years and years and years the book of Deuteronomy was always cast as a late development of the Old Testament. In fact in the 19th century the Wellhausen-type criticism and JEPD. They made D last because Deuteronomy appears to a liberal mind (the enlightenment type person) to be a late, highly developed theology, not the legalistic details of say Leviticus or Exodus. So they always late dated this. Now it turns out thankfully by making analogies to the format Deuteronomy has to the second millennium B. C. that this argues for the early date, which we conservatives always believed anyway.
Anyway, looking at that outline to draw some things to your attention, see where is says 1:6 to 4:40, first exposition, then down at 5:1–26:19 is the second exposition. There are a series of expositions, a series of talks that Moses gave as his farewell address sequence to the nation Israel. These are important because theologically that sets the basis for the Old Testament. The prophets are not social reformers in the modern sense. Now the liberals have tended to go to Isaiah, Jeremiah for “social justice” and all the rest of it, but those guys were not innovators. They were actually prosecutors sent by God to the nation Israel to announce the cursings and the blessings back here in the book of Deuteronomy. So Deuteronomy underlies the Old Testament.
It is interesting that when Jesus had to confront Satan, He quoted from this book. That tells you something about the book. The book was written because Moses addressed—somebody recorded it and put it together—the average person. You’ll see again and again Moses says, “I call all Israel. I call all the nation together.” That was men, women, children - everyone. This is important because if you contrast the way God revealed Himself to Israel versus the way pagan society operated (and still does) it is that in the pagan mentality education is for the elite. This is true of Greeks. This is true of the Romans. This is true of the Babylonians. Remember Daniel goes into captivity and he’s mentored as a special education for these guys that were going to assume public office. This has always been the case. The idea of universal education comes out of the Bible.
Now tonight what we’re going to do is we’re going to review some of the big ideas behind the book of Deuteronomy and the theology of the Bible so that as we go through the second part of Deuteronomy we’re going to get involved in case law. If this happens…. then you will do this. It’s easy to lose the forest for the trees so I’m going to try not to lose for the forest for the trees by going back to these big ideas again and again.
Now as we come to this outline, you’ll see that first exposition that goes from chapter 1 to chapter 40 is a narration of history. It was an exposition so that the people, all the people, would be motivated to obey. This is a classic model of motivational speech. What Moses does here is two things. You’ll see parenthesis one and parenthesis two in the outline. The first one is past gracious actions of Yahweh. So he recounts history and he goes back into history and tells you that God did this, God did this, and God did this. We’re going to get into that tonight. That is unique to the Bible.
All of us practically in this room have come out of a secular education. All of our lives we’ve been programmed to think of history certain ways. I remember before I became a Christian, I couldn’t stand history. To me you just memorize a few dates and events and burp it up for a test, and then forget it and go to the next week and another series of things to remember for the next test and go to the next week. But nobody ever sat me down in all the social study courses, in all the geography courses, in all the history courses in school; no teacher ever sat me down and said, “History is going somewhere and there’s a rhyme and a reason to it.” It was just discontinuous things. I’m sure most of you learned your history that way also – fragmented pieces kind of thrown together.
So the historical analysis, and that’s why 1:6 to 3:29 goes back and recites actual events in history. Remember we went through all this – the Caddish, the wasted years, you see in little print in chapter 2:1-23 negotiate already allocated lands. That was important because the Jews could not trample across the land grants that God had given to these other countries. There are 3 or 4 of those nations there that are remotely related to Israel.
Then you have the holy war and so on, Trans Jordania, Joshua’s commission, and then that poignant section at the end of chapter 3 where Moses recounts that even he is going to be disciplined by God and not allowed to see the land. That’s the humbleness of Moses that here he is the leader and put up with all this stuff for 40 years. In the end he doesn’t get to get into land. He puts that in there in the motivation section. I don’t think it requires a PhD in theology to understand why he put it in there. What is he saying? He’s saying that God’s cause-effect applies to me too. So everybody in that sense is under the authority of the Word of God.
Then we have an editorial comment.
Then chapter 5 on through chapter 11 which we did early in the spring we went through the sections that all are addressed to the mental attitude. It’s amazing that almost 50% of this book is addressed to the heart attitudes. I believe that’s because Moses sat there and he watched the whole first generation fail. He realized the battle is how we think. The battle is up here. Because they failed, he doesn’t want the second generation to repeat the mistakes of the first generation. So that’s why it’s all the emphasis on mental attitude - so the exposition of it.
Now on the handout you’ll see where we have the A—the setting of Deuteronomy. I want to go back to the framework perspective. I usually teach these kinds of classes in the light of that framework. What do we mean by the framework? There is a sequence of historical revelation of God in history. There’s an event; He tells you about the event—creation. There’s another event—the fall. And, He tells you about the fall. Then there’s the flood. There’s an event and He tells you about it. All of these are God’s acts; but they’re acts that He interprets the meaning of for us. That’s why some theologian has once called this “it’s God’s show and tell”. God is there and is not silent as Francis Schaeffer said years ago.
Now we’ve seen this diagram again and again, but there are two basic worldviews. You need to think about this as a believer. There are thousands of variants but from the pagan perspective there’s just the one on the right side because all of the pagan worldviews, ancient and modern, have these characteristics. If you study history a good way to get vaccinated against the human viewpoint of modern education is to go back in history. It’s amazing when you go back and study this material you say, “Wait a minute, we’re still saying that. It’s just that we’re telling about it in scientific language.”
So on the right side we have ancient myths, the Eastern religions. Hinduism is the most sophisticated form of paganism. You have Western philosophy since the Enlightenment, modern theology all of which hold to this continuity of being, meaning a denial of the Creator/creature distinction. So all paganism holds to the fact there’s one level or one kind of existence. The gods, the goddesses, men, animals and rocks are all part of this kind of existence. If you talk about a god or a goddess, they (the god and the goddess) are inside this same kind of cosmos that we are in. That’s why the gods and goddesses in paganism appear nothing more than super human beings. They fight, they murder, they destroy, they fornicate; they do everything that fallen humans do because they are conceived in the minds of fallen human beings. So the continuity of being is a way of escaping responsibility to God.
Then we have the fact that nature of the gods, they are all part of that. Then we can add transmutation and evolution. If you go back in the ancient pagan cosmologies interestingly there are the same two forces that appear in neo-Darwinianism. That is that things happen by procreation. The gods create by procreating, so there you have procreating. Then you have spontaneous generation by sheer chance. Things just happen. Well now, those are precisely the two things that you see in neo-Darwinianism. You have the natural selection through procreation and you have spontaneous generation or mutation and chance phenomenon. The reason this happens is because there are no other answers.
That’s the thing we want to grasp as Christians. There are very few ultimate answers. You only have to master a few of these today with all the variations of unbelief in fallen man. And then we want to remember the bottom line to a worldview is because we’re all made in God’s image—pagan unbeliever and believer; we are all made in God’s image—so worldviews minister to the heart. If I want to escape (down the bottom on the left; its ultimate responsibility) if I want to escape ultimate responsibility, I have a vested interest, I have a spiritual agenda that wants to get rid of that, so I go to the right side. Now I’m a victim. This is the rise of victimology: I am a passive victim to what happened.
You can read Gilgamish Epic, Enuma Elish. You go to the library and read some of these things, you’ll see these events come up again and again and again; and they’re still with us. We haven’t changed. These ideas are still there.
To show dramatically the fact that an unbeliever who is very brilliant, and I give you Bertram Russell’s statement here; I deliberately had it all printed out on the handout. The reason I did that is because you need to know even if your unbelieving friend hasn’t thought through this enough to know, you need to know in the conversation with unbelievers where unbelief leads.
You see the problem is we are superficial in our culture today. We don’t think deeply. If a person is a real thinking unbeliever like Bertram Russell; he is going to come out with this conclusion. It’s a very sobering conclusion. In today’s Baltimore Sun there’s a story right in there. I forget. It’s not Baltimore County but one of the counties south. Somebody had done a survey of the deaths of teenagers. Do you know what the second leading death of teenagers is today? Suicide. People are saying, “Why are the young people committing suicide?”
Why not? If you’re telling them that the universe is meaningless, my life can’t have meaning. If the whole doesn’t have meaning, how can the parts have meaning?
Then the first series of discouragements I get then the in my life I might as well end it. It’s not worth living. See this is the sad thing about a secular environment. You can’t address that problem because if you do; you are immediately involved in a religious issue that the ACLU will sue you for. It’s really a form of spiritual child abuse.
So let’s look at what Russell says. He’s talking about what happens. Look at the first sentence and follow it carefully - Bertram Russell leading mathematician and logician in the 20th century:
“Amid such a world if anywhere our ideals henceforth must find a home”.
I’ve underlined “must find a home” because Russell here is grappling with the great ideas. The idea that there’s a right, there’s a wrong, or where am I going in life. He’s saying where’s the root? Where is the foundation for this? He’s already cast aside the Scripture.
“That man is a product of causes…”
Now look at this next sentence. After you read this next sentence is there any wonder that young people commit suicide? If you take the next sentence seriously, why not?
“Man is the product of causes, which have no prevision of the end they were achieving, that his origin, his growth, his hope, his fears, his loves and beliefs are but the outcome accidental collocations of atoms.”
Isn’t that what’s being taught? I mean it’s dressed up. Simon says… But this strips it. This takes the clothes off the emperor. This is what unbelief is today – and always has been pagan wise.
Then as he follows – look, next sentence.
“That no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling can preserve an individual life beyond the grave”.
Why not commit suicide?
“That all the labors of all the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noon day brightness of human genius are destined to extinction in the vast depth of the solar system, the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath a debris of a universe in ruin. All these things if not quite beyond dispute are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy that rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”
Remember Bertram Russell is the guy who set up mathematical logic. When you study theoretical math you go into some of his theorems. This guy is not a superficial thinker. He has looked unbelief in the eye, and he has had the intellectual courage to follow it all the way down to the end of the road.
The sad thing is what we do today. What unbelievers do today is they go part way down the road and it gets uncomfortable. So then they resort to mysticism or some anaesthesia – alcohol, drugs, mysticism, New Age stuff. All those things are just anaesthetics to reduce the existential pain of this. So we then come to one of the basic questions. It’s a big word. It’s a simple question; everybody asks it. That’s the metaphysical question. And the metaphysical question is, what is the purpose of life? Remember this question people because sometimes you may be involved with someone and you want to have an entrée for the gospel. It may be a time of suffering for this person or it may be a time when they have time when they have time to sit down and seriously talk. You kind of sense the moment is there; this would be a good question to ask.
“What do you think the purpose of your life is?”…opportunity to find out what they think. If it’s asked graciously in an unthreatening fashion and it’s the right moment, the person may start to talk about that and share that.
What you’re doing is you’re trying to get them to open up to the consequences of unbelief because until they do, you can sit there and talk Jesus stories from now until the rapture and it’s like water off a duck’s back because they’re not open to the gospel. The gospel is the answer to a question. If they’re not asking the question throwing the answer at them doesn’t work too well. So that’s the question to ask.
One of the slides that I have here is my way of saying the metaphysical question is always being answered. Everyone answers it some way; sloppy answer, partial answer, but it’s some answer. That is, you can’t say anything about anything without saying something about everything. Everything is in context. You may be talking about the weather. You may be talking about what you are going to do tomorrow. You may be talking about something else. But that has a setting. Then you ask what the setting of that is.
If you have a business question, what is your business doing? Why are you in business to start with? Why did you pick that business? What do you think the future of your business is? What happens if your business collapses? What then? So they’re all related questions. You fan out. You wind up saying something about everything eventually.
So in the handout there are some blanks there. Here’s what I would fill those in with. Everyone needs some metaphysical scheme to make sense of his generalizations.
Let’s stop right there. Generalization: what do I mean by that? Why do I have nouns? … looking at parts of speech. Every time you have a noun, you’re classifying something. Something is a dog or something is a cat. Something is good; something is bad. We don’t think of that because usually in English courses when we learn grammar we’re so busy working with the grammar that we don’t think about the parts of speech and what the parts of speech do. The parts of speech are there because God structured language and He built noun structures into all languages. Languages have nouns because we are categorizers. We like to fit things in classes. If you can’t put something in a class, you can’t make a sentence. You can’t talk about anything. That is why you have to have structures.
By the way think about Adam. When God brought all the animals to him, what did Adam do? He called them by name. That’s the first generation in human history of the use of nouns. Adam had to have nouns in his language to describe what the animals did.
Then not only did people need to make sense of their generalizations, they need to make sense of processes and cause-effects. In other words there are processes going on. There are actions. There are activities going on. We need verbs for those. I go to the store. So-and-so won the ballgame. Those are processes. Those are activities. Those are actions that are happening. We like them. There are bad actions; there are good actions. There are actions with purpose. There are actions with randomness – whatever. But you don’t escape nouns; and you can’t escape verbs.
Finally relationships, prepositions. So and so is of that house or so and so is around that house. They are walking around it. That’s relationship. That’s preposition structures. So the very nature of language forces us every single day every time we talk or think; we’re using these structures. So what about the meaning of these? That’s the metaphysical question.
Now coming to number 2, the framework perspective also takes us to a second area. That is, what I mentioned in Moses outline here is that history has a purpose to it. There’s an internally self-consistent show and tell. God reveals Himself by creation, the fall, by the flood, by the call of Abraham, by the Exodus, by Mt Sinai which we are studying here, the rise of the monarchy, the golden year of Solomon, the collapse of the nation, the exile, the coming of the Son of God, the birth of Him, His life. We’ve studied all those events. The point we’re saying here is that the two principles that make the Bible stand out from that all other religion is that you are dealing with a nation that has a contractual relationship with God – a contractual relationship with God.
I mention this today because we’re banging up against some of the bad big ideas in our history. That is that we have the idea that people can have relationships. When we speak that way we have the idea that people can have relationships. But when we speak that way – so and so has a relationship. I keep thinking of that poor girl that was killed by her boyfriend, the gal from Baltimore here soccer player University of Virginia, Virginia Tech somewhere down in Virginia. Her boyfriend got mad at her and slammed her head in the wall and she bled to death in her dorm room. Then the paper reports, “Oh, they had a relationship.”
Yeah, they sure did. What happened to that relationship? The point is that young people particularly, we’re using the word relationship in a casual sense. The Bible doesn’t use “relationships” that way. When the Bible speaks of a relationship, it speaks of a covenant that defines the relationship. It’s like when you borrow money from the bank and you have a mortgage agreement, there’s a contractual agreement there. We have contracts to define relationships. It gives structure to relationships. This is why the young people that get together and live together without marriage because they’re afraid of marriage because marriage is a contractual relationship that binds them in. But that’s the way the Bible treats it.
So we have a show-and-tell revelation. God is in a relationship that is defined contractually with the nation Israel.
The second thing about the Bible is that the nation Israel goes on for millennia with individual writers of the Bible. They can be shepherds, they can be politicians, they can be kings; they are from all strata of society. Here’s this book because the Bible is book collection of books all written by different people in different situations, from different economic strata of different social strata. But isn’t it strange there is a consistency throughout? Name another religion that has that. Try to think of one. Confucianism? One man, no follow up. Islam? One man. Then the cults: Mormonism? One man. In the Bible it doesn’t start with just one man—oh it starts with one man, but then it goes on and there’s a multiplicity of people.
So when we come to the framework we have a self-consistent show and tell and that means there is an epistemological calibration for a foundation of truth. God is not silent. He has spoken in history; He has shared His mind with our minds, and therefore we have a basis for truth.
I want to spend a little bit of time here because again to get into all the case law of Moses and all these other things of our culture, I want us not to lose the forest through the trees through this. If in our modern day the tendency is in most curricula is to say that knowledge comes only through the sense experience—that’s common; and it’s a sloppy approach, but most courses are taught as though knowledge is strictly a derivative of sense experience: your experience, my experience and so forth and so on—the problem with that is that we have limited experience, and it makes truth totally subjective. It’s what you make of your experiences; it’s what I make of my experiences. So in education theory we have this so-called theory of constructivism. We try to let the little darlings construct their own thing. It’s nice to stimulate creativity; but creativity has to be within a framework of logic. But constructivism is built on the idea that knowledge is just sensory. It leads to relativism and ethics.
I have two slides. We’ve gone through that. In the interest of time I won’t do that tonight. You remember these slides where we went into the idea of moral relativism. Remember we came out at the end with the problem is it says nothing about actions themselves. If everything is subjective and I tell you, “That down there, that bothers me. I think that’s wrong.” All I’m hearing is your reaction to that. It’s strictly your reaction, autobiography. So that’s the problem with relativism. It winds you’re not saying anything about real evil. You’re just saying, “I don’t like something.”
Then the problem with the sin nature (which is happening in our own nation) is if you have relativism it will always politically leads to anarchy. It always has to. Relativism has to lead to anarchy. But nobody wants anarchy, so what happens to control anarchy? You have totalitarianism. This is the arbitrary. The strong will impose their values on everyone else in order to avoid anarchy and everybody will go along with it. When Mussolini came to power before World War II in Italy, what was the thing that everybody said was good about Mussolini?
The saying in those days was, “Well we have the trains on time,” which for the Italians that was a wonderful thing. The point is you want something besides having the trains run on time.
So that’s the problem with relativism.
I also want to at this point reveal these other two slides to make us appreciate the Word of God. You’ve seen this diagram many times but again this is the central idea of knowledge and truth. It is not discussed in classes; it is not discussed in the school system; it is not discussed in college or graduate school, unless you happen to be in a special philosophy class. But the idea here is that this diagram depicts the biblical idea of knowledge and truth. Up at the top you have God; down there you have nature. I apologize for the way this thing looks in your handout but I think you can see the writing alongside the triangle. What you can’t see upper left and right hand boxes. Don’t worry about that tonight.
If God is who He claims to be, then He has created man and He has created nature. Since He has created both and since He is omniscient and logically consistent, nature fits man and man fits nature. What does that mean? It means you can go out and study the sheep, you can go out and study the sunflowers, you can go out and study whatever you can make sense of it and you can learn it because this was designed for that. Now this may sound so kindergartenish to be pointing this out, but do you realize if you don’t have this if you do not have this, if God did not create this, what basis do you have to claim that this thinks correctly about that? Does your dog think about that? Right and wrong? The issue here is that the connection of knowledge between man and nature exists because of the Doctrine of Creation.
If that isn’t there and you dismiss this because, “We’re not going to study this in school because this is religious,” then you have a right to challenge everything that you’re taught because it doesn’t make sense. How do I know what you’re telling me is true? The epistemological question – you haven’t answered it. Go through the whole semester and if they ask you what did you like about the course come back and say, “You never got to the first step of the course. You never justified everything you’ve been teaching me the whole semester - totally unjustified and arbitrary.” That’s a rightful answer that a Christian student can give: “You have no basis for this.”
Then finally this way we know are made to know God. So that’s one big picture that we have. Deuteronomy deals with this. Then of course people say, “Well, knowledge is empirical.” We’ve seen this – the limitations of knowledge. It’s inescapable. If you are going to say all knowledge comes out of sense experience, I challenge how you can make a generalization, because you have a small basis for making big generalizations. You cannot construct a universal out of finite sense experience. Yet we all do it every single day, every time you proclaim, “I ought to do this. I ought to do that. That’s right. That’s wrong. That’s true. “ You’ve made universal statements from a base that you have no basis of making. So these are important things.
That’s why Francis Schaeffer’s quote there. He saw this back in the 60’s and 70’s. There he was dealing in the 60’s and 70’s with the so-called generation gap, which really was a philosophical gap between people who had grown up with a sort of Christian view of history though they might not have personally been Christians.
“The present between generations has been brought about almost entirely by a change in the concept of truth”.
He’s absolutely right. Of course that’s happened. It’s all past history. We’ve gone over to relativism in ways Chafer had told us years ago.
Let’s get back now to Deuteronomy. I want to go to the slide that we wound up with last. Before I get there one other slide I want to show you.
If you start with what the pagan view believes, then that colors the way you see history and that in turn colors the way you see your personal life—where your personal life is going. The pagan idea was everything is cyclical. You know where they got it – spring, summer, fall and winter; that was it; it happens over and over and over. That’s the pagan view of history: an endless repetition of seasons. History isn’t going anywhere, it is sitting there going through cycles; it’s not going anywhere.
These are basic questions that every person has to come to grips with. If you get the wrong answers here suicide is a reasonable option. Who wants to do this?
But the Bible’s view of history and the view we’re getting in Deuteronomy is that history is linear; it is going somewhere. The reason we know history is going somewhere is not cyclical is because there is a series of contracts. God has created these contracts. He’s given one to Abraham; He’s given on to Israel; He’s going to give the New Covenant. This tells you that history is moving toward some place. History has a goal. History is linear and progressive. So think of those two ideas. Only in the Bible do you have history going somewhere. It is linear; it is progressive. Every other view is basically cyclical.
If you don’t that, sometime when you’re in the library pull out Carl Sagan’s The Cosmos. Those of you who are older remember that television series Cosmos. Go through there and look up in the table of contents or the index in back, look up the word Hindu and you’ll come to that section where Sagan says, “Gee our whole ideas of what the universe expands and contracts.” That it expands and contracts is remarkably like the ancient Hindu philosophers who saw the universe as a rope because they dealt with rope in India and hemp - that rope that tightens up and loosens, it tightens up and loosens. He’s saying our cyclical view is just like the Hindus and we know the Hindus were just developed pagans.
So Christianity is unique. The Bible has these big ideas that collide. The thing that we want to get through here is, as we go through the text, these are the ideas that we want to stress.
Now we finally come to the chiastic structure of the Ten Commandments. Remember last spring we dealt with implications of this chiasm. The idea there was remember that you start with the first two commandments. God alone is worthy of worship and service. And the last one, the 10th one – self is not worthy.
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:21 ‘You shall not covet…
I covet something because I am dissatisfied with what my God supplies me with. So we have those two related in that what ultimately happens inside my heart.
NKJ Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain,
What He’s demands there – cursing is involved – is that when we say something is of God; it better be of God, not some religious hucksterism. So we’re talking about what? We are talking about accuracy and integrity in language.
Then you come down to the 9th commandment – you shall not commit perjury.
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:20 ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Here you have one of the most crucial locations in personal social experience of language. Good lord, how can a courtroom proceed if you’ve got sloppy language going? You can’t adjudicate. It jams the whole system of law if you don’t have integrity of language. So both of those deal with language.
Then you come up and you have the idea that we are to take a Sabbath rest. The horse, the ox, everything was to have a Sabbath rest. Why take a rest? It’s not just for rest purposes. That’s nice. That’s a rest purpose; but the bigger idea was shut down your business. Shut down what you’re doing. Pause even though your heart may say, “Gosh if I don’t do this it’s not going to get done and my business is going to collapse,” and so forth and so on.
You can see how people would think that way. But by forcing a shutdown every 6 to 1, 6 to 1, 6 to 1; what God is doing is saying, “Your work is necessary yes. I tell you to work; but your work is not sufficient to bring the blessing for meaning and purpose. I do that.” So every 7th day people would have to cycle through this same thing. Every 7th year - can you imagine this - shutting your business down for a whole year? God says, “Don’t worry about it. There’s a promise in there when you get to the Sabbatical Year. I will prosper you in the 6th year. You will have the profits economically through the 7th year. I want to train you. I want to do it.”
Of course they didn’t follow it. That was one of the reasons for going into exile.
Then you come down to verse 19 – property is to be protected.
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:19 ‘You shall not steal.
That’s the result. Property is wealth; property is an asset. There’s an economic lesson here that has to be protected and over against socialism and particularly the new Christian evangelical socialism, this argues that property has to be owned. You can’t steal something if somebody doesn’t own it. So personal property is to be protected and the legitimacy of property affirmed.
Now what we have with a lot of socialism going on today is the fact that because I work and I acquire property, and I acquire assets or you acquire assets, we’re all supposed to feel guilty because we have a certain degree of wealth. Wait a minute. Where did you get that from? I should only feel guilty if I ripped off people and I got my wealth by immoral means. But if I got wealth and I got assets by moral means I do not intend to feel guilty and I will not accept guilt manipulation. That is political gimmickry.
Furthermore, what socialism do it do to the 10th commandment? Anybody see the connection? In socialism, what’s the idea? The word now on campus at HCC here and Essex is social justice. Now what they mean on these community colleges by social justice is economic inequalities have to be corrected. The term social justice as used today is referring to economic inequalities, and those are said to be evil.
I challenge anyone to find that in the Scripture. It’s not there. Social justice in the book of Deuteronomy, as we will see, means impartiality in the applications of God’s principles in court. That’s social justice. In fact I can show you texts that say, “Favor not the poor; favor not the wealthy.” Is that socialism? That’s asserting there are economic inequalities.
We shouldn’t be surprised by that. Think about the gifts that God gives to the body of Christ; does everybody have the same gift? No! The gifts aren’t necessarily equal. Before the Bema Seat is everybody going to get the same status? No. So how do we get this idea that economic differences are somehow unjust? It does not come from the Scripture; it comes from Marx.
So here we have this. Then we have society depends on marriage and family – honor your father and your mother – then marriage is to be protected.
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:18 ‘You shall not commit adultery.
There we have now the basic social unit, which is the family.
Then finally, life is to be respected because life is produced by the family.
Nowhere in these Ten Commandments do you see the civil state. Isn’t that remarkable? How God in ten sentences gave the entire social structure of man – not a 2,500-page document that you didn’t read before you voted on it. This is a Decalogue in which He summarizes the entire design of the human race. Now I want to go further because Deuteronomy has these ideas in it.
To sober us up and let us appreciate what we are holding in our hands here, this book; these are fundamental big ideas that helped raise the West out of poverty. Western civilization has its warts. We’re not claiming Western Civilization is hunky dory – particularly now. But we are saying that if you go back five or six generations in your family tree your generation was probably pretty poor, and so was mine.
When people say, “Oh, there’s poverty on certain continents or certain areas. We’ve got to straighten out the inequity.” Okay, but let’s ask why. Why is it the productivity and the wealth happened in the West? Something was happening. What was happening? These are the big ideas that happened. These are the ideas that affected Western civilization. You’ll see they come only from the Scriptures.
The first one, a purposeful created existence controlled by God’s providence. In other words I don’t live in a chaotic environment. I live in a meaningful environment. Why would that make a difference in how I live? Well, if I don’t have a hope that life is orderly, then why should I worry about tomorrow? Eat, drink and be merry.
Second idea: confidence in economic cause and effect, and permanent and unchanging law. If I have a business I’ve got to make predictions. I can’t make predictions if the whole thing is in chaos. That’s one of the reasons why we have unemployment right now. American businesses are currently sitting on $1.2 trillion in cash. I read several economists saying never in our history has there been this much cash in the coffers of corporations. Never! They have so much cash they’re buying back their own stock. Why is it that all the cash is sitting there? Because they’re not investing it. Why aren’t they investing? Because they don’t know what about tomorrow. They don’t know about the health legislation. They don’t know about the financial regulations. The whole thing is screwed up. They’re not going to risk putting $1M in a new business creating great new jobs. The environment is too chaotic. So in the West there was a confidence in economic cause and effect; that comes out of the Scriptures. That’s where you get rid of poverty. You don’t get rid of it by some government program. Optimism concerning historical progress. By the way, Marx borrowed that idea from the Bible. It doesn’t come naturally out of atheism.
Dignity of labor. Do you realize that in history manual labor was thought by the Greeks and the Romans to be beneath your dignity. Who do you think did the manual labor in the Roman Empire? Slaves! I can show you Cicero and others, quote after quote, where they say that manual labor is beneath our dignity. “We let the slaves do that so we can sit here and contemplate.”
You can’t build an economy with contemplation. You’ve got to build an economy where labor is respected; work is respected. There is an answer to poverty.
One man who was quoted in a world magazine. For 27 years this Christian man worked in food for the hungry. He went all over the world. He went to poverty area, after poverty area, after poverty area. So they’re asking him what happened in his life. He says, “Well, I went to Mexico City. We drove through a slum. I saw kids living in garbage, people living in houses made of trash. I couldn’t imagine people living like that. God used that to shape me.”
They said, “Well how did you interpret that?”
In the middle of that answering a question he went to Francis Schaeffer’s ministry back in Switzerland in the 70’s. Francis Schaeffer said (and this was a question that haunted him) after he saw the poverty.
Schaeffer said this later to him and he thought to himself, “Wait a minute. Wait a minute. What’s the answer to this question? If you want to understand why South America is relatively poor while North America is relatively wealthy, look at the ideas that came from Southern Europe and Northern Europe.”
“That’s all he said. I never heard him delve into that. It kept in the back of my mind. The ideas of northern Europe were based on a biblical worldview that work is part of our dignity. Work is part of what God gave us to do before the fall—before the fall.”
“I’ve been a Christian for 50 years and in 50 years I’ve heard two sermons on work—in 50 years. That’s amazing because most of us for the majority of our adult lives, work. The last sermon I heard on work was when my pastor said that work is part of the curse. I went up to him afterwards and said that’s not right because work existed before the fall. That should frame the concept of work.”
He goes on to say that in these poor areas you can pour all the money you want. Remember Erin Wilson’s paper we gave in the last missions conference? I asked Erin to give that paper. He got an award from the Wall Street Journal for writing that essay. I deliberately had her do that paper. What did she say? Eighty cents out of every dollar given to Africa in the past 40 years has wound up in Swiss bank accounts and only 20 cents went to people.
Are you going to eliminate poverty with that sort of program? Of course not! You cannot just give money. First of all, you have to give it person to person. That’s why missions work and bureaucracy doesn’t. You’ve got 15 layers of bureaucracy. Each takes a cut out of it before it gets to the people that need it. That’s why it doesn’t work; it’s never going to work. All you’re doing is making everyone else poor trying to feed this machine. So with missions, you have a personal relationship.
The second thing to eliminate poverty is you’ve got to change the Doctrine of Labor. In Deuteronomy and the case law we’re going to see instance, after instance, after instance where labor is spoken of, where earning is spoken of, where money is spoken of, and where property is spoken of. That’s a cluster of economic things that we’re all involved with. The Bible speaks to that in Deuteronomy.
So under B, the historical importance of Old Testament revelation, the entire nation in this contract is not individualistic. It’s a social order—so it’s not just individuals—with a sufficiently long history to expose the cause effect processes of God’s rule. Whenever this structure is violated there is suffering and increased economic costs. I will show you this as we get into the details. Every time these things are violated, the money that is wasted increases. Why? Because God didn’t design it to work that way. Social justice is not economic inequality; it is impartiality of law based on God’s standards. Most important is the heart attitude. The kingdom of God cannot come unless that transformation happens.
Turn with me to the end of the structure. I will not go over Roman II because those are in the notes from the last time when we went in and finished up chapter 11. So it’s unnecessary and besides our time is going right now. The little box that I have there in your handout: applications. In the box, here are some applications of these big ideas. I bring this up because these are contemporary issues. When we go into Deuteronomy, we’re not just going back into history. We’re going back to see what God has said. If it’s truth, then it’s still valid today in some respects.
Marxism fails to take into account the priority of the heart. That’s why it fails. It resulted in massive corruption and lack of productivity in the USSR. Islamic Sharia fails to take into account the priority of the heart and results in tyrannical enforcement against corrupt hearts by leaders with corrupt hearts. That’s why that fails; that’s why Islam has never produced a civilization except when they borrowed it from the Greeks.
Socialism fails to take into account the priority of the heart results in theft by government, corrupt bureaucracy, inefficient economy and lazy citizens.
Finally our heart is the background for our holy war against cosmic thinking. That’s why the first half of the book goes to the heart, heart, heart. These things shall be in your heart. Moses wants us to be occupied with the Word of God.
Finally going down end of the handout where we have the box under C. The closing emphasis on Israel’s responsibility for the Mosaic Covenant, blessing for obedience, cursing for disobedience The principle we’ve said this before we have true freedom of choice which includes the opportunity for blessing but we cannot dictate the consequences. We have the freedom of choice, yes. But we cannot dictate the consequences.
This is where freedom and law come hand in hand. You cannot have real freedom without a structure. A railroad runs on rails; it doesn’t run off the track. The point is that liberty as the Bible defines it requires a cause-effect structure.
Then there is rational structure in the ethical realm that implies rational structure in every other realm. When everything seems so chaotic as it does today, when people get so discouraged, there just doesn’t seem to be answers anywhere. Everything seems to be in turmoil and upheaval. Go back to history and the whole economy of the Old Testament. It was a demo, a demonstration that God gave the whole human race.
“I’m giving this one nation law. I’m going to bless it or I’m going to curse it. Watch as the centuries go by.”
We have the history books of the Bible. Why are the history books in the Bible there? It’s contract behavior; it’s monitoring the contract. That’s why those history details are so important. Why those little landmarks we see in the case law of Deuteronomy. What’s all the stuff about landmarks? What do landmarks do? They mark out land. What’s the importance of the land? Because He gave this tribe Benjamin this land and put landmarks around it to document that He had indeed given them the land.
So these are things we want to look at as we come into the book of Deuteronomy.
We’ll have classes next week. We want to get into chapter 12 so if you’ll start reading at least the 12th chapter. We’ll begin now to get into the details. From this point forward all the chapters, all the text expound the Ten Commandments. Think about those Ten Commandments. Get that chiastic structure in your mind and think about it in reading chapter 12, chapter 13, chapter 14 - all of these will be the details of the Ten Commandments.