Deuteronomy Lesson 29
Moses’ Concluding Appeal to the Heart: Conditionality of Blessing
8 June 2010
© Charles A. Clough 2010
[Beginning of session not recorded] … done to that second generation and just so that we kind of review a little bit about how Moses exhorted, I listed for you on first part of the handout the exhortation of how he exposited, how he exhorted. He generally used three things and we see those in chapters 6-7, 8, all through that first section from chapter 5 through chapter 11; and it consists basically of three things. And I think these are good to remember because when you read the text and you know that this is an exhortative text, you want to look for these elements. The first one is there is a straightforward appeal to action, an appeal to response, and this is a corollary for the idea the Word of God is coming from a personal deity. It’s not a computer that’s spinning this out, it’s not an impersonal text, but it’s actually God speaking. So whenever you have personal address there is a response to the person of the address. So it’s natural that you would have the exhortation part of it. And that is very heavy in the first section. That’s why we call these exhortations. But Deuteronomy 5:1 through Deuteronomy 11:32, and I give you the examples of chapters 6 and 7 on the slide, if we had it you’d see that structure, but we’ve been there before and I think you know about how that works.
So the first element is an exhortation to response, and that emphasizes the personality of God. You’ll see that in Pauline epistles also, but in this Mosaic section you have it very strongly there. Then the second thing is there’s an appeal to reason. That is inherent in Christianity. Christianity is not an emotional religion. Yes, emotions accompany it but it has logical structure, and one of the features of truth is there is logical structure to it. There’s an argumentation and that emphasizes the self—consistency of God: that He can be reasoned with and He can be thought about. So there’s that consistency, and that goes back to our God who is trustworthy and reasonable.
And then the third point, the third element of evidence is that there is a presentation to historic data, to events, to evidence, and that emphasizes the fact that God’s behavior in history is loyal; it’s credible; it’s reliable. All three of these things you’ll find in these expositions of Moses. Now remember, if you go to Deuteronomy 8 for a moment; let’s just take a few moments and go to chapter 8, so we recall this, these are features in the literature. In Deuteronomy 8:11, this is that chapter we went through, you remember, where Moses was talking about how God had put the nation in an adversity test. He had put them out in the desert, He had taken away the normal logistical cause/effects, and so that was there to teach them something.
So in Deuteronomy 8:11-13 you read: “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today.  Lest,” and there’s a big long, long sentence here, “Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them,  and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied;  when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage,  who led you through that great and terrible wilderness,” one big long sentence there, then in verse 17, “then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’” So that’s the warning, that’s the argumentation.
And now that we’ve got the slides back, let me revert back to what I didn’t cover, what I covered wrongly, as somebody pointed out, back two lessons ago I think it was, or the last lesson [Transcript now corrected]. I had mentioned circumcision as one of the things that Moses was talking about and I made the statement that it was on the 7th day, and I was wrong, and somebody corrected me on that, it was the 8th day, and that made me think about a little incident here so I’m going to back up, because I want you to see that even when the Word of God deals with some little point, like circumcision on the 8th day… well, why wasn’t it on the 7th? Why wasn’t it on the 9th day, why was it the 8th day? Was that just a religious thing or was the God who was speaking that because He’s the Creator of human anatomy and knew what He was saying.
And what’s interesting is that, and this was brought out… a Seventh Day Adventist doctor wrote a book called None of These Diseases back years and years ago, S. I. McMillen. And the Seventh Day Adventists have been very careful over the years to pick up on the public health aspects of the Mosaic Law Code. In fact, Tommy Ice was telling me back a while that C. W. Post, of Post Cereals, a Seventh Day Adventist originally, to create cereals that would be healthy to eat in the morning, now maybe they’re not right now but originally that was the motive. And so here’s an interesting example and I hope, since we’re talking about evidences, I hope to throw these out from time to time where we’ll see these from the statutes and judgments.
But here is a diagram, day zero, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, in the life of an infant at birth. And here are two factors that deal with the blood clotting. Obviously in circumcision (it’s surgery) you’re going to have bleeding. So the question then is what about the bleeding of an infant. And so here we have clotting factor in the blood, vitamin K is not manufactured in the baby’s intestinal tract until the 5th to the 7th day. So the vitamin K isn’t there as a clotting factor, it comes into being day 5, day 6 or day 7. So again, the fact that circumcision was ordered on the 8th day has this in mind. And we’re going to draw a conclusion in just a moment but there’s a second clotting factor, prothrombin. It peaks at 110% of normal on the 8th day, and that’s what that chart is showing, that here we have the available prothrombin and it comes up, this is 100 on the graph, and it actually comes up to one segment above that, 110, and it peaks there and then goes back down. So the Creator of the infant, who knows prothrombin levels, and vitamin K levels, ordered circumcision on the 8th day. A little detail, but this sort of evidence that I’ve seen over and over again in the Word of God, and it makes it so neat, because Moses did not have blood analytical capabilities to trace vitamin K and prothrombin. So he would now have known this, this is a medical fact of recent analysis.
So when we read these statutes and judgments, as we’re going to, even though some of them, to us, make no sense, I harbor within my mind that maybe we just don’t know enough to know why God ordered this. So you can’t hastily dismiss and render and interpret these case laws as casual remarks that Moses is making. I thought that would be an interesting example of the Scriptures and how God does it.
This is the exhortation structure that I wanted you to see, we’ve seen it again and again, all through from chapters 5-11, and chapters 6 and chapter 7 you have emphasis, here’s chapter 6 verses 1-9, verses 20-25, and in between those you have this personal relationship with the Lord, but it’s sandwiched between procedures, and it’s interesting that both the procedures are spelled out as well as the heart attitude that accompanies those procedures, and Moses does that again and again.
And I thought also, down on the outline as I go through this—I realize there are blanks—under exhortation it emphasizes the personality. What I’m talking about there is the personality of God. The argumentations appeal to the reason, the presentation of evidence emphasizes the credible behavior of God. Then, in chapter 8 that we are going through, here’s where God has an argument. The way Moses is phrasing this, it’s an argument based on logic. The goal of the argument is to refute the claim that human efforts secured their prosperity. The form of the argument is he’s going to use the past adversity test to prepare for the future prosperity test. The assumption in the argument is that the God who was there in the wilderness wanderings of the adversity test is also going to be there during the time of prosperity. So the immutability of God is an assumption in the logic of the argument. And you’ll see this again and again in the text of Scriptures, where it presupposes a theology of God Himself.
And then we have the logic of the argument: the adversity test exposed the “divine background”. In other words, God strips away the normal cause/effect of daily living enough so that people are forced to realize that behind that is the providential grace of God; that God is gracious to provide. And when you don’t have any food, and it’s manna, every 24 hours it’s manna, and that’s a dramatic illustration of God’s provision. So what the argument is, is that when you go and you grow grain and you harvest it and you make bread, you grow various crops, you have orchards and you do these things, yes, you do them, but behind you and behind the trees and behind the soil and behind the climate, behind all the factors that are involved in your labor, God’s gracious providence is there. And so God doesn’t want us to forget that.
And then down under that, the implication: human labor and planning are necessary but not sufficient. They’re necessary but not sufficient. Our labor is never sufficient to get the fruit that we get from it. God calls us to it; He wants us to labor. There’s nothing demeaning about manual labor in the Scriptures. The Savior was a manual carpenter, and this flies against the grain of pagan thought as far as labor goes. And we talked about that before. Then finally, the presentation of the evidence. Do you remember, I gave you two examples. I’m sure you remember those. In Deuteronomy 1:9-15 the evidence was, Moses said, you know, God promised Abraham that his seed would be as the sand of the sea and as the stars of heaven, and he says you people are so multitudinous, your population growth rate is so great, in chapter 1, that I had to reform the way I ran the country; I had to have elders and so on, he goes into the management of a growing population. And that’s an evidence that he throws out.
And then you probably all remember in Deuteronomy 3:11 when he’s talking about the giants there’s that little editorial note in the text that Og’s bed is still there and you can go see it. So the Bible appeals to evidence, it uses logic, it appeals to evidence and it exhorts to obedience. Now with those in mind, now we come to the first part of chapter 12, the statutes and judgments. So we’re in a totally different thing now, we’re in a non-exhortative thing; we’re in where he’s laying out the way this society should look.
And I want to preface what we say here by adding this: there are those who are arguing that the Deuteronomic law should brought into today and utilized, say, in America. And there’s a group of post-millennialists who argue to this. By emphasizing the statutes and judgments I am not a post-millennialist; I’m a premillennialist. The reason why I’m emphasizing those is because of Deuteronomy 4 where he says the nations will say what country has such wisdom in their law as you do? So what I’m saying is—and I’m relying somewhat on the academic studies of some of these post-millennialists, for this reason, they have done the most serious work in drawing out the economic and political implications of this text. It’s sad but that’s the nature of the game. Of course they do it because they want to implement it— that as participating citizens in a constitution republic you are part of the law; you are part of the government. It’s not just the congressmen, in a republic we all are, at least theoretically, part of the government, your citizenship responsibilities, voting, you can run for office, you determine that, you have the freedom in our constitutional republic that people in the ancient world didn’t have, which means, then, that if we are to be salt and light we need to think about how God has designed society.
And the model we have is the theocracy of Israel. So there are lessons in the theocratic law code, many of which the secularists have borrowed for generations. It’s a hidden fact in American history because we never learn this in history courses, but one of the great books that Colonial Americans read was Blackstone’s commentary on the common law. Well, where do you think Blackstone got the ideas of the common law. He got it out of the Mosaic Law Code. So in history it’s true that the insights of the Mosaic Law have had such a profound influence on the western society that we don’t have to live in a pagan Greek and Rome.
Now what’s happening now in the name of progressivism is we’re actually regressing back to a paganized version of society and you’ll see, as we read through this, that these law codes are being relaxed and are being sloppily reinterpreted. Some of these sound hard; some of these sound harsh and difficult, as this one, the first three verses. Look at them:
“These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth.” Now look at what it says:  “You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods,” now just stop there and look at the text. Notice what it says, “you will destroy utterly all the places, where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods.” He’s not there talking about destroying the nations; they’ve already been destroyed in the Holy War. He’s talking about after you have destroyed these people there’s something else in addition to them that I want destroyed. I don’t just want you to commit genocide here in My name, I don’t just want you to get rid of the people, I want you to go in and I want you to devastate all the religious sites in the land. Now this sounds odd so we need to press the text here and see what is going on here? Why is there such destruction?
“You will utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.  And you shall destroy their altars, you will break their sacred pillars, you will burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods, you will destroy their names from that place. And  You shall not worship the LORD your God with such things.” Now the key to this is found in that last verse, verse 4, “you will not worship the LORD your God with these things.” Now it’s not that they’re worshipping the same gods of those dispossessed peoples, they are using the cultic centers as places to worship Yahweh. Now there’s a technical word that he’s warning against here, and missionaries have to cope with this all the time. It begins with “s”; it’s called syncretism. And the danger that God says is that by allowing these physical representations of a false theology you are in danger of synchronization—of synchronizing the orthodox beliefs of Yahweh with the unorthodox paganism.
Well, what does this mean to do? Well, in verse 2, the verb, as I point out in the handout, is the infinitive absolute plus an imperative, and when you see that construction in the Hebrew that emphasizes the mood, which most Bibles have translated in verse 2, “you will utterly destroy all the places.” The force of that is you must destroy all these things. The emphasis could also be on thoroughly destroy them, but the construction isn’t necessarily looking at thoroughly destroy, although that’s implied, it says you’ve got to destroy these things. There’s no option here. You’ve got to go in and clean house. So we need to ask why? Well, I think I included it on your notes under verse 2, where it says “green tree.” Israel was forested back then. Hosea 4 is an example of where later in the kingdom they would go to these places. Keep in mind the climate was different; Israel was forested then. The land hadn’t been raped with stupid tax laws, like tree taxes, to cut all the trees down, like they did in Haiti, and then wonder why they lost the soil. The trees were there, and because it was a warm climate they would worship under the trees. So they had these groves of trees, and God says I want them eliminated. Eliminate those.
And then in verse 3 it goes so far as to say, “You will destroy their names from that place,” “their names”. Isn’t it interesting that the Scriptures don’t report the names of those gods. Now later we talk about Baal and so forth and so in some of the things they have retrieved some of the names of these things, but the Bible itself doesn’t dignify them, it says I want the names eliminated. And the reason for that is that names of deities in the ancient world were considered magic, if you knew the name you could invoke the name and it would have power, there was power in the name. So God didn’t want them messing with this, He’s guarding against syncretism.
Now we have to dig a little deeper. I want to try to explain why this destruction was ordered by God. You’ve seen that slide before, the one that looks like a layer cake and down below it has the metaphysical, the epistemological, the ethic and the political, and we’ve emphasized this, that over and over in the Bible the issue of idolatry is prominent. We, today talk about politics, we talk about ethics, very little is said about this. This is masqueraded, this is deceitfully injected in political conversations and people don’t want to expose it, but you can’t discuss politics or ethics unless you discuss what the nature of reality is and how you attain truth; and for some reason that’s just never discussed. But in Israel, in Old Testament Israel that is the location where you have idolatry. Idolatry causes effects up here, but it’s based down here in the metaphysical and epistemological level. And that means the nature of God, and that’s why there’s this emphasis on purity in the theology of the nation.
Now of the Ten Commandments, which one do you think this is implementing? The first, the second, and the third about no graven image. So right away you see these statutes and judgments are actual political, physical implementation of the Ten Commandments. What were some of the deities? Well, we’ve had this slide before. That little guy there that you see is taken from an archeological find, that is a typical example, there’s different kinds of versions of how they pictured Baal. But this is one of those, this is another one, you’ll notice both the statue here on the slide as well as this poster, basically in stone, are alike in that here’s Baal’s head and here’s his right arm holding a thunder bolt because remember, Baal is the weather god. And down here his scepter, this is the one he rules with. So you have Baal.
And you say well, why did they worship such a freaky thing? We have to think about the fact that this is an agricultural economy and their business was agriculture. So they wanted to worship nature, and so you have this whole idea of Baal as an idol of nature’s climate cycle. For example, Baal would rise in the spring, and then in the fall he would die and another god would take his place, Mot, and Mot was the god of death. So they would cyclically oscillate between these, because remember, we said paganism is cyclic, there’s no linear progress to history in paganism, it just goes around in a circle. So here you have this guy and he’s the blessings of rain, fertility, grain and herds. Now keep that in mind when you read Elijah and Elisha. In those stories, the Elijah and Elisha stories, those of you who have read Kings, what were the miracles that were being done by Elijah and Elisha? First of all there was a drought, and when Elijah prayed the rain would come. When they were on Mount Carmel it was the idea, then, of the sacrifice, there was the widow who was dying and her child was going to die, and along comes Elijah and Elisha and they feed her. What are all those miracles? You list them out on a piece of paper and compare with Baal worship; they’re all refutations of Baalism. In other words, Yahweh, the God of the Scriptures can genuinely provide these blessings, but Baal can’t. It’s just a figment of your imagination that Baal does this. The whole cycle of Elijah and Elisha is one big long polemic against this pagan deity.
So we have the emphasis on these gods and what God wants is to eliminate these. These gods, to give you an idea of what they did, another god they had, along with this guy, Baal, was a god by the name of “El,” E-l. “El” was the older god, the “elder” god of the pantheon, and his statue work was the bull. Now what’s the significance of father El being the bull? And you know where the bull came from, there it was right there at Mount Sinai, and they were worshipping the bull, because the bull is the fertility of the herd. And again, it’s a worship of that which gives economic prosperity. And I emphasize that because today we say oh, we don’t worship these things. But in effect, the whole banking system, the whole trading, world trading system, is manipulating politics to generate wealth, they think. There’s no real difference in the theologies. So we have El; we have Baal. Then we have a goddess, called Anat. All this came out of the research done at Ugarit. And Anat was a beautiful and vicious goddess. The way to visualize Anat, A-n-a-t, is to visualize Kali, who was the vicious god of evil in Hinduism. And, of course, the memory of Kali, or Anat, is probably a pagan survival of who? In Greece, Pandora’s box. What’s that in memory of? The lady who opens the box -- out comes evil. It’s a memory of Eve. So there are some truths behind, lurking in all this paganism but it’s very seriously distorted.
Then you have two other gods, the god of the sea was a god by the name of Yam, and it was a fearsome god. There are psalms written that commemorate, like Psalm 29: Yahweh sits upon the waters; Yahweh is the one who rules the floods. The psalmist is running a polemic against Yam. So once you’re sensitized to some of this pagan theology it causes you to read the text of the Bible with a little more insight and realize there’s a spiritual battle going on to show the supremacy of Yahweh as the Creator and Savior God. And Mot, of course, is the god of death, and what was one of Elijah and Elisha’s miracles? Raising the boy from the dead. So again, it’s a polemic against Mot.
So we have that. Now in our outline I also indicate worship was “sympathetic ritual.” We need to understand that because of the brutality that was involved. That’s why I’m giving all this background. This is what went on at the high places that God wanted destroyed here. Sympathetic ritual is based on similarities. We have that poetic literature, there’s art forms that are used; I mean, poetry, you can’t write poetry without seeing synthesis, without seeing parallels. But in sympathetic ritual the idea was that to manipulate the gods to do what you needed them to do you had to do something in your realm, in your human realm, that would correspond to what you wanted them to do. So you have the fertility rituals. If the god gave fertility then ritual sex might move them to provide. Of course the biblical answer was obedience to Yahweh; obedience to Yahweh would secure fertility. And this is the story of the widows, the ladies, married ladies who don’t have children. It’s the battle of fertility. And it involves serious pagan stuff. That’s why there are these stories in the Bible, talking about waiting on the Lord for children, and the Lord delivers. Why is that? Because of this stuff.
Then there were horrible things, the sacrificial rituals. These were really brutal and research over the last hundred years has exposed what went on. Some of us, if you’ve taken a course in western hemisphere of history you know what the Aztecs and the Incas were doing. And the sad thing was, these could have been a great civilization, but those civilizations came to destruction because of their child sacrifices, the human sacrifices. It was terrible. Of course the Spanish cleaned it out and today, of course, in your slanted history courses you get on the college campus is oh, it’s the white Spanish that persecuted the natives. Well, no, the white Spanish cleaned out the garbage. These people were killing people routinely and massacring them. They were a bloody mess. It’s sad because they had originally a wonderful civilization, but a demonic form of worship destroyed it. So if the gods needed to be placated then human sacrifice might assuage one’s guilt.
And I have three names there because historically this is what happened. The Canaanites, that the Israelites were supposed to clean off the globe, survived and are related to the Phoenicians, and the Phoenicians were a sea-going people. By the way, they were white, not black like some segregationists always try to tell the black people, that they were part of the Canaanites; they are not part of the Canaanites, the Canaanites were white and they were related to the Phoenicians and the Phoenicians settled in North Africa at a place called Carthage. And they were so disgusting that the Romans couldn’t stand them because of their sacrifice, the same stuff. Everywhere these people went they brought this ritual sacrifice business. That’s why the Abraham story in Genesis 15, 16, and 22, that lead up to chapter 22, is important because Yahweh stopped it, while at the same time He memorialized our act for our understanding the sacrifice of His Son.
See, the blood sacrifice is also a perversion because those blood sacrifices came out, as for example as it’s rumored today the Covens, certain Covens in the United States of witchcraft kill, and this is why the police are always involved in missing children because there have been stories where these missing kids turn out and they find their bones at some place where these Coven people have killed them. And it’s still going on because there’s something in the psychic of our human being that we know we’re guilty and we’re trying to get rid of the guilt and that drives people to these sacrificial schemes. Satan uses that. But in the act of Abraham God commands it, and then He stops it at the last minute, but He has enough of Abraham’s agony of trying to sacrifice his son to communicate to us, because He uses the word “thine only begotten son”, which is never used in Scripture until Jesus’ time, so that we will understand the agony within the Trinity of the Son being sacrificed for our sins, just to let us know that the God, the Triune God of the Scriptures knows what it means to suffer.
So then we have divination. That’s another thing these people did, seeking the will of God, interpreting various animal organs. And these are in the omen texts, where they go into things, when you cut an animal up you cut out the liver, you cut out the heart and you look at it and you try to ascertain the way that it’s folded and so forth, and this is supposed to tell you God’s will. So all these things were happening and they are basically demonic because 1 Corinthians 10:14 said, Paul talking about the cup that you offer is offered to demons, false religious worship. And it’s not a surprise, not just Paul saying that, it was just known among the early Christians that these art forms, such as the statues that I have there, a craftsman built those. Well, a craftsman and an artist had to have an idea in their head in order to build an idol. What the church fathers argued was that it was actually demons that were manifesting to their minds and the artist was simply passive and he would just say oh, this is what the god is because I saw him in a vision. Yeah, what you saw wasn’t god, what you saw was a demon masquerading as a god or goddess. So that was the Christian counterpart to these demonic manifestations. Art conveys religious theology and that’s one of the things in verses 1-4 you want to think about. It’s just a challenge to think through today our art forms that we encounter speak into our hearts certain theologies. And those of you who are involved in art it’s just a challenge for you to think of that as a Christian.
Now I have one other concept about these things that we want to go through and that is down in the little box you’ll see where it says the “Concept of ‘sacred space.’” Dr. Eugene Merrill of Dallas Seminary has written a book on Old Testament theology and Dr. Merrill has a whole section about the sacred space idea. And I think it sort of gels things together about why these things keep showing up in the Bible. Right now we’re kind of shocked by looking at those first three or four verses of chapter 12. We say what is the big deal about these places and the art forms left in these places that you have to destroy all this art? I mean, people would freak out today to see this, forgetting, by the way, that when the Puritans took over in England they trashed all the Catholic art. Those of you who have seen the movie, Cromwell, in that one scene where they’re in there, they’ve taken over this church building and he suddenly looks up and he sees the virgin Mary and all this art, and so he goes up there and he pulls it all down, trashes it. And for the first fifty/sixty years of the Protestant Reformation they were very anti-art. They just got rid of all art and it discouraged, of course, artistic expression for Christians. But the reason they did that is because art conveys theology. It’s an art from. So it was unacceptable.
So now the concept of the sacred space. What we’re talking about here is physical space, a location; some place where man meets God. So the first place is the Garden of Eden. It wasn’t just any place on earth; it was one place. Cain and Abel couldn’t just offer a sacrifice to God anywhere they pleased, they had to come to the sacred space, the interface where they met God. They were not free to worship God any time they wanted to anywhere; they were told certain protocol, to come to the door of the sacred space, wherever that was, in the garden of Eden—or outside the garden of Eden because they weren’t allowed in the garden of Eden after the fall. The fall excluded man from entry. So there you have an example where what did God set, the hotwire that He set around his sacred space in the Garden of Eden? It was angels with swords. That’s the first law of capital punishment; that’s the first form of execution. God had a security force built of angels that prevented Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, to go into the sacred space except to the door, or the meeting place, actually the edge of that sacred space. Patriots like Abraham spoke of the theophany locations as sacred spaces. That’s why they would leave rocks and monuments at Bethel, the house of God, it was a sacred place where God had appeared to them. This carries forward to Ezekiel’s vision of the departure of the Spirit of Yahweh from the temple. It’s Yahweh leaving His sacred space because the nation is going down into destruction, so God leaves and Ezekiel sees that.
And so the point is, the conquest was a test to see if a sacred space could be restored upon earth, a model of eschatological events that really do succeed in recreating a special place because Jerusalem will become the global center of the earth and in the Millennial passages the nations have to come to Jerusalem. And if they don’t they get disciplined, they get judged. So this idea of sacred space carries on. And then finally, in the eternal state, the new heavens and the new earth is the sacred space because what does it say? There’s no need for the sun because the glory of God lights it. So there’s a physical thing to this. We aren’t in the kingdom of God today because there’s no sacred space, other than in our heart where regeneration is. So, all that is why verses 1-4 are in the text. They are commands to continue to execute in a political physical way the first and second commandments. That’s what the kingdom of God looks like. It is religiously intolerant of heterodoxy.
Now verses 5-14; let’s look at verse 5. “But you shall seek the place,” see, there it is, “where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.  There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.  And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.  You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes—  for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you.  But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety,  then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.” Notice that, “to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord.”
 “And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God,” and now in verse 12 observe something, notice the lack of mention, in verse 12, of the tribes; it says, “you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates,” that’s a separate tribe, “since he has no portion nor inheritance with you.  Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see;  but in the place which the Lord chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.”
Now let’s think about what’s going on here. How many tribes have we got going? We’ve got a multiplicity of tribes. Now what we want to look at and think about to make this relevant to our situation as Christian participating citizens, what do you observe in this text that is unifying the people? Is it a central government or is it a central theology? It’s a central theology, right? Is there any monarchy observed in the passage? No monarchy. Is there any centralized government in this passage? None. This is interesting because the Bible theologically has Yahweh as the King. The point here is there are many different places he goes—Gilgal, Shechem, Bethel, Shiloh, Jerusalem, so on—but what unifies the nation isn’t the civil authority or the civil government; what unifies a nation is the heart allegiance to Yahweh.
See, that’s why I’ve emphasized the structure of the Ten Commandments. It’s creedal, it’s theological, and if you don’t have a unified theology all you have is bare naked coercive force of a civil government, and that’s a pretty sad thing, a substitute for a heart centered unity. You can’t have the Kingdom of God unless you have heart-centered unity. That’s why it’s the fallacy of Islam and the fallacy of the Catholic Church earlier in church history, to try to bring in the Kingdom of God by force and the sword. It doesn’t work because that’s not the structure of how the Kingdom of God works. It works with a unified heart allegiance to the Triune God of Scripture. If that isn’t there, what you have is a perversion, you’re trying to substitute civil force for a spiritual unity; it does not work!
So, continuing in the notes, we have Deuteronomy 12:5, oh, I guess in Roman III, “This model reveals what the Millennial Kingdom will look like as well as the Eternal State [so it behooves us to pay attention].” There’s certain structures here that will occur again and again. And when the Millennial Kingdom starts, remember, they are all believers, all the unbelievers have been removed. And it follows the same idea; you can’t have the Kingdom of God without that. It is exclusive.
Then, as Moses says in verse 8, they’re kind of sloppy out there in the desert because... they had the Tabernacle, but it’s interesting, if we look at verse 15, the Tabernacle, they had to bring all their sacrifices. But now in verse 15 it says “However, you may slaughter and eat meat within all your gates, whatever your heart desires, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean you may eat of it, of the gazelle and the deer alike.” In other words, the sacrifices had to be brought to the sacred place, but you’re free, you have freedom to eat your local normal diet, go ahead, eat it, but when you come to the sacred place you shall not do that.
[Someone asks a question: I’ve had a problem with the latter phrasing in verse 15, “the unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the roebuck and of the hart.” To me he’s talking about unclean and clean people, not animals, because they, the clean and the unclean [can’t hear the rest of it]. In verse 15. Okay, I see what you’re saying: the clean and the unclean may eat of it. What Moses is getting at is there’s a distinction between what they bring to the sacred place, how they get there, and what’s going on in the locations, because they’re not going to have the Tabernacle any more out in the middle of the camp. When they had the Tabernacle in the camp in the desert everything had to come; they couldn’t participate at all, other than coming there. Not here though. I’ll have to research that for next time, it’s a good question.
Okay, now there’s something that I want to follow up on, why this is so important to have a sacred space that has no theological syncretism to it. Turn to 1 Kings 12. Later in Israel’s history, after the kingdom split, thanks to Rehoboam, 1 Kings 12:25, you have something that tore the heart of the nation, and from this point on—and on your notes you’ll see where I have put a whole string of verses; every one time you see a verse there on the apostasy of Jeroboam—you’ve the phrase, “the sin of Jeroboam.” And so and so was a king, but he didn’t change the sin of Jeroboam. Well, so and so became king and he replaced the previous king, Y replaced X, Z replaced Y, but they kept the sin of Jeroboam. So all of those verses in that chain (and you can look it up in a concordance) are all talking about the sin of Jeroboam.
So we have to come to grips with what is going on with the sin of Jeroboam. These kings did a lot of other things but why is it the prophets keep talking about the sin of Jeroboam; what is going on here? Well, let’s look at what happened. Look at verse 25, Jeroboam was told by God that his political reign was secure. However, what was the theological exhortation and rule? Where was the sacred place? It wasn’t in the Northern Kingdom. Here, in this chart, here’s Judah, the Southern Kingdom; here this other color, this sick orange, is the Northern Kingdom. The boundary is north of Jerusalem. That meant what? Where was the theological unity? It was in the Southern Kingdom. This bothered Jeroboam and as a result of this, the sin of Jeroboam, a very profound thing happened in the history of Israel. It says, “Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and dwelt there. Also he went out from there and built Penuel,” and so on. But now,  “Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom may return to the house of David,” oh-oh,  “If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of the people will turn back to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.  Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt.  And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.”
Okay, look at the map; where’s Dan? North. Where’s Bethel? South. He put them at the boundaries of his kingdom. So he said if you want to travel just travel to the boundaries of our kingdom, our neighborhood, our thing because I’m your king. But notice the whole point was he was concerned about his politics more than he was concerned about the theology. And what you have here is a profound moment and what you have is the fact that when politics reigns over theology there’s apostasy, every single time. And here’s an example, it tore the guts out of the whole Old Testament theocracy, right here, because now politics assumed a higher value than theology. So he is therefore invoking, and by the way, he is making these places so now what do you have? You have the state generating a religion to serve what? The state.
See, this is centralized government setting up a religion to benefit centralized government. And this has happened again and again. It happened all the time in paganism but this is the first time this is happening in Israel. Here in God’s kingdom you have politics assuming an ascendant rule over theology. And the state now dictates religion. So here’s the seed of tyranny. It is no longer the Word of God that is supreme, it is the word of the king who is supreme; he conflicts all the advice that you see there, from verse 28, 29, is in defiance of the Word of God. It is heresy. And so we now have a collision of authorities. And this leads, of course, to the kingdom of man concept that we saw back in the tower of Babel.
And so we want to look at our last slide here. Here’s Jacques Ellul, [The Meaning of the City] a French evangelical and he writes a great thing about the spirit that you see behind the kingdom of man, here in the Northern Kingdom, but this he’s talking about at Babel, early on. “The rebellious people are tired of being the recipient of a name.” That is passive, their destiny being determined by a providential God. “They want to name themselves. It is the desire to exclude God from His creation. And it is this solidarity in a name, this unity in separation from God, which to keep man from ever again being separated on earth. It was in this, man’s environment, built by man, for man, with any other intervention or power excluded, that man could make a name for himself.” That is the heartthrob of paganism, the deification of the state. And we’ll see this again and again in the Mosaic Law Code. There’s always a danger for the deification of the state, and you can tell when the state is deified when the state dictates the terms of religious beliefs. That’s one of the tips that you now have a tyranny. You have apostasy; you have a demonically controlled state.
So finally in our conclusion tonight, what are the implications for today in our pluralistic society? Well, 1 Samuel 8, we’ll go there, the last passage. This is a very famous passage. I say this passage, 1 Samuel 8 is one of the most profound political sections in the Word of God. It was this section that Samuel Rutherford wrote Lex Rex, the famous tract—he was thrown in jail for doing this, by the way, and the book was burned. But what happened was in Scotland, in the 1600s there was a doctrine called the divine right of kings, and Samuel Rutherford used this section of the Word of God to deny that the King of England had any divine right at all. Notice:
“…they give us a king to judge us,” they say, verse 6, so here’s the rise of the monarchy, they’re dissatisfied with the prophets, we want a king. “So Samuel prayed to the LORD.  And the LORD said to Samuel,” now watch what God says to Samuel; “Heed the voice of the people in all they say to you for they have not rejected you; for they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” So there’s the theological departure that led to the monarchy, even within Israel. And, “According to all the works which they have done,” and so forth and so forth.  “However, you shall solemnly forewarn them,” what’s going to happen, and Rutherford, of course used this thing and you’ll see the prophecy down in verse 10, verse 11, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you,” this is a tirade against centralized government. “He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots, and to be his horseman,” the draft, “he will run before his chariots.  He will appoint captains over his thousands, and captains over his fifties,” and so forth, “and will reap his harvest, and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.  He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.  And he will take the best of your fields,” confiscation of private property, he will “take your vineyards,” productive private property, “and your olive groves, and give them to his servants,” cronyism,  “He will take a tenth of your grain and y our vintage, and give it to his officers and servants,” feed the bureaucracy.  “And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and you donkeys, and put them to his work.  He’ll take a tenth of your sheep,” and so forth and so on.
That’s why 1 Samuel 8 is a dramatic political document. And Samuel Rutherford wrote that, I have one of the copies I xeroxed out of the Harvard University Library, in old English. Sometime I’ll bring it here and you can see it; it was a tract, I guess it must be 300 pages long. Boy when they published tracts back in 1644 they expected a literate people reading the tract. But in that it’s a complete assault on the whole idea of a deification of the king.
So, requirements of the model Kingdom of God. Yahweh is King; the relation with other gods is treason. Future kingdom will be global and there will be global theological unity. Now our strategy, Post-millennialists argue that we premils are “pessimillennialists” because we do not believe that theological unity can come about in a fallen world without a similar genocidal, a Holy War, prior to Christ’s return. They want to establish a modified theocracy called “Christendom.” They believe that the Great Commission implies gradual increase in theological unity. The strengths of their position: they take seriously the structure of the Old Testament Theocracy, and the authority of Jesus Christ over Satan. The weaknesses of their position is they set aside the texts that exhort endurance against evil on the basis of Christ’s return and the contracts with Israel. And of course, we have the wheat and the tares that Jesus said. The USA began with a weak polytheism with a Trinity and Unitarians. See, the point is that every Gentile nation in one sense is polytheistic, and by this I mean there are segments within America, at the beginning, that were Unitarian. There were other segments in America that were Trinitarian. Well, you can’t get those two together, there’s no theological unity. The common ground we have was that they were close enough so you could get somewhat of an ethical and political agreement and common ground.
But what happens when the theological components of different peoples in a nation begin to get separate? What happens when you have Muslims mixing with Trinitarians, mixing with Unitarians, mixing with atheists and agnostics? Where’s the theological unity? It’s gone. So the only unity that you can then have is a unity of centralized force. And that’s the dilemma that every Christian has faced in every century. And it’s going to become more and more evident to us as Christians because we had, the Trinitarian theology, had tremendous influence in the origin of our nation but it’s weakening because we have all these other theologies, so we are becoming a nation that’s frankly polytheistic. Try worshipping Jesus Christ, for example, in a public school forum and you’ll see very quickly that they will agree to a generic deity as long as you don’t have any content to the word G-o-d.
So this is where we are and the pre-mill pre-Trib view is not pessimistic. That’s why on your outline I emphasize that if you are pre-Trib pre-mil you are not yet in the Tribulation and Jesus said, “occupy until I come.” We are not in the Tribulation by definition, therefore we are not pessimistic; there are limitations to what we can do in history, but we are not pessimists, so we work outward. There are two crisis areas that we will get into as we see more and more of the statutes and judgments, is education of our children, and I include there a quote. This was back in 1930 by one of the early humanist thinkers. Look what he says: “Education is a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday school, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?” [Charles Potter, Humanism, A New Religion, 1930] Very correct, very much, and this is one of the tension points. This is why we have Christian schools; this is why we have home schooling, because of this tension over the theology. It’s a tension, ultimately, of the theology, which theology is going to dominate our community.
And finally, we’ll have another collision over family inheritance and the integrity of private property, and we’ll see this again and again and again. There are tremendous political implications to the Deuteronomic Law Code, one of which you started to see, this one, number 2, tonight when I went through 1 Samuel 8. This king, the centralized government, will take your most productive property for itself, to finance a bloated bureaucracy. Once you start seeing this you realize that we live in a pagan nation. We love America because of the Christian influence, but we have to remember to keep our eyes open here. This is not Israel, and we are, as Christian citizens, we’re supposed to be salt and light, and request: Lord, show us the wisdom that we need to do that, show us which policies work because they are in sympathy with how you designed this world.