Deuteronomy Lesson 31
Enforcing Prophets’ Conformity with Mosaic Doctrine
12 October 2010
© Charles A. Clough 2010
Today we’re on lesson 31 and we are going to start in chapter 13, however, half of the lesson is devoted to the issue of Holy War because in the Q & A after last week, the question was asked, well, what do you do when somebody comes up to you and says that the genocide passage in the Bible are no different from what the Muslims do with the Koran. So I want to go over that because there is a lot of fine print font 10 on you handout tonight because I tried to compress this in a reasonable length of space. So let’s look first at the introduction and you’ll see that in the next section, the section we’re on, the large section, goes from chapter 12:32, which is the last verse in the English Bible in chapter 12 because the English Bible doesn’t follow the Hebrew Bible here in the way it breaks. So verse 32 of chapter 12 really belongs in chapter 13; that’s why it says 12:32-13:18. And you’ll notice that the commandments that are involved here now start to expand. In chapter 12 it was the first, second and tenth commandments, which we tie together because all of those deal with the heart’s relationship with God, the tenth commandment being covetousness and I’m coveting when I don’t trust God to provide for me. So the tenth commandment is sort of the behavioral consequence of disobeying the first and second commandments.
Well now coming in on that chiasm that we looked at you’ll notice in 12:32-13:18 in the outline, you’ll see that now I’ve added the third and the ninth commandments because the third and the ninth commandments deal with integrity of language and communication. So now we’re going to be on the verbal part. In other words, how what does God expect when He says you will not take My name in vain, and what does He expect when He says “Thou shalt not commit perjury”? Both of those commandments involve language. So that’s why we have that third and the ninth commandment in there on tonight’s handout.
Point A, chapter 12, remember, verses 1-4 and verses 29-31 form a sandwich where it’s the start and the end of that section of Scripture. And both those sections deal with the physical art and architecture of idolatry. The first four say tear down the high places; the last verses, the last three verses deal with don’t do some archeological dig to find out what these people believed out of curiosity. We might not feel the temptation but they had an agricultural economy and they felt the temptation because their business prosperity came out of the land. And you remember we spent time showing how in the Bible in Ancient Near East times the gods and goddesses were tied to the land. You have to think agriculturally here, this is an agriculture economy. And everything, everything depended on the fertility of the land. So if they could do some stuff to lift their economy by manipulating the gods and goddesses that’s what they did. It wasn’t just, you know, weird art that these people were doing, it was economic; it was a business kind of thing.
Now today, as a result of Mike’s question last time in Q & A about Holy War I want to take time on page 1 and 2 to go through some of these details. We really need to get this under our belts because this comes up again and again and again, and even the most biblically illiterate critic will throw this in your face, saying that the Bible’s Holy War is no different than Muslim holy war and jihad. And of course today with jihad more in the headlines this attack that we have to face as believers is more frequent. So on part B we’re going through the issue of Holy War. And so if you’ll follow with me through this we’ll try to cover in our time tonight the highlights of this whole issue of jihad and Holy War.
The first thing, the previous point you see under item B, it’s important that you look at the words I’m using. The conquest was a local historical revelation of what the final judgment of God looks like in anticipation of His global Holy War at the Second Advent. So three key words there, local; it wasn’t global, it didn’t apply to every nation, it was local both in space and time. It was just a laboratory, historical, meaning it was real; this isn’t some poet making these ideas up, this actually happened. So it was local, historical; that means it was real and it’s interpreted by God. It’s not just something that happened, God explains why this had to take place so it’s revelation. So it’s local, it’s historic and it’s revelational.
Now I’m going to rely on the work, an essay that was done by Dr. Andy Woods when he was in his PhD program at Dallas Seminary. Andy’s a friend of mine and he’s a lawyer, he got his law degree before he went to seminary and I always think that has made him very skillful in presenting things. Every time I’ve heard Andy do his work it’s been very, very good quality. He is one of the rising lights in the next generation of pastor-teachers. Right now he teaches in a seminary in Houston, Texas. Anyway, he wrote this paper called Canaanite Genocide, and I’ve summarized, this is a paper. It’s about thirty pages long or so, so I tried to summarize thirty pages in two; so it’s packed here with information.
1. You notice I’ve got three points. One is Stated Scriptural purposes,  the Ethical discussion, then  the Tension with the New Testament. So his paper is divided into three parts. So now let’s look at the first part of the paper, the Stated Scriptural purposes. He gave eight; I’m summarizing under three little dots there. The background prior history of Sodom haunts Israel’s history. What went wrong with the patriarchal family? Remember, when Genesis precedes Exodus and the Genesis narratives in chapter 12 to the end of Genesis give you how the first family of Judaism collapsed, because of a syncretism with unbelief and pagan culture. And that haunts the text, that’s in the background. Moses knows that, the people know that, it’s part of their background. So when you get to Holy War and you see the injunctions to destroy the Canaanites, for you will lapse, the people are thinking yeah, because my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather and great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, they lapsed, they collapsed in the face of culture.
So that’s why I say the background prior history of Sodom and the behavior of Lot and his family, Genesis 19, they don’t pull Sodom up; Sodom pulls them down, that was their experience. So Israel would also behave if Canaanite culture survived and the nation would be permanently destroyed, because remember the cursing would be invoked. So now with the cursings threatening the existence of the nation Israel they’d better get their act straight. So that’s part of the background for what’s going on.
The second point under Andy’s first one is to glorify God the Kingdom of God “model” had to fulfill God’s prior promises of a land at the time of its origin at the Exodus and Mt. Sinai. That was the inheritance that God promised them. So He had already said the Amorites in the fourth generation you will replace them. That civilization, those cities, those people, due to their choice of rebelling against God, lost their physical and political inheritance of freedom and a right to occupy land. They lost it. They have lost their inheritance as far as a political domain goes. So that was prophesied, so if God didn’t do the Holy War then how would He fulfill those prophecies?
Finally, the third thing is that the Bible presents the… in fact, he uses the same words, principalities and powers are used for the physical leaders of nations, but principalities and powers are also used for the demonic powers of this world. In the Bible’s mind, particularly in that Daniel passage you see it, there is a picture of the kings of this world as vulnerable, if not outright controlled, by the powers of darkness. There is an animosity in the kosmos (the Greek word, k-o-s-m-o-s, the kosmos) and so there’s not naiveté about history. This not all nice and fancy things here, there’s an insidious suspicion, always in the Scriptures about what are the principalities and powers behind the governments doing. So that’s the background, and the Scriptural purposes, Andy gives you about eight of those, complete with verses and great detail. But I’ve tried to summarize the three observations; these are three things you observe in the text of Scripture about Israel and the justification for their genocide.
Now we go into the ethical issue and this is slide 1. The first point under the ethical discussion is that Holy War was conducted by other nations, not just Israel. And as an example, and I suspect because of this example that these other nations mimicked the Holy War of Israel, because these date after Israel’s genocide. And in particular—this is Moab, here’s the Dead Sea on this map, Moab is down here, you remember God protected Moab—Moab is out of the Abrahamic family, they’re kind of distant cousins of the Jews, but they were in antagonism throughout their history, and became competitors and finally became outright military opponents of each other. And here is a text from the Moabite Mesha Stele, and the source that he used, James Pritchard, The Ancient Near Eastern Text, is a wonderful document. If you’re ever in a large library and you want a treat, unfortunately you can’t get hold of this thing and when Dr. Pritchard gave half his life to put this book together, he got so disappointed because it never sold and it’s evangelical Bible believers that bought most of the copies and it was a surprise to him. But he was very disappointed after all the work he did, but it’s a wonderful multivolume set, he’s got pictures, he’s got the translations of these documents, it’s a wonderful source thing and you can get the original translations of many different languages in the ancient world. And here’s the translation from the Moabite stele. And this dates after the conquest:
“And Chemosh said to me,” this is the king of Moab speaking, Chemosh is just a pagan deity. “And Chemosh said to me: Go, take Nebo from Israel! So I went by night and fought … against it from the break of dawn until noon, taking it and slaying all, seven thousand men, boys, women, girls, and maidservants; for I had devoted them to destruction,” the word “devote” there is charem, it’s the word for Holy War; I “devoted them to destruction for Ashtar-Chemosh. And I took from the” blank in the stele, he couldn’t translate it, “of Yahweh, dragging them before Chemosh,” probably to burn them. So this is a picture of what the viciousness of the ancient world was like. People lived this way. This is not to justify Holy War but it’s also just to show you what was going in history contemporaneously with all these things in the text.
The second one is: “Holy War for Israel was limited geographically.” Very important, it was never used outside the land, God did not commission a Holy War outside of the land, only within the geographical boundaries, and it was “never used for propagation of the faith outward to other cultures.” Let’s turn to Deuteronomy 9:4, because it’s important that we see when God talks about Holy War why He was doing it and it was not to advance the faith of Israel, it was not because they were so good. Remember, we did this passage earlier, in Deuteronomy 9 it says, “Do not think in your heart after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess the land; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD is driving them out from before you.’” So there’s a clear declaration that the chief ethical reason for the Holy War was destruction of evil, not the advance of Israel. I phrase it that way because that’s not the way Islamic people talk, Muslims talk about their holy war jihad.
Oh, and by the way, “Holy War, as we’re going to see as we get further into chapter 13 here, was also applied to apostacized Israelite cities.” So it was not just the Gentiles that were subject to Holy War, the people inside Israel were also subject to be destroyed this way if they apostatized to the idols and we’ll see how that works out later. Another point is: “God could have used geophysical judgments in place of Israel which would then place this action on the same level as geophysical catastrophes today.” Let’s think about that one, a very good point Dr. Woods brings up here. Let’s take the floods in Pakistan that have basically destroyed the infrastructure of half that nation. When you see a disaster like that, or an earthquake in Haiti, are men, women, and children involved? Yeah. Are babies killed? Yes, well it’s a geophysical catastrophe that kills men, women, babies, animals and so forth. Now what ethically is the difference between that and Holy War? See, this is the point that God could use geophysical means (He’s going to in the Tribulation). Whether He uses human means or whether He uses geophysical means, isn’t the end destruction the same? And if it’s the same, then how do we deal with the moral issue here?
Another point that he brings up is: “The Canaanites were not morally innocent people, they followed the legacy of Canaan, the son of Ham.” And prior to this period in time the Canaanites were involved in, of course, the Ham issue with Noah. It wasn’t that these people were genetically determined this way, it was that there’s a whole line in history whereby they just seem to inherit this behavior, and they passed it on from father to son, father to son, father to son. It was just a cultural thing that was transmitted, rather than a genetic thing that was transmitted, but clearly history shows this. Notice the references in Genesis chapter 15, chapter 34, chapter 38, look what’s going on. In chapter 34 you have the rape of Diana, and it creates a war between Jacob and the culture because their sister got raped. In chapter 38 the propagation of religious prostitution, the Hebrew is very clear there that Judah goes into a prostitute. And it’s not the Hebrew word for prostitute, it’s the Hebrew word for a priestess, which means that he identifies her with the Canaanite religion. And this is what’s going on. And these are the Canaanites that are involved. In Leviticus 18:21-23 there’s a list of three particular sins that they were involved in. One of them was child sacrifice, one was homosexuality and one was bestiality. So those are particular things that the Holy Spirit brings out, even evidently the Holy Spirit didn’t have the insight of modern psychologists to know that homosexuality is genetic and not chosen!
But here in Leviticus 18:21-23 we have this listed, explicitly as a condemnation of Canaanite culture. Albright, father of American archaeology—at least a big sayer in it—in his book, Yahweh and the gods of Canaan, says, “It is certainly true that human sacrifice lasted much longer among the Canaanites and their congeners than in either Egypt or Mesopotamia. The same situation seems to hold true for sexual abuses in the service of religion, for both Egypt and on the whole Mesopotamia seemed to have raised the standards in this area at a much earlier date than was true in Canaan.” So we have a culture here that is kind of unique. They are not innocent people.
And I add this, down at the bottom of this point because we need to remember this. In school you get all this propaganda about the white man comes to the North American continent and the South American continent and he kills all the natives, and how gross are the Europeans. Well, the Europeans are gross, all men are sinners, but let’s not overlook the fact that the Native Americans are not morally innocent either. The Aztec civilization is so debauched, when they would have blood sacrifices, human sacrifices all the time in Aztec culture, and they were so morally decrepit that they fell apart before the Spanish intruders. So this is the other side of the history story that you don’t get in the classroom because we’re so anti-western in the classroom. What you’re dealing with in the classroom is sort of a leveling of all cultures; all cultures have to be morally level, so we can’t have any condemnation, we have to bring the natives up out of their immoral past. I mean, we talk about ecology and the natives out in West Texas, the Indians were so silly and foolish that they ran buffalo herds off the cap rock and killed thousands, started this big herd thing, had them all going off the cap rock and they couldn’t eat them all so they all died down there. And the flies and the maggots and everything ate up the buffalo so they didn’t have any buffalo to eat. Now how smart is that? That’s not living in an ecologically wise way. So there’s lots of stuff here that’s on the other side of the coin that’s filtered out of the way we learn history in the classroom.
Then the “Canaanites had become incapable,” this is a theological point. The “Canaanites had become incapable of repentance,” that’s a very sobering thing, to become “incapable of repentance because of the hardening of their hearts.” And Deuteronomy 2:30 gives you an example of that, that was the guy over in Transjordania, and Joshua 11:20 says it. So there are some biblical references that show that they were incapable of repentance. Pharaoh and even later Jeremiah 7:16 talks about Israel became incapable; they hardened their hearts; that’s why God threw them out of the land. When a population gets to the point where they’re incapable of repentance there’s no need to have them around anymore. You don’t postpone history once incapability is attained; once hearts are hardened, at that point why have any more grace? It’s just a waste of historical time. So once a population reaches incapability of repentance it’s all over. “God had already awaited 400 years for that repentance,” He said in Genesis 15:13; and He did the same thing prior to the flood. Remember the story of Noah, go ahead Noah, keep preaching, the guy preached for a century of time and then everybody, you know, blames God for killing off the antediluvian civilization. They had a hundred years to repent and they didn’t take advantage of it.
But one of the things that Dr. Wood brings up here is the study that this lady professor did, [Susan] Niditch, with her book, War in the Hebrew Bible: A Study in the Ethics of Violence. She brings up an interesting thing out of, I think, the Midrash, out of the Talmud, a story that the Jewish rabbis used to tell. And this may or may not be true, but the point is, it shows you how the Jewish people of centuries and centuries ago viewed God’s reluctance to judge. I think there’s just a kind of sensitivity here. And here’s the story that rabbis would teach with stories. The angels thought to sing after the Red Sea had closed upon the Egyptian army. In other words, it was a battle hymn and the angels were going to start to sing, Good, you triumphed over the Pharaoh, you’ve destroyed his armies, but God stopped their song and He said to them, to the angels, the work of my hands has drowned in the sea and shall you chant sorrow? So that rabbinical story gives you a sense that on the one hand God judges because of His holiness, but God doesn’t get a pleasure out of judging; it’s not something that makes Him happy to judge. You have to keep that in mind. It’s not this picture that Yahweh is flailing away in history and just chomping at the bit because He loves to see blood. That’s not the kind of picture that you get out of the Scriptures, if you read them carefully.
Then another point that he makes, and this is important because of another kind of criticism that you will hear, “Holy War is limited to the ancient theocratic state of Israel and cannot be used by the church to justify Crusades, Inquisitions, Salem Witch Hunts, the Ku Klux Klan and shooting abortion providers.” The church doesn’t engage in jihad; the church doesn’t have that mandate. That is a mandate that was given to Israel. And what happens here, this is another illustration of “replacement theology” undermining Christianity because what they do is they make the church as the modern version of ancient Israel. And I have recently been looking at a book, a PhD dissertation by a fellow from a European campus and he did a lot of research on this and he points out something interesting. The liturgical churches with priests and garments, do you know where that came from historically? Leviticus. That was replacement theology, that’s what it does to the liturgy; that’s why you have priests in garments and everything else, because of the churches continuity, supposedly, with the nation Israel. So you introduce all these things, including crusades because we’ve made the mistake, theologically of identifying the church as the latter day Israel. This is the kind of trouble you get into when you don’t follow the text carefully.
And finally, and I think this is a very good point that he brings up, “The real question is why hasn’t there been Holy War against all of us?” I mean, another version of the question, how can a loving God send people to hell, the other side of the question is how can a holy God send people to heaven? The question can be turned around. So here the issue is why don’t we all become the recipients of Holy War? “Holy War was ordered by the morally perfect God against whom there is no competing moral authority.” And this is Meredith Kline, who I follow, who “states holy war as a principle of Intrusion Ethics whereby the Ethics of the end time judgment replace the ethics of common grace.” That interim, that local Holy War is a historic revelation limited in space, limited in time, to reveal what the final judgment of God looks like. So if a person has moral problems with genocide in the Bible they’re going to have moral problems with the return of Christ, they’re going to have moral problems with the geophysical catastrophe that destroys babies. You can’t isolate this; this is all part of the same issue here.
All right, finally, point 3 in his paper: Tension with the New Testament. This is used largely by evangelicals to argue that (and it’s being done, by the way, today by Christian socialists) there’s an irreconcilability between the Old and the New Testament. So as Christians we have to discard the Old Testament and just stick with the New Testament, or the New Testament, you know, makes obsolete the Old Testament. Now there are two maneuvers, two lines of reasoning here. I’ve labeled these point 1, point 2. So follow the line of argument. First, remember, what’s the point here? The point here is that when you see ugly things in the Old Testament, that’s the OLD Testament; we’re done with the Old Testament. It’s ironic that some of the same people that argue that also follow replacement theology and make the church the same part of Israel. I mean, come on, you can’t have it both ways. But in this case they use one of two maneuvers, and both of these are called “radical discontinuity” maneuvers, meaning that we make a radical break between the Old and the New Testament.
The first one is Marcion. Marcion was a heretic in the early church, second century. In fact, if you read history it talks about Marcion’s canon. Marcion refused to accept the Old Testament as Scripture, and his argument was that it can never be reconciled with the New Testament. That was in a nutshell the Marcionite heresy. So people today who take that line of logic basically are repeating the old heretic of Marcion. Now the answer to that is: “grace exists in the Old Testament and wrath exists in the New Testament.” You can’t say the New Testament is all grace and the Old Testament is all wrath. What was the first commandment? Let’s think about the first commandment. Let’s go back to Deuteronomy 5, and watch how God introduces Himself. Verse 6, the first lead-in sentence of the Ten Commandments—now this is the Old Testament, supposedly filled with wrath—what does it say? “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” So is this talking about a work of man or a work of God? It’s a work of God. When did this work of God happen? Did it happen before Sinai or after Sinai? It happened before Sinai. So wasn’t there grace before the Law in the Old Testament? Didn’t God graciously redeem the Jews out of Egypt before He gave them the Law, with all the wrathful consequences. So the grace to Abraham, the grace to Joseph—I mean, anybody that reads the Old Testament sensitively knows very, very well there’s lots of grace in the Old Testament. I mean, come on, look at David, for heaven’s sake; look at the Psalms, there’s grace all through the Old Testament.
So let’s now take the other side of the debate and move over to the New Testament. Now can you find wrath passages in the New Testament? Is God, does Jesus ever talk about hell? He talks about hell more than He does about heaven, doesn’t He? Is the book of Revelation talking about grace or wrath? It’s talking about wrath. So how can someone say that the New Testament is all grace and the Old Testament is all wrath? It doesn’t fit. Anybody who says that hasn’t done much reading in the Bible. Okay, that’s one maneuver, the Marcionite heresy and following and repeating that argument from the first and second century.
The second point is more modern, most educated people who make this maneuver are well enough studied that they are aware of the Marcionite heresy and they’re not trying to reproduce that. So point 2 is the other maneuver that’s being done more today and that is you “Radically reinterpret the Old Testament text so it doesn’t teach Holy War.” Well, how do you do that? How do you get around these passages? Well, you make it not a literal history. In other words, it’s a story made up centuries later to romanticize Israel’s origin. That’s one maneuver; higher criticism takes that. So if you have moral reservations about those the way to relieve the moral and ethical pressures is to simply say it’s a made up story, it never really happened. Of course, archeologically we do know it happened because there’s burn levels all through Palestinian tells. Something happened there because there’s burn levels that you can see and photograph.
All right, another maneuver is allegory, they turn it into an allegory, or as one critic says—this is a real lulu—the Israelites only thought God told them to do that; God never really told them to do that. And then finally, the one that is most popular in evangelical circles today is the “interpretive center” view. In the “interpretive center” view you take a text and make that your interpretive center and then you relate all the other texts to that text. So for example, 1 John 4:8 says “God is love,” so if that’s the interpretive center, then every other text has to kind of fit with that interpretive center. So those are the ways that supposedly this tension between the Old and the New Testament is resolved wrongly and incorrectly. We don’t resolve it because we don’t see there’s tension there to start with.
In my box in the outline I point out how “Human sacrifice is ignored in usual histories.” I studied ancient history, I had some good history courses in my campus days, and I never learned about human sacrifice, oh it might have been casually in a footnote on page 238 or something, but it was never made central to the course on history, and I doubt any of you have ever seriously heard anybody talk about the debauchery in sacrifice, human sacrifice in pagan history, ancient history, because they’re too busy romanticizing the Greeks and the Romans. The vestal virgin in Rome was sacrifice because the sacred fire went out. They burnt her; she was the human sacrifice. And the Aztecs, of course, as I’ve already mentioned.
Now on the table I have some hints on responding to critics. And the first thing to do when somebody throws this at you is back up a minute, take a deep breath before you respond with some knee-jerk response. You’ve just got to calm down and think, is this person asking me this because they really want an answer, or is this just an “I gotcha” kind of conversation. It it’s a gotcha kind of conversation there’s no sense engaging it because it’s not serious, and a good polite reply is when you’re serious about these kind of things we’ll sit down and talk, but I’m not going to give you a five second response to your remark, and just walk away. So that’s the first thing, determine whether your opponent is really serious. If they are, then point out the factual differences between Old Testament Holy War and Muslim jihad. One, as I said, it’s localized in the Bible to specific real estate in a period of history, in the Koran it’s universalized, it can go everywhere. In the Bible it’s used to eliminate a culture beyond repentance, in the Koran it’s used to advance Islamic dominion. So there are these factual differences here.
And then engage the moral argument, and this goes back to those three questions that we’ve gone through again and again: ethics depend upon a metaphysical and an epistemological foundation. Now look what’s happening here. You’ve got somebody standing on a metaphysical and epistemological foundation and striking out ethically. What he doesn’t see is that he’s standing on a foundation; he can’t make these moral judgments up here without having a platform on which he justifies his moral statements. So you don’t just accept… well, I think that’s wrong. Well, that’s fine, that’s just your opinion. Well, I don’t mean it’s just my opinion. Well, what do you mean then? On what basis, what is your moral authority for making these “ought” statements that you keep on making? And so this is why the Creator/creature distinction must be there to have an enduring and universally-applicable standard of truth and justice. Where else are you going to get one? You can’t have it built in man because then it wouldn’t be universally applicable because people are different. And you also must have an informative revelation conversation with the Creator. That means you have to have verbal revelation, which is exactly the Bible’s claim. And our point would be that if you don’t have those as a foundation, then all talk of moral criticism is meaningless.
Quoting Bahnsen: “what happens to bags of evolving protoplasm is ethically irrelevant.” I mean, it’s tough language here but that’s the only options you’ve got and people don’t like that, they resent that, if you point this out. It’s only if you have the Creator/creature distinction and have revelation that you have a foundation for moral authority. So right up front you’ve to deal with that, or they have to deal with that. Then, once you have that foundation—see, this is why it goes back to presuppositional argumentation—now we can say if man is fallen, then judgment is just. So the question becomes why all of us aren’t “victims” of judgment? Secondly, Holy War is really no different that geophysical catastrophes. Look at Luke 13:1-5 where the tower falls on these people, or they quote Pilate killing off the Galileans and mingling their blood with sacrifices. And to Jesus they come and say, what’s the matter? You know, Jesus, You ought to condemn Pilate. And the response Jesus gives to that catastrophe, the slaughter of these people, is if you don’t repent you’re going to have the same problem. It’s not a very pleasant response, by the way, to that kind of a complaint.
And then finally, Holy War is just another picture of the final threat of the Lake of Fire. See, grab the fact that you can’t have pieces of Scripture floating around in disorganized mess. When we’re dealing with God’s justice, like we are in genocide, that’s related to the cross, that’s related to hell, that’s related to the Lake of Fire; you can’t just kind of ooh, I want to put away this and hide it because you’ve still got the other issues. What about the cross? What about hell? What about the Lake of Fire? They all go together, it’s the same problem and it keeps popping up all over the Scriptures. So they’re interconnected.
Now finally, point C. How do we use the narratives in the Christian life. Here are three suggestions when we’re looking at Deuteronomy 12, Deuteronomy 13, Deuteronomy 7, dealing with Holy War and all this stuff. Here are three suggestions to kind of bring it together to the Christian life. The first one is what we see in these narratives is what a sacred space looks like. This is what the presence of God looks like, not in the sense of omnipresence, because God is obviously omnipresent, He’s omnipresent in hell but that doesn’t make it a very pleasant place to be. The “Presence” we mean capital “P”, it’s where He communicates with us, and there’s a blank, where God’s Presence dwells. It’s not omnipresence here but a special location where communication occurs—a special location where communication occurs. That’s what we mean by a sacred space, it’s the meeting place, in other words. God dictates the meeting place.
And, of course, point 2, God’s essence hasn’t changed, He’s the same yesterday, today and forever, and so where is the meeting place today? The meeting place today, Jesus said, is in our heart, “Worship God in spirit and truth,” and so forth. And the point there is that we still have a sacred space. Remember He says in John 7, in that famous sermon when He pours the water out and He says the rivers of living water shall come out of you. And if you get the picture of what He’s saying here, think back to Eden, there was the sacred space. What came out of Eden? Water, remember, the water flowed out of the throne of God. That was the emission of the sacred space. In the book of Revelation, when you get down to the last point of the eternal state, there’s the throne of God and out of the throne of God comes water. And so when Jesus picks this up in John 7 he’s reiterating Eden and the book of Revelation and He’s saying out of our hearts, the sacred space. Now what is the living water? The living water is eternal life and it’s the communication of eternal life; it’s the enabling to live the Christian life. So that’s the connection.
And then finally, we must remember that grace is temporary. And you’ve seen this chart enough times, but again, it’s sobering to remember this that the day of grace is not going on forever; right here is where it stops. And one day it’s going to stop, just like it stopped for the Canaanites; their day of grace ended right there, but they’re not the only people, everybody is going to experience that.
Okay, now in the remaining time, I think we’ve gone through Holy War. Let’s go through, we can get through, maybe the first verses of chapter 13. Chapter 13 deals again with the implication of the Ten Commandments, and we’ve looked at the chiasm again and again, so now we’re on the first part: God alone is worthy or worship, self is not worthy of worship. We’ve looked at accuracy in language about God and accuracy in language in judicial proceeding, so now we have the integrity of language. So now God, in chapter 13, gives us case law. Here’s the how to. Here’s what happens in a society of the Kingdom of God to protect the integrity of language and to follow out commandment one, two, and three, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.”
It starts in verse 32. “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” [13:1] “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or wonder,  and the sign or the wonder come to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—and let us serve them,  You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  You will walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.  But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So shall you put away the evil from your midst.”
Now we’re dealing with prophets. Now what’s the problem here? Verse 32, the foundation of all the prophets in the Scripture is Moses. Moses is the archetypical prophet. There will all be the other prophets like Moses but they aren’t going to supplant Moses. Jesus did not supplant Moses either; remember: “the Law is fulfilled in Me.” So the Law wasn’t supplanted. So what verse 32 does, it guards the integrity of Mosaic theology, which now becomes the standard for the case law that starts in 13:1, because verse 1 is a case law, if this happens, then you will do this. This is the consequence of it. The guy is going to die if he messes up here. Well, what’s the big deal about… oh, and taking away and adding to, that’s messing with the text, it’s like liberal theologians that shift the interpretative authority from God to themselves or today analogies from the legal community, which, by the way, Dr. Andy Woods has produced a wonderful paper called Enthroning the Interpreter, in which he draws the parallel between the legal community and the theological community, constitutional lawyers that are destroying the hermeneutic to make the Constitution a living document, it’s the same kind of thing, it’s messing with the language. So in verse 32 we have a statute, that’s what a statute looks like, it sets up the standard. In 13:1 we have a judgment. The judgment differs from the statute and the judgment is a case law.
“… and is a prophet or dreamer of dreams.” Now what is the big deal with the prophet and the dreamer of dreams? Hold the place and turn to Numbers 12 and you’ll see the seriousness of a prophet. Moses was the first prophet for the nation. Why did they need prophets? It’s simple. They didn’t have a completed Bible, so if they wanted to know the will of God they had to get revelation. How did they get revelation? They either got it on Mount Sinai when God Himself spoke. But after the Decalogue, what did we say? After the Ten Words, what did God do? Stopped talking. And from that point in history all revelation no longer is God speaking directly, it’s coming through a prophet till we get to Christ’s time.
Well, here in Numbers we had a little incident happen and this shows you how serious God treats prophets. [Numbers 12:1] Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married,” he married a black lady and they didn’t like white Moses to be marrying a black woman.  “So they said, ‘Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses?” So now they are attacking the prophetic office of Moses. “Has He not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it.  (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)  Suddenly,” and I love this Hebrew, there is a humor in this, “Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam,” this is a great one, and you can just see, if you’re a parent you’ve gone through this with your kids when they’re squabbling, “Come out here, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” I want one, two and three, everybody come here; we’re going to have a little family discussion. So now here comes the discussion. “Then the LORD came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward.  Then He said, ‘Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, will make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.” See, there are the visions and the dreams.  Not so with Moses My servant, He is faithful in all My house.  I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why, then, were you not afraid to speak against My servant, Moses?’ 9] So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed.  And when the cloud departed suddenly Miriam became leprous, white as snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was a leper.”
So this is the seriousness of a bunch of people mouthing off about Moses and the prophet, and God didn’t put up with this stuff. So understand that we’ve got here an example of why it’s so important to listen to a prophet. That’s why, when you come over to Deuteronomy 13 and it declares you won’t listen to him, that’s a pretty powerful statement. It’s not just saying ooh gee, don’t listen, it’s saying I don’t want you to listen to him. And that’s an important imperative; you don’t listen to a false prophet.
Well, obviously the next problem is how do you discern a false prophet from a real prophet. Okay, and the answer, he says, because he says “the sign or the wonder comes to pass,” and you know, back when I did this series many, many years ago Jean Ruth Montgomery had written a book called The Gift of Prophecy about Jeanne Dixon, she was a big best seller in the United States going around, this woman Jeane Dixon was supposed to be a prophet. And you open up the first chapter of her book and you look at the page and she says I had in this vision a serpent with green eyes that looked into my face and I saw wisdom, and she described the source of her prophecies. After you read the first two chapters any Christian would realize well, yeah, she’s got revelation but it wasn’t from God. Anyway, she had some signs and prophecies that came to pass, but Ruth Montgomery when she makes a preface to the book points out that only some of them came to pass. Well, the prophets that would be a perfect coming to pass.
Anyway, in this case, “the sign or the wonder comes to pass.” A sign is something that’s more like circumstantial happening in a critical moment, sort of like the weather on D-Day or the Spanish Armada, something like that, the weather happened at just the right time in history, that’s a sign, non-spectacular. But a wonder is a spectacular, miraculous kind of thing. So whether it was just gratuitous timing or whether it was a spectacular thing that happened, whatever it was it came to pass. But, the qualifier in verse 2 is “let us go after other gods.” In other words, there’s a theological problem with this guy. To see what that means, because if you read it at face value it looks like it’s saying the guy says okay, “let’s go after other gods.” Well, that’s like saying Satan comes in with a nametag. That’s the intent of his theology, “let’s go after other gods,” it doesn’t mean he literally said “let’s go after other gods.” And let me give you an example of that and that’s about all the time we’ll have tonight.
Turn to Jeremiah 28, here’s an example that actually happened in Jeremiah’s day. In Jeremiah 28, toward the end of the history of Israel, there was another prophet called Hananiah. And so in verse 1, “And it happened in the same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, in the fourth year and in the fifth month, Hananiah, the son of Azur, the prophet, who was from Gibeon, spoke to me,” that is to Jeremiah, “in the house of the LORD in the presence of the priests and all the people.” So this is a public meeting, two prophets are there, Jeremiah and Hananiah. Hananiah says, “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, ‘I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.  Within two full years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the LORD’s house that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took away from this place and carried to Babylon.  And I will bring back to this place Jeconiah, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah who went into Babylon,’ says the LORD, ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.” That’s his prophecy; it’s called a two-year recovery theory. Israel is going to recover from the captivity that she is already going through. Now watch what happens.
Jeremiah is sitting there, and he hears this prophecy, but Jeremiah isn’t actively getting information from God at that point. Now this shows you, these guys literally got information from the Lord and they knew when they weren’t getting information from the Lord. But Jeremiah hears this guy make this prophecy. He doesn’t necessarily refute the guy right off the bat, but something doesn’t smell right about this. So look at what Jeremiah says in response to Hananiah.  “Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and in the presence of all the people, [who stood in the house of the LORD]” so he wants to make sure everybody hears this. He says,  “Amen! The LORD do so; the LORD perform your words which you have prophesied to bring back the vessels of the LORD’s house and all who were carried away captive, from Babylon to this place.” So it sounds right there, oh, okay, let’s go along with the prophecy.
 “Nevertheless hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people.  The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied against many countries and great kingdoms—of war and disaster and pestilence.  As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the LORD has truly sent.’” In other words, he’s saying the line of prophecy up to this point, Hananiah, has been pessimistic; there’s no optimism in this thing. Now if you’re really predicting this, if you’ve really got a word from the Lord on this, then it’s going to come to pass and I’m going to… basically what he’s saying is I’m reserving judgment until I see it. So there Jeremiah doesn’t have any tool to refute the false prophecy, he just has a sense this just doesn’t fit the past prophecy, there’s something not right here.
So now what happens.  “Then Hananiah, the prophet, took the yoke off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck,” remember, he went around with this visual aid on him, “and broke it.  And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘Even so, I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years.’” And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.” He’s holding his peace, he’s not commissioned there, he can’t immediately refute this guy, but it just doesn’t seem right. So sure enough, verse 12. Now this shows you how revelation came in the Old Testament. These guys knew when it was their mind and they knew when the Lord was talking to them, and they never confused the two. There was a distinction here, because Jeremiah walks off; he has nothing to say.
And then in verse 12, suddenly, “Now the word of the LORD” comes to him, “after Hananiah, the prophet, had broken the yoke from the neck of the prophet, saying,  Go and tell Hananiah, saying,” now here’s the Lord talking thru Jeremiah,  “Go and tell Hananiah, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘You have broken the yokes of wood but you have made in their place yokes of iron.  For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and they shall serve him.” See, that fits with Jeremiah’s visitation. Remember he said all the prophets have prophesied things that these nations are all going to cave in before Nebuchadnezzar, and I don’t understand, Hananiah, why you suddenly have gotten this new word from God and it’s all going to be over in two years; it doesn’t fit. And what God is affirming here is you’re right, Jeremiah, I’ve prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar is going to take over all the nations, “I have given him the beasts of the field also.”
Now watch what happens, consequence. In case law you’ll see a negative imperative, don’t do this. And then if you do that, you’re going to suffer these consequences. And what was the consequence in the first part of Deuteronomy 13? The prophet that does that will be put to death. It doesn’t say who puts him to death, but watch here.  “Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah, the prophet, ‘Hear now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie.” See, that’s a violation of commandment #3, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.”  “Therefore, thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die because you have taught rebellion against the LORD.” And the word “rebellion is sarah, and sarah, when we come together next week we’ll see occurs in the text of Deuteronomy 13.
So we haven’t really finished this but we’ll finish it next week. We’re getting into now the language, information that is being transferred from God’s mind to man’s mind, and that communication has got to be secure; it can’t be messed up. And that’s what Deuteronomy 13 is all about, how not to mess up by listening to false communication. And it puts a very serious burden on the individual because this isn’t addressed to the monarchy, there is no king here, at this point in history, it’s addressed to all the Jewish believers. They were burdened with the necessity of having to discern truth from error. It was the responsibility of the individual to do that, nobody was going to do it for him. They had to do it themselves. It produces a tremendous responsibility. But what you have here, what you have here is something important in human history; what you have is here you have God vindicating individual, intellectual and moral freedom. God holds individuals morally and intellectually responsible for believing the truth versus believing a lie. Yes, the prophets are condemned for promoting lies, but the people are also disciplined for following them, which means the people will have to have discernment to tell truth from error.