Deuteronomy 23:24-25 by Charles Clough
Duration:1 hr 10 mins 43 secs

Deuteronomy Lesson 51

The Rights of Derivative Ownership

Deuteronomy 23:19–23

Fellowship Chapel
19 April 2011
Charles Clough
© Charles A. Clough 2011

I had hoped that we would finish chapter 23 and get into the first part of chapter 24 which would then finish this section, but after I got working with verse 24-25 I realized that we’ve got just a lot of material on ownership and the principle of ownership under the theocracy versus our culture today.

As we begin tonight I want to point out a structure and we’ve mentioned over the weeks that we’re trying to expound this section in the book of Deuteronomy, this section that deals with loving the Lord with all your heart by sections that tend to emphasize one or more of the Ten Commandments. Because that’s the whole point of these details, that they express the Ten Commandments, what the Ten Commandments really look like, and it’s important we do that because by understanding that we understand concretely what God’s standards are and therefore where we violate those standards. Because the law was given, as Paul says, to convict, to bring a sense of awareness of what sin is.

So we have, then, to deal with why it is that—like for example tonight, we’ve got a passage on ownership. We already had a passage on ownership—we have these two verses here and then ownership was, in chapter 22, verses 1-4, over there. So it seems like it’s fragmented, it seems like it’s disconnected. So I thought I’d pause at the beginning and point this pattern out that we’ve noticed on this chart. And I think on the handout you should have this chart on the back page of the handout.

But if you notice, charitable loans have come up twice now. We’ve had one section of charitable loans back in Deuteronomy 15 saying essentially the same thing, now it occurs in 23:19-20. Now the higher critics love this kind of thing because they say the explanation is multiple sources, that somehow the editor just compiled it and he was grabbing fragments, and it sort of just jammed together in the book called Deuteronomy, and that’s what you would get in a university course in higher criticism. But I accept the Mosaic authorship and the Holy Spirit through Moses, that this is the authoritative Word of God, so obviously God is not a God of chaos, there’s a pattern it and you have to look for it.

So if you look on the chart here you’ll see that in the first group was dealing with the fourth command­ment, the second group where charitable loans occurs is in the eighth commandment that deals with theft. The fourth commandment dealt with Sabbath restrictions and work. So if you look at your outline you’ll see, that where I say, “the limits on interest charged on charitable loans”, and I give you those two passages, 15:1-8; 23:19-20. As I said, essentially it’s saying the same thing but it’s in a different context. Under the fourth commandment the limits express Yahweh’s demands upon labor and rest, and the emphasis back there in 15:9-11 was if you see a neighbor in need and you give him a loan, a charitable loan. Don’t say to yourself because it’s year four in a seven year cycle that it’s only three years, this guy is going to have three years to pay me back and gee, this is going to hurt me economically. And so the emphasis back there, the first time this occurred was the fourth commandment, the Sabbath rest, relax about that because God will, if you obey Him and you shut your production down on that seventh year, He’s going to bless you in the sixth year. So it’s a matter of trust in order to obey that fourth commandment. And in that context, charitable loans came up because that’s an action, that’s a specific thing that had to happen and you had to deal with this economically in your business, in your money, in your wealth. So that was back there in that first group.

Now when the charitable command occurred, as we said last time in chapter 23, on your notes let me fill in the blanks here. Under the fourth commandment, these limits express Yahweh’s demands upon Labor and rest, so that was the context of charitable loans. Under the 8th commandment, these limits express Yahweh’s protection of the emancipated theocratic citizen to live out a redeemed life. In the eighth commandment remember what we’ve been seeing. That’s “thou shalt not steal,” but the problem is God is enlarging our understanding of what it is that can be stolen. It isn’t just that you can steal a piece of property or wealth; that commandment, “thou shalt not steal” meant that you could steal the intangible things. That’s why the oath was in there. When you make an oath to somebody, like in a contract, or when you make an oath to God out of your mouth, when you make that oath or that promise you are now in debt; that person has a right to claim the fulfillment of what you promised. And we never would think of that as part of the eighth commandment, “thou shalt not steal”, because we come to that eighth commandment thinking of just physical property. But God had in mind more than just physical property: there are the other things I mean when I say, “thou shalt not steal.”

So there’s a lesson here. It emphasizes difference between the theocratic citizen and the foreigner, remember, the theocratic citizen had a right to live in a non-debted lifestyle. God wanted to protect that right, and that right could be stolen if for some reason he had hard times and nobody would charitably loan him that. The only way he could get out of it would be to go into servitude, and that was not fitting for someone who had been redeemed. And that picture gives you the idea of what redemption looks like in the Scriptures. The word “redeemed,” before it got a religious meaning, a spiritual meaning, simply meant to get rid of the debt. That’s what redeemed means. And then it later came to mean the spiritual side.

And then the last one, the difference between theocratic citizen and the foreigner, and that’s Proverbs 22:7, “The rich rules over the poor; and the borrower is slave to the lender.” And that was what God was trying to avoid: His people being in servitude.

Now what all this shows is that a given statute can express multiple moral values. And that, in turn, leads us to the next diagram that we’ve seen before, and that is God’s design of society. And the point that we’re making here is that when He gives a statute, that statute is related to his overall design of society. In other words, He has a pattern that He has built into society and He wants us to understand that when He tells us do this, or to not do that, then we are supposed to understand that this is related to a pattern. Let me back up here. We’ve seen this diagram again and again, and that is the idea that there’s a structure to society. Remember the bottom part of the picture here, the allegiance, the integrity of communication, but we’re not up at this level, the labor and property which is necessary in order to support the family. And isn’t it interesting that in talking about the charitable loan, what were the two commandments? The fourth and the eighth, and both of those deal with labor and property. So they deal with it from a slightly different angel.

Now we can look at the oath. Remember that was what we covered last time, the inclusion of oath performance, and again, this is really hard to think of in terms of stealing, because how you associate an oath with the eighth commandment. You might think the oath ought to be linked with the ninth command­­­­­­­ment, thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not perjure yourself; but in the eighth commandment the only way we can kind of make sense of this is that when an oath is given there’s an obligation that is created and Yahweh said look, if you don’t make an oath I’m not going to hold it against you. But I will hold it against you if you promise Me you’re going to do something and you bale, then I will make it a sin issue. So that focuses in on this idea of owed obligation, and that’s what we mean there when we say non-performance equals theft of an “owed obligation” created by what has “gone forth from your lips.”

And we then spent some time showing socially and economically in Western civilization this idea has been very powerful, and that is integrity; the idea that in business if you enter into a contract you are obligated to perform that contract. Now a lot of societies don’t have that. A lot of subcultures in our country don’t have that, and we’ve said again and again, and it sounds unspiritual to say this, but one of the bottom lines in the Mosaic Law Codes if you trace it is that sin costs dollars. There is an economic cost to sinful patterns of behavior. And sinful patterns of behavior cause poverty. Poverty is caused—barring an earthquake or a disaster or sickness or something like that, a lot of poverty in the world is not caused by some random thing—by a failure to live according to God’s designs. And so, what God is saying here is look, you know, it’s not a gospel of wealth and health, it’s just saying that when we live in rebellion against the things that He has designed we pay an economic price for that.

So the analogy between God’s contractual oaths and men’s contracts. So one of the things as you go through these details is think about what this implies. This thing that dealt strictly with an oath performance to Yahweh turns out to have an analogy with business contracts: the prohibition of contract violation, a promise creates a right to expect performance. That is fundamental to an economically successful society. If that is not there, you will pay more for the goods because the point is that now there’s a cost for default. A culture with integrity of language develops contracts and a legal framework around them. Christianity spawned the Western concept of law. That wasn’t true, as we’ve discussed here in the Q and A, and I am so glad {gives name} because has gone to China three times to adopt those girls and it was he who came up here after we had the Q and A saying, when we were talking about Asia, how did Asia have family discipline and so on when they didn’t have Christianity, and he said wait a minute, the Chinese as a culture do not have integrity in their business and clicked with me because I have a Japanese daughter-in-law, and of course, there’s rivalry between Japan and China.

But the Japanese consider themselves a step above the Chinese and the reason they do is because they say the Chinese tend to welsh on their obligations. And we see that, it’s going on. Businessmen, the Chinese are ripping off trademarks; look at what they’ve done on the Internet. They just do this, they’re very aggressive economically, but they cheat for themselves. And one of the problems the economy of China has right now is that they rural areas, the rural people who are realizing that wealth wise they’re not keeping up with the people in the cities, there are all kinds of regional rivalries going on in China right now, and it’s very problematical to see how they can rule this thing. They’re sort of sitting on a boiling pot. And this is why some people believe they’re persecuting the Christians, because they feel that Christianity makes people think that there’s a transcendent authority above them, the politicians, which it does, and this becomes a tremendous threat to a closed society for individuals within that society to think that they have a relationship with a super Caesar, so to speak.

So, all this to say that this structure of having these commands show up in different groups is not a detriment to the order of the Word of God, it’s rather a manifestation of the complex structure socially that God has designed, that these statutes have to be repeated in different contexts because they’re there to reinforce these principles.

So we say in our notes, the underlying subtleties in the statutes and judgments parallel the underlying subtleties in the Ten commandments themselves as Jesus pointed out in His Sermon on the Mount, which should lead us to a greater grasp of how we sin. When you start to see these details, just think about what we expanded our understanding of what it means, “Thou shalt not steal.” All of a sudden you think to yourself, well, wait a minute, with this larger concept I’m more liable to steal because I don’t see the full implications, but God does see the full implications. So it tends to make you more careful about decisions and choice.

So let’s look at verse 24-25, the last two verses of chapter 23, and see if we can put this in some sort of order. Keep in mind that we’ve already had one section on leadership and that was 22:1-4, so why don’t we read verses 24-25 and then we’re going to go back to that first instance? In verse 24 it says, “When you come into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes at your pleasure, but you shall not put any in your container. [25] When you come into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you may not use a sickle on your neighbor’s standing grain.” Now this is dealing with property it’s dealing with somebody coming onto your property and doing something.

Let’s turn back to Deuteronomy 22:1-4. This is the last time ownership came up. It says, “You shall not see your neighbor’s ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely bring them back to your brother. [2] And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it to your won house; and it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it, then you shall restore it to him. [3] You shall do the same with his donkey, you shall do the same with his garment; with any lost thing of your brothers, which he has lost, and you have found, you shall do likewise, you must not hide yourself. [4] You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him lift them up again.”

Now that ownership thing is back over in the seventh commandment area. Remember what the seventh commandment was? What we think of is “Thou shalt not commit adultery” but it’s a protection of boundaries that God has given to preserve life, and ownership is one of those boundaries. And he’s saying you’ve got to respect that boundary, if you see something out there, a lost item, you have to think to yourself, the lost item is somebody’s. It’s not just mine because I found it, it’s being sensitive to ownership. It’s the boundary, that thing, that lost thing belongs in some boundary somewhere. So that’s the emphasis back there.

But now when we come to this section of ownership, it crops up again. Now we want to say what is going on in verses 24-25 with this business of being able to go into your neighbor’s field or into his vineyard, pick stuff, feed yourself, but then there are limits. So again on the outline, where I point out there’s a limited incursion here. First of all, let’s just observe the text. There’s a limited incursion; it doesn’t mean going in and harvest his field and rip him off. There’s an incursion of some sort, and it’s limited in time because obviously if the grapes aren’t ripe and the grain isn’t ripe then you’re not going to have the incursion. The incursion occurs only at a certain time of year. So this is not some sort of socialist feeding program, where the guy owes you food for the year. And you can see by the quantity that they’re not taking out of the field something to store themselves for the whole winter here. This is a very limited, almost like a snack. And of course, by now you should remember the issue of Jesus which we will get to in the New Testament, this actually happened and Jesus created a big dialogue and the Pharisees did over this incursion thing.

So here’s how it’s presented, first in the text. Now Dr. North, in commenting on the ownership, points out a very fascinating thing. There are theories of ownership and if you read in books on economy or law or history, maybe you haven’t thought much about this, I know I hadn’t, until I got into this a little bit, but there are various theories of ownership and we’re going to spend the rest of the evening dealing with what ownership really is, because believe it or not, there’s some radically different ideas of what is ownership.

So the first thing is that in this case, in this case, verses 24-25, ownership of land. “Ownership of land, seeds, and prior labor,” that’s the guy that owned the vineyard or the guy that has the field of grain, “Ownership of the land did not entitle him to that portion of the crop which a neighbor could pick and hold in his hands.” Now that is not equal to what we normally think about ownership in this country, the idea that somebody can just waltz in and take this stuff. So we’ve got to start thinking about what is going on here in this passage. “That is, his prior investment was not the legal basis of his ownership.” Right? If somebody could come into the property, but he owned the property and he had invested time and effort in the crop, that still did not give him absolute ownership of that product. So this raises a question in our mind, what is happening here?

“Legal title in Israel had nothing to do with some hypothetical original owner who had gained legal title because he had mixed his labor with un-owned land—John Locke’s theory of original ownership.” That was something circulating prior to the American Revolution, it was a theory of ownership that you owned something because it wasn’t owned before, you invested in it you worked with it; it becomes yours. So that was John Locke’s theory of ownership. “The kingdom grant preceded any man’s work. The promise preceded the inheritance. In short, grace preceded law.”

Now we have to reflect on what is going on here. One of the questions that North in his commentary on Deuteronomy brings out here is, why is the grocer, or the storeowner not mentioned in verse 23-24? You’ll notice verses 23-24 deals with only some kinds of property. Do you see in verse 23-24 what kind of property is involved in this little statute? It’s land. Where did they get the land from? They got the land by conquest from the Canaanites. God gave them the land. So interestingly, this land that is involved in both verses 23 and 24 is something God granted them free of charge. That land did not come by their investment activities. It was farmed later by their activities but the land itself never came about because of a successful business deal. The land came about only because God gave it to them in the first place. So this sort of separates verse 23-24 from a storeowner or anybody else in ancient Israel that had a business. This is a particular from of property.

Now that leads us to a greater discussion that we have to deal with. Down at the bottom you see what is ownership in theocratic Israel. Yahweh gave the land to the entire nation, so all residents shared in its blessings. Tribal families could not totally exclude neighbors from this tiny incursion. Notice it is a tiny incursion, not theft, but it like this land is sacred to the entire community, all twelve tribes. It was given to them. So there’s an incursion here. We’re going to get the principle out of this in a moment. But I want to come back up in your handout to the paragraph that’s entitled “What is ownership?”

We have had a Supreme Court case of momentous proportions and I’m very familiar with this because every year Carol and I go up into the New London area and we know the people there in southeastern Connecticut. And this was a devastating lawsuit that happened. It involved the city of New London, Connecticut, and it involved a series of people that had owned property there in their families for over a hundred years. These were old New England families that had inherited the property, inherited the property and passed it on, father to son, father to son, mother to daughter and so forth. So they owned this for generations and the city of New London decided that they needed tax revenues, so their argument was that they could confiscate their property and turn it over to the drug, pharmaceutical company. What’s the one up there in Connecticut? Pfizer. So if we could confiscate the property of these people, take their homes away, give them compensation, turn the land over to Pfizer, Pfizer would built this big factory and then we could tax Pfizer and get more money for New London, Connecticut. So it was strictly a business deal.

Now that involved something called eminent domain, and eminent domain means that none of us really own our property, the State can come in and take our property with “due compensation, and walk away with it, and the justification for eminent domain in a modern society is, well, if we want to extend Interstate 95 you’ve got put it somewhere, and if it’s through your farm or through your backyard, well sorry, the greater need for the community than for your personal needs. So we’ll pay you X thousand dollars for it and then we’re going to take your property and get you out of here. So that’s eminent domain.

Now eminent domain is actually mentioned in the Bible, in Daniel 2:37-38 because that’s when God kicked out Israel and put them in exile and then He turned over to the times of the Gentiles. And in Dan 2:37-38, that’s when Daniel is interpreting the vision to Nebuchadnezzar, and he says God has given you, Nebuchadnezzar, all the land. So the State, the Babylonian State, under God, had been given eminent domain. So that seems to be an axiom of Gentile countries. Israel was different. Remember in Israel if your family had property it had been given to you and your family and even you couldn’t get rid of the land because in the 50th year what would happen? The title would come back to you. And that’s a picture, that inheritance is a picture of eternal security. That’s why God designed that whole real estate deal as a physical easy to see example of ultimate inheritance in Christ, that nobody can take, it’s eternally secure.

So there is a difference now between Gentile and Jewish nations. Here’s the distinguishment, and here’s the key to trying to work our way through verses 23-24. What is going on with this limited incursion thing? God is absolute owner by virtue of His creation work. So we have absolute ownership is in the hands of God. Now watch this because we’re going to show you a heresy that’s developed in western civilization and it’s promulgated itself into our political structure. So let’s get it straight, what the Bible is talking about here. God is the absolute Owner by virtue of His creation work; man is given derivative ownership. So our ownership is derivative of His ownership, and the example starts out in the Garden of Eden.

God turned over the garden to Adam, but there was one exception and what was it? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So even though derivative ownership was handed over to Adam for that garden, Adam did not have absolute ownership of the garden. And to make Adam cognizant of the fact that his ownership was derivative and not absolute God said I have the right to restrict your ownership, and you do not own the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; I own that. And by making just that one exception, how many trees were in the garden? I don’t know, maybe a thousand trees in the garden of Eden, so this is one one-thousandth of the garden of Eden, but it’s still a limited piece of property which tells Adam every time that he didn’t totally own things. You own them by My permission. So that’s the concept now between absolute ownership and derivative ownership. So by giving a limited incursion, what God is doing here in verses 23-24 is showing that ownership of the vineyard and the ownership of the field in which the grain was growing is not absolute.

Let’s go now and we’ll see how this plays out in the Old Testament. Last time, remember oath, we traced it through 400 years of Israelite history to show you the power and the reality of oaths. Now we’re going to do the same thing with property and we’re going to turn to a famous incident in 1 Samuel 21. So if you’ll turn to 1 Samuel 21, this is the passage that causes commentators to fall all over themselves in emotion, because it’s one of those cases where David deceived and lied. So this is one of those passages that makes commentators very uneasy because of a moral issue that’s in the text; why they get so upset about Rahab when Rahab is viewed in Hebrews 11, obviously as a woman of faith and commended for her faith that was shown in her treachery, treason and lying. And people say well how can you justify lying? Well, the answer is the context of when Rahab lied. She lied in the middle of war, it was a holy war between Israel and the Canaanites and she committed treason to the Canaanite population and became allied to Israel. And as Israel in a military conflict, deception is part of the military tactics. So lying and deception go on all the time.

When you have war you’re going to have lying, deception and deceit; that’s the corollary. Those are legitimate tactics given a wartime situation. I mean, after all, in World War II when Eisenhower wanted to hide the site of the landings in Europe what did he do? He knew the Germans were looking at General Patton so he constructed a total deceptive army that didn’t even exist, but they had radio traffic that they knew the Nazis were watching and listening and so they created a fictitious army under George Patton that was going to invade Europe at a totally different place. And it was a deception, a lie, but it was in the middle of war. So we’re not saying that integrity of language, I mean, after all, the Bible is for integrity of language, but in the time of war you have deception.

Well now here we’ve got another situation, similar to that of Rahab. And it starts out in verse 1, “And David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him, ‘Why are you alone, and on one is with you.” See, the background there is at this point Samuel Saul is still king; the Saulite dynasty reigns, but God has taken the Spirit away from that dynasty and given it to David. How do we know? Because in chapter 16, notice this is chapter 22, in chapter 16 the Holy Spirit has been transferring authority over to David. So David has already been prophetically designated as the king and he’s waiting for God to deliver the kingdom to him. And Saul has chosen, in his rebellion, because God is kind of greasing Saul’s slide, like He did Pharaoh. Saul is getting very, very angry, he feels betrayed because his own son, Jonathan, is in league with David. And so his son that would be the crown prince of Israel is turning against his dad, and Saul is really upset by this. And he sees David now, who’s a national hero, because of the Goliath incident, and his military success and prowess, and so here’s this top military hero of the day in league with his own son. And so dad feels betrayed, he feels angry, and very frustrated at this point.

So in the book of Samuel there are several attempts Saul makes on David’s life. He tries to kill David six or seven times here, so he’s going after him. So now they’re in what is in effect a political dynastic war going on between the house of Saul and the house of David. So that’s the context. Now Abimelech is caught in the middle because he’s the priest at the tabernacle, and he knows David is the commander, David has a bunch of guys with him and he can’t figure out why is David alone. So now he’s afraid because oh-oh, I’ve got a political problem now. If I help David out I’m going to alienate Saul, and if I don’t help David I’m going to irritate David and now I’m in trouble with David.

[2] “So David said to Ahimelech, the priest, ‘The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, don’t let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you.’ And I have directed my young men to such and such a place.” [3] “Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found.” Now there’s where the commentators get all upset that well David is lying to Saul at this point, he’s misleading Saul, he’s not on the king’s business. The king is Saul, so he thinks, but there’s sort of a double meaning here, because who’s the real king of Israel? It’s Yahweh, and so in one sense you could say David is being sort of sneaky here, he is on the King’s business, it’s King with a capital K, not Saul. But it is deception; he is misleading Ahimelech. But, he is making a claim, in this misleading thing, that he is on royal business. Now keep in mind the incursion issue here.

The priest, Ahimelech, is in charge of what? The tabernacle and the holy bread that is in the tabernacle. So that’s owned by the priest and in the Law who can eat the showbread? Now remember, the showbread every seventh day is changed out because it would get moldy. So the showbread is put in the tabernacle and on the Sabbath (and that’s key to this passage) the bread is changed out. So next, when we read verse 4, “And the priest answered David and said, ‘There is no common bread on hand’.” Now that tells you it’s the Sabbath, because every other day people would be eating bread, “there’s no common bread” because on the Sabbath they couldn’t cook the bread. So “there’s no common bread on hand; but there is holy bread,” and the reason the holy bread is there is because it’s Saturday and they’ve taken that back out of the tabernacle. “If the young men have at least kept themselves from women.” Now you say, what is going on here?

Well, notice what the priest does not say. The priest who has been instructed that only priests can eat the showbread because the showbread is owned by the priesthood doesn’t see this as a violation of the eighth commandment. His criticism isn’t here, David, you can’t take this bread; it’s mine. His criticism is are they young men with you kept themselves from women. Now what’s that all about? Well, the three-day abstinence from women goes back to Exodus and on your outline I have it there, Exodus 19:15, where God Himself said no man can come unto this mountain that’s had relations with women in the last 72 hours. So the idea there is approaching God there was thing. So in coming to the tabernacle, which was the meeting place of God, the priest is concerned that this showbread that’s holy will not be desecrated by the men. But he does not raise the eighth commandment, which now gets into the ownership issue.

So here again is a case where the priesthood did not absolutely own the bread, even though it was commanded that they only could eat it. There’s an exception to the rule and the exception to the rule is that if you’re on the King’s business you have a right to eat this. This is one of those limited incursions. Now it’s not supposed to be routinely done, but if there’s an emergency or some special mission going on then we have to support that mission and somebody on the King’s business has the right to eat this bread. We priests don’t have absolute ownership, it’s derivative ownership, and there is an incursion that is allowed here.

If we go to Luke 6 you’ll see how this thing plays out, I’m always amazed at Luke 6, having worked for the government for many years it’s amusing to me that here Jesus and His disciples, on a Sabbath, see, keep the theme in mind, verses 1-5, and the blank there is, just before Luke 6:1-5 in your outline:

Even the tabernacle showbread was not absolutely owned by the priesthood. Now in Luke 6 the scene is the Sabbath, so the same day of the week that happened in 1 Samuel 21, “Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grain fields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and at them, rubbing them in their hands.” Now is that legal? Yes, because here’s an example of Jesus and the disciples using the principle we’re studying back in Deuteronomy 23, that is, a limited incursion on a field of grain. That was their right. And when the Pharisees object in verse 2, notice they do not bring up the eighth commandment either. They don’t see this as theft, which means that they understand this passage in Deuteronomy just like we’re saying tonight; that limited incursion on private property in Israel (because the land was given to them by God) was legitimate.

So their complaint was that it was a violation of the fourth commandment, that you can’t do work on the Sabbath day. So they’ve moved the debate from the eighth commandment over to the fourth one. So now Jesus is going to answer them. [3] “But Jesus answered them and said,” and by the way, Jesus didn’t say you know that dirty passage in the Old Testament where David lied, you don’t see Jesus talking about the passage that way. Jesus deals with it as totally approving, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: [4] how he went into the house of God,” that’s the very presence of God Himself, the tabernacle; he “took and ate of the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” So Jesus takes the text of Leviticus and Deuteronomy and throws it back at the Pharisees.

Now you ask, well how does that answer verse 2? In verse 2 the Pharisees are objecting that on the Sabbath you can’t do this; they’ve moved the discussion over to this fourth commandment. Well, what Jesus is saying is that if you go back to David’s situation, he was authorized to do what he did because he was on the King’s business. Then look how he calls Himself. Look at the name that Jesus applies to Himself in verse 5, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” So what is He saying? I am the King and I will determine what is done on the Sabbath. You see, if Jesus isn’t who He claims to be He’s arrogant. See, people are careless about reading the New Testament, and don’t seem to ever understand this, but the things that Jesus says and does make no sense unless he really is who He claims to be. And here He says I am the Lord of the Sabbath, and just as David, on the King’s business could intrude a piece of private property, because these disciples are Mine, they can do anything I allow them to do on the Sabbath day, I am the Lord of the Sabbath. And of course Luke brings up another issue later on, there’s a friction going on here between the religious establishment and the Lord Jesus about this issue. But what I wanted to show you was that this is an example of limited derivative ownership, the theme here.

Now I want to, because we’ve gone through these two verses so far, if you’ll follow in your outline I’ve kept all of the reference material in the outline because I want to show you this theme of ownership, since we’ve got into this in this chapter. And I think this is about the second and only time we incur this again in the law code.

Historical distortions of this principle: Now some of you I know you’ve come out of the Roman Catholic Church and this may irritate some of you but it’s history, so let’s follow through this step by step.

Classic paganism held to the idea that a Golden Age once existed in which all things were held in common. That is a pagan idea, notice “classic paganism,” not Christianity, paganism held to an ancient golden age of communism. So the idea was that in this ancient golden age ownership didn’t exist, and the proof of it is Aristophanes—notice his dates, long before Jesus (445-388 BC)—in one of his plays has Praxagora say, “All shall be equal, and equally share all wealth and enjoyment, nor longer endure that one should be rich and another be poor. . .All this I intend to correct. . . now all of all blessings shall freely partake, one life and one system for all men I’ll make.” So clearly it’s a communist theme of a classic paganism.

Point 2, Virgil, in his book, Georgics, says “to mark the field with bounds was unlawful. Men made gain from the common store”. See, they have this idea of a golden era, somewhere in the past and they want to bring it back, the commonality and a denial of property.

3. Seneca the Stoic, so I’ve given three references to classic paganism here, “has told us that with the gods lies dominion, and among men, fellowship—This fellowship remained unspoiled for a long time until avarice tore the community asunder and became the cause of poverty. . . . But avarice broke in and by its eagerness to lay something away and to turn it to its own private use, made all things the property of others. . . .” Now Seneca here is dealing with a pagan equivalent to what we call the fall. In pagan thought private property and the origin of ownership was seen to be a fall from this glorious golden era when everybody had everything in common.

Then, Christian theologians adopted this concept:

(1) “This thesis that private property came into being as a result of the Fall had great influence in the history of the church. We find it later among the Franciscan theologians and then again in Zwingli and Melanchthon. ... Of course ‘theories of property’ like this are not specifically based upon the New Testament. Appeal could be made equally well to philosophy and natural law. . .” So we now have the idea of communism picked up by some, not all, some of the early theologians, really in the first couple of centuries of church history.

Then we have Chrysostum, who otherwise is an orthodox church father, Basil and Ambrose, who are leaders in the second and third century, who have bought into the same idea, and that is: “If only each one would take as much as he requires to satisfy his immediate needs, and leave the rest to others who equally needed it, no one would be rich and no one would be poor.” So this is an idea that has crept into the Christian church.

Now the guy that really structured Roman Catholic theology is Thomas Aquinas, and he is considered to be the genius of Roman Catholicism. Notice his dates, 1225-1274. He wrote of “natural law” and “positive law.” Now what Thomas means by natural law means the way it’s there, it’s just structured. Positive law is something man adds on to natural law. For example, by natural law women are women and men are men, positive law would be gay marriage. What we’re doing is we’re adding to the original design. So Aquinas said: “The community of goods is part of the natural law;” in other words, that’s the natural state of man, to not own anything, a commonality of good, “private property is part of the positive law.” So he says the idea of ownership is something man has added onto the substructure of what God has created, and “it does not enjoy the same metaphysical or ethical status as the community of goods. While men cannot change the natural law they can change positive law, and they may do so in whatever manner is expedient and moral. Several things might make such a community of goods expedient, but one makes the community of goods morally imperative, and that is need.” Neither the early church theologians nor Thomas, unfortunately, informed us what need is or how it might be ascertained. See what’s going on here, the idea is that the ideal would be each according to his need. Now guess who made that one up? That’s Karl Marx. See where Karl Marx gets his idea? He got some of his ideas right out of the church. And this explains something we’re going to get into a little bit later.

[Robbins, Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church, pp 31, 35. (4)] “To enforce re-distribution of owned assets from the rich to the poor became the legal duty of the Roman Catholic Church when it had political power or pressuring secular rulers to do its bidding. This was expressed through papal encyclicals, especially Rerum Novarum, On the Condition of the Working Class (1891) which repeated the teaching of Marx’s Das Capital published only 10 years before, Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno (1931), and John XXIII Mater et Magistra (1961).” All these papal encyclicals are a matter of historical record, you can go back and read them, make very clear that the Roman Catholic Church argues that private ownership is basically not the last word.

So now let’s think about what’s happening here. Biblically, is it or is it not true that all men have derivative ownership? Yes, we’ve seen that in the Scriptures. And God is the absolute owner, right? Okay, now Thomas is trying to come to grips with this when he says “natural” but the problem is that Aquinas is philosophical and he doesn’t deal with the exegesis of the text. In the exegesis of the text the first private property is given in Genesis 2, God designates the garden to be the responsibility of Adam and Eve. So it’s not the case where he’s denying ownership, that ownership happened before the fall. The fall happened in Genesis 3, not Genesis 2. So private property preexisted the fall, by God’s decree. Derivative, yes, but the point was it was given to man; man was expected to take care of it. What does it mean to take care of it? It was his, it was his responsibility; ownership carries responsibility to take care of it. And when you think about it you can’t have the eighth commandment if there’s not property to steal. How do you reconcile the lack of ownership with the existence of the eighth commandment? The eight commandment implies private ownership or you couldn’t steal it.

So, the Roman Catholic Church picked up this idea, Aquinas, basic Roman Catholic theologian held onto this idea, and then the popes, through encyclicals, actually put it forward as part of their papal rulership. And notice the dates, I gave you the dates of the papals: 1891; Karl Marx published his Das Capital in 1881. Do you notice something interesting? And the reason this is, is Dr. Robins who got his PhD in history from John Hopkins wrote the book, The Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church, excellent documentation in that book.

  The Roman Catholic Church opposed the economic implications of the Protestant Reformation for many years and eventually aligned itself with Marxist property theory. See, when the Protestant Reformation occurred several things ripped Europe to the core. Today I believe that most American Roman Catholics have been so heavily influenced by us evangelicals that they can’t tell the difference between evangelical theology and Roman Catholic theology. When I grew up, when I was a young boy I went to school with Roman Catholics, the old Roman Catholics, the pre-Vatican II Roman Catholics, and I’ll tell you something, it was nice in one regard because they knew what they believed. Today you ask twenty Catholics what they believe and you get twenty-one different answers. And things have changed in the Roman Catholic Church. But back when Catholics were Catholics, it was very clear what Roman Catholicism believed.

And so the argument was that when the Protestants came along, and first of all, what great thing did the Protestants do that transformed political theory? They said the ultimate authority is this, and in order to make this the ultimate authority what did the Protestants always do? They translated into what? The common language. Why did the Protestant Reformation take this book out of Latin and turn it into German, and turn it into English, and turn it into French, and turn it into Italian? So that the average believer priest could come directly in his language to the Word of God. We have no sense of how radical an idea that was. What do you suppose that did to the church hierarchy? You have a structure here with God, the Pope, the priesthood, and then the lay people. And all of a sudden these Protestants come along and feed the lay person the Word of God and they no longer need who? That’s right. That was a revolution that caused grief throughout Europe and it had a political implication. And that’s the basis of the American republic, why we had a Constitution; we are not a democracy. The whole political structure of the United States of America came from the congregational concept of government, that a church had a document that was its authority and it activated and organized itself under the authority of a written book. And the Constitution sort of becomes analogous in the political realm of this.

Then to add insult to injury what else did the Protestant Reformers do? They taught vocation. Do you know what the word “vocation means?” Voca, the Latin word call, and when they said vocation and calling of the priests, they meant everybody has a calling under God. The secular shoemaker has as much of a vocation, a calling, as the priest. Now what do you suppose that did economically? All of a sudden now people can use their hands. Remember, labor in classical paganism was demeaned, that’s why they had slaves. Everywhere you have a slave society you have idleness. This is what happened in the American south, this is what happened in the Roman Empire. Wherever slaves exist slaves do the work, and everybody else lives off the slaves. Now work became honorable and so it was godly vocation to touch and to farm, when you farmed you were doing God’s calling and so this made, all of a sudden, people responsible economically. And guess what, it reinforced the idea of ownership and property. And the Catholic Church saw that as a threat because the Catholic Church is supposed to own everything. And now all of a sudden these peasant Protestants are going around saying they’ve got a calling, and they’re in competition with the priests, the priests and the monks have the calling. No, the farmer has the calling; the shoemaker has the calling. And so there was a collision economically. That’s what Dr. Robins means in his

The Roman Catholic Church opposed the economic implications of the Protestant Reformation for many years and eventually aligned itself with Marxist property theory. That’s why the papal encyclicals post-date Das Capital, when Marx came along the church saw aha, we’ve got intellectuals now in Europe that we can align with.

And thus it has promoted “Christian socialism” throughout Europe, Liberation Theology in Latin America, and quasi-socialism in US politics: “Much of the interference by federal, state, and local governments in the affairs of citizens is due to Roman Catholic influence in American politics. Following Vatican directives, Roman Catholic politicians, legislators, and intellectuals brought us the Progressive movement, the labor union movement, the graduated income tax, the New Deal, and the growth of government in the United States.” [Robbins, p.47] So here, if you trace the big idea you can see it working its way out in the history of our country.

The reasoning process is five steps, and we’ll end there. It starts out right, point (1) God is absolute owner; man is derivative owner, we agree with that, that’s biblical. Point (2) The Roman Catholic Church is God’s civil state on earth—careful, and notice the word s-t-a-t-e. The Roman Catholic Church is not just a church; the Roman Catholic Church is a nation. We send ambassadors to the Vatican. The Roman Catholic Church is a Roman Catholic State and Church. We disagree with point 2.

But point (3) is a result of the logic we have points 1 and 2. Therefore, the Catholic Church represents God’s absolute ownership over all private property. Obviously if you’re standing in God’s place and God is the absolute owner, the church is the absolute owner. This is why they were able to rule Europe for so long. The Popes claimed absolute ownership. Marxism comes along in the 19th century and agrees economically in the sense that there is no such thing; private ownership is bad. So this is why even though Marxism is inherently atheist and the Catholic Church is theist I never could figure out until I read Dr. Robins why it was in Latin America that the priests were pro-communist. In Nicaragua the Roman Catholic Jesuits were the ones that said the Kingdom of God has come in communism; you can’t be a Christian and believe in the Kingdom of God unless you’re a communist. This was the whole slogan behind the Nicaraguans. So the idea here is that they coalesce in that one is an atheist, one is a theist, but they agree on the issue of poverty: what causes poverty is ownership of property. They both hold the same view, so that’s why there’s an alliance there. .

Therefore, Roman Catholics in poverty situations the average Roman Catholic that is poor, is set up to demean private ownership and support communism. They’ve done it in Italy; they’ve done it in Latin America, and in Vietnam they did it. Vietnam was a Roman Catholic country.

So we see this as an effect of ownership. The two last blanks under point 3, the first one is a group concerned with the eighth commandment, and the other, ownership appears in the seventh commandment. Again, reiterating what we started with tonight, that the same statute can occur in different groupings, different commandments.

That’s all and we’ll have just a few minutes for Q and A.

Question: No, I’ve seen pictures of it, it’s beautiful. But the artwork of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s famous paintings and so on, that was the wealth of Europe that was given to them and there are magnificent cathedrals and architecture. The Roman Catholic Church is probably the wealthiest institution on earth but it’s gotten that way because of ideas.

[question asked] Yeah, I’m not familiar, you’re asking about the Roman Catholic versus Islam on the doctrine of the land. Islam has a strange thing with land too and I’m not that versed in it to comment on it. I just know that one of the current political problems with Israel is that, according to some Muslims that I’ve read, they view the existence of the Jewish state, the real estate now I’m talking about, the physical land that’s owned by Jews with a Jewish nation as a challenge to the evidence that Allah is sovereign totally in history. In other words, that’s why Hamas and Hezbollah want to keep rocketing the settlements. They don’t want peace; they want to destroy Israel.

There’s a theological reason why they want to destroy Israel and that is because as long as Israel exists right there in the belly of Islam, it’s like Allah’s too weak. They think of it: it makes Allah look weak, that Allah can’t control that little bit, when he controls everything else, why can’t he control that piece of property? And of course we know why, but it’s an affront to them and they see it that way. The political picture is a theological affront to their beliefs. These are powerful ideas that we’re encountering here and I think maybe tonight you’ve seen some of the ramifications.

These ideas float through history century after century and cause tremendous changes in a culture. And we forget, the Protestant Reformation had an enormous economic effect, and I’ve said this several times, but if you want to get a feel for the Protestant effect, I always recommend taking a blank map of Europe, maybe go into a map of Europe, draw all the European continent, draw some of the boundaries on a tracing paper or something, or Google it or something, if you can get a blank map of Europe, and then go back in your history and color, with one color, color every place that Protestantism dominated. And then on the other color, color every place Roman Catholicism dominated. Then take a second map and color in the places that were economically prosperous, and then ask yourself: which parts of Europe were economically prosperous? It’s the Protestant parts. And you have to ask yourself why, why did being a Protestant and being a Catholic make such a difference economically. And there have been books written about this, Max Webber and others have written books. And of course, they’re criticized today but the idea was that something happened in the Reformation to make this economic impact.

[question asked] Oh yes, exactly. He has brought up a point and I thought most of you would catch as we read this, that what Obama is pushing and what the Democrats … remember it’s not just Obama, Obama is just a spokesman for a whole community of people, and what he is saying is not something he created, he is articulating the classic communist/socialist line. And today if you say that out in the barbershop or somewhere, people look at you: are you calling him a communist? Well, yeah, I mean, it goes back to this is the theme that has gone on for centuries and the problem with it goes back to what I just said about why is it that Protestant Europe was more prosperous than Catholic Europe. It wasn’t just that they had more resources because they didn’t.

What is different is that when ownership exists, you are incentivized to make it better, because you are responsible; you see the result of your work. And somebody doesn’t want to rip it off, and when Obama talks about taxing the rich what he’s really talking about is taxing anybody that makes over $250,000 a year, which probably is most small business owners. So a man and his wife own a small business, they’re going to make more than $250,000 say, those are the people that he’s going after. If you are a billionaire, like George Soros, do you think you’re going to be affected by what, the United States tax rules, come on, you can afford more lawyers than the federal government can and you can end-run any tax legislation. You’re not going to get any more dollars out of billionaires, you’re going to suck the dollars off of the business people and guess what the business people do? They’re the ones that make the jobs.

So what you’ve just done is you’ve disincentivised, and that was the story of Catholic and Protestant Europe, if you keep taking away money from the people who are producing what incentive do they have to keep on producing? And you can see that, I mean, imagine, and I’ve seen this on the internet, you can see it in the classroom, and some conservative professor did this in one classroom, apparently where he said we’re going to give everybody the same grade, do a test and we’ll average out the grade and then everybody gets the grade. What does that do to the students who are trying to work hard for their grades? The heck with it. If I don’t get rewarded for the extra work, why should I work? And of course, the counter of the socialists and the communist, oh, well, then you’re being selfish. No you’re not, you’re being productive. And the sad thing is, this always works out because socialism and communism always go bankrupt and they can’t figure it out. Every time socialism and socialist views have permeated the culture the culture’s always rotted economically because you’ve disincentivised production. It always happens that way.

So it’s ridiculous that we keep going back to the old idea that was refuted in the days of the Protestant Reformation. I mean, when was the Protestant Reformation? 1513-1515, and here it is 2000, we’re 500 years later and we’re doing the same thing; we haven’t learned anything in five centuries. I mean, come on. So that’s what the fight is right now in our own culture and it’s only people like you, who have a grasp of the Word of God, that have a desire to do things, go make accomplishments in your life because, not just selfish, what is the corollary of the Protestant Reformation, what was the V word… Vocation. And whom do you answer for in your vocation? You answer to God for the vocation.

I mean, in any history course you’ve ever taken, anybody here tonight, ever hear of an explanation of how the industrial revolution was paid for? Anybody ever hear about that? Everybody’s talking about the industrial revolution, all of a sudden we had factories, we had all this wealth going on and we had production. It took money. Where do you think the money came from? It came from savings accounts that Webber points out were mostly Calvinist believers. And you say well, what does Calvinism, Protestantism, got to do with savings accounts? Because they believed in the future. And because they believed in the future they put off spending today because they would save for tomorrow for a better opportunity. If you don’t believe that you’re pessimistic, you would spend today, you know, get a pay check and spend it, pay check and spend it, live pay check to pay check until the pay check stopped and then you’re stuck, now you’re having to depend on the Messianic State for handouts. And this is where we’re going; these are the ideas that are all there in the Mosaic Law Code.

Next time we’ll get on to the marriage thing and go on to another section of Deuteronomy.