Law, Grace, and Citizenship Lesson 2
Law: God’s Revelation and Man’s Opinions
Labor Day Conference at North Stonington Bible Church
01 September 2012
© Charles A. Clough 2012
Tonight we are going to do the second in our series. I want to apologize for this first one because several of you noticed and came up to me after the first session – “You didn’t fill in the blanks of the handout.” Actually I got distracted and forgot so I am going to spend the first 5 minutes or so just going through the blanks. There were a lot in the first session, but not that many in the others.
On the handout under session 1, the first blank - this conference is about us in contact with our culture. It’s the idea that we’re in daily contact with the culture. We can’t avoid it. We’re in contact with it. So that’s basically the theme.
This conference (second blank there) is about what we can do to strengthen ourselves because 2 Tim. 3:16 is:
NKJ 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
In other words the Scriptures are sufficient. They still are sufficient after 2,000 years. So it’s what we can do to strengthen ourselves. As we are as we saw in the first session with Brittany and her presentation, we are in a position in this generation that those of us who are older have never faced. Those of you who are 30 and younger are going to live in a society that is far, far more deeply and profoundly hostile to your faith than your parents have ever experienced so that if the Lord does not come, you need to bury yourself in the Word of God so that when the winds blow, your feet are on solid ground. I want to encourage you to do that because the Word of God will bless your hearts. It has truth in it that completely envelops the unbelief around you. Unbelief around you is a faade. It is actually a lot of hot air that sounds very intimidating; but when you get into the Word of God you need to think through the content of Scripture in a careful way - that’s our life.
Under Roman 2 the pre-Israelite origins of civilization that’s where I started the different major concepts. These are major areas that in our educational system (unless it’s in home schooling and you have a good curriculum) we have been systematically indoctrinated with a secular mentality. So we have to actually self-consciously reform our education.
We were discussing this. Brian and I were discussing this over supper as he teaches mathematics. He said that the problem is that as a student in the classroom, you are under academic pressure. You have got so many semester hours that you have to get done. Trying to pause in the middle of a college course to think through seriously what you are learning, you just don’t have the time. Most college curriculums are like taking a drink out of a fire hydrant. It comes at you too fast; and you really don’t have time. So after you leave college it takes you a decade or so to recover. As you read through Scriptures you want get hold of these basic ideas because they’re not given to us. We have to grab them from Scripture and self-consciously apply them.
Major concept #1 is epistemic authority is revelation. The ultimate authority is revelatory. It is God’s words, God’s self-disclosure. We can be very thankful that He discloses something of Himself.
Yes? Question? Epistemic authority? Good question. Epistemology is the study of how do you recognize truth. It is the study of what are the truth tests. Epistemic is simply an adjectival form there of what is the authority. How do you ascertain what is true? The ultimate authority for the Bible-believing Christian is the Word of God. There is no other authority. The Word of God is the final authority. It is the only assurance of real knowledge versus the relativism of a pluralistic society. So the second blank there is real.
Major concept #2 is man is the lord of nature. This is a real red flag. This is a very irritating truth to the modern environmental movement because they interpret the meaning that we as Christians trash the environment. That is not the meaning. If you read Genesis 2, you see what God means by having dominion, making gardens. It’s bringing nature to its productivity.
Oh, under that the italics - what you have developed today is irrationalism plus the old earth delusion plus evolution that elevates nature over man. What we’re seeing here people if you read original source material from the ancient world, this is the same Baalism. This is the same idea. It has not changed. It’s just dressed up in a scientific vocabulary. But this is what Elisha was dealing with, Baalism (worship of nature.)
Major concept #3 is man’s sexual nature is profoundly different from the rest of creation. That’s why Genesis 2 was written - because man is sexually designed disburse the image of God to male and female. It’s very interesting.
God says, “I made man in My image, male and female.”
So the breaking apart of the sexual distinctions between man and woman is actually a distribution of the image of God. You don’t have a complete image of God unless you have the male and the female together. This is why at certain revelatory points in history you see the feminine side of God. Example, when Jesus Christ is going to be crucified and He comes to Jerusalem the last time; He expresses His compassionate grace toward that city.
He says, “As a mother hen would gather her hens (her chickens) so I wish I could gather you.”
That’s a mother’s cry. That’s Jesus who is articulating that truth. It shows you that the feminine side is a valuable thing. This is one reason incidentally why I believe that as Islam gets a firmer hold in the fundamentalist sense, it is a surplus of testosterone. This is why the Moslem societies are so violent. When you suppress the woman, she is the civilizer. Come on guys. We are not the civilizers. It’s our wives that are civilizers. They build the home. We may build a house; but they build the home. When women are suppressed like this you have an escalation to male violence. This is what we see. It’s before our eyes.
So that’s an important major concept that sexuality in the Bible is vastly different from the way it is viewed in the Scripture. This is why in the New Testament not only is sexuality made unique; it’s made revelatory of the relationship between Christ and the church. You heard it in wedding services. We always go to Ephesians. It’s not accidental. It’s not a literary random event. What the Bible is saying is there is something in the way He’s designed us men and you women; there is something about that design that isn’t just random. What that is, is the design itself is revelatory of God and His work of redemption. That’s why Paul can talk as he does in Ephesians.
Under that in the italics section where there is another blank - if man is the final definer, then sex and marriage are merely social constructs. Just the title for what we want to create. That’s the debate. It’s not really over same sex marriage. ACLU knows very well what the next step is. They are already writing the literature. You can read it. They want to go to polygamy. After they get same sex marriage installed then the next thing they is polygamy. They are quite upfront about it. It’s not secret. Everybody knows this.
This is the point when you have reduced the whole marriage debate to defining a word that can be defined any way you want it. Ten years from now you have a loving relationship with your dog. Maybe you want to get married. It sounds like a joke but logically speaking once you break the noun marriage away from the way God has designed man and woman now everything comes. Everything goes. There is no root any more left. You are just playing with a noun – whatever they happen to vote on last Wednesday or something.
Okay we go to major concept #4. Real evil began with rebellion against God. We’ve gone through that.
Major concept #5 is that natural evil began with God’s cursing. It’s interesting that the first animal that was killed with all due respect to PETA was by God. God killed the first animal. We will go into that a little more. Maybe I’ll do it right now.
Right after the Flood, God gives us authorization to eat meat. I never really thought about that too much until I was talking to a Moslem convert. He was sharing with me how as an ex-Moslem he understood what Jesus Christ did on the cross. He came to that. He was a believer, but he was still struggling.
“I am a Moslem and have been raised in a Moslem home. I have been taught about Jesus as a prophet. But you Christians keep talking about the atonement of Christ. I think I understand this. He was having trouble. It hit me one day at McDonald’s in Lebanon.”
He comes from Lebanon.
“I was eating a McDonald’s in downtown Beirut.”
I said, “Gee, I never thought about a theological breakthrough at McDonald’s.”
The point was that he was eating a hamburger. It clicked with him as he looked at the hamburger.
“That animal died for me that I could eat, that I can live. Oh! I get it! Animals are sacrifices so that we can live.”
I think that it is striking that right after the flood God says man can eat flesh. I believe that it sets us up psychologically so we should understand substitutionary atonement. Every time we eat meat – think about it. We don’t usually think about that because we buy the meat in the supermarket. We don’t go out and kill the animals ourselves and so we don’t get the bloody mess. Years ago people did. They had to kill the animal before they ate it and it was a bloody mess. When they do that they realized that animal dies that you can live. That is a simple, easy to understand picture of the sacrifice of Jesus, isn’t it?
So I was amazed as I talked to this ex-Moslem Christian how he said, “That clicked with me downtown Beirut, Lebanon in a McDonald’s.”
I have never heard somebody talk about a substitutionary atonement in terms of a McDonald’s hamburger before but for him that’s how the Holy Spirit clarified that concept to him. So that’s major concept #5.
Natural evil began with God’s cursing. As goes man, so goes nature. It was man that fell. Nature was cursed as a result of men. Now think of it in reverse. We are pre-millennialists here. We believe that Jesus Christ is going to come again; and He is going to reform nature in our natural environment as well as human society. It’s man that’s doing it. So once again He comes as the Son of Man as a representative of man and nature changes in response.
Major concept #6 - the origin of evil establishes two needs, redemption and doxological. Angels are debating not redemption; angles are debating doxological issues. They are looking at us as a program of redemption; but for them it is a forensic battle that is going on about God’s character. This is where I have God killed the first animal for sacrifice – the first substitutionary atonement.
The italics there is that every move in the plan of salvation must also meet the forensic challenges of the invisible world. That’s why a clear gospel is so important. You can’t add human merit to the gospel. It has to be Jesus’ merit and Jesus’ merit alone because that’s the only kind of merit that not only matches God’s character but also answers the forensic discussion that is going apparently between Satan on God.
Then we have major concept #7, the presence of God as a sacred space. The idea is that God has meeting places on earth. For example those of you who have studied the Millennial Kingdom, there is going to be a temple in Jerusalem once again. That’s going to be the center of international government and nations have to send their representatives to Jerusalem for that situation. So the presence of God denotes a sacred space.
I recommend to you Eugene Merrill’s book on Old Testament Theology. He was head for many years of the Old Testament Department at Dallas Seminary. He has written a very nice Old Testament theology. It would be very good. He traced the whole thing through hundred of pages for you to clarify it.
Sacred spaces are locations where God meets man physically. They are physical locations where he wants it. For example, today missionaries that are experienced in the Moslem world tell me almost all of them that I’ve been able to talk to about this particular phenomenon. Various missionaries will tell you different things. But varying from about 70% to 85% of the converts to Christianity today that are living inside the Moslem orbit come to Christ through a vision of Jesus. We are not talking charismatic hoopla thing here. What apparently goes on and we don’t understand this but these people (The ones who are seeking God.) will have a vision but these people will have a vision the ones who are seeking God will have a vision (the ones who are seeking God) or dream of this man in white. The man in white never tells him the gospel. He always tells them to go to a Christian.
There is a case that Joel Rosenberg spells out his book “The Revolution” or whatever the book was written several years ago.
He tells the story of an Iranian pastor who was going up into the mountains of Northern Iran with a car full of Bibles that they had just bought in Farsi language to hand out. So they are driving up the road and they get up to one of these mountainous areas and the car stops.
“What’s the problem now?”
The car stops. There is a man standing by the side of the road and he knocks on the back window of the car.
Well, Joel says the other side of the story because you kind of have to stop with the car for a moment and go to the man who is standing by the side of the road where the car stopped. This man was a Moslem but he was seeking God. As Jeremiah said:
NKJ Jeremiah 29:13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
He was seeking God and realized that he doesn’t have a relationship with God. He doesn’t know God personally. So he is seeking for Him. There is a dream that comes to him that says tomorrow morning if you really want to know me, you go down to that road and you wait and you will get a book. That’s all the dream said.
So he goes down to the road. He’s standing there. Of all things the pastor and his buddy drive in the car and the ignition system goes out. Gee, I wonder how that happened. The car stops. They can’t figure out how to start it.
This guy is knocking on the window and says, “Do you have a book?”
The pastor says, “Books! We’ve got about a hundred of them in the backseat. It’s a Bible.”
“It’s a what?”
“A Bible, it talks about God.”
And this guy shares his story. It turns out years later he is now a pastor in Iran winning Moslems to Christ.
Why the Holy Spirit chooses to do that I have asked these guys. These are experienced missionaries. They’re not some off the cuff people. They don’t know why. They guess why. Apparently Islam is so heavily dominating, so spiritually powerful – it’s almost like the Holy Spirit has to do a special work here. Interestingly how it works is a Cornelius Acts 10 kind of situation. Remember the story in Acts 10? It’s sort of like that. It’s happening by the hundreds, by the thousands.
Do you know that the country now that has more converts per day than any other country in the world is Iran? Now that’s the last place you would think to see. This is all going on under the radar. Thankfully the press hasn’t picked this one up. I hope they won’t or they’ll screw that one up. We want to keep this quiet because these believers are taking their life in their hands. Do you realize that Coptic Christians today after the episode in Egypt—now what are the Coptic Christians going to do? If they put in sharia law like Muslim Brotherhood wants to, do you know what it is for a Moslem to convert to Christianity? That’s a capital offense. Now look at this. Now we’ve got thousands of Coptic Christians. They are safe in the sense but if they try to convert a Muslim, now we have a big problem. So a lot of these Moslems who are now Christians are silent believers because they are fearing for their life. We don’t know the dimensions.
I just know a friend of mine graduated from seminary with me led an underground mission in Iran for years and years and years.
He said, “In 1979 when I was thrown out of Iran when Kohmeni took over, I could name maybe 700 evangelicals in all of Iran. Today there are 2 or 3 million in there. So what looks like a bad thing – you just trust the Lord that underneath the bad stuff is some neat stuff going on. It is kind of an encouraging story that this is going on in our day.
Major concept 8—self-government and tribal government and failure to lead in civil authority. The thing I wanted to emphasize there and I rushed over it; you see where it says the end of the civilization that relied upon angelic agencies additional cursing by God and human conscience for social order vastly more extensive human freedom than our present civilization. We don’t know much about the antediluvian civilization but apparently it was a lot freer. They didn’t have authorized civil government. It was probably chaotic. We know it ended in evil.
Where I say under that God’s 3 choices. At the end of the Flood, God had 3 choices. The first choice was He could not change history. Our civilization, the post-diluvium civilization, would have the same destiny as the ante-diluvium civilization. In other words we don’t change anything. So what does that do? That just repeats history. We already know what happened to the ante-diluviums so we don’t want to do that experiment again. So knock out option one.
The next thing is He could have ended history. But if he ended history with the Flood you wouldn’t have had Jesus crucified. Now what happens to salvation? So scratch option 2.
That left option 3—do a new thing. We will explore that a little bit now. So the conclusion of that first session is what we were trying to do with those concepts is generate what the military would call a situational awareness. So here we are. Here’s the situation.
Now in session 2 tonight we come now to the law, God’s revelation and man’s opinion. What we want to do here is we want to think about how these basic ideas that we’ve talked about the fact that the limitations of reason - the nature of reasoning is that reason doesn’t generate ideas. Reason processes ideas. So reason is great. God has given it to us. But He has also given to us for a purpose, which is to analyze what He has given to us, in other words understand revelation.
We dealt with this, the limitations of empirical knowledge that every person has limited knowledge. This should make us humble.
Then we dealt with the fact that in Christianity alone - I have taken graduate courses in two different fields and not once - I had a good science background - not once did any class ever discuss the basis of knowledge. Isn’t this interesting? We never had a class that dealt with the fact that how do you know what goes on in between your ears fits external reality.
It’s not just “Everybody believes that!”
Yeah, but why? If everybody know that and believes it, explain why.
“Duh—I don’t know it just happens.”
This is where the educational system is. It doesn’t give us a foundation for it and the Bible alone does.
So what we want to do now is turn Genesis 9 and we want to pick up where we left off at the end of the flood situation. We are going to look basically at two events, primarily the event that happened right after the Flood. We concluded last time with Genesis 9. This is where God authorizes lethal force. Lethal force was confined apparently to angels. We know the angels had lethal weapons outside of Eden to kill anybody who approached God without sacrifices. So now apparently lethal force is authorized. So here we have the basis for civil authority. Civil authority after the flood is backed up with lethal force. So on your outline paganization of Noahic civilization - civil authority is given the right to use lethal force to protect life. That is momentous historical event.
What this idea says if we think about it carefully – what this idea says is that government isn’t quite what the Founding Fathers who read Locke and the social contract theoreticians in the 18th century - government didn’t come about by a social contract. That was the image that we had and the Founding Fathers used that. But the real story of civil government isn’t that a group (community) gets together they voluntarily give their rights by a social contract to higher people, to an elite. It is rather the concept of government doesn’t start with a covenant (a man covenant); it starts here with the Noahic Covenant. This is the basic concept.
We covered that a little bit under the 8th major concept.
But now we want to go to Genesis 10 and we want to look at another event that happens. Here we come to the 9th major concept. The Tower of Babel is a momentous time. It is treated very seriously in Scripture, so seriously that Babylon becomes the nomen for evil all the way to the future. In the book of Revelation, what do you have? The resurrection of Babylon. This doesn’t go away. It is still with us. So what we want to do is think - what about that event that happened - what kind of idea do we see here in Scripture?
First I point to Genesis10 because in Genesis 10:8:
NKJ Genesis 10:8 Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth.
NKJ Genesis 10:9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD."
NKJ Genesis 10:10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
That’s the first use of the word kingdom in the Bible. So it’s significant that whenever you see the first occurrence of a noun in the Scriptures you want to put on the brakes here and let’s read carefully the connotation of that word. So here we have the connotation of kingdom.
(Question from the audience.)
Number one civil authority is given lethal force.
The second one is every family and tribe had the Noahic Bible.
Prior to this event at Babel, every people group if they were the sons and daughters of Noah and the great-grandsons and daughters of Noah would have had accessible (whether they took advantage of it is another story) but they had available all the revelation we have available from Genesis 1 to 9. I just used that as a kind of category Noahic Bible. All I’m talking about there is the body of revelation that was available to these people. And it’s actually bigger than Genesis 1 to 9 because all of you know whoever read the book of Jude, you’ve got a sermon in the book of Jude in the New Testament by an ante diluvium that’s not in Genesis 1 to 9. So obviously Genesis 1 to 9 is only part of the revelation these people had. The importance of this for missionary work and translation work is this - originally every people group had access to this revelation.
Anthropologists if we study these individual tribes and so forth sometimes stumble across elements that have survived in that tribal tradition. Example in the Chinese alphabet the idea of the Noahic Flood is there in one of the symbols in Chinese script. In Southeast Asia (I forgot the group of people.) they are talking about the creator God whose name was YWA. This was before missionaries came. So here we have fragments of the Noahic Bible that were preserved. A lot of it of course was lost for various reasons.
We are going to go in now to the Genesis 11 section. Here we have the rise of Babel. We could spend a lot of time; but we won’t. The earth had one language, Genesis 11:1-2.
Look what the concern is. What’s bugging them? What’s the problem here?
NKJ Genesis 11:3 Then they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.
NKJ Genesis 11:4 And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."
I think that probably they were afraid of the geophysical after affects of the flood. It was scary to go colonize the earth. This planet had to be re-colonized after the flood if we believe in the universal flood. So these folks were threatened. We have the Ice Age occurring. You have climate change happening. You have all kinds of – you have a hot ocean and the cold sky is full of debris from the volcanic activity. It wasn’t a nice time to be around. So these folks are concerned about their physical environment. They don’t want to leave. They want security.
But the key verse here (the key idea) is found just before that where it says, “Let us make a name for ourselves.” That’s what you want to grab from this. This is the take home idea of Babel.
Jacques Ellul, who was an evangelical French theologian said, “The rebellious people are tired of being named, of being a recipient of a name. They want to name themselves. This means becoming independent. It is the desire to exclude God from His creation. It is solidarity in name, unity and separation from God which was to keep men from ever again being separated on earth.”
In a nutshell what we are dealing here with this 9th major idea is a new form of evil. This form of evil takes the idea that we will unify humanity in independence from God. Today that same evil idea manifests itself in the desire for an autonomous global governance. So Babel is with us. It’s the idea that’s still with us, not towers and so forth. Nevertheless, the idea has remained.
So God has recorded this event to warn is to watch this one. So on the outline you’ll see the 9th major concept is evil manifest itself as Babel; and it’s transformed. Now remember Nimrod is building the kingdom. He is using government for a religious purpose. It’s a key idea, people. That’s why it’s in italics. There is a transformation of the institution of the state that was given as a preservative institution into a redemptive institution of social salvation by works of law created by the socially strongest group. That’s a major new idea in history. It’s a perversion of the institution given in Genesis 9. It didn’t take long for evil to pervert it. But this perversion of the state is with us today. We are looking at government as a savior. That’s not the role of government, people. The role of government is to restrain evil, not to save people. My welfare and your welfare come about from the Messiah. The state isn’t the messiah. Jesus is.
When I was out in Arizona the secretary of Chafer Seminary had a neat bumper sticker on her car.
I already have a Savior. I am looking for a President.
The idea here is that salvation has oouched its way into the theory government. The government can’t save. That’s the problem because hearts have to be changed. We call that and that’s why the title here of Roman 2 here - Paganization of Noahic Civilization.
Babel is taking Noahic civilization (our civilization) near its founding point in history and already profoundly perverting it.
Now we move on to another idea and it should be Roman 3. What did God do in Genesis 12? Right after this episode and I told you to look carefully at Genesis 11.
NKJ Genesis 11:4 And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."
Look at what happens in Genesis 12 when God talks to Abraham.
NKJ Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you.
NKJ Genesis 12:2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
See, clearly from the Hebrew text you are seeing the Holy Spirit working through whoever it was that edited this. He is using the word “name” two ways. In Genesis 11 it’s man. We will make a name for ourselves. In Genesis 12 “I will make a name for you. I am the definer, not you.”
So we have this antagonism that happens.
So with this next development, the injection of an Israelite counterculture, you have for the first time - I call it exclusivism. The exclusivistic idea is an antagonism to a pluralistic society. You and I live in a pluralistic society. We have different people with different religious beliefs and so forth and so on. It’s antagonizing for most people who live in a pluralistic society to hear there is one and only one true religion. That sounds bigoted, doesn’t it? It sounds arrogant.
But here’s the problem. The problem is it’s a defective argument. Here is the argument that most people think of. This is what goes on in your brains when we come to grips with this offense. All knowledge, sort of analyzing what is going on in the brain; but most people don’t analyze it. They just think this way quickly.
First step, all knowledge is derived empirical reality. That is the senses. Two, religious ideas concern extra sensory reality, God’s existence. Therefore religious ideas are a mere private speculation. Therefore no religious idea can claim to be true knowledge; therefore no religious idea can claim superiority.
Now that’s a logical argument. There is a valid argument. But it is not sound logical because the first statement is false. The first statement is stating that God is a silent deity. It’s assuming that God has never spoken in history. So it begs the question. That’s the question at stake - has God spoken in history or hasn’t He? If God has not spoken in history, you’re right. Every religion is just man’s speculation. That’s right. But if God has spoken in history then what He has spoken is the ultimate authority. Therefore God in Genesis 12 what He starts is a new movement in history that we know as the movement of redemption. That continues the idea of revelation. From this point on from the call of Abraham - we are talking of 2,000 years. We are AD 2000 so we are basically talking about for the last 4,000 years God has narrowed His revelational information through the Jews. He’s picked them out. You may not like it. Tough! That’s His chosen people and that is the people that He has chosen to reveal Himself through.
Why has He done that? Well, it sounds bigoted until you ask – Gee, why was that necessary? It was necessary because of what went on in Genesis 10 and 11. The Bible tells us what was necessary. Genesis 10 and 11 shows you what happened with the revelation of the Noahic Bible. People rejected it. They decided to abandon it - all the people groups.
So God says, “Alright! It is obvious that everybody wants to suppress this so I’m going to create a counterculture.”
That’s what we as believers are living on the knife-edge of a counterculture and that’s what makes often times our social relationships uneasy and sometimes full of tension. That’s why even in the New Testament you see that again, John 14:6.
John 14:6 is a verse that led me to Christ.
NKJ John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
That really irritated me as a non-Christian. I struggled with that for almost a year before I realized – wait a minute. If something is true and it conflicts with other ideas then the other ideas must be false. So John 14:6 is the modern present day extension of Genesis 12.
George Peters who was many years Professor of Missions at Dallas Seminary pointed out that missions don’t begin in Matthew 28. Missionary activity begins in Genesis 12. Why? Because if God’s revelation is only here and everybody else is living here that revelation has to be communicated all the way out. So in theory the missionary enterprise starts in Genesis 12. Once God exclusively limits His channel to reach humanity it’s got to be from the Jew out. That is an interesting side to missionary work.
Now we come to another little act that happens here as God develops from Abraham. The next thing is the Exodus/Mt. Sinai thing. You are all familiar with the Exodus-Sinai thing so I won’t go into all the little details; but let’s grab the big ideas here.
What was going on in Egypt? Now you all remember that at Easter time we all see the Ten Commandments and we’re going to be disappointed in heaven when we see Moses and he doesn’t look like Charlton Heston and all our concepts of the pharaoh is Yul Brenner. He made a great pharaoh in that movie.
There was a real conflict going on. When you think about this, pause to think about Moses and Pharaoh. Moses was educated. He wasn’t just a normal Jewish laborer. Moses was educated in Pharaoh’s palace. He was in the royal family. Moses could have been in line for the throne of Egypt. Moses knew the language. Moses knew the law. Moses knew all the traditions of the Egyptians. In fact scholars point out that the Mosaic authorship of Genesis is indicated by the fact that you have Egyptian loan words in Genesis. So it’s clear it was Moses working this thing because he knew Egyptian. He knew Egyptian hieroglyphics. So Moses was a well-educated man, but the problem was the institution of civil government from Babel had become so redemptive that it was tyranny. I’ll show you the dynamics. These are the same dynamics people that are going on today in our country, in Europe, and in Asia.
Here’s what Henry Frankfurt who for many years was the leading Egyptologist at University of Chicago. University of Chicago had the best school and I think they still do in Egyptology.
Pharaoh was the fountainhead of all authority, all power, all wealth. The thing that’s saying Louis XIV was levity and presumption when it was uttered. But it could have been authored by Pharaoh as a statement of fact in which his subjects concurred. It would have summed up adequately political philosophy
What that statement is - I am the state.
Pharaoh was the state. Pharaoh was the divine mediator. We have evidence of this in the artwork. Here’s the pillar. I’ve shown that to you this before. Here’s an Egyptian pillar. The vertical lines on the pillar – here’s the Pharaoh’s name. Now the Egyptian architects and artists are depicting their theology, their political philosophy. On each side you see a vertical line; but if you notice it’s not touching either at the bottom or the top. The artist is very careful. Those are the symbols of authority and rule. But they don’t touch the bottom; and they don’t touch the top. What’s the symbol up here at the top and what’s the symbol down here? Heaven and earth.
Now can you read what the architect has just said? He is saying that Pharaoh is the mediator between heaven and earth. That’s the position that Pharaoh held. That’s why the miracles that God performed through Moses were revolutionary because they showed that Pharaoh could not control heaven or earth. Think about the kind of miracles. He couldn’t control the animals, the botanical area or the zoological area. The Nile turns to blood. Not under Pharaoh’s control! Amazing kind of thing that God deliberately did because He had to break the idea of Babel.
When we read Exodus you want to read it in terms of political consequences. The Exodus is not just a theological story. It’s a legal political story of God breaking the back with a series of miracles of the Doctrine of Babel, that the state is the redemptive power on earth.
“No,” says God. “I am the redemptive power on earth.”
There is an antagonism between God and the state.
Now we have Rushdooney’s comment here which is a fine commentary. I have differences with Rushdooney but this is a good statement. Here’s the idea. Catch this.
Wherever a society has a naturalistic religion
By naturalistic religion he means no revelational authority. It’s just man speculating.
Grounded in the concept of continuity
What he means there is denial of the creator-creature distinction. In other words, just the cosmos. All the gods and goddesses are actors with us in the same one unified level existence.
And this is the key.
Where there is no transcendental law and power in a separate, omnipotent being then power has a holy imminent source in the state group or person and is beyond appeal.
Now look at that. It’s beyond appeal. Rushdooney is not the only one who said that. Those of you who study philosophy have heard of Hobbs. You’ve heard of the Hobbesian dilemma.
But here’s Hobbs. Hobbs said it makes no difference whether the sovereignty is held by one man (like a Pharaoh) or by an assembly (like a Congress). In either case the sovereign of a commonwealth is not subject to civil law because he can repeal the laws that troubles him.
See the idea here? Go back to the statement.
Where there is no transcendental law and power in a separate, omnipotent being
Then power by definition is left to the state or the group or the person. The state becomes the saving power and the source of law.
That folks is what the political controversy is all about. It goes back to the Exodus. Where is the ultimate authority? Is it over the state or is it the state? It can’t be over the state unless there is a god that exists over the state who talks to us. Do you see this? This isn’t a Sunday school story. It is more than that. This thing is a major statement of political philosophy in the Word of God.
Now this didn’t come easy to the Jews as we all know that read these stories.
Turn to Numbers 11. After seeing all the miracle, after going through all this experience look what happens in Numbers 11:4. This is the struggle Moses had. The poor guy! You read the text and you think, “Man, this guy is 80 years old and he is having to deal with this stuff.”
He is he goes through this dramatic separation from Egypt and then here is what the people think.
NKJ Numbers 11:4 Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat?
NKJ Numbers 11:5 "We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt,
Notice handouts, freely.
the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic;
NKJ Numbers 11:6 "but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!"
Think about what is going on here. This is thousands of people saying this.
“We want the redemptive state back. We haven’t left that in our heart of hearts yet.”
This is why when you go to Sinai and you’ve seen this picture before.
Here is Rushdooney again commenting on this.
In the politics of guilt, man will progressively demand of the state a redemptive role. What he cannot do personally to save himself, he demands that the state do for him so that the state as man in large becomes the human savior of man. The politics of guilt cultivates the slave mind in order to enslave men and to have the people themselves demand an end to liberty. True slaves want to be rescued from freedom. Their greatest fear is liberty. As a result the slave mind clings to state slavery cradle-to-grave welfare care as the fearful child clings to its mother. The advantage of slavery is precisely this, security in the master or in the state.
That’s Numbers verse 4f. That mentality had to be broken. As the series unfolds we are going to see how God broke this. It was messy and it was hard but God demanded that these people straighten out and understand.
So in your outline we are going to Roman 3. God lays down the law. This is where we are going now. That last blank under exclusivity is the basis of all missionary and evangelistic work, Genesis 12.
In our concluding time here I want to take you to Deuteronomy 4. Now we come to God dealing with this mentality that I have got to be redeemed by the state. I’ve got to be redeemed by man. God has forgotten me.
In Deuteronomy 4 Moses, this is talking to the next generation. Here is what he says.
NKJ Deuteronomy 4:6 "Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'
Why I am taking you here folks is for the next 2 or 3 sessions, I am dealing with a major idea that’s spreading through our whole culture. I talk to college students. This is what is going on the campus. Here is the idea. Here is the name, social justice. Ever hear that word? Social justice
What I am going to do is we’re going to go to the Word of God and find out what real social justice looks like. I’ve got news. It’s not like what you think it is. That’s the law in the Scriptures. Social justice - we are going to see real social justice. God is going to tell us what social justice is all about. When you get through with it; you realize that instead of asking for social justice, we probably ought to ask for divine grace.
The gospel is tied into this. This is not just a political thing I am doing here. This has relevance to the gospel and I think you see it already.
If the state is the savior, “We don’t need your gospel. Why should I listen to your little gospel stories? The state’s my savior.”
You can’t have it both ways. You have to decide one way or the other.
Here Moses is describing what God has instituted by way of social justice.
NKJ Deuteronomy 4:7 "For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him?
NKJ Deuteronomy 4:8 "And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments
Now watch this verse.
as are in all this law which I set before you this day?
Now what he is saying is that this event of Sinai is the intrusion into human history of what social justice looks like. Nations need to pattern their law and statues after this law. This is the social justice. This is the standard. People have a problem with this. People are furious when you bring up the Old Testament God.
“The Old Testament God is a meany God.”
In fact, not Hitchins but Dawkins in one of the top atheist books now is going around is saying, “The most obnoxious person in literature is the God of the Old Testament. He is a misogynist. He is a hater—”.
He has about 20 different adjectives for the God of the Old Testament.
That is striking because here these guys are worried about social justice. They got social justice revealed and all of a sudden they chicken out. They don’t like it. Well, sorry. That’s the standard of social justice. So that’s what we are going to deal with. God lays down the law that defines for all time social justice. That’s the 10th major idea; the kingdom of God is perfect society on His terms.
So what are His terms? His terms are the Ten Commandments; so we’re going to look at that. God speaks on this mountain.
I want to comment on something here. Just imagine yourself at the foot of this mountain. Just imagine yourself - when we were there we had a little vehicle. These folks are probably a quarter mile away from the base. So we’re not close to the mountain here at this point, maybe a quarter mile or so. It’s not a super big mountain but if you stand with your back like I am and looking this way what you see is a line of mountains going like this with a sort of valley all focused on this mountain. It’s not hard when you are there to visualize that – “Man, God spoke from this mountain.” It must have reverberated all the way down this valley because the valley was filled with people from Egypt.
In Deuteronomy 5 we see what happened when the God of justice actually spoke in history. Look at the reaction in Deuteronomy 5:22. And when we do this also please think of this not as a religious story but as a historical report. Think of it this way. Has there ever been a legal document or constitution of any nation in all of history that was spoken by God so that if you had a DVR you could have recorded it? This is a unique event. Nobody listens to it in history. Have you ever had a – those of you who have had a history course or social studies course, did you ever have the Mt. Sinai event?
“No, it’s just the anchor of Western law. That’s all. We don’t bother with that in the class. That’s religious. God forbid that we should have something religious in our classroom.”
So here’s God speaking in the most unique way in all of history. Never in all of human history has God ever done this again where He spoke publicly like this. I mean God the Father here is speaking. Jesus of course in the Sermon on the Mount expounds it
Look at what happens. If we were there how would you have reacted? How would I have reacted?
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:22 “These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and He added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me.”
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:25 “Now therefore, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God anymore, then we shall die”
Now I don’t know what was going on emotionally with these people but something about that voice jarred them all the way down to the balls of their feet. There was something penetrating about these words. These were ten words not some 2,500 page document that has to be passed so we can see what’s in it. This is Ten Commandments that summarize social justice in ten words.
So what I’ve done on your outline is I analyzed and I’ve shown you this before when I’ve been here. If you look at those Ten Commandments, they form chiasm. A chiasm is sort of like an X. It’s a literary construction that emphasizes the X point; in other words where it crosses. If you look at verses 6 through 10 and verse 21; that’s the first and second commandment. The first and second commandment have to do with God alone is worshipped. But then the 10th commandment is self. It’s talking about coveting. So they are two sides of the same coin.
Then we come to:
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:11 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain,”
That deals with language.
Then you come to verse 20.
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:20 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
That has to do with language. I just noticed this as I was studying.
Then we have:
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:13 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work,”
One of my boys when he was growing up had it reversed – one day you work and 6 days you rest.
This is talking about labor and economy.
Then what do you have in verse 19?
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:19 “You shall not steal.”
—has to do with property – what you gain from labor.
Then we deal with:
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother,”
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:18 “You shall not commit adultery.”
That is marriage and family.
Then at the very center:
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:17 “You shall not murder.”
That’s the value of life.
Now if you take that chiastic structure and invert it you get this. I believe that in the design of human society this is an approximation but I think this is why the Mosaic Law is structured the way it is. We’re going to study about that tomorrow.
Let me highlight this. Down here at the bottom we have the first, second and tenth commandment. What does it deal with? It deals with the heart attitude. Can the state change hearts? No! The government can’t change hearts. That is only the work of God that can change hearts. See where missionary work and evangelism comes in here? You can’t have a social order that is just if you don’t have the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of the people. You can have all the laws and all the regulations you want and you will never get social justice. You can’t do it. You’ve got the flesh; and the flesh doesn’t have justice. So this is a vital point. This makes evangelism and missionary work the essence of social work.
“Oh the fundamentalists! They don’t deal with social problems.”
Oh yeah! We have to deal with the fundamental social problem, right there at the human heart.
Then we come up to the next level of language. Think about this. Can you have a just society and have a perversion of language? We’re not talking here about sloppy talk. That’s true; but you need language to think.
What about if you have a small business and you have a set of books. It’s language, right? It may be arithmetic, but it’s a form of language. How do you run a business if you are cooking your books? How do you have any honest contractual relationship with someone else’s business if they are cooking their books? How do you enter into a contract if the language of the contract is meaningless?
The courts are saying basically that our Constitution in meaningless; whatever the judge said it was last week.
So when you violate language nouns don’t mean, marriage doesn’t mean it fits God’s design and it can mean anything people voted for last week then you have a breakdown of language. Once you have a breakdown of language everything above that level goes away.
Watch. First you have to have integrity of the heart. Then you have to have integrity of communication where people consistently speak the truth. Today those of you- you know if you’ve taken an English course in the last ten years. You know—I was talking to someone else. I forget who it was. You were telling me about going to school here and learning about language. It’s not what the author said; it’s whatever you think. It is how you feel when you read the second paragraph. This is how we interpret literature. It’s foolish. You write a letter to somebody or you send an email, are you telling them you want to emotionally turn them on? Or, are you sending a message that tells them something you want to communicate? That’s the way you use language.
So here God is saying, “I don’t want My name to be spoken in vain.
In other words theological integrity when we talk about the divine Word of God. The Word of God can’t be messed with. That’s why there are commandments thou shalt not to add to it and thou shall not subtract from it. Why? Because it is messing with the language.
Thou shalt not commit perjury. It means that when you are in court and that judgment depends on your testimony; when you can’t tell the truth, the court can’t give just adjudication. The whole court system is based on the assumption there is integrity of language.
Let’s go to the next one. Now we come up with labor and property. Language comes first because if you don’t have contractual agreements; you can’t have labor that is productive. So now once you have integrity of language you can have businesses. You have labor. You have payments. You have economic transactions. Those are not possible if you don’t have language integrity. So once you have that now you have labor and property. Do you know what labor and property are? It’s called wealth. It’s different.
Social justice doesn’t mean everyone has the same level of wealth. Sorry, that’s not in the Mosaic Law Code. I’ll show you what equality is. It’s not equality of income; and it’s not equality of wealth. We earn things; we generate stuff. Businesses - it’s so hard to start a business. Those of you know how hard it is to start a business. People who don’t start businesses have no idea of the risk that is involved; the money you put up at stake. The farmer that goes out and plants his crop. He has all his money in one bucket here. This is a risk and risk should have a reward. So business and labor are necessary. By the way, that’s the 6sup>th commandment.
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:13 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work,”
Once you labor and you have wealth, you don’t steal. You respect property. Property in the Bible is very highly respected.
Then we have marriage and family. You can’t have a marriage and family if you don’t have some way of providing for the marriage and family. You can’t just go and get married and go home and live in your parents’ house and live off their food and money. You got to have the ability to support a family. Now two plus two is four. There is truth here. There is a whole segment of our society that doesn’t have a clue about that. Family and marriage demand some sort of level of wealth and self-support.
Then we have life finally. Families produce life. By life here we don’t mean just physical life. We mean a culture. One of the strong points of your church here, your local congregation, is the testimony of your families and how you’ve been raising for generations children who love the Lord. That’s life as much as just physically having kids. It’s moms and dads. You are the propagators of culture. You are the source of life for a society. It is a vital, vital part to all society.
This is the conclusion that we have. We have the 9th commandment as you see in the outline there. It’s a war between the idea of God’s special revelation depicting what the proper role of the state is versus man’s trying to usurp that role and use it for salvation by works, salvation by policy, salvation by law.
Then we have the 10th commandment where God is now defining what social justice is. Tomorrow we are going to study what social justice looks like from the Mosaic Law Code; and we’ll have little surprises as we compare that neo-Marxist position means social justice means equality of everything.