Law, Grace, and Citizenship Lesson 4
What Real “Social Justice” Looks Like (Part 2)
Labor Day Conference at North Stonington Bible Church
02 September 2012
© Charles A. Clough 2012
(Introduction of Charlie Clough)
Thank you Larry and again I hear the introductions I always so appreciate being here because Carol and I both feel like this is our home church because it was all these years with you folks. We recognize many faces but Larry has given me a cheat sheet (the church directory) so I could remember your names.
We are on session #4 in your hand out. This is part 2 of understanding some aspects of the Law. We are doing this because we’re trying to back out the sense of justice. Our problem here is that God has intruded into history historically with Israel an example, a laboratory, of how to run a nation. It behooves us to go back into the Old Testament understand the Law. You can’t understand the prophets, any of the prophets, if you don’t understand the Law because the prophets were the prosecutors that prosecuted the nation in light of the Law.
This chart that I have here I meant to show earlier. It’s hard to go through Deuteronomy in a clean-cut way. Now I gave you that outline under session 3 of how chapters 12 through 26 go. It’s an attempt to try to organize the material.
What frustrates you is that whenever you are deal with a topic as this chart shows – say the false prophet we’ll look at now; you are also dealing with a group of commandments that are involved. These commandments are interwoven. We’ll see by the way down at the bottom where I have modern socialism; modern socialism is a very direct violation of 8th, 9th, and 10th commandments. This may come to a shock to you; but the 8th commandment is thou shalt not steal. The idea of the government confiscating wealth from certain individuals and passing it to others to equalize the economic status is a form of theft and a clear violation of the 8th commandment. So socialism is built on that. The violation of the 10th commandment is built on envy, the idea of socialist preaching envy against anybody that is successful in society.
The 9th command is violated because in the 9th commandment there is a commandment not to commit perjury, not to lie. Whenever you have a socialist regime you will always inflate the currency. We will get into a passage with that today. When you inflate currency what you’re saying is that what used to be yesterday equal to $1 in value; three weeks from now the dollar is not the same. So you have changed the standard of weights and measures. In the Old Testament this would be considered perjury. We are clearly pushing the envelope in a lot of our political programs all around the world, not just in the United States. We are going the pagan way of simply violating very specific things that God would not permit to be violated in Israel and will not permit to be violated in the Millennial Kingdom when He returns.
So right now in session 4, we are going to deal with the 3rd and 9th commandments. Going back to our chiastic structure here you’ll see that I am pairing these commandments as we close in on the 7th commandment. First you have the first two and then the 10th , which we have already dealt with. Now we are going to deal with the 3rd and the 9th. The 3rd and the 9th deal basically with the idea of language and the integrity of language.
So let’s turn in the book of Deuteronomy. Now we are going to be in 12:32. This is the first chapter in the section where Moses is taking “thou shalt love the Lord they God” and he’s painting for us a picture of what that looked like.
On the chart of the design of society you will see that what we are doing here from the bottom up to the top. We talked about the integrity of the heart. The culture is no better than the heart of the people. The Founding Fathers realized that. John Adams is quoted to have said (I am not familiar right here with the exact place he said this.) – but he said something to the effect that giving a Constitution; but the Constitution will only work if the nation has the heart to obey it. He made the whole success of the Constitution contingent on the heart of people. You can’t get away from that. That’s the way God designed us. So now the next level up - the integrity of communication. So in 12:32 the end of that chapter is really in the Hebrew the beginning of chapter 13. It’s summarizing a principle.
NKJ Deuteronomy 12:32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.”
Now what that is in legal parlance is that’s protecting the stipulations of a contract. God has entered into a contract with the nation Israel. He means what He says and says what He means. It’s defined in clear language. This verse is warning us - you don’t change the language in a contract or you violate the contract. This whole contractual idea sets up what we fundamentalists have argued for years. That is the hermeneutics, rules of interpretation of the text, must be literal. Now we know this. In law today you have whole courts dealing with treaties, contracts, and so on. Everybody knows that in that context you interpret the text normally. It’s funny though when you go to the Federal court level and they deal with the Constitution literal hermeneutics out the window. It’s strange because in one sense the Constitution is sort of an intergenerational contract. We disrespect that when we impose all kinds of ideas into that text. If we don’t like what is in the text, the Constitution has a means called amendment. If we don’t like it; we amend it; but we don’t tamper with the text.
Here what God is saying is, “Look, I don’t like the and I don’t want you changing the text. I don’t want you to add to it. I don’t want you to subtract from it.”
So, here’s that literal hermeneutic. Now obviously language comes up immediately with a prophet. A prophet speaks in language. So the question now is how do we protect the integrity of the language of the prophets because the prophets are the ones who will keep Israel going for centuries. So we have to protect the integrity of the language of the prophet. So here we go.
In 13:1-5 we have an extensive thing here where Moses is going to deal with the issue of language of the prophets.
If you will follow:
NKJ Deuteronomy 13:1 “If there arises”
So here we have a case situation.
among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,
2 “and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’
3 “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 “You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.
5 “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.”
So here we have a false teacher. In this sense we are looking at a man who obviously has done something very persuasive because one of the signs of the prophets would be that they can pull off a miracle or they can predict an event that isn’t necessarily miraculous but it occurs at a precise time and way. So he is talking about signs and wonders. The sign would be what we would call a providentially arranged circumstance. It just happens. But the wonder would be an absolute miracle. So now here we’ve got a problem. Israel is supposed to subordinate itself to the prophets because the prophets replaced Moses. That’s the national guidance. They have no other guidance except what the prophets are telling them to adapt the Word of God to this situation or that situation or receive a message from God.
“Hey guys! You are screwing up over here and I am pointing it out to you.”
So the reason that chapter 13 is so important is that the highest, most important segment of society that is language sensitive is the prophetic level. They drive everything else. So we have the case immediately of what happened.
Well it says in verse 2 that along with the miracle he is teaching a false theology. Now he may not be literally saying, “Let’s go after other gods.” The point is that the content of what he is saying - that’s the summary of theology. In other words he is teaching false theology; and he’s undercutting back to the basic concepts. Remember we said there are ten basic ideas. Remember the first two or three ideas? I showed those slides about epistemic authority. What’s the point there?
Everything depends on your ultimate authority. The case here is that he’s substituting another ultimate authority for the Lord God. This is very serious because if you switch ultimate authorities, you distort everything else that flows from it.
So Moses is arguing - test the integrity of his language against the standard of the Word of God. Notice what this says because this is a directive to a court situation. These guys are coming up for trial. This is a capital crime here. How do you decide a capital case?
NKJ Deuteronomy 11:28 “and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today,”
Moses qualifies that. He says here’s what I mean by another god.
to go after other gods which you have not known.
NKJ Deuteronomy 13:3 “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Now that’s kind of interesting. In church history every major doctrinal advance in the last 2,000 years has occurred because of heresies. It is very humbling to think the only way we got the Doctrine of the Trinity straight was we had a bunch of Aryans running round and Dynamic-Monarchians running around with heresies.
So finally after 400 years the church decided, “You know what? We gotta get this straight.”
So they went back into the text and that’s how we got the Doctrine of the Trinity and Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union. Those didn’t come automatically.
They came because God shoved and He pushed and He said, “I’m going to stick heresy in your face until you guys wake up and go back to the Word of God and understand what I was trying to tell you.”
It is kind of humbling to think He had to kick us in the butt to get us into the Scriptures. But that’s how He does that. You can see that in your own personal Christian life because that’s what happens usually. We don’t learn until we get burned a couple of times. Then, “Oh gee, maybe God knew what He was doing.” Then you know we get serious. So this is the same thing. This is God testing. It is very interesting - these verses here.
“I am testing you. I am testing you to see if you are listening to My language.”
So that’s the test in here. The Lord your God is testing you to see whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind. What’s that? That is the ultimate personal authority.
He is saying in essence, “Israel, when you get this clown doing this, if you really love Me, if you are serious about making Me your ultimate authority; you are going to smell a rat when this thing happens. You’re not going to be deceived because a guy puts on two or three miracles for you. What you are going to do is you are going to listen to his language and you’re going to watch his language compared to what I have revealed in My word.”
So this is a language study.
Then it says:
5 “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death,”
We won’t have time to do this in detail; but if you’ll hold the place there turn Jeremiah 28 and you’ll see a case of how it works out in practice. In Jeremiah 28 we have a false prophet, Hananiah. In verses 1-4 Hananiah as the prophet is trying to advise the political leader the king about what is going to happen in history.
NKJ Jeremiah 28:1 “And it happened in the same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, who was from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the LORD in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying,”
This is talking to Jeremiah now.
2 “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: ’I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.
3 “ ‘Within two full years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the LORD’s house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon.’ ”
That’s false. Jeremiah has already said they will not come back.
“God is going to put us in captivity not for 2 years, but for 70 years.”
So now we have a conflict between the language of Jeremiah and the language of this false prophet.
Then in verse 5:
NKJ Jeremiah 28:5 “Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and in the presence of all the people who stood in the house of the LORD,
6 “and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! The LORD do so; the LORD perform your words which you have prophesied, to bring back the vessels of the LORD’s house and all who were carried away captive, from Babylon to this place.
7 “Nevertheless hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people:
8 “The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied against many countries and great kingdoms -- of war and disaster and pestilence.
9 “As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the LORD has truly sent.
10 “Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck and broke it.”
Because Jeremiah was walking around with a yoke on his neck saying that this country sort of like a billboard.
Everywhere he had gone people wondered, “What has this guy got a yoke on for?”
He is walking around. What he’s showing them is we’re going to be enslaved to Babylon.
“This is God’s sentence for the country and I’m not going to let you forget it. So I am going to walk all over the place whether or not you like it socially with a yoke around my neck and that’s going to remind you.”
So the prophet says, “You don’t have to do that. God is going to solve the problem in 2 years.”
So he breaks the thing off Jeremiah.
12 “Now the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying,”
Now you’ll notice something if you read this carefully. Jeremiah didn’t just spout off against the false prophet. Jeremiah waited until – and this is supernatural- these prophets had a supernatural revelation from God. The Word of the Lord - you’ll read that in the Old Testament.
That’s not “Oh I got an idea and I think the Lord is speaking to me.” That’s not the point. In the Old Testament, there was a literal revelation from God that’s undeniable. God spoke to these guys. So now God is speaking to Jeremiah the true prophet.
NKJ Jeremiah 28:12 “Now the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying,
13 “Go and tell Hananiah, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “You have broken the yokes of wood, but you have made in their place yokes of iron.
14 “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him. I have given him the beasts of the field also.’
15 “Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Hear now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie.”
16 “Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the LORD.’ ”
In that case he was supernaturally executed. So that’s how serious God was in maintaining the integrity.
In your outline you have this blank. This is what? This is the rational consistency test. In other words language fits rationally and logically. That’s a mark of God’s consistency. It’s interesting. I’ve given you sort of a direct translation of the Hebrew down where you see in the outline 13:4. What I did there is I translated the Hebrew in the same word order that it occurs. In the Hebrew language the sequence of the words is a tool to emphasize. Now read with me the bold text after you see 13:4. As you read this let’s think about - what is the emphasis of the text?
NKJ Deuteronomy 13:4 “You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”
Do you get the emphasis? So that’s another example. See how the Hebrew does that for you. It shows you the tremendous emphasis here. It’s on the Lord. So we have that test of the prophet, the language and consistency test.
Now if you go down further in your outline you’ll see the 9th commandment because the 3rd commandment is don’t take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Now in the 9th commandment thou shalt not commit perjury or you will not lie.
So let’s turn to Deuteronomy 19. We’ll see some illustrations of the 9th commandment applied to specific situations.
In Deuteronomy 19:14 and following to verse 21 we have the guarding of evidence (the protection) so that courts could decide and adjudicate cases. So obviously there had to be integrity on the evidence presented in the court and there had to be integrity on the people who participated in the trial.
NKJ Deuteronomy 19:14 “You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.”
What’s that? That’s title. That’s legal title to the land. And it’s a record. It’s a legal record. And Gods says. “I don’t want you to tamper with that.”
Now there is a deeper theology going on here, which as New Testament believers we can appreciate. Do you know what that land and inheritance is all about? It is a picture used in the New Testament to picture our salvation in Jesus Christ. So in the Old Testament protecting the landmarks what they are really doing is giving a physical laboratory display of the integrity of an inheritance. In the New Testament we say we inherit in Christ. That is eternal security. It is not to be tampered with. It is not to be taken away and so on. But the model for that spiritual lesson is found over here in the physical, visible lessons of Israel. So don’t mess with the landmarks because if you mess with the landmarks we can’t decide cases involving law. Where is your property line?
Then he goes on. Here is how they protected the witness of the court.
NKJ Deuteronomy 19:15 “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”
So when you hear somebody ridicule the Old Testament—“Oh, they killed everybody in the Old Testament”—just be reminded of the rules of evidence here. No one could be executed without two or three eyewitnesses. So obviously most murderers were never really prosecuted because they couldn’t fit the rules of evidence.
So God wasn’t after vengeance. He wasn’t after executing people capriciously. He was protecting the process. So this is pretty strict. You had to have two or three witnesses before the matter could be established.
16 “If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing,”
Then they had to deal with perjury. So this is how the Mosaic Law dealt with perjury.
17 “then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days.
18 “And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother,”
So they proved the guy is a false witness. Now what does the court do—because this stops frivolous lawsuits?
19 “then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.”
Does that take care of the false witness? You bet it takes care of a false witness because the trouble he intended to get the other guy into, now he is sucked into it.
20 “And those who remain”
That is the people peripheral to the case.
“shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you.”
Then it adds:
21 “Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”
This is always quoted. This is lex talionis. That is the Latin for this. What it is talking about is proportionate justice. It’s not talking about pulling someone’s eye out. This is proverbial expression of proportionate justice.
So this little passage in Deuteronomy is an example how they guarded and how they protected the language and perjury.
Now I want to turn to Deuteronomy 23 and here is another example of language. We don’t normally think of this. You know when I was studying Deuteronomy; I spent a couple of years studying doing this. One of the things that surprised me when I started going through the text in detail – you know I thought I knew what the Ten Commandments were because they were so simply stated. Don’t commit perjury. Well, you’re not in a court. I’m okay with the 9th commandment. Well, not really. Now we’re getting into the spirit behind the 9th commandment about lying.
We’ve already dealt with a court case. That’s kind of clear. But here in Deuteronomy 23 we have another little thing that involves language.
This discusses a language communication with God; but the application you’ll see how this applies to a modern culture.
NKJ Deuteronomy 23:21 “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you.
22 “But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you.
23 “That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.”
Now what is that talking about? It is talking about a vow to God. It is saying when that you have verbalized to God that you will do thus and such He wants you to perform it. He didn’t ask you to tell Him that; but if you voluntarily do tell God something you are obligated to carry it out. In other words you are a person of your word. There’s the principle involving language.
This principle is important in our society. What happens in a society when people are not people of their word? How do you do business? How can you have a marriage? How can you manage anything if people are not people of their word? This is elementary. This is what we mean by the integrity of language. The whole society collapses when people say things; and they don’t mean what they say.
The problem with this is historically you go back in Greek history there are a group of people (the Rhetoricians) that taught this kind of thing – and the Sophists. This is a whole school of thinking in Greek civilization. It came after they went through a very sobering analysis of truth. These folks back then had thought about how do we obtain truth. They came to a position.
“You know what? We are finite. We’re limited so we can never really know what the truth-truth is. So since we don’t know what the truth-truth is, therefore we’ll use language for something other than the truth.”
If you don’t know what the truth is, what do you use language for? Manipulation - and that was the rise of rhetoric. They taught their students rhetoric. So language then became a tool of persuasion, but not a tool of expression of truth. That’s what a relativistic society will do. What do we see all the time?
All rhetoric isn’t wrong. I mean it is legitimate to try to persuade people. I’m not knocking the fact that language is used to persuade. What I am saying is you can’t use language to persuade if there’s not a standard of truth. Then language becomes simple verbal noise that is the noise of manipulation.
You see, when you come back to the Mosaic Law code this is serious stuff. We’re talking about the nuts and bolts that hold a society together. We’re seeing our culture being disassembled right before our eyes. We as Christian citizens need to be sensitive to where the points are. The unbelieving world isn’t going to be sensitive to this. They can’t see these things; but we can. We need to do whatever we can in our areas where we can do something to guard this.
Parents, when you teach your kids when you catch them in lies, show them some of the consequences of a simple white lie - what it does.
Or when you’re dealing with business situations; and you get into these shady deals. That’s a time for a Christian businessman to sit down with his associate and say, “Let’s have lunch and we want to talk about this.” and share the fact that...
“I’m not trying to pick on you. I’m not more self-righteous than you are. That’s not the issue here. The issue is we can’t do business and have predictability in our economic relationships if we are going to sit here and not be candid and truthful in our language.”
So you appeal to the pragmatics of the situation.
A society that does not have integrity of language is economically inefficient. There are enormous economic costs that have to go in to protect against contract violations. This is an added cost to business that everybody that buys a product in this thing pays for. So we are all paying for this whether we like it or not. So these are basic structures.
Then there is one last passage here in 24:14. This is business: money, labor, and labor agreements. All the 9th commandment people! See! This is the 9th commandment but you can see that there are 100 applications of the 9th commandment in the details of life. So here we’re dealing with employment agreements.
NKJ Deuteronomy 24:14 “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates.
15 “Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the LORD, and it be sin to you.”
When you read that last verse, do you get a sense that God has a sensitivity in His heart? That’s an expression of the love of God. This is the God that everybody says is a meanie old God in the Old Testament. Why is He a meanie? Is this an expression of meanness? Or is this an expression of the fact that we respect people because they are made in God’s image; and we take care of them because they are made in God’s image.
Here’s the poor guy. Obviously today we don’t get paid every day. It’s the point. The point was in that world the guy was living hand to mouth and to withhold his wages was a sin.
God says, “That man is going to talk to Me about you and you know what? I’m listening.”
That’s the threat of the fact that “I’m enforcing the 9th commandment here and that’s part of the 9th. Don’t think that because you didn’t go to court and commit perjury that you are fulfilling the 9th commandment. You’re not.”
This is a violation of the 9th commandment also. It has nothing to do with court. It has to do with a business arrangement. See how each one of the Ten Commandments expands as you go into the details of life. This is what you get out of doing this.
Now let’s go to 25:15. We’ll, look at 13, 14, and 15.
When you go pump your gas did you ever notice on the gas pump there is a star there and usually a seal by the state that this pump has been calibrated by weights and measures? Look at the terminology here.
NKJ Deuteronomy 25:13 “You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light.
NKJ Deuteronomy 25:14 “You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small.
NKJ Deuteronomy 25:15 “You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
NKJ Deuteronomy 25:16 “For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the LORD your God.”
What is God doing here?
We have a National Institute of Standards. It changes its names every once in awhile. When I set my instrumentation up I had to have it calibrated. I had to go through a process to insure that my test results when I presented the data to my customer that it was valid data. How do they know it’s valid data? Because that instrument that I used to measure that was calibrated against NISP standards. There is a standard there. That’s what the argument is.
Now let’s connect this to language. What’s the deal with the standard here? The standard is a measure. We are talking about a volume measure here. That’s what the measure is and the weight is talking about weight. It’s weights and measures. In fact that’s terminology we still use - weights and measures.
Let’s extend this a little further. Why were they using weights? Well they probably measured grain and food by weight. What else do you think they measured by weight? They measured silver and gold which was their currency. So now we’re talking about the integrity of currency. Now do you see why since the western world and all the world has gone to fiat currency, there is no protection of the standard? But there was once a gold backed currency and silver backed currencies. People argue today that they’re just a commodity. We won’t get into all that. All we’re saying is that back in the ancient world if you had a shekel that was made of silver and it had to weigh a certain amount. So if you messed around with the weighing thing, then you could distort the currency. So now you have lost the integrity of your currency.
“Oh gee! I didn’t realize currency was involved in the 9th commandment.”
Oh yes it is. Do you see why it is so valuable to study these cases? You thought the 9th commandment was just a court procedure. You get into the text and it spreads out.
Our time is fleeting here so lets go to the 4th and 8th commandments. Now we are dealing with the 4th commandment which is six days you will labor and on the 7th day you shall rest. The eighth commandment is thou shalt not steal. Both have to do with labor and property, or economic wealth. So what does the Bible have to say there? Think about the command itself.
It says you work 6 days and be off 1. Now there are people who would work 7 days, workaholics. The idea is - what goes through the mind of a workaholic.
“I am so uncertain about my future and so determined that I am going to work my way out of this economic hole that I am going to work 7 days a week.”
But then if I were in Israel, I couldn’t do that. What mentally has to happen for me to obey the 4th commandment? What goes through our heads in real life detail? Why would I have a problem if I’m a workaholic of not working one out of the 7 days? I can’t make money. I can’t make as much money in 6 days as I can with 7.
But what does God say?
“I’m going to take that. What I want you to understand is that labor is necessary but; it is not sufficient to bless you.”
That’s the fundamental lesson that is being taught here in the 4th commandment. It’s honoring work - honoring labor. This is why Greece is such a mess now. They have a 35-hour week and retire at 50. You can’t keep that up.
“Gee, I wonder why we’re having a mess?”
Gee, two plus two is four, folks. This is called arithmetic.
And Europe is seeing this. All southern Europe is in a mess. Greece is in a mess. Italy is in a mess. Spain is in a mess. Portugal is in a mess. They want the Germans to bail them out. The Germans are working more than 35 hours a week.
And they are saying, “Wait a minute! I’m not working for the Greeks. I’m not working for the Spaniards.”
You watch what’s going to happen to the European Union now. The north doesn’t like the south because of this difference in attitude about labor. So what are we going to do with this?
Let’s turn to Deuteronomy 14. We’ll go through some of the restrictions on labor. Look at verse 22 – Deuteronomy 14:22 - talks about tithing here. Now this isn’t the Sabbath per say. But this is using wealth and how God wants us to use it. Under the Old Testament they did not have a progressive tax rate. They had a flat tax rate.
Now people say, “Well, the wealthy ought to pay their fair share.”
Well, I’ve got news. It’s something called multiplication. When you take 10% of a big number you get a bigger number than 10% of a smaller number. That’s the flat tax. That’s how God taxed the society. He taxed it that way so everybody even if they were so poor they could have 5 cents. That’s okay. You’ve got skin in the game. So everybody had skin in the game in Israel – flat tax. It wasn’t just 10% because there were 3 tithes one of which was periodic. Basically it was about a 23% tax.
Let’s look at some of the basic rules here.
NKJ Deuteronomy 14:22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.
NKJ Deuteronomy 14:23 “And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses”
There were actually 3 kinds of tithes. One was to the Levites. The reason the Levites got the tithe is they could not inherit land. They were the recipients of the first tithe.
Now this second tithe is really an interesting one. You watch where the tithe goes. This will blow your mind when you think about - 10% of their annual income went to this. Watch.
They were to take 10% ...
NKJ Deuteronomy 14:23 “And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses”
That would be Jerusalem.
to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
NKJ Deuteronomy 14:24 “But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the LORD your God has blessed you,
25 “then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses.
26 “And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires:
Watch this. This is 10% of your salary for the year ...
or oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.
27 “You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.”
What they are saying is come to Jerusalem before the Lord and have a blast. This is the second time. This was extravagant. Ten percent of the national income was blown away on a YHWH party. What’s going on here? It was a way God had of saying, bringing the whole nation together and enjoying part of the production - before Him though. The idea here is they would be reminded in a physical way how come they got the blessing in the first place.
“Who do you think it was that gave you a salary to begin with? I did. I worked out that and I want you enjoy it. I want you to take 10% and you to I enjoy that ten percent. You could give it away on a pagan thing blow it away on the priesthood. Don’t do that. I want you to enjoy yourself. Buy whatever your heart desires. But do it before Me.”
Isn’t that kind of interesting? Then they had a poor tithe which Christian socialists always argue that the rest of this is a poor tithe. No, it isn’t. Watch ...
NKJ Deuteronomy 14:28 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates.”
It is locally stored.
NKJ Deuteronomy 14:29 “And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.”
That was the local welfare system. It was interesting that it wasn’t just the poor people. It was legal classes of the nation. This was the safety net that they had. They did have a social safety net. This is one of the cases.
But you notice what? When you read the text, where did this happen? In the place where God chose? Was it the central city of Jerusalem or was it the local area? It happened in the local area. Now why do you think the welfare was distributed locally - because the local people knew everybody. There wasn’t a vast bureaucracy involved in this with some centralized government. It was done simply down at the lowest level. See the wisdom of the Mosaic Law? See these principles? Why don’t we apply some of these principles today? We could go on.
Let’s go to chapter 15. In chapter 15 we’re talking about the sabbatical year. Now again particularly those of you who have your own business, think of the economic threat this would be for you and your business.
N KJ Deuteronomy 15:1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts.”
That’s the form of a release.
2 “And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the LORD’s release.
3 “Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother,
4 “except when there may be no poor among you; for the LORD will greatly bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance –
5 “only if you carefully obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today.”
What he is talking about there is a release of debts. I was teaching this one time in Florida and one of the top ten attorneys in Florida in bankruptcy courts happened to be a Christian and he was there.
He came up to me afterwards and said, “Do you realize that the bankruptcy laws in our country come from this passage?”
Wow, that’s interesting. He said the idea of protection from bankruptcy traced backwards came out of this type of thinking, which came out of the Bible. So I thought that was another interesting example of how deeply the Bible in the past has influenced our legal structures. These loans were not loans of business. These were charitable loans given to poor people at zero percent interest, which again is going to have implications here in a few minutes.
So let’s go on. After they forgive the loan - let me show you what happened here. The loan rates - we talk about mortgage rates now. They are very low. But let’s think about interest rates a moment; and let’s think about the implications of interest rates in ancient Israel versus interest rates outside of Israel in the pagan lands.
Now people who think, “O this is just religious stuff ...”
Yeah, maybe this is religious stuff; but it has economically powerful implications.
Watch what happens. This is Gary North’s analysis here. On the left of this chart you see interest rate components. Then you have domestic and foreign – Israel and the pagan nations around. Now on the left you see the interest rate component. Interest rates are set by the loaners because of at least 3 different reasons. This is what sets up the interest rate.
First is the risk of default. That’s where they check your credit report rating and so on. So if there is a risk of default and you are the loaner, you are going to charge higher interest rates if the risk of default is higher. Obviously? Okay!
Let’s go to the next one. You are forfeiting the present use of your money because you’re loaning it to someone else so you can’t use your money. You are loaning it to someone else and they’re using your money. So if you can’t use your money, you could be investing it somewhere else. You charge an interest for that because someone has use of your money that you don’t have use of. That’s the second component that goes into the interest rate set.
Then you have an inflation premium because if the money that they are paying you back is cheap money, you are messed up because you loaned them $1,000 today and they pay you back the $1,000 two years from now. But two years from now it is only worth $900. You have to charge in the interest rate the difference. That’s called the inflation premium. Those are the three things that banks and loans have to deal with to set that interest rate.
Now let’s think about domestic Israel versus the pagan nations. First the risk of default –where do you think it was higher and lower? If you had a godly nation, the people had integrity - isn’t the risk of default lower? What does that do to the interest rate? It lowers it.
Let’s go to the forfeiture of present use of money. If you are pessimistic like the pagans were, that tomorrow might not come, you are going to charge a higher rate because not sure of the future. But if on the other hand you are a godly person in Israel who has the confidence that tomorrow is going to be okay (optimistic about tomorrow), you’ll have a lower interest rate.
Then let’s go down to inflation premium which is what we’ve got here. In the interest of time - but Isaiah 1:22 (You might want to write that verse down. I think I have it in the notes.) - that deals with the chipping of currency, clipping of currency. What they did in the ancient world is they would clip the coins. If there was silver in the coin they would clip it to reduce the amount of silver in the coin and hope you didn’t see it when you weighed the shekel.
Another thing they would do is mix it with silver and dross. Isaiah caught them doing it.
In 1:22 Isaiah the prophet says, “You are debasing the currency because you are mixing dross pen with silver when you are making your coins and your weights.”
So that’s a violation of the 9th commandment.
So if you add this all up and Gary North who is an economist points out - do you know what the interest rates were in the ancient world? Between 20 and 50 percent. This is why you had economic servitude. People got shafted with these kinds of interest rates. Inside Israel we don’t know what it was; but we know all the charitable loans were zero. We presume based on this analysis that when they were godly (Of course they weren’t always godly.) – but had they been godly their interest rates would have been fantastically lower than those of the pagans.
North points out as an economist – this simple little model here shows you that had Israel loved the Lord their God with all their heart, they would have economically conquered the world because their interest rates would be dropped and they would completely have buried their pagan opposition. Jewish businessmen would have it all over all the pagan businessmen because the loan rates to their businesses were spiritual phenomenally lower.
Do you see what we are saying here looking at the Law? Do you see why I am going to the Law here? It is because we are talking about things that affect jurisprudence. They are affecting the economy. They are affecting family life and so forth. That’s the big picture we’re trying to show you here. These details of the Law cover every detail of life.
All right we are going to the 8th commandment. In you outline we’ve gone to Exodus 22. Just keep in mind as you go through these; remember what we said that Moses in Deuteronomy 4 said, “What nation has statutes and judgments as righteous as this?”
I think after 3,400 years we are still in agreement.
Okay, here they deal with theft. Today let’s think about this before we look at the Mosaic model. He we have some clown that he goes out. He’s 17 or something and he thinks he’s hot stuff and he steals a car. Let’s think about the cost involved. He steals the car. Maybe he goes out and drives it and wrecks it. Now, do we have a cost? Well, we have the cost of the car, the damage to the car. Now the owner of that car has car insurance. So now how is the cost of that crime passed to society at large? Through the insurance rate. So now everybody is paying for the theft, aren’t they, with higher rates on their automobile insurance. But that’s not the end of it.
Now we have a court case. Who pays for the courts? You do. We do. Taxpayers! So now we’ve got another cost. We’ve got the cost of the damage of the car; we’ve got the cost of administering the whole bureaucracy of the court system. Then what do we do with the guy? We put him in jail. Now that another little $35 to $40,000 bill a year for 2 years or so. So this is a great solution to theft, isn’t it? This is really economically beneficial. We raise our auto insurance rates, we have higher property taxes to support the court system and then we are out for $30 to $40,000 for two years. That’s only $80,000 that we’ve generated over one measly kid stealing a car. See why we are fools?
Why don’t we ask ourselves - when God ruled Israel He knew there would be theft. What did He do about it? Here’s what He did about it.
NKJ Exodus 22:1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep.”
And this was a big deal. We have automobiles; but what was the ox used for? That was their tractors.
“and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep”
That’s called restitution. Now if that 17-year-old kid had to buy 4 cars for the person that he stole from, do you think he might learn something?
NKJ Exodus 22:2 “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed.
3 “If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
4 “If the theft is certainly found alive in his hand, whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double.”
These are different kinds of cases.
5 “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed, and lets loose his animal, and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.”
He goes on. That’s how theft was handled in the Old Testament. That’s how God said a society should deal with theft – restitution - not taxpayers, not financing the court system, not paying for a massive penology.
Governor Huckabee said the other day that there are 3 things that are bankrupting states in America. Do you know what they are? Educate, incarcerate and medicate. Those are the 3 big things in every state budget. We are talking now about incarceration. Why do we incarcerate non-violent people instead of using restitution? What is our problem here? Yes, you have to pay for administration. You’d have people in parole to make sure that the wages were garnished. Maybe you would throw them in jail if they didn’t pay for it. But the point is you reduce costs by the wisdom principles of the Mosaic Law code. So, that’s restitution.
Now there is one thing we want to go to. Turn to Exodus 22 and look at verse 24. Let me describe the passage. There’s a passage. I think it’s in Deuteronomy instead of Exodus. The idea is this. We have a saying “finders keepers, losers weepers.” But in Deuteronomy that’s reversed. If you find your neighbor’s property, you are to hold it until you find its owner. That’s a positive thing and it’s interesting. The 8th commandment says don’t steal. You can think of yourself as innocent because “I didn’t steal anything.”
God says, “No, you’re not necessarily innocent.”
The issue is did you care for private property and if you find something that is lost you are to take care of it, not confiscate it. In this case it was a donkey or an animal.
It’s Deuteronomy 22. That’s the big idea. That’s the positive side of a negative law. Just because you hear the law stated negatively doesn’t mean the spirit of the law is being fulfilled.
NKJ Deuteronomy 22:1 “You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly 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 own house, and it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him.”
That’s economically a problem because now you’ve got to feed the animal and take care of it and it’s out of your pocket. That spirit of honoring other people’s possessions is part of the 8th commandment.
So in conclusion as you look on your outline we’ve looked at the first, second and tenth commandments. And, we’ve looked at – the ultimate authority has to be honored. What is going on in the heart of the people?
The next level up is the integrity of language. That applies to communicating the Word of God. It applies to records. It applies to accounting. It applies to court proceedings. It applies to vows, contract promises, employment agreements and exchanging weights and measures. So what doesn’t appear at first, we start seeing all the case laws you where this case works.
Then the 4th and 8th imply labor and property are economic issues necessary for society to exist. Tithing, sabbatical rest tested the owner’s faith in God. Loans were limited to prevent debt slavery. Property was respect as owners unto the Lord.
We didn’t have time but those verses—you out to go into 1 Samuel 8, 1 Kings 21 because both of those deal with the government confiscating private property. They are case studies of what happened when government in Ancient Israel tried to do that. They had a little problem.