Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1996
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 2: Buried Truths of Origins
Chapter 6: The Covenant: The Buried Truth of the New World
Lesson 25 – Implications of the Covenant for Man:
The Re-Installed Third Divine Institution (Family) and the
New Fourth Divine Institution (Civil Government)
25 Apr 1996
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
We’re continuing on the event of the Noahic Covenant; we’ve looked at this event as the fourth one in our sequence, the four great events of early Genesis, creation, the fall, the flood and the covenant. These four events shape the rest of the Scripture. These four events basically give you the world view that the rest of the Bible assumes is true. The problem we have in our modern world, anyone who’s gone to school knows very well that all this is categorized as sheer mythology; it’s a mark of a well-educated person today to scoff at this particular background. The problem with doing that is that you’ve doomed the rest of the Bible, because it is here where the great doctrines of who God is, who man is, what nature is all about, the whole issue of suffering and evil, the issue of judgment, salvation in the flood, all of those issues are defined for us in this section. So this is why when we come to the Noahic Covenant, we want review what we’ve learned out of this event.
The first thing we learned, in order to have a covenant, which is unique to the Scripture, always remember that no other religion on the planet ever speaks of God making a public contract with His people, that is an absolutely unique feature. That’s not an accident, because in order to have a covenant you have to have two parties speaking to one another, and in order for God to make a covenant of the kind that He makes, you have to have somebody who is sovereign, who is omnipotent and has the divine attributes, otherwise it would be a contract with a lesser God and it would be a lesser contract, it would not be an absolute contract.
So we’ve emphasized the Noahic Covenant, and said that it speaks both to man and to nature. It gives a specific content of how God rules nature. We abstractly found that out in Genesis 1–4 because in those chapters we had instances of declaration, that God is omniscient, that He is omnipotent, He is sovereign, but when you get into the Noahic Covenant you actually have Him signing a verifiable contract that the physical, the geophysical universe will be run with certain boundary conditions on it. It will not do certain things, there will not be a global flood on planet earth, and you can quickly infer from that promise that in order to keep that promise God would have to control the movement of every astronomical body in the universe, because, for example, if you have an asteroid getting loose and the gravitational field of an asteroid passing by the planet earth would cause global tides so you’d have global flooding. So it’s quite clear that in order to maintain the validity of that contract that God must be sovereign, omnipotent, etc.
This doctrine of nature means that from the time of the flood until the time of the return of Christ there are constraints on the universe. It has to operate in a more or less tranquil way. We said that’s a two-edged sword because it means that when we scientifically observe what is going on now, we can’t run it backwards, we can’t always go back in time and say gee, I wonder what it was like before the flood because before the flood we were under a different regime, we don’t really know how God ruled geophysically in those days. So that complicates the whole issue of getting past history, as we’ll see in some of the appendices that we’re going to cover.
That’s been our review of nature, now we come to man. God, after the flood, reconstitutes the divine institutions. In our society today the prevalent opinion is that these divine institutions aren’t divine institutions, they’re arbitrary conventions. We listed three of them, the first one is responsible dominion that man is given, by that man is constituted as the lord of nature, little “l,” that man is the master of nature, and man can be an evil master or he can be a good master, but he will always dominate, because man was made to dominate. This is why cities are built, machines are made, inventions occur, this is why artists do their art, why musicians do their music, man was made to have dominion and to produce, and he will do it evilly or he will do it in a godly way, but he will always do it, and he will be judged by it. This is the origin of economics, it’s the origins of dollar values, the origin of pricing, all kinds of things come into this.
The second divine institution is marriage; God did not make Adam and Steve, God made Adam and Eve. The point is that we have a gender difference, and the gender difference was ordered in certain structure, and that’s the structure. It’s not arbitrary, it wasn’t created by majority vote, it’s not tradition, it is an institution that lines up with both genders.
Then there is family, and we want to deal a little bit with that because we want to move on to the fourth institution which we want to talk about in detail. The first family obviously was Adam and Eve, but on page 95 of the notes we’ll point out some things about the family after the flood. This family is responsible for all of the races and nations today. We don’t know exactly what the family looked like but obviously you have Noah, his wife, his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and they have wives. It’s kind of elementary, but if you look at this, obviously if all of these three sons are sons of this man and this woman, they obviously are genetically closely related to Noah and his wife, so a lot of the genetic differences were given through the women. It’s no accident that you can read in mythology a faint memory of Noah’s family.
It shows up in various mythologies in terms of what they call the great matriarchs. Tribes on many places of the earth have this tradition; it’s shown in art by the four colors, there’s the white matriarch, the black matriarch, the red matriarch and the yellow matriarch. Scholars puzzle over this and wonder what is all this about. We don’t know, except there appears to be a hint, and I’m not suggesting this is doctrine, I’m just saying it’s very interesting, there were four women that came out of that boat, and ancient history keeps talking about these four women. Were these the same four women? We don’t know that. But it’s plausible.
Out of this we have the nations. One of the things that we Christians often forget about Noah, we diminish this man; we forget that he was more than a survivor of the flood. Noah lived 360 years after the flood. What was he doing after the flood? The destiny of Noah is given in Genesis 9-10, and nation after nation is given there. Noah and his sons were nation builders. The reason they could do the phenomenal things they did and the reason they could produce what they did in such a short time was because of their unique longevity decline that was occurring in their time. During that time period, for the first three, four or five generations after the flood, something happened in earth history that never happened again, and never occurred before. Between the flood and generations close to Abraham, notice something happening to the longevity curve, it’s declining rapidly. It was not declining before the flood. After that the curve flattens out, but in this period there was a very tight decline in the curve.
It’s amazing, this curve has been around since the Bible, that so few people have ever thought about the implications of that curve. The implications are enormous for understanding what went on and why civilization literally exploded so fast. This has been a puzzle for students of history, why all of a sudden you seem to go from an agrarian thing, or the evolutionary idea of a gorilla and his bananas, up to building pyramids. How did we get all this knowledge so fast? If you think about what was going on with this curve you realize that Noah and his three sons lived way down into these generations, whereas people born down here, with this longevity, were also dying at the same time.
When you get down to this point in history, within a century or two, everybody died of that original group. Not only did the grandparents die, the fathers died, the children died, everybody died. This is why this path seems so mysterious, and why we can’t unlock a lot of the mythologies. You say these were intelligent people, what do they mean by these pictographs, etc. It’s all lost because that whole generation, those whole 3 or 4 generations died and they all died simultaneously, and what was interesting was that the grandparents probably outlived their grandchildren. This is a phenomenon unknown. This is why the euhemerists that I mentioned, Dr. Pilkey following them, have argued for years that this is why gods and goddesses were worshiped in mythology. What they were doing was worshiping the powerful, the physical and intellectual capacities of these people.
In Genesis 9 is an incident that occurred in this first family. We want to mention what is called “the oracle of Noah.” The Bible could have given us the glories and the grandeur of Noah as the great nation builder; He could have done that. But the Holy Spirit chose instead to give us a detailed genealogy in Genesis 10-11 and create this incident of Noah getting drunk, being naked, and having Ham, one of his sons, go in when he was naked, etc. and then he curses, not Ham, but Canaan. There’s a strange thing that goes on here. We want go through that because it’s preparatory to the final area I want to cover. We’re still talking about the family, the reconstitution of the third divine institution. The family after the flood is given this unique privilege of founding the nations.
What happens here is Noah has a lapse, we call it the Noahic lapse among scholars, I just call it the sinful incident. Two things to observe about this incident, one was that he drank of the wine and became drunk. There’s nothing wrong, per se, about wine, the point is misuse of wine, and that alone shows the problem that misuse, or proper use, of the creation that God has given depends upon us always following His directions. Right away we have a genius, a physical and intellectual genius compared to us, and he screws up, because he is not wise in and of himself. In and of himself, as great as these men were, these great founders of nations, they had no wisdom apart from God so right away you have a misuse of the creation, through sheer folly. Then you have he became drunk and uncovered himself in the tent, etc. People read Genesis 9:22-23 and then they wonder why the skip over in Genesis 9:25 to cursing Ham’s son, Canaan.
 “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.  But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.  When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.  So he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.  He also said, Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and Let Canaan be his servant.  May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and Let Canaan be his servant.  And Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood.”
The answer is that God never curses a son for his father’s sin, unless the son continues in his father’s sin. That’s why in the Ten Commandments, I am the God who visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children, etc. etc. Who was Canaan? Think about who would have read this Bible and this script. The answer is the Jews were going into the land at the time Moses wrote Genesis. The Canaanites were depraved, and if you look at Dr. Ross’s quote on page 96, “as part of the theological justification for Israel’s subjugation of the Canaanites, this passage had great significance… The Torah warned the people of the Exodus about the wickedness of the Canaanites in terms that called to mind the violation of Ham …. The constant references to ‘nakedness’ and ‘uncovering’ in this passage in Leviticus, designating as a people of Canaan, as a people enslaved sexually, clearly reminds the reader of the action of Ham, the father of Canaan. No Israelite,” and this is the key, “who knew the culture of the Canaanites could read the story of their ancestors without making the connection.” What is the point? The point is that tendencies in the first family, both with Noah and his sin of lapse, were going to be propagated down to his sons, in particular one particular wart, one particular sin in that family was going to develop and it was going to come to fruition by the time this man lived. It was going to become such an issue that this subset of the Noahic races, of all the races of the nations, this subset, the Canaanites, were to be eliminated. It’s a picture of God’s justice, that to save the rest of the human race He annihilates this. This is biblical genocide, no question about it, you can’t apologize for it, it’s there.
Let’s look carefully at it again, the point is that we know at least one Canaanite woman that married into the line of Jesus Christ—Rahab. So how do you explain the fact she survived? Answer: because she trusted in the Lord. Any person, in any one of these three lines, who trusted the Lord, would be free of the curse. It’s quite clear from the Old Testament that it worked that way. These are just generalized statements saying that whenever the lineage, and Canaan was a particularly bad one—the Canaanites descendants in history are the Carthaginians, the Phoenicians were their descendants, and the Carthaginians were eventually wiped out by the Romans, so all down in history this line has been cursed because of a tendency that develops, not because God had something against them, it’s not that at all. The fact is that they have a sin tendency that has got to be dealt with, either by faith or by extermination, for the sake of everyone else. It’s like a quarantine. One other thing which we don’t have time to get into is the different nations that come out of these sons. That’s a study in and of itself.
However, we can say that each of these three sons has a role to play in history, and Adam, or the human race, cannot be complete without all of them. In the notes, page 95, “Out of this first post-flood family arose 70 nations” listed in Genesis 10. “This pattern of 70 nations was designed by God to anticipate the pattern of 70 sons of the redeeming family of Jacob, Deuteronomy 32:8” a fascinating reference, one of those things you read quickly, pass right on and never think about, but think it, why is this in the Bible? It’s a strange note about the shape of history. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the people according to the number of the sons of Jacob, or the sons of Israel. Those were 70; it’s interesting, and it’s no coincidence, that it’s 70 nations also listed in Genesis 10-11. It means there’s a pattern and a structure to history.
We westerners always think of statistics, we think of the human race as some sort of incoherent blob that just statistically and randomly distributed around the continents. Americans particularly do this because we are a melting pot, we’ve got every gene that Noah ever thought of in this country, that’s the way we are and we are a unique nation for that. But in many other nations they’re not, they’re much more restricted.
My Japanese daughter-in-law takes us through Japan, you get off the plane in Tokyo and everybody’s got black hair, and everybody’s smaller, it’s very homogenous, and this is culturally stunning to a person like myself, when I look around and we have big and little people, fat and thin people, every kind of people. So we aren’t used to that, but my point is that there’s a structure in this, and every one of these sons has a strength, every one of these sons has a weakness, and the interplay among these sons is the key to history. Christ will not come again until He has representatives from all three of these.
That’s why in the Book of Revelation all the nations are represented there. There has to be a complete redemption in every sector of Noah’s family because that’s an outworking of the covenant. There’s a fantastic structure to history. It also prevents all kinds of racisms from developing because you can’t have pride of one race over another when they all came from the same boat. It’s precisely the loss of biblical absolutes and biblical narratives that everyone laughs at, “it’s all myth,” but watch what happens when you release control from this and you go to some sort of statistical history and all of a sudden you get the problem of racism that’s developed. Where does this come from? It comes from pride. Every race has racism in it; it’s just a sin, a common sin to all races. The Bible’s answer to that is we all have the genes of Adam and Eve, and in particular we all in modern civilization share the genes of this one family. We all come from this one family.
In the incident of the vineyard, and you say well, God have chosen to tell us how they started pyramid building, how they did the Ziggurats, how they did irrigation, early medicine, the Egyptians were drilling teeth, we have cavities that are filled in the skulls of the Pharaohs, we have skull surgery being done, little holes in the skull so it shows they were doing brain surgery centuries before Jesus. We have all kinds of these inventions and technologies. God could have chosen to do that, but the one thing He remembers is this little incident. Why this incident? The answer, as I say on page 96, is to give us a warning. “By revealing this flaw in civilizations founding family, the Bible warns that cultural glory of the Noahic cosmos lacks spiritual life. Mighty though the Noahic nation builders might be, impressive though their technological accomplishments appear, they were still fallen men in absolute need of spiritual salvation. Not only would their diet require the sacrifice of life, but descendants who unrepentantly followed in sin would themselves be sacrificed. Ham’s sin, nurtured in Canaan, demanded that Canaan be one day exterminated. The Noahic family of nations would have to pass through a future purging of all unbelief, a purging yet to come on a global scale with the return of Christ.”
As a result of all this and the result of the interplay of sin, we come to a new divine institution that was not present prior to the flood. This is the fourth divine institution, we can call it different names, kingly authority, or you can say kingdom authority, another way of calling it civil government, the power of civil government. This was the introduction of capital punishment. People object to this, but notice on page 96 the quote from Genesis 9, it is very parallel to the commission to be carnivorous in diet, to go ahead and eat the meat, but the life of the flesh you drain out, kosher type operation. It doesn’t mean every drop of blood has to be out, it’s just a respectful way of the fact that you don’t chew an animal that’s alive, with all of its blood and guts, disregarding it, it’s being sensitive to the fact an animal had to die that you might live. The whole Noahic cosmos is designed on the principle of substitutionary death. We don’t like that, but substitutionary death is a principle that applies to diet and it also recurs with capital punishment.
In Genesis 9:6 when God authorizes capital punishment, notice His reason for doing this. “Whosoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed. You say that’s vengeance killing. No, it is not vengeance killing, look at the context, “Whosoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.” Why? There’s an explanation, here is the reason, “For in the image of God He made man.” That is very difficult for a modern reader to understand, why does God require capital punishment for murder? The answer is given, because every man or woman who is murdered was made in God’s image. When you kill an animal to eat, you have to exercise respect for the animal, God says, an animal gave up their life for you. When a human being is killed an image of God has been destroyed.
There’s a reference in Daniel where Nebuchadnezzar set up a statute of himself and had everyone worship it, it was common in the ancient east. It’s a mutilation of a true fact that God set up, as it were, a statue to Himself, it’s called man, and those who murder, it’s a hatred that has come to an enormous powerful expression, and when that happens, what God says, I want murder to be judged. When He does this, this is the central authorization of all civil power. The power of civil government rests not in a vote, this is where we’re going to differ politically, between the Bible and paganism, paganism always wants to root government in rights, or root government in votes, or root government in constitutions, and they’re all there, I’m not knocking it, but I’m saying that when God instituted the authority to take life, that was the origin of civil government. Government may do a lot of other things, but the basic function from the very beginning was the sword.
On page 97 read how this was remembered in pagan culture. “The Sumerian king list attests to the [new dispensation of human government], claiming that ‘kingship descended from heaven after the flood.’ ” Many pagan nations remember this; they keep talking about kingship coming down from heaven. “This descent of power was far more like the Christian Pentecost than we can imagine. It’s universal Gentile symbol was the ‘Ka’ sign, the pictographic image of a man with arms outstretched at the elbows.” In Egyptian art you will see figures in the art with their hands up and it looks like they’re praising God, but if you look carefully at the art, they’re not praising God, because usually in the art just above the head and the hands you’ll see something like this, and you’ll usually see indications that the crown is descending, it’s as though man is reaching up to receive this descending crown from heaven. It permeates mythology.
So what Pilkey is pointing out is just an observation, that this act, whatever it was that occurred after the flood, was some bestowal of sovereign authority. We know that before the flood in Genesis 4 angels had the power of the sword. But it was not to be exercised against murderers, because Cain murdered and God said I will protect him, I am not giving you people the power to take life. Then after the flood He says I am giving you people the power to take life. Something changed. We’ll deal with that as we get more into Psalm 82 and some of the arguments of capital punishment.
What we’re talking about here has some repercussions in the real world, we’re not talking about some fairy story disconnected from reality, the Bible is connected to the real word. So tonight I’ve asked Gary who was in the Baltimore County Homicide group to share some of his experiences as a policeman with the sin of murder.
Gary: I’ve made it a practice to try to forget the last five or six years of my experiences, but from 1990 until four months ago I was a supervisor in the homicide unit with Baltimore County police, and I thought after fifteen or sixteen years I’d seen everything there was to see in human depravity, and coming from a Christian family in a rural setting I’ve lived a very protected life. Then after 1990 being asked to come into the homicide unit, it began a whole new chapter of discovery. It was amazing, absolutely amazing, the kind of shock, at least on a weekly basis that will take your sleep away, cause you to have hypertension, it will do a lot of things to you and it actually consumes the person who engages it.
Charlie has asked me to share a couple true stories with you, and it wasn’t hard to think of three quick stories just to illustrate how depraved people can be. The Farmer’s Bank, 1992, about 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, three ladies were working there as tellers, two young men, we found out later these young men both had college backgrounds, had a thriving business, their parents were affluent people in the community, they had bank accounts at this bank. They walked in, announced a hold up, filed the three ladies into the vault, and forced them to lie down face down in the vault, a small room about 6x6. They removed the cash from the registers; much of this was captured on film, then one of them walked over to the ladies and began systematically executing them, the backs of their heads. Two died immediately from their injuries, and the shot went through the third lady’s neck, into her shoulder, came out of her elbow, and she was able to get to a phone.
A witness outside the bank saw a car speeding away and the Lord had to orchestrate this, and we acknowledged this back at the office later that evening, but there were two plain clothes detectives that happened to be in the area heading toward the bank when the broadcast came out for the vehicle wanted in connection with this bank robbery, and they caught in their peripheral vision a car parked by a dumpster, and two gentlemen were changing clothes, throwing items into the dumpster, and they arrested these two gentlemen within ten minutes of the incident. It was just one of those incredible cases that in hind sight we knew the Lord orchestrated those arrests.
That scenario just didn’t add up, how these young men with good backgrounds, with solid educations, with a thriving business, with no criminal history, could engage in such an act. I’ve always told folks I don’t have to explain why, I just have to explain what happened, because I can never explain the depths of depravity, what caused people to do this to three ladies who were just doing their job, I can’t explain it. We prosecuted the principle in that act, both were convicted, we prosecuted the principle under the death penalty, they got a change of venue and the judge felt that there was reasonable doubt that he was in fact the trigger person because they were both covered in masks. So he used that out to spare this young man’s life and gave him life without parole.
I can’t explain why these things happen. We generally handle about forty homicides a year, which is minimal compared to other jurisdictions but it kept us very busy. Another case comes to mind, we got a call one morning about 10:00 of a found body in an apartment, and we got to the apartment and in hindsight this is what occurred. A gentleman, estranged from his wife and two sons, had agreed to baby-sit the two sons while she went out the night before. During the course of her being out on the town, him being home with their two sons, something went on in his mind, we can only explain as domestic passionate dominance that men tend to have over their wives and families, but when we arrived the next morning, his wife was stabbed multiple times, laying face up in the living room of the home, and on the second floor we found two young boys, about five and seven years old, both had their hands bound behind their backs, duct tape around their faces, and both boys were stabbed in the chest multiple times; this was his own flesh and blood. Some of our detectives had a problem dealing with that, which happens frequently when children are involved because most of us have small children and we identify with that event, and often we have to give people a break, get them away from for a while. That was a case of domestic dominance, and his fears or his paranoia that his wife was out with someone else, she didn’t arrive home till about 4:00 a.m. and something tripped this guy. We got him through using America’s Most Wanted, and he was hiding with a new friend he had made and she finally came forward and gave him up.
One last story from another direction, every year in that unit things became more and more violent, and we began to see over the last two years a predator kind of criminal particularly associated with the drug trade, but this predator criminal preys on other drug dealers and essentially what they do is identify soft core drug dealers and kick their door in or shoot them down in cold blood and take their drugs, they prey on other drug dealers, under the presumption that one drug dealer is not going to complain if he gets robbed, so the police aren’t going to be involved, so they prey on each other. We got a call one morning of a gentlemen and his wife, just married, moved into their own apt., both working, he went out to start his car on a cold morning, his car was found running about 9:30 which spawned some phone calls to check on his wellbeing and upon checking he was found in his apartment, his feet were bound by shoestrings, his hands bound behind his back, his mouth was duct taped, he had a plastic bag over his head, steamed up inside indicating that he had suffocated, he had a couple stab wounds to his neck, and around the corner his wife had met a similar demise, her throat was cut more deeply and her bag was not steamed up. But they had been targeted by a predator drug rip off type, and they had agreed to store a small quantity of drugs at their apartment in exchange from money from a friend. Because they stored those drugs they became targeted by these predators that decided to hit them for their drugs. Their crime in this was storing a small quantity of drugs for a friend, and they died because of that. I can tell stories all night long, but the depravity, and why the Lord would put me in a situation to experience all that I don’t understand, maybe someday I will.
Clough: That’s the outworking of sin in the human race, and this is why the Lord has given and has commissioned civil government to exercise authority.
I want to start with Genesis 3:24 where the sword first appears and walk through some of the key passages in the Bible as to who has his hand on the sword’s handle. [blank spot] “So He drove the man out; and at the east of the Garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Originally it appears that angels had, at least these angels did, the authority of enforcing God’s laws. Whether it is so, this is again speculation, whether it is true that it was because of this authority that led to the problems I’ll show you, we can’t tell. But in Genesis 4:13-14, where Cain, the first murdered, and it didn’t take long for the human race to learn how to murder, the first son in the first family was the world’s first murderer so it’s been around a long time. “And Cain said to the LORD, My punishment is too great to bear!” He was exiled to a nomadic existence.  “Behold, Thou hast driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Thy face I shall be hidden, and I shall be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and it will come about that whoever finds me will kill me.” That’s an interesting statement. Why did he say that? Because no government had been given, it was a fact that there’s an inherent moral revulsion in the conscience over murder, just an inherent moral revulsion and Cain realized it and their consciences were a lot more sensitive than ours because they were a lot closer to the point of creation. Then in verse 15 we have this strange statement, “So the LORD said to him, ‘Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, lest anyone finding him should slay him.” At that point there is no exercise of a sword in judgment against the sin of murder.
Let’s go further, we have the strange passage in Genesis 6:2 where it says that the angels, “that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever thy chose.” Genesis 6:4, “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days,” it’s a difficult passage but it seems pretty clear from the Hebrew language that you have some sort of an intermarriage going on here between angels who had materialized and human females. And what was going on we have no details, though in 1 Peter 3 we’re told that when Jesus died He descended to hell, but it’s not hell, it says that Jesus went to a place called Tartarus, and Tartarus is used in the Greek language for the lower areas of hell. So Jesus descended in His spirit, and He went to this place called Tartarus. 1 Peter 3:18 and we have again one of these mystery passages in the Bible, it’s so tantalizing and it just leaves you, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.  In which also” i.e. in the spirit, “He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,  who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark.”
It’s a strange passage, but it appears that He went and He made an announcement. It’s not the word for preaching the gospel here, it’s just an announcement, that He went here and there were certain spirits that were incarcerated in Tartarus, and when Jesus was successful on the cross, and died, He went down there and made an announcement. Theologians have speculated, what was the announcement? The best speculation you can come up with is “I made it, you people tried to stop me, you people tried to interrupt the flow of redemption in human history, but I made it,” it’s a victorious proclamation of the fact that the cross was successful. Which then, by way of implication, makes you think that perhaps the angelic beings, whatever was going on in the days of the flood, there was a far more diabolical agenda going on than it first appears, that perhaps this was sort of a genetic manipulation to destroy humanity itself and prevent God from incarnating in a genuine human body. This could be. We have these strange things, there’s also a passage in Jude, that something happened at the time of the flood to cause the establishment of this new institution, and it was this new institution that particularly was given the authority to take the sword that previously only angels could wield and begin to use that sword.
Turn to Romans 13 because it’s a New Testament passage, and people often say but this was Old Testament, that Old Testament is so fierce but in the New Testament it isn’t. Not at all. The fourth divine institutions of civil government continues in New Testament times. Romans 13:4 is the classic statement. “For it is a minister of God to you,” he’s talking about rulers and civil authorities, he’s not talking about the church here, these aren’t the elders, it’s not the church, “to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.” Then it adds an interesting statement,  “Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.” So civil government acts as an addition to, on the inside you have inner conscience, which is the thing that corresponds to God’s holiness in the spirit of man, you have on the inside conscience but conscience alone was insufficient to prevent the domination of society by evil.
So the answer to the grand experiment before the flood is that anarchy, i.e. minimum government, no government authority, yields mob violence. It always has. Anarchy will always yield mob violence, and that’s what happened prior to the flood, total out of control mess. People can say and resent it, they can resent the military, they can resent the police all they want to, but every time you see a policeman, every time you see a soldier, you are watching civil power. They are the civil power, and it is a reminder, just as every time you eat a piece of meat, that this civilization since Noah’s day, people die in order that life might go on, and the life of the murderer is taken in order that the life of everybody else be saved. It’s very clear that that’s the justification in Scripture. You may disagree with it, but that’s what the Scripture says, and we’re left there.
If you come over to page 98 we’ll talk just a little about arguments and objections to capital punishment. There are three arguments advanced against capital punishment. By the way, the argument against capital punishment is also the argument against just war, the idea of the military. I was called to jury duty, and the lawyer said Mr. Clough, can you forego your religious convictions and be objective? I got frosted with this approach and I was just about to say can you as an attorney lay aside your prejudice to be objective, but fortunately the judge interrupted the attorney and said that question is out of line, you cannot ask any juror to give up his religious and ethical convictions. I didn’t make the jury.
The three arguments are: one, it doesn’t deter evil, and they will present all kinds of statistical arguments that it doesn’t deter evil. The second one is that it cannot be administered justly, that’s probably the most powerful thing, the poor are less able to defend themselves, and that’s a fact, these guys have the big bucks always get the big attorneys and they always get off. The greatest thing that could happen in our country would be some of the white collar criminals get put away like some of the poor kids on the street, and then we’d understand a little more about what justice is all about. The third one is, it is sub-Christian ethically, and here’s where a lot of Christians weigh in.
There are answers to these. The answer to the first one, it would deter evil if it were conducted as God intended with fair and speedy purpose. It doesn’t do much of a thing to kill somebody in the electric chair 14 years and 25 appeals after so and so met their death in a crime. The point is that if you watch how capital punishment was administered in the Old Testament it actually was controlled very well. God, when He set up the Mosaic Law, God is the author of Scripture, it does us well today when we’re thinking about legislation, is to study how the Mosaic legislation worked, never mind how cruel it was, there are a lot of merciful provisions in there. One of the things was that you couldn’t be convicted of murder without an eye witness. So they had controls. Another point was that the witness had to be the first one to throw the rocks to kill them. That meant that you’ve got to be sure that you’re not committing perjury, because now look what you’re doing. It had to be done speedy. There were a number of interesting provisions in the Mosaic code.
I went to Williamsburg recently, it’s like going into a time machine and they have history professors play roles, and in this room there was a fascinating guy there, a professor of history, and he was so good at mimicking what was going on in the 1700s. Some lady asked, what do you feel about rehabilitating criminals, and he looks at her, he puts on this act and looks up at her with a surprised look and says Madam, in this colony we are free men and part of being a free man is that you are fully responsible for your actions, therefore … and he went on about speedy trials, he said, in our colony at the present time our trials usually last no more than thirty minutes, we present evidence, we sequester the jury without food, water or relief, if you know what I mean, and we generally get verdicts within five to ten minutes. He went on and on and this lady wouldn’t give up, she kept asking these questions, so finally he said Madam, what country do you come from?
The capital punishment argument, the answer is that it would deter evil if it were conducted as God intended. But it has to be fair, it has to be speedy. And the other thing this man pointed out, which I didn’t realize about Virginian law, was that the penalties were in proportion to your place in society, the wealthier you were the longer the sentence, because they figured that if you were wealthy and robbed you did it sheerly for malicious purposes. I thought that was an interesting inversion from today’s law. But the law in the Mosaic Law, if it were done, and we know that even Israel never followed it perfectly, it probably would have deterred.
The second answer, and this is a very interesting one, that it cannot be administered justly, look at point 2 in the paragraph, “it was given for a fallen world, so obviously God believes it is necessary, justly carried out or not.” For example, God foreknew of the death of His own Son through a miscarriage of justice when He established it. Think about that. Is God omniscient? Of course. When God established civil power, did He or did He not know that His own Son would be capitally punished through a sheer bedlam in the court? Absolute misjudgment, wrong use of evidence, corruption among the judges, collusion among the witnesses, everything went wrong in that trial. His own Son would die and be capitally punished through a misapplication of capital punishment. To me that’s the answer to the question. We strive, we ought to, as any responsible citizen, we ought to strive to make it just, but to argue that it itself could never be just and is absolutely wrong, violates this principle. God must not have known what He was doing then.
Three is directly sanctioned by Jesus and the apostles by the present time, and I give you all the New Testament references, look at the references. Don’t try to make up what you think the Bible says, just read the references. Of course, no one likes capital punishment, but the issue is what God has installed and assigned for our present fallen civilization deriving from Noah and the covenant.
We will continue as we get into the kingship issue, and on the handout, there is on the conclusion some review questions on page 102, and I’d like it if you’d look at those review questions. Think through on the left side are various situations of our modern day, on the right side is some things we’ve looked at over the past few months, and I’d like you to start thinking about that, I’d like some discussion next week, so if you could be prepared to have some discussions about why, for example, how would you deal with a tragic accident that appears meaningless, how would you deal with that based on the information we’ve covered, what are some passages of Scripture and most of all, what are some pictures. Remember we said one of the neat things about the Old Testament is it tells stories that a child can learn, and it’s those stories that fill your imagination with tools, spiritual tools, to cope with these kind of situations. So we want to see if we can improve ourselves by meeting these kinds of situations based on the content of what we’ve learned in Scripture. Next week we’ll deal with that. Then we’ll hand out the four appendices and try to go through those one a week and we’ll be done.
The question is, as a Christian where does grace ameliorate justice in the sense of having mercy on, say a murderer, because he might become a Christian? I think if you look at the whole spirit of the Mosaic Law Code, in its most fierce area, which is the unholy war, holy war was an extermination of men, women and children, period. It was a mass slaughter, the Jews were obligated to do it, whether they liked it or not, and if they didn’t do it, then they were judged. It’s a nasty business. In the middle of that holy war there stands certain stories, so that as you look at Numbers and Deuteronomy when the holy war was going on, the Holy Spirit drew attention to people like Rahab, intermarrying with Caleb and Joshua; what are these stories telling us? The book of Ruth is another example, Ruth was a Gentile. Why was she not only spared in the Tran Jordanian campaigns but why did she come into the very Messianic line by marriage and the answer that you get from the stories is that in all of those cases, they were people who responded in faith, regardless of their past sins. I’m not saying this is “the” guideline, I’m saying it’s “a” guideline, that looking at how the Holy Spirit describes history, when He was asking people to go execute other people, it’s interesting that the other people that were being executed were spared when they bowed their knee to Jesus Christ, or as He was known in the Old Testament. That’s one pertinent part of revelation, I think, that works with this problem.
Another part has to do, even with those who become Christians, in history you can read, and particularly 200 years ago or 100 years ago the role of the chaplain in dealing with murderers was to lead them to Christ, to prepare them to die. The evangelistic motive wasn’t stopped because the guy was sentenced to a crime, the evangelism continued and with all the more urgency because he was going to die. The work of the chaplain wasn’t to gain a stay of execution; the work of the chaplain was to prepare the man to die. And that has largely been changed in the modern system where we get all kinds of religious motives for trying to undo capital punishment as an institution. I think the other thing is, like I said, in the Mosaic Law Code, that where you had what we call simple, straightforward law codes, the punishments were meted out quickly but there were an awful lot of acquittals in early colonial America. The acquittal rate was up to about 80% and why did they have so many acquittals; people say they had lenient justice, but it really wasn’t that, it was the fact that when they had a conviction they carried it out, and because they knew that the punishment was going to be quick and severe, they were very cautious about ever applying it unless it was absolutely certain. But if it was absolutely certain they did it, and it appears that that itself is a deterrent.
We forget that in New England colonies they briefly, toward the end of the Puritan era, passed a law that said, they inaugurated the Mosaic Law Code that any teenage delinquent who rebelled against his father and mother would be executed, anywhere in Massachusetts Bay colony, period. The argument was that this is the only way we can build a healthy society, if they can’t understand what authority is in the home, then they never are going to understand it, so we’ll just get rid of them right now, save society a lot of trouble later. It’s interesting that people pulled out that old Mass. law and they say see, those Puritans were very, very cruel people, but then you look at history, not once did it ever have to be exercised, it was only on the books about 10–12 years, but just the fear of the thing a deterrent effect, because they knew that in those days when you talked about a conviction, you were talking about a conviction, there wasn’t any appeals, none of this appeal process, so you’d better get it right the first time. So it’s almost like the Scripture is saying you don’t have to kill every murderer, there might be extenuating circumstances and so on, it’s just that the principle has to be in place and carried out enough so that there’s a deterrent effect.
And that seems to be the spirit of the Mosaic Law because David committed a capital crime under the Mosaic Law but he was spared. You can argue well maybe it was because, outside of Bathsheba, there were no eyewitnesses to the crime. There were officers implicated in his order that he transmitted through the command structure of the army to put her husband into a bona fide area, but obviously the officers knew that ordered his unit into that action, so there’s that case.
And like I say, Rahab and the book of Ruth become very critical. The little book of Ruth is sandwiched right in during that time period, and it’s a validation of how Gentiles could become part of the commonwealth of Israel, which if you just read the straightforward facts of the Mosaic Law that seems like an impossibility, because remember it says a Moabites can’t be part of the congregation, etc., and yet here is Ruth, what do you do with that? And the answer appears it’s that because God recognizes that He will respond to genuine conversion and faith. Whether the civil structure responds to that is a whole another story because you’ve got two institutions.
This is what is hard for us as Christians; we have to remember there are two institutions and they’re not the same, and when we mix these two you always get in trouble. There is the civil government and there’s the church, the two are not the same. That’s where there’s a bona fide doctrine of separation, not in what you believe, this country has it all wrong, they try to separate ideas, like creationism is religious and evolution is scientific they so, so therefore the idea of creation, that can’t be permitted because of the violation of separation of church and state. But basically the separation of church and state is organizationally, the church is not to dictate to the government how, when and where, it’s to teach the population at large, and then when the population, people, at large who have had experience in the church take positions of civil authority, presumably they are going to exercise righteousness. But the church as the church doesn’t speak that way.
There’s a big debate among historians, they got this one screwed up from time to time, they always think of John Calvin, for example, John Calvin ruled Geneva. No he didn’t, you are read about John Calvin, he taught the men who ruled Geneva, but he didn’t rule Geneva and historians who are experts in that area tell us there were great debates where his own students came back and said Calvin, you’re wrong and I don’t care what you taught me, this is the way Geneva is going to be run. So it’s not true that the church pulled the strings of the civil authorities. It is true that they pulled the strings indirectly because they taught godly precepts that were then reflected. But there’s a separation between the two. So when you come to capital punishment and criminals in jail you have the churches ministry to those people, which is to lead them to Christ, to edify their souls, but it’s the civil government that dictates their destiny. You have to be careful, you can’t mix those two. The only time it’s mixed is when Jesus returns, and it’s interesting, He returns under the guise of a king with a sword. You can’t read the book of Revelation without realizing that Jesus capitally executes, there’s blood on His garment, He comes back with a sword, and He says I will rule the nations with a rod of iron. What does that mean, other than civil power? He will exercise civil power. There’s not a time ever when that power, from the time it was instituted, isn’t going to be deployed, it’s just that we resent it because we see imperfect government, we are imperfect so we don’t like to be called to task, and we don’t like it because we’re all sinners.
But in the throne room of God there’s order, and that’s why when Isaiah looks into the throne of God he sees the seraphs, there’re closing their eyes before Him, there’s an order there; people aren’t dancing around, hollering hey God, you in today, that’s just not seen in these Theophanies. There’s an inherent authority just because of Him, and that’s a reflection.
So you can look upon the institution of kingly authority in Noah’s time as a prelude to revealing more about the Lord Jesus Christ, because when He comes again He’s going to come as King, not just as a Savior. Right now the tendency is to interpret Jesus as some sort of a hippie left over from the 60’s through the art forms, some little impotent, innocent soul, and that is unfortunate because it’s a misinterpretation of the fact that He showed up not as King, but as Savior, the first time, and it’s going to be a total shock to anybody that thinks that way when He shows up the second time. Those two functions are separated, even with the advent of Christ, so the church mirrors one side, and civil government mirrors the one yet to come. Civil government is yet to be fulfilled in a godly way. It is going to be, it’s not going to be abandoned. I think that’s something we as Christians have to understand, civil authority is never going to go away, it’s going to become godly with Jesus, but it will not go away. The tendency is to think of Heaven as some sort of place that goes back before the flood into an anarchistic state and everybody’s happy and there’s no authority. It doesn’t work that way, the Bible goes forward, it doesn’t go backward in history. That’s a lost era; it’s never going to be repeated.
The institution of civil government was a profound moment in history and it’s a litmus test, the opposition to capital punishment today is tied in a lot, not with Christian ethics, because a lot of the people against capital punishment aren’t Christians, if they are in the church they are usually from the liberal side, so something ought to warn us that the basis for that opposition is not really concern for Christian ethics. There’s something else that’s going on here, and the something else I think is the humanist impulse, that man is inherently innocent, and that’s it so wrong to hold man that accountable. To take one’s life is to hold him absolutely accountable, and I think it’s a resentment against being held accountable that’s behind a lot of this opposition. This is why, those of us who have been in the military for any length of time deeply resent people like our President [Bill Clinton] who we feel did not oppose war, as for example, the Mennonites in Pennsylvania. As a military person I can have very great empathy for a genuine pacifist who in principle, I think he’s wrong and I’ll debate him on Scripture, but I can accept him because he’s doing it out of a principle that applies in every situation, but this selective draft dodging that goes on is deeply offensive to those of us who were in the military, because we feel like that’s just arbitrary coping out when you just don’t feel like personally being responsible.
The military side and the police function are the two most visible forms of civil government. The judge and the laws are very deeply reflective of God Himself. This is why, as I pointed out several times, that we learn in school there are three parts of government, the executive, the judicial, and the legislative. When you read the Old Testament, one of those is missing. Very interesting, there’s an executive and a judiciary, but where’s the legislative? There’s not one point where there’s there any legislature in the Bible, other than on Mt. Sinai, and who then was the legislature? And this function then, that God separate completely from man, man was left to obey the law, not make it, so that in itself sort of tells you how important law making is, and we approach it so cavalierly in this country, it’s whatever the vote says, or whatever the latest talk show says. We forget, we’re trying to articulate genuine law should be reflective of God’s transcendent absolutes, and what we have degenerated to in this country is a group of nitpicking little codes where everybody violates it, we’re all sinners, we’ve all violated some phase of bureaucratic law. It’s almost like there’s an agenda to make us all guilty, and then we owe everything to the government that’s to save us. I see it all the time in federal bureaucracy, I’m sure those of you in business see this, the bureaucracy and the law codes are so convoluted that you can’t obey one without disobeying the other, there are literally cases like this. You can’t be guiltless.
That’s how far we’ve gotten away from the idea of the law as a revelation of God’s simplicity. God only made Ten Commandments, 610 cases are in the [not sure of word/s may be Old Testament], but 10 basic principles, not 115, not 8,000 pages, not a roomful of books, just 10, that’s all, 10. So there’s simplicity there. It’s not that hard. In the laws of Moses there are so many practical things, like every elder man in the village could be a judge, think about that. What separates you and I from being a judge? We have to have a law degree, or we have to go before the bar. Why do you have to go before the bar? Because the law is so complicated it takes you that long to figure out what you’re doing. Why then, in New England and Virginia did they have people off the street involved, not just in the juries, but also passing sentence. That’s a fascinating study, it’s because the law was simple, it was clearly perceivable by anybody and everybody, and today it isn’t.
Those are the things that have mished up the whole pie, it’s so screwed up that when you deal with capital punishment it’s got all these peripheral things, it’s like pulling something out, it’s got cobwebs attached to every area so you can’t isolate the capital punishment issue from how screwed up we are in every other area compared to what God would have us, from the Moses time, I have to just keep going back and say if God designed a society, maybe I ought to look at how He designed that society, all of it may not apply today but surely He designed a society with omniscience in mind and wisdom, so why don’t we learn lessons. And when I look there we see capital punishment. And we see that as the final statement. In answer to what started our discussion, there’s another passage, that is the sin of Achan, in Judges watch how Joshua applies the sentence of capital punishment. It’s very interesting, it’s done with mercy. Eventually Achan is killed, Joshua 7:16ff, and watch when they come to trial what Joshua does, and his appeal to Achan, who had committed a capital offense, and watch how Joshua works with him. It’s a very merciful passage, Joshua is trying to get him to acknowledge his responsibility in sin, and then he’s killed. And you can just hear the ha-has and guffaws today if you mention that, totally missing the point. What was Joshua trying to do here; he was trying to minister the fact that that man should confess his sin before him and before God, and then deal with it. And then we can get on with life, if we kill him, we kill him, if we don’t we don’t. But that was the issue.
There’s another passage to think about. If you want to think it through or are troubled you need to think through what you see in the time of the holy war, Numbers and the first part of Deuteronomy, up to about Deuteronomy 12, and you’ll see how the worst of all possible capital punishments were carried out and the mercy that accompanied it. Then read some sections of the codes of Deuteronomy, from Deuteronomy 21 on, where you deal with the court procedures, watch how they dealt with evidence, how they dealt with witnesses, how they refused to allow a court or trial to take place near a grove of trees, because a grove of trees were centers where idols were, and idols would corrupt a sense of justice and it shows that religious false beliefs affect your view of law, therefore the court could not convene anywhere a grove of trees. There was a separation there, and it was because of contamination of the court. Amazing passages there because there are lots of lessons we can learn today.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s why the conviction for murder in the Scripture is pretty well protected by good rules of evidence. It’s just good court procedures and that’s what we read about in the Mosaic Law and half the time we just don’t have good court procedures. It must be frustrating to spend hours and hours on these cases and then you go into the court room and it’s all gone. We look at capital punishment in courts through our American eyes, just remember that the way we do courts are not necessarily the way it’s done in other places. We have to temper the fact that these are principles that are culturally applied in different way. Abraham had the power of the sword for his own family, and he had the power to kill Hagar, the patriarchs had that power within their own city, because they were the founders of the city; they were the cities founder and elders of the city, at the same time they were probably the father of [tape abruptly ends] …