It's time to derive your worldview from the Bible

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.”

by Charles Clough
Connecting major events of the Bible with events in your life. The exodus is a counterpart to pagan revolution. At Mount Sinai, all the people heard God speaking. Suzerain-vassal treaty form. The prophets did not introduce new, revolutionary ideas. They, instead, went back to the ideas of Moses. The outline of Israel’s national history (cursing and blessing). The biblical view versus the pagan view of values, ethics, and law. “If society were it’s own moral authority (the determiner of right and wrong), there would be no room for reformers.” Questions and answers.
Series:Chapter 4 – Mt. Sinai: The Disruptive Truth of God’s Absolute, Comprehensive Rule of Law
Duration:1 hr 9 mins

© Charles A. Clough 1997

Charles A. Clough

Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003

Part 3: Disruptive Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 4: Mt. Sinai: The Disruptive Truth of God’s Absolute, Comprehensive Rule of Law

Lesson 51 – Law: God Publicly Speaking at Sinai (Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy)

20 Feb 1997
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD

Just to review. If you were dealing with a problem of suffering, what historical event would you visualize of the one’s we’ve done so far? What would be the one that you’d say, okay, there’s my anchor event, now I’m going to start thinking about the text, the narratives and the issues of that. Which event would go you to? Any category of suffering, whether it’s a disciplinary issue for the believer, whether it’s a problem of death, whether it’s cancer, whatever, where would you move to? If somebody said to you that they were working in a laboratory and it’s been shown that all of our emotions, all of our consciousness and everything else is just growing out of the biochemistry of the human brain, therefore, since we believe that man is a machine because this is how he evolved along with all the other natural machines in the universe, etc., what alarm bells would go off that tell you that’s in conflict with something. What event, what cluster of Scripture would you go to? Creation.

What if someone were to tell you that the whole act of salvation is purely a spiritual thing, that when we die we go to heaven and that’s it, we go, so to speak, out of physical history into sort of a heavenly place and that’s the end of our interaction with the physical universe. Salvation, in other words, is the escape from material into the (quote) “spiritual realm,” New Age stuff, that kind of thing. When the word salvation and deliverance is mentioned, what thought pattern to get back into the Bible should you think about? What are the two images that we’ve studied so far, what two great historical events are depictions of what salvation means that shows you that it’s not just spiritual? The Flood and the Exodus. In both cases, they’re a revelation of what the word salvation means and God is not content at merely the spiritual realm, He’s also the physical realm. It’s also the physical realm; it’s as much physical as it is spiritual. Why is that? When man fell, was it just spiritual or was the act of falling and disobeying God, did that have physical repercussions? It did, in the fall, the ground is cursed, man began to die; there was an interruption of the physical, chemical processes of all.

If somebody says that the proper norm of our society can be discovered by interviewing a thousand people’s behavior, plotting it on a graph paper and you get the bell-shaped curve, and usually the mean is the normal, so we define that to be normal. What totally incorrect premise underlies that whole idea of the statistical investigation to discover norms and standards? What is true of present history if we are to believe scripturally it goes back to what we said was the origination of our sin, suffering, etc. What does that make the present universe to be, normal or abnormal? We live in an abnormal universe compared to the way God had it when He originally created it. So how then, by taking a statistic of a performing abnormal creation do you get a norm?

These are the ways you want to start thinking to bring your faith into context with the culture around you, and we need to do that. We need to able to say that because I’m a Christian I view things this way and more even important than that is to recognize that because the culture is non-Christian, it’s screwed up in a very, very basic way, the culture around us is seriously perverted. People always think of perversion as some sort of moral perversion. I’m not talking, necessarily, about a moral perversion. We’re talking about a total screw up in the way reality is viewed. Reality is being viewed in a very skewed way. We studied an event that taught something about what God has to do in order to save us. In other words, one of those events was the premier introduction, so to speak, of the gospel in the sense that it pointed or revealed God’s game plan once post-flood society began to paganize through the tower of Babel, etc. and then we have the origination of a subset of the human race and really the origin of missions. What event is that? The call of Abraham.

These are the ways to think through these things. Thinking that way, we’ve just come through the Exodus and we’ve said that the Exodus is like the flood, both of those are judgment/salvation events and both have the same five characteristics. You see it again and again and again, the Bible is very consistent this way. Every time there’s salvation, there’s one and only one way to be saved, there’s only one ark, there’s only one way to be saved from the angel of death, by blood on the door. The same Hebrew word, atonement, [is used] for the covering of the ark, so there’s always one way, there’s always a spiritual and a physical aspect to salvation. God is always gracious before He saves. He waits and He waits and He waits and He waits, grace before judgment. And the method of appropriating that salvation is always by faith and it’s always by faith because we can’t do anything.

We’re disqualified from the get go because we are part of the fall, we are the problem, so we can’t contribute anything of our shining examples to this gospel package. If we did, we’d pollute it, so that’s why salvation is always by faith, it has to be by faith. We have to do the receiving, God has to do the giving and the reason is because it must be done God’s way because we are all fallen beings, we’re all contaminated, we’re all sinners and, therefore, we don’t have any assets. It goes back to the arithmetic of accounting. We’re all in the debit column, there’s no credits, and in order to be saved (we learned about that with justification), salvation’s not just going from a debit to zero, it’s going from a debit to a positive credit and that’s because originally in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were at zero. Theoretically, if they hadn’t fallen, they would have gained credit by their obedience. So the pathway, which originally was from zero to plus one, has now gone from zero to minus one back up to plus one, so you’ve got to get back to plus one to be acceptable with God because now there isn’t any intermediate zero. There are only two positions available since the fall has happened and you can’t come back to zero. If we could come back to zero, i.e. all our sins are forgiven but we don’t have any positive righteousness, we would try to recapitulate Adam and Eve’s state in the Garden, but that state’s gone, so that’s not available as an option. The zero position isn’t available, so there’s only a minus one and a plus one, so we have to go from minus one to plus one.

The only way we can do that is both be forgiven of our sins and to acquire a righteousness that we don’t have and that’s the gift a salvation. And the righteousness that we acquire is the righteousness that God doesn’t decree from heaven but it’s a righteousness that actually was generated inside history by a member of the human race in the son of Adam, the righteousness Jesus Christ generated by His holy life and the righteousness, the obedience. That’s the righteousness that is credited to us. Had Jesus failed in that mission, then all the people that were saved in the Old Testament, it was contingent upon Jesus doing it and if He didn’t do it, then their salvation would fall. So Jesus’ life in the four Gospels is very important, that’s when this righteousness was generated. We’re going to try to do these reviews each week and maybe do it with some doctrines or sections of the Scriptures just to review and solidify some of this because we’ve got enough content here that it can last you for years going through this and I just want you to realize that this is not just a few topics we’ve covered.

We’ve looked at the Exodus. The Exodus is a counterpart to a human worldly idea. What worldly paganized idea is a faint substitute for the Exodus? What is that men down through history have craved and our own last 300 years of western history have been seriously embarked upon, programs to produce artificially by human works what the Exodus accomplished?  Those pagan programs we call revolutions, the idea that human society can get rid of evil and can get corrected, can get fixed by some cataclysmic event. Karl Marx, the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution, I wouldn’t classify the United States American Revolution as a real revolution; it was more of an upheaval inside the English legal tradition. We really can’t be compared in many ways and this is why third world countries always try to (quote) “have their revolution” mimicking ours, don’t have the basis for it. We had a basis for it, an English tradition, an English law, etc. which was largely biblically derived and it was a contest from components inside that tradition. But when you get to the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution, there you had a titanic shift throwing out the king, completely replacing it with something else. It was just a massive break of human institutions, blood baths.

The Exodus was a blood bath, but the blood wasn’t shed over men fighting men. The blood was shed to solve a basic problem that the other revolutions don’t solve. Marx didn’t solve the problem because all communism or Marxism ever did was to replace one flesh with the other flesh. So you go in with one form of government, you come out with another, but there’s sinners over here and sinners over here, so how have you gotten rid of evil in society? You haven’t. The Exodus is a model revolution. This is what a revolution looks like from God’s point of view. It’s His personally executed revolution. Keep the Exodus model in mind next time you read about a revolution or the guerillas in Peru want to take hostages and take the country apart and all the rest of it. A lot of these people are very sincere, they’re very dedicated. Communists were very, very dedicated people because they really, genuinely thought that they could change and get rid of evil in human society by their program and that’s why they’re willing to kill people to get there. The end justified the means.

Now we come to the issue of the law. Last week we showed pictures of Mount Sinai. I think you got enough of those people to catch the imagery of what’s happening and what a place God put His people in, an amphitheater of sand and rock. He had a perfect PA system, His own voice, with the reverberation off those cliffs on both sides of that big valley where all the people gathered together so they could hear. The address of God from Mount Sinai was… you’ve heard the expression about putting the fear of God in people… Exodus 19:9, just to look at some characteristics of what happened on that day on that mountain in that Sinai Peninsula. “… Behold, I shall come to you in a thick cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe in you forever.” The “believe in you” means believing the Word of God in a sense. Notice in verse 9 the purpose clause. “I come to you,” there’s the indicative verb, there’s the main clause, and then you come to this purpose clause,” in order that the people may hear when I speak with you.” In other words, God deliberately wanted people to overhear the conversation. We said that’s a very, very important aspect of revelation, this is a public revelation.

We’re going to get into this next week; this is as radical a statement as anything you saw in Genesis 1. What you saw in Genesis 1 was radical from the physics point of view, the geology point of view, and the biology point of view. Exodus 19: 9, and all the versus like it in chapter 19 and 20, Deuteronomy 4 and 5, this whole packet of Scripture is as offensive to modern thought as anything in Genesis. Let me tell you the point of offense and try to show you razor sharp why paganism rebels profoundly against this kind of thing. In verse 9 it says God is going to speak. It doesn’t say Moses went up to Mount Sinai and dreamed a dreamed. That’s the interpretation that the modern theologian has to have, he can’t accept a public revelation of a speaking God, that is absolutely out of it. Why is that? Think back a moment. When we went back to creation, I made a big point over and over again until I’m sure some of you thought, why is he doing this? I kept saying about language and that there are limitations to human language; I said that again and again and again, limitations to human language, limitations to human language.

What do we mean by limitations to human language? Our human language has certain limitations in it. I gave a semantic paradox. The famous Greek paradox that says: all Cretans are liars said the Cretan poet. How do you analyze that? If all Cretans are liars then the poet who said all Cretans are liars is a liar, in which case what he said is true, and it if what he said is true then all Cretans can’t be liars because he’s a Cretan. So you can set up these paradoxes, people get amused at them, but in a more serious note, there’s a problem in human language. We have inherent paradoxical things that happen in the language. The language is incapable of certain things. This is why people in the literary world will often use poetry instead of prose. What’s the difference between prose and poetry? Poetry has an emotional element to it that prose doesn’t. It has a whack to it that prose just can’t carry, so there’s something else there than just the verbal.

What the modern theologian has done and it has totally destroyed Bible teaching, this is why your First Liberal Church doesn’t teach the Bible anymore. This is why modern theology cannot accept fundamentalist faith anymore. Because they started with the philosophy of human language that says it’s limited, therefore they conclude there’s no communication between God’s mind and my mind because if it has to come through the conduit of human language, it’s gets like a stuck pipe. The pipe in your plumbing isn’t big enough to carry the load, therefore they give up. So no theologian in his right mind believes verse 9. The only way a modern person would interpret verse 9 is Moses thought the Lord said to him, that’s the way it would be interpreted. Moses thought that God said, but God really didn’t say it in words you and I could hear and record with a tape recorder.

A big point I want to make right at the start is that Mount Sinai was a public speaking of God and the Hebrews known it as, we say the Ten Commandments, but actually in the Hebrew it says to the ten words, the ten things. What it means is that all the people heard from that mountain top in the Hebrew language God speaking. Cecil B. De Mille did a great job with his cartooning, with fires going down and you hear God speaking and it was a good rendition, but no modern theologian would ever buy that. Why are making such a big issue? Because now we come to an important view just as we dealt with judgment/salvation, we dealt with all these other things. When we are at Mount Sinai, we are face to face with a contemporary issue and here it is. What is the source of values, ethics, and law? This is a debate that goes on all the time in the Christian life: ethics, value, and law. In the Christian life we code it maybe, and we tend to weaken it, but whenever we’re interested in what is the will of God for me, we’re interested in this. What’s the will of God? I can’t tell what the will of God is, can I, if I don’t answer that question. If I don’t have those, I don’t have the will of God unless I’m a mystic. Now if I’m a mystic I can dream the will of God or I can feel the will of God or I can go through some spooky hocus pocus and get the Word of God. But that’s not biblical. The Bible says that we know the will of God through words, conversation. That why He wrote a book for us. We talk to Him, He talks to us. So, the issue then is values, ethics and law.

In the notes there’s an important point right from the start because there’s a tremendous point of tension. This is as vigorously in opposition to our world as anything you ever learned last year about evolution and the age of the universe, the age of the earth and the age of man; all that was kind of flamboyant, because it was a real conflict. But this is the real conflict in our time. Look at the paragraph: “Value, Ethics, and Law.” I want to read through some of that and then we’re going to review some stuff, go into the biblical view and on page 65 I go to the pagan view. When we get done we’re going to learn something about the law, before that, we need to go through some Scriptures. Before we get into the meaning of the Exodus, we want to take a look at what happened.  

We said those six elements on page 63, those characteristics are characteristics that were found in documents recently discovered, recently being the last 20-30 years, of treaties. We said these treaties, which are called, suzerainty-vassal treaties, were made between a great king and a vassal king. A vassal king is a just an inferior power. The king here was a super power and this was, we’ll say, a third world nation. And there was a relationship that was established by a means of a treaty and these treaties have these features and it was an interesting discovery. I happen not to agree with some of the interpretations, a lot of the interpretation, the Bible could never be the first thing out. God always has to imitate what man has done, so the way this is usually done is, well, God accommodated Himself to this previous literary format. That’s if you date history that way; I don’t think so. I think this is the first format in history; all the other treaties were mimics of it. Let me go through each of these six quickly because they set us up for really understanding what’s going on.

Look at Exodus 20, the Ten Commandment passage. There are features in this Ten Commandment passage you want to look at. The first one is that in treaties the great king always identified himself to ingratiate himself. So in the preamble, there was always a preamble, Exodus 20:1-2, “Then God spoke all these words, saying,” and he introduces himself in the first sentence. Verse 2, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” So item one is the preamble, item two is the historical prologue and in the historical prologue, the great king—and this is important because we’re going to see what this leads to in an understanding of laws. It’s really important to see the way the politics worked here. The politics worked that this guy, the superpower wanted obedience from this guy and usually he’d get wealth and taxes and he also got infantry soldiers from this guy to do his battles for him, that’s how they built their armies. And he had trade, etc. so it was a flow of wealth, but this vassal king was also protected.

He basically purchased, at the price of his economic freedom, the vassal king purchased security from the great king. It’s the same thing today in the international realm during the cold war. Small countries would align themselves with the Soviet Union or they align themselves with the United States of America and they would prostrate themselves economically, in one sense, but they bought our security. We offered them security in return for some bennies, usually the Soviets got more bennies than we did, but the great king always wanted to appeal to this guy. And instead of saying you are going to obey me, the great would say, you should obey me. See the difference. Instead of commanding obedience, he invited obedience. Of course it was invited with a big stick behind him, but it was inviting obedience on the basis of obligation. A fundamental point about the law; we’re going to come back to this again and again.

Look at verses 2-3, especially the end of verse 2. “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Think about that for a minute. Who acted first? Israel or Jehovah? Jehovah did. Who owes who? See the relationship set up. Remember this, we’re going into the law and a lot of people misunderstand the law. Understand that the law comes after there’s an obligation. The motive is gratitude for something the great king did for Jehovah.

Number 3, the treaties made certain stipulations and, of course, the ten words are the stipulations. Number 4, this is intriguing. Look at that carefully, in the suzerainty-vassal treaty, two copies of the treaty were made, one for each party’s temple where it would be safeguarded and periodically reviewed. Here’s what happened. The great king made these tablets in stone, carved them in stone, they’d have two of them. One of these guys would be on deposit in this temple up here and this one would be on deposit in this temple here so the people here had a copy of it and the people here had a copy of it. Now that’s intriguing. How many tablets did Moses bring down from Mount Sinai? Two. Where were those tablets stored? Think about that. Where were they deposited and kept? In the Tabernacle. Whose temple is the Tabernacle? Israel’s or Jehovah’s? Both. So both copies are embedded in the same temple because in this case, the temple of Jehovah is the tabernacle, the temple of Israel, belongs to Israel, is the tabernacle, because God meets Israel in that place. There are not separate places where the two copies are kept, they’re kept together.

So it suggests that instead of having five commandments on one, like you usually see in Sunday school literature and commandments 6-10 on the second tablet, really what you had was all ten words on both tablets. They were duplicate copies. Why is there a treaty? Why do you make a covenant? To monitor behavior. It’s a verifiable ruler, yard stick, to monitor behavior between the two parties to the covenant, so it’s important that both parties through the covenant have copies of the contract. You all make contacts all the time. You have a copy of the contract and you keep a copy of that in your files because that is your rights; that spells out the relationship, the behavior that’s expected of both parties. There was also public reading. When the treaties were made, both parties to the treaty would haul out the contract periodically and read it.

In Deuteronomy 31:9 look what happens to the Old Testament law code. “So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. [10] Then Moses commanded them, saying, ‘At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths,” or the Feast of Tabernacles, [11] “when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place where He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. [12] Assemble the people, the men and the women and the children and the alien,” the foreigner, “who is in your town, in order that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe the words of this law. [13] “And their children, who have not known will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live the land which you are about to cross over the Jordan to possess it.” Isn’t that an intriguing requirement? Every seven years, the entire nation had to publicly study the law in its entirety. They had to stand there as the priest read it. Not all of them were literate, but they had to endure this ceremony every seven years. What would be analogous to that in our legal structure today? Every seven years, every American family would have to read the United States Constitution. There would be a public reading of the United States Constitution every seven years so everybody understands what the basis of this country is all about. That might create a revolution.

Then the next thing that would happen, item five the invocation of witnesses to the treaty. In Deuteronomy 31:16, remember we said the purpose of the treaty is to monitor behavior. “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. [17] Then My anger will be kindled against them that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they shall be consumed, and many evils and troubles shall come upon them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils will come, [18] But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods. [19] Now therefore write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it in their lips, in order that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel. [20] For when I bring them into the land….” what we have here is the national anthem of Old Testament Israel. We don’t know what the music sounded like, but this was the national anthem of the nation that invoked the blessings and curses of the covenant. “For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers,” etc. Verse 22, “So Moses wrote the song the same day, and he taught it to the sons of Israel. [23] Then he commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, Be strong, and courageous,” and the leadership passes.

In Deuteronomy 32:1, notice who is addressed in the first stanza of the song. Keep in mind in the Hebrew, here’s how they titled music. The song’s title isn’t Psalm 1 or Psalm 2 or Psalm 3, that’s just the English Bible that does that. In the Hebrew, in the original language, the title of the song is the first verse. That’s the title. Do you want to see a place in the New Testament where you can tell that was the title? Every account you read about Jesus on the cross tells you that He recited what song? “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me,” Psalm 22, but apparently He did recite the whole Psalm and the gospel writer didn’t say, Psalm verse 1, verse 2, verse 3, verse 4, verse 5. They’re not all quoted in the Gospels. What is quoted in the Gospel, as Jesus hangs on the cross? He said, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me,” and we say, oh, He just quoted verse 1. No He didn’t. When the gospel writer is saying, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me,” he’s saying He sang that song. That was the title so the quote of verse 1 is the title and it means that Jesus recited all of the Psalm from the cross, including all the great prophetic parts of that song. And the Gospel writer, being a Jew would bring Jewish culture… it would be like us saying Jesus recited Psalm 22. That’s how we would write it in English and we’d expect and if you were interested in what Jesus said, you’d go back to the Old Testament and look at Psalm 22 and see what it was He said. That’s how Jewish music is; the title is the first verse.

That means that this national anthem of Israel is entitled by the first verse, so Deuteronomy 32:1 is the title of the national anthem and the national anthem starts, not “oh say, can you see,” but it says, “Give ear, oh heavens, and let me speak; And let the earth hears the words of my mouth.” There’s an invocation, actually to angelic powers, of the creation to oversee and monitor the behavior of the people in this covenant, and the song, the national anthem goes on, it’s an amazing national anthem. It proclaims the history of the nation. That’s why the liberals can’t buy this, they, say oh gee, can’t have prophecy in a song, gee, God might exist if that happened. Deuteronomy 32 is a complete prophecy of all the history of the Old Testament. Amazing isn’t it. It would be like George Washington wrote a national anthem to the United States that included a prophecy of the world wars and the civil war. Wouldn’t that be amazing? And they were required to sing that; whether they did or not is another story, but the nation was supposed to sing this periodically.

Why am I making a point about verse 1? Because the behavior of the nation under the Sinaitic or Mosaic Covenant, this treaty, was to be monitored by certain people, the heavens, and the earth. That’s metaphor for the angelic powers of the universe that are called in to witness what’s going on here. Here is a revolution in understanding the Old Testament. For years and years the liberals always used to say, oh Jeremiah and Isaiah and Zechariah, all these guys that wrote in the Old Testament, they were social critics. And the picture that has been taught in schools has been that all the rest of the Old Testament is a bunch of social critics. Not so! The prophets of the Old Testament acted because the voice of the Holy Spirit came upon them and the Holy Spirit spoke through the mouths of those prophets and it was the Holy Spirit in guiding the nation for the transgressions of the Covenant of Moses. That’s the reason. Let me show you exactly how that happens.

Turn to Isaiah 1:2, observe the first two verses of this great prophet, this is the prophet of the prophets; everybody knows Isaiah. Isaiah is always considered to be the perfect Old Testament prophet. Isn’t it interesting what he says in verse 2; who is he addressing? “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks: ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. [3] An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manager, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” God is lamenting the behavior of the people before which audience? The heavens and the earth. Who was originally invoked by the treaty to be witnesses to the treaty? The heavens and the earth. It’s a consistency that is marvelous in the Old Testament. The Old Testament has this exciting structure to it. These guys are not random social critics. That’s the wrong way to read the prophets. They are prosecuting attorneys.

They are prosecuting and bringing a case against the infidelities of Israel with respect to a law that they should have known. They are not saying, you should do this and the people, hey, gee, we never knew that Isaiah, I mean, gosh, teach us how to do that. That wasn’t the role of the prophet. The role of the prophet was to say, you have sinned and you have transgressed this, this, this, and you know it and you should have known this because that was your national constitution. It was in your national anthem and you should have been singing this, you should have been reading that covenant every seven years, there’s no excuse for this, your social institutions are rotten to the core because you’ve transgressed all these things. The prophets do not in other words introduce new social ideas. The prophets are reactionaries. They go back to the ideas of Moses; this is the correct way of reading the Old Testament. It’s reactionary. It is back to Moses, not a social advance and new thinking and evolution of ethics and morality in the Old Testament is not true, that is not true! It’s going back to the covenant.

The other one that we want to look at is on page 63, “A Cursing and Blessings Formula.” This one occurs two places, Leviticus 26, and Deuteronomy 28. This is where God gets the bad name from the Old Testament. Nobody reads this; of course, everybody hears that somebody heard that somebody heard that somebody read it. This is the passage, these two chapters, are the meaning chapters. This gets the bad press of the God of the Old Testament. Let’s read what he was doing. Keep in mind a treaty. The great king, if the vassal king doesn’t obey, he’s going to have a little problem because the covenant is going to be enforced. [blank spot, may read Deuteronomy 28:4, “Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.”] What kind of a blessing is mentioned in verse 4? How would you character­ize it if you could? Agriculture. What would that correspond to today?  Economic blessing.

So in verse 4, you see salvation is just not spiritual, it’s in this covenant. Leviticus 26:4, “Then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.” You can sell it, make money. Verse 5, “Indeed your threshing floor will last for you until grape gathering,” etc.  Verse 6, “I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land. [7] But you will chase your enemies, and they will fall before you by the sword; [8] five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.” They will have military victory; they will enjoy military superiority. It’s a picture of a nation that is blessed to have victory in the battlefield, to have victory in business. Verse 9, I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you,” etc.

But now verse 14, “But if you do not obey Me and you do not carry out all these commandments, [15] if, instead, you reject My statutes….” Verse 16, “I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that shall waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up.” What is that saying in terms of our society? Economic disaster aided by military defeat. The mark of God’s cursing on Israel. Verse 17, “And I will set my face against you so that you shall be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when no one is pursuing you” they will become vassals to foreign powers. What happened in the rest of the Old Testament, did they become vassals to foreign powers. Sure they did. Verse 23, And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me, [24] then I will act with hostility against you,” and it’s a series of escalations. Verse 27, “Yet if in spite of this, you do not obey Me, but act with hostility against Me,” then I will do more [v. 28, then I will act with wrathful hostility against you; and I, even I, will punish you seven times for your sins.”] There are five levels of discipline in chapter 26. Five levels where if the nation is blasted and God says now are you going to listen to Me or not. Okay, you’re not going to listen, we’ll turn it up a notch and we’ll go to phase two, try that one on. Not going to listen, okay, click it up to phase three. There are five levels here; verse 27 is one, verse 34, etc. There’s a prophecy of all the disasters that are going to come upon the nation.

Deuteronomy 28 is the other passage of the cursing and the blessings; and this doesn’t make for nice reading. This is quite violent, blood thirsty and gory, but God has put it in the Scriptures. It starts off with blessing. Notice verses 3, 4, 5, 6. That’s all the blessings and then come the cursing in verses 16, 17, 18, 19; the curses are not nice. In verse 22, “The LORD will smite you with consumption and with fever and with inflammation and with fiery heat and with the sword and with blight and with mildew, and they shall pursue until you perish. [23] And the heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron.” There will be climatological disasters that yield agricultural disasters. There will be health problems. Public health will be in a mess, verse 22. Verse 26, And your carcass shall be food to all the birds of the sky and to the beasts of earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away,” in other words, so many people will die that you can’t bury them fast enough, so their bodies smell and rot out in the fields. Verse 30, “You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall violate her; you shall build a house, but you shall not live in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not use its fruit. [31] Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it; your donkey shall be torn away from you, and shall not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies….” Verse 35, the LORD will strike you on the knees and legs with sore boils, from which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.”

God gets kind of nasty here, doesn’t He, and this is our God and our savior. But look what He’s doing here, verse 50, “A nation of fierce countenance who shall have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young. [51] Moreover, it shall eat the offspring of your herd and produce of your ground until you are destroyed,” etc. It will come against your towns, verse 53. Now verse 53 is a prophecy of what literally happened twice inside the city of Jerusalem. “Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy shall oppress you.” And that happened. In the siege of Jerusalem, mothers ate their babies because they were starving so much, just cut them up and ate them. That historically happened. You want this text, Josephus, go to the library and read it - it’s there, part of the historical record. And people say did this just happened because of the Romans? No, this was written before the Romans. Verse 53 was the cursing section of the treaty.

Conclusion: did God or did He not enforce His treaty? You see how the treaty shaped history and why the rest of the Old Testament from this point forward is a historical analysis. This is why history started… you see, history begins in the Old Testament as His story. History has a pattern to it. The pagans never get the point. It wasn’t venting economic cycles or there’s something else or there’s this or there’s that explanation, but the explanation for why historical events occur in the sequence they occur is because that is the way God administers history and Israel’s history is a subset of everybody else’s history. Israel’s national history is outlined here. This is a control case; this is a case study of what it looks like to see the kingdom of God administered in history. Well, gee, I thought if you saw the kingdom, you ought to see blessing. Not necessarily.

Our ideas have to get shaped by Scripture. The kingdom of God’s presence can also be seen in suffering. And this is why there will be suffering in our lives. You say, God isn’t blessing me. Well, not right now He’s not; but the fact of the matter is because I am being disciplined is a sign that my heavenly Father is concerned about me enough to discipline me. Now that doesn’t come off good in our society because we let brats do whatever they want to do. But in the Old Testament times it was considered to be a form of love, that’s why in Hebrews 12, what does it say in Hebrews 12. If you don’t get chastening and you don’t see any suffering in your life when you do wrong, you’d better start seriously reexamining whether you’re saved. The fact is, as His children we don’t get away with it; we get smacked and then we whine about it. Well, we get smacked because we’re the children of the Father and He has a big paddle. The problem is, if you go out and raise all kinds of Cain and don’t get smacked, then you begin to wonder and what Hebrew 12 says, you better check out your ancestry. That’s the background of the cursing and blessings.

What we want to do in concluding is to get into the meaning of values, ethics, and law. What we’re trying to do here is to think about the dilemma of our time. Look at the paragraph on page 64, it begins: “Values, Ethics, and Law,” in those two paragraphs is something that you need to have in the back of your mind if you are sharing the gospel with anybody that is enveloped in the world system. I’m giving you an illustration in these two paragraphs. Try this on your friends. There’s a dilemma here and this is a neat thing to bring up because on a non-Christian basis, there’s no way out of this paradox. In other words, don’t you feel that you are the defending one? In this case, you step into the driver’s seat and it’s now going to be Mr. Unbeliever who’s on the defensive because he hasn’t got a solution to what I’m going to show you here. So let’s look at these two paragraphs.

“No society can exist without a moral authority, a binding code of behavior, or a set of common values. The problem here is what happens if an entire society’s moral authority is immoral such as a cannibalistic tribe….” [can’t understand name] Montgomery go around saying that in a cannibalistic society, it’s considered to be good manners to clean your plate. What about “Nazi German, or the future kingdom of the Antichrist? Obviously, we are not interested in any code or common value set. If society were its own moral authority, now look at this sentence. “If society were its own moral authority, then no room would exist for a reformer,” right? What does a reformer do? He challenges the existing values of the society. If society is the source of right and wrong, then you’ve eliminated all reform. How do you justify reformation? “By definition, he or she would be immoral because they rebel against the traditional values. Flagrant criminal actions could be justified by appeal to society’s code. A clear instance of…” now here’s the dilemma, watch this paragraph. “A clear instance of this problem occurred in 1945 at the end of World War II. Nazi authorities defended their atrocities by appeal to Third Reich official policies and orders.

At the Nazi war criminal trial at Nuremberg, the American jurists, Supreme Court Judge Robert Jackson, put the matter well.” It’s a neat quote. “‘These men should be tried on this basis, on a higher law, a higher law which rises above the provincial and the transient.’” Here’s Jackson now, he’s on the trial at Nuremberg and they’re trying the Nazi’s and the Nazi defense attorneys are very good. They’re very well trained lawyers, and they simply argue, it’s very simple. We look at Mr. Goebbels here, Goebbels is perfectly vindicated. Look, here’s the order, the Furor put the order out. Mr. Goebbels had to do nothing; all he had to do is follow the order. You can’t convict, this court is no authority to convict Goebbels of any war crimes, he was carrying out order. Look at the order, there it is, signed. Right there, that’s the authority, so what are you blaming him for, he’s just following an order so you cannot convict him. On the basis of German law, you cannot convict him and that’s when Jackson and the jurists at Nuremberg had a problem. How do they convict the Nazis? They can’t convict on the basis of Nazi rules, can they, because it was the rules that was the problem. So what do you do? Well, what they did in 1945 is so neat from our point of view. They had to retreat away from the idea that society makes law and had to recite to some (quote) “higher law”, of course where do we get the higher law from? That’s the intriguing one.

So here’s what Jackson says, they have to be tried “on a higher law” left to your imagination where it comes from, “which rises above the provincial and the transient,” the provincial meaning a narrow country German, England, France, that being provincial, or in the transient, meaning it was just from 1933-1945, for 12 years we had this bizarre German culture and he said we got to get away from the provincial and the transient. “To counter the Nazi legal defense, the world community had to use an appeal to “a higher law” that stood over the lower law of Nazi policy. In other words, to successfully prosecute Nazi authorities, the world had to acknowledge that laws of any society are ‘provincial’ and ‘transient’”. See what they did. It’s the only way they could convict the Nazis. Think of the problem today in Europe. If you were a lawyer protecting the Serbs, very easy to do, sure we wiped out the Bosnians, but that was the order, the order came down, order number 5-6-1, there it is, see, published it. I’m the commander, I salute and say, yes sir, carry out the order, no problem. What are you convicting me for? You can’t convict me, I didn’t break any law. There it is. I got the law right here, so how are you going to convict me. This is the central issue and it’s such a great illustration. You always want to remember the 1945 incident.

We want to conclude the class today by citing a very interesting contemporary thing if you don’t think that this cannot happen here. Look at this mess. There’s a judge right now in Alabama, known as Judge Roy Moore. Judge Moore, from what I hear, is a Christian. Judge Moore has committed the unpardonable sin in the eyes of the ACLU in that he has displayed the Ten Commandments on the wall of his courtroom. Oh, goodness! We could have Playboy, we could have anything else in the courtroom, but boy, you can’t have the Ten Commandments, I mean, come on. So, another judge in Montgomery, Alabama, Moore’s state higher level judge, has demanded that Judge Moore within 10 days take down the Ten Commandments from his court. I was just noticing on the Internet, here’s what happens. His crime is having a copy of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and conducting voluntary prayer before the start of a court session.

So the judge of the other court… let me read this paragraph because it’s so neat the way it’s worded. “As you may know by now Alabama governor Forest Hood James has promised to call out the Alabama national guard and the state troopers to prevent the arrest of state circuit court Judge Roy Moore in Etowah County. Judge Moore today was ordered by state Judge Price of Montgomery County to take down the Ten Commandments from the wall of his courtroom within 10 days. Judge Moore says he will not do so under any circumstances. Thus the stage is set for a constitutional crisis. Though Judge Price is a state [can’t understand word] a federal judge, it is possible the federal government will intervene in this state matter if governor James uses force to protect Judge Moore from being arrested under a warrant issued for contempt of court. Though it is not clear at this point how the crisis will manifest itself, this is a matter for us to closely monitor. The Southern League of Alabama will stand by Governor James and will act in accordance with his orders to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the state of Alabama. As Alabamians we intend to act according to our state model, Audemus Jura Nostra Defendere, “we dare defend our rights.” Now isn’t this cue. Let’s watch our President talk out of both sides of his mouth to handle this one. Now we could have the national guard versus federal troops arguing over whether or not the Ten Commandments, piece of paper, is going to be removed from a courtroom or not. I’m sure the authorities won’t let it get this far because if they do, it will just simply galvanize the intention of the country on this issue and I don’t think they really want to do that. But I cite this as a very contemporary example because if you were Judge Moore, to what do you appeal? The law says you will take it down. That’s the law. Under the codes, that is the law. Judge Moore says in this situation, I will disobey the law, and he’s a judge, he’s a lawyer, he’s trained in the law, so what is he doing? He’s reverting to the higher law dictum. And this is where things get really nasty and tough as to when you break loose from lower law to go to higher law. Do you do it arbitrarily? Do you do it with controls and so forth?

We just cite that this area that we’re into here at Mount Sinai and the nature of God and his revelation is very, very contemporary. What I’d like you to do is carefully read the biblical view in page 64- 65, and then we’ll get into an exposition of the Lordship, what that means that goes along with the law. I will show you when we get into pagan view, this little book called the Mishna. The Mishna is an exposition of what the Jewish Rabbis did with the law in Jesus’ day and we’ll go through a gospel situation where Jesus was eating on the Sabbath day and I’ll read to you, here are the codes that they were supposed to follow on the Sabbath day. There are instructions on how to cook eggs on the road so that you can do it without getting violated in Sabbath day. It’s talking about tubes of cold water through springs of hot water, if the kettle of hot water was taken from the stove, cold water may not be put in it to be made hot, but enough may be put there into the hot water into the cup to make the hot water lukewarm. It goes on and on like this, page after page, this is the Mishna. This is what the Pharisees believed in the Old Testament. They had bureaucratized the laws so that it became a technical and mechanical game. That’s all it was, totally divorced. And the guy that wrote the law was eating in the Sabbath and these lawyers had the nerve to talk to the lawmaker at Mount Sinai whose law it was and tell him what the interpretation was of his own law. You see the arrogance, but it’s an arrogance that we see today because we have distorted what real law is in this country, and we’re going to see that as we go on to Mount Sinai.

Question asked: Clough answers: The question is how could there have been a 500-year error in Egyptian history like I keep saying has to happen. The reason is that history is very much interpretation. There aren’t documents that depict history in the way we would like it. We would like everything depicted anchored to a calendar, but ancient documents don’t do that. Like a lot of Egyptian history says Pharaoh so and so reigned “x” years, Pharaoh somebody else reigned seven years. They don’t even say that they weren’t co-reigning, so you piece it together and what they’ve done is all of ancient history in the Egypt and the Assyria hinges on one little pebble and the pebble is called the [not sure of words, sounds like: Soth ess dating] and it’s that every, I think my numbers probably aren’t right here, but every some 1,600 years, Venus and the sun rise together at that latitude in Egypt. So, if you could, say, locate a document in Egyptian history that reports the simultaneous morning rise of the sun and Venus, it would either be 1,640 years or this one, so you could anchor it; then you could, if that document mentioned somebody and you could anchor this document to that document, you’d build a chain. That’s what they’ve done. The debate, however, is whether the anchored document is really talking about the sun and Venus coming up in the morning.

It’s amazing to me because I had the same question. How do you work this around? It’s so arbitrary; a lot of the stuff is really not solved. We are taught very incorrectly in our educational establishment. If I had my druthers, I’ve often thought of a course that every senior or maybe every freshman would take in college, at least one semester. The semester will consist of three questions and that’s it. The semester will be divided into thirds and one-third you’d debate one question, one-third the next question. The first question would be the question about thinking, the deductive approach versus the inductive approach. Aristotle say vs. Frances Bacon, just to get people intrigued with those ways of thinking, is the inductive approach, is the deductive approach, etc. Then I would have the second thing, the creation/evolution conflict, the story between Charles Darwin and Carolus Linnaeus and have the students actually have to read the original source material and come to their own conclusions. Then I would have one on Galileo or Copernicus, does the earth rotate around the sun or the sun around the earth and I think by the time the class came to the end of the semester, they’d suddenly have an awareness that these (quote) “truths” that everybody quotes as gospel really aren’t quite so sure and that’s the problem. We are taught this by way of propaganda, like you read a book on the history and you swear that oh, gees, somebody reigned in 44 BC. Well, yeah, at that point, it’s pretty well locked up all the way back to about 700 BC. But you go backwards to 700 BC and get 1000, 1500, 2000, things get greasy and it’s a lot of stuff that’s just built up, so that’s why. History is not tight knit like that. There’s room to drive holes through it.

And you have other things, this is just funny, if you move that Egyptian history by 500 years, all of sudden you get these line ups like Queen Hatshepsut appears to be the queen of Sheba. Joshua hits Jericho just the right time and the walls are flattened and the dating works out better. Egypt disappears from history between the time of Moses and the time of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and that corresponds exactly to the time length between the middle kingdom and the new kingdom. You suddenly get everything starts to fit. There’s problems, yeah, but it’s just history isn’t as air tight as we’d like to make it, in the final answer to that.

Question asked: Clough answers: Another good question, Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai are the same thing and believe it or not, one of the guys I was with on this tour 20 years ago raised the same question because it’s tradition, Mount Sinai and Mount Horeb. He could talk Hebrew so he was asking the Bedouin about it and the nearest thing he could come to is that Mount Horeb, at least the modern Bedouin, called Mount Horeb that mountain from the back, so when they look at on the back side, they say that’s Mount Horeb. They come around the front side of it and its Mount Sinai or they don’t call it that, we call it Mount Sinai because it is the Mountain of Sinai but they call it Jebel Musa. Jebel is the Arabic word for mountain and Musa is the word for discipline. It means teaching with a big stick and Musa, the Jebel Musa is when God taught with a big stick. Anything else? Any other questions?