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 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 54 – Mosaic Law Code: Comprehensiveness of Revelation, Inspiration, Canonicity
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
We want to continue with the law. I like to review as we go through this material. We are that point in the progress where we’ve gone through some of these events; we went into the event of the Noahic Covenant, where God established the divine institution of the state, so that we have an authority structure set up in the post-fall world. That authority structure was an authority structure that wasn’t there in Eden, it wasn’t there after the fall, it wasn’t there through Noah’s generation, and it wasn’t until after the flood and we start the rise of what we now call civilization that God instituted the divine institution of civil government. That institution is not optional, it’s mandatory, it’s there for a reason. Society without the power of the sword, without the power of the government, without the power of the state, degenerates into a big anarchy and archaistic mess.
I was reminded of this when I got an e-mail from my son who is studying at the Air Force Institute of Technology, and a lot of foreign military officers also come there to study, and Jonathan and his wife had invited over some of the Christians, there’s a real strong Christian group there, and one of their acquaintances was a female officer from Albania who was in this country. Jonathan had followed up with her, she’s still here on this tour and now she’s a lady without a country because the country is totally dissolved. Attached to her letter was a letter from her pastor. They’ve evacuated 99% of the missionaries except this one man who was an American who started this church that she trusted the Lord through, and he decided that he would evacuate his wife and kids but he would stay on because he feels like that in the Scripture the hireling will flee the flock but the pastor won’t, so he’s going to stay. It was 2-3 pages of material about what’s going on in Albania. Basically the letter pointed out several things that struck me in light of what we’ve been studying about the necessity of the state. We don’t often appreciate it, but when you see something like Albania, what we want to reflect upon is that that’s the sin nature let loose.
In other words, you can argue all night, and we all can, about what form of government, or this or that particular defect in the government, but if we didn’t have the civil institution of the state you always wind up with an anarchistic riot and a mess. You can’t do business, you can’t put out fires, you can’t give medical help in the middle of a mob. Always the first thing that has to happen is that you have to establish law and order. Then after that you deal with the other things. What’s interesting is that this pastor was saying, in Albania 10 or 15 people got shot the day before he wrote, but they didn’t get shot because people were shooting at them, they got shot because guys were firing rifles up in the air and the bullets come down and hit people. This is what happens, businesses are going, people spent all their lives getting a business together, pfft, that’s gone. You can tear down a society in two days, and it takes twenty years to build. This is what’s happening in Albania. We need to temper our criticism of our government and state sometimes. Like that guy said, after I saw those Marines and the helicopter coming down to rescue my wife and children I will gladly pay my taxes. It’s true if you have an experience like that, faced with utter anarchy, that you come back to basic.
When we went through this, we said that the divine institution of the state, people don’t like to hear this, it’s not a popular message, but in the Scripture the essence of the state is the power to take life. That means forcible law enforcement. You can add to that welfare and social programs and all the rest, but when it comes back to the very core function of what is the social function of government, the social function of government is to maintain order. For example, if you think of a farmer farming land, he can do all he wants to but if the weather doesn’t cooperate, if he doesn’t have some order and peace out there to do his land, he’s not going to be farming. The business owner can’t run his store in the middle of a mob. So society has to have a minimum amount of order or everything else goes down the drain. It’s interesting that the Scriptures cut to the quick here at the very start when they deal with law and government, the power to take life. And then on Mt. Sinai God gives an example of how He rules, and if you’ve glimpsed sections of this law code, you realize that God exercised capital punishment, there was law enforcement, His law that was enforced, and it was very serious. And it encompassed every area of society that’s addressed in this law code. So there’s no getting around it.
In the Millennial Kingdom, one of the titles of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Millennial Kingdom when you read about in the book of Revelation is that He rules the nations with a rod of iron. Think about what that says. In the Millennial Kingdom we have universal world peace for a thousand years, but it’s because Jesus Christ rules the nations with a rod of iron, that means by force. So either people submit to the Lord from their heart or they will be forcibly subdued. That’s basically the options, and that’s how you have peace. It may not sound like a pretty picture, it’s not sentimental for sure, but the reason it’s so fierce, so harsh sounding is because we live in a fallen world. It goes back to this framework that we should look at again and again, we go back to the fall, that we live in an abnormal universe, we live in an abnormal society, we are all sinners. So if it sounds harsh whose fault is that? It’s not Gods. We are the ones who fell.
Let’s start in the notes on page 71 because we’re going to go back to the results of Mt. Sinai. We said that certain doctrines, certain truths of the Christian faith come out of all of these events. We’ve been looking at God giving the Law and we said that when God gave the Law, God addressed the heart and if you looked and compared the Mosaic Law Code with secular law codes, ancient law codes, put them side by side you’ll see that in the Mosaic Law God speaks, do this for Me, don’t do it for society, you do it for Me. So the law is addressed first to the heart, it’s private law and then public law, whereas secular codes are only public laws, they don’t reach deep enough into the heart. That’s the difference between the law given here and the law made up by human legislators.
We want to go to some of these features that fall out of all of this. One of them was the idea of revelation. If we look at revelation, not the book of Revelation, the act of revelation, what we have is God, who is omniscient, talking to man who has knowledge, but who is finite and limited. You have God able to speak to man because of a miraculous thing called language. That’s the link, and if we didn’t have language we couldn’t talk to each other and God couldn’t talk to us. He is the author of language, and the language that He has given us is so powerful that it’s adequate not only for human to human communications but for Creator to man and the creature communication. Language is an extremely powerful tool. And we are concerned here with revelation, inspiration and canonicity, and we always want to remember God is holy and man a sinner, so if we were just left with man and his sin, this would not be on a speaking relationship. The reason that we can listen to God and why He does speak to us is because He is also love and He exercises His love in grace and provides a way through His holiness so that this conversation can proceed, and we can be illuminated in our hearts. But it’s only because of His grace, not because of who and what we are, and all of our giant intellect.
Revelation has certain characteristics. One of those characteristics is that it is verbal. We emphasized that. Why bother with saying that? I bothered in saying that for this reason: we live in what is called the New Age, and in the New Age we’re getting an influx of oriental styles of thinking about religion, and it’s characteristic of oriental religions not to have verbal revelation. If you study Buddhism, or Zen, or Hinduism, some of the Zen people come up with things like this saying: what is the sound of one hand clapping, and they’ll try to keep these puzzles coming because what they want you to do after you’ve listened to enough of them is to agree that you can’t know God through words, so all the meaning that men exercise are just useless as far as revelation. But when God speaks it’s based on His Word, so we have a standard or a criterion.
The next one we’re going to deal with is: Revelation is Personal. That means that we can’t really be neutral, we can’t stand off and look at the revelation, be it in the rainbow after a storm or whether it’s enjoying music, or whether it’s reading the Bible. We can’t approach these things without finally coming to terms with God. We are dealing with Him at every point that we touch these things. We said that revelation is historical, meaning that God reveals Himself from time to time in history but not necessarily continually. So it’s historical, meaning that all men don’t get their own private version. This revelation is a public thing, it’s given at certain times and then it’s not given for a while, the human race is given a few centuries to think about what was said. And later on in another age God will reveal some more things. Right now He hasn’t spoken in history since the close of the New Testament Canon, in spite of all the cults saying that they got their private word or something like that.
God has not spoken and will not speak again until just prior to the return of Christ, then the prophets break out, the line of the prophets come out again. What’s holding that up is the state of the nation Israel, because one of the things Jesus said is you won’t hear Me, and I won’t talk to you, and I won’t come back to this earth until you welcome Me as the King of kings. That was His last word, so what’s blocking the return of Christ, in one sense, is the spiritual status quo of the nation Israel and what they’re doing in history. My point here in this point isn’t to get off on all these topics as so much to say that it’s not true that we have the right to go out and expect God to personally speak His own special revelation to us. He has given us enough in this book and the Holy Spirit in our hearts through which we can know Him. That gets the emphasis off of our own individual things and onto the broad stream of revelation.
One of the things we want to look at tonight is that revelation is comprehensive. That means that God speaks to every area. We want to go through some of the things. Turn to Deuteronomy 12 because these are some of the details, we could through Numbers, through Leviticus, Exodus 21-23, there’s a number of places you can do this just for fun but Deuteronomy is kind of neat because it’s all together. By the way, if you want to get an idea of how long sermons were in Israel, take a stop watch and read the book of Deuteronomy to yourself, then cut the watch when you get to chapter 33, and see how long it takes. I did that once and it took a healthy time, I forgot just how long, it wasn’t a five minute sound bite for sure. That’s how long Moses preached; the book of Deuteronomy is actually a sermon. We’ll just skim this.
Deut. 12:1, “These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you…” notice one of the first things that is done is in verse 2, and it sounds strange, you have to ask why. Let’s just throw this question out for a few minutes of thought. The first thing of all the statutes and commandments is verse 2. “You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.  And you shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods, and you shall obliterate their name from that place.” Why is it that these Old Testament laws seem so heavily dependent on this issue of idolatry?
I’ll give you another illustration: when the rules of evidence are given in Scripture to control the judicial proceedings, one of the strangest verses that you read in the middle of the rules as to how a judge is to convene a court is he can’t do it next to a grove of trees. What’s the problem of having a court room next to a grove of trees? Because the grove of trees is the place where these people worshiped. So again the question: why are we concerned when we’re talking about judicial proceedings? Are we worried about a grove of trees? Why, when we come out with these statutes and judgments are we concerned with altars? What do those trees, groves and everything else… in the big picture men come there to worship God. Who created those gods? Men; and when men create their own gods, what are they ultimately doing? They’re defining reality, that’s their presupposition. They are arguing that I have eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and I can know good and evil like God Himself can know, and I can become the final arbiter, I will set up the total meaning for my life. So it’s the ultimate authority, and isn’t it striking that when you go into the law codes, the first thing that goes is snipping off any connection with paganism. What is the implication? If God does this, isn’t the implication that you can’t get just law on a pagan basis? This is precisely the argument that we’re seeing here in Scripture.
Think of that and that line of logic against what you hear in our society today, that you can have law common to all kinds of beliefs, all you have to do is agree on a certain minimum set of behavior standards, which we then codify, and call that public law, and say now people of different beliefs all come together under the same tent and we all have the same in common of understand of law. Something’s wrong here. Either the secular mind today is right and this is wrong, or if this is right, then something is radically wrong with the way we normally look at this. But one or the other of these things is out of line.
What we need to do when we look at passages like this is say, well Lord, what is the connection, why do You want us to be so hard-nosed about verses 2-3, why do You want all this eliminated? Why don’t You want courts convened where there’s a sense of religious contamination? What did we say was the nature of the law, going back, just to review a minute, we said what distinguished Mt. Sinai from pagan law? It was addressed to the heart. By whom? God. So when you deal with law you’re dealing with what ought to be true, what ought to be true, its values and ethics and law all wrapped up together, and you can’t have values, ethics and law without a source for them. And the Bible insists that the source for all of those values, ethics and law, is God. It’s got to be God, it can’t be man; if it’s going to be man, what do you do about Nuremberg? We went through that. That’s the alternative, you can’t do it.
So the Bible is very insistent that once you let go of the Creator/creature distinction you can’t have genuine law. People will argue with you and say oh, but I know China or Japan or these other areas have law. But usually what’s happened there is that you have gotten wisdom principles without a root, and even those laws don’t last long. Witness Tiananmen Square, what happened in Tiananmen Square? It was because there wasn’t any liberty with the law. The point is that when you start the law you see immediately religion is described in these law codes.
Let’s skim down further. Let’s try to name the areas that you observe from areas of life. There’s the whole thing from verses 6-12 that deals with worship. Notice an interesting observation in verse 12, “And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion or inheritance with you.  Be careful that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every cultic place you see,  but in the place which the LORD chooses in one of your tribes….” Did you notice in verse 12, “you will rejoice before the LORD,” if you read the descriptions of worship in the book of Leviticus, it sounds like they had parties, they came, they feasted, they were serious but it was a time of rejoicing. So the idea of church supper or something, actually you see it in the Scriptures. It’s a time of rejoicing, it’s not just somber. As mighty as the God of the Scripture is, as powerful, particularly in the Old Testament, as He appears, He calls His people to come before Him and enjoy themselves in His presence.
Notice a little clause in verse 12; do you notice something there that you might not expect to have seen in a pagan version of this law? For example, in the notes, on page 71 that in the ancient law codes of the other countries there was class distinctions. Now their slaves are mentioned in verse 12, but the slaves that are mentioned there are not kidnapped slaves as we know the word slave, we can basically summarize they’re economic slaves, “male and female servants,” is there anybody excluded in verse 12? Everybody has the right to come and rejoice before the Lord, there were no class distinctions. This is a tremendous and powerful social unifier in that society. It’s not just a small point. God, by virtue of saying I want all classes, I want all strata to come before Me, when you come before Me you are all one. So this prevented a hierarchy that could have developed.
Notice in chapter 12, for example, verses 15, 16, and 17, what’s the area of life described there? “However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your gates, whatever you desire, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and the deer.  Only you shall not eat the blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water.  You are not allowed to eat within your gates the tithe of your grain, or new wine, or oil, or the first-born of your herd or flock, or any of your votive offerings which you vow, or your freewill offerings, or the contribution of your hand.” Eating, diet. Now we’ve gone from religion to diet. Verses 22-23, “Just as a gazelle or a deer is eaten, so you shall eat it; the unclean and the clean alike may eat of it.  Only be sure not to eat the blood.…”
In chapter 13 we get into the controls on testing religious phenomena for truth or falsity, there are certain empirical tests given. Why was that given in the law? What happened to a false prophet? If a guy got up and taught false doctrine in Israel what happened? He got killed, a capital offense. Obviously the courts had to be given rules of evidence, so chapters 13 and 22 give you the rules that the courts used to determine whether a prophet was true or false. If we tried that on come of the cults today it’d be interesting. In chapter 14 look at the detailed codes, in verses 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, the clean and the unclean animals. The word “clean” is kosher from which we get kosher, food. Why are all these here? Because God, when He speaks His revelation speaks to all areas of life, so he speaks to eating.
Then we could go on and look at some other things, you’ll notice in 13:21, a minor point, the Mosaic Law exercised humane consideration of animal rights. Remember back in Noah, when a carnivorous diet was first introduced to the human race legally and lawfully, and people today believe in vegetarianism, it’s healthier and this and that, Hinduism has always believed in vegetarianism, that’s why the cows run all over the streets in India. The point is that there is a certain reluctance on the part of the pagan mind to eat meat, always has been, and God says eat it.
That means you have to kill animals to eat. Why is that? Because apparently after the flood God wanted us to understand that civilization obtains its nourishment from death, that we live because others die. One of the reasons why modern people who are against meat eating have a real problem, some of them haven’t thought this through yet, but the problem with it is that it’s essential denying my sinfulness, it’s saying I will sustain myself without death, I will not eat, I will not permit animals to give their lives for me. That comes very close to getting out of the mentality that Christ said in John 6, you shall eat, not only of My body but also of My blood. Notice here in the Old Testament there was a reluctance, you could eat the body and the flesh, but not the blood. When you come to Christ you “eat” both. So the eating of animals is preparation for us to understand that we are only saved by the death of someone who died for us, it’s humiliating to realize that we caused that. Maybe we are squeamish about killing animals, but we are causing it, we caused the problem; that was not the way it was originally from creation. So in one sense it is abnormal.
But even in these passages there’s consideration for animals. Notice verse 21, “You shall not eat anything which dies of itself. You may give it to the alien who is in your town, so that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner, for you are a holy people to the LORD your God….” Notice cleanliness and public health went with holiness, the two were tied together. “…You shall not boil a kid in the mother’s milk.” That’s a strange verse. What’s that talking about? It’s just sensitivity; don’t wipe out the litter and the mother. In several other places this is mentioned. So there’s a humaneness, you take one or you take the other, but you don’t wipe the whole thing out, it not just this brutal thoughtless extermination of animals. It’s done but done carefully. There is a resistance to brutality to animals is the Scripture. I mentioned earlier, what do you find in the Sabbath legislation? It’s addressed to the animals, all the work animals had the day off, just like people had the day off. So you rested your horses, you rested your oxen; there was a consideration for those animals that were working for us.
Notice in verses 24-26 are rules about money exchange, so we deal with the issue of currency and currency transactions. That was being violated in Jesus’ day and what happened? What did Jesus do in one of the most famous events of His life, one of the most violent events of His life? Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, took a whip and went in and faced the mafia, basically, that were running the temple operations, and He tipped over the table, the currency went all over the place. Talk about a one-man riot? It’s interesting, this abortion thing, they talk about blocking public access. It’s very interesting that Jesus in that time blocked public access; He went in there and tore the place apart basically. He did so because of the violations that were occurring in these areas of the law. Verse 24, “And if the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring the tithe, since the place where the LORD your God chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the LORD your God blesses you,  then you shall exchange it for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses.  And you may spend the money for whatever your heart desires, for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.”
Notice in chapter 15, we just want to skim through because this may be new to some of you, you’ve never had a chance to read through the law, and I urge you to do this, if you haven’t done it. I can only sample things quickly to kind of give you a flavor. Deuteronomy 15:1-2, “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts.  And this is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the LORD’s remission has been proclaimed.” Now we have rules about loans. The Scriptures have considerable economic rules, and one of the rules was that you couldn’t have a loan equal to… you were limited to six years. That created some economic problems, because if someone came to you for a loan and they were only two years away from the sabbatical rest, you’ve got a little problem. So you’ll notice that in these sections of Scripture the Holy Spirit is coping with the fallout of this.
Can anyone suggest why that is in the Mosaic Law Code? Do you see any meaning why God interfered, as it were, with the issue of debts? When we are in debt, Proverbs says we are a slave to the lender. Is any form of slavery revelatory? Is God’s picture of salvation that of an abject slave? From where had the Jews been delivered? From Egypt, from slavery, and He doesn’t want His society to be filled with economic slaves. This was a way, that had it been followed, which it wasn’t, but had this rule been followed the indebtedness levels of Israel would have been phenomenally low. And with a society that is low in debt and high in cash it’s tremendously resilient. One of the reasons Albania went down is because of the money. But here where you have checks and balances on loans, checks and balances on interest, there God reached into the pocket book and said not only am I going to tell you what to eat, I’m going to tell you how to lend your money. There’s a debate whether these were charitable loans or business loans, etc. but the big point tonight isn’t to get into all the details, the point is just notice the areas, that revelation is comprehensive and it talks to every area.
One other thing I want to skim over is in Deuteronomy 19:2-10. This is a particular set of rules that were given to the people for the people’s courts, the elder courts, and it had to deal with the issue of murder, and in this case it had to deal with how to separate manslaughter, accidental murder, from murder, because murder was a capital offense. In verse 2, “you shall set aside three cities for yourself in the midst of your land, which the LORD your God gives you to possess.  You shall prepare the roads for yourself, and divide into three parts the territory of your land, which the LORD your God will give you as a possession, so that any manslayer may flee there.” Notice “roads” in verse 3, that’s going to come up, there’s got to be access to these cities, so they had to get their engineers out and build a road system to at least these three cities.
Verse 4, “Now this is the case of the manslayer who may flee there and life: when he kills his friend unintentionally, not hating him previously—  as when a man goes into the forest with his friend to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down the tree and the iron head slips off the handle and strikes his friend so that he dies—he may flee to one of these cities and live.  lest the avenger of blood pursue the manslayer in the heat of his anger, and overtake him, because the way is long, and take his life, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated him previously.” We can get into all kinds of things here but notice in verse 6 the phrase “overtake him because the way is long,” relate that observation back to verse 3 and the preparation of highways and roads. They divide the area into three parts so that a city of refuge would be reasonably close by; they made everything kind of equal distance to these three cities. That was the idea to provide for manslaughter, a safety for a manslaughter situation.
The idea is you can go into all kinds of things, chapter 20, these are rules of engagement given to the army in battle. One of the things we’re going to deal with in the next chapter deals with holy war, notice in Deuteronomy 20:10-15, those are the cities that would normally be around the area they might have a battle with, so that’s regular war, from verses 10-15. 10 “When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace.  And it shall come about, if it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then it shall be that all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you.  However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it.  When the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike all the men in it with the edge of the sword.  Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty, for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you.”
Notice how carefully verses 16-18 change the rules of engagement for military operations. Military operations prior to that, there was an offer of peace, there was grace offered. But there is no grace offered in verse 16-18. “Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes.  But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you,  in order that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God.” That kind of warfare is called holy war, which we will get into; it’s one of the most controversial sections in all the Bible. Why did God obliterate this; that’s coming up in the next section.
I think we’ve seen enough to get the basic idea, there are all kinds of health rules and everything, the law was comprehensive. On the notes on page 71 just to contrast what we just read, I quote a section from the Code of Hammurabi. Notice this code: “If [the victim] had died because of his blow, he shall swear [that it was not deliberate injury], and if it was a member of the aristocracy, he shall pay one-half mina of silver. If it was a member of the commonality, he shall pay one-third mina of silver.” In other words, the low class was worth less. There you have in the pagan law code, embedded in the very code, a class distinction when it comes to justice. When you go to the Scripture codes you can’t find that. You find some things about the slaves, etc., but you won’t find it like this.
The last section, on page 72 we deal with “Revelation is Prophetic.” And what we mean by that is that the Scriptures contain a series of prophets. Here’s Moses, he’s the main author of the Law, humanly speaking, and after him would come a series of prophets. These prophets would all go back to the Law Code; you see that in the rest of the Old Testament. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, all these guys that you read about and have these funny names, all those men are men who go back to Moses, they’re not adding at all to Moses. They are like prosecuting attorneys who are prosecuting the nation based on their violations of the Mosaic treaty. If you can see your Old Testament that way it makes it stand out for you and you realize that when you read in Isaiah you’re not reading anything new, in any of the prophets. All they’re doing is administering the law codes that were given way back in Moses’ time, nothing has changed. So that’s the idea of the prophet part.
On page 73 is a quote from a Jewish scholar, and Dr. Kaufmann makes an interesting observation that if you study prophecy as given in the nation of Israel for the Jews, and then contrast prophets found in Gentile nations or people who claim to be prophets, you see there’s a difference. Here’s the difference: “What makes the history of Israelite prophecy sui generis is the succession of the apostles of God that come to the people through the ages. Such a line,” and this sentence is important, “Such a line of apostle-prophets is unknown in paganism.” In pagan cultures you’ll have a prophet here and a prophet there; you do not have a long line of prophets. That is ONLY true in Jewish Israel. Just like we said the Jews are the only ones that had covenants with their God, they are the only people with a prophetic, these are objective historical facts; they can’t be debated. That’s the way it is.
We as Christians need to be sharp on this, this is a feather in our hat, so to speak, as Bible-believing Christians that we can calmly point out, it doesn’t make any difference if you believe in God or not, you’ve got to deal with history, and there was a people called Israel, and that people called Israel made covenants with their God, or God made covenants with them, show me where that’s true elsewhere. And they had a line of prophets; how many years was this line of prophets? Moses dates in 1400 BC, and you go down to the time of Christ and the apostles, you’ve got fourteen centuries plus of prophets. The challenge to the non-Christian is show me another case of that. It’s very simple; show me one other case in history where you have fourteen centuries of prophets basically saying the same thing. That’s something objective we can point out to our friends.
We want to cover two other subsidiary doctrines to the doctrine of revelation. These fall out and basically depend upon revelation, so we have Revelation, the idea that God speaks in history, publicly, and from that we develop the doctrine of inspiration, a description of the Bible basically and from that we deal with something else called canonicity. We want to cover those briefly now, inspiration and canonicity. In the picture on page 73 I show you the relationship between revelation and inspiration. The doctrine of inspiration, the word “inspire,” comes from 2 Timothy 3:16; that’s historically where that word came from. In 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul says, “The Scriptures are God-breathed,” theopneustos in the Greek, it’s a word that Paul made up apparently, you can’t find it in Greek dictionaries, it doesn’t exist anywhere in Greek pagan culture. It’s just a word he coined, that God breathed out the Scriptures. Paul didn’t mean that there wasn’t human beings doing the writing, but somehow God superintended the process that no matter how the men, whether they heard the Word, whether they got it from somebody else like Luke, whatever the means was, that the final written product was from God.
There are lots of things in the Scriptures that were missing. We have lost a lot of things. Turn to the end of the Gospel of John and you’ll see a little note, a very famous one, you’ve undoubtedly seen this reading the Bible, but it gives you an idea of how much we’ve lost, never to have found again. Our curiosity would love to find these things. Look at what John says in John 21:24-25, “This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his witness is true.  And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which they were written.” So obviously a lot of material has gone by the board, there’s a lot that’s not here in the Bible. That’s why in that diagram I write: revelation was bigger than inspiration; inspiration deals only with the preserved Scriptures.
Let’s think, why is it necessary to have an inspired Scripture? Why is it necessary that the Scripture that God has given us be inerrant? What are the Scriptures, ultimately? What do we say that God does to Israel that is not true of any pagan nation on earth? What is the one feature that’s absolutely unique to the Jew? God makes a covenant. If you have a covenant, it’s a written document, it’s an agreement, and after you establish a covenant, or contract, what do you do? You have two parties that agree to a certain behavior. What do you have to do to follow up a covenant to make sure the covenant isn’t broken? You’ve got to have a record of behavior. What is that record of behavior, but it has to be a record that can stand in a courtroom situation. That’s why conceptually what you’re looking at here that you hold in your hand is a record of behavior of God and man that is to be the indictment against man on the basis of a covenant, the New Covenant, the Old Covenant; it’s all tied to contracts and behavior. It’s not because some fundamentalist just invented the doctrine of inspiration to give everybody a hard time. Inspiration and inerrancy flow naturally and conceptually out of the idea of the Bible as a covenant.
Turn to page 74, to give you an idea that the fundamentalists weren’t the first people to think this up I deliberately selected some ammunition for you to use. Here are some classic proofs. Fundamentalism, by the way, started in 1900, so every quote here is prior to the fundamentalists. Look at the belief historically in the inerrancy of the Bible. “Within Roman Catholicism Augustine said, ‘I believe most firmly that no one of those authors has erred in any respect in writing.’” That’s Augustine’s own words, we didn’t make it up, it’s not fundamentalists saying that. “Within Lutheranism Luther wrote, ‘The Scriptures have never erred.’ ” “Within the Reformed tradition Calvin noted ‘the certain and unerring rule’ of Scripture.’” [blank spot] … even by the author of the Scripture. Now that doesn’t make sense if you think about it. When you write a business contract and tomorrow you say oh man, I forgot to put that in, what is the other party going to say? Sorry fellow, the contract was made yesterday, what do you want to do, go through and tear the whole thing up and rewrite it? But once the contract is made all parties to the contract must submit to the contract.
One other place where you can see this is the last verses of the Bible, the New Testament, Revelation 22:18-19, “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book;  and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” Does that sound like God’s serious about keeping this contractual terminology straight? Of course He is, because all of history has got to be measured against the contract, you can’t mess with the ruler, that’s what you use to build everything else with.
So the idea on canonicity is yes, the Bible came through the church but once the Bible comes into existence the Bible, not the church, is the authority. That’s the difference. Rome says no, we believe that the church is the continuing authority and so there’s a big debate. But that’s the nature of the discussion.
Very quickly I want to go through some of the verses at the bottom of page 75-76 to give you a flavor of how the Bible came into existence. I’d like to go through the Bible chronologically, so turn to Judges 18. I want to show you some notices that maybe you haven’t noticed before in your Bible reading, you probably went through these, and might not have stopped and seen the full import of them. Judges 18:30, it’s not quite clear in some of the translations but this is what we call a little notice that somebody put in the text after the text was written. And it explains things. The guy who put this in was probably a prophet, a later prophet who brought it up to date. It says, “And the sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.” When was the captivity of the land? 586 BC, and there were earlier captivities of course. But the idea, see “until the day of the captivity of the land,” that’s a historical note. Liberals seize on that particular note and say oh yes, that’s an argument for late authorship. No, not necessarily, that is a note by a prophet who kept the text up to date.
You can see another one in 1 Samuel 9:9. This is not arguing that the Bible has been tampered with; the prophets were the ones who were the custodians of it. In verse 8, there’s a big long story that’s going on there, and the servant is talking to Saul about this and that. In verse 9 some of your translations have it in parenthesis, but if you look at it, think about what verse 9 is saying, that’s another one of those little historical notices, put in there probably by a later prophet, to clarify the text. “(Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he used to say, ‘Come, and let us go to the seer;’ for he who is called a prophet now was formerly called a seer.)” That was put in there by somebody who said I know you guys, when you read this, you’re not going to understand it but here’s the way it was back in those days. But we have to know that this was written back in those days, so the notice is not proof, like liberals say, that this is late author, written backwards, it’s just proof that the text once written was explained by these prophets. They would go in and make these historical notices. I give you a bunch more on page 76. So much for the notices.
There’s one other area, turn back to page 75, some of those passages, 1 Chronicles 29:29, I just want to point out the fact that when we say that a lot of the Scriptures were generated but never collected in the Canon, and here’s a reference to some of them. “Not the acts of King David, from the first to last, are written in the Chronicles of Samuel the seer, in the Chronicles of Nathan the prophet, and in the Chronicles of Gad the seer,” now tell me where those books are. Those, evidently, were the first texts, like diaries kept, and notice what’s common to all three of those? Samuel, Nathan and Gad, what are they all said to be? Prophets. They’re not the kings, notice who’s not keeping the records. It’s not the kings that are keeping the records. Who’s keeping the records? The prophets are, it’s that prophetic line of those unnamed men, many of whom we know their names but then others we don’t. Those are the guys who kept the diaries of what was going on because they are the ones who are led specially by God to have the inside and to capture those moments of history and their meaning. And they were the ones from whom all the rest of the Bible was written.
I hope that gives you some sort of a flavor for the fact that out of the Mt. Sinai vision you have God speaking from the top of a mountain, you have Him speaking publicly and audibly, it’s not some sort of ooh ah kind of feeling, it could be recorded with a tape recorder. You have it written and the first writing of the law, who did it? On the mountain? God wrote it, He wrote it in rock and brought it back down. So God Himself not only spoke, He wrote it, with due apologies to the historians who don’t believe alphabets existed at this time, it’s funny, God had the alphabet, He must have, He wrote it, in an alphabetic text. So here we have the generation of Scripture and we have the line of prophets that protect, superintend that text, when they protect it with their lives until at last the Canon is closed, and when that Canon is closed, nobody adds to it, nobody, not even the church can add to it.
Next week we’re going to start a whole new area which deals with the next great historical event, the most controversial area of the Scriptures probably, and every skeptic alive likes to crucify us on the fact that God in the Old Testament is such a cruel God, He killed people, slaughtered everybody. Yes he did, not everybody, He was nice to some people, but He did kill and He ordered mass execution, a genocide. What we want to deal with is why is there genocide in the Bible.