Hildebrandt, OT History, Lit., and Theology, Lecture 17
Copyright © 2012, Ted Hildebrandt
Ten Commandments: BIG LC SPAMS
We’ll try to get through most of the book of Deuteronomy today; although we probably won’t be able to get through it. There are going to be some difficult things to explain today, so as far as cognitive stuff this is probably the most difficult day we’ll have in the course as far as cognitive stuff, it’s some pretty heavy stuff. We’ll be dealing with law and grace and difference between the Old and New Testament and things like that. So there will be some pretty interesting material. Before we get to the heavy stuff let’s do some lighter stuff and it’s not really light, but first of all, I want to teach you all the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are the foundation. They’re called the general stipulations. They’re kind of foundational to everything else in the Law and so basically I had trouble memorizing the Ten, it’s kind of like the 12 apostles, you always lose one, you’ve got to go through them a couple times. So I decided to kind make a goofy acrostic here for it. So here are the Ten Commandments: B.I.G. L.C. S.P.A.M.S, okay? Now for my generation, do you guys know what “spam” is? Probably people don’t know what spam is. Spam, they put this stuff in a can and it like stays good for like 30 years. Actually, you guys are probably eating the spam that they built when I was in high school. Nobody really knows what spam is, but it’s supposed to be like a meat substitute. Okay so BIG LC SPAMS. This how we’ll do the 10 commandments.
The BIG, here will be all about God, so the first one will be: No Blasphemy. No blasphemy. No taking the name of the Lord your God in a light or trivial fashion. To be honest with you I don’t know what to do with myself in your generation. I hear students even on Gordon’s campus and my son just brought home a girlfriend that he had, and every other word out of her mouth was “Oh, my God, oh my God, oh my God.” Instead of saying exclamation point, people say, “Oh my God.” Is that taking God’s name in a light and trivial way? Let me just illustrate for you; a teacher gets up in front of a high school class in Massachusetts, you know Massachusetts how schools are here, and a teacher gets up and all of the sudden the teacher bumps her leg against the desk and she says, “oh my God.” Okay, is that allowed in a Massachusetts school? Sure it would be. Same teacher gets up and she goes like this folding her hands and bowing her head “Oh my God.” Question; is that allowed or not allowed?--no, she would lose her job. So I’m saying it’s just really interesting. I think you need to think about using God’s name and how you do it; whether you use it in a light and trivial way. He says that I don’t want my name used in a light and trivial way. No blasphemy, okay?
No Idols and other gods
No idols. No idols would be the “I”, “I” would be idols. Again we don’t worship Baal and Asherah and Dagon. We don’t have idols of stone. Some people would say that we have idols of car, money, houses and things like that and you can make a case for saying those things are idols. I also think about the idols we make in our mind. This way we conceptualize God in a way that is much less than who he really is. You have got to be careful of about becoming comfortable with you own way of conceptualizing God. The ending of the book of 1 John he warns us; “beware of idols.” And so I think that that is a really valid thing. Actually I’ve had to face my own idols and realize my own idolatry in the 21st century. Anyways, we’re not doing Baal worship anymore, but we do our own kind of 21 century idols.
So no blasphemy no idols, no other gods before me, okay?. So, no other gods before me. And, those three; no blasphemy, no idols and no other gods, those are all God focused.
Now the LC, is no lying. That’s pretty apparent. No lying. No C, is no capitalism, I mean, no coveting, no coveting. Is our culture built on coveting? And so no lying, no coveting, no coveting your neighbor’s house. Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife. Don’t covet your neighbor’s stuff, and so no coveting. This is a real problem in America where everybody covets everybody else’s stuff. And that is partially how our country is built. So no lying, no coveting, no stealing. Those people have the right to personal property. That’s how you would say it in a positive sense. People have a right to personal property. You should not steal their stuff. Does your roommate every steal you stuff? Be careful, stealing stuff is no good. It’s a sin against God, okay?
No lying, no coveting, no stealing stuff. What stealing does is it says a person has the right to personal property. Let me just take this, you shouldn’t lie which means, how would you put that in a positive sense? You should tell the truth, okay. So you should be a truth speaker. You shouldn’t lie you should be a truth speaker. You shouldn’t covet other people’s stuff to get it for yourself. Instead you should you be generous. And so do you see how each of these can be spun around and put in a positive way. You shouldn’t steal stuff, but you should rather be giving stuff to other people.
Now parents: Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long on the earth. So this is the one that deals with parents. This is the only positive one. All the others ones are don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t do this stuff. This is a positive one: Honor you father and your mother. It’s a big thing. You know it gets into the question: what do I do when my father and mother aren’t honorable? You know, my mother was drug addict and my father walked out on me. It gets to be a real difficult situation: how do you honor parents. It’s a tricky situation.
No adultery. A is for adultery. No adultery. Jesus speaks on this in the New Testament. Jesus says, “You have heard it said of old time, thou shalt not commit adultery.” But what does Jesus say? “But I say unto you, he who looks on women lustfully in his heart has already committed adultery already in his heart.” Jesus takes these commandments and drives them into the heart. He doesn’t say, “Oh I have never committed adultery because I’ve never been married.” Jesus says if you have lust you have already committed adultery. By the way, in our culture do we actually applaud adultery? Are half of our movies about adulterous situations? And so, in the old days they used wear red letter on them. Now you’re a hero. You’d become a hero in our culture. In our culture the celebrities they turn over wives and turn over husbands and it’s applauded, almost. So, adultery; be careful about adultery.
Murder versus Killing
No murder. No murder is the “M”. Now notice; does that Bible say, “thou shalt not kill,” or does it say, “thou shalt do no murder”? It says, “no murder.” Is there a difference between killing and murder? Did the Israelites kill people in war? Were they violating this commandment? No, God told them, in some of the cases to go out to go to war. Another case that I would use, like myself I fear going down Grapevine Road. A kid’s riding his bike. These kids ride their bikes now, and all of the sudden the kid swerves in front of my car and I run the kid down and kill the kid. Question, have I murdered the kid? Now, is the kid dead? I rode my car over him. So I killed him but did I murder him? Murder implies hatred or malice and a forethought. Those two words are key: malice and a forethought. In other words there was no malice on my heart toward this kid. He just happened to swerve in front of me; I couldn’t stop. So for murder the key is: malice and a forethought. In other words, if you planned ahead of time to kill a person, and so malice and forethought that’s murder. So you’ve got to make a distinction between killing and murder. By the way do even our laws in America make a distinction between killing and murder?—yes. Do we have different degrees of murder and different degrees of killing. An elderly, I want to say this respectfully for the honor of parents.
Suppose my mother-in-law, my mother-in-law’s got Alzheimer’s, okay. Good or bad? Bad. Really bad, okay. Suppose she got in the car and started driving the car. Could she kill somebody? Could she kill herself. What would happen is that, suppose she hit the gas pedal instead of the break and she missed it because her coordination’s gone. Could she actually ram into somebody and kill them? Would she be considered a murderer? Now, by the way, should she be driving a car?--no,. So this is a bad illustration. What I wanted to say is, let’s suppose a person gets drunk and goes out, drives and they’re drunk driving and they kill somebody. Question, are they a little bit more responsible than my mother-in-law who’s got Alzheimer’s? You know what I’m saying? She is totally out of her wits. Now she shouldn’t have been driving the car in the first place, but a person that’s drunk, are they more responsible? Why? Because there’s neglect there and responsibility. Did they do it with malice and a forethought?--no, the problem was there was no thought. There’s different degrees of murder and killing. So, no murder, okay? Murder is with malice and a forethought. Instead we should affirm life.
Then lastly, the last one is the “S”, is remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. So the Sabbath is part of the Ten Commandments. Ten Commandments: BIG LC SPAMS, right? And can you think through it that way? Yes sir, Peter. (Student): What’s the L.C—(Hildebrandt): L.C., Library of Congress. Oh, yes, it’s just L.C. BIG LC SPAMS. Lying and coveting.
Shema: Deut 6:4ff
Now, okay, moving on. Another general stipulation-- and so I want you to know the Ten Commandments-- Umm another general stipulation and that is what is called the Shema. Every Jew in the world, I swear knows these verses. This is the John 3:16 if you’re Jewish. Deuteronomy 6:4, this is called the sham, because the first word the shema means “to hear.” “Hear, O Israel, [shema] Israel. Do some of you know, if you go over to a door post over here, have any of you gone to a Jewish house and when you go in the door post there is a little “W” on the door and you see them go like this and like that. Does anybody ever go to a Jewish house and you see them touch the door post where there is this, it looks like a “W.” The letter W in Hebrew is this “Sh” sound. And when you go into a Jewish house they will have a little, this “sh” letter. It looks like a “W.” It’ll be on the door, and that’s to remind them when they enter the house to remember what? Shema Israel. “Hear, O Israel, Yahweh’s our God, Yahweh is one.” And so they’ll go they’ll and touch it kiss, their hands like that and you’ll see them when they go in the house. It’s just another way to remember Scripture. So, “Hear, O Israel, Yahweh’s our God”—by the way what’s the next verse after that? “Hear, O Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one and you shall” what? “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and mind,” so it goes on. This is the great command to love the LORD with all your heart. So this is part of the shema.
Institutions of Israel
Now, as there are broad, the 10 commandments very broad, foundation laws for society and for Christianity, and Judaism. There’s also now Moses, there is a huge transition happening where Moses is giving the reins over to Joshua. Moses is handing the reins of leadership over to Joshua. There is going to be a big transition. As Moses is letting go what he is doing is he sets up the institutions. Moses is over here on Mount Nebo. They’re going to go down in, cross the Jordan River over to Jericho. Moses can’t cross the Jordan river, so he’s up on Mount Nebo and he’s looking over to Israel. Basically what he does is he sets up the institutions. In other words, this is almost like, what we call the Constitution. Moses is saying that when you get into the lands these are the institutions that are going to rule your country. And so Moses sets up these institutions in the Mosaic Law.
The first institution he sets up are the prophets. In chapter 13 we see what Moses has to say about the prophets. He says, “if a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams appears among you and announces toy up a miraculous sign or wonder and if the sign or wonder which he has spoken takes place.” So the guy comes to you and he announces that he has had a dream and then he announces the miracle and the miracle actually happens is the guy a true or false prophet? You still don’t know do you? Is it possible, if this guys does miraculous sign or wonder and “this miraculous sign or wonder takes place. And he says, ‘let’s go after other gods.’” Is he a true or false prophet? He is a false prophet because what he said contradicts Scripture. What he says contradicts God’s previous revelation when he says, “go after other gods.” What did the Ten Commandments say? “You shall have no other gods before me.” So you know the guy is a false prophet. What happens with false prophets? He says, “the LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you will follow him with all your heart, with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, in him you must revere or fear. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death.” Is Moses warning them that there would be prophets in the future, but he warned them that some of them would be false prophets.
What’s the difference between a false prophets and true prophet? How many false prophets to every true prophet? Did Israel have a lot of true prophets and few false prophets or did they have a ton of false prophets and very few true prophets? Does anybody remember Elijah and the prophets of Baal up on Mount Carmel? There’s 400 prophets of Baal, there’s one Elijah against the 400 prophets of Baal. This is how it goes in Israel. If you had to summarize, what is the message of the true prophet? The false prophet was supposed to be what?--killed. What did Israel do to the false prophets? They applauded the false prophets. Who did they kill?--the true prophets. What was the message of the true prophets, if I could summarize the message of the true prophet into one word; this is really crass, but If I could summarize it in one word it would be what word? Shuv, “repent.” So the real prophet gets up, he says, “repent” to the people. What do the people do? They beat the tar out of him. So, that’s the true prophet.
Now the false prophet, there are many false prophets and what do the false prophets say according the book of Jeremiah? It’s alright. Peace, love, harmony, peace. So Jeremiah says the false prophets say, “Peace, peace when there is” what? “No peace.” The ones that are always proclaiming peace and love and all of these wonderful things; what does Jeremiah say? Those guys are false prophets. The true prophet says, “repent.” So what I’m noting is this contrast between true and false prophets. Israel’s got a lot of false prophets. The false prophets they applauded; the true prophets they ended up killing a lot of them, and doing various things.
Does anybody remember the story of Isaiah? Isaiah was fleeing from—this is rumor it’s not in the Bible, I’m not sure, you know what I’m saying; this is what legend tradition has, but part of it comes out of the book of Hebrew—Isaiah was fleeing from king Manasseh was a really nasty, bad king and this guy is bad. So Isaiah is fleeing and Isaiah hides in a tree. Isaiah hides in the stock of a tree. And what happens is Manasseh’s men catch him; see he is in a tree. So what do they do? They take a saw and they cut the tree in half, okay. And so the book of Hebrews refers to some of them were “sawn asunder,” that’s Isaiah who wrote the big book of Isaiah. Let’s get out of there. Now the other passage that Moses brings up about the prophet is this, and this is a good passage too, in chapter 18. Moses explains what a prophet is and he says in chapter 18 down to verse 17 here it says, the nations who will dispossess you listen to those who practice sorcery and divination, but as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you” [you don’t do sorcerers, you don’t do divination]. “The Lord your God will raise up a prophet like me [Moses].” Moses says that, “God will raise up a prophet like me.” “You must listen to him for this what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb.” Then verse 18. “I will raise up a prophet like you [Moses] from among all your brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth.” What was the prophet to do? The prophet had God’s word put in his mouth. Therefore the prophet said what? “Thus saith the Lord.” This is the King James way of saying it, “thus saith the Lord” because God put his words in the prophet’s mouth. The prophets spoke for God. That’s what prophemi means: he speaks for God. He speaks in place of God. Moses says God is going to raise up a prophet like me.
When Jesus comes along does anybody remember what the Jews asked Jesus. They said to Jesus, “Jesus who are you? Are you the prophet?” What is “the prophet”? Who is “the prophet”? The prophet comes right out of here from Deuteronomy chapter 18. God told them that he would raise up a prophet like Moses. So they asked Jesus, “are you the prophet who is to come, or are you the Messiah, are you the son of David? Who are you? Are you the prophet?” So this passage gave some expectation that the Jews were expecting the prophet to come up that God would put his words in his mouth. They asked Jesus, “are you the prophet?” Jesus said what?--no. So it’s an interesting passage there.
Here’s the second institution that Moses sets up back in chapter 16. Actually 16 verse 18. It’s the second institution and this is the institution of the judgeship. By the way was Moses a prophet? Yes, Moses was a servant of the Lord he’s the big prophet in the Old Testament. Moses is among the best and biggest. Was Moses also a judge? Does anybody remember in the book of Numbers that God took the spirit off him put it on the 70. Then 70 people judged because Moses was judging all the people and he just got weighed down by that.
So here he gives some instructions for judges. He says you’re going to have judges and in Deuteronomy chapter 16 verse 18 he says this, “Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town.” Was justice to be local? Every town was to have a judge. Why would you put judges in every town? So that justice is accessable to the people. You didn’t have to run 20 miles to get justice. It was in your own local locality. So he says, “put a judge in every town, your God is giving you and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not except a bribe.” So the big thing for the judge was that a judge was to positively judge fairly with justice and negatively the judge was not to accept a bribe. Are money and justice to be connected to each other? Or what does the Scripture say? Should money and justice be connected or should they be disconnected?
In our culture, once upon a time I was teaching in Indiana state prison, maximum security prison. Guys are sitting in the class and I came up and I said well in America its really good in America because in America you know you don’t bribe judges in America. Guess what those guys did in prison? They laughed at me. They said, “you want to know the judge you want to know how much?” And now you say that these guys are in prison probably because they were bribing.
What I’m saying is: Are money and justice connected in America? The honest truth is, let me tell you a story of one of my friends. He was in prison. It was supposed to be, I think it was for 15 years. He had been in prison for 8 years. He swore he was innocent, absolutely swore he was innocent. A lawyer then came to his parents and said for 20,000 dollars we’ve got a technicality that can get your son out of prison. How many of you, if you were parents, would pay 20,00 dollars to get your son out of years of prison. Would you pay the money. 20,000, yes, sure. Think about what you’re parents pay to send you to Gordon college. They get off cheap like that. So the parents paid the 20,000 dollars, guess what happened to the lawyer. He comes back to them and says I almost got this case but we’re going in the wrong direction. I found another direction. I need another 20,000 dollars and I can get him out. I can do it. They came up with the second and when the second was done he came back a third time and said I got it now, I’ve got it nailed, 20 more thousand and I got him out of jail. It was $60,000 total. Question, do you know what those parents did? They went out an took out a second mortgage on their home to get the money. Guess what? I was at the trial. Did he walk out of there a free man. He walked out of there a free man. I’m serious the lawyer got him off, $60,000 and on the third try, the guy got the course, the case thrown out and he was exonerated and he got out. Question, if he had been a poor man would his tail still be in jail? But because his parents had money, were they able to get him out of jail? Is money and justice connected? You say well that’s not right. It shouldn’t be like that but that just the way it is. One of my favorite songs is called “that’s just the way it is.” And you say that’s just your friend. That’s my friend here in Indianan State Prison.
From my generation we only have to say two letters. Is money and justice connected, just two letter: O.J. I’m sorry that’s my generation. Question, is money and justice connected? If you’re a poor person does your tail go to jail? If you’ve got money do you get out of jail? Is that pathetic?
What happens if you’re a celebrity. You’re a celebrity and you do something wrong. Do you get something like a pass “O, I didn’t really mean it and it was all a mistake.” So you get “O, we don’t really put you in jail. We’ll give you, let’s see, what do they call that ‘community service.’ We won’t put your tail in jail. You get community service because you’re a celebrity and you didn’t know any better. And so therefore we’ll let you go, okay?” And what happens if you’re really a celebrity and you become famous because of your case and once you become famous will you get some of the best lawyers in the country seeking you out because you’re so famous? To get you off and they’re defense lawyers and they get you off. Can you even—I better not even say it—can you even, can you get away with murder and walk? Yes! And you write a book about it and you make a million dollars or make a movie on it and that kind of thing. Is there something in your gut that tells you that in America something is wrong with this justice system? What I’m saying is Moses says that money and justice should not be connected. Money and justice there should be no bribing. Money and justice should not be connected. It seems to me in our culture that money and justice are connected and I could give you—ha—believe me I could sand here and tell you case after case after case—actually one even happened to me and it was right in my face. He just laughed at me because he knew that I didn’t have enough to make it right because it would cost me 10, 20,000 dollars to make it right. He knew he was wrong but he knew that I didn’t have enough money to hire a lawyer so the guy took advantage. Did he win? Yes, so, that’s just the way it is. So Moses says that money and justice: not connected.
Moses also says, “hey, you guys set up cities of refuge. So on the east bank over here in Jordan set up some cities over here on the west bank of the Jordan then if you kill somebody accidently, suppose you’re out with an axe—this is a classic example—and all of the sudden the axe-head flies off and hits somebody and kills somebody. Where do you run to? You run to a city of refuge. The city of refuge the elders of the city of refuge come out, they talk through your case, and if you are innocent you can stay. The avenger of blood—now who is this avenger of blood? If somebody killed you do you realize that the family members would come after you and there would be an avenger of blood from the family of the person you killed. He would come after you and basically kill you, and so when you went into the city of refuge the city then would protect you. The avenger of blood was not allowed to kill you, if you were in the city of refuge.
Now what happens if you kill somebody on purpose and you fled to the city of refuge? The elders goes through the case and if the elders say you killed the guy on purpose the elders would hand you over to the avenger of blood. So that’s no good. So you don’t want to go to these cities of refuge if you’re not innocent. But if you were innocent you could go to a city of refuge and be protected from the avenger of blood. So, cities of refuge--pretty important.
Now the institution of the kingship: In chapter 17 of Deuteronomy we’ve got the law of the kings. Was there a king in Israel in Moses’s time? No. Actually you guys have just read the book of judges. Question: was there a king in Israel during the period of judges? “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes and there was,” what?-- “No king in Israel.” So there’s no king in Israel. Moses tells them that they will have a king. Moses tells them that they will have a king in Deuteronomy 17. He sets up the institutional expectation for the king and here’s what he says: “when you enter the land your Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settle in it. And you say, ‘let us have a king over us like the nations around us.’” By the way, is that exactly what they would say, you guys are going to be reading the book of Samuel this week. That’s exactly what they say, “they want a king like the other nations around us.” Moses said, “it’s okay for you guys to have a king. You’re going to have a king.” “Be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord you God choses.” So God’s going to be involved in the selection of the king and he must be from your own brothers. Does the king have to be Jewish? He’s got to be one of your own brothers. He’s got to be born a Jew. “Do not place a foreigner over you. One who is not a brother Israelite.”
The king must moreover not do three things. First of all, Moses says he should not acquire a great number of horses. He shouldn’t multiply horses. Now what’s the deal with multiplying horses? Horses back in those days are what?”--instruments of war. He basically said don’t multiply horses because if they did that their trust would be in what? Would their trust be in God or would their trust be in their horses for war? So he says, don’t multiply horses. I want you to trust me, not in the strength of your horses and then go back to Egypt because Egypt was one of the places that they got their horses from. He says, I don’t want you going back to Egypt.
Number two he says: don’t multiply wives. “He must not take many wives or his heart will be led astray.” Can you tell me a king of Israel who had many wives and his heart was led astray?--Solomon, or Sholomo. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Some people say he was supposed to be a smart man. We’ll get into I have actually I spent half my life studying Solomon and that narrative with Solomon is really interesting. There’s a great deal of irony and upside-downness in Solomon, okay the wisest man turns out to be the what? Yeah, and so you get this connection that wisdom and folly are actually—on the backside—can actually be connected in certain way. But don’t multiply wives because it will lead your heart astray. That is exactly what happened to Solomon with his 700 wives and 300 concubines.
Then, the third thing that you’re not supposed to multiply—and this is critical I think for our age is: do not multiply silver and gold. The king must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. The king is not to use his position of authority to acquire and accumulate gold and silver for himself, okay? Do people use their position to accumulate wealth for themselves? Moses says no, the king should not be acquiring personal wealth because where does the king get all his silver and gold? Does he get it from the people? So this is Moses saying no the king should not acquire a large amount of silver and gold for himself. Now by the way did Solomon have a lot of gold and silver? Was that a gift from God? So what you’ve got Solomon is interesting kind of mix there, and we’ll have to look at that later.
So, for the king there is no multiplying horses, no multiplying wives, no multiplying silver and gold. The king is not to do those things.
Now what is the king to do? That’s what he is not to do, multiply those three things. And basically there was one commandment for the king; it says this in verse 18 chapter 17, “when he takes the throne of his kingdom he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law.” So the king himself is to make a hand written copy of the law. Why is he to do that? “Taken from the priests and Levites it is to be with him, he is to read it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and to follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.” He’s to write the law so that he’ll know the law so that he can rule according to the law. So this is the king. Was Israel to have a king?—yes. Did God through Moses tell them they would have a king like the other nations?--yes. Before the king who was their king? Before the king himself, God was their king. But God tells them that they’re going to have a human king. He’s not to multiply those three things. He’s to make a copy of the law. Who would ultimately be the human king over Israel forever? Jesus will be the ultimate king of Israel. But Jesus will stand as whose son?--As the king of Israel, David’s son. David will be the king of Israel and Jesus will stand as David’s greater son, so to speak. David—Jesus is the son of David, the king of Israel. And so you get that thing going on with Jesus.
Priests and Levites
Okay, priests and Levites, another institution that Moses kind of sets up here: priests and Levites. What’s the problem with priests and Levites, chapter 18 verse 2? It says, “they shall have no inheritance among their brothers.” The priests and Levites got no land. They did not receive land from the Lord. All the other tribes get land, the Levites are not to have any land, why? What was their inheritance? The land was not their inheritance. The text here says you get no inheritance among their brothers, the Lord is their inheritance. So, the Levites and priests, what was their inheritance? They didn’t get the land they got Levitical cities. The Lord was their inheritance. Are the priests and Levites going to be scattered all over Israel then? I believe there are 48 Levitical cities scattered throughout Israel. So there will be priests and Levites scattered all over. One of the jobs of the priests and Levites will be to teach the law.
So, these are the major institutions that Moses setup on Mount Nebo. He can’t go over to the promise land so he sets up these institutions ahead of time. Do you see that the book Deuteronomy is like a constitution; setting up the institutions that will run the government the next hundreds and hundreds of years. Moses sets that up. And these are the institutions he sets up.
Law and It’s modern relevance
Now this is where it starts to get tricky, okay. In Deuteronomy Chapter 22, how do you take the law from back then to the 21 century? How do you take the Mosaic Law and apply it to today? How does the Mosaic Law fit? How do you go from the back then 1400/1200 B.C. to now? How do you bring it over to the 21st century A.D.? How do you make that 3000 year jump then? How do you go from back then to now? Let me just give an illustration of this. Deuteronomy chapter 22, verse 5, says this on women and pants. Should women wear pants? Deut. 22 verse 5 says this: “A women must not wear men’s clothing.” Pants, a man wears the pants in the family. Pants are men’s clothing. Women should not wear men’s clothing, so women shouldn’t wear pants. Now let me just give you an example of that. We got back from Israel and I got my first job teaching in a Bible College in Bristol, Tennessee. I loved it down there and so my wife, I was working I was working at the school during the week I was just making $5,000 working 80 hours a week and that’s not much money. So what I do? On the weekends I do preaching at various churches.
My wife was an English major in college. There was this large church probably 2000 member church and do a lot of the big churches have schools associated with them? So this pastor was over to the school. The pastor read this verse from Scripture that said, “a woman must not wear men’s clothing.” He concluded pants are men’s clothing, therefore all the girls went to the school had to wear skirts, they could not wear pants. My wife was teaching there and so that meant? She had to wear a skirt all the time. Now my wife, to be honest with you, the first probably year that I dated her we were back in the early 70’s and so therefore all the girls wore blue jeans, I wore blue jeans I never barely saw her in a dress before we got married. So now she’s got to wear a dress every day to work and she was an English major so they had her teaching, algebra. She was an English major—algebra, she was a gym teacher, she was a gym teacher she came home one day saying this girl slid into second base. Now what’s the problem when you slide into second base and you’re wearing this thing called culets. This girl ripped her legs all up and my wife came home, just shaking her head saying this girl’s got scars all on her legs for the rest of her life because she didn’t have pants on to slide into second base.
So my wife has to wear a dress all the time and we’re youth group sponsors, okay. So we do what good Christian people do we go out bowling, right? So we got the youth group out bowling, my wife knows how to bowl fairly well and so my wife goes and grabs the ball she runs down there pitches the ball. She’s got a skirt on. All the sudden her dress like flips up and it’s like holy cow show time. We’ve got these 16 and 17 year old kids here. Keep it down. You don’t want any free shows on here. So I kind of pull her aside and give her this about you know you can’t bowl like that anymore it’s revealing. So, then my wife has to go out and bowl like this. She goes up and throws the ball down, I won that day. But the problem was I always told her I’d pay 50 bucks to see the pastor’s wife snow ski in a dress. Wouldn’t that be funny?
He was taking Deuteronomy 22:5 and applying it to today. Now was the way he applied it kind of crazy?—yes. I think all of us acknowledge that. It was absolutely crazy. Oh, by the way did my wife wear a skirt for that whole year, actually two years? Did she wear a skirt for those two year? She did. Question: can we fit into different cultures? That’s a different culture than we’re used to. So they were very strict on this and so my wife wore a dress. The same way when I went to a Mennonite church and I had to preach on Father’s Day and they told that the Mennonites don’t wear ties because they think the ties are worldly. So that’s why I won’t wear a tie. I had to teach for 22 years with a tie wrapped around my throat. I couldn’t stand it. So when I came here I swore I would never wear one again. But, no, when I went to Mennonite church I got the King James Version because that’s what they accepted. So what I’m saying is when you’re in different cultures, when you’re in Israel you put a kippah on your head. When you’re in different cultures you fit in. So my wife wore a dress for two years there. You know it’s no big deal those are minor things but we do disagree about how the pastor interpreted the Scripture there. We disagreed with how he interpreted the Scripture there, but he is the pastor of the church. You fit in. Now how do you go from the back then to the now? We all have the sense that that wasn’t right.
Let me read the rest of this verse to you. So then we say this verse is stupid, it’s not talking about pants. By the way, what did guys wear back then? Do we know what men and women wore back then? Do we know that for sure? The answer is the Ben Hasani image we’ve got pictures of people. Women wore robes down to their ankles, guys wore robes down here so guys wore skirts. So what does that mean, we all got to dress just like they dressed? That’s why the guys they said, has anybody ever heard this, “you gird up your loins”? Basically you take up your garment and you tuck it in your belt because when you’re running you don’t want to trip over this crazy robe they wear. You gird them up and that’s the way men ran. Do we have to dress the way they dressed? By the way is part of the way they dressed because of the environment that they live in?—yes. We live in a different environment so you can’t go on doing these.
What is this really talking about? So then you say this verse is irrelevant to us and you just throw it out. Is it really relevant to us? Let me read the verse to you to see how you would apply it. It says, “that the women must not wear men’s clothing nor a man wear women’s clothing for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” What is this really talking about? Yes, is it fairly clear? I had a friend at another school where I taught and he used to put balloons in certain parts of his body and so wear nylons and he used to go to the mall and walk around the mall because he liked the way people would look at him. Was he a little bit… yes he was. Is that more what this verse is talking about? It’s not talking about pants versus skirts.
So how do you go from the back then to the now? This passage is talking about what? The differentiation between the sexes. I think Hannah hit it right when you said there are women’s pants different from men’s pants. So you know you work with that. The real issue is the differentiation of the sexes that they’re not be this confusion of the sexes. By the way, we live in America do we confuse everything? Yes, we kind of like it right? This is the bigger question, and this one is really tricky.
Culture and Law
What is the impact of culture on the law? When I was young I thought God came down on Mount Sinai and God said, “I am God here is my law wham-bam, this is my law, this is the way I want it done. This is the perfect law of God and this is it.” Totally ignoring culture, God says this is how I want this world to work. Does God in his law take account for culture? So what I’m wanting to suggest to you here is there’s much more of an interactivity now that I see between culture and law. We’ll just show some examples of that. The king was to involve himself in writing the law and making copies of the law. Do we have a king today? No, we don’t. We threw off George we don’t have a king and so the king was to write the law. Is he supposed to write a law you know make a hand copy of himself. He doesn’t have to he’s got it on his Blackberry or iPad.
Jesus and the Law
What’s Christ’s view of the law? So I want to look first juts at Christ’s view of the law and then contrast with Paul’s view of the law and come back to the question of Law and culture. What did Jesus say in Matthew chapter 5 verse 17, Jesus says this, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I did not come to abolish them,” but to what? “Fulfill them.” “I did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill them. “I tell you the truth until heaven and earth disappear not the smallest letter” which is the yodh “y” letter its half a letter, “or the least stroke of the pen” a jot or tittle—does anybody remember when king James said “not a jot or a tittle will pass from the law.” A tittle is a serif, does you guys know serif vs. sans-serif fonts. Arial is sans serif whereas the Times New Roman have you seen the little serifs that come off the letters on the you know the T’s and the P’s. They’ll have the tittles or serifs on them. Serif is what is called a tittle. It’s just a little wing-ding that comes off the letters. He says not the smallest letter or a wing-ding will disappear until the law is fulfilled. So how does Jesus defend himself against Satan? In Matthew chapter 4, just back a page here, Jesus is out tempted in the desert. He’s been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. Who comes to challenge him? Satan comes to him and says, “Hey, Jesus, you’ve been fasting for 40 days, you hungry Jesus? You got some stone here Jesus. Why don’t you turn these stones into bread? And does Jesus say, “Satan I know who you are watch this. I’m going to blink my eyes and your molecules are going to go like on each galaxy. I’m just—bam and you’re out of here, okay.” Did he? No, he didn’t do that. What did Jesus say--turn these stones into bread? Jesus says, what? “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” What is Jesus doing? Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy. “Turn these stones to bread,” Satan said, Jesus said, “man does not live on bread alone.” He’s quoting Deuteronomy 4 to Deuteronomy 8 and that section there.
Satan takes Jesus’ up to a mountain—to the top of the pinnacle of the temple, to the highest point in the temple and says, “Jesus, throw yourself down because—and, by the way, does Satan quote scripture? Satan actually quote scripture and says, “Jesus throw yourself down. It says in the book of Psalms that his angels will bear you up. Jesus turns to Satan and says no I’m not going to throw myself down. You shall not do what to the Lord your God? “You shall not or tempt the Lord your God.” Where’s that come from? The book of Deuteronomy. He’s quoting again the book of Deuteronomy saying, “you shall not tempt the Lord your God.”
Finally, Satan take him up to the highest mountain possibly Mount Hermon or Tabor. He shows him all the kingdoms in the world, and says, “bow down and worship me and I’ll give you all these kingdoms.” Jesus says what? “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only should you serve.” Is he quoting Deuteronomy chapter 5--the Ten Commandments? All three times when Jesus goes to defend himself against Satan, he quotes from Deuteronomy to defend himself. Christ uses Scripture to defend himself against Satan. Question do we need to use Scripture to defend ourselves against Satan? Seems to make sense. Jesus uses Deuteronomy all three times in the temptation of Christ to defend himself.
Did Jesus have a very high view of the law? When Jesus was asked what is the most important thing in the law, what did he say? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” And then what? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” These are the two great commandments. They come out of where. “Love the Lord your God, it’s the Shema. “Hear, O Israel. “You shall love the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 6:4: Where’s the other one from? Does anyone remember that one, “thou shall love your neighbor as yourself”? Did you guys memorize it? I thought I had you memorize it okay. Its Leviticus chapter 19 right? Lev chapter 19, “love your neighbor as yourself.” It comes from Leviticus. So, Christ greatest commands both of those are from Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
The permanence of the law Jesus says, “heaven and earth will pass away” but what? The law, “not a jot or tittle will pass from the law until all is fulfilled.” So the law is permanent. Jesus affirms that as well.
Now, does Jesus critique the law? Some people look at the Sermon on the Mount here and the Sermon on the Mount can be interpreted different ways. There’s a whole a whole literature actually on the Sermon of the Mount just 100s of different wonderful ways of understanding and the Sermon on the Mount. But one of the ways of looking at it is Jesus says, “You have heard it said of old time, thou shalt not kill, but I say unto you whoever is angry at his brother without a cause has committed murder already in his heart.” So what is Jesus do? Jesus takes the law and drives it into the heart. Jesus takes the law and applies it to the heart. His objection is not to the law itself, but his objection is to the Pharisaic misinterpretation of the law. He drives it into the heart. So he says what? “You’ve heard it said thou shalt not commit adultery.” Jesus says, “whoever looked on a women lustfully has committed adultery already in his heart.” So is Jesus affirming the law by driving it into the heart and saying that the very motives count here. So does Jesus have a very high view of the law? If a person is a Christian are you going to have a high view of the law? If you’re follower did Jesus have a very high view of the law, so, that’s my point here.
Paul and the Law
Now what about Paul? Paul if you go over to chapters in Galatians, Paul brings up this law and gospel contrast in Galatians chapter 5 verse 4. I just want to read this verse for you. Is Paul so positive on the law? Paul says, “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ.” Let me read that again. “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ.” In other words if you try to use the law to be justified then you’re alienated from Christ, so there is this tension between Christ and the law. You have fallen if you use the law like that you’ve fallen away from grace. So that’s really kind of a negative thing on the law, that the law actually takes you away from Christ. So Paul in the book Galatians is going have some problems with the law.
Now you say is Paul negative on the law? And the answer is “no” because if you go over to Romans chapter 7 verse 12 Paul says, “the law is holy, righteous and good.” So Paul in Romans says that “the law is holy righteous and good,” but in Galatians he tells them if they use the law to earn their salvation that way that then grace is no good to them. They’ve actually taken them away from Christ. So there’s this tension in Paul in terms of the goodness, the holy righteous and good law and this law that he talks about in Galatians. He gets a pretty negative and highlights the condemnatory nature of the law in Galatians chapter 3. Let me just turn over the page here, 3:10. It says, “All who rely and observe the law are under a curse, for it is written cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the law.” Clearly, “no one is justified before God, no one is justified before God by the law” why? “No one is justified by the law because the righteous will live,” by what?—“by faith.” I ask, does anybody know where that passage comes from, it says the righteous will live by faith.” That’s a fairly important concept in the Bible. “The righteous will live by faith.” It’s an Old Testament quote. Does anybody know the book of Habakkuk? Sure enough it’s in the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk is a wonderful little book, if you’ve ever got some time its short, about three chapters. It’s wonderful book and in that book it says, the righteous will live by faith.”
Paul says the law never justified anybody. Let me read that Romans 4:3, contrast over there with Romans 4:3. Paul says this, “What does the scripture say? Abraham, kept the law. He was circumcised and God then counted it for righteousness.” Is that what is says? It says, “Abraham believed God and its credited to him for righteousness.” Now why is Paul brilliant? Paul is absolutely brilliant here. Why is his using of Abraham absolutely brilliant? Is Abraham before or after the law? Abraham is hundreds of years before the law. Is Abraham the great one for circumcision? Was Abraham the one with covenant instituted by his being circumcised and solemnized by that? Now, that Abraham then introduces circumcision is big—was Abraham saved by keeping the law, by being circumcised?—no. The Scripture tells us clearly Abraham was justified by what? Let me just read that again, this is a really important. “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.” And so Paul goes back to Abraham because do all the Jewish people claim that Abraham is their father? It’s like Our Father Abraham. And so what he does is he goes back to Abraham to precede Moses and says Abraham was saved by faith so you also are saved by faith not by keeping the law.
The law is meant, and this is the fundamental problem: Is the law meant to show us how good we are? The law is meant to show us what?--our sin. And what happened is the Pharisees took the law and did they turn it on its head? The law was used to show others how good they were not to show them their sin. And what Paul is saying is, “No, no, you’re misunderstanding all of it. The law’s purpose was to show us our sin not to show us how good we are.” The law shows us our sins so that we turn to whom? –Christ, as savior. That’s the function of the law. God chose us, we’re sinners and we need a savior and that’s the foundation of the law. The law has a pedagogical function. The law is a mentor, the law is a “schoolmaster” I think is the King James Version, the law is the schoolmaster that brings us to Christ. The law brings us to Christ because we realize our sin and we realize now that we need a savior. So the law was set us up to bring us to Christ to show us our own faults, to show us our own sin so that we turn to Christ. So that’s the function of the law. The function of the law is to show us our sin, not to show that we’re righteous.
Okay, now what still stands? Let me have you conceptualize the law like this: this is what I was taught growing—when I was growing up this is what I was taught. And I think it’s useful and you’ll see me critique it in a minute but just think through this. People take the law the five books of Moses and they say certain parts of the law of Moses are civil laws. They’re civil laws, they’re laws for the government. Do you need law—does the government need laws? A government needs laws, unless you’re an anarchist or something. For example, one of the laws that Israel had was that if you had a house and you had a flat roof, all their houses are flat roofed, that you put a parapet, a little wall around the roof of your house. Now why would you do that? Yes, so if a person is up there they just don’t go walking and fall off your roof and then hurt themselves. So you were required by the law to put a parapet around the roof of your house.
By the way do you see that that is a safety requirement that a nation would want you know so people don’t get hurt. And is that so farfetched now. How many of you put a parapet around your roof? Now you say we live in New England all our roofs are like this, why are like this. Yes, the rain runs down and what’s worse than the rain sometimes? The snow goes off your roof. If you have a flat roof in New England you got a problem. No seriously, just look at Frost Hall. So what you want is like this. Question: do we need parapets around our roofs? None of you go up to mediate on your roof do you? Actually I’ve been on top of my roof, I’ve got a real steep roof it’s about 50 feet up there and I’ve sat right on the top of the thing—I was actually nailing on shingles after my singles blew off. So I had to nail it down upside-down there was nobody there to help me and I realized that if I fell, it was one of the few times in my life where--I’m not usually afraid of heights, I realized that my sons not are around so if I did fall there was no one to help me. It was kind of a different thing for me at this age in my life I’m thinking twice about heights now which is disgusting.
Now civil law, now let me go back to this. I’ve got neighbor, what about this parapet around the roof? We said we don’t have our roofs are all like this now. What about my neighbor who has got a pool. Question: does he have to put a fence around his yard to protect the kids don’t walk over and fall in the pool? Is that part of our—is that pretty much the same law. To protect people from harm. As a homeowner are you responsible to make sure people don’t get hurt on your property? And so they put a fence around the pools today and that’s, it’s very similar to that same type of law. So there are civil laws. There are civil laws these are for the government. Now question, are you the government. Do you have follow those laws? We’re not really the government.
The Jews also had ceremonial laws. Ceremonial laws are what? The laws of the priests and Levites. This is how you do sacrifices, and how you do feasts. What was the word we used for the rituals, we would use in English these words “rituals.” The rituals are prescribed in the law, the rituals that the priests go through. What was the other word that we used in Old Testament circles that’s a really important word to know. The ceremonial or the ritual we call what? “The cult” in the Old Testament, remember we use that word “cult” in the Old Testament. The cult is these external acts of worship, the rituals that you go through and that’s the ceremonial law.
Now question how many of you have sacrificed anything lately, okay? I mean a real sacrifice you know like sheep and goats. Do we do, these ceremonial laws anymore? Are we priests and Levites? Is the temple gone? The temple’s gone, right, the altar is gone, so we don’t do those ceremonial laws. So the civil laws are governmental laws and we’re not really government. The ceremonial has to do with the priests and their sacrifices.
So what do we focus on? In the Old Testament we focus on the moral law. Now are there certain parts of the law the Old Testament that are moral like, “thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not lie.” Are those moral precepts? “Thou should do no murder, thou should not commit adultery,” these types of things.
So what happens here is a lot of people divide the law into three categories. Is this law civil, is this law ceremonial or is this law moral? And then when the suggestion is we don’t necessarily keep these first two but the third one, the moral law of God, love the Lord your God with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself, we keep the moral law and so that’s what’s important there. So we segment the law and then how do we transfer the law over? We transfer over just the moral part of that law. Does that make sense then? Does this make the law easier to handle? We’ve got the civil law that’s for nations, but we’re not nations; ceremonial law for priests; but we’re not priests; and the moral law that’s what we follow.
Critique of the Civil, Ceremonial and Moral Law Distinction
Now let me critique that a little bit. My problem with this is how do you determine whether a law is civil, ceremonial or moral law? Sometimes are the ceremonial laws linked in with moral laws? Does the book of the law, Moses first five books of the Bible, does it come to us as an organic whole? It comes to us organically connected. You just can’t rip things off and put them in categories like that. When you start ripping it apart and say well this is civil this is ceremonial and this is moral you’re dissecting the law, you can’t do that. The thing is moral. Now this is immoral to do that. You can’t just break things apart like that. Is putting a parapet around your wall is that a moral issue? Yes, actually it is its part of your responsibility as one who owns the home. It’s partially civil but it’s also partially moral as well. Okay, so what I’m suggesting is that this categorization here violates the organic connection, the organic unity, the interaction with Scripture with itself. While I like—these categories are useful. But I think you’ve got to be real careful at dissecting, splitting and dissecting up the law. So to be honest with you I like some the idea of this but you got to be careful and back it off some.
Now here is the better way I think of coming at this question of law. What is the underlying universal principle? For example, care for the poor. Is care for the poor in the Old Testament good? Is care for the poor in the New Testament good?--yes. And so you get these more universal principles. Love God, be holy because I the LORD your God am holy, are these universal principles? So what you do is you look at are for those universal principles that are trans-cultural. They go beyond culture and they work in whatever culture each culture will manifest it differently but it’s basically the underlying principle that works in every culture.
Cultural re-particularization--now what do I mean by cultural re-particularization? Do we struggle with Baal worship today? Does anybody really struggle with Baal. You know in the Old Testament they weren’t supposed to worship Baal. We don’t even know who Baal is anymore. Sacrifices we don’t do sacrifices of sheep and goat, or grain anymore. Do we do clean and unclean? No we don’t’ really do that anymore. Did their altars have to be built in a special way? Yes, the Jew’s altar were supposed to be built of uncut stone in contrast to the Canaanite altars which were made from cut stone. We don’t build altars anymore so these rules don’t really apply to us.
But then you’ve got to ask do some of these laws—can you go underneath the cultural particulars to a universal underlying principle? Can you take the cultural particular off and find the underlying universal principle? That’s the case with Baal worship. Would that have to do with idolatry and whatever shape that takes place in your culture? Sacrifices, Jesus Christ dying for our sins and realizing and confessing sins. So what I’m suggesting is then that each law in the Old Testament will have a culture you got to pull off some things—the cultural particulars and look at the underlying principle.
Jesus and the Law and Culture
Now let me just do that a little bit more—the key then is this underlying principle rather than the cultural particular. Jesus gives a model of this I think in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says you know if you’re brother’s angry with you, if you’re anger with your brother in your heart don’t you know—you’ve committed murder already in your heart. So Jesus basically takes the law and drives it into the heart. So, what I’m suggesting then is, we should work with the principles that underlie the cultural particulars.
Now I want to make one more step, and this next step, actually I discovered this a few years ago and this is difficult. Did God accommodate himself to culture when he gave the law? In other words—I originally though when he came down at Mount Sinai gave his perfect law that this is the way it’s supposed to be in heaven. This is the perfect and this is the way it supposed to run. But then I came across a statement in the New Testament that Jesus makes in Matthew chapter 19 verse 8. And let me just read this to you, I think it’s transformed the law I look at the law. Matthew chapter 19 verse 8 it says this. The question is on divorce and the Pharisees say this, “why then they asked did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Did Moses allow for divorce? Deuteronomy chapter 24, Moses allows for a man to divorce his wife? Deuteronomy chapter 24 Moses allows for divorce. Question is that perfect? Is that a perfect world? Moses allows for divorce. What does God say about divorce in Malachi God says, “I hate divorce.” Is that fairly clear? He says, “I hate divorce.” It’s fairly clear what God thinks about it. He hates it. You say well if God hates it in Malachi why did Moses allow for it in Deuteronomy chapter 24? Jesus here tells us the why; does Jesus know the why behind the law?--yes, Jesus was there. So Jesus says this, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives” why? “Because you hearts were hard.” Did God adapt his law because of the hardness of these people’s hearts? Yes, yes, he doesn’t come down and say here is this perfect law, you guys have to do this. He says, “No, that perfect law is not going to work with these people because they’re so corrupt.”
Now what’s that mean? Many, many years ago I taught this passage and I was in a small college in the mid-west called Grace College. I went over this passage and I said do you know what Jesus means here is that basically guys are so corrupt if you can’t divorce your wife, what would men do to their wives?--till death do us part. We’ve promised and therefore what would men do they can’t divorce their wives, yet they hate their wife and they want to get rid of her, what would they do? They would kill their wife. They kill their wife to be out of the marriage. So I go off and I’m talking about this do people even in America do some guys kill their wives to get rid of them in America. So I’m going off like this and this lady comes up to me afterwards—probably a 35 year old women—comes up to me and she says, “who told you you’re not supposed to know. Nobody here is supposed to know. How did you know?” She’s getting all paranoid and suspicious. I said, “lady I just made that example up of this guy killing his wife—I wasn’t referring to anything particular. She says, “No, no you were talking about me. You just laid out my whole situation. Who told you?” Basically what had happened was this lady, was from Colorado—this is so many years ago it doesn’t matter now—she was from Colorado. Her husband took out a hit on her. I forget what it was, pay 10,000 or whatever. She found out that her husband had paid somebody to kill her. She found out about it so she took the kids and she fled to Indiana. We had these places, I think they’re called “safe houses” where a women can go with her family and be protected. And so she hid at a safe house and nobody was supposed to know where she lived or what had happened. She was taking course at a college trying to get her education. Did her husband pay to have her killed?—yes, and she was fleeing from that. So I’m saying even till this day you get this thing.
Jesus says because of the hardness of their heart. Did God adapt his law because these people hearts were so hard? He didn’t want these women getting killed and so he said, “Hey, okay, you can do divorce that I hate?” Now by the law is divorce God’s perfect will? God says that he hates divorce. But that he would allow what he hated because he didn’t want these people killed. And so what I’m saying is God adapted to the culture. So you’ve got to be careful if you just say God came down and gave his perfect law—this is how it’s supposed to be in heaven. No, God said these people are such sinners I’ve got adapt to this or they’re going to kill each other. Do you see how that changes then how you look at the law? Sometimes you’ve got a law of divorce because of the hardness of your heart.
Canonical continuity or clashing
Here’s another thing I work with: canonical continuity or canonical clashing. Do certain parts of the Bible say that it’s okay if I eat lobster even though its unclean? Catfish: clean or unclean?—unclean. Did the Jews have real sharp distinctions between clean and unclean. But in the New Testament does Peter, does Jesus in a vision tell Peter to get up and eat? It’s all on clean. Peter says what, “No, Jesus I can’t do that God because my mouth has never had anything unclean in Acts chapter 15. And God says, “Get up and eat, don’t call unclean what I’ve called clean.” Peter is told to eat all this non-kosher stuff in the New Testament because God’s trying to show that the kosher laws have passed now. If you’re a Christian do you have to eat kosher?--the answer is no. Acts chapter 15 tells us that we as Christians don’t have to eat kosher. And so some of the law gets changed and so there’s these canonical clashing. The Old Testament did it this way and in the New Testament, we’re not going to do it that way and so there’s clashing between. When you see those clashing you know what? Is that part of the law cultural? Was it for that culture and not for our culture? So when you see the clashing then you can see these divergences in culture that culture is changed and therefore the law needs to be changed.
What I would say is that the law is not passing away. What was the function of that law? The function of the law with eating kosher food was that a ethnic cultural—how should I say—marker for the Jewish people that they were part of the Jewish community. What’s happening now is not a passing away of the Jewish people, it’s actually expanding because now the Gentiles are included in. In other words, you don’t need these cultural ethnic identifiers anymore because the church is the whole world now. So it’s not passing away so much as expanding and being blown out. Expanding in the one sense, its being fulfilled by its being expanded. Not as you say “passing away” meant that the law would be violated. The law still is good. It’s fulfilled its purpose. Its purpose was the identifying the Jewish people and now it’s got to give way because that ethnic exclusivity is giving away. It’s not passing away. So I’m saying it would be expanding and going on to greater things. It’s fulfilled in a more comprehensive way, in a more expansive way. So it’s not like this is bad now--no, no. It had its place it had its time and now it’s actually still got its place and time, but it’s actually being blown out now. It’s becoming more comprehensive.
The law—there are some things that change like the dietary laws are real clear because Acts makes it real clear. We don’t have to eat kosher. So there’s continuity and their discontinuity. Between the Old Testament and the New testament there’s continuity and there’s also some aspects of discontinuity. The discontinuity will often be in this fulfillment to the greater. So here it was smaller and then when we get into the church it will expand and become more comprehensive and things.
Law good and bad uses
Okay, now, is the law good or bad? Well if the law leads you to legalism, the law is bad. If the law leads to legalism it’s bad. If they find security in performance then the law is bad because you’re getting secure in the law not in your faith in Christ. The externalization of religion--if one keeps the law and the law then gives them external markers that you’re religious because you have these external markers that again is not the function of the law. If the law leads you to feeling so good about yourself that you start condemning others because others don’t keep the law and you do keep the law and therefore you start you start looking down your nose and condemning other people, that’s not the function of the law either. So the law can be bad in that sense. It can lead you to a sense that I’m better than other people and largely lead you to pride that a person who actually keeps the law can actually get proud in the law. Wouldn’t it be better to say that it gets misused in those situations because the law is always right. Yes, I want to do it this way, so we’ll do it this way. So the law can lead to pride the person taking the law and leads them to pride and earning one’s salvation. A person can take the law and say if I keep the law then I can earn my salvation. The person believes they earn their salvation. Do you they depend upon grace?
So, okay, so the law can have these various functions and even the term law is used in many different ways so these are some negative ways that the law can be misinterpreted and misused.
Misuse of Grace
Now what about grace? You said you speak very highly of grace. What about grace? Is grace good or bad? Grace can lead to license. A person can says, “God will forgive me so I can go out and do this bad stuff that I know I shouldn’t be doing saying, “Well, God will forgive me.” Therefore grace actually ends up being an enticement to sin because you figure God will forgive you. Yes, yes exactly. Paul says grace is good but if grace leads you to sin, God forbid. And Paul says that. The mentality that I can do anything and I’ll be forgiven can be a problem. If a person has that mindset of I can do anything and I’ll be forgiven then grace is leading you down the wrong road. So grace has this negative thing.
This is the big one. The valuing of sin. This actually a big problem I think in our culture. Our culture pushes grace. It has led to the disconnection between act and consequence. That’s one of the biggest things in our culture that keep many young people in foolishness rather than in wisdom. The disconnection with act and consequence because they think they can act with no consequences. The problem is there are consequences and so sin should be devalued. Some think you always get a second chance. So in that kind of thinking grace is bad.
Now okay, next time when we get to this section we’re going to talk about some laws that are very difficult. One of those laws will be the laws of war. So we want to talk about some laws that rattle our bones and we’ll hit those tough laws next time, okay. Take care, see you on Tuesday.
by Sam Mason
Rough edited by Ted Hildebrandt