Posted in Wrath

A Word to be Spoken to a World in Need and a Government Needing Repentance: Part I

“The gospel message in all its component facts is a clear, definite, confident, authoritative proclamation that Jesus is Lord, and that He gives eternal and abundant life to all who believe…[Yet] we are not merely [His] ambassadors. We are simultaneously soldiers, commissioned to wage war for the defense and dissemination of the truth in the face of countless onslaughts against it.”—John MacArthur, The Truth War1

  • NOTE TO READER: What follows is a portion of a manuscript proclaimed on the Lord’s Day—the 16th of January 2022—in protest to the C4 legislation passed in Canada (December 2021). Bill C4 is a unified effort of the Canadian government to silence opposition to so-called “conversion therapy,” in particular, it would appear, the Christian faith and message. Many churches across North America (Canada and United States) spoke in opposition to the contents of the bill now signed into law as a gross overreach of civil power, and an outright attack against the Triune Creator’s design (His will) for humanity. Below you will find the first section, with others coming soon.

INTRODUCTION:

Dear brethren, we live at a tipping point in history. In previous generations, those who came before had their own battles of the faith to fight and now, ours is upon us. We are told in James 1:2 the sort of attitude we are to present as individuals, towards our families, within the body of Christ and to the world at large:

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (NASB).2

The West has seen its foe raise its ugly head, and like the old serpent in the Garden, it strikes a blow at the first (human) covenantal body ordained by God, the family. An assault has been waged on the very doctrine of creation. Specifically, those currently in power are attempting3 to redefine marriage, redefine sexual ethics, redefine what constitutes a family, as well as what makes a male and female person a boy or a girl, a man or a woman. Like the serpent of old those in power are seeking to establish what the knowledge of good and evil look like. This fight is real. And, it may cost us much for a time, but as Paul wrote to Timothy in the 1st century this eventuality will come to pass:

But they will not make further progress; for their foolishness will be obvious to all, just as was that of Jannes and Jambres” (2Tim 3.9).

Today I want to remind you of what God has done to such foolishness in the past. Later on, in future posts, I will explain what is currently going on here in the West—specifically in Canada but it is fast approaching here in the US, and what our response needs to look like in various venues. But for now let us briefly look at the judgments God has laid out in the past with a sober mind.

Remember…

Question: What is the reaction of God towards a rejection of His authority over His initial design for this earth? Answer: Judgment. This judgment comes in various forms. In the Old Testament, we are given images of fire and water and sword as methods by which God condemns the rebellious inhabitants of the earth.

Judgment by Water

During the days of Noah, it was said that,

“…the Lord saw that the wickedness of mankind was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6.5).

Moreover, we are told that during this period of history that,

“…the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for humanity had corrupted its way upon the earth” (Gen 6.11-12).

And the Lord’s reaction to this rebellion? He tells Noah,

The end of humanity has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of the people; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth…Behold, I Myself am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which there is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish” (Gen 6.13, 17).

Judgment by Fire

During the days of Abraham before its destruction the area of Sodom and Gomorrah, at the southernmost point of the Jordan River was “…well watered everywhere…like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt going to Zoar” (Gen 13.10). And yet at that time, the reader is given a heads up about the underlying reality of the people there:

Now the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked sinners against the Lord” (Gen 13.13).

Years later we are told that the Lord explains to Abraham what He is about to do about Sodom and the cities surrounding her. He says,

The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down and see whether they have done entirely as the outcry, which has come to Me indicates; and if not, I will know” (Gen 18.20-21).

The Lord then sends two representatives (angels disguised as men) into the area as His witnesses (cf. Deut 17.6; 19.15). After entering into the major city on the plain (Sodom) Lot sees the two men (angels) and invites them to come to his home to spend the night. His desire is to protect them from those living there. After some convincing they allow Lot to lead them to his home. However, we are told in Genesis 19:4-5

Before they lay down [for the night], the men of the city—the men of Sodom—surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have [sexual] relations with them’” (emphasis added).

Notice how deep the corruption of sin had spread. It was not just the old but likewise the young as well. All ages of men desired to have sexual relations with the two angels in disguise. Men laying with men as one might lay with a woman. What we would refer to in our day and age as, homosexuality.

Lot attempts to bargain with the men of the city but to no avail. Those outside become angry and they say to Lot,

Get out of the way!” They said, adding, “This one came in as a foreigner, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them!” (Gen 19.9).

In an effort to have their way they shove at Lot and attempt to break his door down (Gen 19.9b). The angels grab Lot and drag him back into the house, and at the same time,

“…they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, from the small to the great, so that they became weary of trying to find the doorway” (Gen 19.11).

So great was the wicked desire of the men—both young and old, small and great—to have their perverted way with, what they perceived to be “fresh meat,” that even after they were struck with blindness, they still attempted to get inside the home of Lot groping for the door until weariness struck them. Such determination to sin was reminiscent of the attitude of the people of Noah’s day.

The angels tell Lot to get all who will come with him ready to go…to flee,

for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it” (Gen 19.13).

So Lot and his family were instructed to escape, to run to the mountains (Gen 19.17), to flee from God’s judgment about to be poured out on the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other three surrounding cities. But Lot begged for mercy. He did not think it possible to make it all the way to the mountains, and so he asked to be spared in Zoar (*means “small” town). This request was granted (Gen 19.22).

As soon as Lot entered the area of Zoar we are told that God’s judgment fell, as the hammer hits the gavel:

Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the surrounding area, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground…Now Abraham got up early in the mourning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward the land of the surrounding area; and behold, he saw the smoke of the land like the smoke of a furnace. So it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the surrounding area…” (Gen 19.24-29a).

Judgment by Sword…

The Lord promised Abraham that his children would inherit the land of Canaan (Gen 13.14-15; Josh 23.14) and eventually, beyond (cf. Gen 22.17-18; Matt 5.5; Rom 4.13; even Psa 2.8). The time in history when God would fulfill His promise to Abraham we are told was when the sins of the people of that land (i.e., Canaan) had reached their fill:

In the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Gen 15.16).

Between the chapters of Leviticus 18-20, we are given a list of sins that the people of that land were guilty of in their rebellion against their Maker. Though the sins covered every area of life one of the key abominations that the people of Canaan were guilty of was sexual sin. Everything from adultery (Lev 20.10; cf. Deut 22.22-24), to incest (Lev 18; 8; 20.11-12), to bestiality (Lev 18.23; 20.15-16), to Sodomy/homosexuality (Lev 18.22; 20.13), and even cross dressing4 (Deut 22.5).5

It was for these things, and many more not mentioned that God said through Moses the following warning of remembrance to the children of Israel:

I am the Lord your God. ‘You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the Lord your God” (Lev 18.1-4).
Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these things the nations which I am driving out from you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so that land has vomited out its inhabitants. But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments, and you shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the stranger who resides among you…For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. So you are to keep your commitment to me not to practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you so that you do not defile yourselves with them; I am the Lord your God” (Lev 18.24-26, 29-30).

The judgment of God was executed against the people of Canaan for their rebellious perversion via an executive use of the sword:

...in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave anything that breathes alive. Instead, you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that they will not teach you to do all the same detestable practices of theirs which they have done for their gods, by which you would sin against the Lord your God” (Deut 22.16-18).

What’s the point?

So far I have been driving home one key point. God is very serious about how His creatures created in His image behave. Not only is He concerned about our actions, but the thoughts that drive them as well. This is why such stress is being laid on the judgment portions of history above.

From the very moment that our parents fell in the Garden, we have watched as the encroachment of sin has sought to destroy marriage, the family, and society as a whole. Think of the wedge that sin has driven into the first married couple, and then be reminded of how that sin caused one brother to slay another in cold blood. In every way imaginable mankind since the fall has devised and plotted ways to overthrow the voice of God in our lives; in the way that His creation was intended to function. God expects His creatures to build their lives, family and society in one way, but sinful man devises other plans.

(To be continued…)

ENDNOTES:

1John MacArthur, The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 25.

2All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the New American Standard Bible, 2020 update (NASB).

3I say “attempting” because the battle is far from over, though it must be admitted we have lost much ground in this fight. That a push is still being made by various governing authorities to force this reality upon reveals that they have not, as of yet, won. The war I speak of is not of physical weapons but spiritual; for it is a fight over truth. Who reserves the right to determine truth: God or man? From the Christian standpoint the answer should be a no-brainer.

4Cross-dressing is meant to take on the identity of another gender. It is a ruse either to trick another or because of the confusion, one has, due to unconfessed sin. Rebellion against God distorts reality and the ability to distinguish between what is true versus false—i.e., having a darkened mind.

5This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. If you would like further information and clarity on the types of sexual sins that Israel was warned about that the nations within Canaan committed, then I would suggest that you read through Leviticus 18-20 and look up any references that may be noted in your Bibles.

Posted in biblical justice

Justice: Briefly Stated and Defined

You shall appoint for yourselves judges and officials in all your towns which the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not distort justice, you shall not show partiality; and you shall not accept a bribe, because a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut 16.18-20).

The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and just is He” (Deut 32.4; NASB). 1

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Stop doing evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, Obtain justice for the orphan and, plead for the widow’s case” (Isa 1.16-17).

INTRODUCTION:

Given the nature of our current 24/7 news cycle it is impossible to keep up with and comment on all things as they happen. By the time you’ve researched a topic, jotted down a few notes, and allowed it to simmer and coalesce in your mind, new news has become old news. Just as you were beginning to organize and articulate your thoughts in a cogent and meaningful way, time has seemingly swept away—in the minds of many—the importance of the event. People have moved on to something else. Like a rambunctious dog, one minute the world around you is looking in the same direction and then a new ball passes through their field of vision, and off they go. Chasing what is new, forgetting what has passed, and all the while (depending on the subject matter) they are left worse for ware. The one thing that all of the information being constantly blitzed at us guarantees is that undisciplined minds will have an attention span of a gnat. There are nefarious forces that desire it to be such, but I for one do not. Nor, do I believe our Creator wants it that way either.

Previously, I’ve been speaking on matters pertaining to the Kyle Rittenhouse case. We’ve looked at the context surrounding the situation that led to that fateful night on August 25, 2020. We’ve seen the way that the media has cherry picked narratives in order to promote, instigate, and stir up strife on the issue of racism. Amidst all of this there has been an outcry by many voices for justice. And so, having weighed these matters for some time I mentioned last week my desire to step into the fray and offer a biblical definition of justice. Though by no means be exhaustive, it should give us a good starting point in understanding this misconstrued concept in our day.

Definitions first…

What is justice? I figure since there is so much talk about justice nowadays it might do us some good to have a working definition of the concept. Language naturally evolves over time. There are certain cultural or contextual factors that affect the meaning of a term, concept or idea. All words have what is known as a semantical range; meaning, definitions shift depending upon how the term is being used. Given the current rapidity in which our culture is changing the meaning of words, say, for example, with the term vaccine2, I thought it best for us to do a quick compare and contrast between how “justice” was understood in the past and today.

Noah Webster, in 1828, defined justice as:

“The virtue which consists in giving to every one what is his due; practical conformity to the laws and to principles of rectitude in the dealings of men with each other; honesty; integrity in commerce or mutual intercourse.”3

Whereas, the online Cambridge dictionary defines justice as,

“fairness in the way people are dealt with…”4

Immediately, the observant reader (listener) will notice a slight change in the emphasis here. Both definitions focus on human behavior, but only one emphasizes human behavior that is derived through conformity to the law. Both definitions agree that we ought to treat our fellow human beings fairly (i.e., correctly), but only one offers some standards as to how that fairness is to be understood.

Understanding of Reality…

Why the discrepancy? Why two different understandings? Why is one more detailed in how people are to treat others, and the other so vague? Fairness sounds like a noble term. And given my own worldview, I would agree that “fairness” is to some degree a central concern of true justice. If “fairness” is being defined as “correct behavior towards others.”5 The issue in the definition is similar to the issue in the clarion call for justice. There are two opposing standards (i.e., starting points) at work here in how one understands reality.

Noah Webster was a Christian and therefore, understood reality as defined by the God of the Bible. It was God’s graciousness that created the universe as a whole. And so, Webster was concerned with defining language in terms of the Creator.6 God gave communication to mankind as a gift to be used wisely and appropriately.7 Thus, Webster sought to provide future generations of American’s with a clear understanding of purpose for the use of language and the definition of words. For him the use of language was a religious matter, a holy endeavor that sought to reflect the holiness of God.

The linguistic experts for the Cambridge dictionary reflect the modern understanding of reality; in essence, we are all a product of evolution. There is no God above us, we are what we are; what we make ourselves to be. Language like law is not handed down from on high, but is the result of the subjective powers that be. In other words, language is always in motion—ever-changing—and it is determined and defined by the shifting winds of humanistic doctrine. A belief-system that claims mankind is a law unto themselves (i.e., autonomous). Given the current downward spiral into socialism and a totalitarian state, it is the State that dictates not only what is right or wrong, but what is the correct meaning of the terms in question; like justice.

A Universal Standard…

How can there be justice, or fairness in the treatment of others without having a universal standard of right and wrong that applies to all? That is the pivotal question facing our time; by what standard? People speak of justice and injustices, but their versions of reality differ; which results in opposing definitions.

What form of justice should have been applied to the Rittenhouse case?8 What about in regards to the Waukesha killer, Darrel Brooks?9 Or, what shall we say about the recent Oxford High School shooter?10 Who are the victims? Who are the assailants? How are we to judge such things, if we are going to cry out for justice in the streets?

Jesus commanded His disciples to judge righteously:

Do not judge by the outward appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7.24).

This was in reference to Deuteronomy 16:18-19 cited above. True justice does not look at external factors (richness, poorness, skin color, fame or lack-thereof), for it is impartial to such non-mitigating factors. The question surrounding these top profile cases is “What is justice?” Justice, as Webster explained, is in relation to “conformity to the laws and principles of rectitude.” In other words, adherence to an objective standard that demonstrates moral integrity, also known as, righteousness.

True righteousness means doing what is right and refraining from participating in wrong doing. As the wisdom writer of Proverbs explains,

My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you…then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding…then you will discern righteousness, justice, and integrity, and every good path” (Prov 2.1, 5-6, 9; cf. Psa 119.9).

Religiously Defined…

It is the Word of God that defines the only ethical standard that has universal applicability (cf. 119.142, 160). It is God’s Law-Word that all people are commanded to live by, from the lesser to the greater (cf. Deut 8.1; Prov 4.4). The civil rulers above us, be they judges or kings, or magistrates at various levels, will find that adherence to God’s dictates prevents injustices from being done against the people whom they have been called to serve (Deut 16.18-19; Deut 17.18-20). Thus, the biblical witness proclaims to the Lord on High:

I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings and shall not be ashamed” (Psa 119.46).

What then does the world have to offer? By what standard may we inquire of to find justice in the secular sphere? Is there one, I know not any!

For it is said we are cosmic accidents, products of mere chance with nothing behind us or in front of us but empty space. We live and die and are no more, so then, by what then do you cry out for justice with.

Justice is meant to be blind, impartial, not given to prejudice. And while I don’t necessarily agree with all of the conclusions that Russel Kirk makes in his own lectures on the subject, he is right when he states the following,


“Somewhere there must exist an authority for beliefs about justice; and the authority of merely human, and therefore fallible, courts of law is insufficient to command popular assent and obedience.”11

Justice like so many concepts that we beholden to in our day is a religious idea. From the standpoint of the Christian worldview there is only one place where the truth of justice can truly be unearthed, and it is seated in both testaments of the Holy Bible. It is God, our Creator, magnified in the life of Jesus of Nazareth the Christ, from which justice comes. He demands that we be impartial, that every matter be weighed before judgment is reached. That no sentence against another may be carried out without first having two to three witnesses (i.e., lines of evidences) that support the allegations being levied at them. And, only after the witnesses themselves have been proven non-malicious, may their testimony be taken as valid. The concept of “innocent until proven guilty” rests on these truths. Not mob justice as we have witnessed so many times in recent years. Not even vigilante justice. For justice associated with those ideas is not justice at all, but a perverted attempt of human beings playing at being God.

Closing Remarks…

So, in closing I would like to consider the three cases mentioned above. One already determined in a court of law, two others forthcoming. Was justice served in the Rittenhouse case? Was it self-defense? Or was it aggravated assault on innocent bystanders? Justice was served, it was self-defense, and therefore no charge of wrong doing may be laid at the young man’s feet. You may not like what he did. You may not like that he carried a gun in the open. You may not approve his discretionary use of force. But, personal opinions aside, he was found not guilty after the evidence had been effectively weighed in light of the circumstances on that fateful night of August 25, 2020.

What do we say about the other two men? What do we say about Brooks or Crumbly? Like Rittenhouse they should be assumed “innocent until proven guilty.” Their cases should be decided on an interpretive analysis of the evidence by a jury of their own peers. Public opinion aggravated by a biased media should have no factor in the determination of those cases.

Am I saying that neither of those two men12 murdered people? No, that’s not what I’m saying. But I am saying that a truly just system will allow them to have their day in court, where the evidences may be interpreted in light of the surrounded circumstances. And, in a just system if they are found guilty, they both should be executed for their crimes against humanity. But if we want justice to prevail we need to stop seeing matters with colored glasses. Right and wrong is not a matter of personal opinion, nor is it one of race, wealth or power. As it is written,

To show partiality to the wicked is not good, Nor to suppress the righteous in judgment…One who gives an answer before he hears, It is foolishness and shame to him” (Prov 18.5, 13).

ENDNOTES:

1Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture shall be of the New American Standard Bible, 2020 update (NASB).

2Formerly, a vaccine was commonly given to a person to aid immunity against a communicable disease. This was accomplished through the use of weakened or dead pathogens delivered into the body to allow the bodies natural immune response to react. One antibodies were produced by the immune system the pathogen was attacked and the memory of it were stored in the person’s body. That way the next time the same pathogen attempted to infect the individual their immune system was prepared to immediately fight off and prevent clinical infection.

But in an effort to deceive the unwary public, the CDC (along with several English dictionary’s) changed the definition of vaccine. Now, it no longer is limited to weakened or dead pathogens, but a product synthesized in a lab. No longer does it aid the body in providing immunity from said disease, but protection from more serious side effects.

Johanna Anim Caviezel, “The CDC Suddenly Changes the Definition of ‘Vaccine’ and ‘Vaccination,’ Citizens Journal, September 13, 2021, accessed 12/11/2021, https://www.citizensjournal.us/the-cdc-suddenly-changes-the-definition-of-vaccine-and-vaccination/.

3Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, Facsimile Edition, Reprint 1828 (Chesapeake, VA: Foundation for American Christian Education, [1965], 1995), s.v., “justice.”

4Cambridge Dictionary Online, s.v., “justice” def. 1, https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/justice.

5“marked by impartiality and honesty: free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism…conforming with established rules” Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary & Thesaurus, 2008, def. 2, s.v., “fairness,” desktop edition.

6He said, “education [is] useless without the Bible…In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, out to be instructed…No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.” American Dictionary of the English Language, 9, italics in original.

7The tower of Babel incident recorded in Genesis 11:1-9 offers a strong warning against using the gift(s) of God in a rebellious fashion. Before the people rebelled they all spoke one language (Gen 11.1), but afterwards God confused their language so that communication was no longer possible (Gen 11.9). When people in their sin desire to confuse the masses with a false Word and gospel, as we witness in the tower of Babel incident, then God in turn darkens their own understanding so that they are left fumbling about in His creation.

8Maha Laiq, “Opinion: The Injustice of Kyle Rittenhouse’s Acquittal,” The Teen Mag, November 22, 2021, accessed 12/13/2021, https://www.theteenmagazine.com/opinion-the-injustice-of-kyle-rittenhouse-s-acquittal.

9Associated Press, “Suspect in Waukesha parade carnage says he feels ‘demonized,’” Yahooh!News, December 1, 2021, accessed 12/13/2021, https://news.yahoo.com/suspect-waukesha-parade-carnage-says-004127437.html.

10Sara Powers, “Ethan Crumbly, Accused in Oxford High School Shooting, Due in Court,” CBS Detroit, December 13, 2021, accessed 12/13/2021, https://detroit.cbslocal.com/2021/12/13/ethan-crumbley-accused-in-oxford-high-school-shooting-due-in-court/.

11Russel Kirk, “The Meaning of Justice,” Report: Poverty and Inequality, March 4, 1993, accessed 12/12/2021, https://www.heritage.org/poverty-and-inequality/report/the-meaning-justice.

12I continue to call them both men because both men are alleged killers. While I am of the personal opinion that they are guilty of the crimes against them, I think that should be decided in the court room. As to why I call a 15-year old a man, it is rather simple. He allegedly used a gun to kill four of his school mates. If this is in fact the truth, and I see no reason right now to counter this notion, he should be tried as an adult and not a child. He took a lives and now his life is forfeit. The same should be argued against Brooks. Age, nor color, nor so-called mental disability should bear any weigh in their judgment if found guilty. While our society likes to call perpetrators of crimes victims, I believe it wiser to be more concerned about the true victims—those killed by the driver of the SUV and the one who pulled the trigger of the gun.

Posted in Canaanites, Covenant, Ethics, Law, Wrath

Big Bad God or Are We Looking at Past Events Wrong?

My previous post was in many ways a bit redundant, as it is a carry-over of things I have discussed before.  However, my concern was establishing the right perspective in order to properly view things disclosed in the Old Testament.  Difficulty understanding certain biblical passages arises because of an incorrect outlook. Some examples we might point to would be: 1) being kicked out of the garden in Adam’s day, 2) the Flood in Noah’s day, 3) the plagues in Egypt or the Canaanite conquest during the period of Joshua and Judges.

Wrong viewpoints tend to pose various questions regarding biblical revelation.  Such as: “How can a loving God do those things?”; “Is the God of the O.T. the same as the one in the N.T., for His actions do not seem to line up with I understand God’s character to be?”; “If God is good, then how could He command such things?”

(In particular, the commands of God that calls for the entire destruction of whole groups of people including not just men and women but also children and animals. This shall be the primary focus of this article.)

Tacit Assumptions…

Pay attention to some of the tacit assumptions being smuggled in when such questions are posed, as a result of an improper perspective.

First, the questioner is presupposing that human beings are innocent.  However, we are not because we are sinners—that’s our identity before God.  Now that is not all of our identity, for we are also all image bearers of God, but our status before Him is guilty not innocent.

Second, the questioner is assuming that God is only good and loving.  However, He is not just those things; He is more.  God is defined as Holy (purity/separateness) from His creation in particular regarding sin which He hates.  God is defined as just meaning that He only does what is righteous (right), and therefore judges the motivations and activities of those He has created to reflect Him.  God is merciful, but He is also wrathful and as a result He delves out consistently what is deserved for all His rational creatures. There are many other attributes that could be described about God, but I am hoping you are beginning to get the picture.  God is more than love and goodness, He is perfect and as such no one defining attribute is properly demonstrated above another.  If you want to pick and choose which attributes of God you prefer to highlight (and some do this), then you are not describing the God of the Bible but an idol formed in your own heart/mind.

Third and finally, the questioner is assuming that they are in the position to determine the rightness or wrongness of the activity of God described in the Old/New Testaments. However, they (we) are afforded no such status in that we are creatures, not the Creator.  He is not in the dock, we are.

A proper exploratory question would be to ask, “Why did God call for the death of so many in the past, including not just men and women but also children and animals?”  I believe the answer is found in the fact that God is covenantal when dealing with His creation.  Ultimately, what the covenant establishes is life and death depending upon what position you (we) fall in regarding the covenant.

God created man (Adam) in a covenantal relationship with Him.  This is expressed in a variety of ways (check out God’s Covenant with Adam https://kristafal.wordpress.com/2019/04/05/gods-covenant-with-adam/; where I discuss this in more detail), but is particularly seen in the two trees in the midst of the garden.  One tree signified life and was accessible via obedience; the other tree signified death and was accessible via disobedience.  How Adam chose to respond in regards to the covenant that God had established had a lasting effect not only on him personally, but all his offspring.  Since Adam was given dominion—the right to rule in God’s name over all of earthly creation (Gen 1.26, 28)—when he sinned the consequential result was a cursed creation.  In other words, Adam was not the only one who suffered as a result of his transgressions for all of life under his headship suffered in the wake of his rebellion (comp. Gen 3.17-19; Rom 8.20-22; on a small scale restricted to the land of Israel see Isa 24.5-6).

Suppose you don’t like that. Some don’t.  What do you do by denying it? Well you deny the same sort of result from the opposite position in Jesus Christ.  I have heard some theology teachers deny that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us.  Well, without delving into a rather deep theological debate I will just point out that if His righteousness is not imputed to us, if His holiness is not accredited to our bankrupt accounts, then we have no hope of eternal life.  Either Christ is our covenantal head and we are blessed by His obedience or we are left in a cursed sinful state with no hope of salvation/deliverance from the second death.  Human beings are not holy by any real or imaginary standard, and without such no one will be seen in the presence of God (Heb 12.14).

Getting back to God’s acts of wrathful judgment against sinful mankind…

Why did God destroy men, women, children, animals and the entire earth in the Flood of Noah’s day?  The short answer is that mankind’s dominion was in direct opposition to God.  Mankind (human beings if you prefer) was exceedingly wicked and rebellious and had hearts filled with violence (Gen 6.5, 11-12).  Violence against whom?  Ultimately against God, that’s who.

Yet, we read because of God’s merciful grace He preserved one man and through that one man all members of his household including his wife, their three sons and their wives, as well as all representative kinds of land dwelling animals.  The same reason God destroyed the many in Noah’s day is the same reason God saved the few.  God acts covenantally with His creatures and those who are covenantally faithful are blessed inheriting life; whereas those who do not are cursed inheriting death.

What the Law Reveals about our Status…

Now our disposition before God is not right.  We are not in a good spot when we stand before Him.  We are not innocent, which His Law demonstrates quite effectively.  I will use the summation that Jesus puts on God’s Law to demonstrate this: 1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; 2) Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is not one person who can make the claim (past, present or future) that they have fulfilled the entirety of these commands with absolute perfection.  Accordingly, one deviation, no matter how small, in God’s commandments reserves condemnation for the person(s) in question, for to break it at one point is to be guilty of all of it (James 2.10).

  • “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction” (Exod 22.20).1
    • NOTE: In case you were wondering offering a sacrifice to another, other than the Lord God is an act of worship. Accordingly, the entire human race since Adam has done this very thing and is therefore without excuse, fully deserving the entire wrath of God (cf. Rom 1.18-23). (This text will be helpful later when considering the question of “Who’s God’s anger against, false religion or the people who practice them?)

Dreaded Commands against the Canaanites…

Knowing this to be true, let us look at a couple references from Scripture that make ignorant believers blush.

  • “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittite, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them” (Deut 7.1-2; italics added).

–This same theme is taken up in Deut 20–

  • “But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded” (Deut 20.16-17; italics added).

These people were to be totally devoted to destruction.  This is an act of worship, an act of righteous retribution in the Name of God.  Christians like Paul Copan argue for a hyperbolic understanding of such passages.  In response to Deut 7:1-2 quoted above, Copan makes the following statement, “Earlier in Deuteronomy 7:2-5, we find…tension [in the text].2  On the one hand, God tells Israel that they should ‘defeat’ and ‘utterly destroy [haram]’ the Canaanites (v.2)—a holy consecration to destruction.  On the other hand, he immediately goes on to say…”3

  • “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.  But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire” (Deut 7.3-5; italics added).

Continuing with Copan’s thoughts, “If the Canaanites were to be completely obliterated, why this discussion about intermarriage or treaties?  The final verse emphasizes that the ultimate issues was religious: Israel was to destroy altars, images and sacred pillars.  In other words, destroying Canaanite religion was more important than destroying Canaanite people.”4 (The current writer is seen shaking his head at the kitchen table as he is typing on his laptop reading this ridiculous statement by a notable Christian scholar.)

What would help at this point is if Copan and others like him would merely compare Scripture with Scripture.  God has already stated that to offer worship to any other god (so-called) than He is to invite a death sentence (cf. Exod 22.20).  So then, why the talk of “intermarriage or treaties” in the Deuteronomic text?  Actually, this is not the first time God has warned His people to be careful not to do these things when they enter the land (see Exod 34.11-16; cf. Num 25.1-2).

Yes, but if God was really concerned about destroying all of these people, then why the warning? Copan seems to be making a pretty strong argument here.  The answer is simple, God has already told them that He would fight for them, that He would drive them from the land, but at the same time He also said He would not do it too quickly.  He gives at least two reasons for this:

  1. For the welfare of His people who He is giving the land to: “The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you” (Deut 7.22; italics added; cf. Exod 23.29-30).
  2. God left them there to teach the next generation war: “I will no longer drive out before them [Israel] any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not. So the Lord left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua” (Judg 2.21-23).

Here’s the problem.  The reason that the Lord left the people in the land is because Israel was disobedient and did not follow God’s commands as He instructed (cf. Judg 2.1-20).  Therefore, they suffered negative sanctions as members of the covenant community.  They were handed over to their enemies as slaves as a result.

You see, God knows human hearts.  He knows our hearts better than we think we do.  Despite what seems to be our best motivations we are weak and powerless when faced with temptation, as we are always carried off by the desires of our heart.  “Always?” you ask.  Yes, unless God gives us sufficient strength to resist by His grace we will always fall flat in the muck and the mire.  We will be like a dog that returns to its vomit or a pig that corrals in the mud.

What should we see?

When you look back at Deut 7:1-5 what you should note is that God is saying two things at once.  On the one hand He is giving explicit instructions on what they are to do when they enter the land of Canaan.  They are not to pity their enemies, but to utterly destroy them. This would help ensure their safety from without (externally) and within (internally).  This command does not supersede the one formerly given in Exod 23:29-30 and then repeated in Deut 7:22 about not driving them out all at once lest the wild animals in the land over take them.  And those beasts would overtake them; if they did not obey the voice of the Lord, as that was one of the negative sanctions He promised them (cf. Lev 26.22; Deut 32.24).

Everything is to be done according to God’s timetable, not men.  We are to learn His scheduling of events (listening to His voice), rather than attempting to act like Sarah offering up Hagar to get God moving at a quicker, more convenient, humanly pace (cf. Gen 16.1-4; 21.12).

False Religion or the Practitioner?

Copan claims that God is more concerned by false religion than by false people, and that is why we should not read these commands as anything but hyperbole.  Uhm…false religion is not practiced in a vacuum.  By itself it is nothing.  False religion—its rites, forms and idols—are vacant lifeless things, unless people are found practicing them.

To say that God is concerned more about false religion than He is about the people practicing it ignores the many passages of Scripture that speak of God’s judgment against the people who do them.  The destruction of their idols was a physical/symbolic reminder of what ought not be done, unless one wants to die before a Holy God.

  • “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…” (Exod 20.5; Deut 5.9)
  • “…and [the Lord God] repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him.  He will repay him to his face” (Deut 7.10).
  • “You hand [God] will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear.  The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them” (Psa 21.8-9).

There are many such passages in Scripture and while some of the language may no doubt be symbolic, let us not be so arrogant to assume that God will allow anyone who hates Him to get away with their misdeeds.  Take for example King Agag.  Did he escape from the wrath of God?  Did he have to wait for eternity to feel the sharp fiery sword of God’s judgment?

Saul was commanded as prince over the people of God to attack the Amalekites and wipe them all out, women, children and livestock included.  Nothing was to remain of them, they were to be utterly destroyed—given to the Lord above.  Saul refused to obey God, and it was Samuel who took up the task of hacking that wicked King Agag to pieces (see 1Sam 15.1-33).

Back to the Heart of the Issue…

Dare we assume that any such individuals are innocent?  Is there an innocent man on the earth?  Is there any who do good?  Is there any who seek God rather than foolishly denying Him?  The Lord, says “No there is not one.  None can stand before Me.  None can claim his innocence.”

For if it were not for the grace of God in Jesus Christ applied by the power of the Holy Spirit there would not be one wretch that would be saved.

It is only when you understand our covenantal standing before God in Adam that you see we are all unworthy, all unrighteous, all full of the filth of sin.  What we should be asking is how does God tarry with us?  How can God stand the stench of us within His nostrils?  It is by the pleasing, overpowering aroma of Christ’s sacrifice that frees us from doom.  Even the unbelieving enjoy some measure of salvation in the fact that He allows them life, power and wealth in spite of their sin—their unbelief.5

But this is the true heart of the issue.  Due to our standing before a Holy God we live on this earth on borrowed time.  God, at any time in terms of righteousness and justice, has the right to end life.  Because of mankind’s status as His image bearers in covenantal apostasy, no life may claim innocence or innate goodness.  God destroyed whole groups of people (old and young) and their animals, and the very earth upon which they dwelt because of their rebellion against Him.  There is “none…righteous, no not one” (Rom 3.10), and so we have nothing to open our mouths about in opposition to these commands.

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ENDNOTES:

1 All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the English Standard Version (ESV).

2 Pay special attention to the term “tension” when you are reading a work on the Bible.  That is a catch word that reveals the writer’s disposition towards the biblical text.  Tension means apparent disagreement.  For the scholar that may be leaning towards errancy (i.e. mistakes, errors, or contradictions in Scripture) this is a key indicator of their underlying beliefs. A lot of neo-evangelical “experts” on the truth have a strong tendency in leaning in this direction.

3 Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster: Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012), 172

4 Ibid, 173.

I don’t want to paint the picture that Copan is a total white-washed liberal.  As I said in a former post he does have some good things to say, and he is much smarter than I am in a lot of areas.  By way of example though, Copan does admit that the Canaanites were a vile, wicked people that practiced all sorts of immoral deeds (p. 159-60).  However, his concern is obvious to the reader.  He wants to protect God’s credibility, by showing that God is not a moral monster. Unfortunately, it also seems like he wants to make God more appealing to the Gerd Ludemann’s of the world by softening the message (the bite if you will) of God’s Word.

5  I want to clarify a distinction here that might not be readily apparent to the reader. What I refer to here is the common grace of God.  None deserve life, and yet it is the sacrificial Lamb of God that purchases even the reprobate a certain portion of this life.  It is true the chief concern here on God’s part are the people His Son has died for (that none of God’s elect should perish), but without Christ’s atoning work none of us would have a reason for living.  The life that all enjoy temporally is due to God’s predetermined plan in Jesus, but only those who are saved in Christ enjoy it eternally.

NOTE TO READER: Above Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/Free-Photos-242387/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=947331″>Free-Photos</a&gt; from <a href=”https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=947331″>Pixabay</a&gt;

Posted in biblical justice, Law, Theology, theonomy

Legal Relativism: Hasty Conclusions drawn about God’s Justice

Today, I want to deal with the legal relativist. You know the Christian who says, “Well, that Law was valid back then in that time, in that place, but not so today.” I want to pick on the Paul Copan’s of the world, men and women who are extremely talented Christians that have a strong aversion to applying God’s Law today. I realize that’s not a popular position to take, because it offends my brothers and sisters in Christ. Can we stop wearing our emotions on our shoulder’s please? We need to develop a little backbone and be able to take some criticism. Or do we, as professing believers, fail to realize that judgment begins with the house of the Lord (cf. 1Pet 4.17)?

For example, Copan argues “…as we look at many of these Mosaic laws, we must appreciate them in their historical context, as God’s gracious, temporary provision.”1 Copan is making this statement in light of the penal sanctions expressed in the Old Testament (hereafter O.T.). Highlighting the death penalty for adultery, he appeals to 1Corinthians 5:1-5 where the man is caught having an affair with his step-mother. Copan thinks that the only role the Law of God is to play here is for excommunication from the church body, since that is what the apostle Paul says the Corinthians should do. I’m sorry to say this, but that’s just sloppy exegesis on his part. A shame really when you get right down to it, because in a lot of ways, Copan is a very bright individual.

“Where does he commit an error?” you ask. Great question, glad you asked it.

First off, let’s look at the sin the man is guilty of. It is true that he has committed adultery for he has slept with his father’s wife, but he’s also guilty of incest. Biblical law takes familial relationships very seriously, and when one is grafted into a family through adoption, etc., they are considered a genuine family member. The man has not only seen his father’s wife’s nakedness, but he has fornicated with one who is considered his mother.

  • “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness” (Lev 18.8).
  • “If a man lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them” (Lev 20.11)
  • “A man shall not take his father’s wife, so that he does not uncover his father’s nakedness” (Deut 22.30).
  • “Cursed be anyone who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s nakedness.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen'” (Deut 27.20).

Second, notice the penalty is a death sentence. That alone makes many Westerner’s pause, reconsider and pull back. Is there really any crime deserving of death? God says there is. You say there isn’t. Who’s right? Well, unless you think you are God, then the answer seems rather simple. But surely we live in an age of grace such extreme (harsh, awful?) penalties are no longer applicable.

Hmmm, really? Again, I guess it depends on who you think you are. And you do realize that if you truly think this way you are calling the God of the Bible “harsh” and “awful.” I understand why unbelievers do this, but why you?

The death penalty is just, but there are limitations on how it may be applied. Let’s deal with the justice of it first, and then we’ll return to the limitations.

Justice

Why would the death penalty be just? How can taking the life of another be right? Two quick answers will settle it.

1) The punishment fits the crime. How you treat others, the Lord through His civil servants (cf. Rom 13.1-7) will do to you.

  • “If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him…You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God” (Lev 24.19-20, 22).
  • “Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deut 19.21).

**Obviously, the concern is for the victim not the perpetrator.

2) The punishment causes other criminal activity to lessen; evil doers don’t want to be blatant with breaking the law if there is quick retribution brought against them.

  • “So you shall purge evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. (Deut 19.19b-20; cf. 13.11).

The alternative is seeing crime rising in society, because civil rulers fail to do what is right and just according to the Word of the Lord.

  • “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Eccl 8.11).

Do we not read of this in Israel’s history when they failed to abide by God’s judgments, seeking instead to do their own? Do we not see the fruit of this philosophy (cf. Eccl 8.11) in our own societies here in the West? We refuse to punish rapists, murders, child-molester’s, etc., speedily and with justice, preferring a man-made standard because the God of the Bible is too harsh, and so these individuals become more emboldened to continue running to harm their neighbors and shed blood. Justice would be better served if we did what was right in God’s eyes, and stopped pretending that we are the true kings.

Limitations

There is a notable distinction that God makes between certain sins. Some are criminal in nature and deserve a negative civil sanction, others do not. For example, the 10th commandment is against coveting (desiring/lusting after) what is your neighbor’s (fellow human being’s) property. This is a sin that needs to be repented of, but there are not civil sanctions against it. How in the world can a judge (civil authority) discern another man’s heart? They can’t (we can’t), and so that type of sin is judged by God alone (cf. Jer 17.9-10). However, this is not the case with adultery (which actually falls under the umbrella of sexual fornication). Adultery, incest, bestiality, homosexuality, etc. are sins that God provides civil sanctions against—i.e. they are crimes.

However, there is a caveat that needs to be mentioned. While certain crimes (sins that) deserve a civil penalty, there are limitations on how one may prosecute them. There has to be evidence. Specifically, there has to be two-to-three lines of evidence, and we are not talking about circumstantial here, but direct evidence.

  • “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established” (Deut 19.15; italics mine).
  • “On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness” (Deut 17.6; italics added).

You could not convict someone of a crime deserving death without first meeting these necessary limitations. The people in question were innocent until proven guilty. Does that sound familiar? It should.

Moreover, the one being charged with a crime was protected from perjurers. If an individual or group of individuals brought false charges against another, and they were found guilty of lying, then they were the ones punished with the penalty that they sought against the other (Deut 19.16-19a). I cannot help but think of the Cavanaugh case in recent months as I contemplate the aforementioned verses.

Dare we say that these laws are from days gone by and are no longer applicable? Have you not read Matt 18:16 or 1Tim 5:19 or even Heb 10:28? Perhaps, you should for it is clear that their validity still stand.

“Wait a minute, if this is true, what about 1Cor 5? It seems that Copan does have a valid argument, since Paul did not insist on the things that you are claiming!” you say. Thank you, I appreciate the attentive nature of your reading. Please allow me to respond with the final thing that Copan failed to recognize in his hasty conclusion.

Understanding the Three Spheres of Governance…

Who was Paul speaking to in 1Cor 5? To what sphere of government was he referring to, in order to make a judgment against the man sexually fornicating with his stepmother? That’s right! Paul was speaking to the church in Corinth. There are three spheres of governance that God has established. Each sphere has a specific area of authority to rule and exercise godly dominion. They are the family, the church, and the state.

While it may be properly said that the Church has the authority to offer biblical guidance (godly counsel) to the other two spheres of governance (family and state), the Church through its elders, deacons and congregants2
has no right to rule in them. The parents are over their children, and the father is the head of them all in submission to his head—God. The civil magistrates are over their citizens, and they—the magistrates—are to be under their head who is God.3

Why is that important? Because, it would have been unlawful (against God’s Law and therefore sinful) for Paul to have the man sentenced to death. It was (is) beyond the sphere of authority for the Church of God (of Jesus Christ) to sentence a man to death, as they are not civil authorities.

However, they did offer the man a sentence of death in the sense that he was cut-off from the fellowship, handed over to Satan, and treated as an unbeliever. If the man failed to repent of this sin and plead the mercy of Christ in confession to the body from which he was forced out of, then his physical reality of being cut-off would be fully realized in the life to come. Being eternally damned, cast into darkness—bound and chained—where weeping and gnashing teeth is the norm.

The reason we do not see the application of the full penalty of these laws in existence today is not because they are invalid, but because we are rebellious sinners and our governments reflect this disposition. This should be obvious to the Christian living here in the states where many of the just laws of the past, based upon the Law-Word of God, have been slowly overturned and done away with. Why has this happened? Because the Church who should be counseling the nation’s civil leaders at all levels of government have been cowed into a corner, or they have truncated the gospel to a get out of hell free card, rather than standing for what is right and true.

While, I am saddened by Copan and other Christians for their confusion regarding these truths, I am not surprised as they are a product of a watered-down gospel; the gospel of the kingdom (rule) of God in Christ the King. Living in the land of relativists, we should not be baffled that many Christians are legal relativists to.

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ENDNOTES:

1 Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 65.

2 There is no true hierarchy in the congregation/assembly of Jesus Christ. He alone is the head of His church. Though there are notable rules of leadership, no one person elder or otherwise has explicit rule over the people of God. All members of the covenant community are on equal footing, although there is a slight difference in the roles each one plays, dependent upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10.42-44; ESV).

3 It should be noted in God’s economy that the citizens of the city would carry out the punishment determined by the elders at the gate.

“The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all of the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst” (Deut 17.6).

Why? More than likely so that those who brought charges against another image bearer would not take lightly giving false testimony since God would hold them accountable for murder if they did so. No doubt this was also a testimony of zeal for the Name of God whose name had been defiled by the act of the criminal (cf. Num 25.1-11); as well as, the righteous vindication of the victim who had suffered at the hand of the wicked person being condemned.

Posted in Beliefs, biblical justice, critique, Law, politics, Racism, Worldview Analysis

Holding Present Generations Accountable for Past Generations Sins: Is Reparations a Biblical Concept?

Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die…The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself; and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezek 18.4, 20).

This principle statement offered by the prophet Ezekiel to Israel at a time when the southern kingdom of Judah was falling to the Babylonians is demonstrating that we are all responsible for our own sins. God does not hold us accountable for another’s sins, but we are judged rightly on the sins that we commit. The prophet took this from an earlier statute given by God to Moses to the children of Israel (physical offspring of Jacob):

“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sins” (Deut 24.16). To ignore this principle is to pervert justice (cf. Deut 16.19; 27.19). In case the language is not plain enough, to attempt to hold someone accountable for what another person has done is unjust, unrighteous, and not a reflection of God’s heart.

Of course, I imagine some might throw up the argument that Paul says we are all judged for Adam’s sin (cf. Rom 5.18-19)1, but that is an incorrect interpretation of that passage. The sense in which Paul is speaking in Romans is merely to point out that through Adam’s sin all his offspring (as a consequence) were made sinners (Rom 5.19). That is to say, Adam’s children are now identified as sinners, and as a result we all sin (cf. Rom 5.12-13). Again, in case you miss it, we are born sinners therefore we sin—NOT—we all sin and are then labeled sinners; for that inverts the argument of Paul opposite than the way he intends.

The point in the Ezekiel and Deuteronomy passages is that according to God’s way of thinking, we are all judged equitably for our own actions. We cannot point the finger over here and say “they made me do it!” Nor, can we say to this individual or that group, “you are accountable for what was done previously and you must pay the penalty;” even though, you did not participate and were not even there when those sins took place.

In short, no one alive today is responsible and therefore accountable for the sins of slavery in American history. What our forefathers did in the past was wrong and deserving of death (cf. Exod 21.16; Deut 24.7; 1Tim 1.10), but it is a great leap of logic to try and pin their sin on anyone living today.

I bring this up in regards to the subject of reparations. The concept of reparations states that whites should pay for the sins of their forbearers who had black slaves, regardless of the fact that whites today did not in fact participate in the sins of the past, with monetary benefits. In other words, we should be able to tax white people for sins previously committed against black people.

Rather, than argue the case myself, I thought it better for another—who articulates it much better than I could—to demonstrate why this is biblically wrong and sinful and not an appropriate way for brothers and sisters in Christ to treat one another.

Gary DeMar is an apologist and accomplished author and former president of American Vision, a Christian worldview ministry located in Atlanta, GA. And while some may disagree with his eschatological viewpoints2, this should not keep you from listening to what he says politically from a biblical worldview. Please read the article posted below, let feel free to let me know what you think.

https://garydemar.com/should-todays-white-people-pay-reparations-to-black-people/

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ENDNOTES:

1 I should point out that what we see with Adam and the comparison that Paul makes with Jesus (the last Adam) is in terms of covenantal heads. Adam is the representative of the whole human race. God established him in the sense of a covenantal head. According to the stipulations of covenantal arrangements there is an order of hierarchy that must be recognized. The transcendent/eternal God as the governing authority, the created image bearer as the representative of God, the Ethical boundaries established by Creator, the positive/negative sanctions (blessings/cursings) in response to obedience/disobedience, the inherited state of those in covenant with God.

Adam disregarded the first three in the garden. He refused to acknowledge God’s authority over his thoughts and actions. He refused to image and represent God when the serpent and his wife spoke against his Creator. He refused to obey the ethical boundary (law) that his Creator had established. Therefore, rather than being blessed he was cursed, and his continual inheritance on earth for he and his children were no longer identified as children of God, but children of wrath—i.e. sinners.

Jesus as the covenantal head of a new people did what the first Adam did not and therefore purchased for his offspring (those in Him) an inheritance of blessing and eternal life. Only those in Christ experience that positive sanctions of God and a continual inheritance with Him throughout eternity.

2 Gary, like me, is a Post-Millennialist. Eschatology has never been in the history of Christianity been a litmus test for orthodoxy. The arguments from historic Pre-Mill, A-Mill, and even Dispensational Pre-Mill are argued over various understandings of certain biblical texts; Unlike the arguments over Creation, which often smuggle in philosophical viewpoints outside of Scripture—i.e. evolution, big-bang cosmology, etc. Those eschatological disagreements may be the source of fruitful growth and dialogue, as all of God’s children should be doing their best to see what the Scriptures actually teach (cf. Acts 17.11-12). They should never be the source of broken fellowships between the family of God.