Posted in Biblical Questions

Thoughts on Biblical Death: Part 2

OUTLINE

I. Death: Result (wages) of Sin

1. In Adam we all die. As his offspring we all inherit death as a consequent sentence of his disobedience in the garden. In Adam we become sinners, and as a result we die physically due to our separation from God. We are born unclean, unholy, unrighteous enemies of God; children of wrath.

2. We are all sinners, but that does not mean all our sins are crimes. Some sins are criminal in nature and result in the swift judgment of God in terms of a death sentence. I have identified three subsets under this category in studying the Old Testament (Tanakh; hereafter OT).

      • Major—Group Death Sentence.
      • Minor—Individual law-breaking death sentence
      • Cut-off—A death sentence in a metaphoric sense.

3. We are all sinners and this, if not repented of, results in everlasting condemnation. This is found in the New Testament (hereafter; NT) more than any other part of the Bible.

**Summation of the parts: All of us die physically as a consequence of Adam’s sin. Some of us may die in this life, having our lives cut short, if our sins are worthy of a punishment of death by violating God’s law. Some of us may experience death figuratively speaking, in the sense of being cut-off, but this is not necessarily a permanent state. Some of us will experience eternal punishment for rebelling against our Maker, having died in our sins. For such, there is no repentance of sins possible.

II. Death: Results (wages) of Christ’s Righteousness

1. In Christ we all die . However, what we die to is different than the death we were born into. We are born “dead in trespasses and sins,” but when we die in Christ, we are reborn “dead to trespasses and sins.” In Christ, we die so that righteousness may abound. In this way, He makes all things new, and we are new in that we are creations in/through Him. For these the power of death has been broken, and it is robbed from the victory that the evil one desired.

The Types of Death We Witness after the Fall (OT)

As was noted in the outline provided above (Part 1, point 2) there are three subsets of physical death that are directly/indirectly a result of Adam’s rebellion as seen in the OT. The first two we shall look at are sentences of death carried out by the Lord God and his representatives (civil magistrates). These result as a violation of His holy law. I have classified them as major and minor cases. These sections nor the footnoted texts in support of them are not meant to be exhaustive. They are given, however, to encourage the reader to knock some dust off their Bible’s if they’ve laid around for far too long. Or, if that’s not the case, maybe you need to get past some of your pet verses that you’ve spent the majority of your time stroking.

Death as Judgment… (Major Cases)

Many of the deaths that we witness in the OT are related specifically to judgments delved out by the Lord. The catastrophic Flood of Noah’s day is one example.[1] Another is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.[2] We have the plagues poured out on Egypt culminating in the death of the firstborn who failed to heed the Lord’s destruction.[3] When that wasn’t enough God destroyed Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea.[4] The rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram is one example of many where God judges a multitude for their sin.[5] The Israeli vs. Canaanite conquests where Moses and Joshua led many battle campaigns against the foes of the Lord.[6] The destruction of the Northern Kingdom Israel by the Assyrians,[7] the devastation wrought against Jerusalem and Southern Kingdom of Judah by Babylon[8] give ample proof of God’s retributive action.

Time and time again we witness war being waged by the Lord against sinful men. The reason they died is because they had broken God’s law and it was a just punishment for their sin.[9] Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it. The law is a nonnegotiable standard.  Law breakers are still guilty if they violate the law without detailed knowledge.[10] Each of these types of death were exercises of penal punishment—i.e., the death penalty being enacted.

Death as Judgment… (Minor Cases)

In this short space, I’ve spoken primarily about the major penal executions carried out in the OT, but there are more deaths that fall under this category. God established as the 6th commandment “Thou shall not kill [murder]…” (Exod 20.13), some mistakenly apply this to all manners of killing. However, there are some sins that are worthy of death (1John 5.16-17). Take for example the death of Lot’s wife.[11]

These would fall under the criminal statutes laid out in the case laws of the OT. Here are a few criminal offenses that receive the highest form of punishment, the death penalty: Adultery[12], Man-stealing (i.e., forced slavery/chattel slavery)[13], rape[14], attacking one’s parents (not little children but adults)[15], blasphemy[16] (includes lying under oath against one’s neighbor,[17] if the perjury would have granted the accused a death sentence), various manners of sexual exploits (incest[18], bestiality[19], sodomy[20] (which would cover the entirety of the LGBTQ? today), sacrificing of children[21] (i.e., abortion, infanticide, or child sacrifice), false worship (like Aaron’s sons),[22] and false teaching.[23]

Though the penalty for such sins—sins of a criminal nature and not merely private—was death, this does not mean that lesser punishments could not be delved out by the elders at the gate.[24] Moreover, it was not a simple matter to enact this strictest form of punishment. In order to get the death penalty, the civil system had to prove their case on the testimony of two-to-three (solid) witness.[25] They did not merely take the word of such individuals, but were required before God to inspect the crime fully. The accused were assumed innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around (or why else look for perjuring witnesses?).

Death Metaphorically Speaking…(Cut-off)

Death is spoken of, or referred to, in a number of circumstances in the OT that do not pertain to physical death. For example, you have the concept of being “cut-off” from the assembly of Israel due to uncleanliness. This can be seen in a variety of instances. We will briefly look at three.

Leprosy is spoken of in Leviticus 13-14. Those found with that contagion are cut-off from the congregation of Israel, unless or until a priest declares them clean (i.e., having been cured of the disease). This served as a living example of sin. Not that the leper necessarily committed a sin to contract the illness, but just as sin kept one from the sacraments and worship (i.e., access to God) so too does sin break the bond of fellowship with one’s creator. Though living, the leper was in a sense as good as dead. They were cut-off from their friends, their family, their jobs, and various rituals of worship given to God’s elected people.

I would recommend that the reader become familiar with the purpose behind circumcision[26] (the cutting off of that flesh demonstrated a transition from life and death, unclean to clean, apart from God to be a part with God). I would also point to what divorce actually entails in both OT and in the NT. To be divorced is a death of the relationship.[27] The innocent part therein was allowed by the Lord to remarry, but the guilty party was restricted (though many still did it). To break the bonds of the marriage covenant (i.e., adultery) earned the guilty with two or more witnesses a death sentence.

Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with the OT and the relationship of God’s law with His people (as further defined in the case laws) do more harm than good when they attempt to teach on these matters (cf. 1Tim 1.6-8).[28]

Forthcoming…

Next, we will look at the final type of death taught as a consequence of Adam’s sin as cited in the NT. In that post we shall look at the final state of those who die in their sin. 


ENDNOTES:

[1] Read Gen 6-9.

[2] Read Gen 18-19

[3] Read Exod 1-13

[4] Read Exod 14-15

[5] Read Numb 16

[6] Exod-Numb, Joshua-Judges-1Sam. These books provide the information you are looking for.

[7] E.g., Isa 10; Hosea 5-10

[8] See Jer 20.4; 29.21; 39.6-7; Ezek 12.13-16; Dan 1-4. Again, none of these references are meant to be exhaustive. They are merely pointers to get you started in your study. When reading prophetic books, pay attention to the timing of the prophecy given. This is usually in the opening sentences of the book in question. This provides historical context. Next look at the books of Kings and Chronicles for the kings of the period mentioned. In the prophetic books the name Israel sometimes refers to the whole nation as if it were united since their calling out of Egypt as sons/daughters of Jacob, but at other times this refers primarily to the Northern Kingdom (also called Ephraim) that split after the kingship of Solomon.

Check your assumptions at the door. Be aware of your traditions that might lead you falsely. Sometimes it is argued that these prophetic utterances only speak of the end of all things, but be aware that the vast majority of those prophecies were given as an indictment (a legal case) against the people, kings and prophets/priests of that day not our day or some future date. Also note that symbolic language has a literal meaning, but only when the symbol is correctly understood from what has been spoken of prior. Which means you cannot read your understanding of symbols today—in our generation—back into the period of the prophets. This is a bad hermeneutic (way of drawing a meaning from the exegeted text) to practice on any part of Scripture, let alone biblical prophecy.

[9] See Lev 18.24-25; Lev 20.22-23; Deut 12.32; 18.12. What these passages prove is that God judges a nation for breaking His holy law regardless of the knowledge they have. It is true that there are variances in “eternal condemnation” for violators of God’s edicts, but the physical penalty is death. And this was carried out on all nations at different times. Cherry picking texts or glazing over them due to traditional blinders is not an excuse for not knowing these things if you are a teacher of the Word of God. Understanding them in light of today’s context requires wisdom, but we must not do as some have done in ethical matters and dismiss God’s holy law as no longer applicable.

[10] The late Greg L. Bahnsen explains as much in his ethical work “By This Standard.” On this particular subject he writes, “Only Israel was given a written revelation of these laws, to be sure. All will grant that. But that fact alone does not imply that only Israel was bound to obey the moral standards expressed in such written revelation. After all,” Bahnsen continues, “though Paul, God wrote to the Ephesian and Colossian churches that children should obey their parents (Eph 6:1; Col 3:20), and nobody seriously takes that fact to imply that only children of Christian parents are under moral obligation to obey their parents. Therefore, the fact that only Israel was given a special revelation of certain political laws would not imply that only Israel was bound to keep such laws” (see also Rom 1.30-32; 2.12-15). Greg L. Bahnsen, By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, [1985], 1998), 234, PDF e-book.

For the reader that may still have difficulty with this idea of being held accountable where a law might not be known, I would merely refer them to our current traffic law system. To speed is a violation regardless of whether or not the driver is aware of the speed limit placed on a particular area (say a suburb). Though leniency might be shown, the guilty will still be held accountable by the law. The Judge reserves the right to make determinations that he finds equitable given the nature of the case (cf. Gen 18.25).

[11] See Gen 19:17, 26; Luke 17:32; compare with Acts 5:3-5, 8-10.

[12] Lev 20:10.

[13] Exod 21:16.

[14] Deut 22:25-26.

[15] Exod 21:15, 17.

[16] Lev 24:16.

[17] Deut 19.18-20.

[18] Lev 18:6,

[19] Lev 18.7-19, 20:11-12, 17-21.

[20] Lev 20:13.

[21] Lev 20:1-5; Exod 21:22-25.

[22] Lev 10:1-3. Some may wonder why some of these “sins” were labeled criminal offenses worthy of death. No doubt people today have a negative reaction toward such realities. But these crimes were seen as an attack on God first and foremost, and then also the spheres of governance that He had established. The most important of which was the family unit, a close second was society as a whole, and the final consideration was civil authorities. God gave His reasoning for enacting such penalties when necessary, “To purge evil from your midst” (Deut 13.5; 17.7, 12; 21.21; 22.22, 24; 24.7).

Bahnsen writes, “Not only are such penal sanctions necessary in society, they must also be equitable. The measure of punishment according to the just Judge of all the ear is to be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life—no less, but no more (for example, Ex. 21:23-25; Deut. 19:21). The punishment must be commensurate with the crime, for it is to express retribution against the offender.” Idem., 273.

[23] Deut 13:1-5.

[24] Here James B. Jordan offers some helpful insight into the matter of the maximum penalty of the law. Speaking specifically on the subject of adultery, Jordan points to Mary and Joseph in the gospels. In “…a case of adultery…both would be put to death, unless it were a case of rape [ref. to Deut 22.25-27]. There seems to be some latitude here, however, since we read in Matt 1:19 that ‘Joseph, being a just man…was minded to put her [Mary] away privately.’ Here again we see a circumstantial application of the unchanging law of God; Joseph apparently regarded Mary as basically a good woman, who must have fallen into sin on one occasion, and os he determined that death was too severe a punishment for her. That this was perfectly just, the text itself tells us. This proves, by the way, that the death penalty is not mandatory in all cases where it is prescribed by law. It is the maximum penalty.” James b. Jordan, The Law of the Covenant: An Exposition of Exodus 21-23 (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984), 148-149, PDF e-book.

It should be noted that while I agree with Jordan’s conclusion that the maximum penalty of the law—death—was in fact the maximum penalty, but was not necessary to be enforced in every case, but should be judicially decided on a case-by-case basis. I think that Joseph’s reaction to Mary’s pregnancy should also be viewed in light of missing evidence. The death penalty needed two-to-three witness in order to establish it (Deut 17.6). Whether or not Mary being pregnant and Joseph claiming that he was not the man was sufficient to seek her death (if that had been what he desired) I do not know. Surely, in this Joseph was driven by love to be merciful to the woman he was about to take as a wife and in this case, he reflects one “slow to anger” a communicable attribute of God.

[25] This does not limit this to “person-to-person” interaction. It had to be specific lines of evidence that served as a witness to verify that the crime had actually been committed. Circumstantial evidence in those cases were not sufficient lines of evidence to carry out a death sentence. This would interject reasonable doubt, which would nullify the grounds for executing the alleged criminal. “What if the person was guilty, though?” one might inquire. The biblical notion of justice is seen as finally resting in God’s hands. If the alleged perpetrator is in fact guilty, but the court system is unable to prove it, then that individual has the fearful reality of facing his/her Maker on judgment day.

[26] Gen 17:10-14; Deut 10:16; 30:6; compare with Col 2:11.

[27] “…if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him…But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved” (1Cor 7.12-13, 15; ESV, italics mine).  Here Paul is saying that the innocent party (the one not wanting a divorce) is not enslaved (bound) to remain married to the unbelieving person who has abandoned them. Bound by what? Enslaved under what? To what binds the two covenantal members of marriage? In what way are they being torn asunder? The answer lies in understanding what is previously known about marriage. I will be brief though since this is a footnote and not an article in and of itself. In Romans 7:1-3 Paul uses marriage as an analogy of how our union with Christ frees us from our former slavery to sin. The spouse is free from the bonds of marriage when the other spouse dies. The law no longer binds them. In the same way, the innocent party in a divorce is freed from being bound to the law of God since their spouse is considered dead (metaphorically), which is how Paul could tell the Corinthians that they need not worry if they desired to remain married but their spouse did not. In such an instance, that sort of covenantal violation freed the innocent party from guilt; though their spouse was counted as dead (again, metaphorically speaking).

[28] I am by no means claiming “teaching par excellence” in this, for I readily admit that I am still a student on such matters. But having studied them for some time I am confident in what I have thus far explained. I would recommend to the reader the two works cited in this post perhaps as introductory works in this particular field of inquiry.

“By This Standard” this work pertains to the ethical validity of the OT Law-Word of God in all areas of life. The argument presented by Bahnsen states that every jot and tittle of God’s Law is upheld by His Sovereign authority, and its status remains unless some prohibition has been provided regarding a specific statute announced by the Lord. God has the authority to change or eliminate His said law, we do not (e.g., Gen 1.29; Mark 7.19; Acts 10.15).

“The Law of the Covenant” by Jordan is exactly what it says it is, an exposition of the case laws provided in Exodus 21-23. These case laws expound and explain the fuller application of the Ten Commandments in daily life. Jordan’s treatment of these matters makes accessible what many modern Christians have a hard time understanding. His offered application to everyday life drawn from God’s holy law gives greater clarity to Paul’s words of teaching the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20.27) so that every man is fully equipped for a righteous life. (2Tim 3.17).

Posted in Beliefs

Wetting our Fingers

If you wet your finger and stick it up in the air you can tell what direction the wind is blowing. There is a somewhat obscure (out of the way to most Bible readers) that makes the following comments regarding some godly leaders of their time:

“…the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do…” (1Chr 12.32).[i]

A zeitgeist is the spirit of the age. The wind that fiercely blows upon the culture and society that besets a people. What spirit do we find blowing on the winds of life today?

Hot Potatoes…

There are a few subjects that individuals both inside and outside the Christian Church viewed as taboo. To borrow from a lecture that I heard from the late Greg L. Bahnsen they are the “Hot Potatoes” of life.

Did you ever play that game when you were a child? I think I’ve only did it once during a youth lock-in many years ago. The closest I get to it now is when I decide to make baked potatoes for dinner. If you’ve ever held one that has been heated, you’ll know that you cannot hold onto it very long before you burn your hands.

In the same way there are certain subjects that others wish you wouldn’t try to handle. Better to leave them be. Better to remain silent. Better to as my kids have told me “put a blanket on it.” I guess if we don’t speak about those issues that people find troubling, then life will be much more pleasant. Much more akin to a loving environment that we so adore…unless it’s not our version of love. Unless we feel compelled to speak on it. Here I am merely referring to the “tolerance crowd” that requires we be tolerant of all views, except those that they find unhealthy, unwanted, distasteful and downright wicked.

What are some topics that I notice many Christians ignore? I mean better than to ignore them, to “put a blanket on them” than to risk offending our readership, our social media following, our reputation in our tight little network of friends.  And yes, I will pick on my brethren for a minute since judgment first falls on the house of the Lord (cf. 1Pet 4.17). For we are supposed to be leading the way, not riding the wind.   

Here are just a few:

1) Sexual ethics[ii]; 2) Politics[iii]; 3) Doctrinal distinctives[iv]; 4) Abortion[v]; 5) Critical Race Theory[vi];  Gay Marriage[vii].

I suppose I could add more if I really thought about it, but that should be sufficient. These are all subjects that the current zeitgeist (that mysterious wind that blows the minds of people in nefarious directions) has deemed off limits. Christians, who should be setting the standard, fall in line with it, acquiescing to the current that drives humanity towards oblivion.

Personal Conjecture on Something Called Holiness…

Now I am not as good a student of history as I should be. I wish that I were, but I find that there are too many other things vying for my time. I am a husband, a father, a pastor, but most important of all I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. I wish that I could say that I were an excellent one, but that would not be accurately painting the picture. I’d have to use some darker colored paint to make the canvas more appealing, so to speak.

In this I am not alone. We are told in Scripture that there is “no one good, no not one” (Psa 53.1-3). For there is “not a man who has not sinned” (1Kgs 8.46); and yes, ladies that includes you as well. But we who bear the name of Christ are called to holiness. We are called “to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect” (Matt 5.48; cf. Lev 20.26). Though we will always fall short of that standard, to that standard do we run. Yes, yes, it is probably more akin to reality that we struggle walking and sometimes even crawling towards that standard, but still we persist.

What is that holiness code? Have you ever wondered? You can sum it up in a word. Do you know what it is? How about…JUSTICE. We are to pursue justice, for we are called to follow the edicts of the king. Which means what precisely? That however He determines a thing, that is how we are to see a thing.

Reason for Descending Thoughts…

Do you know why people inside and outside the Christian Church don’t want to talk about these hot potato issues? Do you know why they’d prefer that you keep your mouth silent too? I mean, other than their reputation with the world.  Because, in their heart of hearts they want to be king. They want to be king? Yes, they desire to be king. They desire to rule as they see fit in their own eyes.

Now for the Christian this is a constant struggle. But not everyone who bears the name of Christ really struggles much with this in their life. And so, when it comes to hot potato issue, they would prefer to “keep the peace” with those who are antagonistic to their professed king. So…no word on sexual ethics, politics, abortion, gay marriage, doctrinal distinctives or Critical Race theory to name a few.

The reason they get along so well with the world, singing the same song around the same camp fire (Kum-ba-ya anyone?) is because they prefer not to rock the boat. However, we should be doing what the late Walter Martin said, “I don’t want to rock the boat, I want to sink it!”

Some Meat with the Potatoes…

Alright, now to the meaty portion of this post. Let’s talk about politics for a moment. In the past, I used to pay much more attention to the political waves being tossed to and fro in our country. But for peace of mind I detached myself from it for a while. Unlike some Christians I believe we have been afforded a wonderful freedom by God in this country where we can have an influence over who is found leading this country. We have been given a right from our Creator to place in power leaders who reflect our Lord’s ways of thinking.

Now I know what you are thinking, “Politics are dirty business. And frankly, they are the sort of business that Christians ought not get involved in.” I’m sure that Satan and all those the march to the beat of his drum (knowingly or unknowingly) enjoy such sentiments. Well, there was a wise person who once said, “if you want dirty dishes clean, you’ll need to wash them.”

So, if you want a society that reflects the holiness standards of your professed Lord (king) and Savior (deliverer), then you better get involved. And part of that involvement requires that you speak out. You call an atrocity an atrocity. Just make sure that your definitional standard is drawn from God’s Word, and not your own personal biases and assumptions.

My Reasons…

If you were to look at my voting record you would find that I vote Republican. There is a reason for that. Do you know what it is? No, its not because I’m a 40-year old white male that has somehow lived a life of privilege (don’t assume you know my life, unless you’ve asked). The reason I do not vote Democrat and will not ever unless they radically change their platform (foundation) is because everything they stand for is embedded with a doctrine of death.

For example:

  • They support the destruction of the family unit that God has ordained. This has been done by divorce on demand, abortion on demand, gay marriage on demand, and now children ruling the home with subjective opinions as to their gender as they are being manipulated by a devilish society and abusive parents/guardians.  What can survive in the wake of these things unless they are artificially supplied life support?
  • They support governmental theft on a slightly larger scale than the Republican party (I say slightly, because let’s face it both parties love their welfare state for it garners them power to remain in office). It is wrong to take what someone else has worked for and give it to another. It is wrong to be envious, covetous, jealous of another person’s wealth and so deem that only the government is the responsible party to know what to do with such “excess funds.” Socialism has never worked in the history of this planet. It has always failed. But like a video game socialist leader keep hitting reset hoping for a different outcome, all the while they are untouched by the policies that they have inflicted on the rest.
  • They seek to drive a wedge into the heart of this nation over ethnicity. What they refer to as separate races (white vs. black; white vs. Hispanic). Speaking about reparations, and affirmative action, etc. They preach against segregation while doing their absolute best at segregating us from each other, spurring on bitterness and hatred.
  • They support injustice by rejecting the constitutional standard, by waging war on the Christian faith that helped form this nation. Don’t believe me read the preambles of all fifty states of this union and at with them the colonies and you’ll see that I’m not wrong (See Here: https://americanvision.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/God-and-State-Constitutions.pdf). How have they done this? Indoctrinating our children with lies, robbing parents of their rights (instruction/discipline), labeling opposing thoughts as hate speech in order to silence, and if that won’t work criminalize those who disagree with their teachings.[viii]
  • Not to mention the impeachment farce that has been a media circus for how long now?

What the Impeachment Entails…

They have accused President Trump of collusion with Russia, but no evidence has been presented (contra: Hilary Clinton sending secret information via email to the Russians). They have accused him of obstructing justice, of treasonous acts against the nation, of trying to dig up dirt on a political rival. However, the telephone conversation in question, that supposedly had evidence to this criminal offense, was surprisingly innocent. And the supposed witnesses to the criminal activity of our president were not actual witnesses to anything. They gave subjective opinions based on personal conjecture, and were found to be hear-sayers. Which is inadmissible in a court of law. They have refused to allow the president to face his accusers, to call his own witnesses in his own defense. They have no evidence of crimes but yet they are doing everything they can to destroy their political opponent, the very thing he was accused of!

Now I know that President Trump’s slogan is “Make America Great Again!” And I will be the first to admit that there are many things that I do not like about our current president, or for that matter the Republican party. Nor am I so naïve to assume that you can somehow make America great through politic’s at the national level. But if we are God’s children, then we are to be ruled by God’s standards. And in closing I will give just a few.

Scriptural Tenets…

“A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed” (Deut 19.15).

This is the gold standard for accusing another of criminal activity. You need actual witnesses, not hearsay. You need to have at minimum two to three lines of evidence in order to try someone for a crime.

“If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. ‘The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you” (Deut 19.16-20).

This is how the accuser is to own up before the defendant. Both parties will have their day in court. Both testimonies will be weighed. The priests represent the law of God (ethical norms), and the judges represent the civil magistrates (cf. Rom 13.1-7). If a witness is found to be false and the accused shall not only be exonerated of the alleged crime, but the accuser will face the same punishment he intended to lay at the feet of the defendant. In other words, if the Democrats cannot prove their case and are found to be false, driven by false motives, they shall (or should) be the ones impeached for wrong doing. The very thing they have sought to do to the president from the beginning.

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before you” (Psa 89.14).

If this is true of God our King, then ought not it likewise be our pursuit as His people, citizens of His eternal kingdom? For the Lord hates injustice.

“You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute…Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty. You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just” (Exod 23.2-3, 7-8).

In short, you shouldn’t wet your finger and put it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing to decide the direction to go in. Rather, you ought to look to the Lord and seek what is righteous in His sight. Even if you don’t like our current president. You don’t have to like him, but you do have to love your God.


ENDNOTES:

[i] All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the New American Standard Update (NASB).

[ii] e.g., the LGBTQ? Craze—they can tell you what is right and wrong to accept/do, but it is unquestionably wrong for the Christian to offer a counterargument.

[iii] e.g., Democrat vs. Republican; Socialist vs. Capitalist; Welfare state or Defense; etc.

[iv] e.g., Ethical norms in general, and the morals that are guided by them; Creation vs. Evolution; Science vs. Faith; Monergism vs. Synergism; biblical authority; etc.

[v] This could really be a subcategory under “sexual ethics,” since it is a poor sexual ethic that leads to the murdering of innocent babies in the womb.

[vi] The false teaching that your skin color somehow gives you privilege, while at the same time you are arguing for privilege over those you are accusing of it; rather than, discerning a person by the content of their character.

[vii] Yes, this one should probably go under “sexual ethics” as well since a poor ethic leads to the redefining of marriage to mean something that is not actually marriage.

[viii] For example, education is not a federalized right under the constitution of the United States, this was added by politicians vowing for control. Words are not a crime; thus, Hate Speech is an oxymoron. You can speak hatefully to someone that is true, but it’s not a crime. You might be a jerk, but that doesn’t make you a criminal. Discipline and instruction of children is a parent’s sovereign right, not the states. And yet, here in Ohio not too long ago there were Christian parents that had their child removed from their home because the Children Protective Services in the Cincinnati vicinity didn’t like the sexual ethics (derived from Scripture) that were being taught to their child.

Posted in Biblical Questions, divine mercy, divine wrath, Headship, Noah, Salvation, the Flood, Theology

The Flood of Noah’s Day: Extent and Purpose

A while back I mentioned that as I was scouring the blogosphere I had come upon a skeptic’s challenge to answer what they deemed tough questions for the Christian faith. My first go around dealt with God’s omnipresence and omniscience in relation to the question presented in the garden: “Adam, where are you?”; “Adam, who told you that you are naked?”; etc. (https://kristafal.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/why-god-asks-questions). This time we are going to deal with the Flood (the deluge) of Noah’s day. In particular, its purpose and intent.

The general assumption that I am dealing with entails the idea that God planned the Flood for a reset, and yet obviously failed for sin is seen once again in Noah’s family; the family that God had went to great extents to save.

Why did God send the Flood? What was the extent of the Flood? Was God’s purpose to make a perfect world (“to reset”) by ridding the world of sinners? All of these questions are vitally important to understanding God’s purpose and intent in sending the Flood.

One of the most interesting details about this historical account in Scripture is the amount of space devoted to it.1 Things are often repeated over and over again, to the point of ad nauseum, but they are done so for emphasis. Look at it this way, when I want to make sure that my children are comprehending the message they are receiving from me (or their mother) the subject matter will often be repeated at various intervals. Why? So that the intended meaning gets through. It is harder to ignore instructions and say “I misunderstood” when specific steps have been repeated over and over again.

So, why did God send the Flood?

Short answer….it was an act of divine judgment (i.e. the wrath of God), and yet at the same time an instance of divine mercy. Both are demonstrated in the great Deluge of Noah’s day.

DIVINE JUDGMENT

  • “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6.5).2

That is to say, every imagination, every fantasy, every desire was turned not to the God who created them, but to every lustful passion that could spring forth from a corrupt heart. This is why God said just a few verses earlier…

  • “My Spirit shall not abide with humankind forever in that he is also flesh. And his days shall be one hundred and twenty years” (Gen 6.3; LEB).

This declaration by the Lord is not a determination of how long men’s lives would be shortened to. The purpose of the statement is that in the near future (120 years to be exact) God would remove His life-giving spirit from man. The breath of life would be extinguished from those living at this time.

In God we live, move and breath (cf. Acts 17.34), and in separation from Him we die. This separation leads not only to spiritual death to which all the sons and daughters of Adam are born into this world—i.e. still-born3—but also results in physical death where the spirit is separated from this body of flesh in which we all do now dwell (cf. Eccl 12.7). The final death is eternal in magnitude which is rightly defined as eternal separation from the goodness, mercy and gracious love of God—i.e. the lake of fire (cf. Rev 20.14; 21.8).

What is promised by the Lord in the opening verses of Genesis 6 is that judgment is coming. Righteous retribution against creatures who refuse to acknowledge the God who created them and gave them life (cf. Prov 10.27). At the end of the grace period (120 years) God promises that He will “blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them” (Gen 6.7). This specific thread of truth is repeated several times over the next couple of chapters, as God reveals His plans to Noah and the subsequent readers of the Mosaic text (cf. Gen 6.13, 17; 7.4; 21-23; 9.9-11). We will look at some of these texts in a moment, but let us first turn out attention to Noah.

DIVINE MERCY

All of the earth’s citizens at that time were distinguished from one man, Noah, who was so named because his father believed, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands” (Gen 5.29). The Hebrew for Noah (No-akh) sounds like rest, and therefore is meant to convey the idea of rest and/or comfort. Our English word carries similar meaning in that rest can mean “peace.” Most certainly, that is what Noah enjoyed when God was gracious to him (rest in God, comfort in God, even peace in God).

After offering His assessment of the rest of Adam’s race, we are told that the Lord looked upon Noah and made a distinction:

  • “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen 6.8)

What does that mean? How did Noah find favor in God’s eyes? Did he look under a rock? Did he see it in a cloud?

The concept of Noah finding favor is not humanly stressed. That is to say, finding the favor of the Lord is not something we do, but something He gives. Favor equals grace. Grace always is something that God gives, not something that man grabs for. If the grace of God were something man grabbed for, then it would no longer be a gift that God bestows upon His creatures. We may obtain it, to be sure, but only as God freely gives. Therefore, we read that Noah as a result of the grace of God “was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. [He] walked with God” (Gen 6.9).

What was the extent of the Flood?

In Genesis 6:13 God discloses His plan to Noah saying, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Did you catch that? The extent of the Flood is the entirety of the earth. Some say that God only sent the Flood to destroy sinful people, not the earth. This is the proposal of those that deny a global Flood.

“Hold on a minute, why would God want to destroy the earth? Why would he want to destroy the animals? That doesn’t seem right. That doesn’t seem necessary, let alone fair!”

This is the same argument levied against the idea that God would judge all men guilty in Adam, because of Adam’s sin (Rom 5.18). Doesn’t seem rational. Doesn’t seem fair.

In response I must ask, “According to whom? Rational or Fair to whom? To God or man?” To be sure it is an affront to man, but this only solidifies that our reasoning has been severely skewed as a result of the Fall. But, God is judge not us. He determines the basis for rationality, logic and truth. He defines the meaning of goodness, kindness and love. He reserves the right to lay at the feet of man and all those under him just condemnation for sin.

UNDERSTANDING HEADSHIP

This is why the Flood was necessarily global in scope. This is why the Flood included the life of all land animals and birds of the air, even the very earth itself. In the beginning, when God created mankind He gave them dominion (the right to rule) over all things created on earth, even the earth itself:

  • “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Gen 1.26; italics added).
  • “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1.28; italics added)

God gave to humankind (male and female) created in His image the right to rule over earthly creation. This dominion (rule) was passed onto His image bearers in the hope that they would demonstrate the same type of sovereignty that the Creator of all creation demonstrates on a creaturely scale. In other words, God placed all things on earth—including the earth itself—under the headship (role of authority) of man.

One of the things that my dad taught me growing up is that where the head goes the body follows. He taught me this in learning self-defense, but the mechanics of it is true in leadership as well. Poor leaders (the head) will result in poor results (the body). When man rebelled in the garden the only thing that sustained them was the grace of God. God is not required to continually give grace to His creatures. If this is a requirement that He must do, then it is no longer rightly defined as a free gift but a right.

The utter rebellion seen in the days of Noah was just cause for God’s destructive efforts. The miracle is that God decided to be merciful to anyone, let alone a family of eight. Notice that this family of eight was saved because the head of the family found grace and that grace which led to righteous living effectively profited the body as a whole (Noah’s wife, their sons and their son’s wives were saved).

So, my point thus far is that it is right for God to judge others in light of what the head has done. We see this in Adam’s rebellion. We see this in Achan’s rebellion (Josh 7.20-26). And, we likewise see this in Jesus (the last Adam) obedience. If we do not like the fact that we are judged guilty under the head of Adam, then we will likewise—if we are consistent—not like being judged righteous under the head of Jesus. What we see true in these two heads, we see demonstrated in the Flood of Noah’s day. All the earth was destroyed in that day, and any that were not on the Ark, be they animal or man, had their breath extinguished. All who were under the head of Noah, who was under the head of God was saved, and the result was the salvation of all the animal kinds.

THE FLOOD WATERS

Water always seeks a level playing field. We find the same truth demonstrated with heat, air, even electricity.4 Water when it fills the cup takes the form of the cup in which it was poured. Water when poured out flows to all the low spots first and then levels out as the waters quit coming. The same is true in historical account of the great Flood.

  • “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And it rained upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Gen 7.11-12).

Rain came from above, and rain came from below. The skies poured forth her water, and the great deep let loose her own. This continued nonstop for forty days and nights, but the overflow of water was not finished until day 150 (Gen 7.24). Until that time the water level continued to rise:

  • The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth…And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep” (Gen 7.18a, 19-20). NOTE:
    a cubit was from elbow to tip of finger, they ranged anywhere from 18-24 inches. This makes the total depth conservatively 22 ½ feet above the mountains.

The result? We are told that as “the waters increased and bore up the ark…it rose high above the earth” (Gen 7.17b). Those inside were saved, but outside all was death:

  • “And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, all mankind. Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died” (Gen 17.21-22).

The same God who saved Noah and his family aboard the ark, is the same one who erased all living things from the face of the earth (Gen 7.23). Obviously, all sea creatures were exempt; although, a great many died under the tumultuous conditions. That was the extent of the Flood.

As a side note, I should add the following. There is no biblical evidence to support the concept of a localized (universal—if your Hugh Ross) Flood. If it were, then an ark would be unnecessary (saving either man or animal), as they could travel to a place where the flood waters would not reach. You may believe such things, but the sand on which you stand will not uphold you in the end.

What was God’s Purpose in Sending the Flood? A Reset?

The purpose in flooding the earth was not to reset things back to Edenic conditions. That would be an impossibility. Such reasoning ignores the fact of sin’s entrance into the world, and the bondage to which all earthly things have been entangled. The only hope for restoration is found in Jesus the Christ.

Does God give us all the details of why He did what He did? No, nor should we think that He ought. What is given is sufficient for faith, but necessarily limited in the sovereign counsel of the Triune God of Scripture.

Do we learn anything from this event? Much. We learn the seriousness of our sin and God’s response to it—death/separation from life. We learn the depths of God’s gracious mercy and the results of it—life. We learn of the passage way to which one secures mercy, of which the door of the ark necessarily points to, is the means that God has established (alone).

Just as the pitch applied to the hull of this saving vessel provided a protective covering, so too does the blood of Christ applied to the believer provide protective covering. In Christ, as those in the ark, life is promised, life abundantly, life everlasting. Through Christ true rest, comfort and peace is afforded, but to all else death (eternal death) is promised:

  • “Enter the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the ways is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt 7.13-14).
  • “I am the door [gate]. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10.9)
  • “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14.6).

This is the picture granted to Noah and his family as God hung His war-bow in the clouds. This, in an ultimate sense, is the purpose of the Flood…to point us to Christ. And, to serve as a warning to those who refuse Him.

ENDNOTES:

1 There are nearly four chapters given to this specific topic; whereas, there are only two chapters devoted to God’s creative works.

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

3 We would be wise to pay special consideration to what Paul says in Romans 8:1-11 where he very pointedly explains what our condition is before Christ (our utter deadness due to our sinful natures and as a result rebellion towards God’s Law-Word), and after: “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness…he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you”” (Rom 8.10, 11). Though, this certainly points to the Resurrection in the end where all things are consummated, this is not Paul’s immediate outlook given the context of his dialogue.

4 Heat will always level out in a given space, however as its energy is dissipated entropy results. Vacuums are abhorred in nature, air always seeks to fill the void, to equalize in pressure. Electricity always goes in the path of least resistance, it is similar to a river current seeking a destination, but eventually it enjoys dwelling in an even playing field between two points where no resistance is felt.