Deuteronomy Lesson 58
Calibrated Social Standards as a Restraint on Coveting
11 October 2011
© Charles A. Clough 2011
We’ll get into this last section of this loving the Lord with all your soul so on the outline (the handout) this will probably be the last time you’ll see the expanded version from 12:1 to 26:19. We’ll condense that so we can get on to the next section. But if you’ll look up at the bold print you can see that this exposition has been going on since chapter 5. So we’ve been at it for two years really. So this tonight concludes this second exposition, which is part of the whole book of Deuteronomy basically.
We want to remember that in the section we’re in from Deuteronomy 12 to 26 is all case law. These are examples. These examples appear though we’re not sure – the best guess among the expositors is that this section has been structured so it of kind of mirrors the implications of the Ten Commandments.
As we’ve seen several characteristics of this section, one is that these incidents that happen occur under different commandments. This is what’s so confusing at first. It threw me off for a while. Why do you see very similar things under one section; but it’s also in another section? Then of course it occurred to me of course it occurred to me, well, that’s obvious. It means whatever the case is, it’s in violation of more than one commandment. That makes sense because the commandments are all morally and spiritually connected. So let’s pause for a few moments in prayer and prepare our hearts as we try to understand this last section.
We’re going to review again because we’re going to get into a discussion toward the end tonight of this section. I want to bring us back to once again look at this chiastic structure in the Ten Commandments and appreciate the fact that there’s a rhyme and a reason to this thing. As we looked at the chiasm, we find the first and second commandments, the third commandment, the fourth commandment, the fifth commandment, and the sixth; all come out of – explicitly come out of the worship of God.
People who have looked at the Ten Commandments will tend to say that those are one tablet of commandments that has to do with our relationship with God and then these all have to do with our relationships with men and social things – five commandments on each tablet. But you can see that these commandments are all interrelated. It’s hard to argue for example that this commandment, society depends on the function of marriage here honor you father and mother; that that isn’t social. Yet some would put that in the society area. It would hard to say for example working and labor aren’t social. So that old distinction between two tablets (5 commandments on one and 5 commandments on the other) is sort of a tradition that has grown up in the Christian church over the years; but research, as I pointed out when we were in chapter 5, on documents that are somewhat parallel to this tell us that this is really a unity.
And, probably the two tablets that Moses had were copies of each other because when you have temples and treaties what happened is they always had two copies of the contract. Obviously there are two parties to the contract. Each party has a copy. In the case of Israel, both tablets were put inside the ark. The first one is God’s copy. That’s inside the ark because He indwelt the tabernacle. The second copy, which is Israel’s, that’s inside the ark because that’s their center of worship. So in this case the two copies of the contract were collocated.
But the important thing to remember and one of the whole reasons for starting the Deuteronomy series was largely in response to some of the students who have raised questions about what they are getting in school called social justice. We are trying to careful attention to the structure of society. So we have in our heads a basic model of how society ought to work. We say, “Well, this is a basic structure that the Ten Commandments are to instruct us how to live with this kind of society.” So we’re going to see how this plays out particularly in one of the sections tonight.
So I wanted to review again that at the base of society they have a choice whether in their of hearts are they going to be in harmony with God. That is be believers in the amount of gospel truth known in the dispensation of Israel which wasn’t as much as the gospel known now after Pentecost. But in the Old Testament they had obviously a knowledge of Yahweh’s holiness, His sovereignty, His promises. They had a knowledge of their sin so they had to resolve it by trusting in Yahweh to deal with their sin in some way. He had them act out sacrificially protocols, which revealed in their very structure - revealed to them what had to happen in order to approach God.
It was a bloody mess. We tend to probably downplay the mess in Old Testament worship; but it was a bloody gory mess. You can imagine what things looked like, what things smelled like around the Temple after you execute basically hundreds and hundreds of animals, if not thousands.
When unbelievers knew more about the Bible, I can remember as a new Christian being told that my religion was slaughterhouse religion. That was an old fashioned term back in the ‘50’s to refer to Christians as a slaughterhouse religion. What they meant was they saw clearly in the Old Testament there was a lot of blood and sacrifice. But of course we know now why that was there. God had a reason and purpose. So at the very base you have decision whether I am going to seek out the Lord or not.
Tonight we are in a section that deals with the 10th commandment. The 10th commandment in the outline I put there Deuteronomy 5:21. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Obviously the 10th commandment presupposes quite a bit. The 10th commandment presupposes that there’s such a thing as legitimate property, does it not? In other words these are all the nouns here are in the possessive case. You can’t have possession without property; and you can’t have property without the right to own property. So here obviously a person who covets something else is desiring possessions that are not theirs. They want to short circuit labor. They want to short-circuit that to get to property.
And our society is full of this. Politicians cater to this covetousness. That’s why socialism and political manipulation are all in defiance of the Tenth Commandment. The Tenth Commandment is being violated right across the political spectrum because it’s playing on covetousness.
The idea you can have protesters on Wall Street fussing about millionaires while by the way they used cell phones by millionaire Steve Jobs and they used products of other millionaires. Then they are fussing about millionaires. Obviously it doesn’t connect with them that millionaires are the successful people that produce the things that they need and rely on every 24 hours. So the idea that because I have possessions, that somehow this is sinful—that’s covetousness, nothing to do with any kind of biblical standard.
It’s a solicitation of the flesh to covetousness. Basically it’s a lust to steal. The idea that somebody can produce, be successful in life and be rewarded for it in an acquisition of wealth is the legitimate playing out of the dominion mandate of Genesis 1. Today what you have, not only do you have the violation of the 10th commandment all across the political spectrum, but you have the manipulation of guilt. You have an appeal to the so-called have-nots to go ahead and covet. “That’s your right. It’s your right to covet somebody else’s property.” So that’s the message, the political message, to the down-and-outers. Over to the wealthy people, the guilt manipulation is, “You should feel guilty because you’re successful.” See when you word it that way you say, “What? Why should I feel guilty because I’m successful?” Shouldn’t be! We have to as Christians resist this. This is the game that’s being played here. It’s a game of manipulation and when we talk about manipulation and guilt manipulation that’s a signal we ought to raise the question – are you talking about guilt?
We ought to ask the question, “By what moral standard are you measuring this?” When you start asking a serious question like that you’ll find all of a sudden that people get on a skating rink and skate all over the place and try to respond to that question because they don’t have a standard, a transcendental standard of right and wrong. So this is the answer to guilt manipulation, the insistence on: by what standard do you say this? If it’s a subjective standard, “I feel good because I’m wealthy. It makes me happy and I don’t intent do be guilty for it – and you shouldn’t either. Instead of whining about somebody else having wealth, find out how they got it and you do it.” You can see how out of kilter our society is. We’ll see how out of kilter it is when we get into more into this.
The 10th commandment is very important commandment because it is the mirror image of the first two. Think about it. Why would I covet something? Isn’t that because I am dissatisfied with what God has provided in my life? I am dissatisfied that I have to work in order to acquire things. I have to do certain things. I have to conform to the structures that God has. A farmer has to plant a certain kind of seed and he has to feed the seed and he has to take care of the seed before it fruits. He can do that. That’s a metaphor for any business. There is no easy street here. That’s the way it is. We live not in a universe of our own imagination or our own speculation or our own wishful thinking. We live in a universe that preceded our birth and will go on existing after we die. We have to live within God’s creation.
Now that’s why I believe in the New Testament there is such an emphasis on giving thanks. NKJ 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” NKJ 1 Peter 5:7, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” All of those promises have at their root thanksgiving.
Isn’t thanksgiving the direct opposite of the 10th commandment? How can you be thankful and covet? Or, how can you covet while you are being thankful? So the Tenth Commandment is an extremely important commandment. In fact this is the commandment that Paul in the New Testament says, “It wasn’t until I started thinking about the Tenth Commandment that I recognized sin.” It was the Tenth Commandment that worked into the heart of Paul his sense of his own personal sin; the fact that he lusted and he craved this, this, this and this; and he wasn’t thankful for what God had provided. That’s the spiritual dynamic that’s going on here.
What we want to notice is that as we come up we deal with the integrity of language. That has to be so. That’s going to be involved in the Tenth Commandment too before we finish tonight.
Labor and property—that depends on the fact that you have people with character and integrity so you don’t cook books and you don’t use crummy accounting systems. That has to be there before you can have a business that is productive. Then you come up further and then you can have marriage, family and life. So again it’s a unified structure and this structure has to be supported.
Government policies if they are wise should support this. Here you have a yardstick to test political policies. It’s a simple yardstick. When you hear politicians say this, this or this – and it’s policy A, policy B, policy C—ask yourself how does policy C support this or does it hinder this? Policy A, does it support this or does it hinder this? This is how we ought to think. It’s not what party somebody belongs to. It’s what policy they want to implement.
So as we go now into Deuteronomy 25 in part A, we’ve already dealt with the idea of Levirate marriage. This issue there as we said was a brother did not want to undertake marrying (and we say he was probably obviously unmarried) he didn’t want to marry his brother’s widow because if he married his brother’s widow he had to invest time and property to support his brother’s name, not his name.
You have to keep in mind that in Israel the family is a small business. You have to see that or these passages make no sense if you don’t understand the family is seen as a business entity and the core of the family holdings, the family assets are inheritance. That’s why this inheritance thing keeps coming up again, again and again in the Law.
Landmarks - why are landmarks coming up? Because that’s the family possession. That’s outlines their field. That was their whole possession where they could grow things.
So the brother if he coveted he could think this way. He could say, “No, I’m not going to marry my brother’s widow, because when she dies guess where the money is going to go. If I’m the survivor, I get it.” So coveting came into this relationship. When you first think of Ruth or you think of the Levirate marriage sometimes, we don’t connect it with the Tenth Commandment. But here you can see the Tenth Commandment includes a lot more than the flat out coveting this, this, or this. It can also include subtleties. The whole Levirate marriage thing was something to be supported by adhering to the 10th Commandment.
Now we get into in verses 11-12. This is one of those passages where God when He paints human pictures He paints it warts and all. This is a street situation. NKJ Deuteronomy 25:11, “If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals,  “then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her.”
You say, “What is this going on?” Of course this is a great passage for a devotional, but it shows you that the Word of God deals with every situation in society. So what’s going on here? The first thing to understand is that conflicts in the Scripture, even military conflicts (Deuteronomy 20), have to be handled within the structure of the Word of God.
If you remember back in Deuteronomy 20 when we were talking about war, not just the holy war, but we were talking about when the army of Israel came against to siege a city; what was that army prohibited from doing? Remember? The army was prohibited from destroying the orchards. They could chop other trees down, but not the orchards. Now what was the difference between a normal tree and an orchard tree? Fruit! The orchard tree was a producing tree to the economy. The other trees weren’t.
So this by the way carries out some fascinating implications for environmentalism because the environmentalist would never make a distinction between the tress. And isn’t it fascinating to see that God values them differently! God values trees that are human dominion. The trees that are brought to fruitfulness have more value than the tress that are out in the wild. This is a disjunction that’s extremely offensive to the modern ecological movement. Anything that smacks of God’s dominion is anathema. It’s an unpardonable sin, in deep ecology thinking. It shows how pagan it really is.
So here two men are fighting. They are supposed to be within the bounds of Yahweh’s contract. Another place where fighting occurs is in Exodus 21, where there is a pregnant woman. This is a passage that we could go in and spend a lot of time on; but this is a case where the woman is pregnant and in the fight if something happens (presumably a miscarriage or whatever) then there is a certain penalty there. So the fighting was disciplined by a structure around it.
Now what’s the deal with a woman grabbing the other man’s genitals? This has to do with what the male genital is in Scripture. What is circumcised? It is the circumcised portion of the body God circumcises because He is illustrating that there is something wrong in human propagation. It started with Abraham as a religious institution pre-Israel. It was the fact that Abraham had to understand that though he could get Sarah pregnant, Sarah had to have God Himself produce an Isaac. Isaac was a supernatural result. Yes, Abraham could go get another woman Hagar pregnant. But that was not accepted. That was a natural procreation. The procreation of Isaac right from the start – see it’s so important!
Look at the first instance in biblical history to get the meaning of something. Go back and look at what the role of circumcision was. It’s a dramatic physical illustration of the Messianic line, the idea that you had to have circumcision because it’s a reminder that normal sexual propagation is contaminated by the fall. It’s not saying it’s wrong; it’s saying that it can’t produce the seed that God wants it to. Every baby that’s made naturally comes with what? It’s always obvious by age 2. A sin nature. The point here is that every baby comes with an infection from the fall. And, circumcision was a sign of the covenant.
Now the tactic that the woman is using here - by the way when I researched this years ago I found you can go into Assyrian and pagan law codes and they had the same kind of problem referring to this kind of thing. I guess the ladies knew judo or something. This was apparently a common tactic that was used. It’s spoken of in the Assyrian law codes, in the Mosaic Law codes, and other pagan codes. The pagans however don’t respond to that attack like this. This is the only cutting or body cutting that is permitted in Scripture other than circumcision.
You have to think, “Why does this lady get her hand cut off?” I think it has something to do with lex talionis, as I pointed out. Lex talionis means an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. This woman here is disregarding in some sense the sign of the covenant by using pagan proceedings irrespective of the covenant sign. Since she disregards circumcision which is a cutting, she gets her hand cut off. There is some kind of relationship that’s involved with this.
The whole point is that if by reading the pagan literature it appears that this woman she covets obviously. She is going to try to defend her husband but she demeans following God’s way of doing it. So because she does, she forsakes Yahweh’s ways and in fact adopts an apparently a common pagan tactic. This is considered disregarding Yahweh’s rule: a very serious thing because this is the only incident in all of the Bible of bodily mutilation other than circumcision. So you have to kind of think these two must be related in some form or way.
All right. Let’s go now to verses 13 to 16. Here we get into some thick stuff by implications of what goes on here. So let’s look at it carefully – verses 13, 14, 15 and 16. NKJ Deuteronomy 25:13, “You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. 14 You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. 16 For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the LORD your God.”
You say, “What is going on here?” Well, let’s observe the text carefully first. What is verse 13 talking about? What physically is going on in verse 13? In the Hebrew it’s literally a bag of stones or weights. Now what were weights used for? Weights were used in business. So you have a measure that is involved in business transactions. These measures are to be calibrated basically. So the weights obviously must be some sort of standard of weight to be used when you are weighing out things in business. So it’s weight.
If that’s verse 13, what’s verse 14 talking about? Because verse 14 advances to something else. 14 “You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small.” But here the adjective shows it isn’t weight, it’s what? It’s a volume. So now we have weight and volume. Weight and volume were involved in most business transactions here. I put some verses there and I want you to go to these verses to show you how serious God takes this. This looks like a tiny little text that is sort of peripheral and incidental. But then when you start reading the rest of the Bible, all of a sudden you realize this thing keeps coming up.
So turn over to Proverbs, Proverbs 11:1. Notice how serious this is taken. Look at what verse 1 does. Verse 1 of Proverbs 11 says: “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.” This is sort of strong interest in God’s justice that’s connected here.
So this triggers our thinking to think, “Well, why of all the different things going on; why do we notice the emphasis on God’s justice and righteousness?”
Well let’s look over in Proverbs 16:11. “Honest weights and scales are the LORD’s; All the weights in the bag are His work”. He’s talking here about human society and leaders in human society. Notice the context here, the verses before and the verse after this about kings. So this is talking about leaders in society. Somehow it’s connected to weights and measures.
Let’s go to Micah. It’s toward the end of the Old Testament here. Micah 6:9—Micah is a prophet who is ministering the Word of God to Israel before the exile. He’s a social commentator calling Israel to task for abandoning the standards of the Mosaic Law. NKJ Micah 6:9 The LORD’s voice cries to the city—Wisdom shall see Your name: “Hear the Rod! Who has appointed it? 10 Are there yet the treasures of wickedness In the house of the wicked, And the short measure that is an abomination?” See, that’s distorted measure. 11 “Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales, And with the bag of deceitful weights? 12 For her rich men are full of violence, Her inhabitants have spoken lies, And their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.” So this is a society wide affliction he’s commenting on. He talks about rich people. He talks about business. He talks about commerce. He talks about deceit as seen in their mouth.
So let’s go back then to Deuteronomy 25 and look at one more thing in the text. We’ve looked in verse 13, and we says it’s weights. We’ve looked at verse 14; and we say it’s volume. Now verse 15, notice the adjectives that are used in the text to describe proper weights and proper measurements. NKJ Deuteronomy 25:15 “You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Now don’t you think those two adjectives would mostly be used of the Lord Himself—His justice, His weight. Then we saw that strange reference in these other verses about: NKJ Proverbs 11:1 “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.” In other words it goes with who He is. So following the handout here, the immediate context is business transactions.
Now who would have a heavy and a light weight? The heavy weight was put in there so that the buyer that was receiving the thing would be charged more. If he’s charged by weight and it’s weighed out and it’s heavier than it should be; he gets dinged. The price of the good goes up. The light weight would be the guy who is the seller. He gets away with less because he is using a lighter weight. So clearly the heavy and the light weight are talking about both ends of a business transaction. The buyer and the seller are involved in this. And it’s a distortion of that.
This goes back to this chart. You can’t have labor and property functioning, respected and productive if you don’t have integrity of communication. You have violated the integrity of communication by distorting the weights and measures. You can’t have a legitimate business without it being distorted by a messed-up standard.
Now the larger context is just. The reason that business dealings in Israel were made of such a big deal about the weights and measures is - and this goes back to a principle you see again and again in Scripture whether it’s talking about a vine, whether it’s talking about a sheep, whether it’s talking about something else in the physical universe; God has created these things to be tools of general revelation. And the weights and the measures in business transactions are a picture of His justice, His integrity, His holiness. That’s why these adjectives are what you normally theologically connect with God’s character are somehow mapped over to a business thing. Why? Because you can see everybody is doing buying and selling. Everybody has that experience. You know when it’s wrong. You know when it’s ripped off. So everybody has that experience of being ripped off or having integrity in a business deal.
Therefore God says, “I’ve structured your social life so you’ll have these experiences so in those experiences you’ll understand something about My integrity and My righteousness, and My justice.” Or, said another way God can say this. “When you come before Me and I judge you, I have just weights. You can’t blow smoke in My face and come to Me with a distorted weight and measure because I don’t buy it. I know what the real weight and real measure are.”
So in all of our life apparently one of the most crucial experiences that every man and woman have is in this area of business; and we never connect is with the gospel or theology. See how the Bible interrelates everything? It’s a great picture to see that you’re never away from the general revelation of God. It’s popping up all around us and here is a critical illustration. Not only does it illustrate in picture form what His righteousness and justice are, but it illustrates how we feel about it, our emotions that are connected with that. Think about something else –how this metaphor of weights and measures carry over. Think about the artistic pictures you see all over the place of lady justice. What does she hold in her hand? Weights and measures! Why do you suppose that’s there? Because artists who are sensitive understand that the weight and measure say something.
When I was doing measurements at Aberdeen, one of the things we have to do for all our measurements is to have calibrated instruments. You had to have a calibrated instrument. So I had to spend thousands of dollars every year having every single one of my tools that I used in measure calibrated. Usually the rule in calibration is that whatever you use to calibrate has to be ten times more sensitive than the instrument you’re using. So if your instrument is good to the nearest 1/16th of an inch, the calibrator standard has to be at least ten times more accurate than that. So why do we do that? So that my measurements are the same as the other guy’s measurements, and we’re both using the same standard. This cuts across something in our society that’s totally perverse—relativism. You see the idea of a calibrated standard that everybody needs in every business transaction there is out there. They will say, “Yes, we need calibration. Yes, we need a standard.” Then they’ll turn around and say, “But values are up to whatever you think.”
Do you see the conflict? They can’t take their relativism into business – well, some of them try. The average person understands that, “I can’t live that way. The relativism doesn’t work. I need a standard, the standard that sets integrity.” So this is why this thing is so important.
Now I have some quotes here that I want to discuss. Frederick Hyack is an economist who wrote years ago. He and Henry Haslitt wrote some very nice works. If you ever want a book, a simple book on economics that really states it very clearly and is very close to Scripture (not identical, but close to Scripture) is Harry Haslitt’s Economics in One Lesson. What we really need in this country is for every politician that enters public office to have read Henry Haslitt’s book Economics in One Lesson because he deals with money. He deals with transactions and these sorts of things.
But let’s look at Hyack. This is a serious commentary. The reason I make such a big deal about this folks tonight is that weights and measures can be seen and understood by people without a tremendous amount of education. Everybody intuitively can understand this. And yet in God’s schema of revelation He accords so much to the integrity to weights and measure that He attaches adjectives that are normally speaking of His character to this issue.
So here we have…
There is probably no single factor, which has contributed more to the prosperity to the West than the relative certainty of the law, which has prevailed here.
Now he’s going to make a very interesting observation. Notice what he said here.
No single factor has contributed more to the prosperity of the West than the relative certainty of the law, which has prevailed here.
Now before we go into another sentence, what he’s getting at is the law has to be clear. When you stop and fill up your car with gas the next time look at the pump and look at the seal. You’ll see that there is a little green seal there of weights and measures. That pump had to be calibrated or that guy couldn’t sell gas. Otherwise he’d make a mint by short changing the gallon. He would have an incorrect measure and that’s why the State of Maryland has a group of weights and measures. That’s what they do. They go around to calibrate this. So what he’s talking about is law in general now, business law. Watch what happens. This is happening right now in our country and we are paying dearly for this violation.
This is not altered by the fact that complete certainty of the law is an ideal, which we must try to approach but we must never perfectly attain.
He is talking about regulations and laws and rules.
But the degree of the certainty of the law must be judged by disputes, which do not lead to litigation because the outcome is practically certain as soon as the legal position is examined.
Look at that sentence again, a very wise statement.
The degree of the certainty of the law must be judged by the disputes, which do not lead to litigation because the outcome is practically certain.
In other words people don’t go to court because it’s so obvious that the law is so clear that there is no need to go to court to decide whether it is right or wrong. Now this is reversed to what you normally think. You say, “Oh. The case load is measuring this.” No, it isn’t. It’s the number of incidents divided by the caseload. That’s the measure of the success of law. It’s measured by the non-litigations.
So we have here:
It is the cases that never come before the courts, not those that do, that measure the certainty of the law.
Does everybody see what he’s getting at here? In other words, the law was clear. The Ten Commandments - Moses wanted to be clear to people. That’s why he spent all that time on the second exhortation to show this, to show this, to show this, to show that.
I was listening to a friend of mine point out something: a lawyer Christian man who got his doctorate from Dallas Seminary, Andy Woods. Andy’s a friend of mine. His dad for 30 years has been a judge in the California court systems. His mother decided since her son was going to be a lawyer and her husband was a lawyer, she went out and she got her law degree and passed the California bar herself. She figured if she’s going to be in a house of lawyers, she’s going to be one. So, Andy’s mom and dad are both lawyers. His dad is a judge, a very experienced judge, I might add.
Andy points out something in the history of this country. The courts were considered, the Supreme Court (the federal level), was considered to be a minor part of the government. The reason you can tell that is count the number of sentences in Article 1 that deal with Congress, Article 2 that deals with the executive branch, and Article 3. One of the early Supreme Court justices quit because he couldn’t see that he was doing anything for the country because there were not many cases. And, the Supreme Court never had a building until 1934 – of its own. It met in the basement of the Senate. It wasn’t even full time. So what’s changed? Why is it we have so much litigation today?
Let’s think about this statement. Why is litigation increasing? Obviously, things aren’t clear. So let’s go to the next quote.
There is little doubt that the proliferation of lawyers in the United States in the latter years of the 20th century was the sign of a major breakdown, a major breakdown, of its moral and legal order.
Think about this very significant observation.
The United States in 1990 had 730,000 lawyers, 70% of the world’s total. In 1990 Japan had 11 lawyers per 100,000 people. The United Kingdom 82; Germany 111, The United States 281. Japan had 115 scientists and engineers per lawyer, the United Kingdom 14.5, Germany 9.1 and the United States 4.8.
What does that tell you about society? What conclusions come out of this? What has changed? You go from a Supreme Court that meets in the basement of the Senate because it’s a minor entity, then all of a sudden now we have political warfare about appointing a judge to the Supreme Court.
What has happened is we have abandoned a society of law and moral standards to one of human choices. So, what is right today is what the court said last Tuesday afternoon. Everything is contingent on whatever the judges say. This is a land of lawyers; not a land of law in spite of what everybody says. The proof of it is what we’re seeing right here.
Translated into terms of Deuteronomy 25 what is happening is that we don’t have just weights and measures in the sense of just weight and clear laws and rules that you can function with. You need a team of lawyers to figure out: are you conforming to a regulation or aren’t you? And we wonder why the economy has gone to pot.
Here’s a professor of economics of a university – I didn’t get the university, Dr. J. P. Helm. I’m going to show you two parts of this. I’ve put all of these quotes in your notes so you don’t have to copy it down.
We’ve become a society in which the rules are in flux.
See? It’s like we have different weights and measures on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday. We have to ask somebody what weights we use on Wednesday.
Thereby prodding people to spend large amount of time and resources trying to change the rules to their benefit.
See what happens? Once your rules become pliable, what’s the next step? It doesn’t require rocket science. “If the rules are going to change, I want to be in on the change, right? – to protect my base.”
So what does this do?
In the beginning of the Constitution was a set of rules that pretty much encouraged the entrepreneurial type of person to go out and create wealth. Somewhere around the 1870s (by the way only ten years after Darwin - please notice the date) the Constitutional climate started changing dramatically not by amendment; but by interpretation.
See after Darwin the legal documents were evolving. “You don’t want to go back to the Constitution. That’s like going to a museum. That’s like talking about Neanderthal people that founded the country. We’ve evolved beyond that.” So within ten years of Darwin all of a sudden you have major people like Rosco Pound at Harvard and others in the legal community teaching that law is a matter of interpretation. Why? Because it’s the judges’ job to evolve the law to the present state. So here we go.
Now what happens next?
Around the 1870s we have amendment not by interpretation. The Supreme Court said the state legislatures could pass any sort of regulation they wanted about economic affairs so long as they were reasonable. That meant of course that people spent a lot of time trying to get regulations written to their advantage or to the disadvantage of their competitors. Now all of a sudden you have a dog eat dog thing.
This is evolution? This is progress? But this people, is a practical illustration. You’ll hardly ever see it anywhere else than a few books. This is an illustration of what you happens when you get away from absolutes and clearly written standards. You go to dog eat dog and it has profound business implications because now look what happens next.
Today much of the economic game is in the political arena.
Why? It has to be, right? If you’re going to change, everything has got to be political.
It’s played by getting rules on your side while making sure someone else doesn’t get the rules on their side against you. The action is in Washington DC. It’s interesting to look at the statistics of many large companies and see how much of their time goes into lobbying, where their business headquarters are, who the big players are, etc.
There are more lobbyists in Washington than there are congress people. And they make big bucks. And guess who’s paying for the lobby. The corporations. And guess where they’re getting the money. When you and I buy their products. So it doesn’t affect the economy? See what I’m saying? All through this Deuteronomy series – wake up call. Sin costs dollars in a national economy.
It turns out that it’s just as important to try to make sure the rules favor you as it is to produce better products.
How is that for economic progress? Now we’re spending half our time fighting over rules instead of building better products. Now what does that do to a national economy?
Any society in which the rules are not clearly defined, whatever they are, is at risk. You need a society of stable, legitimate and just rules in order to have people productively engaged.
So hopefully this little thing about weights and measures - you can begin to see you open up a free-for-all of covetousness. This is why the Tenth Commandment is involved. “I want to get my share. I’m going to manipulate. I’m going to lobby and I’m going to get that regulation written for me. And to heck with you! And you’re going to do the same thing to me.” And we will spend half of our business budget doing that instead of making better products, cheaper for the buyer. So, very sobering. But this is a challenge for us to think through the sinful notions of men and when we begin to tear apart God’s structures the price we pay down underneath that.
Okay, let’s go on. We’ll finish this section. Verse 17, this is the conclusion.
I want to mention before I get to verse 17 some more quotes here. This was an article. It surprised me – found it actually in our Baltimore Sun. You don’t find things like this in the Baltimore Sun too often. But I guess in the interest of equal time or something they occasionally have to have some common-sense writing. This is a Ph D, Dr. Dorn. He works for the Cato Institute, which as some of you know is libertarian. Here is our city. Here is a good example of what happens when God’s codes are violated.
The poverty rate for married couple families with related children under 18 is 7.4 percent. Education is also important. Female-headed households with less than a high school degree have a poverty rate of 44.1%.
Is there a statistically significant difference here? Well, why? What is happening here? Is that a functioning family? What does God say? Remember the slide? You can’t life; you can’t get this until you have a functioning family. And you can’t have that until you have some wealth.
The rate is 11 % for those with a college degree. Government policy can influence one’s choices and level of responsibility one takes.
In context what he’s talking about is when you have a welfare system that rewards people getting pregnant to have children so they can get paid that is not conducive to functioning families. And, it never solves the poverty problem.
So since Lyndon Johnson’s day of the war on poverty, we have spent millions and millions if not billions to “deal with poverty.” Where are the results? Do we still have poverty? Is it still the same way it was in Lyndon Johnson’s day? Yes. Doesn’t that sort of argue that we’re not really dealing with the problem of causes? But nobody wants to talk about that. Isn’t that strange? Why? Because we can get more votes by handing out more goodies. So here we have government policies can influence one’s choices and the level of responsibility one takes.
The growth of the welfare state has eroded personal responsibility and made the poor more dependent.
It hasn’t helped anybody – not doing this.
A huge underclass has captured politicians for their cause maintaining and increasing welfare payment transfers rather than limiting the size and scope of government to make people more responsible and foster economic growth. Part of Baltimore’s poverty problem lies in the rise of government welfare and the decline in morality. It’s time to think about how to reduce latent poverty and make people more responsible for their choices.
What is the book of Deuteronomy about? Choice and consequences. So these with lessons that we see here in Deuteronomy you want to think about: when I see how God ruled a nation and how He said, “Do this and this will follow. Don’t do this, and that’s going to follow.”
Choice and consequences; you cannot escape these. That’s why the text of the Word of God is so important, even in economic areas.
So finally we come now to verses 17 and 18. This is the end. Moses has one last thing to say here. It’s a problem – goes back to the early chapters.
NKJ Deuteronomy 25:17, “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt,  how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.  Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.”
Now people look at that and say, “Those last two sentences are in conflict, aren’t they?” Let’s look at those last two sentences again. “… that you will blot out the remembrance” … do not forget. Well, how do you interpret? This is written proverbially. Proverbial writing juxtaposes sentences that look like they are challenging each other to make you to think through this. When he is talking about “you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” means you destroy him. You are to eliminate this group of people. Amalek is to be thoroughly destroyed. You will not forget to do that.
Now on your outline to save time I’ve given you the verses that control the history of Amalek. They were descendants of Esau. They attacked Israel in the desert. They kept on. They were not eliminated by Joshua. They were still giving Israel problems in the days of King Saul. King Saul was supposed to go out and eliminate him; but he didn’t finish. That was the downfall of King Saul. That’s why Saul failed because he failed to eliminate and create justice to destroy Amalek. David was the one who finally did it.
What’s the deal here and how does this relate to the Tenth Commandment? I think it relates this way. We covet personal peace and rest. That’s not wrong if it’s peace and rest God’s way. But, when God calls us to war and when God calls us to finish a job, He means finish the job. But if I instead of being thankful to the Lord to provide for my needs even though it’s a pain, even though it’s tiring, even though I’m tired and don’t have the strength to do this; nevertheless if I trust the Lord eventually I’ll have peace and rest. But I am not going to have peace and rest until I trust the Lord enough and am thankful for His provisions to deal with it.
Over the years of church history Amalek has been seen by devotional writers as a picture of our flesh, a picture of the world impinging on our flesh. That is a struggle that we must overcome and it never goes away until the rapture or until resurrection. So it’s a lesson that sometimes God asks us to do things and we just don’t want to do it. It’s inconvenient. We covet another way.
So the Tenth Commandment finishes this. In our conclusion and we have finished with the case laws, the statutes and judgments. We have only Moses’ conclusion here about loving the Lord with our hearts and minds. We need to see the multifaceted nature of each of the Ten Commandments, how they encompass far more than what first appears. As we go through this section, hopefully one of the things we’ve learned is that each of these Ten Commandments has tentacles that reach out into areas we would never have dreamed about if we hadn’t read this text.
So this is why I believe when Paul says: NKJ Romans 3:20 … for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” …it takes on a new connotation for us because when we go through the Law we see all these details – this, this, this. “Gee I didn’t think stealing involved that. I didn’t think ‘thou shall not covet’ involved this.” We begin to see it’s all around us. So it makes us more serious about our Christian life I believe by showing us how many ways we can sin. There is a whole structure out there; and it’s not to end.
“How can I ever do this? Gosh, every time I turn around I face a sin issue or an obedience issue.” It’s rather to drive us to Christ. It’s to drive us to rest in His finished righteousness. If there is one argument against salvation outside of Christ by works, the law is it.
How do you get a viable society? That’s one of the things that you should ask after we’ve gone through all these details and case laws. As you listen to politicians – it’s kind of neat as we go into an election year – listen to them struggle to try to define what ought to be in our country. And then listen and compare to what God says about the kingdom in the Word of God. I’m not knocking the politicians. A lot of them have integrity and they are struggling. It’s a lonely thing out there. I said to one of our local political leaders, “Gosh to be even in a high office in the State of Maryland I think the qualifications is you have to be part masochist. You suffer because you are all by yourself and everybody criticizes you.” You get very few people – “Hey, you did a great job here.”
As we go into this session let’s think about why the Bible says there won’t be world peace, there won’t be a just society until Jesus returns. It can’t happen. What we can get is partially there and that only by the fact that you have population taking seriously the truths of the Word of God. Outside of Christ’s return we’re not going to have a just society. It’s not going to happen.
Well, are there any questions as we finish this section?
The question Jim is asking you go to the gasoline and fill up your car with gasoline and part of the gasoline is ethanol and you don’t have the energy performance. That’s a case where it would be akin to changing the weights and measures with the currency. We have a far more comprehensive problem in our society than gasoline and ethanol. We have a problem fundamentally with the dollar. If I showed a graph of the value of the dollar with time, you could see that gold versus the dollar escalated in 1972. That’s where the curve started. It started a little bit before that of course. But it really took off then.
Now what happened in that era? It’s when Nixon took us off the gold standard. So now the dollar says it’s worth a dollar. You pull it out of your pocket. Does it still say “one” on there? Yeah, but it doesn’t buy as much. So that’s another form of inflation. We dealt with that earlier when I said that in Israel you could not have inflation due to this regulation. It was that regulation that lowered their interest rates. The thing you walk away from here with this is you can’t escape the comprehensive destruction of violating even one of God’s standards. It’s kind of scary; but it ripples like cancer. It’s like it metastasizes. Everywhere you go now you’ve got a problem.
Fundamentally it’s due to the fact—do we have a standard or don’t we? If we do, is the standard clearly expressed? The regulations – I saw a figure the other day - American business right now spend close to $1 trillion a year to abide by government regulations – a trillion dollars a year. Now that’s lost money. Ultimately it comes out of our pockets.
This society is becoming less and less economically efficient. The reason is because of sin. I emphasize this because I don’t think in our evangelical Bible teaching circles we’ve addressed this issue significantly enough. We’ve talked about sin as though it’s confined personal things in your life. And indeed that’s where sin hits hardest is in the personal area.
But our failure is because there is so little teaching in the Old Testament. When do you hear sermons in the Old Testament? The failure to teach the Old Testament has led to a contraction of the idea of God’s Word to just the spiritual life. We leave all this other stuff alone. We don’t even think about it. Then we get surrounded with unbelief and wonder what happened.
Particularly now as we see Western civilization falling apart – it’s not just the United States. It’s all of Europe. What propelled prosperity in the West? It was Christianity. It wasn’t the fact that we have more resources. We didn’t have any more resources. Think of how many resources Russia had for heaven’s sakes. They were sitting on gold mines of resources. They can’t feed themselves. What happened? It’s not resources that are the problem.
Hong Kong doesn’t have a lot of resources; but they have fantastic business prosperity. Why? Because when England ruled Hong Kong as a colony and the Communists were going to take it over and England had to leave, they lowered the tax rates and decreased the regulations for business. The place took off like crazy. It’s one of the highest population density wealthy per capita places on the planet because they don’t have to spend $1 trillion a year trying to figure out what the regulations are.
Today with all the regulations we’ve got, it’s like the passage in Deuteronomy 25. We have to keep opening the bags to find out if we still have the same stones in the bag today that we had last Friday. Or we have so many stones in the bag that we don’t know which one to use.
All I’m saying is that we need to link sin in these other areas that people can see the results better. The average person we talk to is so theologically uneducated. When you get to the personal issues of sin that’s pretty advanced theology for them. But it’s not advanced theology - they know what it means to get ripped off. That’s common everyday experience.
So if you can somehow say, “When you get ripped off and you have the feeling ‘I’ve been ripped off’, that feeling is coming to you – you know why? Because you are made in God’s image. God didn’t make you to live in that kind of an environment.”
Then that opens the door to the structure all around us. I call this the pragmatics of sin. Sin has tremendous implications across the board.
Today with the economy cratering like it is, I would think that now is the time to start pointing out to people that part of the reason is because of sin. One of the problems that led to the housing blowup is there was too much money floating around. Why was that? That was because we had a guy inside the Fed that said to Greenspan, “Oh, we’re going into a depression. We’ve got to stimulate the economy.”
Well stimulating the economy with dollars is Keynesian theory that FDR tried in the Depression and didn’t work. And it doesn’t because the only way you have prosperity is people have to be free to produce. You can’t be free to produce if you don’t know what the rules are going to be. Now it’s so bad that we don’t even know what the rules are. The people that write the rules don’t know what the rules are yet because they haven’t written them. I think we need to think through how we can turn the frustration of people toward the gospel. I think somehow we have to have simple, easy to understand tracts that say, “Here’s where we are. Here’s why you’re frustrated. Let me trace it for you. It goes all the way back to here,” and see if maybe that would appeal to a generation of people. Frankly they’re spiritually dead. Those who are alive are barely.
Jim’s question was a good one. This thing proliferates to all kinds of forms. He asked about ethanol and gasoline and I wound up talking about the dollar. It’s the same kind of thing. It says it’s only a dollar. It doesn’t buy what it used to. Something has changed.