Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1997
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 3: Disruptive Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 4: Mt. Sinai: The Disruptive Truth of God’s Absolute, Comprehensive Rule of Law
Lesson 53 – God’s Law vs. Human Law; Lordship Salvation vs. Free Grace
06 Mar 1997
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
You can’t really review enough and repetition always helps. Since we’re on the Sinai event and we’re looking at law, let’s think of biblical law again because that’s our topic and it’s a topic that we need to understand because tonight we are going to move from the event of Mt. Sinai to crucial doctrines of the Christian faith which concern the integrity of the Bible. So we want to back up and review a point that we made before about biblical law. What we’re talking about is an absolute reference point for right and wrong, an absolute reference point for knowledge. Apart from the Scriptures there is no such thing. We can’t emphasize that enough. We don’t have to be ashamed of our faith, we’re not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it is the only place where there are certain treasures and riches that show the presence of our Lord, and He demonstrates His footprints, so to speak, because when He leaves them they point to an absolute reference point.
The law in the Scripture is different than the law outside of the Scripture, because of this diagram that we went over a thousand times last year. If law is the product of man, if law originates from men’s idea and only men’s ideas, there’s nothing beyond that, it’s just social consensus, Gallop poll prejudices, lawyers contemplations, if that’s the source of law and only the source of law, then we’re back to the problem that man is trapped, because of his knowledge he’s trapped in the box. And man’s experience in time, man’s experience in space is limited. There it is, that’s a diagram of the finitude of man’s knowledge.
Man is trapped inside this box, and because he’s trapped inside the box, he can’t produce any kind of an absolute that goes outside of the box. But a judgment that’s right or wrong is saying that it’s right or wrong by a standard that transcends society and individuals. Just as this was a problem back in the days when we were talking about Genesis and creation and trying to get knowledge of the past that was out beyond man’s power to directly observe, now we run into the same problem when we decide we’re going to make law. The same exact problem, man is limited, and so because of man’s limited point we come to the statement that couldn’t have been put better than Justice Jackson put it in Nuremberg, 1945, when he used the terms “the provincial and transient.” And what he meant was that if man makes the law, it’s provincial, i.e. it’s limited in space, it’s limited to a society, the English would differ from the French who would differ from the Germans who would differ from the Americans, so you have that limitation. It’s transient because even if you are in America the laws made in 1997 are going to differ from the laws in 1776. So it’s provincial and transient. Those two adjectives describe all man’s laws. And when it came to Nuremberg and it came to the settlement of atrocities of a peculiar nature, Nuremberg is a study in and of itself because the crimes committed were not crimes internal to the society. It wasn’t somebody stealing, it wasn’t somebody murdering because those would have been recognized by other people in society as wrong. The dilemma that Nuremberg produced was when the whole society agrees that right is wrong and wrong is right. Now what do you do? That’s the dilemma.
That’s always going to be a dilemma. It’s a frightful thing. Just as societies agree that way, as we move into the internet era, etc. it’s very obvious that technological tools now exist to create a one-world opinion, to share a perversion that is truly global. One doesn’t have to exercise too much imagination to see the stage being slowly set up for a genius who can manipulate that to be a finesse. Hitler and Goebbels did a fantastic job, if you think about it, with the relative primitive backward communication, as we look at it, in the 1940s. They did an amazing thing; they kept most Germans from realizing what was going on. I went with school with a boy whose dad fled Germany in the late 30s, this boy was a Christian, his dad was a Plymouth Brethren minister or something, the Brethren were the one evangelical group in Germany that saw what was going on quick and the reason they did was because they had a premillennial eschatology. But his dad had to go to the bathroom one night about 2:00 o’clock in the morning and he got out of bed and he was in the bathroom and the bathroom window was right on the street and he saw a bus go by and he peered out just for a second and he noticed on that bus were some of the retarded children in his village, and they were being hauled off. The next day he happened to see that they were going to some school, special education school or something… yeah, special education all right, they were being eliminated, because they represented an impediment to the great German Aryan society. He got onto that because he just happened to be there at the right time, otherwise he wouldn’t have. Today we have far, far more effective means of propaganda than they had in the 1940s so you can imagine a person of evil intent what he can do today.
The compass that is absolutely necessary for us to remember is that we have to have a standard that is not transient, that is not provincial, i.e., it’s eternal, it’s timeless. Truth is timeless, it isn’t going to change. And the provincial is going to be replaced by that which is ubiquitous, that which will work in any other place.
Summary: What is the difference between biblical law and man’s law? If we were to summarize it in a very simple way, how do we read and understand law codes today. If you go down to the library, pull out the books, go to your lawyer’s office, pull them off the bookshelf, that kind of thing. How do we distinguish that law from the law that you read in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy? What is the key different characteristic? We’re just looking for very simplistic contrasts between law that we read in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and the law that we would be exposed to in law school or in the courtroom or on the books. There are some comparisons, there are similarities. Obviously murder is legislated against; theft is legislated against, etc. so there are a lot of similarities. But what are the differences? [someone answers, can’t hear] Not based on precedent. Okay, very good point. A lot of law is based on precedent. It’s interesting that the law, even in the if-then sections of the Mosaic Law Code was given at time equal zero, before there were precedents. It wasn’t based on precedent because it didn’t fall out of men’s judgment; it came out of God’s Words; that’s a basic thing.
We observe something else, that the Mosaic Law Code, how is it formatted a little differently than a regular law code, that makes it more than a law code, makes it very parallel to another kind of document other than a law type of document? What does the law say when you read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy? It’s a conversation with whom? [someone answers, can’t hear] The law is given by a divine person and has divine implications, and the key here is that the law is Scripture; it comes from the personal God. Men’s law comes from finite people. God’s law comes from an infinite person. In both cases they’re products of persons, products of people with knowledge. The difference is that in the Bible, God does the speaking and because God speaks, God has a different characteristic than man. Remember we went back, we drew this contrast, God has the characteristic that He’s omniscient; man has the characteristic that he knows knowledge but this knowledge is severely limited. This knowledge is unlimited. Since God speaks out of omniscience, God looks on the heart, not just the outward appearance. So we can basically say that the difference, if we were to summarize it very simply is that biblical law is private and public, whereas normal human legislation is always public. There’s nothing in the law code that says how I have to think; in the Bible there is. “Thou shalt love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul.” The Bible addresses the heart as well as the outer behavior, and it because the Legislator, in this case, is omniscient and can penetrate to the heart. But no set of judges, no set of lawyers, no set of government people can penetrate to the heart, because all they can see is the outward appearance, and that’s all that the jurisdiction of the court has is the overt outward behavior. It can’t talk about the heart.
Let’s look at the principle in Romans 2 because there Paul addresses this issue and there’s a tendency to get kind of screwed up over these questions of the law and the Bible. We spent a lot of time in Romans 1 because in Romans 1 he addresses the pagan mind in its basic raw-ness. In Romans 1:32 he concluded that section by saying the class of people, the actual pagan mind left to itself “they know the ordinance of God,” they not only violate it, “they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” So you have a redefinition of deviancy. Verse 32 represents perversion; if it were encoded into law that would be perverted law, because it gives approval to evil, it calls good evil and evil good.
In Romans 2 he moves over to the Jewish mentality of judging; he says in verse 1, “Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” The only difference between Romans 2:32 and Romans 2:1 is that both are sinners, in verse 32 the sinner is the licentious one, there are two tendencies and one is, to relieve the pressure of the conscience, you can play one game, one game is to redefine deviancy, this is the licentious person, and licentiousness is usually tied to anger and depression, just the personality poll. Then you have the legalist, and the legalist has these tight standards, very optimistic that this is going to work, everything going, but these polls always show up, they show up in all of us, we all have tendencies in one direction or the other, rocking back and forth.
In Romans 2:1 he’s arguing that before God it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re a licentious type person or a legalist type person, because in the heart there is disobedience. Both of these positions are wrong scripturally, because both of them rely on law from a man’s perspective. Think what’s happening in 2:1. The person is judging who? The person who is the legalist is out here has the standard, but what Paul says he is doing is he’s applying it over here, to all these people; he’s applying it to the crowd. What’s missing is that he’s not applying it to himself. He says, for example, he makes it very clear in verses 19-20, “and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness  a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth.” In verse 21, “You therefore who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one should not steal, do you steal?  You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples.”
What he’s pointing out is that when it gets down to the bottom the legalist is interested in posing law to save himself from social chaos, that’s the motive, not I want to submit to the Lord, rather, I want to contain evil to have some sort of order left in my environment because I’m scared if we go the licentious root we’re just going to have total social breakdown. But from God’s perspective it’s still just observing public behavior; it’s not private matters of the heart. And what he says is there has to be, because in the two times in Romans 2 when he talks about judging, you notice how he uses it in verse 16, “on the day, when according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Jesus Christ.” God will judge the “secrets” of men, the emphasis isn’t on the external behavior, it’s on the secret things of men.
Notice Romans 2:28-29, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;  but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” So that’s the difference. There you have the Pauline answer to the law, the lawful use of the law. The law’s object was to address the heart, and secondarily social behavior. Social behavior is important, but it has to flow out of the heart. The heart first, then… private first, then public, it’s got to be in that order, it doesn’t work the other way.
We want to notice something else while we’re here. There’s a quote on page 67, it’s so good, Martin Luther made this quote, and I think it sums up what I’m trying to get at here. Luther, in his commentary on Romans, this passage that we’re in, Romans 2, made some astute comments. I urge you, if you don’t already have in your library, even if you have to go to the public library and borrow it, you ought to try once in a while to take John Calvin, Martin Luther, Augustine, or one of the big heavies, the big boys, and read them. It’ll do several things for you, number one it shows you how trivial most of our literature is, when you think that John Calvin wrote his Institutes of the Christian Religion that set up the Protestant revolution in all of Europe, and he was 21 years old. He took on the Pope and every one of the professors inside Rome. What did these guys do? I’ll tell you one thing, they didn’t worry about social adjustment courses in school; they learned very basic stuff. These guys were great, great men. Luther was a wonderful fellow, and he has this quote: “While the righteous make it a point to accuse themselves in thought, word, and deed; the unrighteous make it a point always to accuse and judge others.” I think that’s a neat observation.
The truth starts in our own personal hearts. That’s why in Romans 2 when Paul speaks of Gentiles in verses 14-15, particularly in verse 15, notice how he thinks of the law in the heart, a very revealing verse. “For when the Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the tings of the Law, these, not having the Law are a law to themselves,  in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending themselves.” How do they show the work of the law written in their hearts? Apparently these are saved Gentiles he’s talking about, “the work of the Law written in their hearts” is the language of Jeremiah so it’s New Covenant, “they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience,” now here’s a description of what it looks like for law to be working in the heart. Here’s what it does, the conscience bears witness, “bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending themselves.” The idea there is there’s a conflict going on in the heart, not an evil conflict, it’s just a conflict of self-judgment before God, should I do this, should I do that, is this pleasing to God, is this not pleasing to God. Notice the mark here of the law written in the heart is not perfection, because we’re all sinners. The mark of the law in the heart is it’s provoking reflection, self-reflection of what we’re all about. That’s the work of the law in the heart. What I’m trying to do is outline what biblical law looks like.
We want to review one other topic, i.e., the controversy that’s erupted in evangelical circles over Lordship, Lordship salvation vs. free grace. On page 68 I try to resolve some of that. Obviously we’re not going to perfectly deal with the problem but what I want to show you is you can take what we’re learning here in this framework and start applying it to these questions. The two schools of thought usually are called free grace and Lordship salvation, they go by other names, the name is not important. The free grace people, as so often happens in these controversies, if you think about them long enough and pray about them long enough you really realize, wait a minute, there’s an element of truth over here and an element of truth over there, and it looks like what we’re doing is doing this number, and this happens, it happens all the time. It happens in scholarly journals where literally these guys with doctorates can’t understand what the other guys written and said. It’s just miscommunication that goes on.
What the free grace people want to point out is that salvation, at the point that I am saved I have to come to the Lord empty handed. I can’t come to the Lord with a set of vows that if He saves me, I’m going to be a good boy and I’m going to do this and that, and all the other bologna. The Bible says to partake of the water of life freely, it’s a gift, it is something that’s given to me because I can’t get it any other way, I need a gift. I don’t have any merit to bring to the cross; if I had merit I wouldn’t need the cross. That’s the whole point, I am merit-less. We went through the minus number, you’ve got to get past zero to positive, I don’t have anything, all I have is debt, debt, debt. So I can’t come bearing any merit, so the emphasis over here is, I come free grace because I have minus merit, I can’t get there with anything I have, including vows about what I’m going to do and not going to do after I become a Christian.
On the other hand, the Lordship people insist that you can’t have a gospel where the person is sort of an independent thing, to which they add the Lord Jesus Christ and then go on their own way with Him as sort of an addition. That’s not salvation either, because when I trust the Lord for my salvation it’s my salvation, it’s not I’m trusting the Lord because He gives me psychological peace. Now he does, but that’s not the primary function of the gospel. We’ve had fifty years of psychologized gospel, accept Jesus and your life will be straightened out, accept Jesus and you’ll have… yes, this is all fruit, but the problem with that kind of a gospel is that it never reveals to the heart what salvation is all about. If you just heard “accept Jesus and your life will straighten out, accept Jesus and you’ll feel better,” what real difference is that if I came along tomorrow and said to you accept Vishnu because it makes you feel better, or do this and you’ll feel better. Do you see what happens?
What we’ve done is emasculated the gospel by turning it into an aspirin. The gospel is not an aspirin, the gospel is something where I have to realize, in order to appreciate the work of Christ I have to realize that I have offended my Creator, and the person I’ve offended isn’t just my wife, my husband, my teacher, my society, Dan Rather or any other of the media. But what I’ve done is I have offended the Creator of the universe, so I have a big problem here. I just haven’t irritated Joe, I’ve irritated the person who created the universe, that’s who I’ve irritated. So now how do I deal with that one? Do that issue has to come up and if it doesn’t come up properly, what you get is sort of these questionable conversions that go on, and you wonder, gee, what’s going on here.
So both of these people have a point, and I think we can put it in perspective if we realize that Exodus and Mt. Sinai are two independent events. At Mt. Sinai God lays down the law, literally, and He tells you, I want you to do this, I want you to do that, I want you to do this. Turn to Exodus 20 and look at how the conversation begins. This is a key to getting these two balanced. In Exodus 20:2, God lays down the law, and He says several things. Obviously He’s saying that I want you to do this, I don’t want you to do that, this pleases Me, this displeases Me, and then He adds the blessings and the cursings, and if you continue to do this you’ll have a problem, because I’ll make sure you have a problem. So it’s the Lordship that’s very in evidence here. But notice in verse 2 the motive of obeying the law is gratitude for salvation. See how He starts the conversation: “I am the LORD your God,” and I did something for you, that occurs before any of the Ten Commandments. “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Now it starts, verse 3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” You see, you can’t have submission to Lordship unless you have gratitude for what He has first done in saving you. So Mt. Sinai has to follow the Exodus.
You can’t reverse the order of these two events; first salvation, then an appreciation for Lordship. It’s true when we’re born again and we’re new Christians we haven’t got a minutia idea of what the Lordship is all about. We all know that, come on, it’s taken most of us years and we’re still learning that. So why do we lay this on some new Christian? The idea here in the Exodus is that He tells His people, I have heard your prayers for deliverance and I will step in and I will save you, you trust Me, and that’s all you have to do. I don’t want you fighting the Egyptians, I don’t want you building an army for them, I don’t want you going through some hocus-pocus stuff with them, I’ll take care of all that.
There’s only one thing I want you to do and that is I want you to put blood on the door, and you’re going to have to trust Me when the execution angel comes through this village, your town, your city, that your baby is going to be safe because you put blood on the door. It’s up to you, you can choose not to, you can choose to, but I’ll tell you what’s going to happen if you don’t, and I’ll tell you what’s going to happen if you do, so believe me, it’s a trust issue. There are no Ten Commandments being given there. He doesn’t tell them ten different things to do; He tells them one thing to do, trust Me. That’s the issue here at salvation. After that we’ll talk about what pleases Him and what displeases Him, because we’re not in a relationship with Him. Mt. Sinai defines a relationship that follows salvation.
Out of all this we want to move to the doctrines that we learn; there are three doctrines that follow that we can associate with these events. What our procedure has been in this series is every time we learn an event we learn the section of Scripture where the event happens, then we talk a little about the historicity of that event, what really happened over against what we learn in school, that we can’t be sure of this, we can’t be sure of that, and history was this way but the Bible’s this way. What we want to do is clear up those questions by showing you, yes, there is a conflict between the biblical view of history and every area of human thought, not just biology, but every area of human thought, because the world is in the darkness. When we get to Mt. Sinai… remember in the call of Abraham we dealt with election, justification, and faith. In the Exodus we talked about salvation, the blood atonement, we dealt with redemption, propitiation, reconciliation. When we come to Mt. Sinai what area of our classic Christian historic faith is pictured most easily by picturing Sinai with God speaking on the top, with Him cutting those commandments in stone and giving them to Moses? What doctrine, what truths does that show our imagination?
The three doctrines we’ll look at are: revelation, inspiration, canonicity. We want to look at each of these three because these stand at the foundation of our faith. It’s these three doctrines that separate fundamentalism from liberalism. It is these three doctrines that separate Protestantism from Catholicism. It is these three doctrines that separate historic Christianity from Mormonism. In every case that I’ve just mentioned, modern liberalism, Romanism, and Mormonism there’s a conflict over those three. Both sides have a different view of those three areas of truth, some more seriously than others. Obviously Rome is a lot closer to us than Mormons; Rome is closer to us than the liberal theologians, so there are degrees of difference here.
The first doctrine we want to talk about is the doctrine of revelation. In the notes on page 69 there’s that little diagram. Here’s the picture:
The idea of the liberal today is that when it comes to thinking or conversation, whenever God has a thought in His mind it stays over here, and these are the thoughts of man, they stay over here, and there’s a barrier between them because God can’t speak to man, man can only feel God’s presence, man can only think about God. But he can’t literally hear God speaking. I can’t emphasize it enough, this is a cutting edge that separates fundamental Bible-believing faith from going down to the First Liberal Church and hearing somebody preach at Easter, this is a great one, I always like to listen to Easter sermons by liberals, because it’s such an embarrassment to their whole philosophy to have somebody rising from the dead, because it’s so clearly supernatural. I always love to watch what they do, and they have to do something on Easter, they’re getting salaried so they’ve got to keep their job. So how do you keep your job, deny the faith, and fool everybody to give you money for your church program?
The way you do that is to use the words, without the biblical meaning. So they’ll yak, yak, yak endlessly, you’ll hear all these sermons about Jesus, the idea of the resurrection, oh what a wonderful thing that is, yak, yak, yak and everybody will say oh gee, that’s pretty good. But they’re not talking about the physical resurrection of Jesus, they’re talking about the idea of the resurrection, not that it happened; just the idea gives you a thrill. I mean, I could think of “the force” in The Empire Strikes Back and it gives me a thrill, whatever idea gives you a thrill, whatever turns you on, the resurrection turns me on, whether it happened or not I don’t care. But that’s not biblical faith, because what if we stressed in every one of these events that if these things never happened, we have no faith, because what are these things? These things are acts of God that He promised by words to carry out. Well if they didn’t happen, then God didn’t carry them out, and then His promises are wrong and His character is slandered.
We are locked in, as Bible-believing Christians to the historicity of these events. We’re not just talking about the idea of the resurrection; we’re talking about the act of the resurrection. So at this point what is it…. I mean, these guys aren’t stupid, and many of them are sincere people, they want to do good. Where have they gotten off in their thinking? There have bought into a pagan view of language. We stressed this, when Adam walked in the Garden he had a language, God had a language. Whose language took precedent? God’s did. Whose language preceded all human language? God’s language! What did God’s language do? If you, so to speak, could have had a tape recorder on the third day before man was created, you would have heard speak, and BOOM, things would appear. Psalm 33 says God spoke and it was done. His language, unlike our language, causes things to happen. Jesus cursed the fig tree, remember the scene in the Gospels, He passed by and He cursed it, and pfft, the tree went down. His language has power, just the language. He didn’t reach out and touch it, God didn’t have to do that, He just does it with His language.
The implications of that are fantastic. What that means is that every time you study anything, you might be studying plants, you may be studying animals, machinery, whatever it is, you’re studying something that has structure to it. Do you realize that the structure that you’re studying, whether it’s electricity, whether it’s some other area of physics, whether it’s biology, whatever the structure is, that you’re looking at something that rides on top of God’s Word. It is God’s Word that brought that structure into existence. God first had the thought in His mind, then He built the structure. The structure comes out of His Word.
That’s why in Colossians there’s that mysterious verse that says by the word of Christ all things subsist, meaning that the universe is held together by the word of God, because the universe is God’s plan, it’s His drama, it’s His script. The script holds the whole play together. That means it holds all the structures together, so we have an extremely high view of language. We come into the 20th century and language falls apart, everybody says poetry and feelings replace it because the thought on this side of the barrier is limited, because it’s limited it can never give true answers, so in the liberal arts area the idea of thoughtful language kind of drops away in a serious sense.
We have some characteristics of revelation that I spelled out on pages 69-71. I’ve isolated five characteristics, I could isolate more, I could isolate less, I’ve just picked these five hoping that as we go through them tonight and as you keep these in your notes, some day you’ll get wrapped around the axle with this stuff, I guarantee it, if you do any kind of witnessing, evangelism, it doesn’t mean you have to talk about these things to people, it just means you have to be alert to the agendas that are going on, because the agendas are going on, they’re going on all around us.
The first characteristic of revelation is that it is verbal. It’s not just a feeling, it is verbal! New Age, Oriental religion, etc. all those stress what? Sit down in the lotus position and contemplate your navel. Why? There’s nothing else to contemplate. It’s all this self-contemplation stuff, there’s never a spoken word, nothing you can put in an English sentence. I want to show you in Acts 26:14, a verse you may have read before as you read through the book of Acts and maybe never noticed. It’s a word about language and how God speaks in it. We could go to Mt. Sinai but we’ve been there before, so I hope you’re convinced that the Bible’s reporting the fact that God spoke in Hebrew, if you had a tape recorder you could have taped it as you sat in that valley.
In Acts 26:14 Paul is reporting the fourth court trial, court hearing or investigation about his role, we won’t get into that, but in verse 14 look how he describes his encounter with Jesus Christ. Keep in mind Paul may have never met Jesus personally. The first time he met Jesus was on the Damascus road at that famous passage where he was converted. What do you notice peculiar in verse 14? Just from what I’ve said, what is it about that verse that could not be accepted by a modern theologian? How would a modern theologian, with a paganized view of language, interpret verse 14? How would Reverend Liberal handle that? What Paul really did, he must have had a sun stroke out in the heat, it was a hot road that day, he probably had a sun stroke, and he had he had the impression that he heard this happening. Do you see the difference between what they’re saying and what we’re saying? What verse 14 is saying is, if you don’t psychologize it and screw it up, just look at the text: “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard,” it doesn’t say I thought I heard, he’s reporting, “I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads?  And I said, Who art Thou Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”
What I want to point to is that little phrase; he spoke to me in Aramaic or in the Hebrew dialect. He’s identifying what language it was God spoke in. That’s powerful, because it means when the Lord Jesus on that road spoke to Paul, He spoke with an accent, He spoke with a grammar, He spoke with syntax, He spoke with meaning, He spoke with a vocabulary. He spoke just like we speak, and that means His thought can go from His omniscient mind to my feeble finite mind, there can be transfer between God and me. That’s neat! Because now I can know the heart of my God, I don’t have to dream it, I don’t have to feel it, I can know it, because He speaks.
That’s the first thing we want to grab about revelation, it’s not about what somebody thought they heard, it’s not an impression, it is a public verbal message. That’s why you want to be careful; we have a sloppy habit in our evangelical circles about saying the Lord spoke to me da da da da. We all kind of know what we’re talking about, what we mean is, and the Holy Spirit can prompt us today, and He can prompt us through our conscience, through the Word of God that we’ve known, we’ve prayed about it, and we get leadings of the Lord. That’s fine, that’s legitimate. But the danger is when we say “the Lord spoke to me” is that we identify that with what happened on the Damascus road and that’s wrong. What happened on the Damascus road isn’t that the Lord spoke to me; it’s the Lord spoke to me, out loud. That’s the difference. So be careful, just be careful of that terminology. You can use it but be careful in your own head that you’re not mixed up on it.
On page 70, the second thing that quickly follows, because what I’m trying to show you here is that these truths we’re learning apply to both Old Testament and New Testament. In fact, the more you know of the Old Testament something will happen to you as you read your New Testament. What I’ve found over the years is that as I’ve studied the Old Testament more and more, got more acquainted with it, when I look at the New Testament I see less “new” in it. There’s very little new in the New Testament, most of it is just a repeat of the Old Testament. It just seems to be new because we don’t know the Old Testament, that’s the problem; it’s new to us but it’s actually not new in the history of revelation.
The second characteristic is that revelation is personal. The first one, it’s verbal, now it’s personal, obviously related. When we talk about revelation is personal, here’s what I’m trying to get at. Because it is a message from a personal God to us, we can’t be neutral to it. If somebody comes up and speaks to you, you either don’t speak, you reject them or you listen to them, but you can’t kind of be indifferent. You know how that feeling is when you talk to somebody and you don’t get a reaction, it’s one of those things we always say the lights are on but nobody’s home. The idea in revelation is that it doesn’t leave us any neutral zone.
[blank spot, apparently quotes from notes on page 69, an excerpt: “To obey the law, therefore, was to ‘love’ the Lord. This meaning to the word ‘love’ sounds strange to our 20th century ears. In ancient treaties, however, it had this same meaning—obedience. Note the language in the Amarna Letters where a lesser king, Rib-Addu, says to Pharaoh: ‘to love Pharaoh is to serve him and to remain faithful to the status of vassal.’ ”]
… for every day street meaning to the word love? What is it that seems missing from this view of love that we normally think more about when we use the word love? Do you sense there’s kind of like a missing thing here? It’s kind of bland; it’s emotionally bland isn’t it? Why do you suppose that’s that way? Why does it strike you, this meaning of the word love, if love me you keep My commandments, and love Pharaoh, love the Lord with all your heart, why does that strike us as bland, it strikes us as bland, we observe that, why do you think God uses the word that way? What do you think He’s after by making it sound so bland? What’s the danger of getting an emotional content in here and focusing on it? That’s going to change from day to day, up one day down the next, roller coaster, because what we’ve done, it’s not wrong to have emotion, obviously we have emotion, but the problem is that if you define it strictly in emotional terms you set yourself up for an unstable relationship. This relationship is more stable because it’s not grounded on an emotional meaning to the word love, it’s just a very cold, objective, and almost bland use of the word here.
Let me hasten to add here, there is an emotional kick in here that you don’t get by reading that, “Rib-Addu, says to Pharaoh: ‘to love Pharaoh is to serve him and to remain faithful to the status of vassal.’” That’s very cold and bland. But in the Bible the difference between men’s treaties and God’s treaties, God addresses what that man’s treaties don’t address? The heart. So when God uses “Thou shalt love me with all of your heart, with all your mind,” it’s a far deeper thing than Rib-Addu and Pharaoh. Now we pick up the emotion content, but now the emotion content is deeply rooted down here at the conscience level. That’s where it’s rooted; it’s not rooted in a social thing that’s just going on, because you can’t sustain that kind of thing. You wear yourself out after a while because you can’t have emotions running at the 95-100% level all the time and not finally crash. You’ve got to have something that sustains you day after day after day and that’s what the Bible stresses. Okay. It’s personal and therefore it’s not neutral, it means it draws me into a relationship with God or it repels me; the Word of God attracts or repels.
The third characteristic, revelation doesn’t happen all the time. If you took a bar chart and plotted the frequency of major revelations in history, here’s what it would look like. Here’s the cross of Christ, here’s David at 1000 BC, here’s Abraham at 2000 BC, here’s the Exodus, the fall of the kingdom, 586 BC here, you would see that there’s some revelation going on in Abraham’s day. What did we observe about Genesis? What happened to the Theophanies, as you go from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Joseph there was a trend, you have a lot of Theophanies with Abraham, less with Isaac, till you get down to Joseph and there’s no Theophanies, it’s just dreams. So the spectacular nature of revelation declines, and then it picks up again at the Exodus, and then it declines, then it picks up again in the times of the prophets, and then it declines, and goes into almost a total silence for 400 years. Then it picks up again in the days of Jesus and the apostles, and then it declines. People always want to say, ooh, I believe God ought to reveal Himself in every generation. That’s not the biblical precedent. God doesn’t do that.
In Exodus 12:14 there’s an after effect of that, there’s something that follows from the non-constant nature of revelation. “Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD: throughout your generation you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.” What is “this day” talking about? Exodus and Passover. And you shall have an assembly, etc. and it describes what shall happen. Verse 26, “And it will come about when your children will say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’  that you shall say, “It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over….” What are verses 26-27 talking about? Where is Passover celebrated today? In Jewish homes, or in the synagogue? In the home, it’s done in the home; basically it’s an ordinance of the family. This is a family gathering and what do you get from verse 26? That the dad and mom are setting this up and the kids carry it, hey, what’s all this about, and it’s an occasion of home teaching, home schooling associated with Passover. Why was it necessary? Why is it necessary to set up a monument to revelation? For a memory.
Why do you have to remember? Because it doesn’t happen in every generation. Revelation happens and then it’s remembered. It happens and then it’s remembered, it’s happens and then it’s remembered. What is the service we have in church? Communion. And what are the words we read every time we have communion? This is a memorial, do this in remembrance of me. Why do we do that? Because revelation isn’t “hot” in every generation. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a relationship with people, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t give you personal assurance, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t won to the Lord. We’re not talking about that. There’s a difference in the overt public miraculous type revelation and the personal thing that’s constant with time, with people growing and having a relationship with the Lord. What we’re trying to do is point to the fact that throughout the Bible you have this again and again, and in the future you’re going to have the Second Advent of Christ, and I imagine during the Millennial Kingdom it’ll decline, until the end of the Millennial Kingdom then you’ll have another big gob of revelation. So it goes on and on like this. The Bible, as the written document, is the memorial and the record. That’s why this book is so important.
Why do you suppose revelation is not constant? Why do you suppose that God waited to reveal what He did in the Exodus and didn’t show it to Abraham? What did He show in the Exodus that couldn’t have been done in Abraham’s day? Salvation of a nation, they didn’t have a nation to save. So history has a plan to it. This is exciting about history, I learned to hate history in school, I was a non-Christian, to me history was just memorizing on Friday and Saturday all the dates so you could pass a test on Monday and then forget them till the next test. I was taught wrong. The methodology of me learning history as I remember was just a set of dates, this happened and then this happened and then this happened, etc., etc., etc. It was like I had a bunch of beads and no necklace to make with them, there was no pattern to it; it was just marbles rolling all over the place. I have to have a pattern to my thinking or I’m not interested in it. That’s why I always went to math; at least I had a pattern. I was very impatient with liberal arts because at the time I didn’t understand it because I didn’t have any Christian background.
The Bible gives us the fact that God reveals when history is ready. What does it say in Galatians? Jesus was revealed in the fullness of time. So there are moments in history that have to come before God’s going to show Himself. Now here’s just a thought, just to stimulate a reason to follow this process up. Do you suppose that Jesus name as King of kings and Lord of lords, as a world ruler, to whom all the nations bow could not have been revealed in Jesus day, but has to wait until a future historic moment when what has been prepared? I believe that Christ’s Second Advent can’t come until God in His sovereignty works a global understanding. We’re getting there very rapidly now, where we think globally. Now the nations are talking to one another, we have a global consciousness. The consciousness of the world in Jesus and Paul’s day was very small, but we’re getting a global consciousness, we’re seeing the need for a global world government, otherwise we don’t have peace. We’re seeing a need. So it’s like God is slowly grooming the human race and when the right moment comes He will reveal some more, but He’s not going to reveal it because it wouldn’t be fully meaningful to reveal it until that future time.
The application for each one of us in our lives is if you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you know that He has done things this year in your life that are new to you, you’ve seen things happen in your life this year that are different and new than you ever have before in your life. Take one or two of those things in your own minds eye and ask yourself, could He have meaningfully revealed those that He did this year five years ago to you? Would you have, on the basis of your experience five years ago, appreciated it like you do now? Similarly, many of the things that He’s revealing now we kind of half appreciate until we get further away, and we say ah, yes, that’s what He was doing. So that happens privately, but I believe it happens corporately to the human race, and that’s why this bar graph is the way it is. God shoots His revelation into history, He sort of speaks to that historic moment, and then He quietly walks off stage, and somehow in His miraculous sovereign way He works history around, works history around, works history around, and then when the right moment comes He gets on stage and He makes another public revelation. Then He walks off stage, and He does this game, as it were, until the final time comes when He is fully revealed in history.
Next time look at the verses, particularly the verses on page 71. I want you to get a good dose in both those paragraphs of how comprehensive God’s revelation is. I want you to satisfy yourself that the law, the Mosaic Law spoke to every sphere of human life. I want you to convince yourself that that’s true, that it’s not just speaking of what we call the religious area. I want you to convince yourself from reading the law that He spoke to economics, He spoke to politics, He spoke to courts, He spoke to law, He spoke to animals, you’ll see a little quote in there, God basically had the first laws of humane treatment to animals; all of us know one of the Ten
Commandments that was addressed to animals as well as men. Which one is it? The Sabbath commandment, not only shall man rest but his animals shall rest. They are drawn into the same order because God has created man, He’s created the animals.
So animals are treated humanely. Amazing, when they were treated quite cruelly out in the pagan era, the only reason pagans took care of animals is because they didn’t want to pay for a new one, but in the Bible there’s that passage, remember when the oxen would be strapped to this millstone, turning the millstone and what they would do to be humane to that oxen is they would un-muzzle it, so as he walked around he could snack. Paul picks that up and uses it in the New Testament for the humane treatment of pastors. So it’s interesting, the laws of the animals show you God’s heart, God cares for them.
Question asked: Clough replies: It’s dispensational. I just haven’t got to using the word yet, and the reason I haven’t used the word it because we really don’t get into the rational behind the dispensational view of theology until we get into the Church Age and we deal with that difference and that’s when I want to introduce it. If I don’t too many people start vibrating early on and don’t listen to everything else. Yes, it’s obvious that God works differently in different ages. There’s no question about it, and the attempts by covenant people to make it just like the Old Testament and New Testament just sort of run together, that’s really not doing justice to the differences.
Question asked: Clough replies: If you have never seen this, I don’t even know whether it’s still in print, but here’s another example of the comprehensiveness of the Old Testament law code. I believe it was written by a Seventh Day Adventist, he was a doctor, an M.D. and he wrote None of These Diseases. It’s interesting, when we were going through Genesis I said the Seventh Day Adventists actually were the only people who consistently held to a literal view of Genesis over the years, in fact, they were the ones that kept creationism alive. It’s not quite a cult, it’s pretty orthodox, we would differ in some crucial areas, but they came out of the Adventist revivals of the late 19th century, and we call them the Seventh Day Adventists, but they’ve preserved within their churches a very literalness. A Jewish friend of mine who is a Christian and says they are Gentiles trying very hard to be Jews. They have a deep respect for the Old Testament, in particular the Seventh Day Adventists in our country have reflected it, by the dry cereals we eat, Post and Kellogg were both Seventh Day Adventist business men, and they both created the cereals we eat, corn flakes became one of them, as a health food. They were in it before they put sugar in it and everything else on it. Those cereals were created by Seventh Day Adventists to improve the diet of America. It came out of their passion to observe Old Testament law.
Another feature of that particular group of people is that they have pushed medical research. Loma Linda is a well known medical center in California; it was started by Seventh Day Adventists, and they have done a lot of work in medicine and medical missionary work. This guy, McMillen, now deceased, many years ago wrote this book, None of These Diseases, and someone told me they saw it out in the last five years or so, his son re-edited this thing and reprinted it. It’s a book that’s fascinating reading because what he does in this book, he goes through 26 chapters and shows the medical implications of following the Mosaic Law Code.
For example, the first one, he’s talking about quarantine, the rules of quarantine, Leviticus 13. In two he’s talking about pride and prejudice vs. proof and the issue of sanitation in Numbers 19. He has one of the most eloquent and sad stories in here, I guess everybody who’s trained in medicine or nursing has had the story of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis. He was an Austrian physician in Vienna who studied the wards where women were dying, and women would come in healthy and die in the hospital ward. And what he noticed, keep in mind this was before germ theories, all he observed was that the medical students would be examining one woman, going to another woman, another woman, without washing their hands or anything else, and they’d examine a dead woman and go to a live woman, etc. You can imagine what was happening, the transport of diseases. So Semmelweis got the idea, let’s try washing hands. He made, what appeared to be a stupid rule, in this Vienna hospital that you shall not move from one woman to the next without washing your hands in running water. The medical students rebelled against such a stupid thing. They fought him tooth and tong. He had a ward where he did the experiment and proved the women lived… they lived on his ward and in spite of the evidence they kicked him out, said he was adding to the bureaucratic rules of the hospital, it’s a foolish practice, blah, blah, blah. And sadly, Semmelweis wound up as a psychiatric case because he got so depressed over not being able to get people to wash their hands in simple, sanitary medical procedures.
But what McMillen points out is that you find the washing of the hands prescribed in the Mosaic Law Code. And he says how sad that the whole Middle Ages, thousands of people died in all of Europe in these black plagues and everything else from simple filth, public filth. Had they read some of the passages which say, for example.… I was teaching the book of Deuteronomy and one Christmas I wound up in the passage on latrines, I don’t know how I did that, but I always trusted the Holy Spirit would superintend what passage I spoke on, so I went ahead and talked about latrines on Christmas. But the latrines were kept outside the camp, because God said I don’t want filth in my camp. Keep in mind, for us that’s obvious, but for those people it wasn’t obvious because they didn’t have a rationale for why that made sense. They didn’t know about germs. So that was the startling thing about the health provisions in the Mosaic Law Code, they are built and administered to people who had no knowledge whatsoever.
Another thing that they have in the Mosaic Law Code is ultraviolet sterilization. When people had wounds, bleeding, wounds infected with pus, and leprosy, they would take the garments and they laid them out in the sun. Moses could have argued, oh well, that’s stupid, because he didn’t realize medically that ultraviolet sterilization was happening. So to me, those are exciting little details about the Bible because, I mean, come on, if the Bible were written by men, men wouldn’t just think those things up, those little details of the Mosaic Law are fingerprints of our God, it tells you who was really behind that law. Who would have thought about the health of His people, put your latrines outside the camp, use ultraviolet sterilization, and wash your hands—basic public health rules.
He goes through the mental, the psychological, but he has one interesting case in here where he’s talking about the practice of circumcision and the day on which it is done. His chapter is entitled: Science arrives 4,000 years late. He points out that in the Jewish Bible, in the Old Testament the baby was to be circumcised on a certain day, and it was to be a week after birth, today we circumcise the first or second day. In here he points out the prothrombin which is useful for clotting, there’s a graph, and it peaks in the baby’s body on the 7th day after birth. Now, did Moses do blood testing and worked out that particular provision? No. It’s the fact that the Creator who made our bodies told us do it on the 6th or 7th day because I built the blood and I know all about the clotting system and I tell you that’s the day I want you to do it. So this little book is just filled with case after case of medical… here’s a Dr. looking at the Mosaic Law Code from the standpoint of public health, and I always collect these things because those are little quickies that kind of point, in little miniscule portions of the Word of God, to its genuineness, and to the One who wrote it.