Authority Justice and Man - RR272J17

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Authority Justice and Man
Course: Course - Doctrine of Authority
Subject: Subject:Political Studies/Doctrinal Studies
Lesson#: 17
Length: 0:32:11
TapeCode: RR272J17
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Doctrine of Authority.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.

Thus said the Lord, ye shall seek Me and find Me when ye shall search for Me with all your hearts. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Let us pray. O Lord our God, of Whose grace and mercy we have all been made rich, we give thanks unto Thee for the joy and happiness of our lives: for the blessings with which Thou dost daily surround us, for the land of our birth, for the homes in which we live, and for our fellowship one with another. Make us ever mindful how rich we are in Thee. Give us grateful hearts that we may praise Thee with all our heart, mind, and being, and serve Thee with gladness and thanksgiving. Make us ever mindful of all that Thou hast given to us, chiefly Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Savior, Who came to be made sin for us, destroyed the power of sin and death, and now sitteth at Thy right hand ever to intercede for us. Therefore, we praise Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Our scripture this morning is from Deuteronomy 17, verses 8 through13; Deuteronomy 17:8-13; and our subject: authority, justice, and men. Deuteronomy 17, beginning with the 8th verse: “If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; and thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment: and thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall show thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: according to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall show thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the minister that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.” [00:03:41]

God in his Law stresses repeatedly the untrustworthiness...[edit]

God in his Law stresses repeatedly the untrustworthiness of men. As a result, in the courts of law, according to scripture, which has set a pattern for many nations, corroboration of evidence was necessary for conviction. According to Deuteronomy 17:6-7, there had to be two or more witnesses. This law is very strongly stressed more than once, as witnessed in Numbers 35:30; and in Deuteronomy 19:5, it is made clear that it applies in any case for any crime. The New Testament also stresses this requirement of corroboration in cases ecclesiastical, as well as civil and criminal, as witness Matthew 18:16, John 8:17, II Corinthians 13:1, I Timothy 5:19, and Hebrews 10:28. In other words, the Bible makes clear that no man, however important, however great his position and authority in the realm, can convict anyone by his testimony alone. This destructive authority goes through the Law.

In our text, the law deals with appeals in courts. First, these appeals were up to Moses; later, to the governing judge, and then to the king; and Exodus 18:21-23, Numbers 11:16-17, and Deuteronomy 1:12-17, are some of the texts that deal with this matter. But there was more to this. Beside the system of appellate courts, the Supreme Court—final court of appeal—had to have sitting on the bench at least three men of three classes: one, a priest, who knew the law and ruled in terms of it; another, a Levite, also one who was the educator of Israel, and knowledgeable in the Law; and the third, the civil judge. [00:06:31]

Moreover, the priest and the Levite dealt with the...[edit]

Moreover, the priest and the Levite dealt with the problem cases and the application of God’s Law to the particular case. For example, verse 8 cites of cases between blood and blood: in other words, was it manslaughter, or was it murder? Between plea and plea, and stroke and stroke, Exodus 22:1-15, for example, gives us illustrations of these: theft, embezzlement, and other cases involving restitution; what kind of restitution. Moreover, the decision of the Supreme Court was always final, and failure to obey was punishable by death. This was the Supreme Court, as God provided for it, in Israel. The court, as we have seen, had to include three classes: priest, Levite, and judge.

Now, in modern terms, we would call this checks and balances; and, of course, it was clearly the influence of Old Testament law that led to our system of checks and balances. However, we have a more radical kind of check and balance here, than the Constitution provides. In the Constitution, it is between three separate branches of government; but here, within the judiciary, as elsewhere (but that’s not our concern now), there were checks and balances: three types of judges had to sit on the court. The judges also were covenant men, as were the priests and the Levites. Now, it is true that this law was often disobeyed in the history of Israel. In fact, it was later ruled that disobedience to the words of the scribes was more serious than disobedience to the words of the Torah. In other words, the lawyer had greater weight than God. This was the development of Phariseeism, as George Horowitz, in the spirit of Jewish law, points out. In fact, Horowitz says that Psalm 119:126, which reads, “It is time for the Lord to work, for they have made void Thy Law,” was totally reinterpreted, and turned upside down to mean, “It is time to do something for the Lord, so make void the Torah.” In other words, the plain meaning was set aside pragmatically by the Sanhedrin; and yet, the Torah was formally held to be beyond tampering with. [00:10:02]

Now, it was this development that gained the wrath...[edit]

Now, it was this development that gained the wrath of our Lord: it was the heart of Phariseeism. Of course, we have had like developments in this country, with regard to our Constitution. Thus, when God gives us the provision of Deuteronomy 17:8-13, He does not give us an infallible means of preventing injustice. What we do get is a dilution of human authority to protect the judicial process. Now, in terms of these things, we must make certain observations. First, as we have already seen, even a God-provided law cannot prevent injustice. On the human level, there is no infallible justice. Man is a sinner, and he perverts the best possible law structure, as Phariseeism did. The Sanhedrin turned the law upside down and gave man’s word priority. The rationale was: well, God’s in heaven, and we’re here; and we see the situation better than God does. But a yardstick, which is a rubber yardstick, is no yardstick at all.

But, second, having said that, we must observe that the history of Israel is without equal in antiquity. In fact, as compared to a great deal that has followed since, it is without equal. Despite periodic dereliction, it had a remarkably long history of justice. God’s Law was a break on the sin of man. The Sanhedrin, which condemned Jesus, met illegally; pragmatism had, by then, become the order of the day. All the same, even given that—the high point of injustice in all history—there was still a residue of sound thinking and justice in the Sanhedrin, because when the apostles shortly after Pentecost were brought before the authorities, Gamaliel spoke judiciously and gained the release of the apostles, as Acts 5:33-40 tells us. The tyranny of the pagan states was constant, because they did not have God’s Law; in that respect in Israel, having this Law, it was always possible; and it happened that men stood up to the authorities and said, as our Lord supremely did, that they were wrong, that there was a higher law than their word. [00:13:34]

Then, third, we have called attention to the fact that...[edit]

Then, third, we have called attention to the fact that this law provided a form of checks and balances. The three kinds of justices made sure that the perspective of God’s Law was maximized. But this was not all: the work of the prophets was as a spokesman for the covenant law, as the defenders of a covenant people, in terms of the Word of God. And so, the word of the prophets was, “Thus saith the Lord,” to kings and to people, to judges and to priests.

To this day, where the church exercises its prophetic task, there is a check on injustice; and we have to say that our condition is largely due to the failure of the church to be prophetic. The Bible tells us that where priest and prophet go astray, there, too, will the people go astray. We read, for example, in Isaiah 28:7-8, concerning false priests and prophets: “But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.” The very people who should lead the nation in righteousness or injustice are filthy pigs, Isaiah says. The tables which should be places to eat and to keep strong in God’s service are tables of filth. Jeremiah makes a like indictment. He says that instead of justice, the priests and prophets manifest sin, according to Jeremiah 23:11; that the false leaders give the people what they want to hear. The prophet Micah also makes the same statement. For example, in Micah 2:11, “If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.” Again, in Micah 3:11, Micah says, “The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord and say, Is not the Lord among us? None evil can come upon us.” The leaders, Micah says, are mercenary; and they put their advancement above God’s justice. At the same time, they invoke God’s name and the covenant as their security from evil. They say that, because of our historic faith and position, God will be for us. However, such evil authorities flourish, because the people want them. [00:17:35]

God told Isaiah in Isaiah ...[edit]

God told Isaiah in Isaiah 30:9-10, “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.” In other words, what scripture tells us is that a people will get the kind of leaders in church and state and education, in every sphere that they want. God says that men want leaders to speak smooth things, and to prophesy lies. We saw in Micah 2:11 what God says of a false and traitorous people; that as a man who walks in the spirit of falsehood lies and says, “I’m going to prophesy that the best solution for all problems is wine and strong drink,” he shall be the favored prophet of the people. The lower the message, the greater the appeal, Micah says. People get the leaders they want. People want leadership in terms of their character; and the same is true everywhere and in all generations. A people will be ruled by an authority which confirms their faith and character. The attempt to resolve the matter by legislative and judicial reform, however good those reforms, without a like reform in the faith of the people, will always be futile. In other words, God’s appellate court was not designed to eliminate justice; rather, it offers justice to a people who want justice. The world today is plagued, as it has so often been, by injustice. People talk about wanting justice, but they only want it when it suits them, when it’s for them. They find it much easier to live in an unjust world; and their attitude is one of hypocrisy. Men agree that justice is good, but they are more comfortable without it. [00:20:51]

We have the kind of leadership we deserve...[edit]

We have the kind of leadership we deserve. In fact, one may say, as I often have, we have better leadership most of the time than we deserve. All over the world, our leadership is weak; some of it is outright evil, but the tyranny of evil is not strength. And all over the world, we have weak leaders, because we have weak peoples. They prefer people of a like character to theirs. They prefer people who give forth the kind of message of strong drink as salvation. Now, that’s a caricature; but it’s the truth, also.

Anyone who heard some of the campaign oratories at the convention knows that anyone with any common sense knew the fallacious nature of what was said; but people loved it; the media loved it; and they will demand more, because people want leadership, in terms of their character. If the people truly wanted justice, we would have it. If the people want a strong president, we would get one. Men, least of all, desire a just social order, because it would require them, first of all, to be just. Thus, in the world today, we have the prevalence of exactly what people want. C.S. Lewis once said heaven is the habitation of those who say to God: thy will be done; and hell is the habitation of those whom God says: thy will be done—a beautiful statement of the case, which I love to repeat, because it is so true. And God is saying to men today, “Thy will be done. You want the kind of leadership that you are creating? Very well, I shall give it to you, and you will have injustice and tyranny with it.” In brief, God’s Law provides justice and authority for those peoples who want it. [00:24:12]

Let us pray. O Lord our God, Thy word is truth, and Thy word makes provision for those Who seek Thy face, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who love Thy kingdom and are ready to say, “Thy will be done.” O Lord our God, give us grace day by day, so to move that Thy will may be done in our lives, and through us in our communities and nations. Bless us to this purpose. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Are there any questions now on our lesson? Yes?

[Questioner] You have two concepts here: that of the Supreme Court, as defined by God’s Law; and also the idea of God giving a reprobate people and the leaders what they want. There seems to be an interesting case of this in I Kings: Ahab had four hundred prophets that got the lying spirit in, and they did what he wanted to hear, the good news, to go against Ramothgilead. And then there was one man, Micah, who says “No, he’s not going to make it.”

[Rushdoony] Elijah.

[Questioner] No, I think it was Micah, was it not?

[Rushdoony] Oh, ah, Micaiah –

[Questioner] Micaiah, that’s correct.

[Rushdoony] – that’s the one in ... [00:25:54]

[Questioner] Yes, this is not ...[edit]

[Questioner] Yes, this is not {unclear}. In any event, according to the Supreme Court structure, he had only one witness not to go, and four hundred provided by God deliberately to deceive him into going. So God used the {unclear} the Supreme Court structure, the concept of more than one witness, as a tool against the evil king, did he not?

[Rushdoony] Yes, and God brought judgment upon them, because they didn’t want to hear God’s Word: they were hostile to it; they despised it. So, the net result was judgment. [00:26:29]

[Questioner] What do we do in a situation where we...[edit]

[Questioner] What do we do in a situation where we have one witness, or one prophet, who speaks, apparently, “So saith the Lord”; and a multitude who contradict him, contravening his testimony: do we go by the standard of God’s Law, or do we possibly entertain the idea that this one man, in fact, is speaking the Word of God, like it was true coming from Micaiah? What do we do in this situation? How can we measure? Or do we just sit and wait for God’s judgment on the king?

[Rushdoony] Well, of course, we have the Word of God as a test: who is keeping the Word of God? And we go in terms of the Word, because the one true prophet is going in terms of that. And, today, of course, we can rejoice that there are more and more raising the standard of God’s law-word. And we can rest assured that it is going to apply, that there will be judgment on men and nations for their departure from it; and that we are, in fact, in the midst of a time of judgment, very emphatically.

[Questioner] When was the last time history actually held this Deuteronomy-style Supreme Court, historically?

[Rushdoony] It maintained this through the entire Old Testament, but it was often perverted. And, of course, in the time of our Lord, it had reached the kind of situation that Horowitz described, where, what the lawyer said was more important than God’s Law, because the lawyer was on the scene, and he supposedly knew more than God.

[Questioner] I’ve heard it said that the greatest victory of Christian self-government in our country was retention of a jury of peers; but, according to Deuteronomy, that would not necessarily be the right way in which to deal with this situation.

[Rushdoony] No, and we forget that in the early years of the Republic, the jury decided cases out of the Bible; so, this was the standard, and the judge moved in terms of this standard. And, occasionally, as Ehrlich calls attention to one case, reminded the jury of a verse they had forgotten about.

Yes? [00:29:01]

[Questioner] Rush, this work by Horowitz...[edit]

[Questioner] Rush, this work by Horowitz: does he go into the guidelines for distinguishing between Supreme Appellate Court’s functions, in so far as the old Catholic concerns?

[Rushdoony] No, it doesn’t particularly stress it; it just refers to it. Horowitz’ book, by the way, has often been used by our courts, and particularly at the points where it’s, we would say, the weakest.

[Questioner] Well, is there some works or recommendations that you could recommend, which deal with the legal structures, primarily, establishing the biblical basis for a legal structure?

[Rushdoony] H. B. Clark’s Biblical Law is an old work by a lawyer, who deals with the biblical law in American history; and cites the cases in terms of the particulars of biblical law. Unfortunately, it’s not in print and is difficult to locate.


[Questioner] It says there’s a death penalty in verse 13 for not abiding by the decision of this court, and the court deals with blood against blood. Is this why there was a necessity for the cities of refuge to be established, in so far as someone might not agree with the decision of the council of manslaughter, and seek active vengeance. Is that the motivation behind the cities of refuge?

[Rushdoony] No, the cities of refuge were pending a decision of the court.

[Questioner] So, it was a waiting vestibule for the accused.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Um hum.

Any other questions or comments?

Well, if not, let us bow our heads in prayer. O Lord our God, we thank Thee that Thy Word is truth, that Thy judgments are righteous altogether and shall prevail. Give us grace to wait on Thee day by day, knowing that Thou wilt bring all things to pass. Give us strength to work patiently and zealously all the days of our life, to the end that Thy kingdom may be established upon earth. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always. Amen. [00:32:01]