Sacrilege and Judgment - RR156C6

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Sacrilege and Judgment
Course: Course - Law and Life
Subject: Subject:Law
Lesson#: 6
Length: 0:50:10
TapeCode: RR156C6
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Law and Life.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.

[Rushdoony] Let us worship God. Grace be unto you and peace, from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world. According to the will of God and our Father, to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen. Let us pray.

Our Lord and our God, we come to Thee again, mindful of all Thy continuing blessings and mercies. We thank Thee our Father that Thy Word unto us is grace and peace through Jesus Christ, that though hast made us kings, priests and prophets. Make us ever mindful, O Lord, of the glory of our calling and the certainty of our victory in Thee. That in all things we may obey Thee, delight in Thy Word and be more than conquerors by Thy grace. Bless us now by Thy Word and by Thy Spirit, and make us faithful, bold, and confident in Thee. In Jesus name, Amen.

Our text today begins in Joshua 6, verses 26 and ‘7, and we’ll continue with various portions of the 7th chapter. Now our subject is sacrilege and judgment. Sacrilege and judgment beginning with Joshua 6, verses 26 following. “And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying cursed be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city, Jericho. He shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it. So the Lord was with Joshua and his fame was noised throughout all the country.” Now this was after the fall and destruction of Jericho, and God declared that if anyone rebuilds Jericho, they would do so at the price of their youngest and oldest son. Then in Chapter 7, first of all 1 through 5. “But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing, for Achan the son of Carmi the son of Zabdi the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them saying go up and view the country, and the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said unto him, let not all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai, and make not all the people to labor thither, for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand, and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men, for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim and smote them in the going down. Wherefore the hearts of the people melted and became as water.” [00:04:14]

So in this passage, as they embarked on the next military...[edit]

So in this passage, as they embarked on the next military adventure, a very small walled town which they should have easily conquered, they were defeated, and God in the verses that ensue tells them it is because they have been guilty or one in their midst has been guilty of sacrilege; of robbing God. And it turned out to be Achan, 19 following. “And Joshua said unto Achan, my son, give I pray thee glory to the Lord God of Israel and make confession unto him, and tell me now what thou hast done, hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua and said indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel and thus and thus have I done. When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babalonish garment and two-hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them and took them and behold they are hid in the earth, in the midst of the tent and the silver under it. So Joshua sent messengers and they ran unto the tent and behold it was hid in the tent and the silver under it. And they took them out of the midst of the tent and brought them unto Joshua and unto all the children of Israel and laid them before the Lord. And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah and the silver and the garment and the wedge of gold and his sons and his daughters and his oxen and his asses and his sheep and his tent and all that he had and they brought them unto the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said why hast thou troubled us? The Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones and burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger, wherefore the name of that place was called the Valley of Achor (or trouble) unto this day.” [00:06:30]

Now this story was once readily believed even by unbelievers...[edit]

Now this story was once readily believed even by unbelievers. Today, it is an embarrassment to many believers. Why the difference? Why is it that this episode in Scripture was once something that even pagans would nod and acknowledge that is obviously true, and today Christians find it embarrassing reading. One of the reasons is that in terms of modern relativism, we have abandoned the idea of causality. Now you may, and I’m sure everyone here does believe in causality. But, as far as any theoretical affirmation of it is concerned, our world no longer believes in causality. In our graduate schools, the idea is ridiculed. The probability concept replaced it and now the probability concept is under ridicule because it still points to God and to causality. Because we no longer have this faith in causality, the ability of so many people to put two and two together has disappeared. As a matter of fact, I could say that ability has disappeared much more literally than I have indicated, because this week I was at one college and I bought some books that were up for sale at ten cents apiece and the very fine young man, intelligent very obviously, but a product of modern education, was trying to add up the books and so there were twelve books for ten cents, and he couldn’t figure it out in his head and he wrote it down with an “x” to multiply it and came up with twelve dollars. But today, the idea of causality has, to a large extent, disappeared. People have trouble putting two and two together in more ways than one. They do not see that the world is a world of cause and effect, especially if that cause comes from God. They immediately block it out, but there was a time when even the pagan observed that cause. Today there is a mindset against it, so that if you ascribe anything in the way of a cause to God, it is immediately an assured fact that it will be ruled out and there will be a mental block against considering any evidence involved. Now we’re going to look at some of the evidence of sacrilege this morning. According to the law of God, the first fruits belong to God, whether of the field or of the sons born to a woman. Like the tithe, the first fruits are God’s property and to deny them to God is a sacrilege. As a result, the law required that the first fruits be brought to the temple and offered to God. The first fruit of all children was redeemed, even our Lord at His birth was taken to the temple and a gift made to indicate that He belonged to God, he would be reared as the Lord’s and there would be a redemption of Him so that they could retain Him. [00:10:49]

Now, in normal cases, all first fruits could be redeemed...[edit]

Now, in normal cases, all first fruits could be redeemed, but Jericho was the first fruit of Canaan, and God said Jericho had to be destroyed, it had to remain a ruin as a monument to the fact that His miraculous power had destroyed Jericho and had given His people the entrance into the Promised Land. Now Jericho was the fortress that blocked the way into the Promised Land when you cross the river Jordan. Only the gold, the silver, the iron and brass vessels could be retained and all these had to go to the sanctuary, they belonged to God. All living things save Rahab and her household had to be destroyed. Sacrilege was committed in the conquest of Jericho. Achan saw an opportunity to seize certain things: a goodly Babalonish garment, two hundred shekels of silver (and a shekel here is a weight), a wedge of gold of fifth shekels weight, a very considerable wealth, he became a very rich man through this. He stole these things and had the cooperation of his entire family in doing it, it was hidden in their tent with the whole family conspiring to keep the knowledge of it hidden. Then, the next battle was fought against Ai, a small walled town; it was not even felt necessary to send the entire army there, but only about two or three thousand men. The men were badly defeated. And we are told that Joshua went to the Lord in grief and in prayer, why had God done this? Alas O Lord God, wherefore hast Thou brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Would to God we had been content and dwelt on the other side of Jordan. God was blamed for the defeat, and God immediately rebuked Joshua. True enough, all things ultimately have their cause in God, but it is a sin to look at God’s ultimate causation only. The reality approximate, or human causes, cannot be denied or set aside. As a result, God directed them to look at themselves. He declared that there had been sacrilege; He had been robbed, and as a result the cause of the fault was located in Achan. And Achan and his entire household were sentenced to death. [00:14:50]

The aftermath of this story is that many years later...[edit]

The aftermath of this story is that many years later, as a matter of fact five hundred and twenty years later, when the site of Jericho, which properly belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, and should have been a part of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, but had actually been conquered by Ahab, when under Ahab, Hiel began to rebuilt Jerusalem the curse of God that was pronounced through Jericho on anyone who rebuilt Jericho, pronounced by Joshua, became operative. And he lost both his eldest son and his youngest. Five hundred and twenty years later. The reconstruction of Jericho was a denial of God and of His saving power. It was a denial that God had a claim on the first fruits, and to rebuild Jericho meant that it is more important for us to have a fortress here again, as against the Southern Kingdom, than to pay any attention to an old superstition, or to believe that God is what He says He is. Now, is this judgment upon Hiel for sacrilege, exceptional? Is it a part of what the Barthians call “holy history” and somehow not as real or literally real as the things we experience every day? We have a number of instances, quite a few, of sacrilege in Scriptures, we shall deal with these on subsequent weeks. But, what about sacrilege in our history? In the kind of history that they write at UCLA? Well let us examine a case of that. We do believe that because, in the latter part of the Middle Ages, the Church began to abuse the wealth and the power it had gained, and in spite of warnings like those of the godly monarch Richard the Third to the Church, that they would reap the whirlwind for their abuse of their properties and wealth, they continued. And we must say that the Reformation and what ensued was therefore a judgment. But at the time of the Reformation and before the Reformation and after the Reformation, various monarchs Catholic and Protestant, seized Church properties on the pretext of corruption. Henry the Eighth, for example, seized the Church properties, beginning with the monasteries. These lands were confiscated, a royal commission went around to investigate the corruption of the monks, it is true they actually did find corrupt monasteries, but they generalized to condemn all, good and bad, and to make the corrupt ones an excuse for seizing the properties rather than reforming the churches, the establishments, and the monasteries. In other words, they made reformation a pretext for confiscation and theft is not reformation. [00:19:13]

Now as one scholar has written, in analyzing the subject...[edit]

Now as one scholar has written, in analyzing the subject of sacrilege, and I quote, “Property consecrated to God in the service of His Church has generally, when alienated to secular purposes, brought misfortune on its possession. Whereby strange accidents by violent deaths, by loss of wealth, or and that chiefly by failure of heirs male, and such property hardly ever continues long in one family.” Unquote. Now is this true? It’s a very serious charge, a very serious claim. Very clearly, the churchmen at the time of Henry the Eighth and thereafter, were afraid that God’s judgment would be upon those who seized the church property, and that the people should be fearful of judgment upon the land and take steps to counteract them. Thomas Lever, one of the great Puritan preachers of the Church of England in a sermon of February 2, 1550, in the days of young Edward the Sixth, declared very plainly concerning these seizures or impropriations as they called them, and I quote, “Seeing that impropriations being so evil that no man can allow them, be now so employed unto the universities, yea and unto the yearly revenue of the King’s majesty, that if you dare speak against them, ye may see that some men, not only by the abuse of riches and authority, but also by the abuse of wisdom and policy do much harm, and specially those by whose means this realm is now brought into such case that either learning in the universities and necessary revenues belonging to the most high authorities is likely to decay, or else impropriations to be maintained, which both be devilish and abominable, that if either of them come to affect, it will cause the vengeance of God utterly to destroy this realm.” Unquote. And later went on in this sermon to say that the old abuses of the old church needed correcting, but he said this was not correction, it was a betrayal of the cause of Christ and it was using the pretext of reformation to pile abomination upon abomination, and he declared, “I tell you, at the first the intent was very Godly, the pretence wondrous goodly. But now the use or rather the abuse and mis-order of these things is worldly, is wicked, is devilish, is abominable. But you which have gotten these goods into your hands to turn them from evil to worse, and other goods much more, from good unto evil, be ye sure it is even you that have offended God, beguiled the king, robbed the rich, spoiled the poor, and brought a common wealth into a common misery. It is even you that must either be plagued with God’s vengeance as were the Sodomites, or amend by repentance as did the Ninevites. Even you it is that must either make restitution and amends speedily, or else feel the vengeance of God grievously.” Now of course, what Lever was instrumental in doing was in working out restitution, whereby Christians, the Puritans in particular, made a tremendous outpouring of charitable giving unprecedented in history, so that the established foundations, schools, all kinds of activities, to make restitution unto God and to take the place of the work that the monasteries and church foundations had been doing. They more than made restitution on the principle that it had to be four-fold or five-fold. [00:24:03]

Now going ahead to some years later, almost a century...[edit]

Now going ahead to some years later, almost a century later in the time of Robert South, one of the greatest lights of the Church of England, in 1667, a century later after Lever and much, much later than Henry the Eighth’s expropriations which began some years earlier, declared in a sermon, “We need not go many nations off, nor many ages back to see the vengeance of God upon some families raised upon the ruins of churches, and enriches with the spoils of sacrilege, gilded with the name of reformation, and for the most part so unhappy have been the purchasers of Church lands that the world is not now to seek for an argument from a long experience to convince it that though in such purchases men have usually the chiefest pennyworths, yet they have not always the best bargains for the holy thing has stuck fast to their sides like a fatal shaft, and the stone has cried out of the consecrated walls that have lived within, for a judgment upon the head of the sacrilegious intruder, and heaven has heard the cry and made good the curse. So that when the heir of a blasted family is risen up and promised fair and perhaps flourished for some time upon the stock of excellent parts and great favor, yet at length a crossed event has certainly met and stopped him in the career of his fortunes so that he has ever after withered and declined and in the end come to nothing or to that which is worse. So certainly does that which some call blind superstition take aim when it shoots a curse at the sacrilegious person. But I shall not engage in the odious task of recounting the families which this sin has blasted with a curse.” Unquote. [00:26:30]

Now South, as he summed up this matter, said it was...[edit]

Now South, as he summed up this matter, said it was so obvious that he did not have to go into any cataloguing of what had happened. Was it that obvious? Well, in 1632, about thirty-five years before South preached, Sir Henry Spelman made such a catalogue, a definite detailed study of the church properties that had been seized. Now in the course of it, he looked at church properties that had been seized by the French crown and the Spanish crown enough to say the same thing had happened there and elsewhere, so that whether it was in a Catholic or Protestant country where church lands had been seized and put to any other purpose than God’s purpose, there had been a curse. But in England, he found that six hundred and thirty families, all told, had at one time or another bought church lands. Of these six hundred and thirty families, only fourteen were still continuing, had had a male heir, only fourteen. And so he concluded very definitely, there was a curse on these men in terms of God’s law; they had robbed God of His tithe and first fruit and therefore God’s curse was upon their first fruits. And because he was mindful that some would say, well we’ve had in these years all kinds of social upheavals, therefore there has been a great number of fatalities and probably this was true of any family; he traced other families of prominence and consequence and found this was not true. He found that at one point, when Henry the Eighth gave in one part of England, church properties to one hundred and twenty of his followers, that the same time in that area the Duke of Norfolk gave to twenty of his men parts of his lands to reward them. And what he gave to his twenty followers [interruption in audio] land. When Sir Henry Spelman made his study, all twenty of those whom the Duke of Norfolk, were still after a few generations there, they had had male heirs. Not one of the hundred and twenty who had received church lands originally from Henry the Eighth had had male heirs or their families were continuing. Thus, judgment was an obvious fact. [00:29:52]

As a matter of fact, when much later, almost two centuries...[edit]

As a matter of fact, when much later, almost two centuries, a little more than two centuries after Spelman, Spelman’s study was reprinted in 1843, by two English scholars, Webb and Neale. They studied some of those church properties to see, has the curse lingered. And they found indeed it had. So that they could say statistically the failure of male heir in families implicated in sacrilege is much more frequent than in those which are not so implicated, and further, the church lands changed their possessors far more frequently than those which have never been devoted to God. Moreover, they found that the curse had far-reaching consequences, and so they continued, “now by purchase, by bequest, by exchange, by marriage, the contamination has been communicated and re-communicated, till it is difficult to say who is absolutely clear.” He was dealing with the prominent families of England. “And the case is still more complicated with respect to lands.” That is church lands as against the church sites in particular. And they concluded, “we can only lament these things, we cannot correct them. We have no reason to think God will be reconciled to national sin without national restitution, and there is less chance of that every day.” Now very obviously then, insofar as the families who possessed these lands were concerned, there was very definitely a statistically ascertainable evidence of the curse. Page after page, Spelman gave charts, Neale and Webb confirmed this evidence at a later date. As a matter of fact, to this day the idea, although people no longer in those areas of England are religiously oriented, they will speak of these church lands as unlucky because the evidence of a continuing curse lingers. What belongs to God cannot be alienated from God, and we have clear cut evidence from what has happened in one country after another, where lands belonging to the Church have been alienated, what happens. [00:33:13]

And we must add that this continues further today and...[edit]

And we must add that this continues further today and that the Church of England as well as various churches in Europe, Catholic and Protestant as they are shutting churches, churches that have been open for centuries are putting up these magnificent stone structures for sale with the condition that they cannot be bought by any evangelical church. They will not tolerate their use as a church, and they are selling them for use as antique shops, warehouses, and the like. We must further say that the French revolution and the Russian revolutions have been guilty of sacrilege, and God will in due time exact His price. These are fearful facts, but they are also encouraging facts. The fact of judgment is important for us to recognize because judgment and salvation are different sides of the same fact; different sides, so to speak, of the same coin. There is never salvation without judgment, the judgment upon the old world was the salvation of Noah, the judgment upon Canaan was the deliverance and the prospering of Israel, the judgment of God upon sin (the cross) is our salvation. So that indeed as we face God’s judgment in the days ahead, we have cause to rejoice because judgment is, in every age that it occurs, the sign of redemption.


We can rejoice too that God, having called us and made...[edit]

We can rejoice too that God, having called us and made us His people, has given us His Word, has summoned us to obey Him, to render unto Him our tithes and offerings and not to rob Him, because He has declared as He curses those who disobey, so He blesses, signally, those who obey. And so we are summoned to faith and obedience, in the certainty that there is a reward; that there is a causality in history in terms of the curse and in terms of the blessing; in terms of covenant breaking and in terms of covenant keeping. And so when we are called to separate ourselves unto the Lord, and to obey His Word, we are promised the blessing, the prospering hand of God and we are assured that it is an inescapable blessing, just as His curse is an inescapable curse. The world today does not like to document, as Sir Henry Spelman and Webb and Neale documented, and this is why their work is forgotten. But forgetting something does not eliminate it, it is still there. There is no escaping what Sir Henry Spelman traced, nor is there any escaping what Webb and Neale almost two centuries, two centuries and eleven years later confirmed as continuing. Men may disregard the fact that God curses and the God blesses, but God curses and blesses because God alone is Lord, and the blindness of men does not obscure the certainty of His government, the sureness of His curses, and the inevitability of His blessing. We stand therefore, as we obey God to the full spirit and the letter of His Word, in the line of inevitable, inescapable blessings. Let us move then forward in this confidence, that God keeps His Word, that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, who by faith and obedience daily follow Him. Let us pray. [00:38:45]

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we give thanks unto...[edit]

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we give thanks unto Thee for Thy Word, and for the certainty of Thy ways. We thank Thee, O Lord, that Thy curses and Thy blessings never fail, that all things with Thee are sure, that man’s word is an uncertain word, man’s curses and man’s blessings are uncertain and frail and pass away, but that which Thou hast promised, nothing can change, but heaven and earth can pass away, but Thy Word shall never fail. Teach us therefore, Father, to walk, to stand, to act in the certainty of Thy Word, that we may be more than conquerors through Him that loved us, even Jesus Christ our Lord. In His name we pray, Amen.

Are there any questions now, yes?

[Audience member] Is it true {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, we bombed Dresden, which was an open city not subject to bombing, a hospital city and so on, on a Sunday, and we did not even go for what would be military targets, we went for the churches on a Sunday morning. Now this has been a very much hushed up fact, a book was written about it, we killed perhaps four hundred and fifty thousand people in that bombing. Who was responsible for it and what kind of savage hatred led us and Britain, it was a joint operation, to do such a thing, no one has ever been ready to say. But that was sacrilege.

[Audience member] Who, with regard to the airforce at that time {?}.

[Rushdoony] As far as we know, there were objections from the military to the order. The military objected to the order, it came from high political sources. Yes?

[Audience member] Would you comment on the Leviticus {?} of the {?}. If you can classify this as a sacrilege. He said that he was doing this for God and the Queen. {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, right. It was still regarded in his day as sacrilege, he had robbed a church, and therefore there were many who believed that what happened to Sir Walter Raleigh, a very godly man, who nonetheless sinned in that case, as judgment upon him. Because the Queen did not use the proceeds for the church. Queen Elizabeth was a particularly niggardly person where money was concerned and unwilling to give even a livable salary to her ministers, and James the First was the same. So it was sacrilege. Yes? [00:42:59]

[Audience member] Was there any human agency in these...[edit]

[Audience member] Was there any human agency in these {?} attempting to reconstruct {?}

[Rushdoony] Well, this is why Spelman concentrated especially upon the birth of male heirs. Because he said other things you could say human agency was at stake, but in tracing in special detail the absence of male heirs, he also traces the various disasters that overwhelmed these families. He had to say the absence of male heirs was an indication that it was not of human agency.

[Audience member] Isn’t this sort of a very special piece, in that usually God {?}.

[Rushdoony] Very often, God’s judgments are through human agencies, but not necessarily so. You can see why, now when we began our studies in sacrilege, I said that for generations now, the church had never discussed the subject of sacrilege. They’ve left it alone because they don’t like it, they don’t want to consider it, they’ve become humanistic. But the fact is sacrilege is a fearful offence, and this is why even the pagans were afraid of sacrilege. And we do know from history that when sometimes barbarians would loot a church, there would be other barbarians who wouldn’t want to touch a part of the loot, because they said that brings upon us vengeance. So, even the barbarians were fearful of any act of sacrilege. Yes?

[Audience member] I want to ask you if {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, the question is, is staying open on Sundays a sacrilege? And that’s a very good question, it is, because it is robbing God of His due. Yes? [00:45:37]

[Audience member] In the study by Professor ...[edit]

[Audience member] In the study by Professor {?} expropriation of the churches is one of the greatest significant {?} events in England because of the fact that once the King expropriated the churches in the name of {?} loot the property for a godly purpose {?} From that point on, it was absolutely impossible for those who received the property to argue that they too {?} later date be expropriated. And so {?} this was one of the first great examples of the State interfering directly for redistribution of wealth, and that that principle stayed with Britain, and was a factor of political conflict right in the middle of the twentieth century.

[Rushdoony] Yes, and there’s another factor too, the church wealth had been used to a great extent, even though the Church had become to a large extent in some cases corrupt at that time, and that’s admitted even by Catholic scholars, still as far as the foundations that had been established by the various wealthy people of the Middle Ages through the Churches, through monasteries and various groups for the relief of poverty. These were still doing their purpose, so one of the immediate results of expropriation in every country, Catholic and Protestant, was a flood of beggars on the streets and an increase in crime. Because now there was no longer the normal means of taking care of the unemployed and the poor. So the social consequences of impropriations everywhere on the continent and in England were tremendous. It was a major revolution, and it is significant that we refuse to consider it nowadays, and the subject of sacrilege is just not mentioned. You can find next to nothing in sacrilege, it’ll be just a very brief article of a paragraph or two or three paragraphs, whether you look in the various Protestant religious encyclopedias or the old Catholic encyclopedia, there’s only a limited amount on the subject. It’s become almost a dead area of interest. Are there any other questions? Yes? [00:48:37]

[Audience member] ...[edit]

[Audience member] {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, but there are certain things that are specifically a direct robbery of God; a robbery of that which is to serve Him; lands that belong to God, properties that belong to God, tithes and offerings, these things constitute in particular, sacrilege. Before we adjourn, has anyone left this Bible here? A Bible has been left and if it’s yours, please come and claim it. Let us bow our heads now for the benediction.

And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.

[End of tape]