The Source of Law and Justice - RR171C6

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Source Of Law And Justice
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 6
Length: 0:31:45
TapeCode: RR171C6
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Exodus Unity of Law and Grace.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.


Let us worship God. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made the heaven and the earth. Seeing that we have a great high priest that is past into the heavens, Jesus, the son of God, let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Let us pray.

We praise thee, oh God, the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost who hast made us thy people and given us such great promises in Christ Jesus. We thank thee that though the world is full of evil, and men and their rage against thee and thy kingdom seek to destroy all that is of thee, yet it is thy will that shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. Make us therefore strong in faith, and bold in our endeavors that the kingdoms of this world might become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. In His name. Amen.

Our scripture is Exodus 2:23-25, and our subject The Source of Law and Justice, the Source of Law and Justice. Exodus 2:23-25. “And it came to pass in process of time that the king of Egypt died. And the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried; and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them,” or “knew them,” it can be translated.

We are told in verse 23 that the king of Egypt died, that is, the Pharaoh that sought Moses’ life was dead. The Egyptian Pharaoh was a god in the faith of the land. Frankfurt, one of the great Egyptologists, has stated that the word in Hebrew is not strictly to be translated as “god” or “the god,” but means that the “god with whom you have to recon in the circumstances. So, it is a rather existentialist definition of god. This was the Egyptian meaning of god. According, to Ezekiel 29:3, Pharaoh says of the Nile, and Ezekiel’s observation ties into everything we know of Egyptian history, the Pharaoh says of the Nile, according to Ezekiel, “My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.” According to Yehuda, an expert in both Egyptian and in Greek, it should read literally, “I made myself.” According to Eisman also, Pharaoh in Ezekiel 29:3 says, “Mine is the river, that is the Nile, therefore I need no define help because my river provides for all my needs and I have made myself,” means that Pharaoh acknowledged no debt to anyone nor any need or dependence. [00:04:40]

Now since Pharaoh was the god men had to reckon with...[edit]

Now since Pharaoh was the god men had to reckon with in a given circumstance, there was no code of laws as far as we know in all Egyptian history. There was no law that was valid for all time and place, for governing all men or all Pharaohs. What we have then, as another Egyptologist, Pritchard, has said, are royal decrees, framed to meet particular situations. Now, we could call this an ancient form of situation ethics and do justice to what Egypt had. Instead of an eternal unchanging god, there was a situational god, one who was the power confronting us in a situation. Instead of a code of law governing the ruler and the ruled, there was only the will of the ruler. This was legal positivism, not too different from our own legal theories today. So, if you want to understand what the situation in Egypt was in Moses’ day, and before and after, look at Washington D.C. today, and look at our courts.

Now, in the course of history, the oppressed do not always cry out against injustice. Very often, they do not believe in justice or injustice, they simply strive to live with existing conditions. Because we are the products of a Christian background, we believe that justice should triumph, that men have only occasionally felt that way in history. One could almost say only rarely so. An existentialist or a positive view of law and justice on the part of the rulers is likely to be shared by the ruled in any time and place in history. Men have, over and over again, lived under very brutally oppressive conditions, and they have accepted them as normal and routine. The Israelites had been Egyptianized. Everything we know tells us this. In fact, the Hebrew records tells us this even more bluntly than the Bible does, because the Bible wastes almost no time on it. For the Hebrews then, God meant Pharaoh, the power they had to reckon with at a given situation. Given such a belief, morality meant some kind of conformity to the ruling power. [00:08:11]

The Hebrews had, by subterfuges, kept as many male...[edit]

The Hebrews had, by subterfuges, kept as many male babies alive as possible. But this was a personal, not a religious, fact. Then, and long afterwards, the evils of Egypt and of Egyptian faith were as much a part of most of Israel as they were of Egypt. In Ezekiel 20:5-11 cites this fact with biting power. So one of Israel’s prophets told them they were no different than the Egyptians, and it was the grace of God, not their merit, that had saved them. The faith of Egypt was a pragmatic and a statist faith. The basic concern was a stable, prosperous state. Men certainly died in great numbers during the forced labor levies, but if you survived, you might do well. During the wilderness journey, Israel repeatedly contrasted freedom with problems against slavery with plenty, and the preference for the flesh pots of Egypt was very, very plain. They fought against freedom. It was God who led them out of Egypt through Moses, and they complained. They had left Egypt physically, but Egypt was still basic to their life and thought.

After the Pharaoh who sought to kill Moses had died, then Israel sighed by reason of their bondage. They cried out, and God was mindful of their cry because of his covenant, we are told, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Not for their sake, but for His covenant sake, God heard them and knew them. That is, He recognized their place in His covenant plan.

Thus, we are not to assume any merit, or religious growth on the part of Israel, not at this time. God simply manifested a prevenient grace. The sad fact is that that term, prevenient grace, is very much neglected and forgotten in our day, but it’s basic to scripture, and it is basic to life. Prevenient means “that which goes before,” and prevenient grace means the grace that goes before our conversion. What it has reference to is that before we are redeemed, all our lives, from our birth, God has used everything that we do for His purpose and as a preparation for what he has to do with us, so we learn by our sins and our shortcomings because a long chain of providence, going back to our earliest days, has guided and prepared us for the present time for the future, and for all eternity. Prevenient grace means that there is more to our lives than our will and our act, and that there is more to history than man, and what man does. [00:12:38]

When Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good to them that love God and who are the called according to His purpose,” it refers to all our yesterdays as well as our todays. It is talking about prevenient grace and total providence. Whatever sin and error we contributed to our yesterdays, God uses to develop His purpose and plan and to fit us for His service.

God, we are told, in verse 25, knew them or had respect unto them, in terms of his covenant grace. The Septuagint gives us another possible meaning, another possible way of reading the text here. “And God was known to them,” or “revealed Himself unto them.” This is a likely reading, because we have a progression here. In verse 24, first, “And God heard their groaning,” then second, again in verse 24, “And God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob,” and then in verse 25, third, “And God looked upon the children of Israel,” and then finally, “And God knew them,” or “was known to them,” or “revealed Himself to them.” We go from an immersion in history to power from beyond and over history, and this is very important to the text. If history is the only reality that man has, then there is no appeal against evil or tyranny, because then there is no law where by men and nations are judged. There is no standard by which you can judge Pharaoh or Moscow, or Washington. Then man’s law is the only law, and right is what the state says it is. In such a context, there can be violent upheavals or revolutions, but no essential changed, because one evil power is traded for another. We can, with justice and reason, say that the modern age of revolutions, has only intensified many problems, and only altered a few. Men who are at war with God will always be at war against men, because striking man as God’s image bearer is a way of striking against God. The Marquis De Sade took a delight in showing his violent contempt for God by his sexual abuse of people. Pharaoh claimed a religious right to rule, although the religious premise was in part, existentialist. [00:16:24]

In Greece, as in Rome, tyranny came to be associated...[edit]

In Greece, as in Rome, tyranny came to be associated with rule, not associated with worship. When authority was not derived from the cultures worship, according to {Colanges?}, is exercised a power which religion had not established. It was the obedience of man to man, and this was tyranny. The tyrant thus, was one who ruled without God, and we would have to say every civil government in the world today is, in terms of this definition, a tyranny. That’s the original definition of the word, “tyranny,” and “tyrant.” The tyrant could not and cannot appeal to a religious doctrine of right or wrong. His justification thus became not an appeal upward to God, but an appeal downward to the people. As a result, whenever you have a tyrant, he appeals to the people against an aristocracy, or whatever class is in power, against the rich, and against all who are successful. He appeals to the masses of those who are full of envy and hatred, because there is nothing else in a tyranny that anyone can appeal to. Having denied God, an appeal upward, he has to appeal downward and his appeal becomes progressively more and more downward. So that, unless we return to the faith, there will be no change in this country or anywhere. The appeal will be more and more downward, and more and more evil. The Egyptian religion, because of its existentialist element, could not escape tyranny, although it evaded the appeal downward by making the ruler a god. In Greece, Rome and other countries, despite efforts as in Rome to turn rulers into gods, the downward appeal prevailed. Wherever this happens, envy begins to govern, and certainly in modern, humanistic states, envy is a powerful, governing force.

Now, the covenant of God with men precludes the rule of envy, and requires God’s justice to prevail. God separated Moses from a looking downward to an oppressed minority, Israel. He could not look to them for law or justice, or from looking to a pseudo-upper realm, Pharaoh’s court, for law and justice. On no level can fallen man provide justice and love. And God, very roughly, but for Moses, future, separated him from any such hope. Moses began by seeking freedom for Israel, but he failed to realize that freedom is not, in essence, political and economic, but theological. [00:20:43]

He thought by setting his people free, they would be...[edit]

He thought by setting his people free, they would be free. Men are not free without God. Our Lord is very clear that only through Him and His atonement can men be free men, for He says, “Whosoever committed sin is the servant or slave of sin.” Freedom which forsakes Jesus Christ is not freedom, but license. Men will then interpret freedom as the right to copulate at will, approve abortions, homosexuality, pornography, euthanasia and much more. And, to be irresponsible. But an irresponsibility is not freedom, it is a negation of freedom. The 21st century has seen much talk of freedom, even as freedom has been perishing, and has been replaced by license. But freedom is a moral fact, a religious fact. It begins with man’s self-government, and his ability to exercise moral responsibility in every area of life. The reduction of freedom to a political matter can only lead to the destruction of freedom. Freedom cannot be defined in terms of rule by church or state, by the masses or the classes. But only by the government of the Holy Spirit in man, only by a regenerate man who looks to the law of God. Let us pray.

Oh Lord, thy word is truth, and they word alone gives us hope of freedom. Make us again men of thy law, men of thy peace, men of thy kingdom, members of Jesus Christ, that we may re-establish freedom in this country, and in all the earth. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Are there any questions? Yes?

{Audience} Well, the whole question of rights, in which freedom is considered one, has been altered in this country to believe that rights are given you by the government.

[Rushdoony] Uh huh. [00:23:44]

[Audience] Rights of the Constitution, in other words...[edit]

[Audience] Rights of the Constitution, in other words. The Constitution recognizes no higher right than itself. The government recognizes no higher law in the United States than itself. And also, the other end of this experiment was to create a society without an aristocracy, even an aristocracy of merit. And the traditional role of the aristocracy was to protect the people the despot, so therefore, we set up an organization in which there is no protection from the government, and now we have a new aristocracy in the form of congress, which exempts itself from the laws it enacts.

[Rushdoony] Yes, one of the aspects of this that has rarely been studied has been laws of inheritance. Now, the laws of inheritance in the Bible state that the uh, godly seed is to inherit, so that when we capitalize, that capitalization is not to go to the ungodly, but to the godly. Well, every kind of evasion of that has been sought over the years, and one of the consequences of that has been that, uh, the laws of the inheritance over the centuries have been a battlefield for very, very diverse plans of preserving society. Now, in England ostensively primo genitor prevailed. The first born inheriting everything. In reality, that never was the law, it was just a custom, it never was nor is it yet a law. And yet, it is observed very strictly by all the nobility, which tells us something of the force of custom. In this country, laws were passed against primo genitor at the time of the War of Independence, and thereafter, calling for, in some of the states, an equal distribution, which again was destructive in creating any kind of leadership, because everything was to be broken up. There were diverse practices in the diverse states, but no country has ever come to grips with the role of inheritance in creating responsibility and leadership in the future, and the biblical plan has been set aside by virtually every country in history. Yes? [00:27:05]

[Audience] Well, in effect, inheritance is the preservation...[edit]

[Audience] Well, in effect, inheritance is the preservation of the family’s capital, and to break that up is to break up the capital of the family. The Irish were destroyed by the fact that they insisted upon an equal division of all inheritances.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience] So, all the land in Ireland became divided down into very small plots.

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Audience] And they have no large estates.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience] And therefore, they never became efficient.

[Rushdoony] Well, in the biblical structure, the family, through the godly leadership, becomes the instrument of social power, and so you’ve not only had inheritance laws militating against that, but taxes. Taxing estates, so that the firstborn in American law is the federal government, and after that the second government, and the children come last. Now, that is a war against the family, and it’s a war against a determination of the future by the godly family. Are there any other questions or comments? At one time, family trust let me say we’re legally possible to evade this, and technically they still are. But, at present , a lawyer told me if anyone seeks to create a family trust, unless they have a great deal of power, they are going to be the subject of all kinds of tax audits and attempts to harm them, and prevent them from succeeding. Yes?

[Audience] The other point is the firstborn was supposed to inherit the father’s role and take care of the rest of the family.

[Rushdoony] Yes, that’s the role of the one who inherits; he has a responsibility to the other members of the family and for their care. But we have ceased to regard freedom as a religious fact, that’s the key. A religious and a moral fact, and converted it into a political and economic fact, and that has been totally destructive of freedom in this century. Yes?

[Audience] Apparently, after the Jew left, under Moses, they had no law.

[Rushdoony] No, they had no law, and it was given to them, of course, at Sinai, because while this law that was given at Sinai was known to the fathers before the captivity in the early years of the captivity, they had become Egyptianized, and so were alien to it.

[Audience] I have to repeat that limerick, “How odd of God to choose the choose,” because they seem so unlikely to have been selected. [00:30:31]

[Rushdoony] Uh huh...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Uh huh. Well, if there are no further questions and comments, let us conclude with prayer.

Our Father, thou hast called us to freedom in Jesus Christ. Make us instruments of freedom, so that the kingdoms of this world might become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen. [00:31:35]

End of Tape.