Atonement - Freedom and Justice - RR172Q30

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Atonement, Freedom and Justice
Course: Course - Leviticus; The Law of Holiness and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 30
Length: 0:37:55
TapeCode: RR172Q30
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Leviticus The Law of Holiness 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 Heaven and earth. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all them that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him. He also will hear their cry, and will save them. “Where two or three are gathered together in My name,” saith the Lord Jesus Christ, “there am I in the midst of them.” Let us pray.

Oh Lord our God, we thank Thee for Thy promise that where two or three are gathered together in Thy name, Thou art there in their midst. Then welcome, Lord Jesus. Fill our hearts with the joy of Thy salvation, the glory of Thy presence, and the majesty of Thy Word. Make us mindful how rich we are in Thee, how sure and marvelous are Thy promises, and how certain is Thy victory. Bless us now by Thy Word and by Thy Spirit, and grant that we may behold wondrous things out of Thy Law. In Christ’s name, amen.

Our scripture is Leviticus 16:29-34, the conclusion of the section on the Day of Atonement. And our subject, “Atonement, Freedom and Justice.” “Atonement, Freedom and Justice,” Leviticus 16:29-34:

29 And this shall be a statute forever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:

30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.

31 It shall be a Sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute forever.

32 And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments:

33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.

34 And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the Lord commanded Moses.”

In the 29th verse we read, “…and this shall be a statute forever unto you.” Wenham has rendered this as “a permanent rule for you,” “…that on the Day of Atonement, ye shall afflict your souls,” (or in modern terminology, fast), “and do no work at all, whether it be of one of your own country, or a sojourner that sojourneth among you.” [00:04:27]

This has been a rule in Christendom until fairly recently

This has been a rule in Christendom until fairly recently. Some of us can remember when everything shut down on Good Friday, the Day of Atonement. Subsequently, it was reduced to three hours when things were shut down, 12:00 – 3:00. And now, even that is disappearing. As we de-Christianize ourselves.

Moreover, we are clearly told in the passages that follow that atonement must be made for the sanctuary, for the tabernacle, for the people, and for the priests. In other words, there is nothing holy in and of itself. Holiness comes only through the atonement; only through Christ. So that all holiness in this earth is brought in by the atoning work of Christ and the atonement is the source; the source of atonement, therefore the source of freedom from sin from injustice. Hence the atonement is basic to freedom and justice in any society.

Concerning the cessation from work, F.W. Grant wrote, in the last century, “Lastly in connection to all this, we have a Sabbath of rest appointed in which all work is solemnly forbidden. In connection with atonement, the meaning is most simple. Whether for Israel, or for the believer now, no work of man must supplement the glorious work which has been done for sinners.” We cease form our labors because there’s nothing we can do that can add to the work that Christ has accomplished. And our rest is to set forth the fact that everything depends, not on us, but on the Lord. We must remember how rest is basic to scripture, and rest is to express our trust in the finished work of God, the fact that His law will provide us with our sufficiency. His Law is His grace to us. We rest, therefore, by His commandment: one day in seven; one year in seven when we have a godly society. Why? Because if we live in terms of His Law Word, then we prosper. We do not need the endless chain of work in order to flourish. [00:08:05]

We must remember that today, most of our labor goes

We must remember that today, most of our labor goes not to buy necessities, but to pay for interest. Consider the fact that a car manufacturer borrows money to produce (on a high interest, short-term loan), the car dealer borrows money to sell the car (ninety-day notes), and the buyer buys on interest, so he’s paying, at three points, mostly interest for the car he buys. And this is across the board in every area of our life. Most of the money goes not for actual goods. This makes a difference to our lives. We spend more time working to pay for interest than we do to pay for good. Hence, rest is gone, because we live in terms of premises that are not godly. The Bible limits interest, debt, to six years. And we have created a society which now serves not God, but the usurer, the baker.

So, we are to rest. And we have a premise of rest. This rest begins with the atonement. It is the moral renewal of man. It is the means whereby man is made free—free from sin, free from guilt, free from the burden of the past, so that now he can use what was good in the past in order to create a godly future. And because man can add nothing to God’s work of atonement, he must rest in it and place his total trust in its sufficiency. [00:10:52]

Paul echoes this requirement when after setting forth

Paul echoes this requirement when after setting forth Christ’s work of justification, he declares, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. And be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage,” so says Paul in Galatians 5:1. The yoke of bondage is anything which is against God’s Law, which puts us into bondage from, to things from which Christ has freed us. We have been saved that the righteousness or the justice of the Law might now be fulfilled or put into force in us. We are to rest in the finished work of atonement and find our freedom and justice in God’s Law. We’ve been released from the death penalty. We die in Christ and are made a new man by His regenerating power. And we are converted from outlaws to the people of the Law.

At two critical points, churchmen have gone astray.

  1. Men have set a contrast between God’s Law and freedom. They talk about the law as bondage, but the Law is only bondage when it is a death sentence against us. When we are saved, the Law is now our way of life. In order to rule the Law out, people called it Jewish and God is portrayed as having outgrown His own justice. And this is blasphemy.
  2. To go back to the 17th century and to cite Richard Overton, one of the radicals of the day, who said, “Justice is my natural right, my heirdom, my inheritance by lineal decent from the loins of Adam, and so to all the sons of men as their proper right without respect of persons.” Overton went on to assert liberty and justice as human rights for all men, and he asserted that every man is ”by nature a king, priest, and prophet in his own natural circuit and compass.”

So what belongs to man by his atonement in Christ? Beginning with Overton and other radicals of his day, has been made the right of every man—unregenerate man. One historian, Mollet, has noted, “Overton universalized freedom and gave it an entirely natural base.” This is a fact we’ve forgotten! We have become so humanistic, we forget it took a revolution which culminated in the Enlightenment, an antichristian revolution to say that freedom and justice are every man’s natural right. [00:15:05]

But this turns the whole moral universe upside down

But this turns the whole moral universe upside down! Because in terms of scripture, justice and freedom are not natural rights, they are moral attributes! For the same reason—by abstracting sin from the person. We hear the rubbish ‘hate the sin and love the sinner.’ Is sin a thing of itself? A person out here? Or an object? Is it something like this microphone, or this pulpit or those chairs? No. It’s the moral attribute of a person. It’s the expression of a life of a person. We cannot objectify sin as though it was a thing, detached from the moral life of a person. How can you hate the sin and love the sinner? It is an expression of the sinner—of what he is.

Similarly, justice and freedom are not things out there in and of themselves; they are the expression of God’s being. He is all holiness, all righteousness or justice. He is perfect freedom. And it is where the Spirit of God is that there is perfect freedom, and perfect justice, so we can never say, ‘these are natural rights.’ We’ve turned them into things that exist apart from God and apart from man, that are not moral attributes but abstract photonic entities. [00:17:32]

Having done that, what modern man has done is to define

Having done that, what modern man has done is to define freedom as release from some outward constraint. So then, it no longer is a moral attribute of man, it is delivering man from someone—from God, and from the Law of God.

And so, the modern age has begun with an idea of freedom and justice which is evil—which is destructive of all order and of all society. Then justice becomes something which the environment must provide for us; which the State must provide for us; which other men must give to us. But justice is a moral attribute in my being and in the being of other men. Justice is the expression of the nature of God and we must put on Christ to have freedom and to have justice. And when we say justice is something the environment must provide for us, what happens? The State says, ‘We are the environment. We are justice. And what we do is justice. What we enact is justice. What our course gives is justice.’ That’s why in many of these church and state trials, they do not allow you to say there’s something wrong with the statute. The statutes can be totally ridiculous, but you can’t challenge them. That’s the law! That’s justice! And the result is we grow more and more evil day by day, because we have abstracted moral attributes from God and man and put them in the environment which means in the State. [00:20:03]

This is an obvious fact

This is an obvious fact. And yet it’s a fact that both our philosophers and our political theorists and our theologians and our pastors have forgotten. Ninety-nine pastors out of a hundred say, “Love the sinner and hate the sin!” as though sin could be separated from man, as though it was not a part of his moral nature, an expression of his being.

And the result is, we go from bad to worse. Such a view makes freedom and justice less and less likely. It is a way of saying the world must be virtuous in order to make it safe for our sinning. The great political expression of this kind of faith in this century came from Woodrow Wilson, who was going to have a gimmick, “The League of Nations,” to make the world safe for democracy, to ensure world peace and justice. And all the evils that have issued out of that are continuing to increase because we’ve begun with that evil.

The Day of Atonement, the Law of the Day of Atonement says everything—church and state, the altar, the sanctuary, the people, the priests—require atonement, because holiness, because justice, because good in any form is not a part of their being, it comes out of the atonement which renews man, and through man renews his world. So wars to end wars, Leagues of Nations, United Nations, all of these are Humanistic common places which view freedom and justice as abstract things unrelated to the heart of man and his moral nature. The fact of atonement tells us that only by means of atonement can justice and freedom enter the world. Atonement is the moral renewal of man. Man is made a new creation morally—morally, not metaphysically, and the atonement requires the moral death of the Old Man and the creation of a New Man by God’s grace. [00:23:32]

One commentator on Leviticus, Lewis Goldberg has commented

One commentator on Leviticus, Lewis Goldberg has commented, “There is tragedy in the current attempt to have a Day of Atonement without the shedding of the blood as a sin offering. While repentance, prayer and good deeds used by the Jewish people today as a substitute for the ritual of Leviticus 16 demonstrate a search for God, they are not enough to effect atonement for sin.” The requirement for observing the Day of Atonement stresses the need for man to recognize that he can never justify himself before God. He can never have any legitimate claim against God. Man must recognize that he stands justified entirely by God’s sovereign grace. No man can make atonement for his own sin, because no man can obligate God or impose necessity upon God which self-atonement would do.

This is the critical issue in one sphere after another. It’s what Arminianism is about. It’s what one evil act or another is about—imposing necessity upon God. The issue is at heart in every sphere, the same as Otto {?} described with respect to Galileo, Pope Urban VIII, as Otto described, favored Galileo’s theories and encouraged Galileo to publish them; but, as Otto wrote, “He made only one stipulation, saying that Galileo could not really maintain that God could not have wished or known how to move the heavens and the stars some other way.” To speak otherwise in hypothetically would be tantamount to constraining the infinite power and wisdom of God within the limits of your personal ideas.” Galileo chose to do precisely that and to disseminate his manuscript as widely as possible. Pope Urban did not object to Galileo’s theory, but to his theology. Whereby God was limited to what Galileo chose to believe. And that was blasphemous. In fact, Urban in his angry comments, went to the heart of the matter. He said, “He cannot necessitate Almighty God.” [00:27:27]

Those who believe in self-atonement whether it is through

Those who believe in self-atonement whether it is through a League of Nations of State laws or by man saving himself believe they can necessitate God and compel His favor, at the same time, by making freedom and justice into abstract conditions and rights. Men can indict God for slavery and injustice without admitting for a moment that these are moral conditions created by Man. When they make this shift, they can then indict God: why hast Thou made me thus?

The sacrifices of the Day of Atonement make clear that everything comes from God. And by God’s initiative and that man cannot necessitate God; cannot put God in obligation to him. These are the only sacrifices in Leviticus which are associated with the actual Ark. It is the only required day of fasting also in the Bible. In practice, there were traditionally exceptions made for pregnant women and for the sick and children. In some churches, to a limited degree to this day, the food money for Good Friday was given, and occasionally still is given, by the family to further missionary work or to alleviate some need, in Christ’s name.

Thus, we can say that the meaning of the atonement is that it brings in freedom and justice. It establishes freedom and justice in man and society, or we can say it reopens the possibility of freedom and justice for man and society, and for God’s earth. By means of the atonement, God reestablishes His dominion over us in the form of His covenant of grace. By His sovereign grace, we are taken out of our moral slavery, out of our injustice, and commanded to grow in holiness and knowledge so that we might establish justice and dominion under Christ over all things. Let us pray. [00:31:09]

Oh Lord our God, Thy Word is truth and Thy Son Jesus

Oh Lord our God, Thy Word is truth and Thy Son Jesus Christ through His atonement is the only means of freedom and justice for man. Teach us to reorder our lives, our communities, and our world in terms of Christ’s atoning work. That freedom and justice may reign, and that the kingdoms of this world might become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.

Are there any questions now?


[Audience] Would you agree that the whole method of creating abstraction {?} from personal responsibility began with the French Revolution and has now taken over all our universities?

[Rushdoony] I would say that’s when it came to victory, yes. Ah, it goes back to the Greeks, because the ideas or forms of Plato were abstractions. It was always there, with the Enlightenment it came to the fore, and it triumphed in the French Revolution and now commands the universities. It now commands…

[Audience] So that one psychologist I think was William James observed that women tend to think in pictures, men in words so that when an abstraction is announced, a woman will say, ‘what does that mean for us?’ whereas a man is enraptured by the sound of the words.

[Rushdoony] Yes…

[Audience] Therefore, ah, men keep getting caught up in slogans. Now, I don’t know {?} quite the absolutes [cough] generality; it’s a generality, because we all have flashes of insight.

[Rushdoony] Well, that’s true; studies have shown that women excel in practical reasons, men in abstract reasons, suppose it’s not great virtue that men excel there. Ah, it is interesting that two scholars of this century coming out of the academic community have in a sense waged war against this very thing. Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, in Out of Revolution: The Autobiography of Western Man, deals with this whole revolution against Christ, against supernatural man, to natural man; a very detailed and magnificent account of the legal revolutions that have taken place in that history by Harold J. Berman, in Law and Revolution. And a volume of essays which just arrived yesterday, and I have only read partially as of last night, deals with the subject and Harold J. Berman concludes his chapter by saying that as the third millennium of Christianity begins, he hopes and partly expects the university will return to Christian categories of thinking. It’s bankrupt as it is. It has no place to go! We have the reign of the dunces in the university.

[Audience] Well, they’re still muddling around in discarded ideas {?} modern Europe; such as the French.

[Rushdoony] Yes. In my days in the universities, the French were held up as the great model, because the French were the masters of abstract thinking, I was regularly told by a professor.

Are there any other questions or comments?

[Audience] Maybe if the minimalists continue to the end, there’ll be nothing left of it!


[Rushdoony] Yes!

Well, if there are no further questions, let us bow our heads in prayer.

Oh Lord, how great Thou art, and how marvelous are Thy ways. Thou turneth man to destruction, and saith, “Return, ye children of men.” And now we see men and nations coming to the end of their ropes, and Thy judgment descending upon them, and we look now oh Lord for the turning unto Thee. Use us mightily for this purpose. 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. [00:37:29]

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