Calling Versus Presumption - RR171G13
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|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. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful until Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting and His truth endureth to all generations. Let us pray.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we rejoice in the abundance of thy mercies, thy protecting and thy blessings. We thank thee, our Father, that we live and move and have our being in thee. That there is nothing in this world that is without meaning, nothing in this world that does not work together for good to them that love thee, to them who are the called according to thy purpose. Give us patience and grace, oh Lord, that we may wait on thee, that we may rejoice in thee, and that we may be more than conquerors in and through thee. Bless us as we give ourselves to the study of thy word. In Christ’s name. Amen.
Our scripture is Exodus 4:18-31. Exodus 4:18-31, and our subject: Calling Versus Presumption. Calling Versus Presumption. “And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life. And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him. And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, the signs which he had commanded him. And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.” [00:04:18]
These verses trouble a great many people whose theology
These verses trouble a great many people whose theology is faulty, because God declares he will harden Pharaoh’s heart in verse 21. In Exodus 8:15 we are told that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, whereas in Exodus 7:13, the wording about the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is somewhat neutral. The hardening is the response of Pharaoh, but behind it is God’s sovereign decree. God as sovereign, ordained it.
As we view men and nations, we must recognize three things or else we warp our thinking. First, to quote Joseph Parker who, more than a century ago, so powerfully expressed this point, and I quote, “All nations are not equally honored.” Now that’s a fact of history. Nothing can eliminate the fact of differences. If we resist God’s predestinating purpose, we fall into a variety of humanistic answers, and this is how racism was born, because some people, as they look to the difference between people, they refuse to say, “God has ordained all things,” and they subscribe racial superiority to some people and inferiority to others. Still others have insisted that conspiracies have held some peoples back, or else geography, or weather, or resources, and so on. These answers do not hold up. Some of the very most backwards people have had very rich resources.
Then second, quoting Parker again, “All individuals are not equally endowed.” If we do not receive this fact of unequal endowments as from the hand of God, then pride, elitism, and the abuse of those less endowed, or less successful becomes a fact of history. But God tells us, what we are is what He has made us, and each of us have a purpose in the place we are, in the station we are, with the abilities we have, and we are to understand ourselves in terms of that fact, not in terms of human standards. Not how men rate people. If we see our endowments as God’s grace and calling, then we are humble and faithful. Paul tells us in 1Corinthians 4:7, “For who maketh thee to differ from another, and what hast thou that thou didst receive. Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hast not received it?” You see the point scripture makes? If you’re better off and more successful, and have better endowments, greater intelligence or talents than other people have, you didn’t create those things, you didn’t make yourself. God gave you those gifts, and you are to use them with humility, not with arrogance and pride toward others. [00:08:54]
Then third, as Parker says, ...
Then third, as Parker says, “Divine judgment is regulated by divine allotment.” This is, of course, what our Lord says in Matthew 11:20-24 where we read, “Then began he, Jesus, upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.” God’s plan of judgment is moral. Either God must do right or He is no longer God. So, we have to view these facts in terms of scripture, not in terms of man’s determination but God’s purpose.
Now, there’s another problem in this text that many people stumble over. In verse 18, Moses does not tell his father-in-law, Jethro, the full purpose of his return to Egypt. God, however, has given His word to Moses, not Jethro. Jethro’s a good man, a very fine man. But, God said, “This is what I’m saying to you, this is the calling I’m giving to you,” and He didn’t want human counsel to intervene. Jethro was a superior man. At the appropriate time, God used Jethro to give Moses the counsel he needed, and confirmed it. But here and now, God wanted His word to govern Moses, not Jethro’s counsel or comments about the word of God. So, we are not to ask, when God speaks the word, for human advice. So, Moses did not ask Jethro’s permission. He had become a refuge, and Jethro had made him a member of the family. As a result, Moses, to be godly, needed Jethro’s consent to go, which he received, but he did not disclose the purpose. [00:12:33]
Then, there’s still another difficulty in this passage
Then, there’s still another difficulty in this passage that causes some people perplexity. It’s in verses 24-26. The incident at the inn, the circumcision. God meeting him there and seeking to kill him, and apparently laying him low to the point that he was not able to perform the circumcision himself. Now, people have problems with this, but this episode follows the statement that Egypt’s firstborn would perish, verse 23. In Genesis 7:14, God declares that all in Israel who were not circumcised would be cut off from God’s covenant. This is the sign that they are His people, and now God threatens to kill Moses because Moses had begun to follow God’s calling without obeying God in so simple a matter as circumcising his son. Let me again quote the statement of Otto Scott which I think is so choice, “God is no buttercup.” “God is no buttercup.”
Moses was called to set forth God’s judgment, death, on Egypt. Unless Moses himself were faithful, that death would also fall on him. His wife, Zipporah, was resentful of this requirement. Now circumcision was fairly common in Antiquity, so that many of the people round about did practice circumcision, however, they practiced it in a different way. It was a premarital rite. A month or so before a marriage, the bridegroom was circumcized. But to do it to a child they regarded as terrible, and Zipporah obviously shared that. So, Moses apparently had postponed obedience because of her. This incident served notice that Moses was to obey God, not his wife. Moses had in his hand his staff, which was to humble and break Pharaoh, and how could he go and command obedience for God from Pharaoh and from Israel, while not yielding it himself. We are told that Zipporah took a sharp stone, it’s very literally a sharp flint, a flint knife, and flint knives could be sharp. The interesting thing there to me is that metal knives were common at that time. Flint knives were used by the poor, so that tells us something about how Moses and Jethro lived in the desert. [00:16:11]
We are told, in Exodus ...
We are told, in Exodus 18:2-3, that Moses sent his wife and two sons back to their father somewhere about this time. Because of God’s assurance about victory, he had taken his family with him when he left Jethro. Now he was faced with a problem from his wife and he sent her home to her father. Zipporah called Moses a bloody bridegroom, or a husband of blood, and there are many interpretations of the meaning of that expression from favorable to unfavorable, and we are told she cast it at his feet, literally made it touch his feet, and apparently she recognized that, by this act, she was regaining life from Moses, freeing him from God’s wrath. As the same time, she was obviously resentful that this step was required.
But to continue, Moses was to tell Pharaoh, “Israel is my first, my son, even my firstborn, and if Pharaoh did not set Israel free, behold I will slay thy son, thy firstborn.” This verse, verse 22, is cited in Matthew 2:15 as fulfilled in Christ’s recall as a child from Egypt. The Pharaohs were known as the son of God, so that to call Israel God’s son was an open and direct challenge to Pharaoh’s claims concerning himself. We are told that Moses and Aaron met one another at Horeb, or Sinai, the Mountain of God as it is called. And God brought Aaron there to meet his younger brother and be prepared to serve his younger brother as his spokesman.
Now, on returning to Egypt, the elders of Israel were called together. As a leading Levite, Aaron was able to summon such a meeting. Despite the generations of oppression, Israel had maintained its forms of tribal, or clan government, and that’s an interesting point in itself. In Antiquity and until recently, most tyrant states used the forms of structures rule that subject peoples had in order to govern them. They would go to a tribal head, or the clan chief, and say, “This is what we expect of your group, and we are holding you accountable, or you are going to be our tax collector.” In modern tyrannies, these are obliterated because of the totalitarian nature of the modern state. It will tolerate no office or power except those it creates. [00:19:55]
Now, in verse 30 we see that as Moses and Aaron went
Now, in verse 30 we see that as Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel, that it was Aaron who spoke for Moses to the elders of Israel, and also Aaron, who with the staff, did the signs in the sight of the people. Moses is thus separated from the people and his power is exercised by Aaron. Familiarity is barred, a very interesting point. Familiarity especially by an enslaved people, is barred, because the idea of familiarity that people have is to level everyone downward. It’s what Cornelius Van Til called integration downward into the void. We’re going to take the best and make them act on a buddy-buddy basis, like the lowest. We’re going to take the lowest and integrate them downward to the level of a child, the child to the animal, the animal downward into the void. Now, this has been an old impulse in history. To level people downward, in fact, the very name we encounter at times in history as in England, where there was a very revolutionary group in the 1600 known as the “levelers.” The levelers. But God orders that Moses be separated from the people, and his power is exercised by Aaron.
In Numbers 16, we are told of the rebellion of Korah and Dathan, which is an incident that has many, many ramifications, but one which is important to us here and now, was the premise that Dathan, Korah and others, together with 250 other princes of the assembly held. Numbers 16:3 reads, “And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?” They were demanding an equality of everyone, and Moses, the inspired of God, said, “Would that God that all the people were prophets.” He declared subsequently that the purpose of God was to create a commonwealth of royal priests, to raise them up to the level, but what the levelers want is the bring everybody down to their level, and this was the goal of Korah and Dathan. So when Moses goes back, God separates him from the people. The rebels, Korah and Dathan, assumed as fact, the religious goal for all God’s people. [00:00:24]
In Exodus 19:5-6, God says, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, [if ye will obey my voice] and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” This is a conditional promise of a conditional status. Israel, to gain this status before God had to obey the voice of God and keep His covenant and law. Now, throughout history, men have tried to say, “What should be the religious goal must be the present fact irrespective of what they are.” They can be as low and degraded as can be, they can be criminals, but they feel free to say it, “I’m as good as you are.” In fact, I was shown, about ten years ago, a letter by a convict, a particularly depraved man, in which he insisted that he was as good as any other man. What else is democracy about? was the gist of his letter.
Now, to treat such a religious goal as a present fact, as a present status, is presumptuous and it incurs God’s wrath. As a result, a distance is placed between Moses and the people, and this distance is God-ordained. Modern democratic thought denies the fact of differences, and unequal or differing endowments, and the result is presumption, pride and arrogance.
But on the other hand, when men view their greater endowments as their own, rather than as gift from God the result is, even more arrogance, presumption, and pride, and neither is godly. We are called to be godly, and not to be governed by the norms of men but by the word of God. Let us pray.
Our Lord and our God, we give thanks unto thee for thy word. We thank thee that thou art he who dost give us all our endowments. Thou hast a purpose for us, and that in this life, thou prepare us for life with thee throughout all eternity, so that all the trials and tribulations, the problems, the burdens, the difficulties that we endure here and now are part of thy training of us. Our preparation for all eternity. Give us grace and patience therefore to meet our burdens and responsibilities, and to be more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, our Lord. In His name, we pray. Amen. Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes? [00:28:31]
[Audience] This leveling down idea is intriguing it
[Audience] This leveling down idea is intriguing it seems like it’s going on today in the churches, in the government, in the schools and all throughout our society. Can you comment?
[Rushdoony] Yes, it definitely is, and I’m glad you included schools, because everything is being leveled downward and educational standards are being destroyed in order to be acceptable for, to everyone. At first, they began to lower the content of the curriculum, then everyone was to pass, and even then, that wasn’t enough. So, they’ve continued to drop curriculum content. There was something in the paper only yesterday about someone who received a form from the federal government with a statement on it which was totally unreadable. The language was so bad, and the spelling was so bad you couldn’t make out what it was. And it was quoted. Well, what it declared that was that he had to file a statement within ten days or lose some kind of refund, and there was no one who could decipher the meaning of that jumble of words without sense. But, he lost it. This is the kind of thing that’s occurring because of the growing illiteracy, and this is a part of the leveling downward. This is why it used to be you could get from a grade school education, before The Depression, a better education than you could now get from the universities, because we began to level things downward and we’ve destroyed the content of education. Yes?
[Audience] On another note, I’ve noticed in the content of the McGuffey Readers,
[Rushdoony] You’ve noticed in what?
[Audience] In the content of the McGuffey Readers, the sixth series which is equal to the sixth grade of that day contains literature that the average college graduate never sees.
[Rushdoony] Yes. The sixth McGuffey Reader does contain what today would be upper division college material. Now, that’s if you go back to the first edition of the McGuffey Reader, or if you go to the National Reader for the fourth grade, before that, you find that it is even more advanced reading. Yes? [00:31:48]
[Audience] This would help explain why, back in the
[Audience] This would help explain why, back in the 1600 and 1700’s, it was not an uncommon thing to see young lads of 12 to 14 years old prepared intellectually to enter schools that were set up in that day such as Harvard, and Yale, or even go to the English universities.
[Rushdoony] Well, as late as the 1810’s and 1820’s, a young man, after finishing grade school would be an extremely literate person, he would go to an academy for a summer to take Greek and Hebrew, and advanced math, and something else to qualify for the university, and then he would go to the university at the age of 13 or 14, and he’d come out remarkably well-educated, and all that has gone down the drain, and it is because of this leveling downward. So, when Moses was separated from the people by God, his own people, God knew what he was doing. Any other questions or comments? Well, if not, let us bow our heads in prayer as we conclude.
Our Lord and our God, how great and marvelous are thy ways. Give us grace to follow thee and to rejoice in thy word, and to know, oh Lord, thy purposes are altogether wise and holy. We thank thee that our times are in thy hands who doest all things well. That our burdens of today and our duties are but for a season only, and we have all eternity in thy perfect creation. Make us zealous therefore, as we serve thee here and now. Make us joyful, because thou art on the throne, and thy purpose shalt prevail.
And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost bless and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always. Amen. [00:34:54]
End of tape.