Covenant Faithfulness - RR172AA49
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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. 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 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, ”there am I in the midst of them.”
Let us pray.
Oh Lord our God, we thank Thee that where two or three are gathered together in Thy name, Thou art there. We thank Thee that Thou art closer to us than we are to ourselves. Thou knowest our down-sitting and our uprising and our thoughts before we think them. Such knowledge is too great for us, but we praise Thee our Father, because our times are in Thy hands who doest all things well. And so we come to give ourselves again to Thy Spirit and Word that we may be refreshed and strengthened, that we may be instructed and guided, that we may be told the way wherein to go and how to serve Thee and to magnify Thy name. Bless us to this purpose, we beseech Thee. In Christ’s name, amen.
Our scripture this morning is Leviticus 20:22-27. Leviticus 20:22-27, “Covenant Faithfulness” is our subject.
“22 Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.
23 And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.
24 But I have said unto you, ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people.
25 Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.
26 And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.
27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.” [00:03:42]
These verses are addressed not simply to Moses, but
These verses are addressed not simply to Moses, but to all the people directly. This is both a parenthetical statement and a summary of God’s commandments.
We are told first, that God is giving His people a rich and a very fertile land as an inheritance in the covenant of His grace. Now, Palestine may not seem that way to us now, but we must remember that it is a land that has been cursed by God. It has been destroyed by its inhabitants over the generations. In times past, the whole of the area of Arabia was a forested land. And people made a good living simply cutting down the forests, making charcoal out of the wood, and selling it on the international trade. God declared, too, when judgment was pronounced upon Judea for rejecting Christ, that the land would be made desolate. And that has been true. But when God gave it to them, it was a well-forested land, it was a land with streams; a rich land. The people of Canaan were dispossessed because of their sins. Now this is a very interesting point, because so many people insist that the Law was only for the Old Testament Hebrews, no one else. But it is so obvious here and throughout the scriptures, that God holds all people accountable and accountable in terms of His Law.
Then second, as heirs of Canaan, they must keep, God says, “all his statutes” or the land will spue them out because of God’s disgust. God stressed, “All my statutes,” and “all my judgments.” He stresses, as our Lord did echoing this passage, every jot and tittle of the Law.
Then third, keeping God’s Law is the way in which “ye shall be holy unto me.” God severs His covenant people from all others for His own purposes, not for their sakes.
Then fourth, having stressed the necessity for keeping the Law, God now demands strict obedience in two areas: the dietary laws, and the death penalty for necromancers and their kind. [00:07:18]
Now this is something that occurs over and over again
Now this is something that occurs over and over again in the Bible and upsets a great many people. And a great many critics find themselves baffled or angry at this aspect of scripture. We would expect from a modern perspective, some major stress in the Law at this point. We would expect perhaps the two great commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, mind and being, and thy neighbor as thyself.” This is the sum of the law and the prophets; and we would expect something like this at this point. If we were writing it, that’s the way we’d write it—but we didn’t write it! God did! And this, a stress on what seems to us minor, is a repeated aspect of scripture. It is not unusual. At the Counsel of Jerusalem, we are told that the early Church (Acts 15), listed for obedience by the Gentile converts, and it says, “these necessary things.” These necessary things—what are they?
- Abstinence from meats offered to idols
Abstinence from the eating of blood
Abstinence from the eating of things strangled
Abstinence from fornication.
Now if a modern church counsel were to meet; Catholic or Protestant, Reformed or Arminian, they wouldn’t come up with this list! And they’d come up with a very long one. Three of these have to do with diet, one with sexual morality. Why so? The Bible does this all the time. There is here a seeming triviality at a point of high seriousness, but there is a very good reason for it.
Man has a habit of defining loyalty in terms of his priorities. And so if we are to define loyalty to God, we will take as our priorities certain things which are major in our eyes, but God doesn’t see it that way. You’re going to demonstrate your loyalty in the trifles; that’s where it counts. [00:10:34]
When I was a boy I heard a joke ...
When I was a boy I heard a joke (which is now hoary with the years, but I still think the point is very good) about the young man who seated his girlfriend on the park bench and proceeded to tell her under the shade of the tree how much he loved her and she could count on him if they got married, to look after him always, because he was ready to die for her, he loved her so much. And just then, a rather savage dog came growling and racing down the walkway toward him and he headed for the nearest tree and clamored up. And she shouted after him, “I thought you were ready to face death for me!” And he shouted down, “Yes, but the dog isn’t dead!”
Well, that story illustrates what this is all about. We are ready to affirm the big things but the big things rarely occur in our lifetime. Our life as husband d and wife, parents and children, as believers in Christ, is made up of a thousand and one trifles—day after day that test our loyalty. And so God gives the major laws very clearly. He sums up what the meaning of the Law is, but at every key point in the Bible, whether it’s in the Law or the Prophets or the New Testament or the Council at Jerusalem, when it comes to what must you do to be faithful, to demonstrate your faithfulness, it’s a summation then of certain things that to us seem to be trifles. God says we reveal our faithfulness in our trifleness, in the little things. But men like to feel the big things count, and that’s all. [00:13:11]
When I was living in Nevada, I recall there was a man
When I was living in Nevada, I recall there was a man who was very, very indignant because his wife was offended. He had started gambling; he had gambled away their very considerable savings, he gambled away his business, which was a very good one, he wound up losing his home, and because she was very upset, he was indignant. His attitude was, ‘she has no right to complain. I’ve never cheated on her.’ And that should have satisfied her. She had no house to live in, they’d been wiped out, but she should have been satisfied. People want to define loyalty in terms of their standards. If they keep two or three of the Ten Commandments, we’ve got a good batting average, why should God object? But God insists on the jot and tittle of the Law.
Moreover, they are told this means they are to be a separate people. And the purpose of the whole law is set forth in verse 26, “That ye should be mine.” We are to be God’s possession and property by our faithfulness to His every word. We are not to live or to walk (as we are told in verse23), “in the manner of the nations,” or the customs of the nations because we are the Lord’s. Thus, what we are told here is that reductionism is invalid in God’s sight. Thus, many people want to reduce holiness to sexual purity, but the dietary laws make clear holiness is both physical and spiritual, and the whole of the Law says that holiness applies in every sphere. Paul declares, “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” In other words, we are not ghosts, we are not spirits.
And holiness for us must involve our total way of life. To break God’s Law in any area is to deny God’s total rights over us. So, God says there is no area where my Word does not require your faithfulness. As Van Till has said, if there was a closet a man could go into and hide, he would spend all his life there hiding from God. Or if there were a button man could push and lock out himself from God’s supervision for that moment, he would have his finger on that button all his life. And God says there is no button; there is no closet. “If I make my bed in Hell, behold, Thou art there. If I plea to the uttermost parts of the morning, behold Thou art there before me.” [00:17:13]
God’s rights to His people are asserted in His Law
God’s rights to His people are asserted in His Law. God in these verses thus reminds the covenant people that they are redeemed by His grace. They are under a total obligation of faithfulness and obedience. Men are lost because they prefer their own will, their own way, and they must now live by God’s will and way as set forth in His Covenant Law. Necromancy is a trust in man’s way, a belief that the spirits of the dead can give us better—a better vision for living than the God who created all things. And it is a paramount insult to God. It is a declaration of war against Him. God sees it as blasphemy, as an insult of the highest order, a form of treason.
And we must remember that a sizeable portion of the human race is involved in treason against God. There are two humanities: the humanity of the fallen Adam and the humanity of Jesus Christ. The sad fact is that the new humanity of Christ doesn’t realize that there is total war against it, that men because they cannot strike directly at God, will strike directly at His people, so the more we grow in grace, the more clearly we are the Lord’s, the more the attack will concentrate itself upon us, but the more God will then use us. We cannot be blind to this fact of warfare. [00:19:23]
The literal reading of verse ...
The literal reading of verse 27, according to Robert Young, is, “and a man or woman, when there is in them a familiar spirit or who are wizards are certainly put to death.” The reference is to spirit possession. And we have an instance of this in Acts. 16:16, the young woman who confronted Paul and was exorcised by him. In her case, she was a member of the old humanity and an object of conversion. In Leviticus 20:27, the reference here to the death penalty has in mind someone within the covenant who is in reality a member of the old humanity and is seeking to subvert the covenant and is guilty of treason. Maimonides stated that this law specifically included women because men are prone to be less harsh in judging women, although in this instance the sin is the same and it is no less evil. The purpose of these laws, which are laws of holiness, is covenant faithfulness. This means a thoroughly practical application of God’s Law to the practices of everyday life.
The Byzantine Empire, because it was not a part of Western Europe, has had a bad press from historians, except for a few. Granted that there was as much in Byzantium as in every culture that we could not agree with, but there were certain things that were very important and we must remember there had to be something good because it was under constant attack—it was at the highways of the world and it lasted for a thousand years and more. No other empire has ever had a comparable history. And until it debased its currency late in its history and then sealed its fate, the Byzantine currency was used throughout Europe and at least throughout India as well as man other portions of Asia. One of the things that historians rarely ever bother to mention (because it is not important to them) was this: in the palace the main throne was occupied only by the scriptures. The Bible was placed there to indicate that it was the Word of God which governed the empire. It was there to indicate that the real king, the emperor, as he was called, was Jesus Christ.
Now granted, there were many rulers who abused the whole concept, but they never dared to make their throne central. And it was the standard, even when it was violated. And it gave the people a criterion. In a truly faithful covenant nation, the whole Word of God on the throne would best express the meaning of the kingdom of God, of a people in whom dwells justice, righteousness.
Let us pray. [00:23:47]
Oh Lord our God, we thank Thee for Thy Word
Oh Lord our God, we thank Thee for Thy Word. Thy Word is truth, and Thy Word keeps us from limiting scripture to that which pleases us. Make us strong in Thy Word and grant again that we be a people in whom dwells justice, righteousness and that Thy Word rule this nation and the world and be on the throne in public and private life. Grant us this we beseech Thee in Christ’s name. Amen.
Are there any questions now about our lesson?
[Audience] I probably should state that treason began in the mind, and there are many excuses for treason today. Treason to the United States is certainly… intellectual treason is very popular. On the argument that it’s very narrow-minded to be dedicated to one nation, one should be a citizen of the World, and treason against God fits into that category because the rationalization is you should be a defender of humanity.
[Rushdoony] Yes, and treason is also to the truth, in any form. This morning’s paper tells us that the official verdict on the Stark is that they were in error because they did not let the Iranian pilot—or the Iraqi pilot—know it was an American ship. Well, what kind of navy does Iran have that they could mistake it?
[Audience] Wasn’t it carrying a flag?
[Rushdoony] Yes. But what we’ve done in our inquiry is to absolve Iraq of all blame—we were the guilty party, the crew was guilty, the captain was guilty. And this is routine. This is treason to the truth.
Any other questions or comments? [00:26:30]
Well if not, let us bow our heads in prayer
Well if not, let us bow our heads in prayer.
Our Lord and our God, we know that on all sides, men forsake the truth in the most trifling as well as the most important matters because they have forsaken Jesus Christ, Thy truth incarnate. Oh Lord our God, recall men and nations to Thy Son. Grant that again, men have the courage to live and to live in Thee and in Thy Spirit, to be faithful to justice, to be faithful to Thy Word. Make us instruments in recalling men and nations unto Thee. Bless Thy true Church everywhere. Confound the workers of iniquity, and overthrow the throne of unrighteousness. 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. [00:28:15]