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Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: Give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments. (Psalm 119:37).Again, just as man is definite and divinely created in his systems in their coded and single language, so God's word TO man is itemisable:
With my lips have I declared all the judgments of Thy mouth ... 119:13.There are no Barthian fluctuating omissions here.
Physically then the biological, coded language programs are IN man; the whole man-enterprise is created (cf. Psalm 139:15- 16). TO man, this structure with spirit added, then, come the words of God direct: to this man-enterprise now comes correlative communication at the personality level. (It reminds one, in the pervasive appearance of words, of Ezekiel 2:9-10: "And there was writing on the inside and on the outside..."). Amos presents this powerfully (4:13):
For behold He who forms the mountains and creates the wind,
Who declares to man what His thought is
And makes morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth -
The Lord God of hosts is His name. (Cf. Isaiah 45:19, Zechariah 12:1.)There is then this trio: created program, created spirit and uttered words sent to the same. Language grips, girds and is addressed to man. After all, it is the WORD (John 14) who created man. His programs of body may be read all in the one language by the microbiologist as he learns; then God speaks in language to man, and the supreme linguist has things to say to him.
Shortly we shall look with care at Matthew 5:17-19, in which Jesus Christ characterises the law and the prophets, this same determinate assemblage of items. It is convenient for the moment however to set this matter of inscripturation in the perspective of the- nature-of-God-in-revelation. There is an intimacy between these two concepts: what we learn of GOD in revelation and what we learn of His REVELATION as an instrument, in the presence of God. God is near to His word, and His word is near to Him. Is it not so also with you ? If not, I fear you have trouble! What then does JESUS CHRIST say here? and how is it to be conceived in the light of the often fanciful flights of men's minds, relative to what is in fact written. Concerned logically to see what the Bible says on this topic, but aware of psychological and spiritual and arbitrary thrusts to the contrary in man, let us then investigate the matter.
Is God - could it be that He is - one thing in the Old Testament and quite another in the New ? It has often been urged, not least by the ancient heretic Marcion, but often in 'modern' theology also .
Often the unbeliever will challenge a Christian concerning God as revealed in the Old Testament. What, he will ask, of Joshua and Canaan ? Was it indeed the God of love exhibited by Jesus Christ in the New Testament, who had a whole race condemned, whole populations destroyed; who added this to Saul's condemnation, that he had not killed Agag, king of the Amalekites: a people whom God had ordered destroyed, as a nation ? COULD this be ? WOULD love ever act like that, or ask such a thing as that ?
Now some take refuge in a not uncommon gambit. Oh no, they will say - Why of course not! We would not ACCEPT all that! Why, we are a New Testament Church!
A New Testament Church ... what an ambiguous term. At first it may impress. Here, you may well think, is a Church which will put first things first, one which is soundly grounded and founded on Christ.
But CHRIST firmly grounded things on the God of the Old Testament; and in the Old Testament Scripture, that part of the Bible already written in His time. What a strange move for a fundamental Church, you may well say, to follow AWAY from the Old Testament, this JESUS CHRIST... who leads right back to it. To depart from a city, you do not well to catch a flight TO it. Besides, you would not really move. The purchase of a ticket would be a mere show, or nominality; for such a flight on such a ticket, even if you took off at all, would lead only to the very office from which you took it out.
In the Old Testament, it is Isaiah who says:
TO THE LAW AND THE TESTIMONY! IF THEY DO NOT SPEAK ACCORDING TO THIS WORD, IT IS BECAUSE THERE IS NO TRUTH IN THEM (8:20).In the New Testament, Christ Himself says:
Do not think I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:
I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
For verily I tell you, till heaven and earth pass,
one jot or tittle shall in no way pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commands,
and shall teach men so,
he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven:
but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19).
The tenor of this remark of Jesus Christ is an exclusive one, and in a different sense, an inclusive one: it is also a tenacious one and a majestic one. Let us look at all this.
It is EXCLUSIVE because it excludes any exception to the precious preservation and power of this law; it is INCLUSIVE because it thrusts out any compromise on this point: the law INHERENTLY AS SUCH is to be maintained, sustained as long as this earth lasts. The statement of Christ also has MAJESTY - or it exhibits majesty in God who gave the law - in this, that it secures the law beyond the dignity of earth itself; for more readily can earth pass than any part of the law fail or fall, lack consummation or fulfilment (cf. Jeremiah 31:35-39). This law to which Christ referred, has fallen from the very mouth of God, and as such will be maintained by His power and hand.
Yes, parts of the law of the Old Testament may by all means fail... provided the heaven and the earth fail first! This is the tenacity of this remark. Of striking relevance, however, is Christ's statement in Matthew 24:35 - that heaven and earth WILL fail, but His words will not pass away. Here the limit is extended still further.
The possibility that we might be looking for a place to stand with the universe flying away, and find the law of God not around, is there removed! -cf. Isaiah 51:6! EVEN WHEN - not IF - the heaven and earth pass away, GOD'S WORDS - BECAUSE GOD'S - will not fail. The creation, the cross and the consummation are all alike determined and pre-determined by God, whose word rules: when the world comes to be; when the crisis of the Cross comes; when the end shall be. As Isaiah says (46:10), God is the one who is "declaring the end from the beginning." This having been said, we note that Jesus deemed this statement as we have just put it, grammatically inadequate. He found it necessary to add a second negative word of further exclusiveness to demarcate this wondrous law, to define it in distinction from all other writing at that time. It shall NOT AT ALL fail, He said. We noted this EMPHATIC negative earlier; but now we add it in order, and in its place.
In the above thoughts, we note Christ's PRONOUNCEMENT on this subject. Now secondly, we see His APPLICATION. After the REVELATION OF THE FACT comes the APPLICATION OF THE RULE.
We read this in Matthew 5:19. THEREFORE, says Christ. Now you will note that. It follows, Christ states, that whosoever teaches and does the very least of these commandments - now He is quite undoubtedly referring to the Old Testament in the context, but how much more does it apply to His own words (John 12:48-50) - whosoever does this and teaches it, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. This is the area of discourse and this the arena of trial and test which He has specified. ANY point in the law is, broken, place for condemnation, says James: break one, break all, it is the principle implicit, the sovereign beyond. ANY really understood requires a heart in the Lord, without whom the words are like distant choruses or idle refrains, to the ungodly (cf. I Cor. 2:14) - or even less; and such an awakened heart has eyes, and a Lord, so that ANYTHING seen, means the whole scope of the commands lies open; so that in this way, the least is index to all, and all obedience blesses.(In Kingdom of heaven terms, of course, if one WERE to focus one and fail the rest, then any ONE of the rest mistaught and miswrought would in these terms reduce the operator to the least, at once, in view of the "breaking and teaching one of the least" provision. Moreover, this is IN the kingdom. As Jesus told Nicodemus, the way IN is by new birth; so that in these instances, what we are seeing is the way within, as operational, once inside the kingdom.)
That is, the LEAST of these commands, because spiritual, spiritually discerned, the very least taught and done, truly performed, is a straight avenue to being called great in His kingdom. When we see the world's opposition to them all, the commandments of God Himself, then we can begin to understand that statement of Jesus. Spiritually discerned, these spiritual commandments are performed by spiritual people. You will notice also, that Christ says - WHOSOEVER teaches and does this... the least of these commandments.
Thus not only is the LEAST of these commandments of such intrinsic worth as to have this extraordinary place, but WHOSOEVER does this least and teaches men so, shall be called great in His kingdom. This is the emphatic emphasised, the minute maximised: it is the majesty of the law of God, the intensity of the holiness of God, the precision of the utterance of God, vindicated: it is God glorified. It reminds us of Paul's words - that "the foolishness of God is stronger than men" - I Corinthians 1:25. The LEAST done and taught by WHOMSOEVER has this potency.
God's word tests and challenges and reveals: the very least command thus taken, thus has power. The most apparently inconsequential person doing and teaching TH1S is to be called great. The least person doing the least of these commands, and teaching so, is to be called great. How great is the greatness of God when His least commands, thus taken, do so much to the least of persons, have a result of such magnitude!! On the other hand, how great is the wonder of God when the greatest of men, failing here and teaching so, shall be called least in GOD'S KINGDOM. How vain is the following of man, when we consider the teaching of God! It is THIS which Jesus Christ taught, and we find written in this passage before us.
It is as if to say - Whosoever does this, now it does not matter who he is... Jesus could have said - 'He who' does this; but He said- 'whosoever', bringing out the point significantly. In other words, again, Jesus is dealing with a wholly over-riding concept: that of security, and certainty of retention and fulfilment of the whole meat and meaning of the law; and - He is doing this both intensively and extensively, and directly and also by way of application; and in application, all over again, He is doing it intensively and doubly.
As to the intensive side of this stringent underwriting and guarantee which Christ issued concerning the Law, we read that: not EVEN an angle of a letter (the curve which differentiates one letter from another), or a tiny letter (the smallest in the alphabet), will lose force and fail. That is what the two terms 'jot' and 'tittle' mean - Matthew 5:18.
So here is yet another emphasis. You have thus two grammatical emphases: not AT ALL, and WHOSOEVER; you have an orthographical emphasis - jot and tittle; and indeed you have an astronomical emphasis - till heaven and earth pass.
Now all this signifies that the person who is God has spoken and will not relent: our stage may change; but not His directions. Our history may falter - but not His speech. Now that speech is the Law of God, the whole Old Testament at the time of Jesus. Of Moses, Jesus said: "If you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words ?" (John 5:47). In other words, this is the level, the standard of impartation of inspiration, and the INTENSITY of God's performance of what He says. It is here a question of the ORIGIN and INTEGRITY of the words, His COMMITMENT to their performance. It is wholly a matter of what He said, apart from all question of any other kind, such as who thinks it is this, or was that. What He DID say, He WILL do!
Dr J.I. Packer of Oxford in his Fundamentalism and the Word of God, says of Christ:
He did not hesitate to challenge and condemn, on his own authority, many accepted Jewish ideas which seemed to Him false. But He never opposed His personal authority to that of the Old Testament. He never qualified the Jewish belief in its absolute authority in the slightest degree. The fact we have to face is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnate, who claimed divine authority for all that He did and taught, both confirmed the absolute authority of the Old Testament for others and submitted to it unreservedly Himself.This witness is true.
Therefore such a turning to Jesus Christ as the source of some new-fangled New Testament Church which would escape certain ingredients felt to be disagreeable in the Old Testament, is false. It is vain. It is illusory. Further, it won't work.
Turn to both - the Old Testament and Christ; or to neither. That is the option which the Bible provides. You must not halt between two opinions. You must choose here in particular; and also in general, between doing what you will and what God says. A Biblical Church can ONLY choose for obeying... all, any of the word of God.
But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.Now the answer to this question is simple and emphatic. It is precisely the case that such actions as those cited of Joshua in his invasion of Canaan, DO fit with perfect harmony into the character of Jesus Christ. In other words, Christ knew exactly what He was doing, when He adopted and endorsed with His complete authority, the whole Old Testament - as provided by and inspired from the Spirit of the very God whose Son He was, who swears by Himself He does not change (Malachi 3:6) - just as Jesus Himself does not - (Hebrews 13:8).
What then is the particular answer ?
It is this. Joshua, and Saul for that matter, were leaders of a theocracy - a nation state politically under God's direct jurisdiction as such - to execute judgment for God. Saul for his part was sent to do this to the Amalekites. Let's look at that case first. In EACH case the objective issue was clear.
Now the Amalekites were a nation which had sought to destroy, maul, mar or hinder little Israel, on its Exodus and escape from Egypt by God's hand, when God showed His might (Deuteronomy 25:17-19, 1 Samuel 15:2). Hence the Amalekites had placed themselves, at that time, in opposition to God in one of His very saving acts, one exhibiting His glory... and if you'll read Reader's Digest for August 1969 on Russian prisons, you'll get some refresher teaching on the gross and abominable cruelty which human beings can show to those whom they fear and enslave, in any of the ages of this present world.
Now Jesus spoke of the unforgivable sin, a spiritual way somewhat similar to the way Amalek behaved at a political level toward Israel, and thus at that time and in that situation, toward God: Christ referred to learned hypocrites trying to prevent or scoff at His dealing, and saving works with those who were devil possessed and stricken (Matthew 12:24-32). When God saves, it is great; but to oppose Him, AT SUCH A TIME AND IN SUCH A CASE, is one of the most dangerous, as it is one of the most heartless of all proceedings. It reminds one of the reputed act of the Khmer Rouge who taking Phnom Peng, simply forced out the sick, the disabled, and caused them to proceed to farm, or at any rate... out.
THAT at the physical level, is the sort of devilishly dehumanised folly, to which mad misconceptions about God may lead. Now God IS love and does not love the loveless heartlessness to the disabled, whom He is restoring, is not taken, as it were, with those who make people with broken legs walk on them, or with broken hearts become confused. True, it is not possible to confuse out of salvation, the elect (Matthew 24:24); but active steps toward it do not arouse indifference on the part of God.
At the very time of the Exodus, then, and well before Saul's leadership had so much as commenced, God had brought about a curse on Amalek, that nation - you read of it in Exodus 17:14-16... as follows:
I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.They had heartlessly and needlessly opposed Israel's progress and transit, AFTER its Egyptian bondage, the ceaseless seeming labour in the sun, with fierce taskmasters, the slavery and the oppression. With great vulnerability, after much suffering, Israel at last was on its way to... a new land. And Amalek? NO! It would oppose this. Against this, God made a ruling, that just quoted from Exodus. In due time, the penalty was applied. It was at the time of King Saul, in the organised Israel.
The theocracy had then to perform a judicial act on that nation of Amalek, and upon its leader, its king. Saul, in failing, showed he was no executor and lost his position. Now SAUL did more that displeased God - but our present stress is rather HOW he could well receive THESE orders from THE GOD AND FATHER OF JESUS CHRIST... to DESTROY Amalek the nation, king included.
Granted the different structure - a godly nation being used as an executive for God, then such an order is merely an exhibition of the justice and judgment of God, which IS especially lethal and inevitable on those who interrupt His saving acts, and do not repent. We may indeed reflect on the woe to those who refuse, for their part, to condemn evil and instead condemn those who do condemn it at God's will (Ezekiel 33:8-9 with Isaiah 5:18-20). These should repent. Indeed, repentance is ALWAYS in order; and those who, unlike Judas, but with Peter, DO repent and DO come are NOT cast out (John 6:37). Indeed ponder Ezekiel 33:11, which follows. Further, in this case, it is nationhood, not individuals who are dealt with; and as to that, long was the time when those revolted by this action, could have departed! In due time, however, the judgment came to the nation. God knows the hearts and the history of all.
Now as to the case of Joshua, to which we also referred in considering the attack some might make on the Old Testament, in trying to divorce it from the NEW TESTAMENT in general and from Christ in particular, there is an equally instructive answer... to the question why GOD did this, OUR GOD, the unchanging God... or better, how it fits in with the revelation of Jesus Christ, how it is of one piece, of one character.
In Joshua's case, now, there is particular interest in the field of archeology (Ras Shamra tablets, found 1929). This has abundantly revealed in our generation, the gross immorality and perversity and corruption of the Canaanites who lived in Palestine, the land God had promised Abraham. Here again, in their destruction, was a judicial act by the author of history...
This is enlightening, for it impresses us with the fact that it is GOD who judges. It does not entirely matter whether the offence is, or is not, against Israel - although what is done to God's representative must exacerbate it (Luke 10:16). The offence is ultimately construable against God Himself, whoever was involved. Here one is reminded of Christ's New Testament principle of Matthew 25:36-43, where the acts of help are remembered for those who are saved by Christ's sacrifice, and the failures so to act, are recalled against those who are not.
Assuredly, I tell you, in as much as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.In close relation to our current area, this occurs in the judgment of the nations, as outlined in Matthew.
Further, in the case of Joshua and Canaan, the evidence is that God waited until judgment called from the very earth to Him against the consolidated corruption of that polluted nation - Canaan, before He sent Joshua with that theocratic nation (at that point walking obediently with God-assisted armies - *2) - to defeat it ... cf. Deuteronomy 9:4-6, 7:7-9. Thus it was hundreds of years earlier - it is recorded in Genesis 15:16 - God had predicted the return of Israel to the land He gave them, after their oppression (then still to come). So much earlier, He had said: "The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." But in Joshua's time, hundreds of years later... it WAS brimming over. This teaches us our sins. Frequently He tries our iniquity. Christian!... even now forsake all known sin and every doubtful action: for by God, actions are weighed. Delay is not indifference on the part of God, but rather patience.
Thus when He was ready, judicially ready, God judged the inhabitants of Palestine of those days: for their sin was against Him, longstanding, perverse and reprobate. In Abraham's time their cup of iniquity was filling; in Joshua's it was gushing. THEN GOD acted. Let each man interpret this to his heart. God is patient; not gullible.
GOD was and is the judge. There is nothing new, nothing different, nothing novel, nor anything odd or divergent from Jesus Christ in this: and it was Christ who said that by His words will we be judged in that day; and that not everyone who called "Lord, Lord" would be received, but rather those who did the will of God (John 12:48-50, Matthew 7:21-23). In other words, it is impartial, it is not indulgent; no favourites of indulgence enter for that reason: the truth may hurt, but it cannot be ignored. Paul says: Judgment will be according to truth (Romans 2:2).
As we have noted before: we are saved without works, but not without faith... and faith works... Jesus said:
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 15:15), andHE also said:
If anyone love Me, he will keep My word (John 15:23).
He who does not love Me, does not keep My words (John 15:24).Christian... IF you love Him that is WHY you will want to keep His words; and IF your love is growing cold, turn again to the Lord in reality, draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
There is then no difference in the principle of judgment. There is however a difference of FORM between... this Old Testament case and the church today. The Christian Church is unlike Israel of old, in that it is no longer in the form of a theocracy, or God governed NATION. Nations no longer act as express agent for God, as obedient and redeemed servants for Him. Apart from all else, there is now no such nation. Secondly, the Church is not at all a political organisation, far less one with direct God-given jurisdiction over a particular nation.
The Church of the New Covenant, the New Testament that is, is the Church of the same God; but it is one with a new structure. Now the Church is no longer a NATIONALLY orientated form under God; it is INTERNATIONALLY formed as to its very composition. The realities of the everlasting Gospel are similar; the format is now more internationalised. Always of course the reality abides in the true believers whose faith is not masquerade or charade, but a transforming involvement with a God who gives orders... including the order to save His own, who have received Him as He is, and is revealed to be (John 10:9,27-28, 5:24, 4:14). Thus Christ died for us; but He will not deny His word.
The wheels of history turn no more smoothly now, than then. Indeed, there are many who hold that history was never so turbulent, vice so victorious, man so dire in hatred and hypocrisy - deceiving his own self. Torture, death, devastation - look at cases like little Biafra, with something like formally aided genocide, at Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, the boat people, Rwanda, Bosnia; look a little further back at the Jews themselves in the last World War, when perhaps 6 million died. These things continue to come; and the same God is over all, warning and reaping, till judgment sits; and sending forth preachers.
Just as He said in Amos:
Shall there be calamity in the city and the Lord has not done it ? (Amos 3:6);so now we read this:
God works everything after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11).
It is the same God and the same sovereign message is proclaimed.
The position is that His judgments - of which a great deal is written in the LAST book of the entire Bible, Revelation, on their severity and their fire, as the world grows old in CONSCIENTIOUSLY AUDACIOUS SIN - His judgments are internationally, pluralistically and precisely performed, as before. This is no longer, however, with the vehicle of a show-case nation, of which there are no examples, in the sense of an obedient servant, called to this office. It is the FORMAT, but not the FACE of judgment which has changed - look about you!!
Was it not Jesus who said: "Not a sparrow falls without the Father;" and again - "Weep not for Me, but for yourselves;" and, "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold". As Paul says: "Behold now, the goodness and the severity of God" (Romans 11:22).
So not merely does history itself teach that the God of Creation and providence - who is not an immoral idiot abdicating His moral and all-powerful presence from an inane world, but indeed a present President of all - that God indeed works dire judgments(*3), THEN AS NOW upon the earth: no, this is not all. Rather does that very JESUS Himself (to whom the New Testament secessionists, if I may call them that, the word of God aborters, are turning so confusedly), rather does Christ as living sovereign, choose whips of judgment against the hypocrite and the pretentious who pollute His ways. God is slow to wrath... but when it is stirred...
Weep rather for yourselves and your children. For behold the days come when they shall say, Blessed are the barren... Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us! (Luke 23:29-30).It was THIS SAME JESUS who declared: "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18).
Jesus Himself thus rebukes the idea of a secessionist New Testament Church, divorcing itself from the concept - ANY of the concept of the character of God as found in the Old Testament; or from any of God's words indeed. As to the word of God, it may be FULFILLED ? Yes! but FORSAKEN ? no! The New Testament Church is not one of secession but of success in sequence. The rose does not forsake the bud; it blooms on its basis, developing what was there all the time, in greater and greater distinctness (cf. Romans Chapters 4,11).
ALL is fulfilled or enforced(*4). God said it. The heaven and the earth... yes, THEY shall pass. God's word will endure (Matthew 24:35).
The Lord and His word: You cannot divorce these. Those who tried to do so once before, crucified Him. He WOULD not change His word, not any of His words. And these include Matthew 5:17-19. Thus we readily recognise the force of the purgative prohibition of Paul in Romans l6:17-18:
Mark those who cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine you received and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own body, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.In depicting the divinely revealed, the Biblical doctrine of revelation, one finds here a fence not available for sitting. On a highway some years ago in the U.S., my wife and I saw a middle lane suddenly reduce, and then end with a flashing light and barricade. The middle way went. If one insisted on following it, there would be disaster. Reconstructions of scripture readily result in constructions, made by men, of the Creator; and for this, there is only one name available: idolatry.
If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed (John 8:31).It is HIS word which we have been studying. Apologetically, we first identified it and then proceeded to examine its actual teaching concerning its nature, as revelation.
We conclude, as before, that the whole Bible is available, is required and that the God who gave it is revealed as One who does not change; nor does He tolerate our finite intrusions into the word of His infinite wisdom.
This of course is precisely what one would expect.
God remains the same in revelation, though we learn more of Him; and revelation is a masterful matter of entire superintendence by whatever means, so that the result is a divine deliverance unspoiled by any of the autonomous 'fat' of carnal wills. God has caused to be said, what He will back to the jot and tittle.
Archeology, like the sure-footed and crisp tread of some great cat, comes into sight, growling with assurance. Jericho fell to Joshua, and we read in Joshua 6:24, it was burned, the walls having fallen.
Its latest leap in this area is radio-carbon 14 dating of soot found in the Jericho site, with abundant evidence of conflagration. This development is reported by archeologist and technical ancient pottery author, Dr Bryant Wood. The Biblical Archeology Review (March/April 1990) as noted in the US Time Magazine, p. 59, March 5, 1990, gives this confirmation both of the fire and the c. 1400 B.C. dating that fits deftly into Biblical statement (I Kings 6:1), which would set it there.
In the 1930's, Professor John Garstung, famed and extraordinarily diligent Oxford Professor, over years of excavation revealed some 150,000 shards that both fitted into the common typing of the period, and held only one case of Mycenaean, a type that is noted as reaching Canaan soon after 1400. Garstung cited the data of his researches with complete and sustained confidence in his c. 1400 B.C. dating. Indeed, as has long been known, at Jericho in the associated cemetery, Egyptian scarabs were found, but none later than the the time of Amenhotep III (c. 1412-1376 B.C.), in whose reign, Biblically, Jericho fell.
Earlier moreover, Kenyon found bushels of grain, likewise akin to the Biblical account, in that no long siege is indicated before the massive destruction so extensively revealed, and vigorously researched and documented by the Garstung team. In fact, the Biblical record is that the campaign was - in the specific investment of Jericho, a matter of days! In silent witness of ravaging disaster, the two parallel walls were exposed, almost entirely fallen and in ruin, and strongly marked with conflagration. Garstung's writings (The Fall of Jericho) and indeed, the Encyclopedia of Professor Gleason Archer (pp. 191-198 op.cit.) provide fascinating data and detail.
In particular, Dr Bryant Wood called attention to Jericho scarabs of Pharaohs Hatshepsut (possible foster-mother of Moses - and what a brilliant one!), Thutmose III and Amenhotep II. With these are well-matched the sequence: Moses' 'Princess' who adopted him; her reign, and that of Thutmose III ('the Napoleon of Egypt'), appearing as the heartlessly domineering Pharaoh of the Jewish oppression, whose vizier's tomb at Thebes showed in picture Semitic slaves with bricks, a-building. His long reign (c. 1501-1447 B.C.) extended distinctively, so providing ample room for Moses' 40 years in the wilderness after fleeing the country. There would follow Thutmose's death - Exodus 4:19 prima facie would indicate a new Pharaoh had come; Moses' subsequent return to Egypt; and the royal successor, Amenhotep II with his apparently crippled power, then reducing foreign aggression and all but arresting Palestinian action, in stark contrast to his father (Archer op.cit. pp. 195-198)! He would then rate as the wounded grisly, of the Exodus.
This is superbly consistent with a Red sea chariot-force catastrophe at the Jewish Exodus, such as the Bible describes, while linking closely with the 'dream stela' of this king's son, Thutmose IV. The latter artifact, implying this son was not eldest in the family, is in turn elegantly consistent with a plague death for the eldest son (or 'first-born', as would biblically be required - Exodus 11:5 - of the house of Amenhotep, as the Pharaoh of the Exodus). Significantly, as a scarab shows, this Amenhotep II, despiser of mercy if indeed the Pharaoh whom Moses challenged, was born in the very delta area by which the Jews were slaving. Here his royal father evidently resorted, erected famed red granite obelisks before the temple of Ra at delta-base city Heliopolis, announcing himself ''Lord of Heliopolis'', a seemingly hectically active delta military area, requiring military constructions and allied building for his almost endless Palestinian-Syrian invasions. At Goshen nearby, was Israel.
Thus for Thutmose III, cheap (Jewish) labour would be both convenient and a containment of a hosted people, now become numerous and captive. This in turn could strongly affect the demeanour, or labour-lust of his later famous - or infamous - son Amenhotep II, just as it was reflected in the art-work of his vizier's tomb (q.v. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 215). If, on the other hand, Thutmose III himself were the Pharoah whom Moses challenged - and so had not for his own part, personally been among those engaged in seeking Moses' life, as in Exodus 4:19, what then ? Then, his death as noted by Dr Clifford Wilson - New Life, Melbourne, 7/7/94 - "just after" the time of the Jewish Passover appears as a deadly Exodus item of no mean interest! ... enhancing the impact of this arresting structure of events.
Drs. Garstung-Wood have become a spiritual sleuth team in their field of archaeology; and there they have exhibited one more Biblical triumph.
Ebla has set the tone; the Hittite discoveries have provided the accompaniment: confirming once again the Bible, in its pre-archaelogical disclosure of this race at all, in the matching cultural setting evidenced and in the ancient covenantal forms and practices, perfectly slotted into Biblical dates. Meanwhile overflooding testimony of ancient monotheism (cf. pp. 1026 ff. supra) exposes the historic lurches of man, just as the findings on Jericho's fall and the testimony of the flood attest the response of decreed, divine judgment. Indeed, history becomes a placard, in the past as in the present, in accuracy conforming to the Bible, as in prophecy accepting direction; rather like an athletic squad taking up a prepared position in some Games. The critiques of ignorance fall into an endless pit, meanwhile, as more and more becomes known, in biology as in computing, in archeology as in politics, in gender as in genetics, in language as in cells ... a pit for what has pitted itself against what stands: the Bible. Standing is one of its favourite postures; and this it never changes; nor does it need to do so.
*3 'Dire judgments' and religion by force - a distinction.
It is of the utmost importance to realise acutely a certain distinction here. It is one thing to use violence of lust and hate, of desire and self-aggrandisement or fulfilment, of substitution for truth, and of will, to use all this as a MEANS of forcing people to accept a religion. In this case, as has been constantly reasoned, the essential, though now heavily polluted freedom, inbuilt into man at his creation in the image of God (not autonomy, but not slavishness), would be aborted. Neither callow fear nor crushing force occasions belief, or removes grounds for disbelief. We use the concept even in law: this was done under duress, we say, and hence we may question the validity of any such act.
Very well: THAT is one thing, and religions of this character fold quietly, before their obvious misuse of reality to secure their blatant ends; are excluded as coming from God, are of man, not divine. The other point, to be carefully distinguished, is this. IF God desires to exercise judgment, and rebuke immorality, that is His pre-rogative. Before our own desires, He rules. If we are inclined to be foolish, then a minor judgment may alert us to the truth we wilfully neglected. Obviously the misuse of one of God's creations, merely to advance the wilful and irrational desires of another, is contrary to truth and reality. A rebuke, therefore, in the form of judgment is part of that - we might say - moral climate which so constantly limits the wildest sprees of the human race, its kings, empires and persons.
IF nothing could be done that was evil, where would freedom be ? If nothing were done to rebuke its misuse, where would justice be ? If men refuse to relate to God, then much injustice may for a time constitute a rebuke; and then those responsible may themselves be rebuked. In Nahum we see the divine loathing for this grossly oppressive empire, that of Nineveh, the Assyrians in their cruelty; and the eventual fall, like that of the Canaanites before the army of Joshua, is a matter of necessity.
In the case of the Assyrians, it is perfectly explicit. First, however, they were used as an agent of judgment, and then, passing beyond their scope, they were dealt with IN judgment (Isaiah 37:26-35). But what of repentance in all this, amid the judgments which may come, though God be patient ?
This neither must nor need induce any repentance. It does not force anyone to come to God. It is not a substitute for faith. It is a part of the sometimes slow or gradual, sometimes sudden because long awaited, judgment of a moral person who has indeed made freedom, but who has not made it...'God'! It is He who is God.
Within the textures of reality, then, man is set. His freedom is not aborted by divine dealings of moral judgment, but increased, to this extent: that man is not left with witless grounds for imagining that freedom is indeed divine, that man's whole task is to please himself, and invent what gods he pleases (cf. Psalm 50:20-23). The plays of Shakespeare have often this sombre note, as do some of the works of Dickens, and this is not the least of the reasons for the greatness and impact of these authors.
Religions of violence seek to force people to conform, either by violence as a substitute for faith, or as a ground for it; they may attack the person - as in the Moslem case so notoriously and as in the Roman Catholic rather similarly - saying: Believe whatever I say, or face death or horror because you don't! The Christian however is not authorised so to do; for Christ was crucified, but crucified none, saying rather,
My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight ... but now My kingdom is not from here (John 18:36).While moral realities are indeed brought to light, and the Old Testament is filled with references to the obvious hypocrisy of a nation which said it believed God but showed, very often, that much of it did not (Isaiah 29:13), this area is a matter of honesty. Appeals and overtures, pathos and endurance, forbearance and tenderness all mix, as God appeals to them to honour their commitments.
How long He gave the Canaanites to repent, we have already noted, before His judgment was executed on their chosen way - a way both irrational and evil, debasing and demeaning ... exposing what it in fact was.
If such a vicious culture continued endlessly, then not only should it mightily blight those whom it seized, young and old, devastating to its own, anguished, injured and inured; but it would be an infectious devastation - rather like nuclear waste, at another level, blighting to all who pass by, like a moral Chernobyl by prevailing winds fouling Europe. (Cf. pp. 445-451, 1163A-1164, 1174A-D supra.) One might compare His long extended mercy to Israel (II Chronicles 36:15-17).
With those of no commitment, the process of letting them learn can be long; and the opportunities many: God may mock ( Psalm 82) their pretences at being 'gods', but they are permitted to follow them to their logical and physiological conclusions.
For further and valuable material in this field, see:
The Inspiration and Authority of The Bible, B.B. Warfield
The Inspiration of The Holy Scriptures, L. Gaussen
Thy Word Is Truth, Edward J. Young
The Battle for the Bible, Harold Lindsell; The Bible in the Balance, Harold Lindsell.
*4 At this point, we remind ourselves of a profound distinction. While God remorselessly carries out what He has said, He has said what is LIKE HIM. Appendix B, for example, shows the place of unmitigated human responsibility, and marvellous divine restraint. Thus FORCE has nothing to do with FAITH. On this point, note:
1) Force would only self-contradictorily be used to violate man's conceptions, perceptions and desires, with the divine potential created in him, by MAKING HIM BELIEVE, per favour of violence. Man is not a self-contradictory project of the Almighty. He has not given to man a measure of independence for which he will often gladly die, and then forced its nullification, like a bungling science demonstrator. As shown earlier, God knows all, has no self-contradiction, has no deficiency from which to extract sufficiency from His creation, does not learn His ways, neither abuses nor distorts His creation.
2) Indeed, force and faith are mutually exclusive, and any pretence to force faith is a delusive contradiction in terms, instantly disestablishing any religion purporting direct statements from God, which resorts to it in the divine name at any time.
3) Since God is Almighty, if HE wanted to force the world or any part of it at any time, and further, if HE said so, it would happen. The Bible is not implicated in such monstrous confusion, contradiction of history or of the minimum powers of God to which we initially argued. On the contrary, in this as in all, the Bible is verified in terms of the tests of scientific method: and here, with this historical accuracy, is its sublime pathos and eloquence as further verification, a fortiori.