It's time to derive your worldview from the Bible

Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”

by Charles Clough
Summary of past lessons. Applying the Bible Framework. In the exodus story, blood atonement separated the damned from the saved. Our personal experience is too flimsy a foundation to cope with life. Handel’s treatment of Exodus chapter 15.
Series:Chapter 5 – Conquest and Settlement: The Disruptive Truth of Israel’s Holy War
Duration:58 mins 42 secs

© Charles A. Clough 1997

Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003

Part 3: Disruptive Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 5: Conquest and Settlement: The Disruptive Truth of Israel's Holy War

Lesson 62 – Review; Handel’s Israel & Egypt, Imprecatory Scripture

05 Jun 1997
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD

Let’s go back over what we’ve done over the last year. We have worked through these events; this carries us up, basically, through the end of the book of Judges. That part of the Old Testament is familiar, hopefully, and the key parts of that Old Testament section and the truths that are embedded in that Old Testament section are clear, that we know that there’s a Creator/creature distinction, that suffering, sorrow, death and sickness has a cause, we know that God has initiated a plan, and we want to think about some of the details of that. So it’s going to be kind of an application time. When we talk about the flow of history, which is what we’re talking about, we came to the call of Abraham. We said that that started a process of disruption in civilization, that up until that time God had revealed Himself within cultures to different peoples, different ways, that the people who had formed what we call civilization, the descendants of Noah, went out, explored the planet, very carefully mapped, and started all the world civilizations within 100-200 years, it didn’t take thousands of years. Man hit the earth after the flood running, so that engineering and technology immediately started, there was no gradual transition, it was sudden and had a catastrophic onslaught, so to speak, of something new, civilization in its form.

We want to review what went on in Genesis 11, the tower of Babel, that gave rise to this Abraham thing, because we’re looking at macro scale events, we’re looking at things that characterize history as a whole. We want to learn what the Spirit has to say through the Scriptures about that which we take for granted. In Genesis 11:4, you must remember this, this is a classic text, it characterizes the spirit of the cosmos, the spirit around us, and it was this spirit that must be destroyed. It will be destroyed and it’s a very painful destruction, because the conflict between the Holy Spirit and this spirit starts inside each one of us in our hearts, because our flesh sucks this up just like a vacuum cleaner. It’s tough because it gets rooted in us, and God says it’s going to be uprooted, and the spirit of verse 4, where it says “Come, let us build for ourselves a city and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” That is a very frank acknowledgement of the autonomous prideful nature of man.

What are some things verse 4 implies, so we don’t just leave it there in the text, as some sort of dead literature? What active, living consequences come out of verse 4? Some of them are that whatever meaning there is, whatever good and evil there is to be defined, it’s going to be rooted in whom? This text says the final authority is man, that’s what that claim is. Verse 4 is a claim that man is the final court of appeal. Notice something interesting about that that implies inerrancy. People say “is the Bible inerrant? I don’t believe the Bible’s inerrant.” Verse 4 implies that man is inerrant. The debate isn’t over inerrancy or authority per se, the debate is over where you locate it. It’s either located in man or it’s located in God, but it can’t be located any other place. So verse 4 is an unabashed clear statement of the claim that man has authority.

Then we said in Genesis 12, when Abraham was called out, it’s no accident that verse 2 uses that very same noun “name”, and who here is defining “name”, is it man or is it God? Now it’s God that has the final “name,” I will make of you and I will bless you, and I will make your name great. So now is the conflict. And we have tried to show the flow of God’s revelation in history in these events because from the point of the call of Abraham down is the struggle between these two spirits, the spirit of autonomy and God’s intrusion. From this point on, from the call of Abraham on in the flow of history, the Holy Spirit and the plan of salvation, evangelism, missions, and all other things are interferences into an order that’s already been pre-established. In other words, the gospel is an interference.

Genesis 11 sets up civilization in its wrong sense, and because civilization is set up in its wrong sense, then everything the Holy Spirit does to call people to Christ is an interference, an inter­ruption. This theme is carried forward in all great epics of our modern time. How many science fiction epics have you seen where the alien effect, the extraterrestrial, is always evil; every one of these things, the extraterrestrial effect is always evil, that which comes down from heaven is evil. Isn’t it interesting that in the biblical symbology what comes down from heaven but God’s blessings? What comes down is from God, what comes up from below is evil. Hell is always looked upon as this earth, not the external space, it’s not the extraterrestrial, it’s this earth where the conflict is. So in an interesting way, as we’ve had these epics in the movies and on TV, it’s the same theme, don’t disturb this civilization, we have built our towers, we have built this, and we don’t want interference. It’s there in the very structure of these epics.

It’s precisely the other way, of course, because in the final analysis who is it that’s going to come from heaven and invade this planet? He who comes on a white horse. And who gathers together to fight against the King who comes on the white horse from outer space? It is the kings of the earth that gather together to fight against Him who sits on the throne. So the space stories are exactly wrong, it’s nice because when somebody is exactly wrong they’re useful. If someone is consistently wrong it’s great because you always do opposite to them and you’ll always be right, it’s called negative genius. It’s when people are wishy-washy both ways that they’re kind of useful. Either be consistently right or be consistently wrong, both are very fruitful positions.

As we go into Genesis 12 we see the promises, and how many promises are included in the call of Abraham? What are the three great things God promises? Land, seed, and a worldwide blessing. That’s the story of the Old Testament. What has He done in the conquest and settlement? What is He attempting to do? He is attempting to give them the land. In the chapter we didn’t cover we’re starting to see the giving of something else. The Exodus was His Son has come into existence, the seed is there, but then the concept of the seed narrows until it becomes centered upon the king, the anointed king, the Messianic King, and we’ll pick that up in the fall. So the concept of the seed, first Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve tribes, and then the concept of the seed begins to narrow down and narrow down to the Messiah who shall come.

Looking at this flow of history we see the Exodus event as a picture of what great doctrine? The doctrine of salvation. So by looking at the Exodus story we see what real, authentic, salvation looks like. What was the element that we noticed very strongly in the Exodus as the sine qua non of that salvation? It wasn’t by power, it wasn’t by Moses taking up arms against the Egyptians, it wasn’t an armed revolt, there were no armies involved except Pharaoh’s and they drowned, they became a navy. Human works was gone. On the other side of the coin there wasn’t peaceful negotiation either, it wasn’t a result of the United Nations, involving sitting down for negotiations and working out a resolution to resolve this conflict. So it was neither the warrior nor the peacemaker. It was neither side of the works of men. It was a catastrophic salvation. And it was centered in what element? What characterizes the Exodus for that which was the final separator, what finally separated those who were saved in the Exodus from those who lost their homes and parts of their families? It was the blood on the door, the blood atonement. So very prominently, early on in the Old Testament it’s clear, and don’t let anybody dissuade you, this is not a Christian interpretation, it’s there in the story, this is a Jewish story, at the very heart of this Jewish heart origin of the nation is blood atonement, and it’s precisely blood atonement that separates the damned from the saved. So the gospel, when it appears in the New Testament, is not something new, it’s just a reiteration of the same thing we saw in the book of Exodus. So you can’t blame the New Testament for this thing, it’s embedded earlier in this Old Testament text. Furthermore, the design of this nation, remember the Exodus was I will deliver you Israel, because of the promises I made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, because I made My promise to them so you are saved.

Which leads us to something that we stated, a point that we’ve made about the Bible that we want to make again and again, what is true in the Scriptures about God’s relationship with man that is not found in any other religion, what is absolutely unique to Biblical faith? God makes a covenant, so the call of Abraham is another example of a contractual relationship. I can’t say that enough because in some of the applications we want to make we’re going to use this truth, because I want to demonstrate how to take all this stuff and apply it. The contractual relationship, what’s so important about the Abrahamic contract, the Noahic contract, the Sinaitic contract, the Davidic contract, which we didn’t do yet, we come to the communion at the last supper and Jesus says this cup is the cup of the new contract. So we’ve got contract after contract after contract.

Why is the Bible so insistent on this contractual structure that is in the Scriptures? We remember it because what is the title of the two parts of the Bible: Old Testament and New Testament. Actually “testament” is a contract. So the Bible is fundamentally a contractual document. What does a contract do? Why do two people enter into a contract? What do you have with the contract that you don’t have without a contract? A measuring device for behavior, people agree in the contract to terms. What do the terms describe? The character of the relationship, and it’s there as a witness so what you have with a contract is something made here, it’s a witness and the parties go their separate ways and do their living, history unfolds, but we always now have standing over history this contract. So no matter what happens in the details we’re always looking at the terms of the contract. It becomes a measuring tool. Do you see how powerful this is? None of the other religions have this, Hinduism doesn’t even know about a contract, Buddhism doesn’t have contracts, Confucius doesn’t have contracts, he said I don’t even know anything about heaven, it can be argued that Confucius was an atheist. Buddhist was.

The point is, the whole thing is that the Bible alone has a God who makes the contracts, although Albright said the Hebrews are the only people that make contracts with their God, actually God made contracts with them. What does this imply? It implies that God does what? He speaks. You can’t have a contract by one party imagining that somebody said something. A contract implies a speaking God. So God speaks. The Bible is unique in the fact that it has a contractual structure. What also do we know that’s unique in the Scriptures? A God who speaks. And not only who speaks but He speaks over the centuries of time in a consistent way, because if He didn’t speak consistently, it would be revealed by shortcomings in the contract. The contract, once made, stays. So if God speaks in this century, the next century, the third century, the fifth century, the eighth century, all those words have to fit together so we have a coherent plan of God. That’s not anywhere else. So we have the contractual nature. We say that this grew out of God’s plan.

We also said, as we came down to the sanctification issue, in sanctification what are we as individuals have going on, what’s happening, what big thing, we always think of sanctification as some little thing, some individual personal thing, but in sanctification we said it’s got to be thought of in the big picture and what’s happening in the big picture? Go back to the conquest and settlement. Think of the individual soldier marching around Jericho, think of the individual soldier on that day in the valley of Aijalon when the sun stood still. He’s wondering what all is going on in his life, but he’s part of a bigger picture. What’s our bigger picture when we think of sanctification? Sanctification is the solution to the problem that everybody’s concerned with. What’s the problem everybody’s fussing about? The problem of evil. So everybody says oh, this is so terrible, people get angry at God for things that happen. I read somewhere where some guy said if there’s a God when I get to see Him I’m going to punch Him in the face. Good luck. In that situation you have profound anger over things that go wrong.

The sanctification that we’re having little pieces in our lives where God is doing this, He’s separating good from evil, that’s the meaning of sanctification. It’s not having an experience. There’s experience there, but that’s not the purpose of it all. The purpose is every time we have a victory in our Christian life we are sealing the doom of the world, because every victory that we have in our Christian life advances God’s plan, and gets ever closer to the time when all evil will be removed. So if we’re angry and fussing about evil, the best thing to do is to follow His plan, because His plan is on schedule and keep with the program, it will be taken care of, the hard way or the easy way but it will be taken care of. So sanctification is linked to very serious business, it’s not just a personal private thing.

That’s the big picture; now I want to illustrate this. Let’s be a solution shop and looking at an individual, hypothetical, let’s say we have a situation and we can project ourselves in the middle of this, we want to look at slow motion of what goes on in our hearts, because I believe it happens so rapidly in a trial, a pressure situation, that we’re hardly aware of it, it probably happens within fractions of seconds, but we’re going to slow down the time clock so that what normally happens in your mind and your heart in split seconds is going to take five to ten minutes. Let’s say this person has a tremendous trial and adversity, big pressure crunch. In that situation, first let’s look at it from the standpoint of forgetting everything we’ve learned from the Scripture, and let’s try from the spirit of the tower of Babel that “I will make a name for myself” and I’m going to solve this problem. Let’s start with that mentality; we’ll say this is the mentality of the pagan flesh. Let’s start there, forget the Bible, forget Jesus, forget salvation, start with the flesh. We’re all trained in this because it comes naturally to our fallen natures. What are going to be some responses from that perspective? I’m a victim, I’m getting stepped on; think about what’s happened here, once you said that, this sounds very practical, what has profoundly happened the moment you said that?

Once we said we are a victim what have we said about ourselves, evil and God? Many times a person can be a victim, we understand that, but we’re talking about when they’re not a victim and they’re claiming to be one. In that situation what are we confessing about evil and ourselves? We’re either saying that we have no connection with all this stuff that’s going on, we’re innocent victims, isn’t that the adjective that’s implied here, not just a victim but we’re an innocent victim. What thereby have we denied? We’re fundamentally at that point denying responsibility; we’re fundamentally separating our self from the complete issue of evil, that all this stuff that goes on is totally unrelated to me. That’s what we’re saying.

What I’m trying to say and when we look at this framework business is that these little statements like this are tips of icebergs and we want to go down and see the rest of the iceberg that’s underneath that apparently innocent little statement. It involves an entire frame of reference and that’s why it’s so persistent, that’s why it’s so hard to go against it, and that’s why it’s so difficult to root these out of our hearts, because we have a nerve system in our body and our brain and we learn more and more about it, that our brain accommodates itself, it’s like a computer that builds circuits to compute the way we want to compute. It’s as though, instead of a desk top or laptop computer you had something that was flexible and if you wanted 2 + 2 to be 5, after you did it enough times, that sucker would produce 2 + 2 is 5, it would program itself to do what you wanted it to do. Apparently that’s what’s going on in our flesh and that’s why the Bible keeps talking about the flesh, because every time we do something we are training it.

This isn’t foreign, what does an athlete do to get better? By repetition he goes over and over and over it so it becomes automatic, so it becomes reflex action. If an athlete does that, let’s think about the implications of how we’re made. That means when we sin and we engage in these thought patterns, what are we doing? We’re training our flesh to be very efficient computers doing all that. We speed up the program every time we practice. It becomes ever so easy the next time, and that’s the subtlety of what’s going on. Here’s the victim, and the victim is already being programmed that evil is out here and evil is unrelated to anything I’ve done, and now let’s push that on back further. What does that statement say about God? There’s only two views of evil, what are they? Either it started because of the creature or it’s always been there and it’s God’s fault, He’s part of it, in fact He’s evil too. Once this statement is made, it’s like a vacuum cleaner, it starts to suck up all this stuff and it becomes a vehicle for loading up the flesh with whole kinds of pagan thought.

What would be another reaction that we could have in the energy of the flesh faced with this kind of a thing? After we meditate on that for a while and get totally depressed, what happens next? Anger, frustration, and you get this tremendous emotional buildup; we’ll call it emotional noise, turbulence as a result of this. By the way, this is interesting in itself because why does this happen? If we really are victims and the universe really is normally evil, and we can’t help it, if that’s really the case, why are we so upset about it? What does being upset betray about what we say; what does that show you about starting points, presuppositions, the Bible, and Romans 1? What does it show you about the fact that when we say no man is an atheist, what is that saying? It’s saying we know very well in our conscience that this whole thing smacks of evil. Here we are now torn between a false viewpoint in a brain that’s been created by God, and there’s something in the program that doesn’t like that, so the program says we’re a victim, but still that’s not right, so there’s the conscience working, in spite of the fact that intellectually and in different ways we deny, basically, the authority of God, we’re accepting the presupposition that He’s a meany if He exists, and that we’re a victim.

We go into this emotional noise stage, and we said that there are two tendencies that we can respond with out of this. We can respond in one direction or another direction. What are the choices? Some people in some situations are going to respond by going out and tying one on or doing something with drugs or something else, and this is the licentious approach. If that happens, if the licentious approach is the approach that is used, what are some tools that people use, and what are they doing; in all of this licentiousness trying to cope with this emotional noise, what are they doing, what’s a practical word for this. It’s basically anesthetizing the pain of the emotional noise, and we take various anesthesias, some people just love to take pills, other people take drugs, other people go out and party, other people go out and do all kinds of things. Everybody has their variety, but at the bottom they’re all the same, they’re just varieties of the same species, and that is the licentious approach. Or the person can say I’m going to go to a self-improvement class and I’m going to go through certain techniques, power techniques, and I’m going to learn all these things and that’s going to solve my problem. That’s legalism. So that’s the diagram of the flesh. All of this may happen very rapidly, in the course of a day you can walk into a problem and bam, within a fraction of a second you’ll be sucked up into this. It’s scary because you almost don’t have time to reflect on what is going on until after you realize you’re way out of it and what happened, how’d I get out here so fast, who greased my slide today. That’s the situation that we want to slow down.

Let’s look at the other situation. Let’s take the same situation, same kind of pressure situation, this person starts with the authority of Scripture, and remembers that God is there. There are many, many different pathways. Last year we spoke of eleven different reasons why there’s suffering in the Christian life. I don’t know if you recall those, but we said that all evil is due to the fall, some suffering is due to self-induced misery, that’s because we rebel further adding to the weight of the fall, there’s all kinds of other reasons, there’s reasons for undeserved suffering because sometimes God calls us to suffer to witness for Him, sometimes to unbelievers, sometimes to believer, sometimes to angels. But if you visualize eleven different reasons, I figured out if you took all the combinations of eleven you come out to about 38,000,000, something like that. So there are 38,000,000 possible reasons if we limit it just to eleven, there are all kinds of ways, 1 & 2, 1 & 5, 7 & 8, 11 & 10, etc., and you put them all together and you come out with figures in the millions. Can we fathom if there’s millions and millions of different reasons, we can’t sit here, contemplate this thing and say oh yes, its reasons 1, 2 & 8, thank you God. We can’t do that because we don’t have that insight, but what do we have that enables us to function?

What do we go back to? We go back to His character. And how do we know His character? Because of our ups and downs in our emotional life, God blessed me here and He had a problem there. I can’t build my response to a pressure situation on the basis of my personal experience. Give me a break! That’s why we have The Book, because we have centuries of experience, and viewed from the standpoint of the centuries of experience, under a contractual agreement where God’s behavior has been observed and He said He was going to send the seed of Abraham and it was going to come out of the town of Bethlehem and He was going to become the Savior and He was going to do this, and Israel was going to have the Promised Land and we’re going to have all these things, and King David’s house would be preserved forever and all the other king dynasties would go away, and the tribe of Levi would preserve its name, etc.

So we have all these promises that God has stayed loyal to His contract. That gives me the assurance and it’s independent of my experience. That’s what’s so nice about this. In other words, here’s what’s happening in the process. We are enveloping all this stuff out here. Instead of reacting, remember the flesh tries to react this way, that’s a direct approach. But what are we doing? We’re building a grid that totally envelopes that, and handling it within the framework of Scripture. Now we understand that I don’t know exactly what God’s doing in this situation but I know He has sufficient reasons, I can trust His character because of these things.

What also have we learned about what He’s doing and can do; think of some of the things we just went through with the conquest and settlement. What happened when Joshua was deceived, entered into a contractual agreement with a group of phonies, deceivers and wound up on the short end of a contract, and he honored that contract. What do we learn about God’s character when we get ourselves in a jam, but it’s in a righteous way, it wasn’t our fault in that situation, and we’re not going to stray from the path. He stopped the sun and the moon. We have a right in that same situation to pray to the God of the valley of Aijalon; You stopped the sun and the moon on behalf of Joshua when He was deceived, and he got himself into this big mess, he signed a contract, he didn’t really understand what he was doing but he was going to honor his word and it was going to stay and You came through.

Here’s what I mean about enveloping the system. God is in control of this but it’s not enough to say God is in control of it, it has to come out of our faith and it takes time. So the only way you can do this is to visualize like an athlete; before an athlete learn a particular exercise to do, or a particular repetition, he’s got to piece it together in his head, and then he may do it a thousand times and on the 1,250th time it’s starting to go auto. But it doesn’t come automatically all at once, he has to think about it and think about and repeat it and repeat it, and then it gradually gets automatic. It’s the same thing here, this theology doesn’t come auto­matically; it doesn’t come automatically for anybody. We have to think about it and take time to do it, then it speeds up, but only with practice. That’s the growth thing we were talking about.

All that we’ve learned, all this framework, all these doctrines are basically to handle these kinds of situations so that we don’t have to rely on our personal experience. It’s not that personal experience is bad, don’t get me wrong. All I’m saying is that it’s too flimsy a foundation to cope with life, because sooner or later you’re going to get something that will blow you away because it’s so much bigger than anything you’ve ever seen before in your personal life. It’s incomprehen­sible, your family has no experience in dealing with this, you’ve never been taught how to deal with this situation, you’ve never seen this kind of situation before and lo and behold, here you are, right in the middle of it. Now what are you going to do? What happens to personal experience? It goes away; you haven’t got any precedents in your personal experience to cope with such a situation. So that’s when you realize I can’t cope with the situation, I have to get the big picture, so I’m going to go back to the big picture and I’m going to remember… if nothing else, one exercise to do this when you can’t do anything else, because remember to respond to this by faith you have to be convinced it’s true, and you can’t be convinced it’s true until you work with it. You can’t just say this, like it’s some abracadabra formula, it won’t work because in your heart of hearts you’re not convinced of it, and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. So we have to work with it until we get to that magic rest in our hearts that yes, this is true after all.

One way to start, and for every hundred Christians there’ll be 282 different ways to start it, but here’s just a suggestion. One way of recalling this material and the whole sweep of Scripture is to go back to the character of God and think through the most elementary and basic truths we know about Him. What do we know about Him, what are some characteristics that we’ve studied? God is sovereign, and you can quote Scriptures, He works all things after the counsel of His will, pick a couple of verses for these. God is sovereign, and you have to force yourself to get back to the fact that God is sovereign; who is in charge, because obviously I’m not, so God is sovereign. Another characteristic, God is omniscient. How does that comfort me? That comforts me because I know that He knows, and I know that He knows a lot more than I do about the situation, therefore I don’t know everything, but I know He does, and more importantly, if He’s omniscient what does that guarantee? That if this situation looks like a puzzle, and it’s totally incomprehensible, by knowing that God is omniscient it means there’s rationality here. There is an order, there is a rhyme and there is a reason for this. That our heart demands because our hearts are made to worship that kind of a God. Our hearts can’t rest, can’t really rest, in the conclusion of the modern man who says that there ultimately is no purpose, and ultimately all is irrational. Your heart can’t rest in that stuff, you’re just kidding yourself.

What else can we go back to God’s character with? God is holy, and how does that encourage us? That encourages us several ways. It says that whatever we’re going to deal with here, it’s going to be in a righteous way, and that’s heart warming to know, because if it’s going to be dealt with in a righteous holy way, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. So contemplating His holiness at first is terrifying because we know we’re sinners, so that drives us to the cross, drives us to appropriating the blood of Jesus Christ, cleanses us from all sin, and then we can rest in His holiness. Then we don’t have to be ashamed. Society may knock us, society may pull you apart, people may talk behind your back, it’s too bad but people do that but they’re just little people and you’re charged with living your life before the Lord and they’re not going to answer for your life, you’re going to answer for your life, I’m going to answer for mine, and 84 other people aren’t involved in this thing. Holiness gives us that sense.

What else? God is love, and it’s a love that is not fragile like human love. The problem with human love is that you can only love once you’re secure, because if you’re insecure your defense, your self-defense is a lot more important given to someone else, so if you’re insecure you can’t love. No insecure person can basically love anything. The only people that can love are people that are fundamentally secure because they’re unthreatened. Loving makes you vulnerable, and if you feel insecure you don’t want to be vulnerable.

What are some other things? We’re tired, God is omnipotent, He never gets tired. This phony stability, we try to root it in the government, in traditions, into our families, but come on, we all know that finally there’s going to be changes and breakdowns. The only truly unchanging person is God; He has to be the reference point. Every other reference point drifts. I think we’ve done this enough to go through and see that what we’re doing here is that when we started this framework, this is a process that we call strategic envelopment, it’s got to be by faith, it’s not a gimmick, it can only come from our hearts when we’re convinced this whole thing that we talked about is true. If God isn’t the One who set forth that rainbow after it rains, then that rainbow literally is not His signature in the clouds, then we don’t really trust Him, we can’t. But if we do know that the same God that puts the rainbow in the cloud is the same God that kept the sun and the moon standing in the sky over the valley of Aijalon for up to eighteen or twenty hours to keep believers in the light while they were doing battle, then I think I can trust Him. [blank spot]

… looking at Him through things like this, what He has done. And one of the ways that our heart is strengthened in this envelopment process is through worship. That’s what worship is, worship is a concentration upon Him. I want to conclude our time together by sharing Handel’s music. We’ll play some sections of a piece that Handel wrote that’s not quite well known because we all associate Handel with that famous piece, the Messiah, and in the Messiah we have the Hallelujah chorus. It’s a magnificent piece; Handel was a musician who knew his theology, unlike some modern musicians. He realized that there was a real history behind these things and he wrote moving music, not some little mealy-mouthed ditty. What he tried to do was set to music what went on in Exodus 15 at the salvation of Israel.

Verse 1 says “Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said,” and the theme of the song is “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea.” We just got through dealing with the imprecatory nature of Scripture, and what did we say justified the presence of this imprecatory spirit in Scripture, this viciousness that we do detect in the Scripture, that is so totally misunderstood by the world, to the point that where even Christians now want to get rid of “Onward Christian Soldiers” out of the hymn book. Why is there militancy and imprecatory things in the Scripture? Because it’s part of the ripping of good and evil away, the process of sanctification is a war and it’s only when you confront it are you solving the problem everybody’s fussing about, instead of fuss about it, resolving it.

The imprecatory nature is I’m glad that “the hose and its rider He has hurled into the sea,” because what had the horse and rider done? Who had they ultimately defied? Who had they said in the spirit of Babel, I will make a name, I am an authority here, I am the state, I am the final authority. The answer to that is drown in the sea. But it’s not that we can say ha-ha to Pharaoh, what we’re seeing here is the holiness of God assaulting the bastions of pride and that arrogant attitude of man. The song goes on and it’s all imprecatory in nature, and it finally ends in verse 18, “The LORD shall reign forever and ever.” You can well imagine that toward the end of this piece Handel takes that verse and sets it to the music I want you to hear.

Then in verse 20 the text reports something else happened musically. “And Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. [1] And Miriam answered them,” and the idea there with “answering” is what we would call antiphonal song, where the men, it says in verse 1, sang this whole thing down through, and then when they were done, in verse 20-21 it’s a response to that, Miriam and the women took up the change, so the women joined in the imprecatory chorus, and notice what they sing in verse 21, precisely that theme, “ ‘Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea’.” You’ll notice that the horse and his rider being hurled into the sea is explained theologically by the first verse, it’s not just that they’re rejoicing that the horse and his rider has he thrown into the sea, it’s they’re rejoicing for that because who is highly exalted as a result of doing that? It is God, God has bared His mighty arm, and it’s that that excites them. The horse being case into the sea is simply a symptom of the exercise of the mighty arm of God. Follow this in the Scripture, because it’s all Scripture. [music starts playing]

Turn to Revelation 15 there’s an interesting historical note about what you just heard. At the end of history when the wrath of God has been seen in a very public way again, it’s interesting that the song you just heard apparently is sung once more. Revelation 15:3, “And they sang the song of Moses the bond-servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvelous are Thy works, O LORD God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations. [4] Who will not fear, O LORD, and glorify Thy name? For thou alone art holy; for all the nations will come and worship before Thee, for Thy righteous acts have been revealed.’ ” So it’s been combined somehow, and it gives you the text as it will be rewritten, but the theme that we heard from the old, the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb will be sung. It figures very prominently because obviously chapter 15 is reporting this. And in verse 5 watch as the song progresses, “After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened. [6] And the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in linen, clean and bright, and girded around their breasts with golden girdles. [7] And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls” and it becomes the pouring out of the wrath of God.

But you’ll notice what precipitates it, and this what we want to see. What did we say was true of this piece? This is why this piece, the piece you heard, is called Israel and Egypt, it’s not well known and it’s not well appreciated, I think because precisely it’s very imprecatory. Look in Revelation 15 and notice what happens historically after the song is sung. Notice the drama that unfolds beginning in verse 5, suddenly as John looks the temple of the Lord is suddenly opened and out come the angels with the vials of wrath to pour upon the earth. In other words, the wrath of God is poured out in response to the cry for justice, the cry that now is the time to put evil aside, now is the time for the vindication of the righteousness of God. And it’s done in song, and out of this musical song this imprecatory appeal comes the wrath of God here in the book of Revelation.

It’s a marvelous passage, but it shows you the consistency of Scripture, that this music is deliberately imprecatory and how silly and how immature for the church to dare to say that it wants to eradicate these militant music pieces from its hymnology. This is blasphemy against the theology of God; it’s always done in the name of love, but what a sick, impotent, unbiblical love is mentioned here. How can people say that that’s love, not to be imprecatory. To say love is to be separated from the imprecatory is to say that evil shall be perpetuated, that God is to be eternally tolerant of rebellion against Him, He is to be eternal tolerant of death, cancer, and all kinds of evils, deaths and diseases. That’s love? I’m sorry.

When you say this, understand this is a part of the Old Testament that is very difficult, even for Christians to go through. We’ve gone through in the last 5 or 6 weeks probably the most severe passages of the Scriptures, the most looked down upon, some people are shamed as Christians to carry around a book with this stuff in it, but they don’t understand, that’s the answer. Don’t be ashamed of it, that IS the answer, nobody else has an answer, and it’s precisely this cry for vindication, even if it means God rend my heart and make the changes in my life that have to be made, but in so doing I submit myself to His authority and in so doing the kingdom of God is advanced. What we don’t realize … how many times have we prayed the Lord’s Prayer? In the middle of that Lord’s Prayer there’s a passage and a petition for an imprecatory judgment. “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven,” let Your will be done, and how do you suppose that’s going to happen without imprecatory disturbance? So the very Lord’s Prayer that everybody glibly cites, unknown to them, is coding and saying, and petitioning God for judgment, “Let Thy kingdom come, and let Thy will in heaven be done on earth.”

I hope this has been a beneficial series for you. In the fall we’re going to do David so that we can understand the Messianic picture, because David is a type of Christ. Then we’ll go on, actually we’ll go through the entire Old Testament, we’re going to start with the days of Solomon, about 1000 BC, go through a survey of what happened to the nation Israel, the meaning of the exile and the preparation toward the end of the Old Testament for Christ.