A Biblical Framework for Facing the Intellectual, Moral, and Spiritual Challenges of the 21st Century - Part 2
Charles Clough, Guest Speaker
West Houston Bible Church – January 22, 2005
Transcribed by Ellen Kelso
Last night I said that what we were doing in this series is not discussing the content of the Framework as much as the rationale behind the Framework. Obviously with 200+ lessons we can’t cover it in three. So what I chose to do is explain a little bit about why I’ve set this system up; it’s not a replacement for exegetical teaching nor is it a replacement for study of doctrine, nor is it a replacement for dealing with apologetics and framework. What it is is just a method of combining these and we had a discussion earlier today with some folks interested in developing a curriculum and I made the point that you sometimes will be in a position where you don’t even have to teach this explicitly, you just have to have it in your mind so that whatever you’re teaching, be it a doctrinal class or an exegesis class or an apologetic situation that you have this frame of reference in the back of your mind and to teach the material accordingly.
I left off last night with what we talked about as a strategic envelopment tactic. Actually I shouldn’t call it tactic, it’s a strategy. And that is that the world system has a moral agenda and we’re fools if we don’t realize that there’s a moral agenda underlying a lot of belief systems, a lot of the heresies, a lot of the cultural milieu that we’re in, and that agenda is succinctly stated as making the world safe for sinners. Basically what the agenda is is to insulate us from our responsibility before our Creator. And there are a thousand different ways of doing this and unbelief has been exceedingly brilliant at times in executing this strategy. And where it impacts, those of us who are Christians, is in our own life personally in thinking through the Scripture, and I made the point that most of us are acquainted with the faith rest drill and the fact that that was taught for years and years, there’s three steps to that, you go back to the promises of the Word of God, a doctrine or a fragment of Scripture, you build a rationale to handle the situation at hand, and then you have and experience that rest and peace. Well, the difficulty often is in step two, building the rationale. And the Framework was part of a method that I had of working in a university environment, of developing the rationale, to handle the various situations that came up.
What we said was that if we look for our illustration or a model of how to encounter the world let’s look at how the Holy Spirit has worked down through Church history. The Holy Spirit has taught the Church century after century after century, and this slide is my attempt, in just a quick summary way, to show the various debates that have happened over the centuries. We didn’t get here tonight just independently. No generation, no single generation can ever put all of the Word of God together from scratch. God hasn’t designed history that way. We stand on the shoulders of saints that have gone before us and we inherit and benefit from their effort.
Now early on the Church faced the issue of the canon of Scripture, the fact was that the Hebrews had this, Israel had it, but as they went out into the Gentile world this is a new thing, to have the Creator God of the universe addressing Himself to man in human language. And that was the debate over the canon of Scripture. Then we came to the Trinity and who Jesus Christ was, and it took centuries for the Church to clarify that doctrine; every verse has been considered. When some of the cultists come knocking on your door with this barren view of Jesus, just remember that the doctrine of Christ was debated and debated and debated and was clarified so we know that Jesus Christ is undiminished deity, He is true humanity united in one person without confusion forever! And we can say that glibly today only because a lot of debate went into that struggle, and during that struggle the way the Holy Spirit worked, and this is a large scale version of how He works in our personal lives, what He does is when you deal with a problem at this level, before He gets through solving the problem He’s also dealt with issues down here, in the deeper parts. And the Trinity was a debate, not only over the Trinity but was a debate of how man uses logic to digest and process the content of the Word of God. And the Trinity had to struggle with threeness, how can God be one and how can He be three, and there was a struggle there to define that. And it’s glibly stated well, the Trinity can’t be because God can’t be three and one at the same time. Well, from one aspect He’s one and one aspect He’s Triune. But that was a great debate and it sharply challenged the classical use of logic.
Then we come down to the Middle Ages when they dealt with what was the issue of the cross of Christ? What was accomplished on the cross? Is Jesus’ death merely an example, an inspiring death of a martyr so that we look at the cross and we say how touching and we’re emotionally into that and this becomes an inspiration for us. That’s one theory of what went on with the cross. There were others who said no, what Jesus did on the cross might have been an example but it’s an example only because of what it did and that is that it resolved the sin issue. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin. So that debate was settled.
Then we come down to the Reformation and we get into the justification issue and there the debate was over human merit. Back in the atonement the issue was justice, human merit in the Reformation, and this had astounding ripples all over Europe, all over world history and we discussed some of those in the Q and A last night. Then we come down to the issue of ecclesiology and eschatology which is still going on, we have an eschatology expert right here, Tommy Ice, and this is the debate he’s in the forefront of right now, of defending the literal interpretation of prophetic Scriptures, because this is the whole discussion, can we use a literal hermeneutic to interpret these Scriptures or not and the implication has far reaching consequences because if we don’t get this right we are going to deify the State over against the Church, this is all related to what is the Church, what is its function. The body of Christ has a mission to perform in history and it’s not going to be stopped by the gates of hell. And people can be very confused and have been down through the years, the State churches, the Church State called Rome, the Vatican is a country, it’s not just a church, it’s a nation, it has its ambassadors and so forth, and that’s Christianity’s attempt to make the Church the State. And there’s a lot of confusion about that, but you don’t get straight as to the role of the Church and the State if you don’t see the plans of the Church Age. And that’s ecclesiology and eschatology. And of course we get into the issue of universal history, which enmeshes us today in the evolutionary debates.
So these are things that have gone on in history, these are the debates and as each case happened we see the Holy Spirit dealing with basic issues, and I believe that when the Church Age is finished that all the basic fundamental issues will have been addressed, and that when in heaven we worship before Him who has redeemed us by His blood, from every country and every nation, He will be the One who has clearly been revealed as having the only answer. That’s why we went to Colossians 2 where Paul warns us against being deceived, being cheated by philosophy according t the elements of this world, and not according to the elements of Christ. We said the word “elements” there was the word that was used by the Greek philosophers for the basic fundamental parts of the universe, fire, water, earth and so on. And he’s accusing the Church, warning the Church actually in Colossians, he’s warning the Church about being seduced by this philosophic frame of reference.
Tonight we’re going to concentrate on how belief takes place. As we struggle in the faith rest life we’re developing a rationale for handling something, be it big problem or little problem. So how do we get to that point where we can believe? We’re going to look at Exodus 7, we’re just going to go through some verses on how the Bible states the revelation and how it impacts our idea of faith, how we trust in Christ. The reason I’ve clarified that is if you think about it, if I come to you and I give you the following sentence, contrast these two sentences. In one sentence I say: I know that X is true. I have a second sentence: I believe that X is true. Which of the two sentences would you say is more dogmatic? The first one; in our culture when I says “I know that X is true,” somehow that communicates much more certainty than when you say “I believe that X is true.” And that’s because the culture at large around us thinks that faith is a weak form of knowing. Now that’s not the Scriptural position, so when we talk about faith rest and we talk about these things we’d better be sure that we’re looking biblically at what faith is all about.
In Exodus 7 we’re talking about the Exodus event, and in Exodus 7 the Lord says to Moses, “Let my people go,” and “Thus saith the Lord, by this,” now this is addressed to unbeliever here, this is addressed to the Pharaoh, to the Egyptian, to a pagan Gentile society. And he said, “By this you will know that I am Jehovah.” And he goes on to describe the intervention in history that’s going to take place. So God is going to reveal something and He says the net result of this is that you are going to know something, you are going to know that I am the Lord. And we said last night that it’s not true that people don’t know God exists. Romans 1 says all people all the time know God exists, we just pretend we don’t know.
Now Exodus passage is just one of hundreds that we could quote in the Old Testament, that these are done “that you may know that I am God.” It’s repeated again and again. Let’s turn in the New Testament to a counterpart to that same kind of thinking; Acts 26 when Paul is talking with King Agrippa, and he gets down to the end of his discussion in Acts 26:28, after Paul gives his testimony and gives his argument in the court of King Agrippa, “Then Agrippa says to Paul, You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” Now that, as you read that, do you that Paul’s just saying well in spite of all the reasons against it, King Agrippa, oh please wouldn’t you believe? Or do you get the impression that Paul’s argument is persuading him to the point where this unbelieving king is going to trust in Jesus Christ. He is persuaded, he has a knowledge of this; this is not just a mystical trust in the Word of God.
This introduces the issue about the Word of God. Let’s define faith as trust; it’s a response to God’s Word, to the authoritative supreme self-authenticating Word of God and we trust in that. And when we do that we’re committing ourselves to something and it’s something that goes against the culture of our times. I’m going to spend a few moments to talk about meaning in language and what language is all about. If you’ve been trained or educated in the last 15-20 years on the college campus or you have young people in school, I can guarantee you that they do not now the basis of language, that it has been twisted, it has been turned, we have a whole generation of people who can’t read the Constitution and understand it, including people in the Supreme Court, because they have an attitude toward language, that we can’t use a literal hermeneutic to interpret language. But it’s a strange thing, that when these people have contracts that pay their salary they can interpret it with a literal hermeneutic. It’s a strange thing that when we get into contracts we have no problem in interpreting it in a literal way. But when all of a sudden we come to something like the Bible that challenges us in a very significant level, ho, then all of a sudden we can’t use literal interpretation. Well, when it comes to the Constitution, we discuss society changing issues, we don’t want to be bound to a legalistic text; we want to have the freedom to do it ourselves.
So we want to address this and here in a nutshell, we won’t have time to go through all the Scripture, but here are two major passages; Genesis 1 and John 1. Those are the two root passages in Scripture that tell you about logos and language. It says that in the Bible what is the instrumentality that God used to create the entire…what does it say? He spoke and it came to pass. There’s no talk here about doing some intermediate work for millions of years; He spoke and it was done. Jesus, on the Sea of Galilee said to the wing, “Stop.” The meteorologists have often wondered, where did all the energy go that was in the wind? Well, it was taken out very rapidly; the energy just disappeared because Jesus said “Stop.” And it wasn’t taking hours for that wind do die away, it was instantaneous. When Jesus was at the wedding and He was looking at the water and the wine, and he made the wine out of the water, was that instantaneous? Absolutely! And what was the comment? This is good wine, this tastes like aged wine, but it was instantaneous.
So the Bible testifies that God spoke the universe into existence. Now what does that mean language wise? It means that language is a divine vehicle for causing things to happen, and God has invested His creature, man, with language. And why do you suppose God gave language to man and He didn’t’ your dog and your cat? Because He wants to talk to us, He wants to have a personal relationship with us. And so immediately language is involved in a religious issue. How dare, people say, that I can’t bring religion into the English class. What are we talking about? Language! What’s the meaning of language? It was there, created, because we are made in God’s image He has made us so that we understand His talking to us and we can talk back to Him. Your dog and your cat don’t do that but you can, because you’re made in God’s image. And there’s a very, very high and lofty view of language and it is being destroyed in the way we teach people how to read or not read, in how to speak or belief in absolute truth. This is all the disease of language today.
So God created the world with language. Now there’s something else to observe about language. This is this diagram; this is the diagram that was given to me by a creationist professor of pharmaceutical science and so on, and he’s talking here about a very simple experiment. Everybody can visualize this. Let’s suppose we have a card and we have dots and dashes on the cards and we deal a hand of cards out on the table of nine cards. And these nine cards come out with this pattern. And at the table while we’re dealing the cards we have two people watching the cards; we have an Australian bushman looking at the cards, and we have a ham radio operator looking at the cards. Now both of the observers will argue that this is an interesting pattern, there’s somehow a design to this, there’s a pattern to it, it’s not just pure chaos, there’s an arrangement. But which of the two people can understand the meaning of the pattern? Only the ham radio operator.
Now what does this show about language? It shows that meaning is not in the symbols; the meaning is in the minds of people who have agreed to impute a meaning to the symbols. The ham radio operator knows because he’s in the the community of ham radio operators and the convention in the community of ham radio operators is that when you see this that is SOS, that’s the international distress signal, and it’s there not because of the cards, not because of the marks, the marks are useful in conveying information only because there is a mind that is imputing meaning to it. This has ramifications, especially if you’re involved in computers, there’s information, there’s information theory, [can’t understand name] and he’s going through this idea of how much information can pass through a network and all the rest of it, but that isn’t what we’re talking about. That’s engineering talk for order and design. But information as the Bible talks about it means a transferring from one mind to the next.
This has implications when we study the Bible. If you’ll turn to 1 Corinthians 14 we’ll look at how Paul views language and meaning. We were talking earlier about the Framework and today’s young people and where we are at culturally; what I’m talking about today would not have to even be said fifty years ago; we wouldn’t even have to bother with this but we’ve come to the point where we have to say here two plus two is four and that’s what this is all about.
In 1 Corinthians 14:11, in the passage on tongues, the passage on languages, but in verse 11, I’m reading from the New King James, it says, “Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me.” If you look at the Greek text the word translated “meaning” is dunamis, that’s a Greek word translated everywhere else in the New Testament by a wholly other word, “power.” So if we were to translate this in a mechanistic way we would translate it, “Therefore, if I do not know the power of the language, I shall be a foreigner,” you see what he’s doing. He’s taking the word “power” which means it does something, it moves me, it produces cause and effect. That meaning of power in language only happens if you know the meaning. If someone doesn’t understand our words, a missionary going out in the foreign land, he can talk about Jesus all he wants to and there’s no power in the message. The power in the message only becomes because there’s a meeting of the minds.
Now I’ve kind of cartooned this here; people, this is the idea of the personal relationship, and we’re going to watch what happens when the personal relationship is fractured. Every husband and every wife knows how this happens. But if you’re getting along you have good communication and you can understand meaning. It’s not because of the electrical signal on the phone line; it’s not because of the ink on the letter written, it’s not because of the audible tone on the telephone, it’s because you know the person’s mind and they know yours; there’s a connection of minds going on. That’s what’s going on. Now we have a problem and we have the person on the right who is in fundamental disagreement with the person on the left, now all of a sudden we start reinterpreting meaning, and this is how the chaos gets in the system. We said last night a good example is in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned, within minutes… within minutes their theology was changing. The word G-o-d no longer meant the same thing. You see, language is distorted by agenda at work. And we can go through the mechanism of learning French or English or all that but we start messing with meaning the moment we disagree and there’s a disagreement of minds that’s going on here.
There’s a passage that we could go into, we don’t have time tonight, in Proverbs 1:23 where wisdom, who is the teacher, says let me make my words known to you and let me pour out my spirit to you. Now think about that parallelism, I make my words known to you, and I pour out my spirit to you. That’s parallelism; in other words, making your words known to someone is akin to your spiritually connecting…you’re connecting. In this case we’re not connecting and it affects the meaning of words. Now this is why, before the teaching of the Word of God we talk about using 1 John 1:9; what is 1 John 1:9 doing if we use it legitimately; “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all our sins.” It’s to get us so our minds are in connection again with the Creator/Savior. And if we’re not, we’re going to distort the Word of God. Why is that? Because what does it say about the sin nature, the carnal mind is what against God? The carnal mind is enmity against God and cannot submit to the Word of God. So where you see people going off on tangents there’s been a seduction here and a rupture of communication with God. So meaning has to do with the meeting of the minds, there has to be a meeting of the minds going on.
Now when we come further on in the text of Scripture, we want to go now to how… and this is the background for the Framework, how when you look at the text of the great addresses in Scripture, which I’ll show you that before we finish, one of them and tomorrow night we’ll go into some more, if you look at the texts of the great addresses of Scripture you’ll notice that those texts concentrate in three areas. They will concentrate on contrast; they’ll deal with a range of meaning and they’ll deal with context. And the Framework basically does this. The contrast is truth versus vanity. Wherever you see a doctrine taught in Scripture remember it is being taught against something.
Now the Bible doesn’t develop all the heresies; we don’t have to know the heresies. You know, it’s like the secret service always says when they train their agents to spot counterfeit money; they train them on the true money first. They don’t have to go into all the counterfeits if you know what the true dollar bill looks like then you know what a phony one looks like. But scripturally in every case where you have doctrine, whether it’s Colossians, whether it’s Elijah and the Baalists, they are going against something. A doctrine has been devised and it’s in a hostile contrast to something else. And it helps in teaching categorical doctrine to show people that this is what the Bible says and this is what it doesn’t say. That sharpens the communication of Bible doctrine. You have to have some antithetical elements I there; not balance, you don’t go into, as much, spending time on what it doesn’t say to deal with what it does say but there’s got to be some what it doesn’t say in this or you don’t get the contrast. The edges and the shape of the doctrines don’t get clear.
And then we go to the range of meaning and this is where exegesis of verse by verse teaching comes into effect. If you don’t do that, then you don’t see how God in one way He does this and in another situation He does that but it’s the same God working the same way, His attributes don’t change, they’re the same yesterday, today and forever, but He’s flexible in going from event to event. Said another way, you can think of it as a child. We were talking today how children learn in discussing the curriculum for children and it’s interesting if you have a young child what form of language they learn first.
As I said this morning, that is the greatest miracle, probably, we do in our life. Mortimer Adler, associate editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica said that before we are age six we have already done the greatest intellectual feat that we will ever do for the rest of our life, and that it so learn a language without having learned one before. And you watch a child learn and they pick out the first part of speech is a noun. Now what is that little mind doing when it starts learning cat, dog, and it learns this is mommy, this is daddy (not two mommas). When a child learns a category what is he doing? He has been programmed from birth to subdue the earth and categorize it. You didn’t teach him that, no parent taught, well you will now categorize, we will now discuss nouns. That’s not how a kid learns. But he learns it, somehow he, or she, is already programmed to learn nouns, and that the first…when you see them repeat, they learn a word and they’ll sit there and they’ll repeat it 20 times, hey kid, wait a minute, I’ve heard that before. But that’s how they learn, repetition. So they’ve learned their nouns.
Then what to do they do? They start learning adjectives and then they start learning verbs, and then they start learning the past, present and future tense. Now do we teach them syntax? No, they come all programmed to learn, that happened yesterday, this is happening now, and that’s going to happen in the future. I used this illustration this morning of when one of my sons was learning he came up to me one day when I came home and he said “mommy goed to the store today.” I thought that was kind of interesting, “mommy goed to the store today.” I said do you know what that shows? That shows he’s not learning the verbs by mimicking because he’d never heard that, we’d never used “goed.” Well how did this g-o-e-d word get started? It’s because in his little mind he had taken the stem “go” and he realized that when you think about past tense you put an e-d ending on that, ed ending, so goed, goed to the store, it felt right. But the point was that little fellow had all the equipment on board from birth to start categorizing and now the range of meaning, now he begins to get more sophisticated because now instead of talking about a dog he talks about big dog, little dog, he talks about the dog having this factor, red dog, yellow dog and so on. Now there’s variety in it but they’re still dogs. Evolution hasn’t learned that yet but the child does learn that and that there are categories and there’s a range in between the categories. It’s not smeared all over the place in one big continuum.
Then we have context, and you’ll see that in these great speeches of the Bible the writer put it into a historical context. Of course those of you who understand this, we’re talking about basically doctrine, exegesis and isagogics, putting it in a historical context. The Bible always puts things in a context; again the child learns what a dog is, he learns there are different kinds of dogs, big ones, little ones, red ones, light ones, and he learns then that the dog has a certain connotation. If he has a pet dog then there are certain chores that have to be done, there are certain ways this dog is going to fit into the family picture here and you’re going to be responsible for it. So that’s the context. Now you need all three of these aspects to really grab the meaning. You need to know the context, which is the doctrine; you need to have the exegesis which is how that doctrine is revealed in different situations, and you have to have the big plan behind the Scriptures for all of human history and all of creation to fit that into context.
And this applies not just to special revelation. This applies to general revelation; this applies to any truth. That’s another problem we have today, is that if we’ve been trained in a public school secular education, what has happened to us and in our thinking is that we have (quote) “religion” over here, and then we have our secular subjects over here. We have learned compartmentalization. Does God’s Word compartmentalize like that? No it doesn’t. God’s Word treats all of reality, not part of reality; it treats language, it treats science, it treats history, it treats all of these areas, it’s a big fluid all encompassing statement.
What I want to do now is I want to go to the first of several texts that we’ll look at in the Scriptures that are these great speeches because here’s where we start to see the framework. Before we go there, however, I want to show you that in the light of context this is what goes on, and everybody does this; everybody does this, you do it, the non-Christian does it, everyone does it. You never can say a thing about anything without bringing in context and presuppositions behind what your saying, and we’ve got to learn that, there’s no such thing as a theory neutral statement; everything that we talk about has embedded within it a whole set of assumptions. So when we talk to each other we’re coming at each other with a whole series of assumptions.
One point of clarification before we go into this text; the difference between knowledge and faith as present day people have, this is a lovely statement by one of the great unbelievers of the 19th century, Julian Huxley. Notice this statement and pay attention to the red words: “I believe firmly the scientific method, although slow and never claiming to lead to complete truth, is the only method which will give satisfactory foundations for beliefs. We quite assuredly at present know nothing beyond this world and natural experience.” Now he’s stating a belief, is he not? That’s his first statement, “I believe” this to be the case. But then he says “I believe firmly that the scientific method” is the only way to proceed. And then he goes on to the second sentence, and I “quite assuredly know nothing beyond this world,” now how would you know that you know nothing beyond this world? You see, that’s a safe statement. That’s an example of presuppositions being brought in, the word “belief” is used two different ways is this sentence, the first use of that verb is not the same use as the second word, and the way knowledge is used down there is a bogus way of speaking of knowledge.
I’ve drawn a diagram down below that statement to show you something, and I want to turn to Hebrews 11 because it plays a fundamental role in faith. After all, Hebrews is the passage about how we believe and we trust in Scripture, we trust the Lord at His Word. But in trusting the Lord we’re assuming certain things, certain presuppositions. Hebrews 11:3 gives you this background, and I want to use two words here, reality and appearance. Appearance is what we can see, touch, taste and so on, it’s a domain of science, appearance. But reality is larger than what appears to be.
Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that the things which are seen,” that’s appearance, things which we can measure, photograph, document, “the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Reality is larger than appearance. Think of the angelic realm, we don’t see it, nobody has ever photographed it, but it’s there. Or to a skeptic we can say have you ever tasted, measured or seen the laws of logic? You see, everyone uses unseen things, the whole area of logic and reason is not something that’s measured, tasted, touched or seen. It’s not empirically observed. But logic, nevertheless, exists so reality is larger than appearance. And when we say as Christians we trust in the Word of God, what we’re saying is there’s a bigger reality out there than what it appears. And that’s what God tells us to do, look at Him. Look into the reality that’s behind what appears to be; the appearance of the present situation may be very bleak, may be very discouraging but reality is bigger than appearance. And then Hebrews chapter 11 goes through all these great Biblical examples of men who against appearance, who against the situations they saw with their eyes, heard with their ears, touched with their hands, the appearance of the circumstances in their lives, they went beyond that, didn’t they. They went and they believed that reality was bigger, that God was there, and God was in charge and God was going to do something.
Now we want to go to the first of several passages of Scripture that deal with how Biblical men who were leaders taught people and how they wove these three areas of contrast, range of meaning and context into what they spoke. We’re going to deal more tomorrow night with these, we’ll get into the New Testament, but I want to start out in Joshua. So turn back to Joshua 24. Joshua 24 is a passage that deals with the renewal of the covenant. And remember that the Biblical word “covenant” is akin to our modern word “contract.” And that’s a very important observation.
We come to Joshua 24; he’s at Shechem, and he’s about to invoke the renewal so that Israel is going to understand that they exist under a covenant before Joshua is going to die. In the first 15 verses Joshua has his departing speech to the nation. Now watch what he says, as you go through these 15 verses, follow me through these, we’ll go through pretty quickly, follow these through and watch how he addresses the nation; it’s a very important address. We talk about inaugural addresses, well this is actually a pre-funeral address. This is the departing speech of Joshua.
Joshua 24:1, “Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and called for the elders of Israel, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.  And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods.’” Contrast, he’s contrasting the God that Israel serves, the true and living God with the paganism and the false and the idolatry. He understands there’s a difference, they did this, we do this, “they served other gods.  Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River, led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.  To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.  Also I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to what I did among them. Afterward I brought you out.”
What’s that doing? That’s a narration of what? History, but it’s more than a narration of history; it’s a narration of contractual behavior. What had God promised that He was going to do for Israel? That He would deliver them. What does He promise to Abraham? That he would be prosperous, that his seed would be multiplied. What is this narrative saying? Did God fulfill the literal terms of the contract of did He not? Did He do it in spite of the behavior of His people? Yes. Who was faithful to the contract? God was faithful to the contract. You see how this is the context issue; behind this whole narration lies the contract. God made a contract; it is to be interpreted literally and it comes to pass literally. Ever think of why a contract is made. Why does the bank make a contract with us when we borrow money? Because they want their money back. And moreover they want to obligate us to a behavior of repayment. So they make a contract that says you will pay this every 30 days, boom, boom, boom and there’s the amortization table. And what happens when we don’t make the payments? We’re in violation of that contract and they can confiscate whatever it is we’ve got the loan on because they’ve got the lien on that property.
Why does the contract have to be interpreted literally? Because it’s the only way you can verify behavior. How else would you verify behavior if you went to an allegorical method of interpretation? You see. You see why it’s so vital to interpret things literally in the Scripture. And so this is why in Joshua 24 God is saying I did this for you; it’s not just saying I did this, I did that, I did this, implied in the text is the promises of the covenant. I did this in accordance with the contract; I did that in accordance with the contract. I did this because of the contract, I am a faithful God.
And so he goes, Joshua 24:6, “Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt,” all of this is history, and in the Framework what do we do? We emphasize the fact that God teaches true doctrine, we go through the exegesis but we also go through history. Was there an Exodus or not? We’re involved in apologetic issues. See, you can’t separate these things. Was the Exodus in this part of the kingdom, the new kingdom, the middle kingdom of Egypt, that’s a question that we have to deal with. It involves a real historical act. It’s important whether the Exodus ever happened because God says if it didn’t happen I’m faking it, so this address says that I did this, I brought your fathers out of Egypt, “and you came to the sea; and the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea.” See all the details.  “So they cried out to the LORD; and He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, brought the sea upon them, and covered them.”
He’s going over all those details of the Exodus event to remind the people that I am the sovereign omnipotent God and when I tell you I am going to do something, I do it, whether you like it or not I do it, whether you’re faithful or not, I do it. And see this is the exhortation we need when we use the faith rest life, is God trustable. That’s the issue. When we’re going through that step two of the faith rest drill, developing the rationale, what the issue is, can I trust God in this situation; that’s the issue. And to get our minds in a position where they can trust Him we’ve got to review this stuff. Christianity is a cognitive religion, it’s not mysticism, you can’t trust because you feel good or feel bad. You trust because there’s that perception, that persuasion that God does what He says He’s going to do. Now how do you know that in your personal life? You go back to the Scriptures and see if He did that to Egypt He can do this to me. You go from the greater to the lesser; you go from His behavior pattern that you observe, that we have here in the text to whatever it is in your life.
“…And your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. Then you dwelt in the wilderness a long time.  And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, who dwelt on the other side of the Jordan, and they fought with you. But I gave them into your hand, that you might possess their land, and I destroyed them from before you.” So he’s saying Joshua, remind the people there are going to be battles down the road, there’s going to be war down the road, there are going to be casualties down the road, there’s going to be discouragement down the road, there are going to be some dark days down the road but you remember, remember what I did to the Amorites, “I gave them into your hand, that you may possess their land, and I destroyed them before you.  Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose to make war against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you.  But I would not listen to Balaam; therefore he continued to bless you. So I delivered you out of his hand.” And there’s the admonition, Israel, there are coming false prophets, there are coming apostate religions, remember I took care of this.
See what Joshua is doing? Everything in this speech describes an event that covered the category of problems they’re going to have for the rest of the Old Testament. That’s why these events are selected. He doesn’t go through every event that happened; it’s a selective list of events, all of which point to categories of problems they’re going to face in the future.
Joshua 24:11, “Then you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho. And the men of Jericho fought against you—“now we have an organized army, we have fortification, [“also the Amorites, the Perizzite, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.] But I delivered them into your hand.  I sent the hornet before you which drove them out from before you, also the two kings of the Amorites, but not with your sword or with your bow.” What’s the story? The story of Jericho; the army felt pretty stupid going around Jericho singing songs. Why did God do that peculiar behavior? Because He wanted to get the point across that you conquered that but you didn’t do it by your sword; you did it because I did it for you. So later, when you go into battle, and you have to use your sword, you remember who delivered you; it’s not the sword that’s in your hand, I am there and I’m doing the delivering.
Joshua 24:13, “I have given you a land for which you did not labor,” what’s that, a typical concept of grace, human merit, you didn’t get this because of human merit, I gave it to you because of grace, you didn’t earn it, you didn’t deserve it but I gave it to you in grace, “and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.” You didn’t do this, you didn’t do this, you didn’t do this and yet you enjoy that. See, orientation to grace, it’s all in here, and it’s all part of history. Verse 14, “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt.” See it goes back to the religious issue now; you’re going to be tempted down in the future to go into idolatry.
You know it’s peculiar that we moderns tend to think of ancient people as very superstitious and naïve. Think about it, people say oh well, we’re so sophisticated in our day, we’re not gullible, you know, we’re mature people, we’re not gullible like those ancient people. The ancient people were just as antagonistic to the Word of God as we are today. Where do we get the term “doubting Thomas?” There’s a guy that walked around with Jesus and he didn’t believe; was Thomas gullible? No, it’s exactly the opposite, these people were skeptical, they were just like us, they didn’t buy into all this stuff just like that. They had a problem, Thomas had a problem; the people who saw the Exodus, what’d they do as soon as they got out in the wilderness and had a problem? They didn’t believe, so don’t buy into this stuff that we’re the great moderns and those people somehow were so naïve they’d believe anything anybody said. No-no, they were the same as we are today. And so he’s warning them. “…Serve the LORD!  And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
And there you have contrast; there’s the doctrine. Joshua is going to do this, and you have volition and you go and do that—consequences, you’ve got the freedom of choice but you don’t have the freedom to dictate the consequences of your free choice. So it’s all there, it’s all packed in this and tomorrow we’ll go through some of the other great passages and I’ll try to show you how contrast, doctrine over against falsehood, range of meaning, God has given what, fifteen different things here, all the different… His faithfulness is the context but it’s faithfulness in this way, in this way, in this way, in this way, until we get an all encompassing idea, so all encompassing that it encompasses every potential problem Israel will have the rest of the Old Testament and on into the future.
And then we have the idea of context. What is the context of Joshua 24 from beginning to end? A contract, the covenant. God has a big plan for history, He’s going to execute that plan for history, it’s going to be executed just as He literally says it’s going to be, He is in control and no false God can challenge His authority. So Joshua 24 is one of several passages and we’ll go into a little more of the details tomorrow but we’ll go back and we’ll see the content of this Framework that I’m talking about didn’t come because I just thought up all these things. Basically they came because I took a pencil and paper and I went through all the great passages of Scripture, like Joshua 24 and I just wrote down the events that these people keep talking about. That’s where that list came from that you see in the Framework, this event, this event, this event, this event, this event. Those are all listed in these addresses. So blame these guys for the Framework, not me.
Father, we thank You….