The Forbidden Manner of Worship

The Forbidden Manner of Worship

Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. —Deuteronomy 4:15-19

The larger context of Deuteronomy chapter 4 outlines the careful diligence that must be shown in the keeping of God’s law, especially charging parents to teach God’s acts of providence in history to subsequent generations. Parents are commanded to “[M]ake them known to your children and your children’s children” (Deut 4:9).

The passage  sets forth two principles to be considered and obeyed. First there is the responsibility of self-government. Verse 15 of Deuteronomy chapter 4 clearly establishes that man must live in the fear of God, mindful of his actions in light of God’s righteous standard. The Christian is only able to judge what is right or wrong by the authority of God’s Word in the power of the Spirit and so be conformed to the image of Christ.  Self-government is basic to biblical law.

The second principle to recognize is that man is responsible to communicate the truth about God to others. There is an emphasis put upon family discipleship because the family is the basic social unit. Through the family, subsequent generations are discipled in the faith.  But discipleship is not prescribed for the family alone. The family is equipped by the shepherds and teachers of the church “for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.” So as members of the body of Christ, we as Christians are to keep watch over ourselves and admonish one another in the faith.

Immediately following the charge to “watch yourselves very carefully” (Deut 4:15) the passage  gives examples of ways in which we might act corruptly or err in the practice of right and holy worship. Man is warned to check himself, guarding against his propensity to form a view of God that is not found in his all sufficient testimony about himself, the Scriptures. The charge, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it” (Deut 4:2), was uttered in the immediately preceding verses, and is followed by the command, “take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life” (Deut 4:9).

We must remember first that God is spirit and has “no form” (Deut 4:15). If we ascribe any form of our invention to God, or identify God “in the form of any figure” (Deut 4:15) we have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Rom 1:25), and created a false representation of Almighty God. “[H]e is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col 1:17). Christ alone is “the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe be the word of his power” (Heb 1:3), being the second person of the triune Godhead.

As the first warning identified man’s presumptuous nature and his tendency to create a god after his own image, so the second warning concerns man’s tenacious rebellion in rendering worship to something other than God himself. The basic faith of so many who identify themselves with Christianity is actually the tragic doctrine of humanism. Humanism as a belief system is one which can captivate any Christian who seeks to distance himself from the full implications of this commandment. A Christian is properly identified as a humanist when, while he denies that he is party to any form of external physical idolatry, he yet refuses to yield his mind on even the smallest issue of life to the law of God. This was aptly noted by R. J. Rushdoony when he wrote: “Humanism is the second oldest religion known to man. It goes back to the Garden of Eden and to the tempter’s creed as set forth in Genesis 3:1-5.”1

The basic duty of the Christian faith is to live obediently in terms of God’s Word by faith in Jesus Christ. Habakkuk 2:4 declares that “the righteous [man] shall live by his faith.” To live in terms of any other faith than that faith which professes and performs obedience to Christ’s commandments is to live in opposition to God, and to embrace the very oldest of lies; that man can “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5). This is something that each one of us does in self-deceit. We make excuses, identify something as unfair, or harbor notions of self-justification for our lawless actions in order to relieve the guilt of our conscience. The Christian must of necessity abhor the vileness of sin. He must wage war with the false concept of peace with any other faith, and he must discharge his obligation to advance Christ’s everlasting Kingdom.

As with all issues of life, the comprehensive sufficiency of scripture must by necessity be assumed in order to consistently apply these principles of worship.  God’s Word alone is the final measure by which any and all forms of worship must be examined and applied.  The eminent importance of this issue cannot be overemphasized.  Deuteronomy 12:31-32 demonstrates this:

When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. —Deuteronomy 12:31-32

Two themes in this passage are crucial to recognize. First there is the antithesis of the Christian faith and the humanistic faith. The humanistic faith was the faith of those nations which served other gods and disobeyed the commandments of the one true God.  They were to be deposed and destroyed by Israel, the saints of God. This was a concrete enactment of the proverb that says “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil” (Prov 8:13). By consequence of regeneration, “the law of the Spirit of life” (Rom 8:2) has set the mind of the Christian “on the things of the Spirit” (Rom 8:5) “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled” (Rom 8:4).  The redeemed man who has been converted by the Spirit of God unto saving faith in Christ cannot dwell peaceably with evil, either in the world or within himself. The natural man runs towards humanism. The Christian must be at war with him.

What the natural man perceives as good and right worship can never be faithfully performed toward God and it is imperative that the Christian submit himself to the command of God who declares: “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way” (Deut 12:31). The Christian is forbidden to worship God in a manner that is derived from man’s mind. It was by the mind of man that “every abominable thing that the LORD hates” (Deut 12:31) was “done for their gods” (Deut 12:31).  History is replete with the detestable horrors fallen man has stooped to in worshiping his gods, such as what is recorded here; “for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods” (Deut 12:31).

The governing authority of God’s Word over the manner that we worship God is stated thus: “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it” (Deut 12:32). Here is the ultimate standard that we as Christians must adhere to; namely that God himself has prescribed the manner of worship that is pleasing to him, and we are thereby forbidden from worshipping God in any manner other than he has revealed to us in his Word.

The Word of God is set forth as the only infallible source of God’s revealed will to man. If man turns to any other source to determine how he ought to worship God, whether through the examples of other religions, personal experience, or witty invention and the cleverness of his own mind, his worship will be regarded by God as abominable. It will have no merit whatsoever, and will incur the judgement and wrath of God, instead of his blessing and favor. May God give us grace that we might abstain from all things that are forbidden in the second commandment.

Behold, Your King

Behold, Your King

For 2,000 years the historic Christian church has remembered the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in human flesh. This event celebrated around the world declares the advance of Christ’s Kingdom; of the increase of His government there shall be no end! No expression of man has described this work of our Messiah so well as Handel’s oratorio. His is a singular work that vividly sets to song the prophecies and fulfillment of the advent, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, kingdom advance, final victory, and accomplished salvation of our Lord. I’ve used his masterpiece as a springboard for an outline of Scriptural texts that proclaim the promise and fulfillment of the gospel of the kingdom.

His Promise

Decreed from the foundations of the world and foretold immediately after the Fall, God promised salvation through the seed of the woman in the person of Jesus Christ. The following verses reveal the promise of our Messiah, Emmanuel, God with us.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

(Isaiah 40:1–5)

For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.

(Haggai 2:6–7)

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.

(Malachi 3:1–3)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

(Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23)

To a venerable and reverend brother, connected with him by ties of spiritual kinship, Boniface, lowly servant or the servants of God, greetings of love in Christ.

With humblest entreaty we beg thee of thy brotherly mercy to be mindful of our weakness and to make intercession for us since by reason of our sins we are buffeted from all sides by the storms of a dangerous sea: asking Him who dwelleth on high and looketh down on the low things and pardoneth our faults to put the word into our mouths so that the gospel of Christ’s glory may have free course and be glorified among the nations.

– St. Boniface (735 A.D.) –
New Ethics Against Virtue

New Ethics Against Virtue

or

How to Cowardly Abandon All Resolve and Condemn the Teaching of Those Who Fall from Favor and Lose Popularity

After the manner of Erasmus

When the sands of time have shifted, the winds of change have altered course, and the status quo yields so that his principles are no longer held in vogue, the time has come for the Christian to compromise his beliefs, concede his standards, and abandon the ship of faith in cowardly despair.

Clearly this is the only tactful course of action to take. Can he justify continuing to adhere to an orthopraxy which the sin of prominent men have tarnished? Surely the sin of such men has tarnished their message enough to justify condemning all they taught. How would he answer his critics if he were to continue to practice a lifestyle which has now been brought under such intense scrutiny? How could he easily defend such a course of action?

When prominent figures fall from favor in the eyes of their fellow Christians, all reasonable men are responsible to renounce those teachings and separate themselves as far from the danger of association as possible. He must forget that their teachings are from the Scriptures and that the Scriptures use terms and explicitly state the principles that he formerly held to.

Some Christians may argue that the Scriptures are sufficient for governing all that relates to faith and practice — But with their singular loss of popularity who wouldn’t abandon such opinions? A Christian can’t hold to principles taught by men who have fallen from favor — he may be said to be associated with sinners! What would that do to his “testimony” and “influence”? A Christian can’t be condemned by the world. He should seek the world’s approval.

While many Christians may have at one time agreed with the theology taught by these prominent figures — some may have even quoted their teaching from the pulpit! — such scandalous association can no longer be drawn between them. They must feign ignorance of the true scope of the teaching — they must convince others that they were duped into believing such ideas — any benefits they had claimed stemmed from such doctrines must be generalized or explained away. If a Christian previously voiced assent to the teaching, or gave prestigious awards to such teachers,1http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/hslda-gave-this-man-their-prestigious-lifetime-achievement-award-just-4-years-ago/ he must denounce them, and run to the safety of the next wind of doctrine2Ephesians 4:14 that blows from the Christian left.

This is only fitting. How else would a Christian save face in a culture that is already apathetic to his values and beliefs? The only valid option is obvious: look at the teachings from a new perspective — one that is antithetical to his previous viewpoint. A new viewpoint that has an autonomous standard of morality and seeks to interpret the commands of God from the cultural bias of antinomianism.

With a new standard of interpretation, anything is fair game. A Christian can berate his former friends and allies in the faith; those whom he labored hard with for the work of Christ’s Kingdom. He can now neglect kindness toward his friends and forsake the fear of God3Job 6:14 for political expediency and cultural influence.

Betrayal is the next logical step — and why not? If one can’t associate himself with the philosophies of men who have sinned, he should also publicly discredit them, preferably by claiming that he “knew” there were warning signs all along.

If logical arguments and scriptural principles of interaction with others fail, he must appeal to sympathy and emotions in a manner as culturally relevant as possible; applying the world’s parameters for arguments and discussion. The ridicule he may take for adherence to the Scriptures comes at too great a cost.


Satire aside, consider God’s response: “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.”4Psalm 2:4 ESV This is not a new phenomena; it has been the struggle of men throughout history to hold fast to the truth. For instance, the denial of Peter:

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. 5Matthew 26:69–75 ESV

Peter denied having known Jesus and of following his teachings — teachings which he knew were trustworthy because they were taught in the Scriptures. Later he proves that he knew they were true by his own instruction to others of these teachings. Sadly, many are like Peter and waiver when their ideologies are questioned because of their association with what is quickly becoming unpopular.

We’ve grown so accustomed to playing follow-the-leader that when prominent proponents of our ideology fail, and we’re left standing without a spokesman, we shrink at the thought of responsibly standing up for what we believe in. Our actions demonstrate that we don’t know the Scriptures well enough to give a defense for our beliefs. We have not been ardent students of the Word, and therefore can’t own the sentiments ourselves. In our depraved nature we will do anything to escape the embarrassment of our own stupidity — even abandoning all of our principles for temporal safety. Without resolve, we run like cowards.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, … their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. 6Revelation 21:8 ESV And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.71 Corinthians 6:11 ESV So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.82 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV

The Denial of Saint Peter” (1625) by Nicolas Tournier. Public Domain.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/hslda-gave-this-man-their-prestigious-lifetime-achievement-award-just-4-years-ago/
2. Ephesians 4:14
3. Job 6:14
4. Psalm 2:4 ESV
5. Matthew 26:69–75 ESV
6. Revelation 21:8 ESV
7. 1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV
8. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV

“Entire civilizations rest on the simple foundation of family. One of the great lessons of history is that when the family collapses, the civilization crumbles with it. A people will not long survive without strong families.”

– John MacArthur –

In the progress of the city of God through the ages, therefore, David first reigned in the earthly Jerusalem as a shadow of that which was to come.  Now David was a man skilled in songs, who dearly loved musical harmony, not with a vulgar delight, but with a believing disposition, and by it served his God, who is the true God, by the mystical representation of a great thing.  For the rational and well-ordered concord of diverse sounds in harmonious variety suggests the compact unity of the well-ordered city.

– St. Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (426) –

“[Christian emperors] are happy if they rule justly; if they are not lifted up amid the praises of those who pay them sublime honors, and the obsequiousness of those who salute them with an excessive humility, but remember that they are men; if they make their power the handmaid of His majesty by using it for the greatest possible extension of His worship; if they fear, love, worship God; if more than their own they love that kingdom in which they are not afraid to have partners; if they are slow to punish, ready to pardon; if they apply that punishment as necessary to government and defense of the republic, and not in order to gratify their own enmity; if they grant pardon, not that iniquity may go unpunished, but with the hope that the transgressor may amend his ways; if they compensate with the lenity of mercy and the liberality of benevolence for whatever severity they may be compelled to decree; if their luxury is as much restrained as it might have been unrestrained; if they prefer to govern depraved desires rather than any nation whatever; and if they do all these things, not through ardent desire of empty glory, but through love of eternal felicity, not neglecting to offer to the true God, who is their God, for their sins, the sacrifices of humility, contrition, and prayer.”

– St. Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (426) –
Top 10 Books on the Civil War

Top 10 Books on the Civil War

While visiting with a family on a recent road trip, the topic of discussion included a friendly dialogue regarding the causes and results of what is commonly referred to as the Civil War. The results of this discussion lead me to prepare a list of the top 10 books that I would recommend as introductory reading about the Civil War.

Let me preface this list with the following disclaimer. The purpose of this list is not to set forth ten books that comprehensively cover every aspect of the war. Although there is one book in this list that does indeed attempt to set forth a comprehensive overview of the war, this list is not intended for the purpose of setting forth ten books to understand the entire war and all the events associated with it. This list is not intended to set forth books from either a pro-Union or pro-Confederate viewpoint. However, none of the books that are in this list approach the war from a neutral perspective. Every author has a decided opinion and worldview that affects their understanding of the war. Nor is this list meant to be considered as the best ten books to read in order to understand the Civil War. You will notice that none of these books were written during or immediately after the war. In fact the earliest book in this list was initially published in 1901. I firmly believe that the best resources for truly understanding history is to read and study source documents, yet the books that have largely assisted me, and opened new avenues of source document study are books that examine and discuss source documents.

The purpose of this list is to set forth ten books that act as a framework to introduce the conflict known as the Civil War. There are many other books besides these ten that are well worth reading, and some that profoundly impacted me that did not make it on the list. The first book I ever read that portrayed Lincoln in a negative light is included on the list (The Real Lincoln, Thomas J. DiLorenzo), yet the list doesn’t include the book that actually solidified my understanding of Lincoln as a jurisdictional usurper (The Fate of Liberty, Mark E. Neely Jr.). Not a single book by Al Benson, Jr. or Walter Donald Kennedy made this list, yet I would insist that anything that either of these men wrote is worth reading. Another book that did not make the list that is absolutely indispensable for understanding the the growth and expansion of Christianity during the war is the 600+ page work by J. William Jones titled “Christ in the Camp”. 

My hope is that the following list of ten books will act as a catalyst to further the study of the Civil War, and lead to a better understanding that the world we live in today is a result of the providential events that took place in 1860-1865.

Lectures on The South

Lectures on the South, Joe Morecraft

This book is first on the list because it is always the first book that I recommend whenever someone is seriously desiring to study the Civil War. Henry Van Til observed that “culture is religion externalized.” What a person believes affects his actions and outlook on life. “Lectures on the South” clearly demonstrates the reformed Christian heritage of the south and the abandonment of historic Christianity in the northern states in favor of Unitarianism. This examination of the religious preconceptions of both sides in the conflict is essential to understanding their actions leading up to, during, and after the war.

The War Between the StatesThe War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War, John J. Dwyer

Outlined in just under 700 pages is a comprehensive overview of the entire war, covering in three parts the causes of the war, the war itself, and post-war/reconstruction. Essentially it is a textbook that outlines every aspect of the war from a Christian perspective. So much could be said about the material within the book, but I believe that the essential benefit of this book relates to chapters 9 and 10 which outline the necessity of understanding the religious perspective of the north and south in order to recognize that the true battle was one between a Christian South and a Unitarian North.

Black & TanBlack & Tan, Douglas Wilson

There are so many books that relate to antebellum slavery, that it may be surprising that Doug Wilson’s book made the top ten list. Yet I am not aware of any other book that addresses the issue of slavery from such a consistently Christian perspective and examines the practice of slavery in the south with what the Word of God says slavery is and how it ought to be governed.

The Real LincolnThe Real Lincoln, Charles L.C. Minor

Initially published in 1901 as a 66 page booklet, it was later expanded in 1904 into a book of 273 pages. The book begins with the observation that Lincoln has been deified by the north, that he has been misrepresented as the savior of the nation and that he was not the great emancipator. The book sets about demonstrating that Lincoln was a man with many faults, and that many things that are said regarding Lincoln’s greatness are purely imaginative and undeserved.

The Real LincolnThe Real Lincoln, Thomas J. DiLorenzo

This was the first book that I ever read that contradicted what I had learned about Lincoln as the defender of liberty and the great emancipator in school. It was my first exposure to Lincoln’s solution of slavery as colonization of blacks to Africa. It was the first time I had ever heard that Lincoln’s desire was for an immense federal government, or that Lincoln usurped authority that belonged only to congress (suspension of the writ of habeas corpus), or that he ordered presses burned and publishers imprisoned. The point of this book is that Lincoln was an enemy of liberty.

What Lincoln BelievedWhat Lincoln Believed, Michael Lind

This book demonstrates through the citation of source documents that “Lincoln was a product of the Enlightenment.” Lincoln is regarded as a deist while according to Herndon “He lived and acted from the standard of reason—that throne of logic, home of principle—the realm of Deity in man.” This book also demonstrates how Lincoln was deeply impressed with the notion of evolution.

America's CaesarAmerica’s Caesar (Expanded Edition), Greg Loren Durand

No other book examines the systematic destruction of republican government in the United states from a Christian perspective with constant citation, reference, and accompaniment of source documents. I have never read or seen the abridged edition, but I could not imagine being without a single supporting essay or document that is provided in the expanded edition.

War Crimes Against Southern CiviliansWar Crimes Against Southern Civilians, Walter Brian Cisco

Throughout this book it is demonstrated over and over that the Union army waged a horrific and terrifying war against the civilian populace of the south. The great number of atrocities that were perpetrated against women, children, and non-combatants is truly outrageous. This book demonstrates that the consistent and logical end of armed conflict that is unrestrained by Christian law is an abandonment of moral restraint, and thus total war.

ComplicityComplicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank

It is a commonly held belief that the South was racist for maintaining the practice of slavery, and that the north was free of racial tendencies on the basis that they prohibited slavery. This misconception is proven to be false as it is demonstrated that it was Northern ships that transferred slaves from Africa to America, that northern men financed the slaving voyages, and that northerners would kidnap free blacks and transport them to the south as slaves.

When in the Course of Human EventsWhen in the Course of Human Events, Charles Adams

This book argues the case for southern secession by examining the the legitimacy of secession from many different viewpoints. It examines it on the bases of the original thirteen colonies declaration of independence from britain, the perspective of Great Britain on the war, that Jefferson Davis was never tried for treason, etc.

A Picture of the Gospel

A Picture of the Gospel

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
—Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV

In this statement we find that the very fabric of marriage is a picture of something larger than two people covenanting together to become one flesh. It is bigger than the establishment of a new covenantal household. It is bigger than two people being obedient to the commands of God. Marriage is a picture of Jesus Christ and his own bride, the church. Marriage is given to man as the clearest working illustration of Christ’s sacrificial love for his church.

The primary function and purpose of marriage is to glorify God by showcasing the great mercy and grace found in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This gospel is the good news that was promised to Eve in the Garden. It is an assertion that Christ’s victory over his enemies will be total and complete. It is a promise of salvation for all those who are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.

In order to understand the nature of this good news, we must turn our attention to the book of Genesis. We must begin with the book of beginnings. For it is within the first few chapters of Genesis that we find the first marriage established before God for the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth. It is here that we find that the first man Adam failed in his task of subduing the earth unto God. It is within the first few chapters that sin enters the world through Adam’s disobedience.

God established a law by which Adam and Eve were to live and conform their lives unto. Because Adam transgressed and violated this law by refusing to conform himself to it, he and all his posterity received the curse of sin upon themselves. Sin, in it’s simplest definition is any transgression of, or lack of conformity to the law of God. These laws and commandments constitute our responsibilty of obedience before God. Anything short of absolute perfect obedience to these commands is sin, and justly deserving of condemnation and eternal damnation.

This same law that condemned Adam also condemns every man woman and child who has ever lived. The word of God declares that if we violate just one commandment of God we are guilty of violating the whole law. Man’s refusal to follow and submit to the authority of God is an expression of his autonomy. It is an act of defiance against the creator and a futile attempt to suppress the knowledge of God. This same sin, the sin of asserting oneself as the determiner of ethics, justice, and morality is the sin for which Adam was expelled from the garden. It is the same sin that remains on each and every man woman and child today.

Yet even though this sin corrupts our entire being, and has driven us from fellowship with God, and has in fact placed us as enemies of God who face the wrath of God. He demonstrates his mercy and grace through the promise of his Son.

Immediately following the fall of mankind into sin, God decreed that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. This was a promise to mankind that God had provided a means of reconciling fallen mankind to himself. It was an assertion of the victory of the promised seed over sin and death.

This promise was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary he became a man without inheriting the sin nature of man. He lived a perfect life in obedience to the law of God, who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. He died upon the cross so that the he might be the propitiation for our sins. He rose from the dead proving his victory over the grave, and he has been exhalted to the right hand of power on the throne of heaven. God now commands all people everywhere to repent and believe the gospel, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness.

How then does this mystery of the Gospel relate to marriage? It relates to marriage in that Christ refers to all who are elect unto eternal life—having repented of sin and believed by faith in the Gospel—as members of his church, who is the bride of Christ. As redeemed men and women, we are brought into a restored fellowship and union with God. Christ’s death on the cross functions as a bride’s price, whereby he purchased us for himself and has made us sons and heirs of all things.

This splendor of salvation is what marriage is a picture of. As Christ loved his bride and laid down his life for her, so a man is commanded to love his wife, and lay down his own life for her. As the church is called to obey the word of God, so the wife is commanded to submit to her husband. As Christ has been given authority over all the earth and commanded the discipleship of the nations, so the family has been given authority to take dominion over the earth and subdue it unto the glory of God. Just as Christ declares that through the preaching of his word he will bring many sons to glory, so by parents instructing their own children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, they will likewise bring many sons and daughters to glory.

Nineveh, the Bloody City

Nineveh, the Bloody City

From it’s very inception, Nineveh was established as an expression of rebellion against God, and it’s foundation was laid in opposition to the commandments of God. We learn from Genesis 10:11 that Nimrod, after building the cities of Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar, went into Assyria and built Nineveh. Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the Lord, following in the footsteps of the mighty men who lived before the flood (Gen 6:4,5) and whose every thought and intention was only evil continually. This is made evident by the stated purpose of those who desired to build the city and tower of Babel:

“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
—Genesis 11:4

Construction of the Tower of Babel

Construction of the Tower of Babel – Hendrick van Cleve

The very purpose of the city and it’s tower was the exaltation of man; a very prideful and arrogant act which not only dishonored the name of the Lord, but sought to supplant his rule and authority by disobeying his commission to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 9:1). Those who proposed the building of Babel were lead forward in their rebellion by Nimrod, for Babel was the beginning of his kingdom (Genesis 10:10). The audacity of Nimrod is demonstrated in his mightiness before the Lord. Not only did he have wicked thoughts and intentions of heart, but he flaunted his apostasy in the face of God. He built city after city in opposition to the command of God, and yet after he had built four cities, he could not rest until he had traveled to Assyria and continued his humanistic campaign by building Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen.

Babel was the forerunner of Nineveh, and it was Babel’s vision of exulting man and it’s purpose of supplanting the rule of God that were summarily adopted by Nineveh. Hence, we find that from it’s very foundation, Nineveh was established for the purpose of drawing people away from the knowledge and worship of the one true God. It was established with the intention of preventing obedience to God, and insisting on the idea that man’s unity secures prosperity. It’s cornerstone was laid on the doctrine of humanism—the deification of man!

The self-asserted and pompous attempt of any civil government to supplant the rule of God by establishing a social order that is in rebellion to God’s revealed will is regarded as folly in the eyes of the Lord. Psalm 2 demonstrates the foolishness of kings and rulers who take counsel against the Lord by declaring that “He who sits in the heavens laughs” at their plots and councils. The Lord proclaims “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” Jesus Christ, as the ruler of kings on earth, does not concede one bit of his sovereign lordship to any other king, but has been given a rod of iron to break those nations who rebel.

The Book of Nahum clearly sets forth the rebellion of Nineveh as a city that has positioned herself against the Lord as his enemy and his adversary (1:2). Nineveh was a city that plotted evil against the Lord (1:9,11) and practiced unceasing evil (3:19). Sennacherib, king of Assyria, (whose capital was Nineveh) sent his messenger Rabshakeh to Hezekiah king of Judah to mock the living God (2 Kings 19:4, Isaiah 37:4) and boast of his defiance against the Lord (2 Kings 18:28,33–35, Isaiah 19:13,18–20). As a testimony to her own strength, Nineveh exulted herself and uttered a declaration of her own divinity; “I am, and there is no one else.” (Zephaniah 2:15)

This self assertion of divinity laid the foundation for building a social order that was at war with the law of God. It established a rule of ethics that was built on man’s reason, void of Biblical revelation, and thereby setting the basis for justifying all kinds of evil: drunkenness (1:10, 3:11), idolatry (1:14), cursing (2:13), murder (3:1), lying (3:1), theft (3:1), prostitution (3:4), and apathetic indifference among rulers (3:18).

Offering to MolechBecause of Nineveh’s unceasing evil, the Lord declares numerous times that he is against Nineveh (2:13, 3:5) and that she is an enemy (1:2) and an adversary (1:2,8). The culmination of God’s disgust with Nineveh is found in the great woe that describes her as “the bloody city” (3:1). This description is absolutely fitting because of the horrific murders that took place during her prominence. The first reference of these murders are those performed by the worshipers of Adrammelech who sacrificed their children in the fire out of devotion to this false god (2 Kings 17:31). King Sennacherib’s devotion to this false god is demonstrated by his son bearing this god’s very name (2 Kings 19:37, Isaiah 37:38). The second act of murder that is perpetrated in Nineveh is the horrific, disgusting, and unimaginable act of Adrammelech and Sharezer who struck down their own father Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:37, Isaiah 37:38). Hence, the depiction of Nineveh as the bloody city is most fitting, and the graphic picture described by Nahum of a city of dead bodies without end that causes the attacking horses to stumble is horrifyingly accurate (3:3). Nineveh is the city where fathers kill their sons, and sons kill their fathers.

There is a second aspect to the woe that is pronounced upon Nineveh, and that is in relation to her whoring and prostitution (3:4). Nineveh was a city of sexual fornication, and thus a city that was at war with God’s fundamental institution; the family. The family unit, according to the decree of God, is composed of a husband and wife who raise up a godly seed and advance the kingdom of God over all the earth (Genesis 2:26–28). This family unit is a picture of Jesus Christ and his bride; the church (Ephesians 5:32). When men and women commit sexual immorality, they are distorting and polluting the image of Christ and his bride. This assault against Christ is thereby grounds for God to shame Nineveh (3:5) and treat her with contempt (3:6).

Because Nineveh took what God calls wickedness and turned it into something graceful and charming (3:4) God made Nineveh a spectacle that all who will look upon will shrink away from (3:6,7). As a result of these atrocities that Nineveh perpetrated against the Lord, she was made a desolation and laid waste like a desert (Zephaniah 2:13–15).

Yet, Nineveh was not destroyed by God’s wrath without being shown mercy. God summoned the prophet Jonah to call out against that great city because their evil had come up before the Lord (Jonah 1:2). This call was a decree of judgment that would come upon the city for the great evil therein (3:4). This message alerted the people of Nineveh to the punishment and consequences of sin, and upon hearing this message, they believed God (3:5) and turned from their evil ways (3:10). The people of Nineveh humbled themselves before the Lord by fasting and putting on sackcloth (3:5). Likewise the king of Nineveh upon hearing of the judgment of God and recognizing his failure to establish justice in the land, removed himself from his throne (3:6). He humbled himself by replacing his vesture of authority with sackcloth and placing himself in submission to God issued a decree that every man was to fast, call out mightily to God, and turn from his violent and evil ways (3:6).

Jonah Preaching to the Ninevites - Gustave Dore

Jonah Preaching to the Ninevites – Gustave Dore

This king upon hearing the message of judgment from God turned the city of Nineveh away from the path of destruction. He became a king of wisdom by taking the warning of God seriously (Psalm 2:10). The salvation of his city was secured by his taking refuge in and kissing the Son (Psalm 2:11,12). He submitted to God’s Word and was spared destruction. Because the men of Nineveh humbled themselves before God and repented of their evil ways, they will stand at the judgment and condemn the Jewish generation that crucified the Lord (Luke 11:29–32).

The history of Nineveh ought to be a sobering realization for my generation. Nineveh was founded and established in rebellion to the Lord, yet God was merciful and relented from destroying her when the people repented and turned from their evil ways. Even so, just a few generations after the repentance of Nineveh, she returns to her founding principle of rebellion. This time God does not withhold his judgment, and Nineveh was so utterly destroyed that for over a thousand years there was seemingly no evidence that Nineveh had ever existed.

My generation must be alerted to the reality that we see the very same reprehensible practices that were found in Nineveh being practiced today; abortion, euthanasia, sexual immorality, perverted justice, dishonoring of parents, etc.. God will not allow this rebellion to continue forever. We must call out against the evil in our land, summon men to believe the gospel, and submit to the authority of God’s Word. Only then will God relent from his judgment.

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