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So much may be said of each law--and indeed, each word in the Bible--that we must of necessity limit our comments to only a portion of the "the rest of the law." We will, therefore, skip some verses in Exodus 21, where we have been studying, and comment upon the Law of Blind Servants in verse 26. . .
26 And if a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye.
We saw in our last issue that in the Bible even slaves have certain rights. No master has the right of life and death over slaves. Biblical slavery is quite different from slavery as practiced by the world and, unfortunately, even by Christians, due to their general ignorance of God's law. We stated in Part 5 that biblical slave masters do not have the lawful right to mistreat their slaves. God's law says that if a slave master destroys the eye of his slave, that slave must be set free. His eye has purchased his freedom.
We are only incidentally interested in the application of this law in the world of labor and employees, servants and slaves. Our prime interest is in the spiritual application of this law and how it affects us today in our relationship with God and in prophecy.
The Apostle Paul made an interesting statement in Romans 11:25 that "blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." (KJV) In other words, partial blindness, or blindness in one eye has come upon Israel until the fullness of the "gentiles" (Gr. ethnos, "nations") have come into the knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is not our purpose here to discuss who Israel is or who the gentiles are, but rather to focus upon the single fact of Israel's blindness.
How is it that Israel became partially blind? Did Israel blind itself? Perhaps, but in the Scriptures God always takes the ultimate credit for all things on the grounds that He is the Creator and holds the power of eminent domain. Israel was blinded even as far back as the days of Moses when the people refused to enter the land of Canaan (Num. 13, 14). However, 40 years later, as Moses gave his speeches to the people just before he died, he told them in Deut. 29:2-4,
2 And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, "You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; 3 the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. 4 Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear."
We will not argue the relatively nonessential point as to whether or not Israel blinded themselves by their own deeds and attitudes. It makes little difference. The point is that God took the ultimate credit and responsibility for blinding the eyes of His servant people, Israel. If anyone disagrees, let him disagree with Moses. If they believe not Moses, how will they believe Jesus Christ (John 5:47)? Jesus said in John 6:44, 45,
44 No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, "And they shall all be taught of God." Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
Who will come to Jesus? Those the Father "draws." The Greek word used here is helkuo, which means "to drag." Jesus qualified this in verse 45, saying that all whom the Father calls and teaches will come to Jesus. In other words, the Father initiates the calling and teaching, and this is what motivates the people to come to Jesus by their own will voluntarily and "freely."
Our point is that Moses told Israel in Deut. 29 that it was GOD who had not given them eyes to see. It was God who had, in effect, blinded the people. It was not a passive action, but a direct act of God. One may speculate as to the reasons for God doing this--perhaps He did so to judge the people for refusing to enter Canaan. Even so, God did it. That is the point.
The law says that if a man blinds the eye of his servant, he must be set free for the sake of his eye. God blinded the eye of His servant people, Israel. In doing so, God took upon Himself the liability of that act and became responsible to set them free. That is, He was responsible first to bring Israel into the land of Canaan--their land of freedom. But more than this, God became responsible to open their eyes and "drag" them to Himself, so that they would joyfully and willingly come to Jesus (Joshua).
After Israel had been in Canaan for many centuries, they proved that they had little knowledge of God. In other words, God had purposed in His heart to teach and draw only certain ones called "the remnant of Grace." As Paul tells us in Romans 11:7, "the rest were blinded."
We believe God's purpose in doing this was to raise up a firstfruits company of people who would know God and be capable of manifesting His character and presence to the rest of the world. The ages from Adam to now have been the times where God has called and drawn this "remnant of grace," NOT so that they alone might be saved, but that they might do a greater work in The Age that is to come in the times of the restoration of all things.
The prophet Isaiah lived during the days when Assyria came and deported the ten-tribed house of Israel from 745-721 B.C. This captivity greatly concerned him, although he himself was not taken captive. We find him living in Jerusalem a few years later in 2 Kings 19:2, where he was able to counsel King Hezekiah, king of Judah.
One of Isaiah's main themes in his book deals with the blindness of Israel. We read in Isaiah 6 of the prophet's vision of God and his call to preach the Word. His call was not what one might expect. It is recorded in Isaiah 6:9, 10,
9 And He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.' 10 Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, lest they see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed."
In other words, Isaiah's call was not to convert the multitudes, but to minister in a time when God would blind their eyes, stop their ears from hearing, and prevent their hearts from understanding the word. I suppose Isaiah found little need for an altar call after he was finished preaching!
It is implied in this passage that God was actively blinding the eyes of His people, though the Scripture puts it in terms of Isaiah doing it. I do not believe, however, that God expected Isaiah to deliberately veil the truth from the people, except perhaps when he might speak parables, as Jesus did later. Even so, Isaiah could not open the eyes of the people, for this was the job of the Holy Spirit.
And so, in the days of Isaiah Israel experienced a blindness greater or broader than that which Israel had experienced under Moses. Once again on a greater scale, Israel was unable to enter the Kingdom of God and had to spend a time of judgment in "the wilderness." God removed them from the land, using the Assyrians to do it.
It seems unfair that God would blind the people so that they would not see--"lest they see with their eyes…return, and be healed"--and then remove them from their land in judgment. It is indeed unfair. But God is not unjust. He will always abide by His law. The law says that if a man blinds the eye of his servant, he shall be set free for the sake of his eye. So God blinded the eye of His servant people in order to obligate Himself by law to set them free.
God's actions in blinding Israel shows His true intent, once we understand the provision that He made in the law. To those who have not studied the law, God's intent looks rather ominous. Those who know the law, however, understand that God does certain "unfair" things in order to bind Himself by law to rectify the seeming injustice.
Overcomers are subjected to abuse, even as David was under Saul's persecution, in order to perfect David. In general, the overcomers have long walked the way of the Cross, following in Jesus' footsteps, even to martyrdom for their faith. Why would God allow this? Because only victims of injustice have the lawful right to forgive and thereby do their part to declare a Jubilee in the earth. The abuse makes the overcomer a creditor of the sinner. God is looking for people who have the character and maturity to forgive sinners. That is the way of Christ.
The Calvinists gathered under their wings those Christians who had the stomach to believe that God deliberately chose only a few for salvation and chose the rest to burn in hell. The Arminians gathered under their wings those Christians who could not see how God could remain just and righteous by doing this.
Both of them erred, because they only understood part of the truth. God's elect are the remnant of grace that God has chosen and trained through many hardships for ministry in The Age to come. They will bring the rest of the people into the knowledge of God. But first, they must be raised in the first resurrection, because this job requires a physical body in which to relate to the rest of humanity.
Calvin was right in that God is sovereign and has chosen a few by the counsel of His own will. He was wrong in thinking that those chosen few were the only ones who would be saved.
Arminius was right in believing that God is not so unjust as to choose most of humanity to burn in hell. Arminius was wrong in sacrificing the sovereignty of God on the altar of free will.
In our view, God is both totally sovereign and totally just. We believe the right half of Calvin and the right half of Arminius. God blinded not only Israel, but the whole world by His sovereign will. But God is just and will also set all creation free according to the law of Exodus 21:26.
In Isaiah 29:10 we read a prophecy about Jerusalem.
10 For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, the seers.
There are those who would say that God is unjust in doing this. Others say that the prophet did not really mean to give God all the credit for shutting their eyes. In fact, the prophet anticipated those very objections, for he wrote a few verses later,
15 Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, "Who sees us?" or "Who knows us?" 16 You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, that what is made should say to its maker, "He did not make me"; or what is formed say to him who formed it, "He has no understanding"?
In other words, in verse 15 God condemns the idea that man does things without God's knowledge or direction. Such people have turned things around. They have it all backwards and do not know it. God is the Potter, and we are merely the clay. How can we think that God has no understanding, or learning? Is God so incapable and so powerless to go against man's "free will"? No, "you turn things around!" The opposite is true.
The Apostle Paul ran into the same problem when He taught the sovereignty of God in Romans 9:11. First he shows that God chose Jacob and rejected Esau before they were even born in order to prove "that God's purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls."
Paul also gives Pharaoh as an example. Quoting from Exodus 9:16 Paul says in Romans 9:17,
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth."
If God has really raised up Pharaoh and called him to oppose the Word through Moses, and if God's purpose in doing this was to demonstrate His power and glorify His name in the whole earth--we can rejoice in this, as long as we are not Pharaoh. But what about Pharaoh? Is this not unfair to him? Is it not unfair to reject Esau before he was even born, before he did either good or evil?
14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!
Paul knew very well the objections that would come from those whose theology had turned things around to make man sovereign. He knew the objections that would come from the "clay" vessels who believed that the Potter was incompetent and unlearned.
Compare, then, Isaiah's answer with that of Paul. Isaiah 29:16 says,
16 You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, that what is made should say to its maker, "He did not make me"; or what is formed say to him who formed it, "He has no understanding"?
Paul simply refers us to Isaiah . . .
19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a RIGHT over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?
In the mad scramble to establish one's personal rights, one detail that is often missed is the rights of the "Potter." As Creator, God has the inherent RIGHT to be sovereign over the clay. The idea that "God had to create man with a free will" and that He had to relinquish His rights to direct the affairs of mankind is an assumption not found anywhere in Scripture. The Church got it from the pagan Greeks, who elevated the soul (mind and will) of man to divine status.
But man did not create himself. He has no right of eminent domain and never did. God created the earth, and then formed man of the dust of the very earth that He created (Gen. 2:7). The law states plainly what God's rights are in this matter. It is found in Leviticus 25:23,
23 The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.
On the basis of this law, God issues a host of laws telling Israel how they are to manage God's land. This includes the laws of redemption and the Jubilee. Each law is based upon God's right as Creator. No man owns any land, for God created it and gave it to man only under certain conditions. Man has no free will in the matter. God has eminent domain.
If God owns all the land, and man is formed of the dust of the ground, then God owns all men as well. The law says that man does not have the right to sell his land permanently. He must always go back to his inheritance at the Jubilee at the latest. In other words, no man has the right to sell his land permanently. Ultimately, this earthen body is his land inheritance. More accurately, man's land inheritance is the glorified body that Adam had before the advent of sin.
No man has the right or ability to sell himself into the debt/slavery of sin permanently, because man does not own himself (his "land"). God retained the Creator's right of eminent domain, and God has therefore decreed that there shall be a Jubilee at the end of time, wherein all men return to their inheritance that God owns and has given them to tenant.
This is the Restoration of All Things. When we dig down to its foundation, we discover that it is based upon the simple truth that God is the Creator. Upon that is laid the truth that God owns all the land and therefore has the right to limit man's choices and "free-will decisions" by His own laws.
One such limitation is the truth that no man has the right or ability to go so far into debt (sin) that he goes beyond the ability of God to set him free in the great Jubilee of Creation. In other words, God has decreed that even for the chief of sinners, who has built up the most enormous "debt" of sin ever accumulated, the law of Jubilee is more powerful than the law of sin.
God will indeed judge sin in the ages to come, and this is expressed figuratively in Scripture as a "lake of fire," but this judgment is not permanent. It is the process of redemption. In the law the time of redemption lasted only until the year of Jubilee. The time of redemption was a period of time in which the debtor (sinner) became a slave, or servant until either he could purchase his own freedom or the trumpet of the Jubilee set him free without money.
Recently, I did a teaching entitled, "Free Will? Or God's Ownership?" It is available on tape ($3.00). In this teaching I showed that the real underlying question at stake here is whether or not God created all things. God did create all things; therefore, God owns all things. His ownership makes Him also legally responsible for that which He created. Therefore, whether man acts according to his own will or not--it really makes no legal difference.
If my ox eats from your pasture, it makes no difference if I opened the gate and pushed the ox into your pasture, or if the ox simply jumped over the fence. Either way, I am liable for the actions of my ox. Why? Because I own the ox. That is the only relevant issue in the divine court of law.
If I light a fire and it gets out of control and burns your field, I am liable whether I willfully burned your field or did so by accident or simply allowed it to happen. The only relevant issue is whether or not I lit the fire (Ex. 22:6). If I lit it, then I own it. This is the divine law, the standard that He wrote to teach us His view of responsibility and liability.
God has rights and responsibilities just because He is the Creator of all things. He has the right to direct man's will or to overrule it as He sees fit. But with every right comes a responsibility, or liability. The Creator's right of ownership also means that God is responsible ultimately for His creation. He is responsible to bring all men into conformity to His will. He has chosen to do so in steps, beginning in this present age with the remnant of grace.
These are the firstfruits of creation, as James 1:18 says,
18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures.
In other words, if we are part of the remnant of grace, then we are the firstfruits of creation. Firstfruits are given to God in order to sanctify the entire harvest. When the firstfruits of barley are given to God on the day of the Wave-sheaf offering, ONLY THEN does the real barley harvest begin, for no one was allowed to harvest their barley until the firstfruits had been given to God.
The same is true with the firstfruits of the wheat which were given to God at the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost).
If we are the firstfruits of creation, it means that we are given to God FIRST, and then comes the real harvest of the rest of the creation. It is an amazing truth that most evangelists would find difficult to believe: the real work has not yet begun. God is still preparing the hearts of the firstfruits, and when that number is complete, there will be a resurrection (re-embodiment) of all the remnant of grace that have ever lived. They will then teach the rest of creation the Good News of the Gospel of Christ.
How ironic! The remnant of grace is much smaller than most believers think, and the number of those ultimately saved is much larger.