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July 24, 2021 12:01 am
What can the book of Joshua teach us about criminal justice? Today, R.C. Sproul examines how this book's closing chapters speak to the importance of defending the innocent and guarding the accused against personal acts of vengeance.
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To know for sure that your saved is a growing process with most Christians as they exercise three things. First of all a greater trust in the promises of God. That's your bedrock of assurance. The second thing is by the inward evidences of grace are the marks of fruits of grace in your life and the third is a direct testimony of the Holy Spirit that he speaks directly to your soul through the word. I am thy salvation or bring some of the promise to play into your life in such a way that you can't deny that he is assuring you that you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to you. Take those three things the promises of God, evidences of grace, testimony, the Holy Spirit and then put over them all. God's faithful track record over the years, God's people can have full and infallible assurance of faith. Assurance of faith by Joel B visit Lincoln here.org/teaching series to learn more. What is the book of Joshua have to say to us today will consider that mixed on Renewing Your Mind. Welcome to the Saturday edition of our program. I believe in today were going to learn that Joshua has some vital lessons on criminal justice. In particular, the presumption of innocence. Dr. RC Sproul will delve into that after a discussion on the division of the land that God promised to his people. When we come to the end of the book of Joshua we find that after many military conquests.
The land was still not completely vanquished, and in chapter 13 of the book of Joshua we read that Joshua had become old, were told he was old and advanced in years, and so the Lord said to him you are old advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed and then there is an accounting of the territories of Canaan that had not yet been conquered and it still had to be possessed but before the conquest was finished, God instructed Joshua to give the inheritance to the tribes of Israel that had been promised them centuries before and so the ensuing chapters of Joshua which actually may be a little bit tedious reading. Give us the historical record of how the land was divided, not just in general. Let me make a few observations about in the first place. The division of Canaan or the promised land was into 12 parts that we may wonder about this because in the first place. Joseph, who was one of the sons of Israel was not considered the father of a tribe of Israel, and second of all Levi that son of Jacob who spawned the tribe of Levites.
This tribe also was not assigned a territory because this was the tribe that was given the task of the responsibility for the work of the priesthood and so the inheritance of the tribe of Levi. According to the Scriptures was God himself. And so, this tribe had no specific territory given to it will come back to what happens to this tribe in a few moments, but for now we see to tribes or two of the sons of Joseph who were not specifically named in the division of the land into 12 parts well what happened was that Joseph's Tucson Ephraim and Manasseh were adopted by Jacob and so those two tribes or those two sons became the fathers of distinct tribes and they make up the deficiency here in the number 12 so in the division of the tribes we include 10 of the immediate sons of Jacob plus Ephraim and Manasseh's now coming back to Levi.
Even though the tribe of Levi did not receive a specific territory in the division of the tribes in the division of the land specific towns or cities were assigned to the Levites for them to live but they didn't own the territory. These little towns were situated in other territories owned by the other tribes and so we have this kind of dispersion of the Levites and their cities freely among the whole melt. Let's ask this question. How was the land divided we remember that the instructions for the division of land were given long before this back in the Pentateuch, under the leadership of Moses and when it came to the actual dividing up of the land. The process was handled by means of a loft is a lottery we find in the Old Testament and the way the lottery proceeded was this to Burns were selected and in one earn the name of a tribe was placed or or the names of all the tribes and then certain divisions within the land were placed in another earn and so then when the selection was made, you would draw out the name of a tribe and then draw out the name of the territory and those two were then matched up, but they did it in this manner through the casting of lots in a consistent manner with the way other important decisions were made.
Historically in Israel. This was not in order to institute gambling as a method of life in Israel but the whole purpose of making selections by lot, even as the 12 disciples were instructed to do in the book of acts, after the deaths of one of the 12 James they had to choose a successor by virtue of the choosing of lots now. The whole purpose of this was to put the outcome squarely in the hands of Providence. This was not trusting to chance because the Israelites didn't believe in chains it was trusting the future of the whole nation and all the people in it on the basis of divine providence and so the land was divided accordingly. Another couple of specific things about this division of the land that I want to call some attention to the first place. In addition to the land that was given to the tribes and the specific cities that were given to the Levites. There was also a specific inheritance given to Caleb and to his descendents now that specific inheritance was distributed according to his tribe so that he didn't become 1/13 division, as it were, but I only mentioned that in passing, because here, God fulfilled the promise that he had made to Caleb when Caleb was one of the two faithful spies that had spied out the land, so a special benefit was reserved for Caleb and for his family, which I think it's one of the interesting footnotes now. Also, the land was divided where 2 1/2 tribes were situated east of the Jordan River, which is called Transjordan and those tribes were Ruben Gadd and half of Manasseh, and then, in addition to that division. One of the most strategically situated divisions was that accorded to the tribe of Judah that you remember when Jacob gave his patriarchal blessing that he passed on to his sons time right before his death that he passed over his older sons in not giving to them. The lions share and I don't mean to be pining here of the patriarchal blessing which should've gone as tradition would have to Ruben and then to Simeon and so on.
But instead they were passed over because of their sins and the kingdom of God that was part of the patriarchal blessing was then given to Judah Judah, who was described as the lions well up in the promise that Jacob made to Judah was this that the sector shall not depart from Judah, until Shiloh, and so the promise of kingship was given to the tribe of Judah. Now in the division of the land.
It was the southern part of Palestine that was allotted to the tribe of Judah, and that becomes significant in later history remember after the kingdom was established in Israel. And Saul was anointed king and then Saul was followed by David and David then established the capital for the whole nation in the conquered city of Jerusalem and then at the death of David.
The kingship then descended to his son Solomon, and then when Solomon died the Davidic dynasty fell apart, and there was a Civil War between the sons of Solomon, Rehoboam and Jeroboam, and at that point in the history of the Jewish people. The kingdom of the Jews was divided from thereon after we speak of the divided kingdom, and it was divided between the North and the South and the northern kingdom was called what Israel remember Israel was the name that God gave to Jacob when Jacob's name was changed from Jacob to Israel and the southern kingdom then became known as Judith so the whole southern nation. After a period of time, became known. According to the tribe of Judah, and of course the northern kingdom fell in 722 and the capital of the northern kingdom was what Samaria so in the eighth century, the northern kingdom ended and the southern kingdom didn't fall until 5/86 which was in the sixth century B say so.
We have a large portion of the history of the Old Testament, which is taking place simply in the South in the southern kingdom in the kingdom that is known as Judah. Now there's one other aspect here of the division of the land that I want us to look at that has to do with six cities that are established with a specific and special designation, and the cities are called the cities of refuge, the cities of refuge six cities were commanded to be established by God through Moses before the land was even conquered and the whole reason for these particular cities existence the cities of refuge was to be a place that functioned as a sanctuary that we use the term sanctuary and we use it for the interior portions of churches, or we talk about wildlife sanctuaries or bird sanctuaries. The idea behind the concept of sanctuary is a sanctuary is a place that is designated as being safe, safe from predators safe from the intrusion of outlaws and also safe from the authorities of the law.
We saw whole concept emerged in history of sanctuary where criminals could enter in the certain places that were protected and those places were off limits to law enforcement officers. We saw was Absalom who went into the temple and grab a hold of the horns of the altar. Remember, seeking sanctuary because as long as he was inside the temple. He could not be apprehended and reducing that throughout Western history throughout European civilization were sometimes bandits or criminals would seek sanctuary in churches so that they could not be apprehended or killed, and also in the history of Western civilization. Some of the most noteworthy episodes of ruthless massacres happened when people were slaughtered in churches that was seen as a particularly vile offense against the sanctity of those places and so the six cities of refuge were established as sanctuaries specifically with a view towards protecting people who were guilty of what we would call involuntary manslaughter whereby a person accidentally killed another person and so if a person found themselves in that situation.
In the Old Testament where they had unintentionally killed another person they would go to one of these sanctuaries. One of the cities of refuge in order to be protected from blog vowels of relatives from feuds or from those who were taking it upon themselves to exercise vengeance for the death of their loved ones, and so to protect the person who had inadvertently killed another human being, the cities of refuge were established now. The people who were in the cities of refuge came there and there they stayed, while a trial was held by which it was determined whether in fact the death was accidental. If in the trial, the evidence indicated that it was not an accidental death but voluntary manslaughter or murder, then the person would be turned over to the authorities for the appropriate punishment and could no longer stay in the city of refuge. If in the trial.
The verdict was involuntary manslaughter, as it were, then the person went back to the city of refuge not only could go back to the city refuge but had to go back to the city of refuge and stay there until the death of the high priests and then they were free to leave at their own risk. Now one of the things that makes the cities of refuge significant for our day is the crisis situation that we are facing in America with the whole criminal justice system that recently the state of Florida because of a heavy and severe problem of overcrowding in the prisons was forced to release a large number of convicted felons, including people convicted of violent crime and it created a huge outcry in the state of Florida because people were frightened. First of all by the large recidivist rate that is the case in our prison occupation that is that so many offenders who when they are released go back to the same life of crime that got them into trouble in the first place. So the populace of the state was very much distressed that a whole group of convicted violent criminals was going to be set free, presumably to continue their praying on the public. Now that's not been an isolated situation in Florida.
The problem of the crowding of prisons is a national crisis today and I can remember during those days going in the prisons and so on, that the truths that seemed axiomatic at the time was that there are a whole lot of folks behind bars in our society today who, for purposes of protecting the public from them simply not necessary. Talking about nonviolent crimes, white-collar crimes, that sort of thing. On the other hand, what you find in our nation's prisons, particularly in the maximum-security prisons is a whole lot of folks in their that are far more dangerous than I had ever imagined a human being could be and that to protect the people they ought never to be let loose and so what were saying here is that there is a group of people who are in prison who don't need to be imprisoned and another group of people that are in there that ought never to get out.
It's that kind of thing and were letting out the ones you shouldn't get out and keeping people in but don't necessarily need to be there which races the bottom-line question of the whole purpose and function of prisons. What is the purpose of prison is it simply to punish is it to rehabilitate if it is to rehabilitate and we have to admit that there is an abysmal failure.
The third possibility is to protect people from dangerous criminals, not in the sense that incarceration does protect the public they serve an important purpose, but the punitive dimension raises the question of is there not a more excellent way. And one of the things that people if investigated very carefully is the whole system of criminal justice that was found in the Old Testament that included cities of refuge that included corporal punishment instead of incarceration and see if there are insights to be gained from studying the Scriptures that can be then applied to societies today.
But one thing is for sure both the criminal and the victim were treated significantly different in Old Testament than the treatment is far from being primitive and barbaric God system of criminal justice did much to protect the innocent and is Dr. RC Sproul just pointed out in the message that he taught in 1998.
These are important lessons that we need today will be back with the final word on that in just a moment. Today's lesson was taken from doctors, groceries on the Old Testament book of Joshua. There are 10 messages at all in the series teaches about courage. The consequences of sin and what wholehearted devotion to our Lord.
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You can call as it 800-435-4343 to request your copy throughout the series. RC shows us how the book of Joshua finds its fulfillment in Jesus, including the appearance of the commander of the Lord's army. Could he be the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ as some scholars believe that's what you'll discover in this series on Joshua. You can also request it.
When you go online to Renewing Your Mind.org. Let encourage and pick up the series. Now if you been thinking about it as that next week is our last Saturday in the book of Joshua Bratcher new to our program and would like to know more about this ministry which Dr. Spruill founded 50 years ago you want to check out our flagship magazine table talk every month. It features articles from reformed pastors and theologians on the topic of theology, apologetics, church history or practical Christian living. There also daily devotionals that that will enrich your understanding of God's word and help you apply it to your life.
If you've never subscribed before we be happy to start your complementary three month trial subscription today. Just ask about it when you call her toll-free number. Once again, that's 800-435-4343 and out. Here's RC with a final thought in Israel. I mentioned the criminal justice system differed radically from our system today and usually the public response I get that that is both course because they were barbarians there punishment was cruel and unusual. They were so quick to be involved in capital punishment, stoning, and so but if you take a careful look at the system of justice in Israel, you would see that it was protected in many ways from miscarriages of justice by methods that we don't have today. It's a whole lot easier in America to be convicted of a capital crime than it was in Israel. Yes Israel exercise capital punishment, but only after a person was demonstrated clearly to be guilty by the testimony of two witnesses are more than had to agree and whose testimony if torturous would involve the execution of the person who brought false witness, to bear so that a lot of these nuances that if we look at carefully we see a system of dealing with crime that in its simplicity had a certain brilliance, but we could learn from next Saturday. We will hear Dr. Spruill's final message in this series on Joshua and that he will address something that all of us would like to see the church today; revival others refer to it as reformation or renewal, but the question is what constitutes authentic renewal. What does a revival really look like and what we mean when we say were looking for reformation because if we look at Old Testament history, we see that there were significant periods of renewal of revival and of reformation in biblical history itself.
That's next Saturday here on Renewing Your Mind