For The Baconator … Concerning the Ceremonial Law

Post Resurrection Christians do not believe that Christians follow all 613 of the OT Laws. Many of those Laws have been fulfilled (not abrogated) in Christ.

Among many Christians the one undivided law is broken down into three subcategories. These are, “Moral,” “Judicial,” and “Ceremonial.” The “Ceremonial law are those OT laws that prefigured the death of Christ, These laws we are not responsible to keep now because Christ has kept and fulfilled all that those laws anticipated in and by His death. In other words, because of the Lord Christ’s death the Ceremonial laws are past since they are completed in Christ since their purpose was to point to Christ.

As such we definitely still do not do animal sacrifices. Animal sacrifices were part of the ceremonial law that pointed to Christ. Christ has come and died the death they were shadowing and so there will never be a need for these sacrifices again.

In the same way matters like the prohibition of mixing seed, the prohibition of mixing cloths, and the prohibition of mixing plowing animals, also are understood as Ceremonial laws that are now past since the purpose of those laws were to teach the necessity for God’s people in the Old Testament to remain unmixed from the pagan gentile nations around them. As Christ has come, and with His death, has now broken down the spiritual dividing wall between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:14 forward) those mixing laws are now fulfilled and so are not required of the Christian. Christ has now brought the Gentile nations into the community of the Christian faith upon Faith in Christ, and so those laws lose their ongoing validity, though the general principle of those laws remain as contained in the idea of being separated unto God (II Cor. 6:14-7:1). So, the forbidding of mixing clothes as part of God’s law in the OT is fulfilled in Christ. In Christ the nations have come in and so there is no longer the necessity of an Old Testament obedience that communicated that the Non Israeli Nations were unclean.

Some would argue that the OT dietary laws are also void since the Lord Christ said,

Mt. 15:11 — “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

As that is combined with Acts 10 and the vision where God tells Peter to eat heretofore unclean animals as symbology for Peter to go to the Cornelius the Centurion many Christians come to the conclusion that the OT Dietary laws are void. However, many solid Christians will hold that these dietary laws still do apply.

Sodomy is Sin Scripture (Text) References

The chief “sodomy is sin” verse references at hand, just to save folks the time in case they were wanting to look them up:

Genesis 19
Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13
Deuteronomy 23:17-18
Judges 19
I Kings 14:24 and 15:12
Romans 1:26
I Corinthians 6:9
I Timothy 1:8-11
Jude 1:7

Revelation 22:15 also applies, when interpreted in light of “dogs” in Deuteronomy 23:18 and their position in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Jude 1:7.

In Genesis 19, sodomy is called “wicked”, and the Lord destroys Sodom and
Gomorrah by raining down fire and brimstone upon them.

 In Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, sodomy is declared an “abomination”, and the
prescribed penalty for committing this abomination is death. Contextual
associations are made with incest, adultery, bestiality, human sacrifice, and
consorting with mediums.

 In Deuteronomy 23:18, an offering from the wages of a male prostitute is declared
to be an “abomination” and sodomites are referred to as “dogs” (compare also with
Revelation 22:15).

 In Judges 19:23, sodomy is referred to as “wicked” and “folly”. In the conflict
resulting from the actions of the sodomites described therein, over 25,000
Benjaminites were slaughtered and the entire city of Gibeah put to the sword at the
express command of the Lord.

 In I Kings 14:24, sodomy is again named an “abomination”. A contextual association
is made with idolatry.

 In I Kings 15:12, King Asa, who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord”, expelled
all of the sodomite temple prostitutes from the land. Sodomy is again associated
with idolatry.

 Romans 1 contains an abundance of frank condemnations of sodomy. It’s “impure”,
“dishonorable”, “degrading”, “unnatural”, “indecent”, and “depraved”. It’s a
punishment from God when we repeatedly refuse to repent, and He plagues our
lands for our stubborn impudence by giving us over to our wicked passions for the
purpose of our own destruction. As with the I Kings references, sodomy is
contextually associated with idolatry.

 In I Corinthians 6:9, sodomites are declared “unrighteous” and it is plainly stated
that they will not inherit the kingdom of God. Contextual associations are made 7
with fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, coveters, drunkards, revilers, and

 In I Timothy 1:10, sodomites are listed along with those who are lawless, rebellious,
ungodly, unholy, profane, those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers,
kidnappers, liars, and perjurers.

 In Jude 1:7, sodomites are declared guilty of indulging in “gross immorality” for
pursuing “strange flesh”. In the punishment God bestowed upon them, the
residents of Sodom and Gomorrah were “exhibited as an example in undergoing the
punishment of eternal fire”.

Hat Tip — Mickey Henry

Talking the Abiding Validity of God’s Law with a Dispensationalist

Dear Pastor,

Having been to Seminary myself and having studied Greek and Hebrew and having 10,000 hits daily on my blog I wanted to inform you that I think you’re quite wrong about the ongoing validity of God’s law. Here are a slew of NT Scriptures that prove you wrong and prove that the Law indeed as come to an end for the Christian.

Do you honestly believe we are to follow all 613 commandments given? Wouldn’t that mean that not only do we have to stone our children and homosexuals, but would also mean we’d still be doing sacrifices. Or unable to eat things like pork, when we see in Acts that this too is untrue. The OT law is no longer applicable to the modern day Christian in the way you are saying it is.

William Hess

Dear William,

Thank you for your to the point letter. I will seek to respond to your Scripture references in this post, dealing with what you offered as I go. Do keep in mind that our differences can be accounted for by the fact that you are a Dispensationalist and I am a Biblical Christian (Covenant – Reformed). Of course our differences are sharp. Indeed, they are so sharp, given your implicit and explicit antinomianism, that I would counsel you to re-examine whether or not you are serving the same Christ as the one who walks through the Scripture. Our disagreements are most serious then.

Keep in mind that the word “law” is used at least 8 different ways in the book of Romans alone. You just can’t assume that it is being the used the same way every time. You also have to read the whole of Scripture in its whole context. The whole idea that Christians are done with the law is overturned repeatedly in Scripture. For example,

Acts 24:14 (NKJV) – St. Paul speaking,

“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.”

Acts 25:8 – while he answered for himself, “Neither against the Law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”

For example, Paul can say in Romans 7 that “the Law is Holy, just and good.” Hardly an indictment of the Law.

In Romans 3 we hear Paul say,

31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law.

Further, if we had no relation to the law it would not be possible to even have a definition of sin. If we were done with the law it would be not be possible to sin since there would be no standard by which sin could be measured. Are you contending William that you are no longer a sinner? In order to put off sin we must have law to define sin.

You cite Romans 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

You seemingly seem to be saying that since we are under grace we have no relationship to the law. That is an unfortunate reading on your part.

When the Holy Spirit says “we are not under law but grace,” the context demands us to read that as “we are not under law as a means of Justification (i.e. — earning God’s favor) but we are under God’s grace as the means of bing freely Justified. It doesn’t mean we no longer have a relation to the law. St. Paul assumes everywhere that we have a new relation to the law because we are in Christ. It is why St. Paul can say that the Law is “Holy, Just, and Good.”

You cite Romans 7:4 — “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

Again, you seemingly conclude from this that the law has no standing in the Christian’s life today. Again that is unfortunate “reasoning” on your part William.

You see, we are dead to the law as a means to earns God’s favor. We do not obey the law in ordr to have life, but having life we obey the law with a evangelical obedience (as opposed to a “legal obedience.”) Indeed we could not even know what fruit is without the law as a standard to adjudicate for us what defines fruit and what doesn’t.

You cite, Romans 7:6 — “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”

Seemingly you think that this proves that this proves your thesis that the Law has no place in the Christians life.

The question must be asked, “in what sense are we delivered from the law,” and the answer clearly is that we are delivered from the condemnation of the law. However, as delivered from the condemnation of the law we now have a positive relation to God’s law as a guide to life. You see we are serving in newness of Spirit because the Spirit is the person who makes us delight in God’s law. Paul can even say there that “7:22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man..” The problem is NOT the law William. The problem is who we are in Adam. But who we are in Christ rejoices in God’s law.

Next you cite Galatians 5:18, “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”

However, what Gal. 5:18 gives us the idea that we are indeed “under the spirit” but what is being contrasted there vis a vis being “under the law” is the idea of being under the law as a means to gain Salvation. However, all because we are under the Spirit that does not mean we have no relationship with the law. If we had no relationship to the law we could never know what sin is. Indeed sin can not exist where there is no law.

You keep confusing the relationship of the Christian to the law as a Christian (2nd and 3rd uses of the law) and the relationship that someone who is dead in sin has to the law (1st use of the law).

Next you appeal to Galatians 3:24, “We are no longer under a schoolmaster.”

Again … the point here is NOT that we have no relation to the law but rather that the Law pointed and lead to Christ. The problem that Paul is dealing with there is that there are people who desire to use the law unlawfully as a pole vault to spring into heaven. Paul is saying there that that is not the work of the law. It is faith alone in Christ alone that gives us peace with God. However, in Chapter 6 St. Paul gives a list of sins and says that those who practice those sins shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of heaven. Now, how could they know what those sins are if they did not have a relation to the law? How did St. Paul know that those sins listed in Galatians 6 were sins if He were not implicitly appealing to the Law as the standard that defines those sins?

The puritans had a saying you desperately need to keep in mind William.

“The law sends us to Christ for justification and Christ sends us back to the law for sanctification.”

Now of course our relation to the law is no longer “legal” but “evangelical” which is to say we obey out of a grateful response for our full Redemption and not in order to curry an uncertain Redemption.

Your continued insistence that we have no relation to the law is pure antinomianism and not in the least Christian.

Next you quote Ii Corinthians 3:11, “For if that which is done away with was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.”

That which is done away with is old covenant .. not the law. The old covenant was a shadow of Christ. It anticpated Christ. In point of fact it even adumbrated Christ. But now that Christ has come it is done away in the sense that with the coming of all that which was in shadow form, now the shadows are no longer necessary. The Old Covenant is referred to a “ministry of condemnation” because in the Sacrifices of the Old Covenant the Believers were constantly reminded of their sin. However, in the New and Better Covenant, Christ — the fulfillment of the Old Covenant sacrifices — is once forever sacrificed, and so Believers, after the crucifixion of Christ, have been given all that was promised and so are part of a more glorious ministration.

BUT once again this not prove that the Christian has no relation to the law.

Even the Lord Christ said

17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
18 For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.

The Lord Christ even told the Pharisees that they should have kept the law of tithing mint, dill, and cummin. (Their failure was in forgetting the weightier matters of the law) Mt. 23:23.

Your mishandling of Scripture here my friend is significantly flawed.

Next you quote Colossians 2 which in your mind again proves your point that we are done with the law,

Colossians 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”

Christ took away the handwriting of the law against us in terms of its ability to condemn. That does not mean he took the away the law as a guide to life in its 2nd or 3rd use. There is therefore now condemnation for those in Christ Jesus but the fact that there is no condemnation does not mean there is no requirement to walk in righteousness. Walking in righteousness can not be done apart from a standard. That standard is God’s law.

On to your appeal to Hebrews,

Hebrews 8:10-13 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”

Hebrews 10:8-10 ” Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

The 1st Hebrews passage you quote proves my point. God writes His law on our hearts What law? The OT Law. That means we still have a relationship to the law. If the OT law is written on our hearts then how could we not have the law as a standard for a guide to life?

In point of fact William, as Christ was the incarnation of God’s law to say we don’t have a relationship with the Law is to say we don’t have a relationship to Christ.

In terms of the 2nd Hebrews passage we must say that what is taken away is the sacrificial system or what we would call the ceremonial usage of the law. This does not mean that the moral law is done away with. How could it be since it is that moral law that is written on our hearts per the Hebrews 8 passage you cite?

Finally you appeal to Romans 10:4, — “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

With this wrong interpretation you’re making a common mistake. The word for end there in the greek is “Teleos.” It does not mean “end” in the sense that the law is ended. It means “goal.” Christ is the goal or purpose of the Law. The Law pointed to Christ and was fulfilled in Christ in terms of its demands for perfection but that does not mean that the law no longer is a matter to delight to us both day and night. (Psalm 1).

Now as to your 2nd paragraph in your letter.

No, I do not believe that post Cross Christians follow all 613 of the OT Laws. Many of those Laws have been fulfilled (not abrogated) in Christ. Hence the Ceremonial law, as it is often referred to is a category of law that we are not answerable to because Christ has fulfilled all that in His death. As such we definitely still do not do sacrifices. Further matters like the prohibition of mixing seed, mixing cloths, and mixing plowing animals, likewise can be seen as past since the essence of those laws were to teach the necessity to remain unmixed from the pagan gentile nations around them. As Christ has come and has now broken down the spiritual dividing wall between Jew and Gentile and has now brought the Gentile nations in those laws lose their metaphor necessity of not being mixed with pagan gentiles, though the general equity of them remain as contained in the idea of being separated unto God (II Cor. 6:14-7:1). Some would argue that the OT dietary laws are also void since the Lord Christ said,

Mt. 15:11 — “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

As that is combined with Acts 10 and the vision where God tells Peter to eat heretofore unclean animals as symbology for Peter to go to the Cornelius the Centurion many Christians come to the conclusion that the OT Dietary laws are void. However, many solid Christians will hold that these dietary laws still do apply.

In terms of stoning … why would we think that somehow that God in the OT was unreasonable but now in the NT he has changed so now that He is reasonable?

Some Christians will insist that these laws are still valid since they were never rescinded in the NT. Those Christians would say that the problem is not with the law that requires stoining but rather the problem is with modern day Christians sensibility that some how that is mean and cruel of God.

Other Christians will argue that the Stoning laws are still valid though they represent a “maximum” penalty that can be applied. For these thoughtful Christians the argument would be that lesser penalties could be applied since “the death penalty is the maximum, not necessarily the mandatory penalty.”

In terms of stoning a miscreant child we must keep in mind that we are not talking about toddlers throwing tantrums. The idea there is likely an adolescent or adult child who has been recklessly disobedient in a long direction. It is interesting that though we have this law, we have exactly zero instances of its application in the Scriptures.

So, you see that the OT civil-judicial law, as it serves as the case law for the 10 commandments, do still apply, sometimes directly via the general equity of those original laws, and sometimes indirectly via the general equity of those case laws.

I hope this answers your writing to me William and lays out some distinctions between Dispensationalism as a theology of discontinuity and Biblical Christianity as a theology of continuity and discontinuity.

As I said earlier, you’re completely misreading the Scripture with this Dispensational scheme and so are firing blanks.

I hope that over the years God grants you grace to rethink these matters.

Kind regards,

Rushdoony and the Limits of a Limitless Libertarianism.

Was RJR a Libertarian? You read this quote from Roots of Reconstruction and tell me.

The current organizations that represent institutional Reconstructionism are no longer faithfully interpreting Rushdoony having drank the swill that is movement Libertarianism. They are no longer standing for the ideas that RJR championed having drank the Libertarian Kool-aide. They are supporting those who have attacked the Trustee family.

(See Rebuttal here,)

They are applying Libertarianism, as opposed to Biblical Law, to Immigration analysis,

(See Rebuttal here,)

They are explicitly insisting that Rushdoony was a full fledged Libertarian,

Is that Rushdoony’s libertarianism, or someone else’s?

But see below.

Currently those reputed to be representing Rushdoony are interpreting Rushdoony through a movement Libertarian grid and they are fouling the well of Reconstructionism and Theonomy. This is why I encourage everyone to go to the primary source (Rushdoony himself) to get the real Rushdoony. You can easily do this through the services of

Don’t read these pretenders to the throne. As the bumper sticker used to say; “Read Rushdoony.”

Here is R. J. Rushdoony on his understanding of the Limits of a limitless Libertarianism.

“Reality, in brief was reduced to a particular institution or discipline of which men were the governors or interpreters.

This same fallacy has marked economics, in that all too many free market advocates under the influence of the philosophy of immanentism, have taken this one sphere of law and absolutized it as the only law. We do agree with classical economics as economics, but not as a religious philosophy. When it is converted into a religious philosophy of immanence, it denies validity to any transcendental law of God and to all other institutions and orders of life unless they pass the test of the free market. Free market economics then becomes totalitarian and absolutist: it becomes idolatry. Some hold that the family and prostitution, and normal and perverted sexuality, must compete on a free market basis. Narcotics and good food are reduced to the same free market test. In brief, anything and everything goes, because there is only one law, the free market. (0ne person contends that there should be no title to property, but only the right of access by everyone who is able to command the power and money to take the property, in other words, a free market to power and violence as well.) Any value derived from any other sphere, or any principled judgment derived from a transcendental order, from God, must compete on a free market basis it is held. This is simply saying that the free market is god, and that it is the absolute and sole value in the universe. It assumes there is no God beyond the market, no other law, no other value, than the free market. Moreover, because the free market has its truth in the economic sphere, they sit back smugly, satisfied that they have the key to life. The Marxists no less than other Totalitarians stress one or two partial “Truths”, which they use to exclude all truth and God, and the same is true of those who reduce the world to matter. The free market religionists are really great enemies of free market economics, in that they pervert an instrument of freedom into a form of totalitarianism. It is not surprising that many free market religionists have in recent years been very congenial to the New Left; both are alike in their strident totalitarianism.”

R. J. Rushdoony
Roots of Reconstruction — pg. 809-810

The problem we are having with the current channelers of Rushdoony is that they have an Libertarian agenda that disallows them from reading Rushdoony qua Rushdoony. As difficult as it is, it is time to put aside Institutional Reconstructionism and Theonomy and realize that we have to start anew digging different wells … wells that hold water.

Sad though it may see, I’m quite confident that not even Rousas J. Rushdoony himself would cut a check to support Institutional Reconstructionism as it is expressed today.

The Sovereign God

While sitting in a Dentist’s office I picked up one of the magazines and read,

“More problematic … are the disturbing images of God we find in parts of the Old Testament. At times, the Old Testament portrays a God who seems judgmental, vengeful, and capricious, sanctioning or even instigating excessive violence. One has only to think of the conquest recorded in Joshua and God’s command to “utterly destroy” the Canaanite nations (Deut. 7:2; 20:17). Or descriptions of God unleashing disease and death among his own people (Num. 21:6; 2 Sam. 6:7; Jer. 21:3-7). Or the psalmists’ prayers to God as the great Avenger who curses our enemies and heaps evil upon those who seek our downfall (Ps. 69:22-28; 109:8-15).”

I would suggest here that there is nothing disturbing in the slightest about the images of God we find in parts of the Old Testament when we begin with the premise that because of man’s sin, no man deserved anything but the wrath of God against sin. The shock really isn’t that God was demonstrably wrathful in the Old Testament to the point of excessive violence upon some people. The shock is that God wasn’t demonstrably wrathful in the Old Testament to the point of excessive violence upon all people. From Genesis to Revelation the wages of sin has always been death and God does no one wrong in the slightest when He gives what is deserved. It strikes me that often the character of God in the Old Testament is complained about most when people wrongly believe that somehow they deserve something better from God then violence, destruction, and death.

We must consider that all that blood flowing in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament flowed, in part, to demonstrate what the one bringing the sacrifice deserved. The question is not then, “why did God kill people in the Old Testament.” The question rather is, “Why didn’t God kill everybody in the Old Testament.” We should not be surprised by justice. We should be surprised by mercy and grace.

Keep also in mind that God was long-suffering towards the Canaanites that He eventually visited with just judgment. In Genesis 15, God speaks to Abraham and tells him that His people will go into captivity for 400 years. In Gen. 15:16 we read,

16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

What is suggested here is that those God would eventually visit just judgment upon were a people God was yet being long-suffering towards. They had not reached the point yet where they were ripe in their sin and rebellion against God and God was being patient in the face of their iniquity. The curiosity then of this aspect of the Old Testament character of God is not that He eventually visited just penalty against Canaan but rather the curiosity lies in the incredible patience, long-suffering, and forbearance of God.

Before our outrage swells to high at the thought of God’s just judgment against Canaan let us keep in mind what a wicked place Canaan was. They were a people who burned their children in honor of their gods (Lev. 18:21), and practiced sodomy, bestiality, and all sorts of loathsome vice (Lev. 18:23, 24, 20:3). As a result the land itself began to “vomit” them out as the body heaves under the load of internal poisons (Lev. 18:25, 27-30). Talking about how mean God is in light of this is really an objection to the highest manifestation of the grace of God in keeping the infection of sin from spreading to His people. After all, Canaan is justly judged so as to prevent Israel and the rest of the world from being corrupted (Deut. 20:16-18). Allow me to suggest that only if God had not visited the just wage of sin upon the Canaanites could we talk about the scandalous character of the Old Testament God.

We should also note here that the just visitation of God’s judgment against His enemies is also intended to be read as a warning to the greater judgment of God against His enemies in God’s visiting the unrepentant with eternal punishment. So Canaan serves as a type that is answered in the anti-type of Hell, the subject of which is on Jesus lips more than any other New Testament figure.

In terms of God visiting His own people with wrath, again this is consistent with the New Testament where we learn that judgment begins in the household of God (I Peter 4:17). It could be said of Ananias and Sapphira that they were part of the Covenant people who in the NT God visited with justice. In terms of the God of the Old Testament being a “great avenger who curses our enemies and heaps evil upon those who seek our downfall, we read in the New Testament in Romans 12:9 in the context of speaking to Christians that “vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord.”

Also we find the theme of vengeance struck in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9

6 For it is a righteous thing with God, to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you,
7 And to you which are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall show himself from heaven with his mighty Angels, 8 In flaming fire, rendering vengeance unto them, that do not know God, and which obey not unto the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, 9 Which shall be punished with everlasting perdition from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power

And finally the desire for vengeance is articulated righteously in Revelation 6:10 where we find the martyred saints crying with a loud voice, saying, How long, Lord, which art holy and true! dost not thou judge and avenge our blood on them, that dwell on the earth?

What we see here then is that the Character of God is consistent from the Old to the New Testament. When people find problems with the Old Testament God the problem generally is, is that they believe that somehow God is unjust for giving people what they have earned.

Another aspect we need to consider here is that while it is our moral duty to follow God’s revealed law, God Himself is not under the same moral duty we are. God does not issue commands to Himself and so He has no moral duties to us to fulfill. The point here is that while we are responsible to God and so must follow His Law God is not responsible to us. He does not answer to us.

As an example, God tells me that “Thou Shalt Not Murder” and so I may not take a judicially innocent life and to do so would be murder. But God has no such prohibition upon Himself. He can give and take life as He chooses. We recognize this at every funeral when we say, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away … blessed be the name of the Lord.” We all recognize this when we accuse some authority who presumes to take life as “playing God.” Human authorities arrogate to themselves rights which belong only to God. God is under no obligation whatsoever to extend my life for another second. If He wanted to strike me dead right now, that’s His prerogative.

What that implies is that God has the right to take the lives of the Canaanites when He sees fit. How long they live and when they die is up to Him. This is the right of ownership. God as Creator owns everything and everything is at His disposal to do with as He pleases. When He does so, it is not for us to question God (Romans 9:20).

So the problem isn’t that God ended the Canaanites’ lives. Some might contend that the problem is that God commanded the Hebrew soldiers to end them. Isn’t that like commanding someone to commit murder? No, it’s not. Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God’s commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder. The act was morally obligatory for the Hebrew soldiers in virtue of God’s command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong.

On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command.