Gary North – October 29, 2021
And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day (Deuteronomy 8:13–18).
A. Covenant Model, Point 3
Point 3 of the biblical covenant model is ethics. God governs the world in terms of His law-order, which is ethical: right vs. wrong. This law-order is revealed in the Ten Commandments and also in the specific laws found in the other books of the Pentateuch. These laws are interpreted by the New Testament.
Point 3 of biblical social theory is law. This includes Christian historical theory.
In Deuteronomy, Moses was speaking to the generation that had been born in the wilderness. Deuteronomy is a recapitulation of God’s law. God expected the conquest generation to understand His law-order in preparation for the conquest of Canaan.
There is continuity of God’s law in history. There can be no continuity in history if there is no continuity in law. Obviously, there is consistency of certain forms of laws of nature. Gravity is a constant. But there must also be constant laws governing social institutions. Men cannot tolerate living in chaos. When people are threatened with chaos, they are willing to put up with tyranny in order to reduce the threat of chaos.
People want to know what is expected of them. Christianity presents a specific view of the relationship between law and success in history. Biblical law is an integrated system—a law-order—in which there are positive and negative sanctions associated with each of the laws of God. If you obey the law, you will receive positive sanctions. If you disobey the law, you will receive negative sanctions. People understand this with respect to a military hierarchy. They understand it with respect to police forces. Moses was reminding the generation of the conquest that God rules over them by means of a system of law. This law-order is primarily ethical. It is encapsulated in what we call the Ten Commandments: the Decalogue. We find these commandments in Exodus 20, revealed by God shortly after the exodus from Egypt. Moses recapitulated them in Deuteronomy 5.
In Deuteronomy 8, Moses made it clear to the listeners that the system of law governing Israel as a nation was part of a covenant. It was God’s covenant with Israel, which was established in Exodus 19. That covenant remained in force, Moses announced. Moses said that if they will obey God’s law, He will bless them economically. “But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day” (v. 18). The message is clear: God is the source of their wealth. This wealth has a purpose for covenant-keepers. What is this purpose? To confirm His covenant with them.
Here is the pattern that is implied by the passage. The Israelites had been protected during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. The early section of this chapter announced this fact. Now, they are about to enter the long-promised land. They are about to be victorious. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—metaphors of wealth. It is a land with large supplies of natural resources. The message was clear: if they obey God’s law, they are going to prosper. But this prosperity would have a purpose. It was designed by God to re-confirm the covenant. It was to increase their trust in God. It was to increase their covenantal faithfulness to God. It was to increase their obedience to God’s revealed law. If they obeyed, Moses said, they would get even richer. What is the purpose of these riches? To confirm the covenant. So, the implication here is that God’s covenant blessings on them in the form of wealth were specifically designed to increase their covenantal faithfulness. Wealth is a confirmation of the goodness of God, the reliability of God, and the benefits associated with obeying God’s law.
In Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, Moses presented a list of positive sanctions for obeying the law, and he presented a much longer list of negative sanctions for disobeying the law. The point was clear: their success or failure will be determined by the degree of their adherence as a nation to God’s law. There is coherence in this world. This coherence is covenantal. Here was a promise: they could safely rely on the promise of God to bless them if they obeyed His law. Wealth in this covenantal administration is a great benefit. It is legitimate to pursue it. But those who pursue it must understand the rules associated with attaining additional wealth. These rules are ethical. They are part of a covenantal legal order that is governed by specific ethical standards. These standards are encapsulated by means of specific laws, most notably those that appear in Exodus 21 through 23. These are case laws: laws illustrating the correct applications of the Ten Commandments.
People want predictability in their lives. They also want greater wealth. This passage promises both. Predictability has to do with the covenantal connections between obedience and wealth. If people want greater wealth, they must obey God’s law. They must acknowledge that God is the source of their wealth.
This passage affirms the legitimacy of long-term economic growth. It also affirms the possibility of long-term economic growth. No other worldview in the ancient Near East was specific in this regard. Mediterranean worldviews in the days of Moses were cyclical. There could be no long-term progress because history repeats itself. This outlook was basic to classical Greece and classical Rome. The Bible does not teach such a view. The Bible teaches linear history. But, more than this, the Bible teaches the possibility of progress in history. It is not just that progress is possible; it is morally imperative. That is because progress is specifically tied to conformity to God’s law. It is therefore ethical. It is covenantal.
C. The Quest for Historical Laws
Throughout history, people have wanted to believe that there are both continuity and coherence in the world around them. They want to believe that they live in a universe that is not random. They want to believe that history is moving in a positive direction—positive for them. They also want to believe that they have chosen a worldview and also a lifestyle that are consistent with the laws of historical development. They want to believe that they are on the morally right side of history.
Buddhism and Hinduism are committed to a concept of final existence that is separated from historical process: a meaningless, formless unity of being. There will be no individuality. The proper goal of life is said to be an escape from the historical process. Hinduism regards history as maya: an illusion. These religions are committed also to a concept of reincarnation: the doctrine of karma. People are born again literally after death, and their new lives initially reflect what they were ethically in their previous lives. So, there is cause-and-effect ethically in history. A person moves through history either upward or downward in terms of ethical behavior. The ultimate upward move is deliverance from history, but with respect to the attainment of that ultimate bliss, history is rigorously, unbreakably structured. You cannot escape your destiny. Whatever you do in this life will establish your starting point in the next life.
The Bible in the second chapter of Genesis describes success and failure in history in terms of ethical conformity to God’s revealed law. Deuteronomy 8 and Deuteronomy 28 present this outlook in its most comprehensive form. History is structured in terms of ethics. The New Testament clearly teaches that what someone does in history has consequences beyond history. This is the doctrine of the final judgment as presented in Matthew 25.
The biblical account goes beyond personal damnation and salvation. Deuteronomy 8 and 28 specifically refer to Israel as a covenanted nation. The blessings and cursings are corporate. God has made a covenant with Israel as a nation, and Israel is therefore bound by oath to God’s law. Israel covenanted with God publicly in Exodus 19. God delivered the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Moses presented the specific case law applications of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 21–23.
There is continuity judicially between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. This means that the dominion covenant is still in force. Men are still required to exercise dominion in history on behalf of God. This covenant defines mankind. It was not abrogated in Genesis 3. It was also not abrogated with the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. God transferred that covenantal arrangement from Israel to the church. Jesus said this to the Pharisees: “Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:42b–43). This is the background of what Christians call the Great Commission. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18–20).
There has not been a radical discontinuity between the ethical pattern of historical development under the Mosaic covenant and the ethical pattern of historical development under the New Covenant. Ethics is still at the center of historical development. Historical sanctions, both personal and corporate, are governed by the system of law that God set forth in the Pentateuch. Historical success is not based on power; it is based on obedience to the law of God. This is the lesson of the story of the exodus. The Pharaoh was a believer in the power religion. Moses was a believer in the ethics religion, which is a judicial religion. The Pharaoh would not allow Moses to take the people three days out to worship God. He attempted to bring final sanctions against the Israelites when he pursued them across the path between the divided Red Sea. God brought final sanctions against him and his army in the Red Sea. (I discuss this in detail in Volume 1 of my 2012 commentary on Exodus: Representation and Dominion.)
The most notable modern theory of history is Marxism. Marx denied the ethical component of history. He explained historical development in terms of what he called the mode of production. History develops in terms of stages of technological and economic development. He dismissed all ethics as class-based. In any given period of history, the prevailing ethical system is developed and enforced by the ruling class. There is no constant ethical system through history. Ethics changes with each mode of production. There is progress in history, but not in terms of ethics. Progress is based on innovations in the mode of production. There are stages of history, and these stages are marked by revolutionary periods in which the leading class of the next mode of production replaces the leading class of the present mode of production. History is moving inevitably toward the final stage of communism. History is linear. It is also progressive.
The popularity of the Marxist system was not based on widespread commitment to the detailed historical arguments in Das Kapital (1867). It was based on his theory of inevitable progress towards communism: historical stages that will inevitably bring victory to the proletariat. Marxism had a positive eschatology. (The most detailed study of this eschatology was written by Francis N. Lee: Communist Eschatology . )
By the mid-twentieth century, most non-Marxist academic historians had abandoned any theory of fixed stages of development. They had also abandoned all theories of inevitable progress. They had lost faith in any overarching pattern of historical development. They rejected the legitimacy of every proposed system of historical development that claimed that any society, let alone the whole world, is headed in a particular direction. In short, they rejected teleology. The last major historian to offer such a theory was Arnold J. Toynbee. He wrote a 10-volume set, A Study of History, from 1934 to 1954. He surveyed 21 civilizations. This project was an immense undertaking. It had almost no influence among academic historians. It has been out of print for decades.
As I argue in this chapter, Chapter 4, and Chapter 5, the Bible teaches that there will be progress in history. This is inevitable. This is not because progress is built into the historical system. It is because of God’s providential control over the processes of history. History moves forward because God looks forward. History is inherently future-oriented. It is not just that individuals are future-oriented. It is that the historical process itself is governed by God’s providence, and God looks forward in history in order to achieve certain goals. The primary goal is the expansion of His kingdom in history, replacing the kingdoms of men. There is an eschatology associated with biblical law (point 5). There is also a system of covenant sanctions associated with biblical law (point 4). Because history is covenantal, it is governed by a comprehensive, coherent, integrated, self-reinforcing ethical system. Humanists no longer believe that there is such a system governing history, but they are incorrect. (See Chapter 8.)
The issue here is historical continuity.
1. The Biblical Covenant
I argued in Chapter 2 that all of history can be summarized in this phrase: the transition from grace to wrath, and the transition from wrath to grace. This is the ultimate continuity in history. It is marked by a discontinuity: the fall of man. The transition from grace to wrath took place in the third chapter of Genesis. The transition from wrath to grace will be completed at the marriage supper of the lamb, which follows the final judgment.
It is not sufficient to know about the existence of these two transitions. We must also know what the criteria are for the transition from wrath to grace. These criteria are ethical. We call them ethical laws. They are laws in the sense that they govern the process of history, both individually and corporately. They are the basis of predictability in history. They provide ways for men to make reasonable forecasts about their success or failure in life.
God’s covenants are based on biblical law. Without biblical law, and without sanctions associated with this law, there is no covenant. As someone said long ago, if there are no sanctions associated with the Ten Commandments, then they are merely the ten suggestions.
People want to believe that they live in a coherent world. They want to believe that they will achieve success in life if they follow certain rules. In some societies, these rules are primarily liturgical. They have to do with ritual. But biblical religion has always been based on ethics. The rules are ethical. There are a few rituals, but rituals are subordinate to ethics. The prophet Micah announced this: “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:6–8).
2. Parmenides vs. Heraclitus
In Western philosophy, a debate has gone on ever since the pre-Socratics in Greece in the fifth century B.C. In order to make sense of the changing world, Greek philosophers looked for elements of continuity. They looked for laws that govern historical change. This quest goes back to the philosophy of Parmenides [ParMENideez]. He believed that continuity is based on logic. He believed that logic is the sole source of meaningful investigations. His rival was Heraclitus [HeraCLITEus], who is famous for the phrase “a person does not stick his foot into the same river twice.” Heraclitus believed that discontinuity and change are the essence of history. He died sometime around 475 B.C., which was when Parmenides was at his peak intellectual influence.
Van Til believed that the history of Western philosophy is an extension of the original dualism between timeless logic and constant, unpredictable changes. Western philosophy has been marked by a series of attempts to reconcile these two irreconcilable concepts. He discussed the philosophies of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle in terms of this original dualism. This can be called form-matter dualism. The forms (“Ideas”) are timeless and unchanging. But matter is time-bound and changing. Philosophers have found no logical way to connect the two realms. Logic is static. Matter is not. Van Til discussed the philosophy of Immanuel Kant in terms of the dualism between Kant’s phenomenal realm of science and his noumenal realm of ethics and freedom. He described this as the science (predictable)-personality (unpredictable) dualism. He also described it as the nature (predictable)-freedom (unpredictable) dualism. Western philosophy is dialectical: the inevitable back-and-forth mixture between static logic and random historical change. There is no resolution of this dualism in terms of the presuppositions of autonomous man. Dualism repeats itself again and again. It comes to no final conclusion. Van Til argued that it cannot come to a final conclusion. To avoid the impersonal deterministic loss of freedom imposed by logic and scientific law, men invoke the indeterminism of random change. At the same time, they invoke the predictability of logic and scientific law in order to preserve some degree of coherence in the otherwise random universe around them. In one of his analogies, Van Til said that this arrangement is like a pair of washerwomen who take in each other’s laundry in order to make a living.
Humanist social theorists invoke some variation of the dualism between fixed law and random change. Humanist philosophy does not enable humanists to reconcile these conflicting assertions about the nature of reality, meaning metaphysics. This is why humanist systems move in the direction of dialectic philosophy, just as Plato’s did. Humanism rests on the presupposition of cosmic impersonalism. Humanism denies that a sovereign God provides ethics-based continuity over time, yet He also allows for individualistic change. Humanists deny providence. Then they seek the blessings of providence, namely, a coherent reconciliation of law and change. They seek to make sense of the world by means of impersonal law, but they also seek not to obliterate the relevance of individual facts, which includes their lives.
An increasing pessimism among humanistic historians regarding the meaning of history has led most historians to deny the existence of laws of historical development. They want continuity of law, but they also insist on discontinuity: the discontinuity of individual factuality. They regard man’s freedom as based on individual factuality: people’s autonomous decisions.
New facts keep arriving. Everything in our lives keeps changing. And yet there is sufficient continuity to enable us to make sense out of the change around us. Progress requires change. We want progress in our lives. But this means that we have to pursue change in our lives. If change were not governed by some overarching system of cause-and-effect, then whirl would be king. Chaos would rule. We would not be able to make sense of the world around us. Because the Bible is based on God’s covenant, and because this covenant is inherently ethical, we live in a world that makes sense. The final judgment will reveal the reliability of God, who will impose specific sanctions on specific kinds of behavior. In legal theory, we say this: the punishment should fit the crime. This is a fundamental principle of biblical law. It culminates in the final judgment, which will be perfect. God’s punishments will eternally fit covenant-breakers’ crimes in history.
Historical facts are not random. They are governed by the providence of God. God is not random. Therefore, as a multitude of new situations arises continually, Christians who believe in God’s five covenants—dominion, individual, family, church, and civil—and who are familiar with the laws of these covenants have an advantage over people who do not know about these laws. They can make better sense of the world around them. They can make better plans to deal with the world around them. They can become the beneficiaries of God’s positive sanctions to covenant-keepers who obey God’s laws.
The correlation between righteousness and prosperity is not perfectly predictable. The story of Job is an example. He was a righteous man, but he was afflicted with negative sanctions for a time. This experience was not confined to Job. The psalmist wrote the following:
Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches (Psalm 73:1–12).
This was troubling to the psalmist. It seemed as though historical causation is ethically perverse. But then he thought through the implications of what he had described. When covenant-breakers do evil things and receive rewards, they continue to do evil things. This leads them into destruction.
When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image (vv. 16–20).
This is the biblical imagery of the slippery slope. The slope leads downward to destruction. “For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee” (v. 27).
Christianity offers a resolution to the ancient dualism between law and facts: Parmenides vs. Heraclitus. For them, impersonal timeless logic could not be brought into correlation with impersonal random change. It was always logic versus facts. The biblical answer is the covenant. There is continuity ethically. There is continuity judicially. Because of this continuity, covenant-keepers have a competitive advantage. If they obey God’s law systematically, and if they make their plans in terms of the coherence between covenant-keeping and wealth, they will prosper. Solomon made this declaration: “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just” (Proverbs 13:22).
F. The Work of the Law
Paul wrote that the work of the law is written on the heart of every person.
For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) (Romans 2:12–15).
He did not say that the law of God is written in every man’s heart. This ethical condition is an aspect of regeneration, i.e., an aspect of special grace. This is soul-saving grace. The prophet Jeremiah prophesied regarding a new covenant which would be written on the hearts of God’s people.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31:31–34).
This has been fulfilled by the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. At the time of a person’s regeneration, he becomes the recipient of this promised blessing. The law of God is at that point in time written on his heart definitively. We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews:
For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 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 8:8–13).
Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more (Hebrews 10:15–17).
This is not what Paul was speaking about in Romans 2. What Paul described in Romans 2 is God’s common grace of the human conscience, which leads to a common condemnation by God at the final judgment. Paul said that the work of the law, not the law itself, is written on every man’s heart. Men’s consciences testify as witnesses to the existence of the work of the law. Men know by conscience what they are not supposed to do outwardly. They know which acts are condemned by God. They know, but they do not always obey.
G. Knowledge of the Law
How is the knowledge of the work of God’s law different from the knowledge of the law itself? Paul did not say. We know from Jeremiah and the Epistle to the Hebrews that having the law of God written in covenant-keeping men’s hearts is the fulfillment of prophecy. This is not a universal condition of mankind. Paul said that having the work of the law written in the heart is the common condition of mankind. There has to be a distinction between these two forms of legal knowledge, but Romans 2 does not identify what the distinction is. Van Til wrote:
It is true that they have the law written in their hearts. Their own make-up as image-bearers of God tells them, as it were, in the imperative voice, that they must act as such. All of God’s revelation to man is law to man. But here we deal with man’s response as an ethical being to this revelation of God. All men, says Paul, to some extent, do the works of the law. He says that they have the works of the law written in their hearts. Without a true motive, without a true purpose, they may still do that which externally appears as acts of obedience to God’s law. God continues to press his demands upon man, and man is good “after a fashion” just as he knows “after a fashion.” (Introduction to Systematic Theology, 2nd edition, , 2007, p. 184.)
Some people have not heard about God’s Bible-revealed law. Paul said, “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law.” They will perish. Why? If they have no knowledge of God’s law, why does God hold them responsible for having broken His law? Paul’s answer: because they are not without knowledge of the work of the law, this knowledge is sufficient to condemn them. Everyone possesses this knowledge in his or her nature as God’s image. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves” (v. 14).
Covenant-breakers recognize the existence of benefits from the enforcement of specific biblical laws. Because of the image of God in every person, all people can and do perceive the benefits of obeying God’s law. They can see the positive results of God’s law, meaning God’s positive corporate sanctions for obeying God’s civil laws. As we have seen, the Bible teaches this correlation. But covenant-breakers suppress this internal testimony. Israel did, too. People in their rebellion deny to themselves that God’s law is valid. They deny that its benefits offset its costs. Nevertheless, God restrains men’s rebellion against His law, just as He restrains rebellion against false worship. He does not allow covenant-breakers to become completely consistent in their rebellion. This restraint is an aspect of His common grace. Because there is a shared perception among all the sons of Adam, due to God’s image, it is possible for a civil government to pass laws against certain forms of public evil. These laws produce society-wide benefits. Evil-doers lose in this arrangement. This is one of the law’s major benefits. Paul said that this is God’s purpose for all civil law. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:3–4). The disutility produced by biblical civil sanctions in the life of the evil-doer is a benefit to society. His loss is society’s gain. Through inner revelation, covenant-breaking men know that this is the case, even though they partially suppress this truth.
This is why Christians benefit from the work of covenant-breakers. This is why there is a division of labor. God grants non-saving common grace to covenant-breakers in order to keep them from being consistent with their confessions of faith as autonomous men. The more consistent they become to their worldview, the more impotent they become. They wind up as the Pharaoh of the exodus did: destroyed. This is why covenant-breakers cannot gain and long maintain power over covenant-keepers in history. The sanctions of the historical covenant are structured to defeat them.