This is North's economic commentary on Exodus 21-40, with especial attention to the social laws of Exodus 21-23. The following topics receive extended treatment in this massive book: slavery, marital contracts, criminal justice and victim's rights, restitution, pollution, negligence and responsibility, the limits of citizenship, the sabbath, bribery and justice, usury and legitimate interest, common grace, the legal Code of Maimonides, and the secularizing agenda of the framers of the U.S. Constitution. This is North's most important work of social and economic thought to date, and will shape the discussion of these issues by Christian ethicists for many years to come.
Does The Bible Really Speak To Every Area Of Life?
Most Christians say that they believe firmly that the Bible has answers for every area of life. Then someone asks them about politics or economics. A dead silence greets the questioner.
Why? If Christians are so confident that the Bible is God's revealed word, why are they so confused about what the Bible has to say about the crises of the modern world? The world is obviously facing social, economic, and political crises worse than anything seen since the flood. (Nuclear war is a good example.) It also shows signs of technological breakthroughs that could bring prosperity nearly undreamed of today.
What does the Bible tell us about the foundations of prosperity? What does it tell us about the judgments of God in history, both positive (blessings) and negative (cursings)? What does it tell us that societies should do to gain God's blessings and avoid the cursings? Few Christians have any idea. They are utterly ignorant of the Bible's judicial principles. They do not know where to begin looking. They should be able to figure it out, but they don't. They have never been taught how to think judicially.
Christians have all heard of the Ten Commandments. Some of them even know where these commandments appear in the Bible. One place is in Exodus 20. (The other is in Deuteronomy 5) Now, where would you suppose that we might find God's rules and regulations for self-government, family government, and civil government?
How about in Exodus 21? This is exactly where the case laws of Exodus appear. Also in Exodus 22 and 23. Three brief chapters, plus a few rules and regulations in the remaining eighteen chapters—yet look at the size of this book!
God's law does not waste words. It gets to the heart of the matter. Men can turn to God's law in confidence that they can discover the principles of justice. They can also be confident that these principles, when obeyed by a society, will produce God's blessings in history. But Christians have lost confidence in God's law. So, when they are asked to be specific about providing answers for the kinds of problems that face every society in history, they are stymied. They don't know where to turn.
Tools of Dominion shows them where to turn: to the case laws of Exodus. It is here that God first confronted His people with the specifics of covenantal justice. He had delivered them out of bondage. He offered them the Promised Land. All they had to do was affirm their allegiance to Him and obey His law. Like Christians today, they affirmed His covenant and then ignored His law. Also like Christians today, they found themselves wandering in the wilderness.
There comes a time when the wandering must cease. When it is time for God's people to leave the wilderness and enter the Promised Land in history, God calls them back to His law. He calls them to pick up the tools of dominion.
You, too, are being asked to pick up the tools of dominion. Maybe this time, Christians will learn how to use them. You can begin with Tools of Dominion.
Description from inside flap:
The case laws of Exodus? What are case laws, anyway? What have they got to do with anything in the modern world? What have they got to do with the church of Jesus Christ?
Case laws are the specific applications of one or more of God's Ten Commandments in specific areas of life. Case laws are where "the rubber meets the road" for those who claim that they are doing their best to obey the Ten Commandments. Will our political leaders ecourage us to honor the Ten Commandments by honoring the case laws, or will they encourage us to break the Ten Commandments by ignoring the case laws?
For over three centuries, American Christians and humanists alike have agreed: there is no need to enforce the case laws. At most, only the "moral laws" of the Bible should be enforced. What are these "moral laws"? In practice, they are whatever laws the voters are familiar with and satisfied with. People baptize the status quo with the designation, "moral laws of God."
God is not mocked. Societies that think they are being progressive by ignoring the specifics of God's law discover that they cannot provide justice. Individuals find themselves at the mercy of unjust rules. They pursue freedom from God and gain bondage under men.
Today, abortion on demand is legal. Christians suspect that there is something wrong with this, but they don't know what. They have not been told that abortion is prohibited by the case laws of Exodus.
Today, drunk drivers are issued traffic citations and are back on the highways in a few hours. If the case laws of Exodus were enforced, drunk drivers would receive capital-impairing fines, and the death penalty would be imposed on them in cases of so-called "manslaughter." There are no "accidents" for drunk drivers.
Today, criminals are rarely convicted, and those who are convicted receive suspended sentences. Only hard-core criminals are likely to be sent to jail for a few years, leaving their victims even poorer (taxes pay for prisons). If the case laws of Exodus were enforced, criminals would be required to make restitution to victims.
Today, we suffer on the one hand from local pollution and on the other hand from federal bureaucrats who can bankcrupt a business by accusing it of causing cancer, but with virtually no scientific evidence. If the case laws of Exodus were enforced, local communities could set the pollution level they are willing to suffer and thereby keep local businesses open.
Today, a quasi-private central bank inflates and deflates the nation's currency on its own authority, and the commercial banks accelerate this process, creating first booms and then recessions. If the case laws of Exodus were enforced, there could be no fiat credit money to create mass inflation or mass depression.
Nevertheless, the case laws of Exodus are dismissed without investigation. "A modern society cannot be governed by the law code of a primitive nomadic tribe" we are assured. And who asures us? The very people who tell us that we need more political reform because of the failure of our government to secure justice.
Justice has been avaiable for 3,400 years, but men have continually rejected it in favor of the creations of their own minds. They have pursued their own messianic dreams and visions, and they have ignored the case laws of Exodus. They have assumed, as have the humanists, that all we need to do to gain justice is to reason by ourselves in order to discover the proper way to run society. Christians have turned to Greek philosophy rather than to the Book of Exodus in search of justice. But they have not found justice. Neither did the ancient Greeks.
In Tools of Dominion, Dr. Gary North examines in detail the meaning of the case laws. How did they operate in ancient Israel? What moral and judicial prinicples undergirded each of them? How did the coming of Jesus Christ modify them? How could they be applied today?
Tools of Dominion describes in great detail the way the world is supposed to work in God's historic kingdom, in terms of His revealed law. It shows how judges and juries are required by God to dispense justice, and it reveals the promises that God has made to those societies that honor His word.
But Tools of Dominion is also a warning. It is a warning to those individuals and societies that believe that they can defy God daily by ignoring His requirements for justice. It warns of the negative sanctions that God eventually brings against all societies that turn their backs on His precepts. He extends mercy in history, but He also brings judgment.
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