|"Theonomy" is loosely equated with the "Christian Reconstruction" movement. Greg Bahnsen wrote a book entitled, Theonomy in Christian Ethics. He summarizes the book in this way:
The relationship between the two Testaments is not adversarial. Jesus did not come to abrogate the Old Testament; He came to purify it (in opposition to Pharisaical distortions) and put its intentions into force (Matthew 5, esp. vv. 17-20) by empowering His People to obediently fulfill its promises.
Bahnsen's thesis is pretty much the view of Reformed Theology in general and the Westminster Confession of Faith in particular. So it acknowledges that the New Testament has definitely qualified many Old Testament laws, most notably the laws concerning animal sacrifices in general, and the Levitical priesthood in particular.
There are no more temple sacrifices, no more Levitical priesthood (and there never will be again), and the New Testament explains why (e.g., the book of Hebrews). In some cases we don't even need the New Covenant to tell us that some Old Testament laws are no longer letter-applicable: the Old Testament itself tells us about the dramatic change of priesthood that was to occur with the coming of the Messiah; many laws would someday obligate no more, and the New Testament confirms the Old in this respect. As Bahnsen puts it,
Making the transition from the Levitical priesthood instituted by Moses to the Melchizedek priesthood is an act of Theonomic obedience to the stipulations of God's Law.
Of course, in a sense, all of the Old Testament Laws are still binding upon us. For example, we are still responsible to bring before God the blood of a sacrificial lamb. But we also know that that Lamb is Christ (John 1:29). It makes sense, then, to expect, for example, that most of the Old Testament laws concerning the shedding of blood find their satisfaction in Christ.
The difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant is not the Standard of Righteousness, but the priestly path to forgiveness of sins (violations of that Standard), and the Spiritual ability we have to obey it (Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:27; Jeremiah 31: 31-34 + Hebrews 8:8-13; Romans 8:3-5 + Ephesians 4:13).
Pretty hard to evade the pro-nomian attitude in this passage. Bahnsen's exegesis is sound. And it establishes prima facie the Theonomic thesis. Here is how Bahnsen summarizes the Theonomic thesis in his book No Other Standard: Theonomy and Its Critics (another version of this summary is in the 2nd edition of Theonomy, and it has been published in numerous other works by Bahnsen):
This is really pretty standard Bible-believing ethics. It should be surprising that "Theonomic ethics" should be at all controversial in evangelical circles.
The bulk of Bahnsen's lengthy treatise on Theonomy does not discuss politics, but only the basic concept of the abiding validity of the Old Testament generally. Indeed, the section which does address politics is called "Application of the Thesis to the State" (p. 315). Bahnsen's particular application of Theonomy to the State is not the Theonomic thesis itself, but only an "application of the thesis." Ditto for applications made by R.J. Rushdoony and Gary North.
Bahnsen writes in his summary volume, By This Standard: The Authority of God's Law Today,
Leaders of the "Christian Reconstruction" movement have had their disagreements on the application of the Theonomic thesis. Rushdoony and North disagreed to such an extent that they weren't even talking to each other! Bahnsen disagreed with Rushdoony on several issues. Based on the Theonomic thesis, I personally do not believe in "capital punishment" for any crime. That might surprise many opponents of Theonomy, who assume that "Theonomy" means nothing if not the execution of homosexuals.
One critic of Theonomy writes:
This is an easy assumption. N.T. Wright has persuasively argued that Israel was chosen to be God's People for the world, not to withdraw into a ghetto. We will show below how God's Law has always applied to the world, not just Israel. Western Civilization is based on this assumption. Here is an example from the Supreme Court of Delaware, back in 1837:
America was built on the assumption that the civil law was recorded in the Scripture and preserved for us so that statesmen and legislators would have a divine blueprint for the civil magistrate.
Where is "the civil law?" One component of Biblical "civil law" would surely be a prohibition of murder, and punishment by death. This is found in Genesis 9. (Actually, only the punishment for murder is found in Genesis 9. The actual prohibition against murder must have been "given" to man earlier; in fact, before the murder of Abel by Cain.)
Were the nations outside Israel in the Old Testament expected to prohibit murder and punish it by death? How about homosexuality? Irons says no. Leviticus 18:24-30 says that the nations (the people, collectively, the demos) in the Promised Land were to be executed (literally, "devoted" as a sacrifice -- "hormah") as a punishment (our modern word, not necessarily a Biblical word) for violating the laws "given" to Israel. So it seems rather obvious that God expected the laws relating to Israel as a society (not merely the laws governing individual Israelites personally) to be obeyed by Canaanite society, and all other societies as well (e.g., Jonah/Nineveh, and the prophets generally).
Bahnsen argues that the civil magistrate in Israel was obligated to obey "the civil law," as were all other nations, as are all nations in New Testament times. Bahnsen says the following propositions were true of
Bahnsen's exposition of these seven propositions as they are found in Scripture relating to Israel, to the nations around Israel, and in the New Testament, is overwhelming. M.G. Kline spoke of Bahnsen's "over-heated typewriter." There is a bedrock of civil continuity throughout the Bible.
As a general rule, the Theonomic thesis is sound, and it applies to society, government, and individuals. There are many ways to apply the thesis, as Bahnsen admits, but all nations are obligated to obey God's Law in the Christian Scriptures. For centuries, this has been an operating assumption of legislators and courts. It has also been part of Christian missionary endeavors which have shaped civil law in formerly heathen nations. Yesterday's missionary efforts are today called "colonialism."
Go back, now, and re-read the paragraph at left. A prima facie case for that assumption has been made. Western civilization was built on that assumption. Lee Irons has the massive burden to disprove it. Declaring that "the civil law" is "theocratic" or that it is "typological" (we encounter those two terms in the next paragraph) does not disprove the assumption that it is also a model for all other nations. There is no Biblical reason why a law cannot serve more than one purpose.
It is not a valid Biblical principle to say that the Scriptures should not be applied by today's governments because the Scriptures are "theocratic" or "typological." Don't be baffled by 50-cent theological terms.
We've all been trained by secular schools and liberal (big-government) media to react with unthinking horror at the word "theocracy." Let's think (for a change).
The word "theocracy" means "God governs." The Greek word theos means "god." If a nation says "We're a nation under God," and if a nation is committed to obeying God's Commandments, rather than the commandments and traditions of men, then that nation is committed to being a "Theocracy" (whether it claims to be or not).
Clearly, an Islamic theocracy, committed to obeying the Koran and Hadith, is a very different kind of theocracy from a Christian Theocracy committed to obeying the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Scriptures.
A Christian Theocracy is under God -- the God of the Bible. America used to claim to be "under God" -- the God of the Bible -- and every historian of any competence will admit that all the American colonies were "theocratic." Even today, America's official national motto is still "In God We Trust," a theocratic motto.
But there's really nothing special about being a "theocracy." Every government in the history of the human race has been a "theocracy," and it is not possible to avoid being a "theocracy." The question is not whether a government is a theocracy or not, but WHO is the "theos?"
All these false theocracies under false gods should repent and become Christian Theocracies. Their governments should follow the model of the Christian Scriptures. (Whatever that is, whether you adopt the Rushdoony version, the North version, the Bahnsen version, or some other "application of the thesis to the state.") There is no Biblical or logical reason why a Christian Theocracy -- such as that found in the Bible -- cannot be a model for all other theocracies.
Proving that Israel was a "theocracy" does not prove that only Israel should be governed by God's Law. All nations, all societies, all institutions, all individuals should be "Theonomic." Or perhaps we should say, All nations, all societies, all institutions, all individuals should be committed to becoming more perfectly "Theonomic," eventually out-doing Rushdoony, North, and Bahnsen in their faithfulness to God's Theonomic blueprints.
Proving that a given statute in the Bible is "theocratic" therefore does not prove that governments today should not follow that law. Irons has not met his burden of proof.
Let's begin by remembering that all Scripture is Law. All Scripture is breathed-out by our Divine Lawgiver (2 Timothy 3:16; Isaiah 33:22). Rushdoony spoke of "the Law-Word of God." In John 15:25 a Psalm fulfills a prophetic function but is still labeled "Law." The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 145, finds civil law in Psalm 119:69. Psalm 65:2 "is by God required of all men" (WCF 21:3). "The civil law" that Irons writes against is not isolated in the books of the Torah, but is found throughout Scripture.
Some of these verses are also "typological." That doesn't mean they are no longer "law." They are still pronouncements of our Lawgiver. They command us and our institutions.
Psalm 72 was written about King Solomon of Israel (either by David or by Solomon), but is usually considered a "type" of the Messiah. Isaac Watts clearly thought this. The fact that Psalm 72 is a "type of Christ" does not preclude Solomon from being obligated to obey this Psalm as a model of Godly Government. That does not preclude any other king -- such as the kings mentioned in the Psalm ("Tarshish," "Sheba," "Seba"), or the nations mentioned by Watts ("Persia," "India") -- from using the Psalm as a model of Godly Government. No nation on earth in 1719, 1862 or in the 21st century is excused or precluded from using this Psalm as a model of just and righteous civil government -- just because the Psalm is labeled "typological" by some theologian. God put this song in the Bible to govern us, as well as to tell us something about Christ.
Don't be fooled by words like "theocracy" and "typology." Psalm 72 is clearly "theocratic," "typological," and authoritatively binding on all civil governments for all time, as long as they exist. If you are a king or other magistrate, God has legally obligated you to study and apply Psalm 72 to your civic responsibilities. This has been the common assumption of Christians for two thousand years.
“Jesus Shall Reign”
G. J. Stevenson’s Notes on the Methodist Hymn Book relates:
The idea that heathen governments should repent and become Christian governments -- obeying Genesis 9, Leviticus 18, Psalm 72, and the rest of the Scriptures -- minus the Levitical priestly requirements that foreshadowed Christ -- has been the mainstream understanding of Christendom for centuries.
Whatever the phrase means, why is it mutually exclusive with the Theonomic conclusion of the Supreme Court of Delaware (above) or the Theonomic ideal of John Cotton's Abstract of the Laws of New England, in which the civil statutes were annotated with the appropriate verses from the Bible?
Adam had God's Law before Moses. Cain and Abel both knew they had to bring offerings. Cain resented Abel's offering so he murdered him, and then worried that everyone was going to carry out capital punishment against him.
Noah separated the animals on the ark between "clean" and "unclean." He was commanded to shed the blood of anyone who shed innocent blood. Why should we assume that Noah was not also told what to do to rapists, adulterers, and homosexuals? Jews refer to these [civil] laws as the "Noahide laws," applicable to all nations. All subsequent legal codes are either imitations of or rebellion against God's Law as given to Adam, Noah, Abraham and the Patriarchs.
Abraham and Pharaoh (Genesis 12)
Pharaoh and Abraham had common legal ground to understand the consequences of Pharaoh seizing Abraham's wife (thinking she was Abe's sister).
And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
Because that Abraham obeyed My Voice, and kept My Charge, My Commandments, My Statutes, and My Torah.
And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD , to do righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”
Sounds pretty "theonomic."
Exodus - Slavery and Liberation
The behavior between Israel and the Pharaohs at the time of the Exodus shows evidence that God's laws on slavery were known to both sides. The following is from James B. Jordan's exposition of Exodus 21-23, The Law of the Covenant.
God and Pharaoh
The extended interchanges between Moses and Pharaoh are important to us for two reasons. First, they show the legal foundation for the exodus, and second, they show us one reason why the laws concerning slavery are placed first in the section we are investigating [Ex. 21-23].
Daube points out that "the authors of the exodus story represented Pharaoh as flouting established social regulations, and God as making him comply with them,malgri lui, or suffer the sanctions of his breaches. They construed the exodus as an enforcement of legal claims. As one example of many we may quote God's demand to Pharaoh: 'Israel is my son.... Let my son go.' " Daube continues, "What we are at the moment concerned with is the confidence and stability which resulted from this anchoring in firm legal relations. As God had vindicated those relations in the exodus, one could be certain that he would vindicate them again, and again, unto the last. The kind of salvation portrayed in the exodus was not, by its nature, an isolated occurrence, giving rise to nebulous hopes for similar good luck in the future: It had its root in, and set the seal on, a permanent institution - hence it was something on which absolute reliance might be placed."16 God's vindication of Israel during the exodus simultaneously vindicated the legal structure which was to govern social life in the land of Israel. It was reliable and stable because God is reliable and stable.
God had prepared Moses to be His intermediary with Pharaoh through eighty years of education and experience, first in the court of Pharaoh, and then as son-in-law of Jethro, priest of Midian (Ex. 2:21). As a Midianite, Jethro was a descendent of Abraham (Gen. 25:2). Although not all the tribes of Midian retained the true faith (Gen. 25:4; Num. 22:4; 25:6), Jethro clearly was a worshipper of the God of Abraham (Ex. 18:12). Jethro was a priest somewhat like that of Melchizedek, that is to say, he was a priest-king, firstborn of the ruling house (Heb. 7:1; Num. 3:12; Reb. 1:6). Jethro was able to teach Moses about worship, and also about how to rule (Ex. 18:13-26). Moses doubtless had many occasions to observe Jethro sitting in judgment, and to learn from it.17
17. It is unclear how the church and state functions were carried out before Mt. Sinai among God's people. It seems that the patriarch of the clan (e.g., Abraham, or Jethro) served both as priest and as supreme judge. By the time of the Exodus, there were thirteen tribal republics in Israel, each with elders and princes, as we see from the book of Numbers. This matter receives further exploration in Chapter 3 of this study.
Also, it should be noted here that the priesthood ofJethro was not like that of Melchizedek, in that it was inherited. The priestly functions of such men as Jethro and Abraham were typical of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but their persons as priests were not typical. In contrast to this, both Melchizedek and the Levitical priesthood were types of the person of Christ. Perhaps another way of getting at the distinction would be to say that Jethro was not a type of Christ, though the sacrifices he offered were typical; while both Melchizedek and his sacrifices typified Christ.
The issues between God and Pharaoh were these: 1) Who is God? 2) Are the Israelites properly Pharaoh's slaves? The LORD went to war with the gods of Egypt to settle the first question. The gods of Egypt were not able to protect Egypt from the nine plagues, but it was in the death of Egypt's firstborn that the LORD'S victory was particularly won (Ex. 12:12; Num. 33:4). The firstborn were the heirs of birthright, blessing, rule, and priesthood - their death was the death of Egypt.
As regards the second -issue between God and Pharaoh —Were the Israelites properly Pharaoh's slaves? — we need to note thatculture is an extension of religion, and Egyptian culture was no exception to this rule. Its statist organization shows it to have been an extension of blasphemous Babel, and its oppression of God's people showed it to have been Cainitic. At the top of the social pyramid, heir of Cain and Nimrod, was the Pharaoh, the incarnation of the sun god18 Although Israel was in cultural bondage to Egypt, this was because she was in religious bondage to Egypt 00sh.24:14). In spite of the fact that God had separated Israel from Egypt geographically (Goshen) and occupationally (shepherding), they went after the gods of Egypt, and so God gave them into the hands of these gods. This same principle operated during the period of the Judges. God's actions and judgments in history are never arbitrary.
Rather than let Israel settle down in Egypt, God made it miserable for them, showing them what slavery to the Babelic state entails. His grace reached them and they repented, crying out to Him for deliverance. Because culture is an effect of religion, when God set about to free Israel, it would have done no good to free them from cultural bondage without breaking their religious bondage foundationally. Thus, it was not necessary at the outset for God to say to Pharaoh, "Let My people go free." All that was needed was a demand to "let us go on a three day journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God" (Ex. 3:18). In our modern day of pretended religious neutrality and pluralism, this might appear to be deception: God intends to free Israel but He only asks that they be allowed to go on a religious retreat. That was not, however, the way it was understood then. Pharaoh knew that a man is a slave of whatever Godor gods he worships, and that culture flows from religion. Thus, Pharaoh knew that this request carried with it a demand for political freedom. Pharaoh would have to recognize the distinctive purpose of the Old Covenant seed-throne people, and in so doing, would have had to permit them to return to the throne land of Canaan.
Pharaoh could not have acceded to this request without freeing Israel. If Pharaoh had allowed their three-day trip, he would have been recognizing the Lord as Israel's God and Master. He would have had to free them. Pharaoh had himself converted to the Lord, he would have had to recognize the special status of Israel as a nation of priests of the Lord.
The fact that God demanded the release of Israel indicates that Israel was illegitimately held in bondage. According to the law, slaves from anti-God cultures, being slaves by nature, may be held indefinitely, but Christian slaves may only be held six years (Ex. 21:2). Pharaoh had broken this law. Moses' demand for Israelite freedom was grounded in this law, which was familiar to Pharaoh. Since Pharaoh did not recognize the Lord, he did not recognize that the Hebrews were true believers. In his eyes the Hebrews were the heathen, and so could be enslaved indefinitely.
Finally Pharaoh relented and said that the men might leave, but not their families (Ex. 10:7-11).19 Pharaoh was invoking the principle recorded in Exodus 21:4, "Ifhis master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone." From Pharaoh's viewpoint, it was he who had, provided the wives and children of the Hebrew men, so he had a legal claim to them. Again, however, Pharaoh was wrong, for Jacob had brought his women, children, livestock, and servants with him when he settled in Egypt, and so the Hebrews were under the law of Exodus 21:3, "If he
comes alone,' he shall go out alone; if he is the lord of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him." There were, doubtless, some non-Hebrew wives who had been "provided by Pharaoh," and Pharaoh might have had a legitimate claim to these. The law states, however, that a female slave goes free if the master reduces her lifestyle (Ex. 21:10-11),20 and Pharaoh had certainly done that. Thus, Pharaoh had a legal claim neither on the Hebrews nor on their "mixed multitude" wives. On the contrary, Pharaoh was guilty of man-stealing, a capital offense (Ex. 21:16).21
20. "'If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. And if he will not do these three for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.' "
21. "'And he who steals a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.' " That Pharaoh died at the Red Sea is cogently argued by Donovan A. Courville, The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications (Lama Linda, CA: Challenge Books, 1971) I:36ff.
God's law, familiar to the Pharaohs because of Joseph's influence and because it underlay the common law of the Ancient Near East, also orders that when a slave is set free, he is to be given going-away gifts (Dt. 15:12-16) to help him celebrate and to help him set up in business. God told the Hebrews to request (not "borrow") such presents from their neighbors (Ex. 3:22). Moses demanded such presents from Pharaoh (10:25). Those who give such presents are blessed by God (Dt. 15:18), and the Egyptians knew this. Thus, as the plagues grew more severe, they lavished gifts on the Hebrews (Ex. 11:2-3; 12:35-36).22 When Pharaoh gave his presents, he specifically asked for this blessing (12:32).23 Obviously, Pharaoh understood something about God's laws governing slavery.
23. He did not receive any blessing, however. It was not legitimate for Pharaoh to ask a blessing, because he :was not lawfully freeing slaves which he had lawfully acquired. He could not free them lawfully because he had never lawfully possessed them; thus, he was not entitled to the blessing.
Ifa man takes a slave wife in addition to his free, insured wife, there is always the danger that the slave wife and her son will rise up to inherit the family estate. Thus, to eliminate this threat, the free wife in great fear would be motivated to drive out the slave wife, as Sarah did Hagar (Gen,. 21:10). As the Israelites became ever more powerful, it began to look as if they would conquer and inherit all Egypt. After all, Goshen was exempt from the catastrophic plagues (numbers four through nine) visited on the rest of Egypt. God told the Hebrews that Pharaoh would drive them out "as a slave wife" (Ex. 11:1).24- Here we see God's ironic humor, as He says to Pharaoh: "You have wrongly held My kin as slaves. Thus, you will set them free in great fear, as you would drive out a slave wife."
Specifically, Sarah feared that the firstborn son of Hagar would rise up and get Isaac's inheritance. Similarly, when their firstborn were slain, the Egyptians realized that the Israelites would surely acquire their inheritance, unless they were driven out.
Also, as a false god, Pharaoh was not a true and loving husband to Israel. Thus, Israel was free to divorce Pharaoh, as was the slave wife's privilege (Ex. 21:1Of.). The Lord, their true Husband and Master, would never mistreat them. Pharaoh had taken their property, the land of Goshen, and had definitely reduced their lifestyle, in violation of the law for slave wives.
The exodus was not a political revolution but a religious deliverance, entailing cultural change, but rigorously grounded in the law of God and in the common law of the Near East, familiar to all parties.
The reader may be skeptical of the discussion above. What evidence is there that Pharaoh was operating under laws which were given to God's people? Our answer is that Pharaoh's arguments with Moses make no sense unless we presuppose that he knew these laws. Remember, the exodus took place 857 years after the Flood.25Shem, the Godly son of Noah, lived 502 years after the Flood.26 Thus there was doubtless much Godly influence· all over the ancient world until well into the history of the seed people, Israel. The mixing of God's law with local customary law is called "common law," and considering that at the outset, right after the Flood, God's law was the only law, it is reasonable to assume that at this point in history there was still a strong common law. The law codes of the ancient world are at many places quite similar to the laws recorded in the Pentateuch- again evidence of a common source (Noah, and behind him, God). The pagans, of course, increasingly perverted and lost God's law. In the case of Egypt, however, we must also reckon with their earlier conversion and the influence ofJoseph, who ruled Egypt in all but name for 80 years.27 Thus, there is every reason to believe that Pharaoh's concept of right and wrong, and therefore his legal beliefs, were still under the influence of God's law. This possibility is confirmed by the passage we have been looking at.28
28. This is not even to mention the teaching of Romans 2:14-15, "For when Gentiles who do not have law do perform by nature the things of the law, these, not having law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending themselves."
The Law Before Sinai
Paul tells us that the law was in operation before Sinai, when he says "for until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses" (Rom. 5:13, 14a). Before the law "came," the law was already in operation, for it was already dealing death to sinners. (Similarly, before the New Covenant "came," it was already in operation, for it was already granting resurrection life to repentant men.) At Sinai, the law was given a definitive publication, but it was already operating in the world, and was already known to men.4
Indeed, Paul says 'Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Rom. 5:12). In other words, the same law which came at Sinai was operating in the Garden. This is the connection between the Old (Adamic) Covenant and the Old (Sinaitic) Covenant.
Itis often thought that at Sinai God set up something new, a new administration of law, which had not been in force previously. We have seen from Paul that this was not the case, for the law was in operation in the Garden, and in the period between the Fall and Sinai. We can also turn to passages in Genesis and in Exodus before Sinai and see that people knew the law before it was written down by Moses.
Firstof all, we have demonstrated that the laws of slavery were known and functioned in the life of Jacob and in the interaction between Moses and Pharaoh. Second) the law of evidence concerning torn beasts (Ex. 22:13) is referred to by Jacob in Genesis 31:39. Third, Exodus 21:1 and 24:3 call these laws mishpatim, and Abraham is said to know the mishpatim in Genesis 18:19. Also, in Genesis 26:5, Abraham is said to have "kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." This is surely more than the Ten Commandments!
Fourth, Deuteronomy 22:28-29 does not order capital punishment in the case where a young man forcibly seduces a young girl, but commands him to marry her. This law was clearly being followed to the letter in Genesis 34, which concerns the relations between Shechem and Dinah. Because Simeon and Levi broke the not-yet-written law, Jacob condemned their actions (Gen. 49:5-7).6
Fifth, the laws of sacrifice were known, including the distinctions among various kinds of sacrifices (Ex. 20:24, which comes before Leviticus 1-7). Sixth, Noah knew the difference between clean and unclean animals (Gen. 7:2), yet the rules for these distinctions were not given in written form until Leviticus 11. Seventh, even though we do not read of God's commanding the people to have a tent of meeting until He ordered the building of the Tabernacle, from Exodus 33:7-11 it is clear that there already was one. It was the place of religious meeting and worship, and God talked with Moses there, before the Tabernacle was built.
Eighth and last, although other examples can be found, the law of the Levirate, requiring a brother to raise up seed for his childless dead brother (Dt. 25:5,6), was clearly known and operative in the history of Tamar (Gen. 38). Of course, unbelieving scholars use passages such as these to argue that somebody rewrote the "original myths" of Genesis to make them conform to the "later Mosaic legislation." The fact is, rather, that God had been telling his people all along what He wanted them to do. The law was given many times before Sinai; but it was definitively written down by Moses, in connection with the preeminent redemptive event of the Old Covenant period (Dt. 4:2).7
Were the Ten Commandments in Effect Before Mount Sinai?
Leviticus 18 would be considered a very "Theonomic" passage of the Bible, by those who do not consider themselves "Theonomists." It lists a number of sins, including homosexuality. Then it ends by saying that the Gentile nations would be judged and destroyed for their disobeying these very "Theonomic" verses. God holds the Gentile nations accountable for violations of God's Law given to Moses (and Abraham):
- Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
- And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
- Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
- (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
- That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.
- For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
- Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God.
Jonah preached to Nineveh. He did not say that Nineveh should repent of its violations of the ersatz laws of Assyria's false gods, or else Ninehveh would be judged by the false gods of Assyria. Jonah represented the only true God and Theonomy. Assyria would subsequently rape and pillage Israel, and be destroyed by God for doing so, in violation of God's Law (Isaiah 10).
Much of that section of the Bible called "the prophets" is against the Gentile nations for violating God's Law. Theonomy applies to all nations, not just Israel.
One major difference between Hammurabi’s Code and the Bible is that Hammurabi's laws applied only to aristocrats. Nothing is said about the legal relations between aristocrats and commoners. The law protected aristocrats in their relations with each other, but no legal protection was guaranteed for other classes.