Now something else is happening. Some Christians are starting to feel uncomfortable on the blue side of the line. They are saying that they would prefer to be on the red side, because they care more about the poor.
The red party is also waking up and telling Christians who care for the poor that they would do better on their side of the line. Christians are starting to move across the boundary.
One problem with this shift is that it makes Christians appear to be divided. As Christians spread across the political spectrum, the cross becomes distorted, because their is no clear Christian message
Friday, February 29, 2008
Now something else is happening. Some Christians are starting to feel uncomfortable on the blue side of the line. They are saying that they would prefer to be on the red side, because they care more about the poor.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
A few years ago, two things happened. Christians woke up and realised that the political space has an enormous influence on the shape of our culture and the quality of our society. They began to realise that they cannot ignore a space that affects most aspects of life. Christians are a majority in America, so they should have some influence on the political space.
Labels: Poltical Space
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
We have this political space and we are not sure what to do with it. The politicians and political parties have been comfortable in this space for years. They are comfortable with political power and they know how to use it.
The politicians have aligned on two sides: left and right, red and blue, democrat and republican. Their struggle with each other seems to be eternal, but the real differences are not that great. The major disagreement is about who should control political power.
Christians have tended to stay out of this political space, partly because Jesus kingdom is not of this world and partly due to the separation of church and state.
Labels: Political Space
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
God gave Israel a system of law and judges. This system of government has never been abolished, annulled or replaced. Jesus death on the cross ended the temple sacrifices. When he ascended as the great high priest, he ended the role of the priesthood. The role of judges administering God’s law has never been abolished or replaced. Jesus will return as judge at the end of the age. That will be the point at which the role of godly human judges comes to an end.
God’s ideal government is a system of law and judges. The law should be God’s law. Excellent judges will emerge as we submit our cases to wisest people. This is the best system of government. Because it was given by God, a better system will never be found. Human wisdom can never match God’s wisdom.
Monday, February 25, 2008
God’s perfect government has two aspects: law and judges. The first is and most important aspect of God’s government is the law. Every civilised society needs law to function well. However, the problem is that most use human laws. God’s law is holy and good (Rom 7:12). The basis for perfect government is the God’s law.
The second prong of perfect government is wise judges. Law cannot function on its own, but has to be applied. Good law needs wise judges to apply it. At the same time as God gave Israel the laws they needed, he also gave them a system of judges.
The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country, he endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert, he overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years. After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish (Acts 13:17-21).God gave judges to Israel as they were going into the promised land. This was the second part aspect of God’s ideal government.
They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves (Ex 18:26).When the children of Israel entered the promised land, they had judges to apply God’s law. This makes sense, as God would not give the law, without raising up judges to implement it. Moses gave the judges a “head start” by helping with the difficult cases.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Once we understand that kingship is a suboptimal form of government, we have to look for a different model. We know that democracy is contrary to God’s will. We need to find the optimal form of government.
As with most things, we find that God gets things right first time. He gave Adam the responsibility for self government. As the population of the world grew, God established family government through men like Noah and Abraham. While there was plenty of room on the earth and families were spreading out, so there was no need for civil government. However, by the time of Isaac and Jacob, people were beginning to clash with each other (Jacob and Esau, Jacob and Laban), so a better form of civil government was needed. The need was postponed when Israel went to Egypt and became slaves in the Egyptian system.
While Moses was leading the children of Israel out of Egypt towards the promised land, they had a military style government. They were under constant threat of attack, so they travelled in a military formation. However, once they entered the new land, military government was not appropriate, so they needed a system civil government. Just before the need arose, God came through with a new system of government that would enable them to live peacefully in close proximity in Canaan. God’s perfect model of government was law and judges.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
A popular form of human government that is popular with many Christians, but is not in the scriptures, is the millenium. A common belief is that Jesus will return to Jerusalem at the end of the age and rule the whole world. The idea has emerged that Jesus ruling as king in Jerusalem would be the perfect government, but a little thought reveals this to be an awful idea.
The idea of Jesus sitting in Jerusalem and using an “iron fist” to crush all opposition is repulsive and contrary to the gospel. What is more, it would not work. Jesus would not be able to eliminate evil from a throne in Jerusalem. He could control those in the immediate vicinity, but those further abroad would escape his power. Jesus could get his followers to track them down and "zap" them, but that would increase their hostility to him. He might be able to gain control of the world, but it would not be very pleasant place to live.
Thankfully, Jesus refused to establish his Kingdom using force. He said,
My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest… (John 18:36).His kingdom will not be established by worldly means. Jesus refused to use force, even though he could have called on his Father to send a whole host of angels to his aid (Matt 26:52,53). Jesus knew that true converts cannot be won by force. God has a much better way; to win the hearts of men through the inner work of the Holy Spirit, as the church proclaims the gospel.
The problems of the world cannot be solved by forcing people to do things they do not want to do. Evil will only disappear when all sinful hearts are transformed. Jesus sitting on a throne in Jerusalem would not have the power to change hearts. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. And surprise, surprise! He can change hearts now without waiting for Jesus to return.
The millennium is a Jewish Idea. The Jews expected the messiah to come as a mighty ruler and destroy all their enemies. They were disappointed and confused when Jesus came as a carpenter, teaching them to love their enemies. A messiah dying on a cross was well outside their expectations. Christians have embraced the messiah on the cross, but many still have the yearning for a messiah who will come with a rocket launcher and “blow away” their enemies
For Jesus to rule the earth from Jerusalem, the church would have to become a giant bureaucracy. The saints would take orders from Jerusalem so there would not place for initiative and exercise their talents. Being a cog in a giant bureaucracy does not sound like the hope to which we were called. We live in a bureaucratic age, and this idea may appeal to men who do not wish to take responsibility, but God would prefer men to be responsible, and exercise authority in obedience to the Word and the Spirit. Jesus can rule through Christians now, if they will submit to his word and the Spirit. There is no need for an earthly bureaucracy.
The kingdom of God cannot be established by force. Jesus can accomplish far more in the present age through the Holy Spirit. Working through him, Jesus can extend his power and influence throughout the entire earth.
The kingdom of God will defeat the kingdom of the world, because the Holy Spirit is greater by far than the Devil. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to establish the Kingdom and he will do the job. The Spirit of God cannot be a failure?
Friday, February 22, 2008
The book of Revelation tells the story of the rise and fall of the democratic state. Although it achieves power, it will eventually collapse under its own weight. When man ignores God, things go wrong on earth. The curses and plagues described in the book of Revelation are the consequences of rampant state power. The democratic state will demand more and more power to deal with these problems and plagues, but it will fail. As it demands more power, the problems will just get worse. Eventually everything will collapse under the strain.This will present a tremendous opportunity to Christians, if they are ready. Thing will get so bad that the kings and politicians will want to hide.
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains (Rev 6:15).The powerful people will be so shaken that they will want to hide.
Mary prophesied the collapse of human government.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;The birth of Jesus marked the beginning of the end for human rulers. They will be brought down from their thrones as their empires collapse.
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble (Luke 1:51, 52).
The people of the world will be looking for a better form of government. They will have had enough of human government and be open to an alternative. If Christians are ready to present a alternative, it will be well received. People will be crying out for the government of God.
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever (Rev 11:15).The collapse of democratic government will create a great vacuum that only the government of God can fill.
Christians must not use force against democratic government. They must wait for God to judge it. They should wait for it to collapse under its own internal weakness. A lot of stuff might have to happen first. Christian communities will need to be restored in every location. During the transition, these communities may have to protect themselves from attack and provide economic support for each other as the global economy breaks down, but that is another story.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The military power of the United States is even greater than its economic power. It currently spends more on defence than the next 15 to 20 biggest spenders combined. The Congress has currently agreed to increase military spending by $US50 billion. This is more than the entire defence budget of Germany or the UK. The United States defence budget could grow to be greater than that of the all other countries in the world combined.
The United States has overwhelming nuclear superiority, the world’s dominant air force, the only true, blue-water navy and military bases all over the world. It leads the world in exploiting the military applications of advanced communications and information technology. Listening devices allow military planners to monitor enemy communications. Satellite technology allows them to observe a battlefield in detail. Commanders are linked by an intranet that gives precise information about battle formations and unmanned planes and guided missiles are becoming increasingly sophisticated. These developments give unrivalled ability to co-ordinate and process information about the battlefield and destroy targets from afar with extraordinary precision. This military superiority gives the Untied states a unique capability to project power around the world, and it achieved with less than 4 percent of GDP.
The United States is also making it hard for any other country to catch up. It currently spends three times more on military research and development than the next six military powers combined. US spending on military research and development is greater than the total spending on defence by Germany or the UK. In the next decade, advanced technology will cause an enormous leap forward in military capability, so the military power of the United States will continue to increase dramatically.
In the past, the United States tended to have an isolationist approach to the world affairs. It has only became involved when drawn in by events. The election of George W Bush brought a significant change in this respect. Previous governments recognised the unprecedented power of the United States, but did not know how to use it. George W Bush has brought to power men who believe that America should use its unique power to shape the world order and control its direction for the next century. L’Express newspaper called this messianic imperialism. The United States has become an imperialistic nation, but it does so to save the world from evil.
A disturbing aspect of this American imperialism is the encouragement that is been given by Christians in the United States. Here are few examples.
God bless America, because God is with you. This nation did not become a strong nation, getting on its knees to despots and tyrants, we have defeated them from George Washington to George Bush and as a nation we are going to stand on our feet and defeat the tyrants of the world, and now is the time to do it. God bless George Bush (Pastor John Hagee).I find these statements very disturbing. The Kingdom of God cannot be established by military power. Military power always lead to domination, even if it is democratic domination. Christians seems to be encouraging the United States into the role of the Beast of Daniel.
For in these days says the Lord my prophets will wear the attire of a soldier. They will call themselves Marines, Army, Air Force and Navy. I will send them abroad and they shall tread down the adder and the serpent that set itself against them. They will bring my retribution and revival.... Wherever the soles of their feet tread they will possess the land. They will reestablish my borders and boundaries in the land. No longer will the dragon of tyranny reign upon the head of that generation… America, I have sent you as evangelists and prophets to the nations. You have donned the uniform of the soldier and are setting a new precedence of the warrior heart (Chad Taylor – My Prophets in Uniform).
Here are some of adventures that Daniel prophecied for this military power, but not for good.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Daniel says that the fourth beast was terrifying and frightening and very powerful (Dan 7:7). The military and economic power of the United States is now unmatched in the world.
The economic power of the United States is amazing. With the collapse of the Japanese economy, the United States became the dominant global economic power. It has been the largest economy in the world since 1900 and now accounts for nearly half of the world’s economic production. The United States economy is now as large as the next three, Japan, Germany and Britain, put together. California’s economy alone has become the fifth largest in the world, ahead of France and just behind the UK. Most international trade is denominated in the US dollar and most nations use it as their reserve currency. The dominance of the United States is set to continue into the future, as it undertakes 50 percent of the research and development done in the world, more than the R&D expenditure of the next seven richest counties combined. The United States is the most popular destination for the world’s best scientists and trained foreign workers.
The population of the United States is younger and growing fast, whereas the population of Europe is ageing and declining. In 1950, Western Europe had twice the population of the United States. Projections indicate that by 2040, the United States will overtake Europe. By 2050, Europe’s population could be 360 million and falling, while the United States’ would be would be over 550 million and rising. This large home market will further strengthen the United States economy.
Some economists and prophets are warning that the American economy is collapsing. There may be a temporary lapse, but the underly power of America is stronger than ever. The American economy will remain the most powerful in the world until this democratic beast has completed its adventures.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Daniel saw a terrible beast.
After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast-terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. "While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.Most biblical commentators think that this prophecy will be fulfilled when the European Union transforms into a super-state, like a restored Roman empire. There are real problems with this view. Disagreement between the EU members means that they will be unlikely to hand over full sovereignty to the European parliament. Europe is economically weak and its population is declining. European military forces are very limited and the anti-war sentiments of the population would make a military build-up difficult. Therefore, if this prophecy is being fulfilled in our time we need to look outside Europe.
He gave me this explanation: 'The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time’ (Dan 7:7,8,23-25).
The most obvious interpretation of the beast with the ten horns is that a number of independent nation states hand over their sovereignty to become part of a single united nation. One third of these nations refused to hand over their sovereignty and are forced to join under threat of military force. There is only once place where this has happened in recent history and that is America. The thirteen states that gained independence from Britain were each independently governed, autonomous nation states. They joined together to fight for their independence, but they remained politically independent. After the war of independence, these nation states came together and established the United States. They created a federal system in which they handed over very limited powers (mostly defence) to the federal government. All other powers were retained by the states.
We sometimes get confused by the use of the word state in this context. These states were not provinces of a greater state, but independent states that gave some power to a federal government. Because they joined freely, many states considered that they could also withdraw from the Union. At the beginning of the civil war, the southern states attempted to withdraw from the Union and establish a separate confederacy. The civil war was primarily fought over the right of these states to secede from the Union. The army of the twenty northern states (two thirds) destroyed the armies of the 11 southern states (one third). The victory of the union forces enabled them to maintain the union, eliminating the power of the states to secede. This opened the way for a gradual shift of power to from the states to the federal government. During the following century, the United States became the most powerful nation in the entire world and the states are now just provinces of this greater entity.
Commentators are looking for a powerful confederacy of nations. They forget that there is already a powerful union called the “united states”. Daniel saw a group of nations (ten horns) joined together to become one nation (a single horn). At first the federal government had very limited power (a little horn). The federal government defeated a group of states that tried to withdraw from the union (three horns) and then the federal government became very powerful (little horn becomes large beast). The numbers ten and three should not be taken literally. Ten symbolises completeness, indicating that all the states joined freely. The number three indicates that 3/10 of the states would be defeated in their attempt to secede. All this happened for the god of democracy.
Ten minus three is seven. Seven symbolises divinity. This indicates that the conquering states would take attempt to take on sovereignty that belongs only to God. The beast attempts to “try to change the set times and the laws”. This is a reference to a rejection of God’s laws. Since the civil war, the United States government has become increasingly secular and humanistic. Whereas the thirteen original states had laws based on the bible, American law is now dominated by pragmatism and humanism.
Everyone is looking for the beast in Europe, but all the while this terrible democratic beast is having it's ultimate fulfilment in America.
Monday, February 18, 2008
An example of this enormous power is the American invasion of Iraq. An invasion from such a distance would have been inconceivable in Nebuchadnezzar’s time. The Roman empire could not have achieved such a decisive victory in so short a time. This American victory is just one example of enormous state power in action.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
The Roman Empire lasted for about five centuries. It was succeeded by a motley assortment of kings and fiefdoms. Democracy first emerged in England in the thirteenth century when some of the nobles began to resist the power of the king. However, real democracy only began in the nineteenth century when the vote was extended to the common people. It emerged in the United States about the same time. The First World War ended the reign of kings throughout Europe. Democracy became the normal form of government. Following the Second World War, democracy spread throughout the world as the colonial power withdrew from their empires. Democracy is now accepted throughout the world as the best form of Government.
Francis Fukuyama wrote a famous article called “The End of History”. He was not talking about the end of the world. He was saying that with the collapse of communism, liberal democracy had triumphed over all alternative forms of government.
What we are witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or a passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.Fukuyama claims that liberal democracy has proven to be superior to all other forms of human government. Democracy started off the twentieth century as one amongst many possible systems of government. Now all contenders, including monarchy, communism, fascism have failed, so he cannot envisage a future where liberal democracy is not the dominant form of government. Fukuyama believes that liberal democracy is the best form of government so it cannot be superseded by a better or “higher” form of government. I guess he was really saying “Who is like the Beast?”
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The idea that the beast of Revelation represents restored democracy is confirmed in several ways. The beast comes out of the sea (Rev 13:1). Throughout Revelation, the sea represents the people of the world.
Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw…. are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages” (Rev 17:15).Most empires come into being when a few men seize control. The Beast is different; it emerges as the people govern themselves. The only way a great multitude of people can govern themselves through democracy.
There is not much mystery about the number of the beast: 666. We are told what it means.
This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666 (Rev 13:8).The number does not represent a particular man, but mankind in general. The number is “man’s number”. Six represents humanness. Three represents God, so three lots of six represent man trying to be God. In the context of government this means man governing himself without God. That can only happen in a democracy. In other forms of human government, most people do not govern themselves, but are governed by other men.
Men worshipped the Beast and said, “Who is like the Beast?” (Rev 13:4).This is already happening. People of the modern world have enormous faith in the democratic state. Most people have more faith in the state than Christians have in God. They say that democracy is the best form of government. Very few people are interested in government by God.
The statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision had feet and toes that were a mixture of iron and clay. Iron represents strength, so it describes strong government. Clay represents humanity, as we were created from the earth (Gen 2:7). The clay represents human government. A mixture of iron and clay represents a powerful democratic state.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The key to the identification of this Beast of Revelation is that it seemed to have died and then comes back to life again. When it comes back to life, the entire world follows the Beast.
One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast (Rev 13:3).One head of the beast had been killed, but it came back to life, creating great amazement through the world.
The terrible beast is form of human government that existed before John’s time, but came to such a violent end, that it seemed impossible that it could rise again. John saw a form of human government that appeared to be finished forever, come into existence again. This is confirmed in a later vision.
The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come (Rev 17:8).The Beast once existed, in John’s time it did not exist, but in the future it will come back into existence. People will be amazed when it comes back into existence, because it appeared to be have been obliterated.
John indicates the time when this government came to an end.
They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction (Rev 17:8).John is referring to a form of human government that did not exit during his lifetime, but did exist at an earlier time. It is different from the sixth king, which did exist at the time when John received the vision.
The sixth king is easy to identify, because the Roman Empire dominated the world throughout John’s life time. The Roman Empire is the sixth king. The key to identifying the terrible beast is to identify a different form of human government that came to a violent end prior to the time of the Roman Empire.
The major form of human government that existed prior to the Roman Empire was the Roman republic. The Republic began in 500 BC and lasted for nearly five centuries. It was led by consuls elected for a year. An elected Senate was responsible for passing laws and appointing government officials. Not everyone had the right to vote, but the Roman Republic was based on the principle of democracy.
Democracy in Rome came to a violent end about thirty years before Jesus was born. Julius Caesar and then his successor Caesar Augustus turned the Roman armies against Rome and destroyed the Republic. By the time Jesus was born, the Empire was fully entrenched in power. This was an interesting period of history. Not only did Christianity begin, but democracy died.
When Caesar Augustus took control of Rome, democracy was fatally wounded, despite having bean an important form of government for several centuries,. It had begun in Greece, but had died there much earlier. By the time that John received his vision, democracy appeared to be gone forever, having been destroyed by a fatal blow. “The beast that once was, now is not” is the democratic form of Government. The beast with the “fatal wound had been healed’ is another description of democratic government. Democracy died at about the same time as the Kingdom of God began.
John warmed that the beast that died would come back to life and become an eighth king. Democracy did not come back to life until ten centuries later, when a parliament emerged in England. The Beast of Revelation represents restored democracy. The leaders of democracy in England and the United States looked back to the example of the Greek and Roman Republics.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The apostle John saw a beast similar to the fourth beast of Daniel’s vision.
And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion (Rev 13:1,2).The resemblance to the leopard, the bear and the lion provides the link with Daniel’s vision. John is indicating that this Beast is not something new. It is just one more human government in a long line that extended from Babylon to Rome. The may arise in different places, but they all the same in their essence. They are human attempts to establish government without God.
This human government grew very strong.
The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority…Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" (Rev 13:2,4).
This beast has enormous power because the devil gave it all his power an authority. Everyone is amazed at what this political empire achieves. They have enormous faith in this human government.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Many Christians are expected a world government to emerge. The name they give to this dictator is the Antichrist. Looking for an antichrist is a mistake, because the word antichrist is never used in the Book of Revelation. The title is only used in the epistle of John to describe people who deny Jesus has come in the flesh, and he says that the antichrist had already come in his time (1 Jn 2:18-22).
Revelation does not refer to an antichrist, but it does describe the same beast that Daniel saw in his dream. Christians everywhere are searching for this beast. They sift through Revelation looking for clues and trying to work out the meaning of 666. However, they are looking for the wrong Beast, so despite all the searching, the Beast has arrived and no one has noticed. The beast represents restored democracy.
Democracy is the ultimate human government because it consists of an entire society refusing to accept God’s government. In a country ruled by a king or an emperor, only one man is rejecting God. God brought King Nebuchadnezzar from his throne, because he had exalted above God. Daniel and the other people in Babylon were not affected by this judgment.
Democracy comes into being when everyone in society rejects the government of God. This is the ultimate human government. The Beast of Revelation is the pinnacle of state power and the epitome of human government.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
If we ask the wrong question, we will not get the right answer. Most Christians ask how we can make the democratic system to work according to biblical principles. Their answer is to get more Christians elected, so they can pass Christian laws. Efforts in this direction have only had limited success and have often harmed God’s name.
The correct question is as follows. What is God’s ideal form of government? This is a very important question that we have not seriously attempted to answer.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
The modern view is that democracy is the ideal form of government, but it does not get a good press in the Bible. The biblical evidence is that when the people joined together to make a unanimous or majority decision, they usually got things wrong. Here are some examples.
Even when they could see into the promised land, the people voted against going into it.
That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, "If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? And they said to each other, "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt". (Num 14:1-4, 26).The people wanted to elect a leader to take them back to Egypt, because they thought that obeying God would be too tough. This is typical of democracy. People will rarely vote for a tough option, even when it is needed. They will generally vote for the option that produces the most comfort.
Gideon understood this problem well.
The Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian." But Gideon told them, "I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you" (Jud 8:22,23).This is a good example of democracy getting things wrong. The people voted Gideon for president, but that was not God’s will. Gideon understood the issues better and reminded them that God was their ruler.
Jesus was crucified by a democratic decision.
Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified (Matt 15:15).The representative of the evil empire wanted to set Jesus free. However, he agreed to put the decision to a vote, and Jesus was sent down. Democracy perpetrated the greatest injustice that has ever been done by sentencing the only perfect man to death for crimes he did not commit.
My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. "Because you have rejected knowledge….. because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children (Hos 4:6).Given that democracy gets things wrong so often, it is hard to understand why Christians are so enthusiastic about democracy.
Christians have tended to recommend democracy as a political solution, but there is no biblical reason for this enthusiasm. People power leads to oppression because the crowd is usually wrong.
Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd (Ex 23:2).We should be careful about recommending a system that does not have God’s approval. Just as a thorn bush cannot produce apples, a system where man establishes the laws, can never advance the Government of God.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Daniel received a vision within a dream in which he saw four great beasts, but the fourth beast was worse than the rest. An angel explained its meaning to Daniel.
The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it (Dan 7:23).The fourth beast is a kingdom that will appear on earth in the future. It is a continuation of the line of empires that began with Nebuchadnezzar. The forth beast will be worse than the empires that have gone before and will crush the entire earth.
Although it is an extension of the empires that have gone before it, it will take human government and state power to a whole new level. We look back at the Babylon and the Roman Empire and think they were powerful, but they are nothing compared to the empire that Daniel saw coming in the future. We have not yet seen the worst that state power can do.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
When Daniel the prophet was living in Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. Daniel told him the dream before he gave the interpretation.
You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth (Dan 2:31-35).Daniel explained the meaning of the dream to Nebuchadnezzar.
You are that head of gold. After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others (Dan 2:39,40).
Christians have put a lot of effort into working out who these kingdoms represent. They are generally though to represent the kingdoms of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece and Rome.
In many ways, it does not matter who the different parts of the statue represent. The really important point is that they are all part of the same statue. The statue represents human government in opposition to God. The various kingdoms are different attempts at human government, but they are all united in a common purpose. They all attempt to establish order in the world, without reference to God. They all follow their predecessor Nimrod in standing against God.
God worked out his purposes through these empires. He used Babylon to bring judgement against Israel. He then used the Medes to bring judgment against Babylon. God called Cyrus to accomplish his purposes.
This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut (Is 45:1).God uses human empires to execute judgement on evil nations, but they are not the optimal form of Government.
We always face a choice between the government of God and the government of man. When we reject God, we end up with the government of man. Some human governments are weak and pathetic, but all human government has a tendency towards accumulation of power. Under human government, state power grows and eventually swamps everything.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
After Solomon’s death, his kingdom was divided between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. These two kings and their successors were a disaster for Israel. Josiah and Hezekiah were quite good, but even they fell frequently fell short. Most kings were mediocre and some were really evil like Manasseh and Jeroboam.
Virtually all the kings of Israel and Judah led their people into evil, and eventually both kingdoms came under the judgment of God. Israel and Judah were frequently invaded by other nations, so their kings failed to protect them. According to the prophets, these kings really enforced justice. They were a failure in every way.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
In Jesus time, the people of Israel were still looking for a king in David’s line. The problem was that they did not understand David’s calling. He was a military commander raised up to lead the nation in battle against their enemies. This was temporary role only needed when the people had repented and opened up the way for God to throw of the shackles of their oppressors (see Judges 2:10-19).
In Jesus time, the people were oppressed by the Romans. They wanted a military leader to set them free, but they were still hardened against God, so a military leader could not free them from bondage. This is why Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:Jesus was explaining that he had changed the ministry of David. He would not be a military leader, so he would not defend his people using military force. Rather he would defeat their enemies through the work of the Holy Spirit and proclamation of the gospel.
"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
'See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey'” (Matt 21:4,5).
Gentleness was replacing military courage. Jesus would be a totally different king. His kingdom will not be established by military force, but through his death on the cross. Like David, Jesus would deliver his people, but he would do it in a different way.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Nathan’s promise to David was fulfilled by Jesus. He descended from David through Mary. Gabriel’s prophecy to Mary was similar to God’s promise to David through Nathan.
You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. (Luke 1:31-33)Jesus would establish the Kingdom that was promised to David. He established the kingdom of God, which will last forever.
God was Jesus father and Jesus was the father’s son, just as Nathan prophesied.
I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men (2 Sam 7:14).Solomon was not the son of God, so this promise was not fulfilled in him. However, because bible translators have assumed that this applied to Solomon, they have translated it in correctly. This was actually a messianic promise. The son of God would not do wrong, but he would be punished with the rod that should be born by all men. He would be inflicted with the flogging that all men deserve. This promise was fulfilled by Jesus before he went to the cross.
The kingship claimed by David’s descendents was actually promised to Jesus.
Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever (2 Sam 7:16).This promise was not fulfilled through Solomon and his descendents. Nathan was looking forward to the kingdom that Jesus would establish. It will endure for ever.
David had a good heart and good used him to accomplish his purposes, but he did not intend to establish a dynasty of kings through him. This was confirmed when his descendents led Israel away from God. Government by kings was not God’s plan for Israel. He used some kings, because he is gracious, but they were not his ideal government.
The Jews have never fully understood David’s calling. He was a military commander raised up to lead the nation in battle against their enemies. This was temporary role only needed when the people had repented and opened up the way for God to throw of the shackles of their oppressors (see Judges 2:10-19).
Sunday, February 03, 2008
God made a promise to David through Nathan the prophet that has been widely misunderstood.
The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you…..Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me your throne will be established forever. (2 Sam 7:11,16).This passage was misunderstood by David. He thought that God’s promise would be fulfilled through Solomon and his descendants. He assumed that he was starting a dynasty like the kings in other nations.
This misunderstanding has been copied by most commentators. Christians tend to assume that God was giving the big tick to kingship, by establishing David’s descendents as kings over Israel.
God promised to love one of David’s sons and that his kingdom would last forever. This promise cannot have been fulfilled through Solomon, because his kingdom did not last forever. He turned to foreign women, so he lost the blessing of God. Half of the kingdom was wrested away by Jeroboam soon after Solomon died and his dynasty was totally broken when the Babylonians invaded Israel.
God did not establish a kingly dynasty through Solomon. This is confirmed in God’s answer to his prayer.
And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life (1 Kings 3:14).God did not promise that his family line would continue as kings of Israel. He only promised long life to Solomon.
A Davidic dynasty was not God’s will for Israel. God actually promised that one of David’s descendents would establish his kingdom.
When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body (2 Sam 7:12).The descendent would be raised up after he had died. Solomon came to power while David was still alive, so this rules him out. The reason is that Nathan’s promise is to Jesus, not Solomon.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Robert Reich says that the American middle classes have exhausted their coping mechanisms.
The fact is, middle-class families have exhausted the coping mechanisms they have used for more than three decades to get by on median wages that are barely higher than they were in 1970, adjusted for inflation. Male wages today are in fact lower than they were then: the income of a young man in his 30s is now 12 per cent below that of a man his age three decades ago. Yet for years now, America’s middle class has lived beyond its pay cheque. Middle-class lifestyles have flourished even though median wages have barely budged. That is ending and Americans are beginning to feel the consequences.Life gets tough when a nation loses the blessing of God.
The first coping mechanism was moving more women into paid work........
But we reached the limit to how many mothers could maintain paying jobs. What to do? We turned to a second coping mechanism. When families could not paddle any harder, they started paddling longer. The typical American now works two weeks more each year than 30 years ago. .....
But there is also a limit to how long we can work. As the tide of economic necessity continued to rise, we turned to the third coping mechanism. We began to borrow, big time. With housing prices rising briskly through the 1990s and even faster between 2002 and 2006, we turned our homes into piggy banks through home equity loans. Americans got nearly $250bn worth of home equity every quarter in second mortgages and refinancings. That is nearly 10 per cent of disposable income. With credit cards raining down like manna, we bought plasma television sets, new appliances, vacations.......
But this final coping mechanism can no longer keep us going, either. The era of easy money is over. With the bursting of the housing bubble, home equity is drying up......
In short, the anxiety gripping the middle class is not simply a product of the current economic slowdown. The underlying problem began around 1970. Any presidential candidate seeking to address it will have to think bigger than bailing out lenders and borrowers, or stimulating the economy with tax cuts and spending increases.
Labels: Robert Reich
When David had defeated all the enemies around Israel he decided to build a house for God. That night the word of the Lord came to Nathan and he “reported to David all the words of this entire revelation” (2 Sam 7:17). God said that he did not want any king to build him a house.
Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?" (2 Sam 7:7).God did not want any king to build him a dwelling place, because unlike the God’s of the nations, he was not confined to once place.
David was told that could not build a temple because he had blood on his hands. Solomon had blood on his hands too.
Then the king gave the order to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck Shimei down and killed him. The kingdom was now firmly established in Solomon's hands (1 Kings 2:46).His actions made him unfit to build a temple for God. The truth is that every king has blood on his hands, because that is how all kings maintain their power. Therefore no human king can ever build a dwelling place fit for God to dwell in.
God never asked Solomon to build him a house. Solomon did this on his own initiative. God referred to it as “this temple, which you have built” (1 Kings 9:3). God responded graciously, because he loved Solomon, but a temple of cedar and stone was not his will. Solomon was wrong to build a temple of stone, because this promise was not for him to fulfil. That is why the stone temple eventually had to be destroyed. God would never have allowed the temple to be destroyed if it really was him home.
Jesus would fulfill the promise made through Nathan.
He is the one who will build a house for my Name (2 Sam 7:13).Jesus built a house for God to dwell in. By dying and ascending, he opened up the way for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Every believer would be a temple of the Holy Spirit. The entire body of Christ would be a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. The body of Christ is the only temple fit for the living God.
Human rulers must not control the body of Christ.
Friday, February 01, 2008
The Jewish people tended to look upon David as the perfect king and the ideal government. David was a great person with a good heart. His Psalms are a testimony to his good relationship with God.
Despite having a good heart, David was not a good ruler of the people. He did not handle justice well. Absalom rose to power, because David did not provide judges to resolve claims for justice. Hewas able to make a place for himself, by getting justice for people who did not believe they would get justice from King David (2 Sam 15:2-4).
The truth is that David did all the things that Samuel warned a king would do. Samuel warned that the king would take the best property for himself. David had such great wealth and property that he needed twelve overseers to organize the people who worked it (1 Chron 27:25-31). Samuel warned that the King would take their daughters. David did worse; he took the wife of one of his soldiers, Uriah the Hittite, and then had him murdered. Samuel warned that the king would take all the young men for his army. David’s worst decision was taking a census of the people to find out how many soldiers he could include in his army (2 Sam 24). This sin brought judgement on the nation, as the king was their representative.
So the LORD sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died (1 Sam 24:15).King David was just doing what kings do, but his mistake cost 70,000 lives.
David’s experience proves that kingship is not an ideal form of government. David was a good man with a good heart, but even he could not make kingship work. A human king can never escape the traps of pride and hubris.
David knew that he was not the ideal king. He honoured the true king who would come in the future.
The LORD is King for ever and ever; (Ps 10:16).
For the kingdom is the LORD’s (Ps 22:28)
For God is the King of all the earth (Ps 47:7).
For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods (Ps 95:3).
Shout for joy before the LORD, the King (Ps 98:6).
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom (Ps 145:13).