Thursday, August 31, 2006

Purpose of the Law (5) - Great for Right Use

Many Christians see the law as a system of righteousness that failed. That does not make sense, because God does not make mistakes. The problem is that the law was never intended to make us righteous.

Paul is very negative about our ability to be saved by works of the law, but he is positive about the law itself.

Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good (Rom 7:12).

What could be better for the functioning of society than a set of laws that are holy, just and good? Any other set of laws will be suboptimal. They will be partly unjust and not always good. Why would any society want to have suboptimal laws? God’s law must be the best, because he is God.

Christians say that they live under grace and not under law. They then jump out of the frying pan into the fire by choosing to live under human laws. And very few see a problem with this strange attitude to human law. I cannot understand why Christians living under grace want to live under human law.

God’s law is good. It cannot provide peace with God; only the cross can achieve that, but it is still the best basis for a harmonious and just society.

Technorati Tags : ,

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Purpose of the Law (4) - Not Righteousness

Several false understandings of the law have been prevalent since the law was given. The most common error is the view that we can be made righteous through keeping the law. The Jews believed that they were special because they had the law. They also believed that they could gain righteousness by keeping the law.

Paul spent a large part of his ministry debunking this myth. Here are two statements that make his position clear.

If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!(Gal 2:21).Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteouswill live by faith" (Gal 3:11).

The law cannot make us righteous. Only the ministry of Jesus can accomplish that goal.

Paul was very hostile to those who claimed righteousness through the law, but he was careful not to denigrate the law itself. He was clever enough not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Paul said the law is spiritual, holy just and good (Rom 7). The reason he could say this was that he understood that law is good when used for the correct purpose (1 Tim 1:7-9). It only becomes a problem when used as a basis for righteousness, something that it was not designed to do. True righteous can only be obtained through Jesus, and we appropriate his righteousness through faith.

Many Christians assume that Paul taught that there is something wrong with God's law, but this is not true. Paul taught that using the law a way to righteousness is wrong, because that is not its purpose. When the law is used for the wrong purpose, it is useless. However, when it is used for the correct purpose, it is still holy and just.

Technorati Tags : , ,

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Purpose of the Law (3) - Restraining Wickedness

The prophet Habakkuk also understood the purpose of the law.

Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted (Hab 1:3, 4).

When God’s law is ignored, strife and violence abound. Without God’s law, justice is perverted and the wicked prevail. God’s law reduces strife and violence, even in a society that has rejected God.

The consequence of our failure to understand the purpose of the law is prophesied in Proverbs.

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law resist them. Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully (Prov 28:4,5).

When God’s people forsake his law, wicked people benefit. In the last century Christians have rejected God’s law. The result is evil run rampant. Our failure to understand justice, has allowed lawlessness to prevail.

The law deals with people who do not respect their neighbours. Nothing more, nothing less.

Technorati Tags : , ,

Monday, August 28, 2006

Purpose of the Law (2) - For the Unrighteous

Paul understood the purpose of the law. He knew that it was directed towards those who would disrupt the peace of society.

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers (1 Tim 1:7-9).

Paul says the law is not for the righteous. The law is for thieves, murderers, adulterer and perjurers. These are the people who disrupt peaceful and harmony of society. The righteousness of Jesus cannot deal with these people, as they are hostile to him. Until they are transformed by the love of Jesus, society will need the laws that prevent them from harming other people. Law provides a solution to the problem caused by people who are willing to harm others. It is the only way to deal with them.

Technorati Tags : ,

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Purpose of the Law (1) - Harmony

Christians are confused about the purpose of the law. This is not surprising as even the people who received the Ten Commandments did not understand its role. The first table of the law can be summed up in the command to love God. The second table of the law can be summed up in Jesus command to love our neighbours. The second five commandments are all about our relationships with the people living around us.

God gave the law to Moses at a time when Israel was moving to live in a defined area of land. He gave the law to enable them to live together harmoniously. This is the reason why it focuses on preventing adultery, theft, slander and murder. These four sins are the ones that disrupt the relationships between the people living together in a community. If I am proud and arrogant, my neighbours may not like me, but they are not harmed. If I steal from other people, those I steal from do suffer. A good society needs protection from theft.

There are four ways that another person can harm me. They can steal my possessions, assault my body, lie about my character, or break up my family. Lies, theft, assault and adultery are sins that directly harm other people. The last five commandments deal with these sins. They were given to prevent these sins from breaking down the structure of society.

The context of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 21-23 makes their purpose clear. The case laws that follow the Ten Commandments do not refer to personal holiness. They describe things that happen when people harm those living around them. Solutions are provided for problems between people and disputes over property. The Law of Moses was designed to deal with the issues that arise when people live together in close proximity. This is the sole purpose of the law.

The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today (Deut 6:24).

God provided the law so that people could live together in harmony. In the modern world, people still have problems with each other and disputes over property, so this need has not disappeared. We still need the Law of Moses.

Technorati Tags : ,

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Royal Law

Did Jesus say these words.

Do not hate your brother in your heart. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.

No it was not Jesus.

Jesus quoted these words, but they come from Leviticus.

Technorati Tags : ,

Friday, August 25, 2006

Love and Law - More

Love has not replaced the law. Paul says that the consequences of fulfilling the law and living in love are the same. This is an amazing statement. The law is not the opposite of love, but is consistent with it.

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of thelaw (Rom 13:10).

Love does no harm to another person, so good law cannot allow harm to anyone. A system of government that forces people to do things against their will would be inconsistent with love.

God’s law is the only law that can be fulfilled by love. Good law must be capable of being fulfilled by love. Love could never fulfil a modern system of law, because it would be far to complicated. That suggests there is something wrong with modern systems of law. They cannot be fulfilled by love.

Technorati Tags : ,

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Love and Law

Christians have this view that the New Testament is about love and the Old Testament is about law. They seem them as opposites. The words commonly used to describe the Old Testament law include harsh, cruel, severe and merciless.

Jesus had a different view of the law. When asked what is the greatest law, he said,

'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

The first part of his response is well known, but the final sentence is fascinating. Jesus says that the law hangs on the command to love your neighbour as yourself. How can harsh laws hang on a command to love your neighbour? Jesus saw the law as being about love, so how can it be harsh and cruel.

Paul was even blunter in his statement about the law.

The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself (Gal 5:14).

The law is summed up by the word love. How can a law that is harsh and cruel be summed up by the word love? This does not make sense.

Only one conclusion can follow from these two messages. Those who believe the law is harsh and cruel have misunderstood it. If we read the law in the way that Jesus read it, we would see God’s love and the love of man, not harshness and cruelty. If we are not seeing love when we read the law, then we may need to read it again through the eyes of Jesus.

I believe that Christians who want to understand political systems need to seriously study of the Old Testament law. However, we need a radically different approach. We need to approach the law in the same way as Jesus and Paul, looking for love of God and love of neighbour. We might be surprised at what we find.

Technorati Tags : ,

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Humble Law

God's law does not try to do too much. It attempts to prevent violence and theft by punishing stealing, assault and murder. It also protects the family by trying to minimise adultery.

God's law recognises the limits of what can be achieved if hearts are not changed. For example, it gives up trying to prevent adultery in a society that is hard of heart (Matt 19:8).

Often the best that God's law can do is minimise theft and violence. That is not a lot, but it is enough for society to live in relative harmony.

God's law does try to eliminate evil or make people good. It leaves that to Jesus and testifies to him.

Now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify (Rom 3:21).

The law works in advance of Jesus by restraining the worst effects of sin, but does not try to eliminate them until hearts are changed (Rom 3:20). God's law points to Jesus and restrains sin, until Jesus and the Holy Spirit have done their work. This is the best that law can do, but it is enough.

Human law always tries to do too much. Not content with preventing theft and violence, politicians try to solve ever problem: eliminate poverty, eradicate racism, transform the economy, save the environment, and all before lunch.

Human law tries to do everything, but succeeds at nothing, except destroying freedom and stealing income. And it is so busy trying to do everything that it fails to do the basic things like restraining theft and violence.

God's law is superior to human law: no contest.

Technorati Tags : ,

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Democracy creates Human Law

We assume that because our legislators are democratically elected, they have authority to make laws. If we elected them, they are making laws on our behalf. But nothing has changed. Democratically-elected legislators are still making human law.

Human laws will always be inferior to God’s law. We have the odd situation in the modern world where everyone hates God’s law, but loves human law. I can understand why those who hate God would hate his law, but I cannot understand why those who love God are so ambivalent about his law.

When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they were forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This tree represented the ability to decide between good and evil, between justice and injustice without reference to God.

Adam and Eve had a choice; they could obey God, or they could decide for themselves how they would live. We face the same choice today. We can accept for God’s law or we can make up our own. Parliaments and congresses are feasting on the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Most people would sooner live under human laws, than acknowledge God by admitting that his law is better than any human law.

When we vote for a person to be our representative in parliament, we are saying that we want that person to make laws for us we are actively rejecting God’s law and saying that we prefer human law. If all authority must be under God, legislators and politicians who make human laws are not legitimate, even if they are elected.

Technorati Tags : ,

Monday, August 21, 2006

Wrong Choice

We put a lot of effort into getting the right political party elected. Television networks devote considerable time to debates about which political party will be best for the country. Businesses spend money supporting the party that they like the most. Even Christians get caught up in this scramble and try to work out which political party Jesus would support.

All this confusion misses the point. Every political party is in the business of law-making and they all make human law. We are arguing about the wrong decision. The really significant choice is between human law and God’s law, and this is not a difficult choice. When we choose between two political parties, we are choosing between two bad options. Political parties create human law, and human law come a very poor second to God’s law. I cannot understand why Christians would support it.

Technorati Tags : ,

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Civil Government (27) - Only the Best

God gave Israel a system of law and judges. This system of government has never been abolished. 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 math God’s wisdom.

Technorati Tags : , , ,

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Civil Government (26) - Perfect Government

God’s perfect government has two aspects. 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

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.

Technorati Tags : , ,

Friday, August 18, 2006

Civil Government (25) - Perfect Timing

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.

Technorati Tags : , ,

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Civil Government (24) - Awful Option

I will now deal with a form of government that is not in the scriptures, but is popular with many Christians. 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 and to love of God. 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.

Technorati Tags : , ,

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Civil Government (23) - Collapse of the Beast

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 devastating consequences of rampant state power.

The democratic state will demand more and more power to deal with these problems and plagues, but they will fail. As they demand 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 amongthe rocks of the mountains (Rev 6:15).
The powerful people will be so shaken that they will want to hide.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 ourLord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever (Rev11:15).

The collapse of human government will great a great vacuum that only the government of God can fill.Christians must not use force against human government. They must wait for God to judge it. They should wait for it to collapse under its own internal weakness.

Technorati Tags : , , , ,

Monday, August 14, 2006

Civil Government (22) - Growing Power

As democracy has spread, the power of the state has expanded enormously. Although kings had absolute power, the scope of their authority and ability to levy taxes was limited. The modern democratic state has far more power than previous empires. It can conscript any citizen, male or female, to fight in its wars. The democratic state can tax income and wealth at whatever level it wishes. A democratic parliament can pass any law it chooses. Democracy has given the political state unprecedented power .

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.

Technorati Tags : , , ,

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Civil Government (21) - Emerging Beast

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?”

Technorati Tags : , , , ,

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Civil Government (20) - Dangerous Democracy

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 government 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 aretold what it means.This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the numberof 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 they are governed by other men.
Men worshipped the Beast and said, “Who is like the Beast?” (Rev13:4).

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.

Technorati Tags : , , , ,

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Civil Government (19) - Dangerous Democracy

The key to the identification of this Beast is that it seemed to have died and then come back to life again. When it came back to life, the entire world follows the Beast.

One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but thefatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed thebeast (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, came 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 theAbyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names havenot been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will beastonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yetwill 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 yetcome; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beastwho once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and isgoing to his destruction (Rev 17:9-11).

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 August took control of Rome, democracy was fatally wounded, despite being 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.

Technorati Tags : , , , ,

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Civil Government (18) - Dangerous Democracy

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 tenhorns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head ablasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet likethose 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. They 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…Menworshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they alsoworshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war againsthim?" (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.

Technorati Tags : , ,

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Civil Government (17) - Dangerous Democracy

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.

Technorati Tags : , ,

Monday, August 07, 2006

Civil Government (16) - Democracy

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.

Technorati Tags : , ,

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Civil Government (15) - Democracy

Democracy often led to idolatry.

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from themountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will gobefore us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don'tknow what has happened to him" (Ex 32:1).
Aaron took their jewelry and built a golden calf.
So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings andpresented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and gotup to indulge in revelry (Ex 32:6).
This pattern continued throughout the history of Israel.
This is what the LORD says about this people: They greatly love towander; they do not restrain their feet (Jer 14:10).
The people frequently voted with their feet for the worship of idols. In the modern world, we have made an idol of democracy.Gideon understood this problem well.
The Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us—you, your son and yourgrandson—because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian." But Gideon toldthem, "I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD willrule 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.The decision by Israel was to have a king was contrary to God’s will, but it was a democratic decision.
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want aking over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king tolead us and to go out before us and fight our battles" (1 Sam 8:19,20).

The people voted to be like the other nations, despite Samuel warning that this would not led to blessing. Democratic elections do not bring forth the best leaders.

Technorati Tags : , ,

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Civil Government (14) - Democracy

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. There are some examples.

The children of Israel frequently voted to return to slavery in Egypt, rather than follow God into the promised land.

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Mosesand Aaron. The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD'shand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted,but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly todeath." (Ex 16:2,3).

If Israel had been a democracy, it would never have got into Canaan. A democratic vote will often go the way of the world.

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 theirvoices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses andAaron, and the whole assembly said to them, "If only we had died in Egypt! Or inthis desert! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fallby the sword? And they said to each other, "We should choose a leader and goback to Egypt" The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: "How long will this wickedcommunity grumble against me? (Num 14:1-4, 26,27).

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.

Technorati Tags : , ,

Friday, August 04, 2006

Civil Government (13) - Empires

God often works out his purposes through large 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 tosubdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor,to open doorsbefore 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. The fourth beast of Daniel is ultimate triumph of state power.

Technorati Tags : , , ,

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Civil Government (12) - Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

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 ofpure 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. Whileyou were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck thestatue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, theclay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same timeand became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept themaway without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a hugemountain 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, anotherkingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, willrule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strongas iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things topieces, 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.

Technorati Tags : , ,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Civil Government (11) - David's Line

God made a promise to David through Nathan the prophet that has been widely misunderstood.

I declare to you that the LORD will build a house foryou: When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever (1 Chron 17:10-14).

Christians often assume that God was giving the big tick to kingship, by establishing David's descendants as kings over Israel. The problem is that Nathan's promise is to Jesus, not Solomon. God promised to love one of David's sons and that his kingdom would last forever. This was not fulfilled in Solomon. Solomon turned to foreign women, so he lost the blessing of God. His kingdom did not last forever, but was wrested away from his sons as soon as he died.

Nathan's promise to David was fulfilled in Jesus. God said of Jesus, I will be his father, and he will be my son. Jesus established the kingdom of God, which will last forever. This understanding is confirmed in God’s answer to Solomon's prayer. God did not promise that his family line would continue as kings of Israel.

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 only promised long life to Solomon. He did not establish a kingly dynasty through him.

Jesus is the ideal King.

Technorati Tags : , , ,

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Coins

New Zealand got a new coinage yesterday. The 5c coin was phased out and the 10c and 20c coins are being made smaller. The existing coinage was introduced in 1967, when we introduced decimal currency.

The reason that we need new coins is inflation. According to the Reserve Bank inflation calculator, if you had 10 cents in 1967, you would need a $1.45 to have the same purchasing power now. That might not sound too bad. If you had a $1000 then, you would need $14,500 now to have the equivalent money. That does not sound so nice.

Those who have relied on money provided by the state have been robbed, quite substanially. The smaller coins should be a reminder that we have been seriously robbed by our currency.

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." (Hag 1:5,6)

Civil Government (10) - More on David

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 constantly honoured the true king.

  • 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).

Technorati Tags : , , ,