The most critical need of the Church at this moment is men—the right kind of men, bold men. The talk is that we need revival, that we need a new baptism of the Holy Spirit – and God knows we must have both – but God will not revive mice. He will not fill rabbits with the Holy Spirit.
We languish for men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul because they have already died to the allurements of this world. Such men will be free from the compulsions that control weaker men. They will not be forced to do things by the squeeze of circumstances. Their only compulsion will come from within – or from above.
This kind of freedom is necessary if we are to have prophets in our pulpits again instead of mascots. These free men will serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary. They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious acts out of mere custom, nor allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.
Much that the church—even the evangelical church—is doing today, it is doing because it is afraid not to do it. Ministerial associations take up projects for no higher reasons than that they are scared into it. Whatever their ear-to-the-ground, fear-inspired reconnoitering leads them to believe—or fear—the world expects them to do, they will be doing come next Monday morning with all kinds of trumped-up zeal and show of godliness. The pressure of public opinion calls these prophets, not the voice of Jehovah.
The true church has never sounded out public expectations before launching its crusades. Its leaders heard from God and went ahead wholly independent of popular support or the lack of it. They knew their Lord’s will and did it, and their people followed them—sometimes to triumph, but more often to insults and public persecution—and their sufficient reward was the satisfaction of being right in a wrong world.
Another characteristic of the true prophet has been love. The free man who has learned to hear God’s voice and dared to obey it has felt the moral burden that broke the hearts of the Old Testament prophets, crushed the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ, and wrung streams of tears from the eyes of the apostles.
The free man has never been a religious tyrant, nor has he sought to lord it over God’s heritage. It is fear and lack of self-assurance that has led men to try to bring others under their feet. They have had some interest to protect, some position to secure, so they have demanded subjection from their followers as a guarantee of their own safety. But the free man—never. He has nothing to protect, no ambition to pursue and no enemy to fear. For that reason he is completely careless of his standing among men. If they follow him—well and good. If not, he loses nothing that he holds dear. But whether he is accepted or rejected, he will go on loving his people with sincere devotion, and only death can silence his tender intercession for them.
Yes, if evangelical Christianity is to stay alive, it must have men again—the right kind of men. It must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and it must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made. God will hear the cries of His people as He heard the cries of Israel in Egypt, and He will send deliverance by sending deliverers. It is His way.
And when the deliverers come—reformers, revivalists, prophets—they will be men of God and men of courage. They will have God on their side because they are careful to stay on God’s side. They will be co-workers with Christ and instruments in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Such men will be baptized with the Spirit indeed and through their labors He will baptize others and send the long-delayed revival.
In the first installment of our explanation of the Gospel tenet, we endeavored to show that all gospels are blood covenants with their respective gods, the majority of which sacrifice their citizens on the altars of bureaucracy, through taxation and institutional authority, in socialist fleshpots of mutual destruction. In the second installment, we expressed the revolutionary nature of Christ’s Gospel, focusing on the political meaning of baptism as an exchange of civil citizenship, highlighting the need to be born again into a literal kingdom characterized by liberty, as free souls under God. In the third installment, we elucidated how Christ “became like us in all things” to undergo the same idolatrous and authoritarian temptations that we face, and maintained his integrity in obedience to God. In the fourth installment, we provided an introduction to Christ’s teachings by putting into political perspective some of Christ’s expository lessons, including the Sermon on the Mount. We also put into political context some New Testament events, including the feeding of the five thousand, the Lord’s Table, and the Last Supper. Because so many professing Christians myopically limit the Gospel to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and because this sequence of events immediately follows the Passover meal account, perhaps it would be beneficial to address the significance of this biography in the context of Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven in our final installment.
Less than a week before Passover, Christ had been publicly recognized by the people of Jerusalem as the rightful King of Judea, and not just of Judea, but of every Jewish person, even of the ancient kingdom of Israel before it was divided in a civil war under the oppressive administrations of Israel’s pagan-style kings. It is no wonder then that the people of Judea looked to Jesus Christ, a king who came to serve, for salvation from the kinds of kings who came to rule, and whose yokes of taxation and legislative authority were too heavy for the people to bear.
“And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” (Mark 11:8-10)
The Greek word hósannaliterally means “save us, we pray”, as a combination of two words originating in Hebrew. One is yasha which means “to deliver,” “be liberated, saved (properly placed in freedom),” “deliver, save (properly give width and breadth to, liberate),” and “of God, who saves his people from external evils.” The other is na which means “we pray, now” as a “particle of entreaty or exhortation.” The second time Hosanna is mentioned in the passage, it is followed by the phrase “in the highest,” from the word hupsistos, the superlative form of hupsos, a term of political rank. The entire scene represents the people expressing their recognition that the man in front of them had a legitimate claim to the throne of Judea, as its only rightful, living heir in Davidian pedigree. The practice of hailing a man with palm trees is typical to a royal procession, and in John 12:13, where the story is repeated, the people specifically call him the King of Israel. Even Christ’s enemies had no legitimate excuse to not to recognize Him as their king. After hearing the children in the temple declaring Jesus’ claim to the throne, the Pharisees became angry, but the following exchange took place soon after:
“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?
If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:41-45)
The Pharisees were not more ignorant than the people who were convinced of Christ’s kingship. They were familiar with Jesus’ lineage to the royal house, and already understood that He was their rightful king. This conversation, however, implies that the Pharisees had to also realize that Jesus must be God. Most of them would never admit to this recognition, however, because their conflict of interest in being politically validated by the most powerful man in the known world, Caesar, and in receiving their standard of living by the heavy legal and tax burdens they placed over the people, would require that they reject a King and a Kingdom characterized by voluntary service and humble stature. It was from these burdens that the people cried out to Christ for salvation, believing on His political campaign message of liberty and its light yoke of personal responsibility and voluntary community in the Kingdom of God. Free people have no need of human magistrates, and the proposition of another Kingdom growing in popularity among the people left only one recourse among the existing political party: the arrest and regicide of the people’s champion as an example to His followers to quell their allegiance to him and to make him bear their sin of insurrection. Such human sacrifice has always been intrinsic to human civil government and scapegoats are always purchased with blood money.
On the night of His arrest, Jesus’ kidnappers, as can be expected from men in political power, committed blatant and unashamed conspiracy against their prey. After marching him from Gethsemane, they presented false witnesses of fabricated crimes, they shuffled him between interrogators, and they stripped him of his dignity. This motivation of such an expedited arraignment in front of a kangaroo court was to get the deed done before the His loyal supporters could be alerted to intervene and save him. Passover Week was a busy time for the people, and they were distracted with their ceremonies at the Temple. Planning to go through this farcical process and illegal charade while the people were busy with the liturgical services of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is typical evidence of the schemes politicians will commit to in order to retain their power at any cost.
It was during the early hours of the following morning that Jesus was taken before Pontius Pilate, a procurator of Rome. Pilate’s political function was mainly military, with the added obligation of collecting imperial taxes in order to fund his peacekeeping capacity. While he had the privilege of minting coin for the local currency supply, he was only a promagistrate over the region, meaning he had no magisterial power of his own. He only had delegated authority over limited judicial functions, which naturally included mitigating political insurrection and rebellion. He was not elected by the people, but given office by Rome. It was this consigned responsibility which Christ called into question when he says “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” (John 19:11) It is fairly common, though without merit, to declare that this “power” was given to Pilate from God, assuming that the phrase “from above” is referring to Heaven for some imagined reason. But it is not “the greater sin” for the Pharisees to deliver Christ into the hands of “God’s man” who bears “the lesser sin” in receiving him. It would not be sin at all if it was God who gave Pilate his power over Christ. Rather, it is because Pilate’s entrusted authority from Rome extended over matters of political insurrection as a peacekeeper, that the pretext of condemning Jesus as “reckoned among the transgressors” was successful for the Pharisees, and made them guilty of “the greater sin” in the plot to depose Him. It is Pilate’s lesser sin to sentence an innocent man who was already arraigned by the Pharisees under dubious circumstances. Their own legal agreements with Rome barred them from executing criminals themselves, and so they delivered Jesus to the only man around who had delegated jurisdiction over such matters, complete with fabricated evidence to seal the deal. But not without due hesitation on Pilate’s part, and a sidebar with the defendant:
“Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” (John 18:33-40)
This exchange put to rest the debate of the times as to who was the rightful king in Jerusalem. Since the exile of Hyrcanus, the execution of Antigonus, and the deaths of the ethnarchs, there was no King of Judea. However, by the pedigree of His earthly parents and the providence of His heavenly Father, Jesus Christ had legitimate claim to be the rightful king of the Jews. This was affirmed by the Magi at his birth, recognized by the people of Jerusalem, feared by the Sanhedrin, and even proclaimed by the promagistrate of Rome who expressed it, not once, but twice, and even nailing it to Christ’s cross as a sympathetic expression in favor of His innocence and in rejection of the Pharisees’ decision.
Recalling the second installment of this series, it is necessary to reiterate the fact that when Christ says that His Kingdom is not of “this world,” he is not referring to the celestial body of “Earth,” claiming that His kingdom is in some ethereal, intangible realm, but rather the Greek defines it as the “apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government,” referring to Rome, kingdoms like Rome, and the kingdoms in treaty with Rome under the Pax Romana. All of which, in that moment and circumstance, was represented by Pilate. If Christ’s kingdom was of the world of Rome, it would include a bureaucratic hierarchy that existed by force and violence, much like that of the Pharisees who had appealed to Rome to settle the dispute over who should be the Jewish King between brothers Hyrcanus and Aristobulus some decades prior. Their servants did fight each other on behalf of their respective kings in a civil war before Pompey inserted his Roman military into the situation to bring law and order, and legitimize Judea’s authoritarian king.
Free from that history and the nature of such kingdoms, Christ formed His kingdom to have a different character where His servants are not given over to bloodshed in the pursuit of political power. Pilate knew such behavior was the way of Imperial Rome, but here Christ was declaring that he had no jurisdiction or legal ability to judge Christ or His followers since His Kingdom had no contract or treaty with Rome, especially regarding the charges of insurrection, since His servants did not fight. Pilate, attending to Christ’s answer to his question of “What hast thou done?,” soon learns that Christ and His Kingdom was outside of Rome’s jurisdiction and ceremoniously washes his hands as an expression of dismissing the false charges of sedition and political insurrection against Christ. The washing of one’s hands is a (not exclusively) Pharisean custom to wash away impurity, such as the impurity caused by convicting an innocent man. So Pilate hands the matter over to the Sanhedrin, forcing them to choose between granting the freedom of Jesus, and that of Barabbas. Barabbas, on the other hand, was legitimately guilty of being a violent revolutionary against the Judean government, including the Pharisees themselves and their preferred policies and policymakers in Rome.
“It is possible that Barabbas was merely a robber or highwayman, but more likely, given the use of the term ληστής (lhsth”) in Josephus and other early sources, that he was a guerrilla warrior or revolutionary leader. See both R. E. Brown (John [AB], 2:857) and K. H. Rengstorf (TDNT 4:258) for more information. The word λῃστής was used a number of times by Josephus (J. W. 2.13.2-3 [2.253-254]) to describe the revolutionaries or guerrilla fighters who, from mixed motives of nationalism and greed, kept the rural districts of Judea in constant turmoil.” (Footnote to John 18. From NET Bible)
Surely the Pharisees would choose to release Christ under such circumstances, considering He was harmless to their authority in contrast to Barabbas. However, the reprobate need for compromise inherent to the unrighteous with their power centers, encourages them to make bedfellows with their own political enemies in order to stamp out those who promote righteousness and liberty under God. A lawful King who fires moneychangers and disrupts the systematic concentration of wealth of society through taxation and inflation is a much bigger threat to the kingdoms of “the world” than political opponents who agree with the ideology of archism, but differ only on who should rule. As they emulate, it is better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven.
“And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.
Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.” (John 19:12-22)
Pilate, always unpopular with the Jews, is quick to be intimidated by these threats against his reputation and did not want to fall out of favor with Emperor Tiberius, being his wife’s grandfather. He may have been bloodthirsty, inflexible, and unnecessarily harsh with the Jewish people, but threats to hold him accountable to Caesar often made him a pushover. To save his own reputation, he must crucify an innocent man. Likewise, to keep their status as rulers over the people, the Pharisees must double down on their rejection of the Kingdom of Heaven and repeat their insistence that Caesar is their lord and savior. Their suppression of the truth is so great that they demand that Pilate remove Christ’s title from Christ’s cross but Pilate’s inflexibility (and maybe a degree of conviction) prevent him from displaying this crucifixion as nothing short of regicide.
According to the Mishnah, at the Temple in Jerusalem at 9 in the morning, the first lamb of the daily Tamid would be sacrificed, which focused on atoning for sins and the restoration of relationship with God. According to the account of the written gospels, at the hill of Golgotha at 9 in the morning, the first-born of creation and the Lamb of God, was self-sacrificed to atone for the sins of those in “the world” and restore the repentant to the Kingdom of God. By noon, the second lamb of the daily Tamid would be presented and tied to the altar in the Temple to be sacrificed three hours later at 3 in the afternoon, for atonement for the sins of the community and for the restoration of fellowship with God. By noon at Golgotha:
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?…
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom… Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:45-54)
The impeachment of Christ is coupled with more than a few supernatural assertions, but maybe the most significant for this discussion is the tearing of the temple veil, removing any excuse for the people to continue to perform their religion through a temple made of human hands. As we have discussed elsewhere, the altars of God were always meant to be “built” with living stones, referring to an adhocratic network of righteous people who sacrifice their charity to sustain their neighbor. This is to contrast against the temples of pagan kingdoms which were government buildings of bureaucratic function, where the sacrifices are compelled by taxation and distributed in socialism. Even the temple in Jerusalem was this way, and it is obvious that the building of it was never in God’s design. However, due to the increasing idolatry of the Jewish people to be like the pagan kingdoms of the world, they traded in their pure and undefiled religion for institutional bastions of civic satanism where they raised up human rulers to be their lords and saviors. As we discussed in the first installment, these rulers were invariably “sons of God,” claiming divine right to rule over the people.
A few things are important to note regarding the death of Christ as it relates to the good news of His political campaign on behalf of the Kingdom of Heaven. Firstly, the tearing of the temple veil does not only herald the destruction of the necessity of the inherently useless government building and federal reserve in Jerusalem, but it is also a metaphor for how the consummation of Christ’s ministry at the cross reveals that all bureaucratic institutions in all worldly kingdoms are erroneous usurpers to how God prescribes society should be maintained. The veil separates the initiated higher class of politicians from their uninitiated subject citizens, creating a dependency of the latter onto the former to perform the weightier matters of the Law through authoritarian policies and bureaucratic compulsion. The tearing of the veil intimates that God is not a respecter of persons, and restores to all men the responsibility to perform the weightier matters through justice, judgment, mercy, and faith, and therefore restores their God-given rights to their land, labor, property, and family without the meddling of human civil government.
Secondly, the record of the centurion’s realization that Christ was the Son of God is a competing truth claim to the legitimacy of the authority of all human rulers. A citizen cannot serve two masters, belong to two kingdoms, or believe two gospels simultaneously, and the supernatural power emanating from Christ’s death is as much a testament to his Divine right to be a servant king as the Father’s proclamation at his baptism, and as Elijah’s summoning of divine fire to consume a drowned altar atop Carmel. The majority of miraculous events recorded in Scripture are related to the competition of the Kingdom of God against the kingdoms of Satan, and naturally its victory over them. This is especially true for the ten plagues against Egyptian nationalism (which will be expanded upon shortly), the marching around Jericho during its moon festival, and the aquatic transportation of Jonah to delegitimize the ocean deity of Nineveh.
Thirdly, that His ultimate self-sacrifice as a servant-king entirely contrasts the sacrifices made on the altars of “public servants” and ruling kings over pagan nations. While those false gods sacrifice the blood of their subjects through taxation and inflation which lead to economic dearths and society-wide pestilence, and sacrifice the lives of their subjects through statute labor and military service which lead to lifelong slavery and literal death, Jesus Christ instead sacrifices His own life to rescue the lives of those who would follow Him as King, to liberate them from the kingdoms of bondage, and make them a prosperous nation as free souls under God.
Scripture everywhere declares that the covetous practices that entice people to subject themselves to human authority through contracts to receive benefits at their neighbor’s expense are actually a self-destructive snare that makes them merchandise of ruling men. It is because they lack self-control that their flesh is not consecrated to God, and it is the pursuit of the comforts of the flesh that lead them into bondage. Sin leads to death, so to speak, but Christ voluntarily subjected himself to the ultimate expression of that death: capital punishment. Even though He was an innocent man, Jesus of Nazareth underwent the worst of the torment that is inherent to all pagan governments so that those who found themselves under their power through sin by running headlong into destruction for socialist benefits would not have to experience such justice for their sin. As such, he not only forgave the sins of the idolaters who transgressed God’s Perfect Law of Liberty, but also crucified the very legalistic administrations that kept the people in bondage under the heavy burdens of bureaucratic elements. If “love conquers all,” then it was Christ’s selflessness that triumphed over kings, presidents, and tyrants and gave the deathblow to their self-destructive selfish kingdoms. The Kingdom of Heaven naturally follows His example, inspiring the love for one’s neighbor and personal servanthood as the redemptive and preservative agents of a free society.
There is a historical significance for these implications. When the Israelites coveted their neighbor’s goods by receiving Pharaoh’s benefits, they found themselves in the bondage of Egypt (the undisputed world power of its day) for generations before God liberated them. He did this through a supernatural invasion, as evidenced in the plagues of Egypt being a series of opposing fronts from God against the superstitions of Egyptian civil and economic society. Each one is a testament that He, and not their pantheon of rulers, is sovereign over the elements represented in their institutions and pagan gods. The plagues culminate in a literal wave of death washing over the nation, only to pass over the repentant, sparing them for salvation unto a free society. They were to sacrifice their Passover lambs and coat their wooden door frames with the blood to be eligible to be counted in the Exodus from their bondage. These events and their purpose are galvanized in Hebrew history as a sort of Independence Day which memorializes their being taken out of bondage and into the Kingdom of God. Is it any wonder then why the crucifixion of Christ occurs during the annual Passover celebration? The blood of the Lamb of God is coated on the wooden door frame of the cross to make Christ the doorway out of the civil bondage of Rome (the undisputed world power of its day) and into the Kingdom of God, leading the repentant sinners of the world into a free society. All of those who chose to receive this sacrifice were made eligible to be counted in the second Exodus at Pentecost.
The miraculous imagery does not end with the afternoon of Christ’s crucifixion. A man dead after three days is hardly ever expected to come back from the dead, but the dead have no jurisdiction over the living and the kingdom of Heaven must be reduced to wishful thinking and blind belief in Neverland in the absence of a living King to lead it, so it is necessary for Jesus Christ, the servant king of freemen, to be raised from the dead on Sunday morning in order to lead the people who are to be liberated by his death. Christ’s resurrection is a testament that the kingdoms of the world have no lasting power over the innocent and the righteous because they find supernatural Providence in God. While the jurisdictions of darkness provide only debt, death and destruction, the jurisdiction of light brings life, liberty, and the restoration of all that has been sacrificed on the altars of the jurisdictions of darkness. Not restoration of the principle only, but with interest too.
“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-26)
The resurrection of Christ, Paul says, is a prerequisite for being allegiant to the Kingdom of God. One puts their faith into that which they are faithful, and a vain faith belongs to an unfaithful citizen. There is little hope to be faithful to God without being in a free society, and there is no free society without a risen King to lead it. So, without Christ’s resurrection, there is no remission for sin which is what brings one into civil bondage. Always mingling the tangible with the ephemeral, Paul declares the victories of King Jesus over the kingdoms of the world, his political enemies, physical death, and the spiritual death inherited by wordly jurisdictions. Christ’s resurrection is a promise of physical resurrection for those who are born again under His jurisdiction, just like physical death is a guarantee for all of those who are born from Adam’s lineage of mortality. And if literal death has no lasting power for those who follow Christ, then what lasting power do the kingdoms of spiritual (and capital) death hope to have over true believers in Christ’s Gospel? Their rules, authorities, and powers are under His feet. “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” (2 Timothy 1:10)
Before His ascension to the spiritual realm at the right hand of God the Father, Jesus Christ gave “many infallible proofs” for forty days after being resurrected. He continues right where he left off in teaching the people what it means to be a part of the Kingdom of God, and how to maintain it. The most significant of these recorded teachings is perhaps what we call The Great Commission:
“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
The word worship here is inherently a political one that means to show homage to men of superior rank, as all men do for whatever magistrates they recognize in their respective kingdoms. This makes simple sense considering that to be an apostle is to be an ambassador for a Kingdom, on behalf of a King, and as we see in this instance, to spread a message of political reconciliation amongst citizens of kingdoms in rebellion. It is to these citizens, and not to their governments, that is referenced in the word “nations,” or “ethnos” in the Greek. It refers to a multitude, as in a tribe or people group, or individuals of the same nature, like a family. This is fitting considering those in bondage under a certain form of government all share the same civil father, which is the meaning of the word patriot. The point of teaching God’s way to those in bondage under a civil father is to adopt them through baptism into the Kingdom of God the Father. It was in the second installment of this series where we tackled the meaning of baptism as an expression of exchanging one’s civil citizenship. That adoption comes with its own house rules, so to speak, which are centered on keeping the weightier matters by obeying God’s Law. This includes organizing the citizens of God’s Kingdom into adhocratic networks of families accountable to each other in faith, hope, and charity, so this kingdom could last from generation to generation. Christ ends the Commission with the promise that He would remain with them until the end of the age, which could very well mean eternity.
The Great Commission is also mentioned in Mark’s gospel account, with some notable details to consider:
“Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:14-18)
The first thing to consider here is that the word used for “world” is not the same as the “world” used in the Matthew account meaning Age. This world is, in fact, the same “world” with which Christ explained to Pilate that His Kingdom had no affiliation or political treaty or logical compatibility: the “apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government” of Rome, kingdoms like Rome, and the kingdoms in treaty with Rome under the Pax Romana. This is also the same “world” from which James later warns Christians to remain unstained as they practice their pure religion. This is especially important because the word for “creature” in this passage is not some idiomatic expression referring to all living things including trees, birds, and mammals as a synecdoche for mankind. Rather, it is the word used for founding, establishing, or building ordinances and political corporations, which are the very civil institutions that make up “the world” and enslave the worldly. The King of Heaven desires that His ambassadors go to where the captives are and preach the two-sided coin of repentance and liberation in the shadows of the very bastions of their bondage. Essentially, this is a callback to Moses who marched into Pharaoh’s palace and demanded that he “let my people go” so that they may be given an Exodus and restored to the liberty under God’s jurisdiction to keep His commands and organize themselves into a free society. Those who repent, Mark records, will be baptized into the Kingdom of Heaven and therefore saved from their civil bondage. Those who remain faithful to the false gospels of human rulers, however, will not be saved, but will be given over to the inevitable self-destruction of those kingdoms when they receive their reckoning of fiscal and moral bankruptcy, culminating in weeping and gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness of social, economic, and political collapse, as is the fate of all pagan and socialist societies. Mark also records that these evangelists will be supernaturally protected and supplemented as a testament to their message and the Magistrate that sent them, making the implication that it is those within God’s jurisdiction, and not those who merely call themselves Christians, that can expect to see miracles and divine intervention.
It is true that many fans of Christianity and enthusiasts of scriptural scholarship will limit the notions of salvation and damnation to some after-life experience, basically professing that those who have an emotional instance of short-lived contrition where they recite some incantation of mental belief in the existence of a creator god, and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, are guaranteed to be ushered into a Heavenly place the moment they die, and that those who do not recite this incantation will go to the other place. While not a complete falsification of the Gospel message, this superstitious collection of wishful thinking and veritable witchcraft certainly truncates the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. A more accurate simplification of the truth might could be expressed thusly: Whichever kingdom one belongs to in this life determines the kingdom he will go to in the next. If you are property of the State, belonging to authoritarian kingdoms characterized by contracts, entitlements, and taxation, then you are in bondage under Satan’s jurisdiction, both literally and spiritually. If you have repented and are seeking or have entered into the literal Kingdom of Heaven, which is for free souls under God, and binds them in faith, hope, and charity, then you will be saved from both the present and the future fate of the former, and be given life and life abundantly.
The early Christians understood this relationship, and it was only a week after Christ ascended to the Heavenly realm when they experienced its political and supernatural effects in real time. The Jews would be observing the Feast of Weeks, a celebration commemorating the ratification of their Constitution as a nation, when God had given them the Law with which to maintain their embryonic free society after their declaration of independence from Egypt through Passover and an exodus from bondage. But just like the experience of Passover was renewed and repeated with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, so too was the transcendent experience of Moses on Sinai with his divine constitution renewed and repeated at Pentecost.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance…
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2)
There is much more to the second chapter of Acts than we have presented here, and the content omitted for time and ease should be reviewed and appreciated as a display of supernatural proof accompanying Peter’s logical dissertation regarding Biblical prophecy, as well as the legitimacy of the Kingdom of God, and the servant King who was sacrificed to secure it. Those who believed in Christ’s Gospel before Pentecost had been put out of the temple administrations and barred from its services and civil enrollment. They were excommunicated and banished from the “free bread” and welfare offered by the socialist society of Herod and the Pharisees. They were marked and declined any benefits offered by Herod’s social security schemes. This also meant that they were free from any of the civil encumbrances tied to the bondage of his citizenship, which is why Christ said it made the word of God to none effect. In turn, they would have to be sustained by a voluntary network of assistance, as instructed by both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. At Pentecost, it is recorded that three-thousand souls proclaimed that Jesus was their King, which guaranteed their exile from the kingdom of the Pharisees, Herod, Rome, and any other. This also meant that they could be counted and enrolled through baptism into the Kingdom of God, thereby saving themselves “from this untoward generation” by sustaining each other through the redistribution of charity containing their daily bread. Their salvation was not merely from some afterlife punishment, but from the very form of bondage that Moses had saved their fathers centuries prior. Every man that believed on the political campaign of Jesus Christ was restored unto his family and his possessions and his power of choice, into a kingdom of freemen who experienced the abolition of both death and taxes by the only magistrate who has the power to truly abolish anything. History attests to the success of this Gospel in recording the overtaking of the Roman Empire by the Christian Kingdom. History also attests to the reason why this Gospel was superior to that of Rome:
“Our curiosity is naturally prompted to inquire by what means the Christian faith obtained so remarkable a victory over the established religions of the earth. To the inquiry, an obvious but satisfactory answer may be returned; that it was owing to the convincing evidence of the doctrine itself, and to the ruling providence of its great Author. But, as truth and reason seldom find so favourable a reception in the world, and as the wisdom of Providence frequently condescends to use the passions of the human heart and the general circumstances of mankind, as instruments to execute its purpose; we may still be permitted, though with becoming submission to ask not indeed what were the first, but what were the secondary causes of the rapid growth of the Christian church. It will perhaps appear that it was most effectually favoured and assisted by the five following causes:
It was the Christian Gospel that enabled the early Christians to abolish the dominion of Rome over their lives, exactly how the Israelites abolished the dominion of Egypt over theirs in their repentance. It is on this same consistent message of abolition that the worldview of Abolitionism rests. It is not by coincidence that the Gospel fits in the center of the five tenets. ERGON reveals that every other tenet pivots on and revolves around the message and mission of King Christ. Without the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, there is no abolition of the human archism of every other kingdom. The injunction is a simple one: Call on the name of the Lord, not on the names of other politicians, to save you from the fears, dangers, and maladies of this life and the next. Pray to God for the Providence of His daily bread, and not to the false gods for their socialist benefits. Come together to form a network of adhocratic congregations or abolitionist societies of daily ministration in the keeping of the weightier matters through faith, hope, and charity. Be rescued from the unequal yokes of bureaucratic bondage and authoritarian jurisdictions that keep you in a competitive ouroboros of contracts, entitlements, and taxation. These are not new injunctions. This is the message that permeates all of scripture, and with it, all of history: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.
Below is a short writing titled “The Price We Pay for Negligence” by Francis Schaeffer. For the most part, we are in agreement with his major points: that professing Christians are apathetic and self-destructive, that they do not know Jesus Christ or are willing to keep his commands in any way whatsoever. There are some of Schaeffer’s points on which we do not agree, however: the deist philosophy of the American fathers did not come from the God of the Bible, christianity did not “underpin” the creation of the United States, and the legislation of morality is wholly a bad idea, as we have expressed elsewhere, which means that using “constitutional channels” is forbidden. Rather, Christians should be seeking to keep God’s Law, to do justice and love mercy, and not outsource those injunctions to the institutions of human civil government. Nevertheless, there is a lot of wisdom in Schaeffer’s paper if you take his residual statist presuppositions with a grain of salt:
“If the majority of Christians persist in their complacency, we will increasingly lose our freedoms. ”
As I state in A Christian Manifesto, America was greatly influenced by Reformation ideals. This is not to say that all the founders were Christian. Nor that the Christians were totally consistent in their political theories. However there was a Christian underpinning which distinguished America’s birth from the French and Russian Revolutions. Even the non-Christians recognised a Creator who gave the “Inalienable rights” in contrast to man or the state being the giver of those rights.
Today, however, we are a nation “under man”—centred around man’s self-appointed autonomy, governed by man’s fluctuating opinions and chiefly existing, it seems, to give man personal peace and affluence. In other words, the Judeo-Christian ethos, based on God’s absolutes, has been supplanted by a secularistic, humanistic, arrogantly arbitrary philosophy.
This worldview is spreading rapidly, and our legal system is a prominent perpetrator of it. Law in this country has become situational law, controlled by a small but dangerously powerful elite. The courts are dangerous because they pontificate arbitrarily what they personally consider to be “good” for society, yet they demand—and aggressively enforce—absolute allegiance to their arbitrary decrees.
But what did we expect?
The humanistic, secularistic thinkers have merely carried their philosophy to its logical end. They have remained true to their worldview in both words and actions while, unfortunately, Christians have equivocated. They simply have not taken the Lordship of Christ seriously.
Instead, Christians have largely shut up their spirituality into a small corner of life—Sunday church or their Bible studies—instead of realising that the Lordship of Christ is to permeate the whole spectrum of life. They have coasted along complacently, often serving up such dogmas as “you can’t mix religion and politics,” or “you can’t legislate morality,” or “we just need to pray and witness to people”—when what they really meant was “we just don’t want to be disturbed.” They were content in their “comfort zone.”
But Christians are paying for their negligence. We have permitted the dominance of a philosophy that sanctions the killing of an unborn child for the mother’s convenience. A philosophy that deems it acceptable for parents to allow a “less than perfect” newborn child to die—again, because it is convenient. A philosophy that can talk of euthanasia of the aged and a general devaluation of all human life. A philosophy that has euphemized a wrong and self-destructive sexuality into “alternative lifestyles.” A philosophy that drives its proponents to unashamedly seek the banishment of all religious influence from the stream of public life, leaving a totally relativistic value system and law.
And if the majority of Christians persist in their complacency, we will increasingly lose our freedoms. Christians largely sleep on, as step after step is taken. It is not too late to change this destructive situation, but it is too late for mere words. It is time for Christians to fight this materialistic, humanistic tide and provide Christian alternatives. It is time that we came out of our cloistered, compartmentalized existence and took our place in the political and legal arenas.
We must continue to pray and witness to people of salvation in Christ. But we must also fight for the sanctity of human life, fight for the protection of the family, fight for the proper education of our children, fight for our right to speak and worship freely, and fight for a church that is bound to the tenets of God and not the state as though it were an autonomous authority.
We must protest. We must resist. Yet we must not move with zeal without also moving in wisdom and scriptural authority. We must understand how God’s Word applies to the whole spectrum of society, and we must know how to use our constitutional channels to work toward change.
We must use the law effectively in the coming years if we are to see any positive change. Our system of law has veered so far from its original mooring that it is going to take aggressive challenges in the courts to thwart the destructive trends. We cannot afford to sit back and allow humanism to increasingly roll over us.
That is why I am glad to see organizations such as the Rutherford Institute come into being. If there is any hope, it is in doing the faith. And by doing the faith, we can be the witnesses Christ desires.
It is fairly common for those who attempt to argue against the validity of Abolitionism to offend its adherents by either taking scripture out of context or by oversimplifying concepts described in scripture. Granted, the most common and (dead) traditional interpretations and sophistry have served to confuse professing Christians for almost two thousand years, leading them away from the truth, not to mention the thousands of years of perverted scriptural dogma inherited by the Pharisees which are still repeated today. This article will endeavor to catalogue many of these blunders projected onto New Testament scriptures, and express them as they are intended to be interpreted: as compatible with the Kingdom of God and the liberty inherited by those who seek it. For a look at Old Testament scripture please read this post. To budget space on this post, and to assuage the attention span of the average reader, an analysis of Romans 13 is not included within this content. It can be found here instead.
Doth Not Your Master Pay Tribute?
“And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” (Matthew 17:24-27)
Many statists will require that this passage means that Jesus was either in favor of taxation or that He and the early Christians were subject citizens of governments who existed by taxation, but these interpretations would require a lazy understanding of the context. Because Capernaum rested on the border between two administrative regions, it was a prime location for the collection of the yearly national and temple taxes. Moses had inaugurated a tithe like this in Exodus 30:11-16 among all males over the age of twenty, for the maintenance of the tabernacle as an administrative tool for the Levites, and to contribute to the offerings which were welfare for the Israelite community as a nation. This half-shekel, repeated as a concept often in the Old Testament, was partially an idiomatic synecdoche, meaning that it was not a tax for the sake of income for the Levites, but was a renewal of registration for the patriarchs of the congregations of Israel. Its purpose was a form of tallying those who were counted as standing members among the adhocraticnetwork of charity, so the Levites could better organize their efforts to serve the people. After the temple had been built, this half-shekel imposition was adopted, perverted, and codified into the legal system of the Jewish state and, while losing its original purpose, became a burden on the people.
“According to Edersheim (The Life and Times of Jesus), the yearly tax was collected during the Passover season. About a month before Passover, Jewish tax collectors would set up their tax booths to collect taxes from residents in Israel and near Jerusalem. Jews living in foreign lands also had to pay the ½ shekel or the two Attic drachmas tax. But, they could do so at one of the other pilgrim feasts such as the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) in the month of Sivan (June) or the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) in the month of Tishri (September/October). Late payments were collected by distraint as late as the month of Adar (February/March). The tax confrontation of Peter by the tax collectors could have happened as late as the month of Tishri, or it could have been much earlier in the summer when the confrontation took place.
I conclude from observing the above facts that this was the Temple tax required by Moses and that because Jesus was not at the Passover the previous spring, the Jews were aware that Jesus had not yet paid the didrachma. They were probably not as much interested in the tax as trying to find an accusation against him.
Therefore, the fact that the tax collectors confronted Peter about Jesus’ tax policy does not appear to be out of custom with the times. Apparently, the tax collectors kept tabs on Jesus and were aware that they had not yet received a didrachma from Jesus.” (Was Jesus Christ Tax Exempt? (2009, August 16). Family Guardian.)
Peter, an impetuous apostle who habitually spoke rashly and in ignorance, obviously acted in haste here when addressed by the tax collectors at Capernaum. Christ was quick to rebuke him, however. His correction includes a contrast between the members of the royal house and the civil subjects of rulers. The word for “strangers” in this passage is allotrios, meaning “belonging to another,” and “foreign, strange, not of one’s own family, alien, an enemy,” but Jesus was born into a regal rank as “the son of David,” through a royal bloodline, making him the rightful king of Judea and heir to his Father’s house, which made him the Lord and owner of the Temple at Jerusalem. As sovereign, He was not subject to the tax law because he was the source of the law, even though it had become perverted through generations of dead tradition. Peter’s indiscretion afforded him the liability to make his “yes” yes in order to not offend the tax collectors and make himself a liar, especially to bring undue suspicion onto Jesus. The tax would not be applied to the other apostles who did not foolishly speak out of turn, nor would it be taken from the troop’s purse. Christ himself did not handle the coins, but knew where Peter could obtain the tribute through some flotsam. Jesus Christ would later dismantle this tax system in the Temple of Jerusalem, and preach the establishment of a new one based on adhocracy and freewill offerings, taking the Kingdom of God from bureaucrats and giving it to those who would produce the fruits thereof. We have written about the implications of that event here.
Render Unto Caesar
“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way. (Matthew 22:15-22)
This is probably one of the most common passages that statists attempt to raise up against the claims of Abolitionism in order to legitimize their idolatry. In order to do this, they must dismiss the context created by the scheming Pharisees, and their statist guilt directly repeated in the statism of today. Because there were several Greek words translated “tribute” in the New Testament, it is important to recognize that the tribute referenced in this passage is not the same tribute referenced in the temple tax relevant to the account of Peter’s indiscretion. While that latter tribute originally applied to people whose Lord was God alone, the former tribute only applied to those who made Caesar their lord, through the application of citizenship for his pragmatic providence as their god in their sin. We have written elsewhere about the implications of rendering unto Caesar that which is God’s and how it brings one under the eligibility to be taxed by him. “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.” (Proverbs 12:24)
To bring those concepts into the context of this passage, it is necessary to examine a few of its details. Namely the implications of the contrast between the image of God and the image of Caesar. The coin in the possession of the Pharisees was most likely a variation of the Antiochian tetradrachm. In this case, one reflecting Tiberius with the inscription “Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus” on the front and “Pontif Maxim” on the back, therefore delineating him as the “son of God” on one side and “the high priest” on the other. In the most basic and obvious sense, this coin was a perfect example of a graven image, which was in violation of the very laws that the Pharisees pretended to follow, interpret, and enforce. The false god of Augustus Caesar was not only superstitiously considered divine, but was also an appointer of gods because he retained the role of installing the supreme court justices of Rome. He was also the father of the earth over the civil citizens of Rome as their provider and protector, who gave them an allowance through income, but also could extract taxation from them, which is the patrimonial right of kings, or civil fathers, contrary to Christ’s command. This exact idolatry is perfected by Americans today, for American civil government is identical to Roman civil government.
The Pharisees had completely bought into the false gospel of Augustus, worshipped him both literally and figuratively and, as blind guides, lead the people astray into civil bondage all the while calling that bondage the Kingdom of Heaven. They were under social contracts to the Pax Romana, and taught this practice as righteousness despite it explicitly breaking the Law of God. When it came time to choose between Christ and Caesar, they compounded their sin in confirming that they had “no king but Caesar.” They were made in Caesar’s image after all, as legal persons at law, and refused to be born again as freemen in God’s image, under His jurisdiction in His Kingdom.
Due to the popularity of this excuse and the length of its content, this prooftext has its own post located here.
Remember Them Which Have the Rule Over You
“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (Hebrews 13:7)
The word for rule here is not the typical one for authoritarian office, which is “arché,” meaning “comes first and is therefore chief” which means it “has priority ahead of the rest.” It is the word “hégeomai,” which means “to lead the way” and “carries important responsibility and hence ‘casts a heavy vote’ (influence) – and hence deserve cooperation by those who are led.” This scripture is not referring to men in positions of authoritarian government, patterned after the world, but the servant ministers of God’s titulargovernment, the pastors who lead the people in dedicated, literal service and moral example. They, explicitly according to Christ, did not “come first and are therefore chief.” Christ instructed that they come last in Luke 22. This notion is expanded upon ten verses later.
The word for “obey” here is “peithó” which is related, not to a relationship characterized by subordination, but by persuasion and confidence in one’s wisdom, to assurance, taking advice, being “won over” and idioms of similar connotation. Likewise, the concept of submission here is a voluntary one, from “hupeikó” “to resist no longer, but to give way, yield,” as in to willingly agree to defer to one’s direction and advice. This is because the ministers “watch for” their congregants in being vigilant in ministering to them “without any unnecessary ‘time off.'” Part of their role in maintaining a free society is to “give account” to the rest of the organized christian network in a record to better distribute the daily ministration. These verses are establishing the importance of a willing cooperation with the ministers as an alternative to enforced social contracts that the people suffered under with the bureaucracies of the world, for their socialist welfare schemes. The whole chapter is a warning against the latter, and an injunction to not be remiss with the former.
Pray for Rulers
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-7)
It is not uncommon to see this passage used to attempt to dismiss the abolitionist worldview. Granted, this is never as a result of careful study, but rather because it is much easier to just flippantly repeat base prooftexts when confronted in one’s idolatry than it is to work through the implications of an opposing viewpoint. We see over and over again that a “plain reading” of scripture (as if scripture was plainly written in modern English) is a lazy reading of scripture, and that there is no “plain reading” that is not tempered by the personal interpretation of presupposition based on hearsay, personal experience, imagination, or some combination of the three. In regards to this passage, interpreting it in the typical statist fashion requires that one presupposes that the early christians had literal kings to rule over them, or men to exercise authority over them. This presupposition denies the fact that Christ did not allow such a model for His kingdom, and that history attests the opposing theme.
The term we see for “king” in this passage is “basileus” which means “leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king,” and “a sovereign (abstractly, relatively, or figuratively).” When the term is used in the New Testament to refer to literal civil rulers, it is often (though not exclusively) in reference to Christ whose kingship was characterized by service and restoring the power of choice to the people after they had sinfully concentrated it into the hands of human rulers by covetouscontract and careless consent. In the Kingdom of God, the people recognized no kings of the world who could exercise civil authority over them. Neither did they have a standing army, the power to legislate each other, judges who could rule over them, enforcers of taxation, or any other institutional vice so common to pagan societies. According to the dominion mandate, every patriarch was to be king and priest in his own house. Every person was to legislate themselves, because God writes His Law on the hearts and minds of freemen. Every eldercollects taxes of his own family through freewill offerings in a charitable network of free assemblies. This reality is maintained by keeping the natural order of the family, where every wife was one flesh with and civilly covered by her husband, incorporated as one person at law, and every child remained wholly intact under their parents’ authority and dominion. This positioned the power of choice of society into the hands of patriarchal elders who retained the equitable rights to their property and family as natural positions of authority over the fruits of their labor and the products of being fruitful and multiplying.
The phrase “that are in authority” is extrapolated from one Greek word “huperoché” meaning “superiority, excellence, preeminence,” and even “with excellency of speech or of wisdom.” The only place it is translated “authority” is in circular reasoning in this passage, and is not the usual word Greek authors used to describe literal authority. It is from the word “huperechó” which is translated “higher” in Romans 13. We have detailed a more thorough analysis of the word here. It is most often used to reflect excellence of character, especially in regards to service, morality, and humility. There is a form of rank in the government of God, but it is never positional, and always based on reputation and the minister’s performance of his duties. The only authority they had was, not over the people, but over the freewill offeringsentrusted to them by the people. Those offerings were consecrated to God to be redistributed to those who had need, as a form of God’s Providence.
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” (1 Peter 2:11-18)
“To further compound this point, in Daniel 2:25, he is referred to as a ‘captive’ or ‘exile’ of Judah. Often throughout scripture, this concept is coupled with the word ‘stranger’ which sometimes means ‘resident’ or ‘alien‘ as opposed to ‘citizen’ and sometimes means ‘without a share,’ as in possesses no entitlement to the strange nation’s provision.”
It is this same sort of provision and entitlement that Peter recalls with the phrase “fleshly lusts which war against the soul,” because socialist provision from Benefactors who exercise authority brings one into civil bondage. If you abstain from taking government benefits your soul will have peace, because you will be free from bondage, under God’s jurisdiction and eligible for his Providence instead. It is because Christians belong to a separate civil society with its own laws, customs, system of welfare and method of organization that it even becomes relevant to instruct them to have their “conversation honest among the Gentiles.” The word Gentiles comes from the greek “ethnos,” referring to “a race” or “nation,” as people joined by practicing similar customs or common culture.” Compared to God’s people, anybody belonging to another god in another civil society separate from their own, would be considered a gentile. The world of Rome, under which the early Christians were not subject citizens, was a gentile nation. The word for “conversation” in the same verse is from the Greek word “anastrephó” which simply means “conduct” or “behavior,” but is curiously translated “turn upside down” when described of the early Christians in Acts 17:
“But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.” (Acts 17:5-9)
This connection helps to reveal just what kind of honest “conversation” that the Christians were having with the Gentiles. Their conduct upset the Roman and Herodian Jews because they were not counted among Roman and Herodian citizenship, and preaching repentance unto citizenship of the Kingdom of God. They were not subject to the decrees of Caesar. They had another king entirely. It was for this reason that the gentiles spoke against the Christians as evildoers, and we see in Acts 19 that they were accused of robbing the temple of Diana at Ephesus. Because this temple was actually an international bank, with one of the most secure depositories at the time, it is impossible to consider that this accusation against the Christians was literal. We have written more on the “evildoing” of the early Christians here and here:
“There was a sense in which the ministers were robbing the church of Diana, however. By preaching citizenship of God’s Kingdom, and baptizing ex-patriots of worldly governments into their network of liberty, there were less members of the collective surety to make deposits for the welfare schemes maintained by the temple. Fewer sacrifices on its civil altar means that there was less stability in its function as a Federal Reserve, which hurt its ability to make revenue off of its usury. By all accounts persecution occurs, not because Christians have different superstitious rites and beliefs than pagan societies, but because they have a different political and economic way of life than those maintained by human civil government.”
With this history and exegesis serving as a backdrop, it would be beneficial to examine just what Peter means when he tells his audience to submit themselves “to every ordinance of man… unto governors” who are “for the punishment of evildoers.” Surely, if Peter was known for doing “contrary to the decrees of Caesar,” because He had “another king, one Jesus,” then this concept of submitting to governors and human ordinances must mean that he was inconsistent in advocating that Christians attempt to serve two masters. This, however, is untrue and for a number of reasons starting with the fact that the word for “submit,” grammatically and conceptually following the topic of Christian “conduct” among the Gentiles, is “hupotassó” meaning “to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject, put in subjection,” and “to yield to one’s admonition or advice: absolutely.” These definitions are frequently used for military usage, but there is another definition that should be applied to this passage owed to the fact that Christians had no place in Roman or Herodian military: “In non-military use, it was ‘a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.'” (“Strong’s #5293 – Ὑποτάσσω – Old & New Testament Greek Lexicon.”) This is the same word and definition used in Titus 3:
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.” (Titus 3:1-2)
The concept of submission here does not mean to go under legislative authority or judicial oversight of worldly magistrates. It means that the christian conversation (conduct and behavior) with the gentiles is to reflect humble cooperation with local customs and to voluntarily respect municipal authority. Paul suggests something similar when he says:
“To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-22)
As “strangers and “pilgrims,” christians should cooperate with local law enforcement voluntarily, even though they belong to another political society entirely, so as to be a witness to the native population who remain civil slaves, under administrative civil law. It should be noted that the word for “ordinance” here is not the usual word “dikaioma,” referring to the sort of ordinances to which Christians were not subject. It is “ktisis,” which is also translated “creature” in the Great Commission when it refers to the injunction of preaching the Gospel to every “civil institution,” in the pursuit of redeeming man from the dominion of man. In 1 Peter 2, christians are merely advised to voluntarily cooperate with the institutions (ktisis) when relevant, even though they are not under their literal authority.
To summarize these concepts: the voluntary cooperation that Christians are to have is with the very civil institutions from which they are politically free, and from which they are preaching repentance in order to make more men free. They do not submit to the laws themselves, because they are free from them, but neither are they creating violent unrest in prideful immaturity, or inciting arbitrary social chaos. As expressed all over scripture, it is these authoritarian “governors” and legalistic institutions that are “the punishment of evildoers” as an ouroboros of self-destructive bondage over their subject citizens through their contracts, covetousness, and taxation, from which the Christians remain civilly separate. Peter elucidates on this punishment for evildoing when he says “And through Covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2 Peter 2:3)
An added benefit of this voluntary and sober cooperation with local customs and pagan magistrates is that it “may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” The jealousy of civil slaves towards freemen tends to resemble the sort of backbiting that is inherent to raising up strawmen in defamatory accusations. There is no doubt that Christians were rebels against the world order, turning it upside down as they preached the alternative Kingdom of God, but their weapons were spiritual, and not carnal, in their revolution. They did not revolt or instigate physical violence or call for insurgent coups against the status quo. They preached repentance, recognizing that oppression and institutionalism were consequences for the sins committed by the people when they oppressed their neighbor by initially raising up the institutions. These foolish men did not “abstain from fleshly lusts” and, not only did their sin lead them to bondage, but it also led to them to becoming reprobate in their foolishness. We have written on that subject and its parallel sentiments reflected in Roman 1 here. Peter drives home the voluntary cooperative relationship of unregistered christians with another nation’s magistrates by describing them “as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” Their liberty is intrinsic to their amicable ambassadorship to foreign governments, not unlike Jonah’s role in turning Nineveh upside down, reforming their entire civil and political structure just by preaching true repentance. With this bold meekness, prophets naturally honour all men, love their brotherhood of fellow believers, and honour King Jesus, the Christ, walking a fine line between protest and humility to cause a peaceful revolution and revival unto the Kingdom of God.
And Despise Government
“But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption…” (2 Peter 2:10-12)
Even though the context of this chapter is exclusively a warning against false teachers creeping into the Christian community to promote human civil government, many idolaters will still twist this one passage to justify the same form of government it is condemning. The beginning of the chapter begins by warning against false teachers bringing “damnable heresies“, denying Jesus as lord in favor of some human ruler, and how those false teachers will use “feigned words” to stoke “covetousness” which turns people into civil property, or “merchandise,” leading both the blind guides and the blind followers into “damnation” that “slumbereth not.” Peter goes on to compare these heresies to the sin of Sodom, which was initially socialism, necessarily institutionalized by the existence of human civil government, which eventually enabled the people, in their hardness of heart, to commit other misdeeds contingent to the breakdown of the family unit. You discard the relevant importance and use of the family in the creation of civil institutions, dissolving natural relationships in the pursuit of perversion. There is no human civil government without “the lust of uncleanness.” This process of idolatry leading to all manners of social ills is fleshed out here. The word for “government” in verse 10 is “kuriotés” which means “dominion, power, lordship” as “one who possesses dominion.” This is the only place in the New Testament this word is translated “government.” Everywhere else it means “dominion.”
“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-21)
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)
The dominion expressed here is not one to be instituted over men by Benefactors who exercise civil authority. Rather, it is those who raise up rulers over themselves that despise their own dominion. They must speak evil of their inherent dignity, granted to them by God by being made in His image, forsaking the Dominion Mandate in abandoning their divinely given rights and responsibilities to steward their own land, property, and families. When they are tempted by covetousness for the comforts of the flesh, to be made in the image of, and as merchandise for ruling men, abandoning their natural and supernatural inheritance like Esau or the Prodigal Son, they become like “natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed… and shall utterly perish in their own corruption.” They give up the dominion inherent to their birthright, granted by their heavenly Father and natural fathers, and create a power vacuum to be filled by the dominion of civil fathers, no different than the error of Balaam, as expressed by the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. We have written extensively on the subject of Dominion here.
In the two previous blog posts we covered many of the prooftexts commonly used to legitimize human civil government, both in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament. Because the subject of Romans 13 is uniquely exhaustive and tedious, we have decided to give it its own space here. The relevant scripture is as follows:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: or he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:1-7)
This passage is probably one of the most commonly misunderstood portions of scripture and that is only owed to the treason of translators and the laziness of the vast majority of Christians who are hardly ever concerned with the pursuit of truth, but rather the justification of their own idolatry using twisted scripture to assuage the fact that they take Christ’s name in vain. In context with the rest of the message of Scripture however, this passage is probably one of the strongest in favor of an anarchist political science, and therefore of abolitionism. The initial confusion hinges on the phrase “higher powers,” which is the most accurate translation in all of the english versions of the Koine, while “governing authorities” is the most antonymous because it is not just an oversimplification of the Greek phrase “exousiaishyperechousais,” it is an irresponsible subterfuge expressing the opposite of the intent of the passage.
“Hyperechousais” comes from the word “huperechó” which means “to hold above, to rise above, to be superior,” “to stand out, rise above, overtop,” “to excel, to be superior, better than.” According to Strong’s it is “from huper and echo; to hold oneself above, i.e. (figuratively) to excel; participle (as adjective, or neuter as noun) superior, superiority — better, excellency, higher, pass, supreme.” There is a definition that means “to be above, be superior in rank, authority, power,” but this understanding is only applied in circular logic to Romans 13:1, or to a contradictory reference in 1 Peter 2:17, calling King Christ the “superior in rank, authority, power.” The most common place this word seems to be used in the New Testament is in Philippians, referring to the idea of esteeming others as better than ourselves, or of the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, or the excellence of the knowledge of Christ as one’s Lord. None of the times the word is used does it convey that human civil government is a “higher,” “excellent,” or “supreme” concept. In fact, it is the testament of scripture that authoritarian positions are, and the idea of going under them is, “lower,” “inferior,” and “reprobate,” as can be exampled in the actions of Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the declarations of Gideon, and Samuel.
“Exousiais” comes from the word “exousia” which means “power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; leave or permission,” “physical and mental power; the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises,” “the power of authority (through influence) and of right,” and “the power of rule or government.” Nowhere in scripture is this last definition qualified with the adjective of “higher,” because that concept exclusively refers to the things of God rather than man-made governments. Exousia is a combination of two words: “Ex” meaning “of” or “from”, while “ousia” means “what one has, i.e. property, possessions, estate.” This simple description reveals a simple fact: whoever possesses the dominion retains the right, liberty, or power of choice in how to use it. That will be discussed shortly. There are many words for “power” in the Koine Greek, from Dunamis, dunamai, didomi, arche, ischus, ischuros, kratos, and energes. Many of them could have been used to help convey the notion of human civil government in Romans 13:1, but the nature of the term exousia expresses a competing notion entirely, by both Scripture and history:
“We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right [exousia] to eat.” (Hebrews 13:10)
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right [exousia] to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14)
“After further analysis he defines the citizen as a person who has the right (exousia) to participate in deliberative or judicial office (1275b18–21). In Athens, for example, citizens had the right to attend the assembly, the council, and other bodies, or to sit on juries.” (Miller, Fred. “Aristotle’s Political Theory.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 7 Nov. 2017.)
“Brancacci notices that the term used by Enomaos to refer to human freedom is not the typical Cynic one ( ἐλευθερία), but ἐξουσία [exousia], which expresses ‘the new concept of freedom in opposition to the already defunct and unhelpful ἐλευθερία [eleutheria]…'” (Boeri, Marcelo. Bryn Mawr Classical Review. 19 Aug. 2001.)
In Romans 13:3, the word for “rulers” is “archon,” meaning “a ruler, commander, chief, leader…” which could have replaced the phrase “higher powers” if Paul had wanted to intimate “governing authorities” by that phrase. The same word is used by Jesus Christ in the context of appointing the Kingdom of God to his apostles, and barring his followers from holding civil office. “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes [archon] of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant…” (Matthew 20:25-27) Christ did not want the servant-ministers of his adhocraticgovernment to be like the “public servants” and “prime ministers” of the bureaucratic governments of pagan nations because His Kingdom was one bound together in faith, hope, and charity rather than yoked in the unbelief of contracts, entitlements, and taxation. In fact, it was Christ’s purpose to fulfill God’s Law and, by the power of His Gospel, set man free from the dominion of man, making him a free soul under God alone, as is repeated all throughout scripture:
“For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:10-11)
“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout [all] the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” (Leviticus 25:10)
In every case, subjecting ourselves to the higher law of God explicitly means that we retain our original liberty and rights to our property and relationships, because it is only when we have forfeited God’s providential liberties and responsibilities to the arbiters of human civil government that we find ourselves under their lower powers to regulate our lives and bring us under tribute. When we give up our dominion, we deposit it into the centralized hands of rulers who bear dominion over us. God made man upright, in His image, with the natural responsibility to maintain a natural family, work the land, enjoy the fruits of his labor, and to thereby obey the Dominion Mandate. Only when his wealth is his own, without the burdens of legal encumbrance or property and income tax, is he subject to the “more excellent liberty” of God. It is only when his family is his own, without the illusions of legal guardianship and marriage licensing, that he is subject to the “more excellent liberty” of God.
However, God also gives man the liberty to squander his liberty by establishing human civil governments and going under their lower powers, though without impunity. It is not God that institutes rulers, unless it is as a recompense for those who no longer desire to be ruled by Him. Men raise up rulers, which Scripture describes as false gods because they become the providers and protectors, and lawgivers and judges, and saviors and lords over the people who are within their jurisdiction. “The people always have some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness…. This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.” (Plato, The Republic, bk. 8, sct. 565) As Romans 13:2 declares, the people receive to themselves damnation… because rulers are a terror to the wicked works that reject God in favor of human rulers. Those who do not give up their rights and liberty, and do good works to retain them, will not find themselves subject to human rulers, so their jurisdictions are not a terror to good works. In fact, because only sinners will find themselves trapped into the fleshpots of human rulers, they are a safeguard for the righteous who remain set apart from their encompassing black holes of covetous and slothful singularity that compresses their wicked with their wakes of temptation and imprisoning mass.
When the Israelites decided to go under the lower powers of Pharaoh, he did not bear his sword against them in vain. They gave up the rights to their property, including land and livestock, and gave up the rights to their labor through a twenty percent income tax. When they petitioned Samuel for a king of their own, they consented to God’s revenge and received the wrath of their “public servant” by having to give up their land and fruits of their labor, concentrating their wealth into the coffers of the king, having their sons drafted into a standing army, becoming employees of the government, and raising up men with legislative and judicial authority to bind them in legal burdens, under heavy administrative yokes. In addition to all of that, their idolatry, paganism, and statism afforded them one more blow of God’s wrath: God would no longer hear their prayers, or their cries of salvation from the just desserts of their rejection of Him. “The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.” (Proverbs 15:29)
Even though Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome is a dissertational proof for the efficacy of the Christian worldview as a redemptive solution to the bondage of human civil government and the sins that lead people into that bondage, it is easy to forget that Paul often employs the first person or second person points of view, not as reflections of personal anecdotes, or as direct descriptions of his actual audience, but as rhetorical devices in technical writing. In the case of Romans 13 (and most of Romans), we are witnessing a second-person imperative mood directed at a hypothetically implied situation that might have applied to some of Paul’s direct audience, and maybe even none of them, but are relevant only if the right conditions are met. Those conditions will be revealed in the following:
So when Paul starts speaking in the second person imperative in Romans 13, from verse five through verse nine, he is talking to a mixed audience. If any of them were still slaves, then they should continue to pay taxes. For it is this wrath that makes human rulers the servants of God in spite of themselves, punishing the wickedness of sloth, covetousness, and idolatry merely by existing and exercising authority. If tribute is owed, those punished should pay it. If custom is owed, those punished should pay it. If fear is owed, those punished should be afraid. If honor (obligations, burdens) is owed, those punished should pay (fulfill, bear) it. He goes on to explain the end result of this arrangement: “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)Paul himself did not have civil obligations and professed himself to be subject to the original, higher liberty given to man by God, and expressed the inopportune and enslaving nature of discarding that liberty and going into bondage: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)
It may still be the recourse of the multitude to appeal to the debate in the same way as most professing christian theologians as they take the conventional approach to dissecting this passage. If that is the case, then there is minimal debate on what this prooftext means, and how it is in favor of a statist interpretation. However, with a little thought, it would show that this is a conflict of interest. 501c3 churches and state-sanctioned seminaries can only ever produce scholars who sympathize with Balaam or the Nicolaitans to justify the worldview that legitimizes their authoritarian organizations. Just like the scholars and Pharisees of Christ’s day appealed to generations of compounded dead tradition and adopted presuppositions through generations of “church history,” so do pharisaical scholars of today. Just like those pharisees said “no King but Caesar“, these pharisees legitimize political office through democracy. Just like those pharisees ruled over the people with religious fervor and political enthusiasm, these pharisees are proud of their government-sponsored degrees and express their self-importance from their pulpits. These are blind guides leading the blind, and so any notion of true liberty, as repeated over and over throughout scripture, must be stricken from churchian dogma.
It should be expressed that the Koine Greek was developed during a similar time period of Greek history as most languages are established during their respective cultures: as Greece and Rome were moving from a period of free republics to a more centralized, authoritarian, and even autocratic empires. Languages change along with those changing social conditions, but those empires were establishing the very same wrath as the rulers described in Romans 13 were supposed to conduct: from heavy taxation, to wars, to food shortages, to oppression, to mass murder of their own citizens, to many other atrocities contingent upon Empire. The Pharisees legitimized civil rulers then just like the Pharisees legitimize civil rulers today, under the same conditions. In every era, there will be scholars who presume to have the answers and deny any possibility of being in error. They are educated by the best professors and attend the best bastions of institutional education, and they all belong to an elite fraternity of historical pedigree and intellectual echo-chambers. Even Saul had belonged to this demographic while he was persecuting Christians for refusing to subject themselves under Caesar’s dominion. It was clear that he did not actually know the God he had prided himself on studying. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1 Corinthians 1:27) It is true that word meanings will change to be palatable to the sensitivities and political correctness that evolve with the “sophistication” of Empire, but God’s plan for humanity never changes. Since creation, man was always meant to be free souls under His sole authority, rather than property of the State as human resources for the Cains, Nimrods, Pharaohs, Caesars, or Constantines of the world. Anybody peddling a different message, usually for greedy gain and puffed up accolades, is invariably preaching a false gospel: “ever learning, never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7)
…The general sentiment of mankind is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just. For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, or put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others. Such a man, the world says, may lie down until he has sense enough to stand up. It is useless and cruel to put a man on his legs, if the next moment his head is to be brought against a curbstone.
A man of that type will never lay the world under any obligation to him, but will be a moral pauper, a drag on the wheels of society, and if he too be identified with a peculiar variety of the race he will entail disgrace upon his race as well as upon himself. The world in which we live is very accommodating to all sorts of people. It will cooperate with them in any measure which they propose; it will help those who earnestly help themselves, and will hinder those who hinder themselves. It is very polite, and never offers its services unasked. Its favors to individuals are measured by an unerring principle in this—viz., respect those who respect themselves, and despise those who despise themselves. It is not within the power of unaided human nature to persevere in pitying a people who are insensible to their own wrongs and indifferent to the attainment of their own rights. The poet was as true to common sense as to poetry when he said,
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.
When O’Connell, with all Ireland at his back, was supposed to be contending for the just rights and liberties of Ireland, the sympathies of mankind were with him, and even his enemies were compelled to respect his patriotism. Kossuth, fighting for Hungary with his pen long after she had fallen by the sword, commanded the sympathy and support of the liberal world till his own hopes died out. The Turks, while they fought bravely for themselves and scourged and drove back the invading legions of Russia, shared the admiration of mankind. They were standing up for their own rights against an arrogant and powerful enemy; but as soon as they let out their fighting to the Allies, admiration gave way to contempt. These are not the maxims and teachings of a coldhearted world. Christianity itself teaches that man shall provide for his own house. This covers the whole ground of nations as well as individuals. Nations no more than individuals can innocently be improvident. They should provide for all wants—mental, moral and religious—and against all evils to which they are liable as nations. In the great struggle now progressing for the freedom and elevation of our people, we should be found at work with all our might, resolved that no man or set of men shall be more abundant in labors, according to the measure of our ability, than ourselves.
I know, my friends, that in some quarters the efforts of colored people meet with very little encouragement. We may fight, but we must fight like the Sepoys of India, under white officers. This class of Abolitionists don’t like colored celebrations, they don’t like colored conventions, they don’t like colored antislavery fairs for the support of colored newspapers. They don’t like any demonstrations whatever in which colored men take a leading part. They talk of the proud Anglo-Saxon blood as flippantly as those who profess to believe in the natural inferiority of races. Your humble speaker has been branded as an ingrate, because he has ventured to stand up on his own and to plead our common cause as a colored man, rather than as a Garrisonian. I hold it to be no part of gratitude to allow our white friends to do all the work, while we merely hold their coats. Opposition of the sort now referred to is partisan position, and we need not mind it. The white people at large will not largely be influenced by it. They will see and appreciate all honest efforts on our part to improve our condition as a people.
Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.
Hence, my friends, every mother who, like Margaret Garner, plunges a knife into the bosom of her infant to save it from the hell of our Christian slavery, should be held and honored as a benefactress. Every fugitive from slavery who, like the noble William Thomas at Wilkes Barre, prefers to perish in a river made red by his own blood to submission to the hell hounds who were hunting and shooting him should be esteemed as a glorious martyr, worthy to be held in grateful memory by our people. The fugitive Horace, at Mechanicsburgh, Ohio, the other day, who taught the slave catchers from Kentucky that it was safer to arrest white men than to arrest him, did a most excellent service to our cause. Parker and his noble band of fifteen at Christiana, who defended themselves from the kidnappers with prayers and pistols, are entitled to the honor of making the first successful resistance to the Fugitive Slave Bill. But for that resistance, and the rescue of Jerry and Shadrack, the man hunters would have hunted our hills and valleys here with the same freedom with which they now hunt their own dismal swamps.
There was an important lesson in the conduct of that noble Krooman in New York the other day, who, supposing that the American Christians were about to enslave him, betook himself to the masthead and with knife in hand said he would cut his throat before he would be made a slave. Joseph Cinque, on the deck of the Amistad, did that which should make his name dear to us. He bore nature’s burning protest against slavery. Madison Washington who struck down his oppressor on the deck of the Creole, is more worthy to be remembered than the colored man who shot Pitcairn at Bunker Hill.
My friends, you will observe that I have taken a wide range, and you think it is about time that I should answer the special objection to this celebration. I think so too. This, then, is the truth concerning the inauguration of freedom in the British West Indies. Abolition was the act of the British government. The motive which led the government to act no doubt was mainly a philanthropic one, entitled to our highest admiration and gratitude. The national religion, the justice and humanity cried out in thunderous indignation against the foul abomination, and the government yielded to the storm. Nevertheless a share of the credit of the result falls justly to the slaves themselves. “Though slaves, they were rebellious slaves.” They bore themselves well. They did not hug their chains, but according to their opportunities, swelled the general protest against oppression. What Wilberforce was endeavoring to win from the British senate by his magic eloquence the slaves themselves were endeavoring to gain by outbreaks and violence. The combined action of one and the other wrought out the final result. While one showed that slavery was wrong, the other showed that it was dangerous as well as wrong. Mr. Wilberforce, peace man though he was, and a model of piety, availed himself of this element to strengthen his case before the British Parliament, and warned the British government of the danger of continuing slavery in the West Indies. There is no doubt that the fear of the consequences, acting with a sense of the moral evil of slavery, led to its abolition. The spirit of freedom was abroad in the Islands. Insurrection for freedom kept the planters in a constant state of alarm and trepidation. A standing army was necessary to keep the slaves in their chains. This state of facts could not be without weight in deciding the question of freedom in these countries.
I am aware that the rebellious disposition of the slaves was said to arise out of the discussion which the Abolitionists were carrying on at home, and it is not necessary to refute this alleged explanation. All that I contend for is this: that the slaves of the West Indies did fight for their freedom, and that the fact of their discontent was known in England, and that it assisted in bringing about that state of public opinion which finally resulted in their emancipation. And if this be true, the objection is answered.
Again, I am aware that the insurrectionary movements of the slaves were held by many to be prejudicial to their cause. This is said now of such movements at the South. The answer is that abolition followed close on the heels of insurrection in the West Indies, and Virginia was never nearer emancipation than when General Turner kindled the fires of insurrection at Southampton.
Sir, I have now more than filled up the measure of my time. I thank you for the patient attention given to what I have had to say. I have aimed, as I said at the beginning, to express a few thoughts having some relation to the great interest of freedom both in this country and in the British West Indies, and I have said all that I mean to say, and the time will not permit me to say more.
It is fairly common for those who attempt to argue against the validity of Abolitionism to offend its adherents by either taking scripture out of context or by oversimplifying concepts described in scripture. Granted, the most common and (dead) traditional interpretations and sophistry have served to confuse professing Christians for almost two thousand years, leading them away from the truth, not to mention the thousands of years of perverted scriptural dogma inherited by the Pharisees which are still repeated today. This article will endeavor to catalogue many of these blunders projected onto Old Testament scriptures, and express them as they are intended to be interpreted: as compatible with the Kingdom of God and the liberty inherited by those who seek it.
Sold into bondage by his own brothers out of jealousy, competition, and strife, eventually becoming an arbiter of Egyptian civil government, Joseph is often heralded as a convenient example to justify statism and the good that can be done by those who hold political office. Although he was a righteous man, whom God’s providence blessed in turning a wicked thing for his personal benefit, in spite of the sins of his brothers, a more conventional examination will put this figure’s political actions into a Biblically consistent light.
Although Joseph’s brothers had committed kidnapping and manstealing against Joseph, he was rescued by his distant cousins and, as such, he was in debt to them for his life and for twenty pieces of silver. That debt was eventually purchased by Potiphar, a military commander in Egypt. Debt is slavery, as scripture says. “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7) The bonds of contracted slavery are also reflected in the concepts of guarantees, vows, oaths, pledges, and promises all referring to outstanding debt and its future payment, typically as unpaid labor or income tax, as corvee. Joseph, making friends of the unrighteous mammon of Egypt by using his talents charitably, was eventually given all of the authority over Egypt by Sesostris III for his prudence and wisdom.
“And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail. And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year. When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands: Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate. And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s. And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof.
Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands. Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones. And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants. And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part, except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh’s.” (Genesis 47:16-26)
Along with the totality of Egyptians, the patriarchs of Israel had not prepared for a predictable famine in their sloth, which was a reflection of the wicked characters they expressed years earlier. As such, they found themselves needing rescuing from economic despair by their own brother whom they had kidnapped and sold into bondage. To continue in that parallel, they also found themselves in debt through guarantees, vows, oaths, pledges, and promises to Egypt, for a twenty percent income tax. Salvation always comes at a heavy price, and with most “saviors” that price is extracted from those who need saving. In this case, the government of Egypt, in exchange for protection and provision, had received rights to all of the wealth of Egypt, and one fifth of the property acquired by the people thereafter. This wealth was then a storehouse, with guaranteed contributions by contract, from which the people were fed and provided for. Because the people were too slothful to prepare for a famine, they became covetous for their neighbors goods, extracted by Joseph and redistributed as federal benefits. “Protection draws to it subjection; subjection protection.” (Coke, Litt. 65) This was the gospel of Pharaoh, as we have written about elsewhere, because it was the providence of a false god under a social contract that saved the people from economic hell, and weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.” (Psalms 69:22) That gospel tempted the Israelites to sell themselves into Egyptian bondage for socialist security. The same bondage from which God would later send Moses to free their descendents and into a free society, by the authority of a freeman’s constitution.
In short, statists are quick to point to Joseph’s employment under Pharaoh as a legitimate example that professing christians can follow in seeking political office, or even to just vaguely declare that God wants to use magistrates for good. This is in spite of the fact that Joseph clearly instituted socialist policies in Egypt and brought both foreign and domestic peoples into contracted slavery and corvee bondage. So, what exactly was God’s role for Joseph in securing him a political status that fulfilled a prophetic dream to rule over his brothers? That purpose is reflected in the existence of all civil magistrates: justice for sloth and covetousness and recompense for sin. People who do not love God will not love their brothers, and people with competition, selfishness, and violence in their hearts do not deserve to be free. People who take by force, either literally in keeping one’s brother in a hole and selling him to merchants, or figuratively in coveting government benefits at their neighbor’s expense, deserve the judgment of God, which entails abandoning them to their own devices to go under the power of false gods who will tax them into slavery. This is the lesson afforded by Joseph’s story, and this lesson is repeated all throughout scripture: Sin leads to bondage. Perhaps if God knew Joseph’s brothers to be good men, worthy of prosperity, Joseph’s fate would have allowed his prophetic ability to be a boon to Israel, rather than a curse. If the patriarchs of Israel had inspired righteousness, diligence, cooperation, and charity, maybe God’s providence would have made Israel prepared for the famine, as a testament that God blesses good people who then can bless those in need in times of strife and economic instability. While it is not certain that good people deserve good things, what is certain is that bad people do deserve bad things.
The Elders of Congregations
To understand what elders were, according to both Testaments, it is necessary to understand the Dominion Mandate. When a man loves God, he is a good steward of the things God has given him. Essentially, this means land-ownership, retaining equitable rights to property, taking a wife, and having children, retaining the equitable rights to them too. Every family acquires wealth by God’s Providence, and therefore rights, as they exercise dominion over that property. Those rights, like the wealth, like the power of the family, all rest in the hand of the patriarch, or Elder. Every man is king in his own home, in a free society, and because the wealth of society is not concentrated into a centralized system of government, the people themselves retain the power of society’s State, separate from its Government (which will be talked about shortly.) Because of this, elders could not exercise civil authority over their fellow citizens, but only natural authority over their families. The Elders represent the State in an anarchist society because the most fundamental unit of liberty is the family. The word translated “elder” from the Hebrew zaqen, just means “old, aged, or ancient man.” The Israelites were instructed to “honor their Father and Mother” and we have expressed elsewhere how this was a loaded statement, referring to the preservation of society by maintaining the functions of the family unit. By isolating elders from the rest of the congregation, one could hold an adhocratic council for the voluntary redistribution of wealth, the formation of militias in times of emergency with minimal confusion and chaos, or even the expedient dissemination of information: “Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and [seen] that which is done to you in Egypt…” (Exodus 3:16)
And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone… And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. (Numbers 11:16-25)
The phrase “over them” in this passage is non-existent in the Hebrew. This does not mean that these seventy elders were not officers, only that they did not exercise official authority over the people. The same word for “officer” of the Elders here in free Israel is the same word translated “taskmaster” of the people in Exodus 5:10, who also did not exercise authority over the people in Egypt, but rather over the distribution of Pharaoh’s straw. The seventy elders mentioned in Numbers 11 did eventually master their own tasks, as in Numbers 35 where they were to form forty-eight Cities of Refuge, which were appeals courts in the pursuit of justice and mercy. This ad hoc designation of responsibility did not include exercising authority over the people, but rather was a cooperative effort to prevent chaos and injustice should some member of some congregation receive an unfair trial from a jury of his peers. Only free societies can perform true justice, and even they have systems of appeals courts to protect the innocent from false verdicts or corrupt sentencing. The phrase “that they may stand” in the above excerpt from Numbers 11 is from the Hebrew yatsab, meaning “to set or station oneself, take one’s stand” “so as servants or courtiers, with implication of readiness for service.” This standing is a figurative one, implying a sense of separateness, standing on the side of righteousness, and is connected to a more divine relationship in matters of discernment and obedience to God’s will. As such, the stand these men were to take in establishing a system of appeals courts was not to rule over their fellow men, but to be a safeguard against men ruling over each other through corrupting the justice of their civil disputes. This safeguard was recognized voluntarily by the people, and its legitimacy was given weight by the fact that they prophesied to the people by the supernatural power of God. Unlike other nations, this “Supreme” court did not make them gods (judges) and this Senate (elders) did not give them legislative authority over the people.
The Levitical Priesthood
Another early presupposition most people have about God’s people is about the role of the Levites as a government for free Israel. It is understandable that many people imagine that a government is necessarily always an authority over the people, but not only is this fundamentally untrue, it is not even the normative connotation of the concept throughout history. Many governments, exampled in the Levitical Priesthood, have often consisted of servant-leaders, called-out from the congregations of the people, or the State of society. They are sustained by freewill tithes from the elders of those families according to the Levite’s character and service. That service was to connect congregating family units in a network of charity, redistributing their freewill offerings, or sacrifices, among the people as they have need. One Levite typically ministered to ten families, and other Levite ministered to ten of those Levites, and so on until the whole nation was networked together in this adhocratic system. Because the Levites had given up the right to hold private property, this gave them an inherent accountability to the people. They could not exercise authority over the people themselves, but only over the what was given to them in “burnt” offerings. And if they were not good stewards in redistributing those offerings, then that put them in danger of no longer receiving the tithes to sustain them. The people could always, at any time, choose another minister to serve them instead.
“An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.” (Exodus 20:24-26)
All Hebrew words have multiple meanings; at least one literal and at least one figurative. This gives much of the old testament opportunity to express allegory, which is often stripped of its spiritual meanings by those who read it without spiritual eyes. The first altar advised to Moses, the altar of earth, mentions the same “red clay” or Adamah that God used to form Adam, and is often used in metaphor to reference mankind as sons of Adam. When men come together in a freewill association in congregations to sacrifice for each other, they become an altar of earth. This image gives the relationship a sort of loose, but amalgamated mixture with individual dirt clods representing each family, and that altar of combined dirt clods representing a nation of families coming together to form an adhocratic society bound by charity, or love.
Burnt offerings were items given in charity, no longer in the possession of those who gave it and who were no longer able to exercise authority over its use. The grantor treated his charity as though it were burned up and gone, given wholly to his neighbor as though it were given to God. To give your gift at the altar is to give up your property rights to it. More specifically, a peace offering was a conciliatory event, owed in propitiation for some offense against one’s neighbor. This was not a general exercise of charity like a burnt offering, it was a direct expression of justice and conscience to right some wrong and pay some recompense in order to keep peace with your neighbor and make your relationship whole again in the event of some property damage or incurred debt. Both of these concepts do exist in authoritarian societies of pagan cultures, but the difference is reflected in that those cultures extract those offerings by force through taxation and statutory penalties. Charity is replaced with the entitlement of social security and other socialist welfare programs. Propitiatory amends are replaced with begrudged and embittered penalties.
The second altar mentioned to Moses, an altar of stone, is described with a cautious set of conditions. Stones were also a metaphor for men, with different Hebrew words referring to “friend” (stone) or “council” (a gathering of stones). This altar reflects the servants of society, attendant priests making up God’s government with its own structure and purpose. The act of hewing stones was forbidden for this altar because it is immoral for the people to place regulations and restrictions on their ministers in relation to the performance of their duties. They too were ruled by God alone, but consecrated to Him as His body politic. The people could govern the system of welfare and temper the wisdom of the ministers only by regulating their own intervals of charity, or its contents, but they could not control the men themselves through legislative or constitutional oversight and puppeteering. The ministers remained whole men, voluntarily working in a private and natural capacity as friends of the people, rather than as public “servants” who are just rulers with the ability to force the contributions of their congregations. Another condition placed on this altar of stones is the proscription of it “going up by steps.” This is a metaphor for hierarchy within the government of God. There is no artificial tier or degree system amongst the ministers as you might naturally find within a family unit. Such a pyramid scheme would necessitate a centralization of power and a concentration of wealth as one ascended the altar. This would be counterproductive to legitimately serving the people, creating a vacuum to be filled by power hungry politicians who desire prestige and a guaranteed income. Such a system can only ever produce corruption in a ruling elite, and a sense of slothfulentitlement in the people. The nakedness warned against in this passage is a metaphor for a lack of authority to cover the ministers who had no personal estates or inheritance to take care of them and therefore no way to protect and sustain themselves. It is the concept of dominion that gives mankind his covering, so long as he stewards that dominion in accordance with the will of God. It was the duty of parents to cover their own children by the produce of their own labor, and as such, their children could only ever act under their authority and jurisdiction. But this dominion and natural authority was not applicable to the servant ministers who lived by the freewill tithes of the people. They could not cover themselves. They were covered daily by the people and by God according to their service and character. To attempt to create a hierarchy would be to no longer have eligibility to be covered by the people or by God because they are betraying one and disobeying the other. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they too realized their own “nakedness” in going out from under His authority, rejecting His protection and provision as a consequence for their misconduct. A different metaphor for this authority and covering is expressed in 1 Corinthians 11 concerning how women are uncovered without the authority of their fathers or husbands and how, contrariwise, men can only be free without a covering. We have talked about this concept elsewhere. “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach…” (Exodus 28:42) It is not as though the Levites were literally naked, requiring that the people actually made their clothes for them. It is that the ministers had no personal estate or inheritance and owned all things in common, receiving protection and provision from free families through charity, and those who served best were covered most. “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant…” (Matthew 20:26-27)
“Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.” (Exodus 18:19-23)
Unable to distinguish the role of ad hoc judges in free Israel from the concept of ruling judges that exist in western society today, statists will do a disservice to the Biblical concept and champion it as an example of positional authority like they do the Levites, or like the Sanhedrin did much later. But the context expresses a different interpretation. A distinct qualification for the role of these judges was that they were to be men of service, rather than covetousness, because ruling judges are men of covetousness, whose income is guaranteed through taxation, compelled by force from the people, and they necessarily become arbiters and representative of the tax system. In this case, the tax system would have been represented by Egypt from which God liberated the Israelites, and to which God instructed them never to return. The phrase “over them” in the above passage is also translated “steward,” “among,” “beside,” and “between.” The term for “ruler” is also translated “leader,” but is also often a reference to the Elders and patriarchs within congregations. In fact, this same model of organizing society into “thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens” is commanded by Christ in Mark 6 when it comes time to maintain a structured society into an adohractic system in order to redistribute the charity of the people. This model was also practiced by early christians in their congregations, and was already made familiar to the Israelites in the recognition of Elders and the calling out of the Levites. To have members of society set apart for specific tasks and roles is not necessarily to make them literal rulers who compel submission and obedience of the rest of society, and it is only a consequence of our own idolatry that makes it so easy to conflate the two concepts. These men fulfilled a voluntary, added role for a people who were newly free and did not yet know how to navigate their liberty through social virtues and community ethics. They did not need more rulers like they had in Egyptian bondage, because this would defeat the purpose of the Exodus. Rather, they needed men of wisdom to blaze a trail, navigating God’s Law so that free people could strengthen each other in performance of the weightier matters.
It should be noted that the same Hebrew word used for the noun form of “judge” is also interchangeable with the word used for “god” meaning “ruler, judge”; “applied as deference to magistrates” according to Strong, making all rulers and most judges “gods” by definition. This is especially true in American government. However, the historical account of these judges particular to free Israel shows that they did not exercise authority over the people themselves, but only over those “small” matters voluntarily entrusted to them by the people. Which is in the same spirit of the charity entrusted to the Levites. Easton’s Bible Dictionary has this to say:
“The office of judges or regents was held during life, but it was not hereditary, neither could they appoint their successors. Their authority was limited by the law alone, and in doubtful cases they were directed to consult the divine King through the priest by Urim and Thummim (Numbers 27:21). Their authority extended only over those tribes by whom they had been elected or acknowledged. There was no income attached to their office, and they bore no external marks of dignity. The only cases of direct divine appointment are those of Gideon and Samson, and the latter stood in the peculiar position of having been from before his birth ordained ‘to begin to deliver Israel.’ Deborah was called to deliver Israel, but was already a judge. Samuel was called by the Lord to be a prophet but not a judge, which ensued from the high gifts the people recognized as dwelling in him; and as to Eli, the office of judge seems to have devolved naturally or rather ex officio upon him.”
There is a lot to unpack here. While Easton does declare the judges to be “rulers,” closer inspection reveals that the nature of their rulership was fundamentally different than what we experience in civil courts today, which are based on Roman Civil Law, which ultimately finds its foundation in Babylonian tradition. That tradition is only complete as long as the people are subject citizens of an authoritarian state rather than free souls under God. The power of the Israelite judges was apparently so limited, that it was dwarfed, and basically titular. It appears to be a more functional enterprise, as an added voluntary responsibility that some members of the congregations aspired to hold, and made personal sacrifice in order to fulfill its roles. Their authority was limited to interpreting matters that the people presented to them, through the Law of God. A further limitation to their function is evidenced in that each judge’s recommendations only applied to the families that “elected” them to serve them. This is not referring to election into an office of authority, but rather a selection of designation and freewill choice that could be rescinded based on their quality and conduct in the performance of their function, much like the attendant priests in the network of charity. They had no guaranteed income like the judges of pagan societies do. They had no positional recognition. They were adhocratic functions according to the needs of the people, limited to the context of those needs, as based on their knowledgeability of the framework of God’s Law, and their wisdom in applying that Law to the matters presented to them. Without income or positional authority, there was no way for them to rule over the people or enforce their interpretations and advisory decisions. The people had to choose whether to cooperate with this relationship to the judges at every single instance, based on their own knowledge of God’s will and their sensitivity to His Spirit. The judges were not infallible, as we will see, and so their judgments had to be careful, or a righteous people would begin to mistrust them and look to other peers to function as their judges. In short, like the Levites, the judges were reflective of a true republic, holding a titular office, and a function characterized by service, wisdom, and good character rather than by authority, legalism, and position.
A common argument we face in defense of idolatry and statism is this idea that, because kings existed in ancient Israel, that must mean God ordained them, or that they were a part of God’s original plan for his people, rather than a concession for the hardness of their hearts. However, this passage from 1 Samuel 8, makes God’s position clear on human authority:
“Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.” (1 Samuel 8:4-22)
This account begins with a deceitful pretext as an excuse on behalf of the patriarchs of Israel in asking Samuel for a king. Their reasoning is saturated in hypocrisy and non sequitur. By declaring that Samuel’s sons were unsatisfactory to the people as judges, they are admitting that the people themselves were not diligent enough to hold those judges accountable or to appoint new judges, as was their responsibility in this free republic. They were confessing their own sloth and apathy. Corrupt servants cannot prevail against a free people because a free people are a righteous people, so their servants reflect their spirit. Another unsensible angle expressed about this request for a king is this idea: if the people are complaining about a few social duties going unfulfilled when concentrated into the few hands of the judges, then what did they think was going to happen when they concentrate many social duties into the hands of a centralized ruling authority? The answer, as the rest of the passage elucidates, is that they did not care. Their complaints were pretense and their excuses were lame. They had the same attitude when Samuel warned them of the consequences of statism in rejecting God as their king as some of the Jews in the New Testament did when rejecting Jesus Christ as their king: “Nay, but we will have a king over us” or, in other words, “His blood be on us and our children.”
The warnings that God gave to the Israelites about having human rulers like all the other pagan nations are just as common to those nations: they have standing militaries, they have forced labor, or income tax, in service to civil bureaucracies, they concentrate wealth into the political institutions, abandoning the dominion prescribed by God, and they establish a property tax for the property that is left in the hands of the people, consistent with distributing legal titles. While the wealth and power of choice of the people used to rest in the authority of the patriarchs and heads of families, now that wealth and authority was going to be concentrated into a civil office and its bureaucracy. What should be noted here is that the Israelites are predicted to pay only a ten percent tax rate to the king for which they are begging, while they had to pay twenty percent while they were in bondage to Pharaoh, and God still considers it an abomination. Professing christians in bondage today still have the audacity to say that God prescribes human rulers while they pay anywhere between thirty percent and fifty percent on income tax alone, not including their other property taxes, or through the hidden tax of inflation.
Nevertheless, just like how these statists stubbornly run headlong into destruction and seeks ways to justify it, the Israelites did get their king in spite of God’s and Samuel’s warnings. In His patience, in spite of the idolatry of the Israelites, God established decrees to limit kingly power over the people. If these decrees were followed faithfully, the role of a king would be merely titular and powerless, encouraging the people to retain their power of choice. In fact, scripture records times where Israel’s earliest kings attempted to bend or break these rules, and God promptly rebuked them, and their actions were called foolish. Saul comes to mind, because he illustrates the notion that power corrupts. Only in his second year of reigning as king, he was foolish to force the people to pay for his troops so that he could defend the nation against the Philistines. Later, Saul’s thirst for power corrupted him and drove him to despair, as human authority influences all of those who possess it to despotism, suspicion, madness, and destruction: of the people over which they rule, and also of themselves. Saul would eventually commit suicide after years of debasing himself under the weight of his own crown. When it comes to usurping the liberty of the people and being called foolish for it, David also comes to mind. It is the habit of statists to attempt to give David a pass as a human ruler because Scripture does have a lot of good things to say about him as an individual, even that he was “a man after God’s own heart.” But power corrupts even the best men, and the unnatural burden that is civil authority will turn a good man wicked. Scripture describes that David’s actions were satanic when he took up a census of the people in order to establish a standing military. He later repented, citing his own actions as foolish. The thirst for power later inspired David to commit infidelity and murder, forever tarnishing his name as a champion of the people. It is true that all men fall, and sin, and must repent. It is also true that when you give them power, falling into sin is much more certain, and repenting from it is much less so. It might be beneficial to note both that David engaged in much imperialism on behalf of Israel, but was also not a great liberator, and ended up placing the lands he conquered under heavy taxation.
“Although Saul failed as the first king of Israel, his successor David, as a great warrior, was able to conquer much of the territory belonging to the Promised Land.
David’s successor, Solomon, although described as the wisest man that ever lived, committed more foolish atrocities than Saul and David combined. He was a pragmatist in instituting idolatry in Israel, he made treaties with pagan nations, taking their women to be his wives in exchange, and was instrumental in pushing the nation into civil war as a veritable tyrant, which culminated during the reign of his own son. History squashes any notion that a ruling king over Israel was either something God condoned, or something that was instrumental for the good of the people:
“While the Hebrew judgment of David seems to be ambivalent, his accomplishments in his forty-year reign are undeniable. After centuries of losing conflicts, the Hebrews finally defeat the Philistines unambiguously under the brilliant military leadership of David. His military campaigns transform the New Hebrew kingdom into a Hebrew empire. An empire is a state that rules several more or less independent states. These independent states never fully integrate themselves into the larger state, but under the threat of military retaliation sent tribute and labor to the king of the empire.
Most importantly, David unites the tribes of Israel under an absolute monarchy. This monarchical government involved more than just military campaigns, but also included non-military affairs: building, legislation, judiciaries, etc. He also built up Jerusalem to look more like the capitals of other kings: rich, large, and opulently decorated. Centralized government, a standing army, and a wealthy capital do not come free; the Hebrews found themselves for the first time since the Egyptian period groaning under heavy taxes and the beginnings of forced labor.
It is the third and last king of a united Hebrew state, however, that turned the Hebrew monarchy into something comparable to the opulent monarchies of the Middle East and Egypt. The Hebrew account portrays a wise and shrewd king, the best of all the kings of Israel. The portrait, however, isn’t completely positive and some troubling aspects emerge.
What emerges from the portrait of Solomon is that he desired to be a king along the model of Mesopotamian kings. He built a fabulously wealthy capital in Jerusalem with a magnificent palace and an enormous temple attached to that palace (this would become the temple of Jerusalem). All of this building and wealth involved imported products: gold, copper, and cedar, which were unavailable in Israel. So Solomon taxed his people heavily, and what he couldn’t pay for in taxes, he paid for in land and people. He gave twenty towns to foreign powers, and he paid Phoenicia in slave labor: every three months, 30,000 Hebrews had to perform slave labor for the King of Tyre. This, it would seem, is what Samuel meant when he said the people would pay dearly for having a king.
…Groaning under the oppression of Solomon, the Hebrews became passionately discontent, so that upon Solomon’s death (around 926 to 922 BC) the ten northern tribes revolted. Unwilling to be ruled by Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, these tribes successfully seceded and established their own kingdom. The great empire of David and Solomon was gone never to be seen again; in its place were two mighty kingdoms which lost all the territory of David’s once proud empire within [two] hundred years of Solomon’s passing.” (Jewish Virtual Library, The Monarchy, 1050-920 BC)
One of the last excuses that statists will cling to in order to justify ruling kings as God’s will for Israel (or anybody) is the notion that, in spite of all of the predicted moral failings of Israel’s kings, they were instrumental in fulfilling God’s will, and that will included the building of the Temple of Jerusalem. This is a common misconception but is, rather, entirely untrue. God never wanted a temple made of literal stones. God’s way, as we have already touched on, was in the opposite direction of institutionalism characterized by government buildings, towards an aerobic adhocracy, where the people were responsible for their own welfare through the body politic of God, the Levites. The building of a literal temple, as a concept, contradicts the notion that our bodies are temples and that God’s temple is built with living stones (us).
“Yet it stands that the building of a temple for God was David’s idea – something he came up with while relaxing in his palace (2 Samuel 7:1-2). Similar to the concept of a human king, this idea no doubt came about after noticing that neighboring nations [had built] beautiful temples for their gods.
The God of the Hebrews, on the other hand, had a simple tent that was to house the Ark of Covenant and other miscellaneous items of worship – granted, by this time, the Ark was hanging out in a separate tent pitched by David at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17) while the Tabernacle was miles away at Gibeon (1 Kings 8:4). This tent, or Tabernacle, was a war-tent originally built during the [wanderings] of the Hebrew people through the desert during the time of Moses and was to remind everyone that God dwelt among them as their Lord and King.
Unfortunately, David and his son Solomon were not content with such an arrangement so they decided to build God a temple that would wow the nations. For some reason, God decided to go along with this plan – probably because of the same reason He allowed the Hebrew people to have a human king, and most likely, because He understood the heart of these men to love and serve Him.” (Joshua Hopping. “Did God Really Want a Temple?” Wild Goose Chase, 17 Oct.)
In a free society, temples are places where the people of a nation gather for specific events, purposes, projects, and voluntary social duties. They are a bastion of adhocracy and freewill cooperation, in a system of national charity, and in focal points for social gatherings and reunions. For Free Israel, their temple was not a building made with literal stones, but it had been a tent that was ministered to by living stones. In societies of bondage, however, temples were physical buildings as establishments of authoritarian governments serving as storehouses of records, contracts, socialist welfare, federal banking (which we have written on extensively), public libraries, education, and other offices of bureaucratic institutions. This latter description would eventually become the fate of the temple that David desired to build. It is also reflected in the temple Herod had built, which is relevant to Christ’s ministry. But there is plenty of evidence to say that it is not the temple that God wanted.
“As we have seen, the temple originated with David, not God, and God clearly rejected David’s proposal to build it (1 Chron. 17:4). Yet David did much or nearly all of the work, under the guise of extensive “preparation,” even giving the first command to begin its construction. God never asked for an “exalted” (1 Ki. 8:13) or “exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious” (1 Chron. 22:5) temple and Stephen includes the building of the temple in his list of examples of how the Israelites had resisted the Holy Spirit. Nonetheless, at some point God permitted David to continue, even blessing him in his preparations with guidance from the Holy Spirit (1 Chron. 28:12) and ultimately filling it with his glory (2 Chron. 5:13; 2 Chron. 7:1-2; 1 Ki. 8:10-11).” (Shawn Nelson. “Evidence The Temple Was NOT God’s Will.” Geeky Christian, 27 Feb. 2018.)
After Israel’s civil war, and after the split kingdom started devolving into downward spirals of idolatry and tyrant-kings, the people were eventually invaded and taken into captivity by the Assyrian Empire, and then into Babylon which had been a tributary to Assyria, but overthrew it. This is when the young nobility of Jerusalem were taken into bondage. It should be noted that there are no victims in captivity. It is always sin that leads to bondage (Rom. 6:20). It is only ever the slothful who are under tribute (Pr. 12:24). When the Israelites asked for a king, they sealed their fate. God does not rule the wicked, but rather gives them up to a reprobate mind and the ouroboros of self-destruction. He removes his hand of protection and provision, and allows the wolves and other predatory nations to come in and wreak havoc. He does this to encourage sinners to repent, and seek Him to be their God and ruler instead, so that He may redeem them from civil bondage and restore them to His image, where they may inherit dominion as free souls under God.
Among the young nobility now subject to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II of the Neo-Babylonian Empire is Daniel. “Nebuchadnezzar” is a title given to the ruler of this nation, which means “may Nebo protect the crown.” Nebo, a god of education and wisdom, may represent a tree of knowledge. But as we can see from the person of Daniel, while he is often misrepresented as a crutch for the idea of seeking political authority and of the good that can be done through civil office, he consistently chooses to eat from the tree of life. The biggest argument in support of this view is the fact that Daniel remained separate from partaking in the benefits of Babylonian civil citizenship.
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse. As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” (Daniel 1:8-17)
Daniel’s refusal to eat at the King’s table and refrain from eating meat or drinking wine does not reveal that he was a vegetarian or a teetotaler. What it does reveal is that he was not an idolater who coveted his neighbor’s goods. “Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.” (Psalms 141:4) Often throughout scripture, provision like meat and bread are images used to refer to the socialist welfare provided by human institutions. Even wine is used to describe the intoxicating effects that partaking in those benefits yields.
“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what [is] before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat. Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words. (Proverbs 23:1-8)
In going out of his way to remain separate from Babylon’s system of socialist benefits, Daniel consecrates himself to God to be his provider instead. These worldlybenefits are a snare that change men, making them always hungry and never full, twisted by covetousness and lust for their neighbor’s goods, which in turn makes them emaciated because their neighbor covets their goods in return, all through the mechanism of bureaucracy and civil extortion. This is the deal with the devil that forfeits one’s soul, making one immoral, on the slippery slope of continued destruction. By Daniel’s obedience, God sustains him, keeps him healthy, and obviously set apart from those cannibals who sit at the king’s table. His healthy face remains a reflection of his moral character, and the benefits he receives from God are supernatural.
To further compound this point, in Daniel 2:25, he is referred to as a “captive” or “exile” of Judah. Often throughout scripture, this concept is coupled with the word “stranger” which sometimes means “resident” or “alien” as opposed to “citizen” and sometimes means “without a share,” as in possesses no entitlement to the strange nation’s provision. This is the quintessential meaning of “being in the world and not of the world.”
While Nebuchadnezzar did give Daniel authority over part of his kingdom, it is still clear from Daniel 3 that the “captives, exiles, and strangers” refused to partake in Babylonian citizenship and receive its contractedbenefits. For when the king made a central bank, in the form of a statue to be the “one purse” of the people, these “residents” did not worship the idol by paying into it or receiving from it, or worship its gods by being subject citizens to their legislative authority. These “aliens” refused to serve the national economy, and the many institutions that were formed to maintain it. They refused to become a surety of the collective debt inherited by those who belong to the idols that reflect federal reserves, thereby making them employees of that system. They were directly persecuted, cast into the furnace, and miraculously spared by God.
In the most famous account about Daniel in chapter 6, he was also directly persecuted for refusing to apply to king Darius for provision and benefits, and disobeyed his decree by applying to God for providence instead. These circumstances are almost an exact mirror to the chain of events in chapter 3. For relying on God’s providence, remaining unstained from Darius’ compelled citizenship and entitlements, Daniel is miraculously spared a gruesome death in the den of lions. It is because Daniel chose to be separate from civil bondage that he found prosperity and peace even though he was a captive due to the sins of his fathers.
Another common prooftext to support the idea that Christians should seek office, and seek to do good through institutionalism is found in the person of Esther. It was under Darius’ son Xerxes I that many of the Israelites still found themselves in captivity in Persia.
“And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.” (Esther 3:8-9)
When statists attempt to legitimize political pursuit using Esther’s example, they tend to overlook this context which clearly describes the Jews as a political society, rather than merely an ethnic group. “And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.” (Esther 8:17) They, like Daniel in Babylon, were in the world of Persia, but not of the world of Persia. They were strangers and exiles with their own laws, customs, cities and way of life, as sovereign captives rather than subject civil slaves under a ruler’s legislative authority. People in captivity, obedient to God, do not assimilate into whatever civil society by which they find themselves surrounded. What we also see from this passage is that civil power corrupts and makes minds of rulers suspicious, which means that anyone not under that civil power easily becomes a target to someone wielding that civil power. This is the seed of all persecution committed by tyrants. People free and independent from government’s cult of personality are necessarily an outlet for the bloodlust of the cult.
Esther may have endeavored to preserve the lives of the Jews, but she did so without compromising the liberty that they were already practicing, remaining separate from the covetous and idolatrous customs of socialist empires. The Jews would not acknowledge worldly civil institutions or their arbiters, as we can see from Mordecai’s behavior and controversy. It might be beneficial to suggest that there is nothing in the book of Esther saying that God’s providence would not have protected the Jews miraculously if she was not involved in the situation. This is because neither God nor his providence are ever even mentioned in the story, and God’s will must be inferred and projected onto the plot. This means that the actions of Esther and Mordecai are purely descriptive rather than prescriptive. What we do know about Esther is that she attempted to “make friends of the unrighteous mammon,” which is what Christ commands those in civil bondage to do. This means that she used her position, not to legitimize human authority, but to make sure her people remained free from it. An implication of this is exampled later in the story, and is prescribed all over scripture:
“As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.” (Esther 9:22)
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7)
Not only were they to retain their own land, and work it in self-sufficiency, they were to be fruitful and multiply, forming a strong, independent nation within the nation of their captivity, depending on each other out of charity, rather than remaining weak and depending on some foreign power and nation-state for their survival. What does it mean to seek the peace of a city under which God’s people find themselves as residents? It does not mean to infiltrate its power centers (the opposite of seeking peace), or to become assimilated into its citizenry as subject inferiors. Especially since the former almost always can only be done under the premise of the latter. It does mean to turn the city’s world upside down by establishing a better way to maintain society and be a stumbling block to their idolatrous worldview. It is through unstained religion, and a sense of humble obedience to God, that a surrounding pagan nation has cause to convert their way of life to reflect the Kingdom of God, as occurred when many of the Persian people “became Jews.” This is the difference between the false “peace, peace” of yoking equally together with the unbelievers and the real peace of living a better way and calling unbelievers to join you in repentance.
After having discussed few of the many Old Testament prooftexts commonly used in defense of human archism, and reviewing them in the light of the purpose of Scripture, we will endeavor to perform the same feat in our next article concerning commonly misconceived prooftexts of the New Testament.
When it comes to discussing Abolitionist ideology, it is noteworthy to highlight its symbol, the purpose of its use, and the meaning behind it. The “Abolish Human Archism” symbol, or “AHA” consists of an upright “A”, referring to the term Abolish, a slanted “H” for “Human,” and an upside down “A” that stands for “Archism”, all encircled together, partially as a pastiche of the common representation of anarchy, but also as a component representing a sense of totality in the cyclical natures of the ideology represented by the symbol, the worldview that ideology opposes, and the always present struggle between the two.
The symbol itself expresses this struggle because the opposing “A”s represent a conflict between the higher, natural Law of God which is right-side up, and lower, legalistic statutes of men which are upside-down, implying the victory of the former in abolishing the latter as they compete for the souls of mankind, one demanding personal responsibility unto liberty, and the other enticing men into bondage for benefits. Men must first abrogate (v. Evade [a responsibility or duty]) the Law of God in making themselves subject to the laws of men. This is evident in the fact that “The civil law reduces the unwilling freedman to his original slavery; but the laws of the Angloes judge once manumitted as ever after free.” (Co. Litt. 137.) Civil law is the law that men establish for themselves and “human laws are born, live, and die.” The notion comes from the Latin lex (legis), where we derive the terms “legal”, “legislation”, and “legalism” consisting of statutes, bills, principles, rules, contracts, conditions, etc., which are addressed in compartmentalized systems of jurisprudence like property law, trust law, tort law, constitutional law, administrative law, international law, commercial law, admiralty, and equity. The significance of civil laws in establishing frameworks for slavery is that they represent covenants made with human rulers acting as false gods in contradiction to the Law of God which explicitly forbids such misconduct. Civil laws are contract law, because “the contract makes the law” (22 Wend. N.Y. 215, 223.), and they are connected by contract to those bound to them through consenting application, from generation to generation. “That which bars those who have contracted will bar their successors also.” (Di.50.17.29.) The “A” that represents these things is characteristically upside down to reflect the backwards and unnatural “world” that foolish men make in their disobedience. This disobedience is also expressed by scripture:
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6)
In order for the higher law to abolish the lower law (heavy legal burdens made by men to enslave each other), the higher Kingdom of Heaven must abrogate (v. repeal or do away with [a law, right, or formal agreement]) the kingdoms of the world. This “law” in Latin is jus (juris), where we get terms like “just” and “justice”, referring to “the rule of right; and whatever is contrary to the rule of right is an injury” (3 Bulstr.313.). This law is recognized to apply to all freemen (“The laws of nature are unchangeable.” [Branch, Princ.; Oliver Forms, 56.]), before they do away with it in favor of going under legalistic social contracts: “There is in fact a true law–namely right reason–which is in accordance with nature, applies to all men, and is unchangeable and eternal.” (Cicero) This law is recognized in concepts of Natural Law, Mosaic Law, Common Law, Universal Law, and community ethics. It is this higher law that Christ addresses in saying “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil…” (Matthew 5:17) in recognizing for His Kingdom and His citizens the Perfect Law of Liberty: “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:25) The “A” that represents these concepts, being right-side up, is introduced to an upside-down world as the Gospel of the Kingdom through the Great Commission by abolitionists of every generation, as a message of reconciliation toward those who have abandoned the narrow road towards liberty and compromised their integrity by going with the multitude to do evil on the broad path towards destruction. It is for this reason that anarchism is not lawlessness, but a strict return to the liberating jurisdiction of God’s Law.
Before a repentant people can be eligible to adopt exclusively this higher law, it is necessary to be freed from the dominion of the lower law. Christ does this also by “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross…” (Colossians 2:14) This redemption of man from the dominion of man is the mission of abolitionism, represented in the symbol, and is expressed by Abraham’s message in Ur and Haran, Moses‘ actions in Egypt, Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom, the abolitionist incentive against chattel slavery in the 19th century, and the abolitionist movement of today.
“Redemption is deliverance from the power of an alien dominion and the enjoyment of the resulting freedom. It involves the idea of restoration to one who possesses a more fundamental right or interest. The best example of redemption in the Old Testament was the deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage, from the dominion of the alien power in Egypt.” (Zondervan’s Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible)
Abolitionism is the vehicle for this redemption, repeating the message of the prophets, in concert with the injunctions of our savior-king: to repent of the sins that bring us under civil bondage, and to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, in establishing a network of repentant souls seeking to keep the weightier matters in faith, hope, and charity as they love their neighbors as themselves.
It is important to address the significance of Humanity in the equation represented by the symbol. Why is there a focus on the problem of authority exercised over human beings and not authority exercised over, say, the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, over cattle, and every other creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth? This is because, in the face of all of creation, of all kinds of animals, millions of microbes, and any other living thing found in natural history, Man is uniquely special. He is special for two foundations, for the same reason that the two planks of the “H” in the symbol can be broken into two “I”s, representing the two theological propositions of abolitionist ideology:
1. Image of God (imago Dei, צֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים) in man is the source of the initial, inherent dignity and worth in all human beings, which is compounded in the Dominion Mandate, and also establishes a moral imperative for him to remain free and upright, preventing him from being ruled by his fellow man in bondage.
2. Incarnation of Christ, which began not in a manger, but within the body of a woman. God Himself became like us in all things as an embryonic human being, to face our civil temptations, conquer our weaknesses, redeem us from bondage, and establish a Kingdom for us in liberation. (This second foundation in 19th century abolitionism may be said to be the sacrificial death of Christ for men of all colors.)
There is an explicit lesson in recognizing the AHA as a symbol, rather than a logo or a brand. Logos and brands are naturally associated with organizations, commercial or otherwise, and are trademarked pieces of intellectual property to sometimes push a product line and increase a revenue stream, but are always associated with hierarchical legal fictions known as corporations for the purposes of advertising for monetary gain and to be the faces of their respective companies. Logos and brands are property, as stated, and they belong to CEOs, or their boards of trustees, or, ultimately, to the government which trademarked it as legal protector and governor. Logos represent institutions. A world drowning in consumerism and driven by competition as a recompense for the spiritual isolationism contingent upon the emptiness of Empire is a world vomiting up logos like it does nationalistic idols.
Symbols are recognizably and ritualistically pure, incorruptible, and indivisible singularities representing fundamental principles that thrive beyond the tainting of human failure and inconsistency, even of those who adopt the symbol. In the same way that “AHA” is not a logo or a brand, but a symbol, “Abolitionism” is not an organization, but an ideology, and “Abolish Human Archism” is not a corporate entity, but a watchword for a grassroots, adhocratic movement, and ultimately a revival. The people who run this site aren’t CEOS or board members of abolitionist ideology, only some of its messengers, and we are equals of anyone else who adopts the ideology. This could be anybody. This should be everybody. The Prime Mover of Abolitionism is God, and as such, we offer no top-down structure, no business model, no micromanagement of the affairs of abolitionists, and certainly no consumer opportunity. We have no trademark or copyright, or any other government contract. In fact, we want you to adopt abolitionist ideology regardless of whether you adopt the symbol, not because we value notoriety or even anticipate success for our endeavors, but because it is the right thing to do. And if you do adopt the symbol, we ask that your conduct and behavior represent it as though you represent God in the face of a world running headlong towards destruction. Because it is His symbol, His movement, and His people with which you identify yourself. Anybody who acts out of character with the ideology while using the symbol will simply be misrepresenting Abolitionism. No action can be “endorsed” or “approved” because we have no control over individuals, families, or congregations that adopt the symbol. We can only agree unto brotherhood or disagree unto persuasion, as we are just fellow abolitionists seeking to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, minds, and strengths, in being faithful to the entirety of Scripture. We have no guarantor of certificates of authenticity or method of card-carrying membership or allegiance. Any individual, family unit, or congregation that adopts the symbol simply professes that Jesus Christ is their head, as the principal unifying factor for all of those who adopt the symbol. It does not represent a “parachurch ministry.” It simply represents those who seek to adopt a Biblical worldview expressed by abolitionist ideology. Therefore, the onus is on each and every abolitionist to practice discernment and prudence and judgment concerning anybody and everybody with which they desire to associate and partner. Good trees bear good fruit, bad trees bear bad fruit and in between, iron sharpens iron. Having said that, we encourage you to adopt the symbol simply because you are a Christian.
And you would not be alone on that front. Christian movements have always adopted symbols by which to identify themselves and to give recognition to God’s Kingdom. The first century Christians adopted the ichthys to identify each other as proponents of the same political ideology, and seekers after the Way of Christ. The 18th and 19th century abolitionists developed the Am I Not a Man and a Brother? as a bastion of anti-slavery sentimentality and readily identifiable symbol to propagate their evangelistic endeavors against the idea of owning men as property. The symbol was so widely produced and popularized in concert with the growing success of abolitionism that, according to Thomas Clarkson (first historian of the British abolition movement), gentlemen had the image
“inlaid in gold on the lid of their snuffboxes. Of the ladies several wore them in bracelets, and others had them fitted up in an ornamental manner as pins for the hair. At length, the taste for wearing them became general; and thus fashion, which usually confines itself to worthless things, was seen for once in the honourable office of promoting the cause of justice, humanity, and freedom.” (British History in Depth: The Black Figure in 18th-century Art. David Dabydeen)
Symbols represent ideas. And the idea that man should be liberated from the dominion of man is a good one. But the idea of a Biblical, and consistent worldview that puts that notion into practical effect is a righteous one that shines light and life into a dark and dying world. This is not some libertarian “I voted” sticker. This is not merely some representation of an innocuous moral opinion. The abolitionist symbol is a unifying label meant for a people who desire to designate themselves as “set apart” from a culture, and ultimately a political society, that is predicated upon oppressing one another through civil institutions for cannibalistic, socialist benefits. Its design is meant to be simultaneously enigmatic and bold, but simple enough to replicate ad infinitum and ad nauseum to a rebellious generation who will seek to snuff out its proponents on the basis of their message. “And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)
This symbol is not meant for anyone who wants to look cool or edgy while remaining lukewarm, or while keeping one foot in carnal concert with an indifferent and apathetic society, out of some fear of man or scrutiny or normalcy bias. This symbol is expected to be a conversational piece about a controversial opinion on a difficult topic about which its prophets will be called “sensationalists,” “unhelpful,” and “too radical” by opponents who simply desire to “agree to disagree” and be left alone in their self-destruction. This symbol is meant to make one visible, like a city on a hill that cannot be hid. This symbol is meant to coincide with a lifestyle change, as an emboldening promise that the person who distributes it or displays it actually is against the world, for the world as a daily struggle to do hard things in iconoclastic, thankless, but indefatigable controversy. This symbol covers a people who are polemic dissenters of the status quo, who love their neighbors enough to, not only confront them in their idolatry and lawlessness, but to help them seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness unto liberty and prosperity in repentance. This symbol should represent an annoyance and threat of disruption for those who refuse to listen to truth and right reason, as a gadfly against their apathy and godless worldviews. This symbol represents the courage to call sin “sin”, and to see the world in black and white. Anyone who bears this symbol should get used to hearing “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also!” (Acts 17:6) In a white-washed society, bloated on the decadence of late-stage empire built on debt, death, destruction, and damnation, this symbol should stand as a stark reminder of its sins as a sign of Jonah, reminding all men everywhere that repentance is always now, and today is the day of salvation. This symbol is exclusive to those who recognize the ship is sinking when the majority of its passengers continue to eat, drink, and be merry.
It is a symbol of justice in a world that perverts justice. It is a symbol of mercy in a world that hates the least of these. It is a symbol of faith in a world that lives by contract. It is a symbol of hope in a world fattened with entitlement. It is a symbol of charity in a world enslaved by taxation. It is a symbol of anarchy in a world oppressed by institution. It is a symbol of counter-cultural Abolitionism in a world overrun with cultural “christianity.” It is a symbol of liberty and righteousness, in a world that pledges allegiance to symbols of bondage and paganism.
After having defined the idea of a “gospel” as would have been readily understood by both the believers in the kingdoms of the world and the believers in the Kingdom of God, and having contrasted those two gospels against each other, it becomes necessary to express an important implication concerning the biographical account of Christ: The context of His teachings, and general understanding of His listeners is that all relevant parties are aware that the premise of Jesus’ words and intentions are inherently political, almost always referring to the baseline of seeking God’s kingdom to the exclusion of all other kingdoms. These teachings are moral in that they are contingent upon God’s constitutional Law, and they are behavioral in that they exclusively refer to the conduct of Heaven’s civil citizens. Since God is the god of freemen, those hearing Christ’s words understood that His wisdom is inherently wed to living and operating in a free society. Therefore, they are a competitive alternative to the legally binding statutes of false gods and false christs, and incompatible with the citizens of their kingdoms. Two kinds of gods. Two kinds of christs. Two kinds of laws. Two distinct, separate kingdoms.
Concerning time, energy, and attention span, it would not be prudent to express here all of Christ’s teachings in the context of the Gospel of the Kingdom. However, it would be common sense to give a platform for at least some of His sermon at Eremos to shed light on the subject. Especially considering how soon it occurred after Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. Although He sits down with the intention to teach His disciples, who are the servant-ministers appointed to the government of God, the multitude of followers, most of whom are baptized into God’s Kingdom as its citizenry, are allowed to listen in on the conversation:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:3-6)
The phrase “poor in spirit” is often described as the essence of humility, where a “beggarly” person is not ashamed to ask for help, redemption, or deliverance. In this case, the poor in spirit beg for God’s provision and salvation from the kingdoms of the world, into the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who are not poor in spirit, alternatively, are too proud to repent and remain in the care of their false gods. Translated from Aramaic, the phrase is a fairly loaded idiom that is not a reference to people in poverty (as if only poor people can inherit the Kingdom of God) but is “miskaneh brooh” which means “one who voluntarily gives up all material things for a spiritual benefit.”
For the ministers, this refers to a vow of poverty, where they are instructed to give up all of their private estates, inheritance, and property to better sustain the congregations of the Lord. Any who wanted to be Christ’s disciple, but did not do this, was turned away or otherwise given consequences. Like the Levites, who were consecrated to God, they were to thereafter be sustained only by the freewill offerings of the people, based on their character and service. As the Assembly of God, they were set apart from the congregations of families, as a body politic, in order to serve them by redistributing their charity in daily ministration, and to network them together in an adhocratic free society. Rather than being served by preying upon the citizens and turning them into bread for their bellies by making them tribute, they chose rather to hunger for righteousness and to serve instead. This giving up of their personal estates in order to shy from the temptation of hoarding wealth and becoming “lords” over the people reflects the example of Jesus who was born a wealthy member of the royal family as the rightful King of Judea, but gave up His material birthright in order to establish a Kingdom through service for a spiritual benefit. This is to contrast against the “ministers” of the world who call themselves Benefactors (through socialism) but exercise authority (through civil institutions). They are a body politic that exists top-down and compels offerings from people in bondage through taxation, rather than by freewill offerings. Emphatically, they are neither “meek” nor humble in any meaningful way, and they are the primary reason that the people “mourn.”
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:1-6)
Here is a warning against those who are not meek, who do not mourn, and are not poor in spirit. For the multitude of those becoming citizens of God’s Kingdom, being “poor in spirit” would imply the opposite sort of character that those deserving civil bondage exhibit. Whereas people who claim that Jesus Christ as their king must live by charity and God’s miraculous providence, those who claim to have “no King but Caesar” are moreso entitled to their neighbor’s goods through taxation, by being hungry and thirsty for government benefits ranging from public education to social security to the provision of military and police forces, to civil infrastructure and social order. Such people are not meek, and nor do they mourn. In fact, they are oppressive and are the cause of the mournings of the innocent. They follow their appetites and not the Spirit of God, finding themselves ensnared and trapped in the consequences for their unrighteousness.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:7-9)
In order to contrast against the governments raised up by hard-hearted and unmerciful sinners, the ministers of God’s government must be quick to promote mercy. Worldly politicians necessarily omit the weightier matters, including law, judgment, mercy, and faith. They do this by appealing to the letter of the law, and prescribing impersonal, heavy legislative burdens over the people, without much room for forgiveness for petty crime, or ignorance of the law, or extenuating circumstance. Rather, it is in their selfish interest to pervert justice and oppress the people for their financial gain. Defense attorneys are criminally expensive, public defenders are empathically crippled by guaranteed income, and juries are filled with strangers stimulated by news of scandal, rather than actual peers sincerely seeking a fair judgment. The ministers of God’s government are pure in heart because they are quick to seek the heart of God in navigating the spirit of His Law, encouraging the people to judge the guilty, but forgive the repentant. This is the essence of seeking peace, tempering God’s justice with His mercy. In the past they even had, through God’s instruction, created a system of appeals courts which could acquit those who did not receive fair trials within their own local congregations.
For the people making up the multitude, an expression of mercy is fundamental to their repentance. The reason why many sinners remain in bondage is because they do not forgive their debtors and so do not receive forgiveness from God. Paying into a system of socialist benefits gives sinners a sense of entitlement to receive what they feel they are owed from the system. In a sense, they are owed but social security was not established to provide for the people. It was invented to ensnare them to become collateral for collective debt at each other’s expense. Because the debt is collective, their sense of entitlement can only ever be for their neighbor’s goods through a bankrupt government. If they do not forgive what they think they are owed, they will never relinquish the claim for benefits, and they will never inherit the Kingdom of God which operates by hope that their neighbor will provide for them when they need it, and not by the entitlements of social contracts. This topic is inherently related to the idea of being pure in heart. The greek word used for pure here is katharos and is the same word used in James 1:27:
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
Persecution is the primary recompense for political sanctification. Here the words of Christ to His disciples are not just meant to be encouragement for times of opposition, but are also prophetic, expressing that one must be willing to lose everything in order to establish a free society. Including one’s reputation. Even one’s life. The historically common prejudice against the prophets are not the only example that Jesus gives. He will go on to lay His own life down for the Kingdom of Heaven under regicide. If rulers cannot tempt or bribe free people through offers of benefits to subject themselves into civil bondage in order to sustain their collapsing, socialist economies, then they will turn to violent intimidation, and conquering imperialism. Like all pagan societies, the Pharisees, Herodians, and Roman magistrates turned into despots when their citizens centralized their greed and covetousness into offices of power. When human resources are lacking and the national debt is unsustainable, it becomes necessary to press-gang the innocent to become civil citizens and therefore tax slaves. The easiest way to do that is to dismantle the social structure that makes their liberty self-sustaining. It was because of the specific roles that the ministers played in the independent Christian society that they were so heavily targeted. As connection points, serving families by redistributing their burnt offerings of freewill charity amongst each other, the pastors were necessary for the success of the Christian society. At some points in history when Christian persecution burned the hottest, so many members of Christ’s body politic were arrested that the prison system of Rome became so full that actual criminals were released to make room for them. This goes to show that free, harmless people are worse for pagan governments than criminal activity. It was Celsus, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, who explicitly
One of the earliest members of Christ’s servant government to receive persecution, Stephen, had been elected by the free people of Heaven as one in seven reputable men to oversee the charitable investments into their national bank. While the contributions had originally been compelled by the porters of the federal bank at the Temple of Jerusalem under the authority of the Pharisees, the entire system had been turned upside down by Christ. There were no more career politicians to make social welfare a means of profit and personal gain. Now it was a system of charity which turned a lucrative political office into a role of service and natural accountability. Because Stephen was receiving the contributions that had been lining the pockets of the Pharisees, he was the first minister to be put to death in their rage and religion of entitlement. Many of the persecutions suffered by the Christian community reflected this tactic, martyring their civil servants, in order to intimidate the people into going back under the power of “Benefactors” who also exercised authority. They were inspired to literally choose between liberty and death.
Of no small importance, Christ’s prediction about false accusations also came to fruition. “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.“ (Acts 19:37) The Christian ministers were falsely accused of robbing the Temple of Diana. In a literal sense, this action would have been impossible. The temple was an international bank for over a hundred nations within the Pax Romana. As such, it was tantamount to an impregnable fortress with secure vaults full of extensive investments supplied by national economies. As such, it operated as an underwriter for insurance concerning social welfare schemes.
Aelius Aristides described Ephesus as “Asia’s greatest center of trade and banking” (History Of Ephesus) and the temple as “the general bank of Asia” (Aelius Aristides, Orations 23.24) The temple of Artemis was “…the largest and most important bank on the west coast of Asia Minor, was inseparable to the economic structure of the city and indeed the entire province.” (Ephesians and Artemis, Michael Immendörfer)
“In time the temple possessed valuable lands; it controlled the fisheries; its priests were the bankers of its enormous revenues. Because of its strength the people stored there their money for safe-keeping; and it became to the ancient world practically all that the Bank of England is to the modern world.” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, by Biblesoft)
There was a sense in which the ministers were robbing the church of Diana, however. By preaching citizenship of God’s Kingdom, and baptizing ex-patriots of worldly governments into their network of liberty, there were less members of the collective surety to make deposits for the welfare schemes maintained by the temple. Fewer sacrifices on its civil altar means that there was less stability in its function as a Federal Reserve, which hurt its ability to make revenue off of its usury. By all accounts persecution occurs, not because Christians have different superstitious rites and beliefs than pagan societies, but because they have a different political and economic way of life than those maintained by human civil government. This is true in every age and under any government, as is even experienced by the abolitionists of the 19th century in the United States:
“In entering upon the great work before us, we are not unmindful that, in its prosecution, we may be called to test our sincerity, even as in a fiery ordeal. It may subject us to insult, outrage, suffering, yea, even death itself. We anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, calumny. Tumults may arise against us. The ungodly and violent, the proud and pharisaical, the ambitious and tyrannical, principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places, may combine to crush us. So they treated the Messiah, whose example we are humbly striving to imitate. If we suffer with him, we know that we shall reign with him. We shall not be so afraid of their terror, neither be troubled. Our confidence is in the Lord Almighty, not in man. Having withdrawn from human protection, what can sustain us but that faith which overcomes the world? We shall not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try us, as though some strange thing had happened unto us; but rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings. Wherefore, we commit the keeping of our souls to God, in well-doing, as unto the faithful Creator. For every one that forsakes houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for Christ’s sake, shall receive a hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (William Lloyd Garrison. Declaration of Sentiments Adopted by the Peace Convention. Held in Boston, 1838)
As stated, it is unfortunately imprudent to cover every single doctrine Christ preached here, though the rest of the verses in Matthew 5, along with the next two whole chapters are no less important than the ones presented here. Christ covers a lot of ground with His disciples, including being preservative agents for the multitude to retain the dominion of the Imago Dei, being light in a world full of darkened minds, and then describing how He came to fulfill the Law of Moses despite abrogating the civil legalism of the Pharisees which was their private interpretation of the Law. He uses this segue to begin talking about what it means to wash the “inside of the cup“, by being sincerely virtuous and not commit to pretense by trying to stay within the confines of written statutes. He condemns unforgiveness, adultery, and fornication. He warns against the dangers of taking oaths. He proscribes violent retaliation to oppressive governments and the partaking in personal vengeance. He prescribes a model of behavior reflecting the Good Samaritan, treating would-be political enemies as though they were kinsmen, giving no occasion to be accused of contention or impatience. What should be repeated, is that all of Christ’s sermon to His disciples is indicative of the behavior and conduct they are to pass down to the congregations of families, as contrasted against the behavior and conduct practiced by the civil slaves of pagan societies. It is not enough for pagans to try to emulate these traits and then attempt to call themselves Christians. It is necessary that they abandon the core sins that brought them into political bondage in order to adopt these injunctions as they seek the literal Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven in a separate, superior political reality.
Perhaps now it is worthy to shift gears from the philosophy of Christ and to pin down some of the events of His life that demonstrate an application of this philosophy.
“And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.” (Mark 6:34-44)
There is a lot to unpack in this miracle, beginning with Christ’s compassion on these lost sheep who had no caretaker or provision after having abandoned the authoritarian caretakers and socialist provision of the world. They were willing to go physically hungry in order to hunger after righteousness taught in Christ’s words. But free people still need to eat, and this is a perfect opportunity to exercise the adhocratic structure of the Kingdom of God. It is a lesson for both the ministers and the multitude.
Firstly, Christ instructs the shepherds to feed the sheep. Although most modern christians falsely twist that idiom to be about sophists expressing Bible commentary from pulpits, its meaning in God’s kingdom refers to a literal service of voluntary welfare in daily ministration. The ministers in this account, who have nothing left with which to feed the multitude after giving up everything to follow Jesus’s example, are compelled to take up a freewill collection from the multitude. It is not much. Some bread. Some fish. A lot of hungry faces. This is more than enough for those who rely on the miracle of Providence and not the pragmatism of socialist benefits.
An important part of this lesson is the fact that, before Jesus performs this miracle of charity, He commands that the people be networked together in an organized way, meeting in small groups of families as an adhocracy. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) This is an efficient model of self-government that requires you to love your neighbor as yourself, being daily responsible for the welfare and righteousness of nine other families who are also daily responsible for yours. This way the people could “rightly divide bread from house to house” (Acts 2:46) with great efficiency and, on a national level, sustain the entire network of Christians in spite of persecution, emergencies, or dearths. These families were networked together by ministers to serve them, one minister per ten families. Then those ministers were networked by bondservant ministers, one bondservant per ten servants. And so on, as organized connection points like nerve endings to sensory neurons, to the brain, and back again. This made for an efficient transference of charity or volunteers in an efficient web of communication that not only competed against the centralized bureaucracies of human civil governments, but actually proved to be superior to them in every way. This was the essence of the Christian religion, in contrast to the public religion of worldly societies. This was not a new model for the Kingdom of God, this was a renewed practice that had kept Israel free from the bondage of serving human rulers for hundreds of years. “Bishops, presbyters (Elders) and deacons occupy in the church the same positions as those which were occupied by Aaron, his sons, and the Levites in the temple.” (Jerome, Epistle 146)
The next lesson to be learned here is that obedience to Christ, in organizing an alternative civil society, relying on faith, hope, and charity to sustain your Christian nation, will actually give God cause to take what little wealth and charity you have and multiply it in miraculous providence. Not only did some bread and some fish feed five thousand families, but there was more than enough left over in excess. This is the gambit of voluntary self-sacrifice for the love of one’s neighbor through faith in God. Whereas false gods over worldly government will compel your offerings through taxation to feed your entitled bellies, and never seem to have enough to go around, creating poverty through inflation and mismanagement of funds through bureaucratic corruption, God and His government will always make much out of very little, giving the increase as a reward for the faith of the obedient. Modern Christians who have no desire to seek God’s Kingdom, and take Christ’s name in vain as they slothfully find themselves as civil slaves, or even covetously vie for political influence in a pagan democracy, will invariably question why they never experience miracles, or will come up with a myriad of theologies to justify why miracles no longer occur. But the fact is, God’s miracles are reserved for freemen who keep the weightier matters in free societies modeled after the Kingdom of Heaven, ruled by God alone.
This model for organized charity became a rite of Christianity through the Lord’s Table, though it is commonly misunderstood and reduced to ceremonialism.
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29)
Here Christ is giving an example of the boon inherent in “laying one’s life down for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Whereas authoritarian Kings sacrifice the bodies and blood of their citizens through compulsion and taxation, providing bread and wine for society as socialist benefits, this servant-King gives up everything, including His life in order to be a practical example of the kind of character that belongs in a free society. This is a reinforcement of the idea that liberty is sustained by charity and self-sacrifice upon the Lord’s table rather than the “deceitful meats” of covetousness and contract prepared on the tables of human rulers. The word for “table” in scripture is also the word for “bank”. (Luke 19:23) In the Greek today, that word trapeza still means bank. “Bank” is from the Italian word “banca” meaning bench or table. The Lord’s bank is one that was deposited into freely without compulsion, and to eat of His table is to withdraw from His national bank without authority exercised over the gift of charity. Dissimilarly, the deposits into the banks of human rulers were compelled through taxation, and to eat of the benefits at their table meant that they exercised political authority over you through contracted slavery. When the fathers of the earth gave you provision, it gives them permission to also exercise a father’s authority over you. “Protection draws to it subjection; subjection protection.” (Coke, Littl. 65.) The Bible describes this dichotomy everywhere:
“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” (1 Corinthians 10:21)
“Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.” (Psalms 69:22)
“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what [is] before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.” (Proverbs 23:1)
“Eat thou not the bread of [him that hath] an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.” (Proverbs 23:6-8)
This event of the Last Supper, though often reduced to emulation in pageantry and dead works, signifies a renewed meaning of Passover and a fulfillment of its promise. The Israelites, towards the end of their bondage to Egypt where they were delivered by God from its authoritarian government maintained by socialist welfare schemes, had learned to provide for each other at their tables of charity, thereby repenting of taking Pharaoh’s benefits. This national holiday, as a commemoration of being liberated by God from corvee bondage through the Exodus, will later be renewed through Pentecost where the multitudes of Christ’s Kingdom would be kicked out of the social security schemes of the Pharisees and of Herod, if they had not been already. As the firstfruits of God’s society of freemen, they had to organize together and make sacrifices in a network of charity to sustain a people that could no longer be fed by the compelled offerings of sinful human governments. This is directly connected to the Passover holiday in a free Israel, where barley was the first grain to ripen every year, and was then harvested. Portions of it were donated to the Temple in Jerusalem through charity, and then re-dispersed to the needy of society. This bread of life sustained an entire nation because it was willingly given up by a free society, rather than being compelled through taxation and for covetousness which leads to spiritual death.
A good lesson to learn is that all societies are maintained by human sacrifices. Pagan societies rely on systemic oppression and harvesting bodies and lifeblood of their citizens through some sort of work-without-pay, whether it is press-ganging into military service, or income tax, or some other means where the people are kept from all of the fruits of their labor which are placed on the altars of human governments. Free societies are maintained by voluntary self-sacrifice where its citizens “lay down their lives for their friends” (John 15:13), and no free society can accurately exist without looking to the primacy of Jesus Christ as an example. He not only sloughed off Godhood to redeem mankind from the sins that lead them into bondage, and not only gave up his wealthy estate to become a servant of the people, He also subjected himself to the injustice system of worldly governments, giving up His very body and spilling His very blood as an innocent man through corporal punishment and public execution so that the citizens of His Kingdom would not have to, even though they had willingly subjected themselves to be eligible to receive those atrocities by the idolatry of civil citizenship. Christ’s sacrifice is the only example in all of history where a King gave up everything unto death to save His people from the rotten fruits of their political rebellion unto other kings. Christ’s sacrifice is the only example in all of history where a God gave up everything unto disgrace to save His people from the rotten fruits of their spiritual rebellion unto other gods. The institution of the Lord’s Supper was necessarily a paradigm shift from the pattern of other nations, where the gambit of self-sacrifice actually creates the blessing of abundance in a free society because it relies on God’s Providence through the practical example of loving one’s neighbor. This is a reinforcement of what God’s people learned to expect from the miracle of feeding five-thousand families through the voluntary donation of some loaves of bread and a couple of fish.
No doubt it would be difficult for most professing christians to accept that the weekly ritual of Lord’s Supper, as practiced by the early Christians, was about a network of charity as a continual repentance of taking part in the covetous provision of worldly governments. However, this was the necessary understanding as expressed by history and scripture:
“…And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost.” (Justin Martyr, Apology, Chapter LXVII)
“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
It should be noted that the Greek word “agape” is always translated “love” when Jesus uses it in the Gospels, but “charity” whenever Paul uses it, as well as other books in the New Testament, like here in first Peter. Love and charity are inseparable concepts because those who have love for one another will necessarily be incorporated together in a network of charity to keep each other from sins contingent on civil bondage. If sin leads to systemic bondage through sloth or covetousness or idolatry, then systemic charity is associated with repentance, forgiveness and liberty. This is the purpose of the Gospel as exampled by Christ’s sacrifice: to liberate man from the dominion of man.
The rite of the Eucharist is the expression of laying down our lives in order to give that life to others. It is literally “thanksgiving,” or “the act of giving thanks”, or as expressed by the character of its participants: thankfulness for the opportunity to give. Especially as an investment in the lives of our fellow members in an adopted family, and our fellow citizens, in giving our lives to our adopted Father and our King.
“And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.” (Justin Martyr, Apology, Chapter LXVII)
“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read… Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought… and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.” (Justin Martyr, Apology, Chapter LXVII)
“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. They have no care for love, nor concerning the widow, nor concerning the orphan, nor concerning the afflicted, nor concerning him who is bound or loosed, nor concerning him who is hungry or thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.” (Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, 6:2-7:1)
Addressing Christ’s teachings and pointing to their consistency with His miracles and character, and revisiting some of the experiences of the early Christians, it is increasingly clear how Christ’s religion has little to nothing in common with the Christianity of modern christians. Their gospel message is nominally political, and only in the twisted sense that it can allow politicians to call themselves christians with their mouths, but still commit to the Corban that “makes the word of God to none effect.” The Beatitudes do not truly enter into their worldview. Their ministers do not perform the daily ministration that binds a free society together in charity. They do not even receive persecution in any meaningful way, or for any reason that the disciples of Jesus were executed. In fact, modern christians look at the Bible in a much similar way that the Pharisees read the Torah. So too, their ideas about political involvement, entitlements to government services, and active neglect of the weightier matters makes them christians-in-name-only.
The next and final installment in this series of Gospel-related material will endeavor to cover ground concerning the Trial of Jesus Christ, and His death and resurrection, as well as the significance of Pentecost.
Having discussed the incarnation of Christ and contrasting His political philosophy against that of Caesar and Herod in separate blogs, and after exploring the meaning of baptism in the previous part of this blog series, it may be prudent to begin speaking on the life of Christ, as it relates to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
After having publicly declared His exclusive allegiance to God the Father through ritual immersion by John the Baptizer, Jesus the Christ retreated into the Judean Desert to fast for forty days and nights in a test of His mettle to be a living example to the would-be servant-ministers of His Kingdom. It is there where Christ bested, without compromise, temptations of Satan by maintaining His blood-right to kingly authority in maintaining His integrity of character. A surface-level lesson inferred by this series of events includes the idea that: After making a public declaration of belonging to God’s jurisdiction and seeking His Kingdom exclusively, one can expect to be put to the test where one’s actions are given an opportunity to comport with one’s assertions, and one’s fruit must be consistent with one’s profession of faith. Looking much deeper than that lesson, however, reveals that the specific trials of Jesus are also unique and, in a sense, retroactively prescient. They represent parallel trials faced by Israelites as they wandered in their own desert, after having been recently freed from the civil bondage of Egypt, and having declared their belonging to God’s jurisdiction and seeking His Kingdom exclusively, even after their own ritual washing. This will be explained shortly.
Satan suggests introducing hierarchy into Christ’s government:
“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:3-4)
Concerning the first temptation of Christ, many commentaries will reduce this exchange to be about hedonism, or satisfying the senses. In this case, physical hunger. While the baseline is true that the desires of the flesh ought not dictate our actions, there is a lot more symbolic imagery densely packed within these few sentences. As it relates to the free Israelites wandering in the desert, one of their trials was also characterized by hunger. Whereas they had previously, in their hungry pragmatism, relied on the providence of the false gods of Egypt to turn “stones” into welfare bread in order to survive a great famine, they had to learn in the desert to rely on the miraculous providence of the one true God, who did not feed them by unnaturally manipulating “stones“, but rather multiplied daily bread directly from Heaven: “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) While the promises of human rulers are deceptive and empty, requiring the mutual slavery of socialism to fulfill, the promises that proceed from God’s mouth can be relied upon. They can be lived by. It is better to wait on God’s promises than it is to chase your bellies and throw yourself into the fleshpots of Pharaoh and eat to your contentment at your neighbor’s expense. Because he surely will do the same at yours.
The extended metaphor concerning “stones” in scripture is one of the most repeated and least understood. In a pagan, collectivist society under false gods, literal stones were hewn together to build literal altars and bureaucratic temples where sacrifices were offered in taxation in order to provide for the covetous needs of your fellow citizens, or provide for the institutional infrastructure, characterized by these literal altars and temples. Likewise, the people are also hewn together in a bureaucratic infrastructure, cut from their intended, natural relationships, and regulated through civil law and heavy legal burdens, forced to “go up by steps” in a social hierarchy where each level preys upon the members of the level below it through contracts, entitlements, and taxation, turning them into bread for their own bellies in a parasitic social order. God explicitly commanded against this: “And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.” (Exodus 20:25-26) Unhewn stones, however, are living stones, characterized by natural relationships, not regulated, bound, and disfigured by civil authority, but existing as God made them, free and unmolested. These, of course, are men in a free society: Specifically here the ministers of God, who are not frustrated or hardened into a bureaucratic hierarchy, becoming bread for each other, but are whole and free men, coming together in an adhocracy, where they do not rule over each other but serve each other voluntarily after the pattern of Christ and His kingdom. The altars and temples of God’s Kingdom are not literal because free people do not need institutions to maintain their society. They do not need bureaucracy to sustain them or to outsource the weightier matters. They, themselves, are temples and altars, living sacrifices that love their neighbors as themselves and take care of them directly: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)
When the Tempter suggests that Jesus turn His stones into bread, he is giving him an opportunity to re-order His government into a hierarchy that exercises authority, and thereby become lords over each other, exploiting each other, compelling them to become provision for one another. In other words, the Adversary desired that Christ’s Kingdom look identical to every single man-made government of the “world” that has ever existed, and even like the institutional churches that exist today. But the ministers of God’s government were always meant to be servants and bondservants, outranking each other only in their desire to outdo one another in humility and service.
Satan tempts Christ to take up institutional authority over Judea:
“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4:5-7)
Not without some merit, most commentaries will reduce the second temptation of Christ to be about egoism, or pride. No doubt it is shameful to push the limits of one’s own ability, power, or confidence in their relationship to God, but the content of Christ’s circumstance is much more full. Another trial of the Israelites in their desert wandering included an instance of feigned doubt in God’s will or ability to provide for them. (Exodus 17:1-7) Having stopped at a place where there was no water to drink, they became contentious with Moses, and with God, complaining and even challenging God to provide them with water. Despite warning them about their haughty impetuity, God provided for them water anyway. As a result, God called the place “Massah,” which means “testing,” and “Meribah,” which means “quarreling,” because Israel tested God and argued with Him by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” He replies to such inquiry with, “Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.” (Deuteronomy 6:16) There is a parallel here with Christ’s temptation directly hinging on the prospect of God’s provision, putting faith in that provision, and deliberately, unnecessarily, and haughtily testing the occasion for that provision. Where the Israelites walked by sight and desired for God to prove Himself by providing water, the Tempter wanted Jesus to prove that God was with Him in a gambit of freefall, rather than walk by faith.
But there is another element to this temptation that is very much related to the political implications of the first temptation. The haughty, authoritative lordship represented by the “pinnacle of the temple” atop the ziggurat at Babel is Satan’s nearly eternal ambition where he looks out with his all-seeing eye over all of the kingdoms of the “world” which belong to him as “the god of this age.” This is a much fuller description of pride, as that Tower reflects man’s ambition to conquer God and replace Him with institution. This is partly why it is forbidden to “go up by steps” in God’s kingdom as a hierarchy. “Ziggurat means ‘pinnacle’ or ‘mountaintop’ and is the name of the elevated platform on which a temple sits. Mesopotamians thought their gods would come down from the heavens and reveal themselves there.” (Culture and Values. Lawrence S. Cunningham. 2018.) Surely, this is Christ’s birthright, having the pedigree, prophecy, and divinity to inherit command of the temple in regal authority, coming down from Heaven to reveal himself to the people. Surely this position was so rightfully His that he could fall from the high position (or throw himself down from it) and the Father would send angels to keep Him from harm or disgrace and reinstall Him atop the temple. But this is more in line with the gospels of false christs, patterned after Satan, whose claims of divine right allow them to become the capstones of their metaphorical temples where they rule over the people below them with civil authority, personal lordship, and institutional force.
In a stark contrast, this is not the place for Christ, for he is the cornerstone, the foundation as a servant of bondservants, where the government of God rests on his shoulders in an inverted pyramid, bearing the weight of a free society in order to keep it free. “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:16) Jesus, as the stone that the builders of institutional societies reject, becomes the cornerstone for a free society. And no society can ever be free without Him as the foundation. But there is still yet another element to this temptation revealed in the line “lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” This is a sarcastic critique against the purpose of Christ, for He is not the one to dash a foot against a stone, because He himself is the stone by which those who would sit comfortably on the pinnacle of the temple with their civil legalism dash their feet against: “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 9:31-33) All authoritarians, mirroring the Pharisees, destroy themselves in rejecting Christ’s gospel. Their thirst for power, or desire to cling on to the power they already have, will be their undoing, completely preventing them from seeing the truth that only service and liberty and charity can sustain a society from generation to generation, and that polluting and twisting this reality will lead to social and economic collapse, not to mention personal damnation.
Satan offers Christ command of the Roman Empire:
“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:8-11)
This last temptation is most often reduced to materialism or covetousness in commentaries and sermons. There is a truth to that claim, even if it is grossly myopic. Desiring wealth and power, and obtaining them, often would require that we compromise our scruples in order to get them within our grasp. “…the old but ever new temptation to do evil that good may come; to justify the illegitimacy of the means by the greatness of the end.” (Barrett, George, Slatyer. The Temptation of Christ. 1883) The trial of the Israelites in the desert that this temptation seems to reflect actually occurred before the other two, but maybe its significance is important enough to save it for last. It does not relate to physical comforts like bread or water, but rather to their impermanent loyalty to God as their sole magistrate and their lack of faith in Him by pragmatically forsaking His model for society so soon after being redeemed from civil bondage. No doubt this temptation relates directly to the very first commandment of the ten laws given through Moses at Sinai, and in direct conflict with their creation of a federal reserve by melting down their wealth to create the golden calf. “Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 6:12-15) We have expressed elsewhere that scripture says human magistrates, judges and rulers are “gods” and that serving them in civil society and “going after” them in citizenship or accepting their socialist benefits is idolatry that leads to bondage.
It is often that mountains in scripture refer to a mass of people who are piled together and their man-made organizations, much like the metaphor of the hewn stones bound together by social contracts. The motif of these “mountains” (or “pinnacles”) reflect the towering ziggurat of Babel reaching up to conquer Heaven through the socialist efforts of the people, as if binding all people together in a collective display of force and opinion could usurp God’s authority and delegitimize His will by declaring that, not only is sanity statistical, but that it could vote to impeach God with the power of empire, or at least protect themselves from God’s wrath. Empires, like all pagan societies, are inherently characterized by what scripture calls unrighteous mammon or “entrusted wealth” in “one purse“. When the members of a community or society pool their wealth and resources into one socialist economy, receiving fiat tokens of exchange in the transaction, they are forming a golden calf, and binding each other through contracts and mutual surety for collective debt. This is how empires are formed and raised, institutionalizing the redistribution of wealth which gives society an illusion of strength, opulence, and success, all built on the taxes, labor, and economic, social, and political interdependence of the people, borrowed on credit against the future as long as they keep selling their children as collateral into civil bondage through birth registration, and the promises of social security benefits.
Empire cannot be divorced from unrighteous mammon. It was from Egypt that the Israelites had learned this pattern of society. It was from this pattern of society that God and Moses had redeemed them. It was to this pattern of society that they were returning to at the creation of the golden calf like a dog returning to its vomit. There is a way that seems right unto a man in combining your wealth with that of your community, merging yourselves together into one, mountainous flesh. But in the end, it leads to death through moral and fiscal bankruptcy, social collapse, and being destroyed from the face of the earth in damnation. It is much easier (or at least more popular) to do this than it is to be responsible for your own wealth, survival and success, and to rely on an invisible God to secure your fate in blessing your efforts.
To contrast against the metaphor of socialists coming together to make themselves a mountain, Scripture also uses an inverted description of a valley, where the people are formed together, not by hierarchy and caste competition, but by service, charity, and mutual love. God condemns the former and blesses the latter: “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 40:4-5) And elsewhere: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12)
The particularly “exceeding high mountain”, a metaphorical definition for ziggurat, that Satan places at Christ’s feet, where He can examine all of the kingdoms under its shadow is likely to be the Roman Empire which had conquered the earth in a way that was inclusive for all of its acquired territories to retain a semblance of sovereignty so long as they remained an amalgam of nations under the Pax Romana, and ultimately deferred their authority to Rome. This temptation for kingdoms to take part in Rome’s one world government was made sweet by the policies of its New World Order. It offered a freedom of religion, preservation of local customs, protection through a global, standing army, and a participation in its social and economic melting pot of trade, civil infrastructure, and all of the other temporary benefits of empire. If Christ came to redeem the people of the “world” and put them under God’s jurisdiction, then accepting bureaucratic authority over an existing order and government that spanned the greater part of the known earth would be a fast-track to achieving those ends. The ability to have civil authority or even to be a king-maker through electoral campaigns and by the power of democracy entices all men, but it is impossible to serve both God and Mammon. The Israelites discovered that truth at the destruction of their golden, institutional idol in the desert. Here, at the temptation of Christ, it is explained why it is true. Civil, bureaucratic, and institutional authority in collectivist societies belong to Satan. Top-down, “worldly” kingdoms are his to offer. They are his to enjoy. They are his baubles by which to tempt, tease, and entice mankind. And in order to receive them, one must bow down to him in worship. One must serve him. One must make him their ultimate authority. One must reject the Gospel of God which makes every man a king in his own home, and accept the gospel of Satan which sacrifices the dominion of the Imago Dei and places it on the altars of human civil government.
“…Every true man is a cause, a country, and an age; requires infinite spaces and numbers and time fully to accomplish his design; and posterity seem to follow his steps as a train of clients. A man Caesar is born, and for ages after we have a Roman Empire. Christ is born, and millions of minds so grow and cleave to his genius, that he is confounded with virtue and the possible of man. An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man; as Monachism, of the Hermit Antony; the Reformation, of Luther; Quakerism, of Fox; Methodism, of Wesley; Abolition, of Clarkson. Scipio, Milton called ‘the height of Rome’; and all history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons.” (Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson)
If an institution is the “lengthened shadow of one man”, then all civil institutions are the lengthened shadow of Satan. They conform to his character in making mankind bestial and merchandise, through tempting offers of socialist benefits and mutual oppression in exchange for civil influence and political allegiance to the kingdoms of the world. What should be mentioned in contrast is the fact that Christ’s failure to give in to these temptations not only reflects the fruition of Biblical prophecies surrounding the installation of an everlasting, righteous servant-king over the Kingdom of Heaven who is allegiant only to the one, true God, it is also display of political integrity in doing what the counterfeit “kingdom of God” claimed by “God’s chosen people” failed to do.
“Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.” (Matthew 21:42-45)
Since the moment of having raised up kings to rule over them, the Israelites were accustomed to turning stones into bread and feeding off of each other’s livelihood through force and taxation. The Pharisees themselves were no stranger to exploiting the people and to live at their expense.
“It had only been a century before, during the reign of Salome-Alexandra (about 78 BC), that the Pharisaical party, being then in power, had carried an enactment by which the Temple tribute was to be enforced at law. It need scarcely be said that for this there was not the slightest Scriptural warrant.” (The Temple and Its Ministry and Services at the Time of Jesus Christ by Alfred Edersheim)
God has no incentive to miraculously send manna from heaven or to miraculously multiply freewill offerings of bread when the people, through committing themselves to the mammon of unrighteousness, compel bread from each other through covetousness and taxation.
When it comes to tempting God, the Israelites had no qualms against doing so, and most often did so in their disobedience, provoking God’s judgment and wrath as they found themselves in bondage over and over again. The Pharisees, too, committed to testing God’s patience in their legislative, judicial, and executive positions over the people of Judea, in the face of God who is meant to be their one lawgiver and judge. This persistent testing of God is best expressed through a direct encounter they had with Christ:
“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” (Matthew 16:1-4)
When a free people decide to tempt God, the sign of His presence might include providing for them water in the desert. But when people in bondage ask for a sign of God’s will, that sign will invariably be a warning against the coming judgment and destruction in economic and social collapse.
The greatest sins ever committed by Israel were always related to the times they tried to be like the kingdoms of the world by adopting their gods and political order. Even after being redeemed from the bondage that those things bring, the Israelites went right back to the temptation of socialism by creating the golden calf, serving Satan in serving themselves and rejecting God’s more holistic order for society. The Pharisees also gave in to this temptation in an especially destructive way. It was during the Hasmonean civil war that Judea was needing a peaceful solution between the brothers Hyrcanus and Aristobulus who were competing for monarchical authority. Both sides decided to appeal to Roman Imperialism to settle the score.
“However, the matter was made more complex by the appearance of a third embassy from Judea that essentially represented the Pharisees, but clearly not the people as a whole. It voiced opposition to either of the Hasmoneans serving as king. The Pharisees were convinced that many of Judea’s problems were a direct consequence of the unification of the high priesthood and the monarchy in the Hasmonean family. It was preferred, they insisted, that they not be ‘under kingly government, because the form of government they received from their forefathers was that of subjection to the priests of that God whom they worshipped.’ (Flavius Josephus, Complete Works, Antiquities) The evident implication of this argument was that they preferred Judea to be under Roman rule, but with religious and communal autonomy under the high priesthood.” (Between Rome and Jerusalem by Martin Sicker)
This political ambition of the Pharisees was proof enough that they did accept Satan’s offer of having their own kingdom even though it meant ultimately bowing down to Caesar and vicariously to Satan himself. It is common knowledge that they doubled down on this decision over and over again when confronted with Christ’s message concerning the Kingdom of God, even going as far as to explicitly declare “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15) This is because it was Caesarthat authorized, supplemented, and protected their civil authority, justifying their political office over the people. They knew full well that both God, and His servant-king would not.
Giving in to these temptations is not exclusive to the Israelites or the Pharisees. These failures are common to all men and represent how all men fall short of God’s glory and exchange it for a lie in their covetousness, testing God by taking his name in vain while forswearing active faith in His promises and Law. To fill the vacuum created by rejecting God’s presence and kingdom, all men everywhere subject themselves to the kingdoms of the world for a little bit of power over their neighbor, whether it is through civil office, democracy, or just being eligible to receive a few benefits extracted from his livelihood through civil citizenship. It is because these temptations are common to all men that makes the need for Gospel of Jesus Christ all the more relevant and urgent, for only He has the power, but more importantly, the right to redeem man from the dominion of man:
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)
In conclusion, a point of implication should be acknowledged: If Jesus turned to political influence in order to advance His cause it is evident that, not only would the politically-minded Pharisees have joined His ranks, but also the Sadducees. And not just the Sadducees, but the Zealots too. And likely the Romans. All men, when driven by their flesh, desire political influence or, at the very least, political solutions to their personal ambitions and moral imperatives. If the actual Son of God comes to earth in political revolution, social change, and doctrinal reform, then any political party or social club professing to belong to “the Kingdom of God” would necessarily agree with Him, readily sloughing off any of their preconceived notions that do not comport with His message. Unless that revolution, change, and reform contradicts the notions, means, or ends of ruling over society in an authoritarian, institutional, bureaucratic and (therefore) “worldly” and wicked way. That is a pill too hard to swallow for mankind. It starves the disease upon which humanity has come to rely. It confronts, cold turkey, our self-destructive addiction. In reaction to the offensive Gospel of Jesus Christ that contradicts our desire for human authority, our only recourse is to stamp Him out of existence and go about our pretense. Or, at the very best, take His name in vain and supplicate that we just do not know any better.
The controversy does not end there. The lineage of Jesus the Christ actually gave Him the birthright as rightful King over Judea to rule in an authoritarian manner. More importantly, Biblical prophecy gave Him the divine right to be an authoritarian King over the whole earth. And yet, He gives up the temptation to exercise that birthright and that divine right in order to teach men to retain their own birthright in the dominion of the Imago Dei, and not just teach them how, but to sacrifice His very life in order to restore that right to them himself. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)If the Dominion Mandate is the birthright of Man, then it is sin to raise up men to have dominion over other men. Likewise, because God’s Law is written on the hearts and minds of His citizens, then it is contradictory to the Gospel of Jesus Christ to nullify that by looking to human lawgivers to codify legislative burdens over their fellow man. To be Christ-like is to give up those notions because His rule is antithetical to how men rule in manmade governments over idolatrous people. He rules and reigns by service, moral suasion, and by example, giving those in rebellion to His rule over to a reprobate mind, to be ruled by their false gods in their self-destructive damnation.
In order to continue to thoroughly analyze gospel-related material, the next article will endeavor to explore the significance of the Sermon on the Mount, and maybe touch on the implications of the feeding of the five-thousand, and to express how they relate to the literal Kingdom of God on earth.