Jesus & Politics | For King & Country PART II | God & Government | 1 Samuel 8 - Rom 13
Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 Samuel 8, Romans 13, 1 Peter 2
Christopher Rich – November 1, 2020
Jesus & Politics | For King & Country
PART II |God & Government | 1 Samuel 8 - Rom 13 – 1 Peter 2
Introduction | Jesus & Politics: For King & Country
Good Morning Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing “Jesus & Politics: For King & Country”
Jesus is the central figure in History we worship Him as God & King so there is a separation of church and state but not of Jesus & Politics. We are citizens of Heaven, ambassadors of His Kingdom, with the church as an embassy on a mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ who Love God and Love People. So we have a role and responsibility to love our neighbors as ourselves to be involved in politics to promote flourishing, liberty and justice for all. This means our allegiance and activisms will transcend earthly parties and politicians. God and Government have and will have a relationship as an arena God uses for His Glory.
We Need Leadership – We are all created as individuals but none of us are made to be completely autonomous. We were designed to dwell in a garden kingdom with God as our king. Even in our rejection of God, He saves us in part to lead us as He repeatedly declares “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Called to be a holy and distinct from all other human nations by having God as their king, Israel’s generations go through a downward spiral of idolatry/rebellion, oppression, crying out for deliverance, God saving them by raising up a deliverer (a Judge) from each tribe, only to rebel again. It is a bloody vicious cycle that looks less like a return to gardenlike flourishing and more like a dystopian wasteland. The book of Judges ends with “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Finally, the last Judge (and Prophet) Samuel receives the demand from the people for God to give them a human King like every other nation. It’s election day and there is great unrest among the people.
Part I | We Want a King | 1 Samuel 8:1-9
1 Samuel 8:1-9 | When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
Samuel had provided effective and Godly leadership filling the role of priest, prophet and finally judge. But the people recognize a very human problem, every leader has a limited amount of influence because they age and they die. Samuel’s sons are selfish and “pervert justice.” A human problem seeks a human solution. They crave leadership! The problem is not that we want leadership, it’s the type of leadership we want. We are all unified around next to nothing, but self-rule. Our greatest value is our independence, freedom of self-expression and the greatest sins we can commit against another person is not affirm their self-determination. We’re more time of the judges than orderly kingdom under God’s rule or anyone else’s.
Like all the nations - They were saved to be a distinct nation from all the other pagan nations in the world. They were granted victory, granted Promised Land, given leadership and victory by God for the purpose of revealing God’s Glory to the other nations and now they want to look like everyone else. Why can’t we be more like Midian or Moab! They get to worship tons different gods Chemosh who demands child sacrifice, Baal who let’s them do whatever they want Asheroth a sex goddess represented by a pole AND they get a king, general, politician who is their national icon. It seems like it’s great. Let’s not be set apart, let’s blend in. They covet what other nations have. Samuel knows God is their savior and King. The people aren’t rejecting Samuel, they’re rejecting God. God was their king now they want a king that’s just as worthless as all the others. Rejection of God in the Garden has continued. God is gracious, he knows their hearts and he has Samuel speak to them as a prophet. Here is a warning and a preview of coming attractions.
PART II | Be Careful what you wish for | 1 Samuel 8:10-18
1 Samuel 8:10-18 | 10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
There is some degree of uncertainty in electing leaders not this time, before Israel votes for “King/no King” God wants them to have a perfect reveal of what this “give us a king” party platform is all about so they know precisely what they are choosing: He will take your sons and daughters - They will draft an army, not to fight for your freedom with God as your champion, but for the Kings glory and interests. He will make your children bleed and toil for his kingdom. The talent, giftings an creative energy that has been given to humanity to flourish will not be directed in creating a God glorifying culture but a king glorifying society. Taxes will go up to support the infrastructure required for you to think the King is something more than just another person. God gives His best to His people and earthly kings will take your best from you for himself. Verse 17 has the most damning charge against the “Give us a king” party. “and you shall be his slaves” and don’t cry to me. I made you free not a slave to the state. Whoa! The platform is set, the people are given a clear choice it’s time to vote.
19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 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.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.
They don’t heed the warning - God has given them what they want even though it’s not what is best. The King will fight for us so we don’t have to. They want strength, stability and security and they think that will come from a king when they have had all of that with God! When we declare independence from God as our king it never leads to freedom it always eventually leads to slavery. Wicked kings and rulers don’t rise up in a vacuum. They are emblematic of spirit and souls of a collection of individuals. Hitler, the Ayatollah, Kim Jong Un in North Korea, don’t just come from nothing to rule, they are propped up but multitudes of individuals submitting to their leadership. We build and protect our kingdoms just as Israel did:
Flawed- Our kingdoms are built on a flawed foundation of “independence”. It’s called sin, and it slowly/quickly destroys everything we built on top of it. Fractured- David and Solomon enjoyed some prosperity and unity (despite their individual sins) the rest of the Chronicles of the kings of God’s people is bitter rivalry and unrest. Fear – Our kingdoms are ruled not out of faith God, but fear of them coming to an end. Fleeting – Other kingdoms rise up and eventually fall to ruin. Hope in our kingdoms doesn’t produce greater boldness but rather greater fear. You can only be as bold as the kingdom you’re a part of and the king you pledge allegiance too. We cannot keep pledging allegiance to ourselves or kingdoms built on false promises and weak foundations. We are Promised a Perfect King (2 Samuel 7) – Despite our faithlessness, God remains faithful. God knows His people need rest from the enemies of sin and death. God is and will establish His kingdom. God the Father will rule through the “Son of David”. It will be a kingdom with no end with ruled by Jesus as King! What about now?
PART III | Role of & Response to Government | Flourishing & Faithful Engagement
Romans 13:1-7 | Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Our God is a God of justice, peace, order and flourishing. God has ordained human governments be entities who exist with a primary function to serve as a “force for flourishing.” There is no authority above God and there is no authority apart from God. So we don’t live in constant rebellion because that would be to only allow “self-individual” rule with no consideration of others, who we are called to love and care about. This involves creating an environment where conduct which is “good” is rewarded and what is “evil” is reprimanded to ensure safety and order. (Terror not to good conduct, but bad) It doesn’t say the government is there to define “good” but to in a sense “defend “good.” Safety and order are essential ingredients to peaceful and prosperous society. Government is to apply consistent laws serving as a system which incentivizes people to act justly and fairly, while also acting as a deterrent for violence and exploitation. When order and justice are present in a politically stability way people can have confidence to take measured risks and invest in their communities in ways which promote the flourishing of all.
Conversely, when there is greater political instability, injustice is prevalent, laws are capricious, officials are corrupt, or safety is unreliable, than fear and insecurity begin to drain a society of vitality as people expend greater energy focused on merely hoping to survive rather than attempting thrive. That is was has been so difficult about attempting to navigate this season is because we don’t have consistent application of the law and/or confidence in the stability of the order or safety of the society. When there is an agreed upon foundational principals and process for changes then when they happen it is unifying rather than chaotic. When we are weekly (or daily) have new “laws” or policies spoken from twitter or FB Live that now impact a nation or a state we wake up daily and ask “What to I have to adjust to today?” Rather than “How should I actively plan for tomorrow?”
Christians are regularly charged to comply with the governments we find ourselves under. Since governments are to promote peace and justice, when they create injustice and chaos, we should not lend them silent approval, but appropriately act to reform where able as we seek to “love our neighbor as ourselves”. Identifying and navigating this tension is extremely difficulty to do in a world with such diverse and divergent political philosophies. We don’t “resist” as much as we work to “reform” with the occasional “revolution” when necessary to cast of tyranny, not calcify it. We do have a system now. In the United States we do not have a king, or ruler that wield power. In America, our highest “earthly” authority is not to be the whims of our politicians, or even the will of a majority of voters, but is the words written in our Constitution which both defines and limits what power government has over our people. We are citizens, not subjects. So we are not ruled, but we are to be represented. Our Constitution empowers us as individuals to vote for government officials who are to work FOR us, not lord OVER us. So we can follow leaders, not fear lords. But that doesn’t mean we should live in a libertarian or anarchist rebellion, rather we honor.
1Peter 2:13-17 | 13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
We engage in two spheres, Government & God, but they are not equal nor are they entirely separate. There is our earthly government whose sphere exists inside (or under) the sphere of what is God’s domain. So how should we seek understand engage with government given Jesus’ teaching? These categories are taken from Wayne Grudem’s Voting as a Christian
Government should compel religion |A theocracy where church and state are not distinct entities serving unique purposes but are indistinguishably aligned, blending civic policy and civic worship.
Government should exclude religion | This is a secular society where religious influence is not only impotent but is undesired. Freedom of religion is turned into freedom from religion. Our faith is intended to be personal, but it is never expected to remain private. No one is uninfluenced by where they placed their faith. Everyone brings what they truly worship into the public square which influences priorities and policy.
All Government is evil and demonic | Greg Boyd who in Myth of a Christian Nation says “Functionally, satan is the CEO of all earthly governments.” In Luke 4 satan talks about his ‘authority’ to command nations. Yet he is the “father of lies’ and ignores piles of biblical teaching on God’s role in earthly government including: Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.
Do Evangelism, Not Politics | We are called as Christians to good works and love our neighbors, that includes politics. Jesus didn’t shy away from this controversy and say “Hey, my mission is to save soul from the wrath of God in Hell by dying on the cross, I can’t be distracted or involved in political matters.”
Do Politics, Not Evangelism | The heart of idolatry that assumes morality can be legislated and right political outcomes can save a people. If you are more concerned with people converting politically or the outcome of elections, then the condition and destiny of peoples’ and souls you have missed the mark. Our first and greatest priority is ALWAYS to make disciples of Jesus Christ to love God and love people…an engage.
Significant Christian Influence on Government | As Christians we have a unique role in the communities and countries we live in and are called too. We are both ambassadors and citizens. Our primary and ultimate citizenship is in heaven, yet we are also citizens of nations here on earth. Therefore, we have both a call and duty to actively engage in the welfare of the people and places God has called us too. Politics leads to policies, and policies affect people’s lives either positively or negatively. If we are to love our neighbors, then we need to be involved at various levels of the political process. We fulfill our duties as citizens (pay taxes, respect laws, etc) and we pray for our leaders and communities.
So what does being ambassadors who participate look like? Bible believing, Jesus loving, Gospel-centered Christians can debate and disagree on political issues. Biblical principles and truth do not always translate to the indisputable endorsement or prohibition of a myriad governmental policies. For God’s Glory we engage with the Government and politically process (and l discourse) in ways that don’t incite foolishness but rather subdue it. It is God’s will for wisdom to reign and foolishness to wane. We have been given a Spirit of Freedom for the purpose of flourishing not freedom for foolishness. In doing so we “honor everyone” even when not honorable. We Love the brotherhood. This means we work to maintain the bonds of unity and the level of civility in the church. It means when we disagree about freedom issues we do so without being disagreeable. We remember and giving great reverence to the God who has made us citizens and saints, and brothers and sisters in Christ. Peter can say this because he ran with a crew with Jesus that include Matthew the tax collector (corrupt tool of governmental and economic oppression) and Simon the Zealot (aggressive even volent public agitator of the status quo) Honor the emperor - Who was the emperor Nero, who blamed the Christians for the burning of Rome and use the power of the state to see several Christians “including Peter” executed systematically. Peter who saw his king, The King, Jesus, beaten by Roman soldiers, mocked as “king of the Jews”, hung up on a Roman Cross, his heart pierced by a Roman spear, and execute, and he is saying Christians should, “Honor the Emperor.” He can say that because he knows ultimately everything is God’s and the resurrection we live lives following our King and serving His world.
So what about Tuesday? Three equally likely possibilities, Biden wins, Trump remains president, or the outcome is unknown and contentious. How will you respond? Remember what is true and who is in charge!
Ephesians 1:3-6 | 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
Jesus is a king who doesn’t take son and daughters ripping them from their family to Jesus is a king who give his life to make estranged sinners son and daughters bringing them into a new family. Jesus isn’t a king who takes son’s to bleed for him. Jesus is God’s son who is given to bleed for His people. Jesus isn’t a king who takes the best from people to build up a store house for himself but gives of the best God has to offer (His very life) so His people can have abundant life in this life and the life to come. Jesus isn’t a king that enslaves His citizens but one who commission them for service in their families, in their churches, in their communities and the world. Jesus isn’t the king you have chosen for yourself because we elect bad Kings. We elect ourselves. Jesus is a King that has chosen you elected to be in His Kingdom knowing it’s better than you deserve or would choose for yourself. Your ballot will not save you and it’s not where we place our greatest hope. The election on Tuesday significant, but it is inconsequential to the election that happened before the foundation of the world. So pray, act, love, vote, honor with hopeful humility as we continue to Trust Jesus!
More in Jesus & Politics | For King & Country
November 8, 2020Jesus & Politics | For King & Country PART III | Hope & Humility | Isaiah 6
October 25, 2020Jesus & Politics | For King & Country PART I | Rage & Worship | Psalm 2 & Matthew 22:15-22