|Volume 23 Number 11 November 2021
Government persecution is nothing new. It is as old as government itself. It is from the heavy hand of those in power to remind their subjects who is in charge. To think such is only ancient history is grossly naïve. We are surrounded by power-hungry individuals who would love to dominate us. The faithful Christian’s response to this is all important for us to understand.
Tyranny is not the will of God (Lamentations 3:34-36). To fight for the oppressed is righteous (Isaiah 1:17). Yet, the Christian is also to be blameless and harmless (Philippians 2:14-16). Governments come from God Himself as an extension of His rule on earth. That must always be respected (Romans 13:1-7). To fail to do so is sinful. So, whatever government commands us to do, we must do (Galatians 5:23; 1 Peter 2:11-17). However, when the government would have us do anything that is contrary to the plainly revealed will of the Lord in His New Testament, we must obey God instead of men (Acts 5:29) or we sin (Psalm 94:20).
Therefore, when a government becomes corrupt or loses its way in reference to the New Testament, the Christian cannot act like nothing is happening. He must be awake and aware. Still, Christians cannot rebel against the powers God has set in place. Yet, the children of God must always be alert to avoid compromising Christ by acquiescing to evil, even by government edict. Christians must also speak up and speak out to power in rebuke, as did Paul (Acts 24:24-25), John the Baptizer (Matthew 14:3-4) and the prophets of old (Amos 7:10-11).
We must never be blind followers. As Christians, we must properly discern the will of God in all circumstances (Ephesians 5:11-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22) – irrespective of the cost (Revelation 2:10).
King Jesus, Rightful Ruler of All
In the first century of our calendar, something remarkable happened. In the desert province of Judea, a baby was born to a peasant couple in an obscure village. This Child, regardless of His poor and humble beginnings, was of royal lineage found in Matthew 1:2-16 and Luke 3:23-3. He was the direct descendant of King David, ruler of the united kingdom of Israel.
During the lifetime of Christ on earth, the means of establishing a legal entitlement to the throne was available to all. This is significant because, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70, there is no legal way of establishing a rightful heir to the throne. Jesus, thus, had the last and the only legitimate claim to the title of King. His royal lineage through Joseph, his legal father, could be traced to King David through King Solomon, and through his mother Mary, His line went through David’s son Nathan. No matter which way you trace it, Jesus was the rightful heir to the throne and not the Roman puppet, king Herod or his family.
God chose how His people are to be governed. He revealed His ways in His Word, and we obey. It’s that simple! In John 14:15, our glorious Lord said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (NKJV).
Yet, do we love and obey Jesus? Some claim they obey Him but follow their own ways, even while saying they serve Him. Remember, the mob that called for Christ’s death was religious, and yet, look at what they did! When our Lord stood before them, that angry mob yelled, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). Jesus witnessed nothing less than a cry of treason. They committed the sin of their forbearers when God’s anointed ruler was rejected in favor of the people’s popular choice: “They set up kings, but not by Me; They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them” (Hosea 8:4). They rejected their natural sovereign for a heathen brute.
The prophet Isaiah told us who is in control: “The government will be upon his shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, “All authority has been given unto Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).
God chose the method of government for His kingdom. He could have chosen a republic like Rome, with a senate of advisors for the emperor. He could have chosen a democracy like Athens. Instead, He chose an absolute monarchy. Preachers, elders, deacons and the rest of the flock have one duty – to be totally loyal to the King of Kings. Let us serve Him with honor and joy.
The simple truth is this: The Lion of Judah defeated the Eagle of Rome. The King of the Jews was and is the reigning King of Israel. He is the King of His church, the kingdom on earth. He is the righteous Branch of David. No one can succeed Him to the throne! His will must be done (Matthew 6:10)! The great beauty of our most Holy God is the everlasting and sacrificial love He showed toward us. Jesus is the best King we can ever have, and He deserves our loving service. Earthly rulers come and go, but Christ remains the same, “yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). It is a wonderful comfort to all who love Him and know that Jesus is ruler of all!