Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, August 7, 2022
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,
A Believer’s Role in Government – Are You a Good Believer-Citizen?
by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: Mid-term elections will be held this November. Civic-minded Americans begin thinking about politics and government during this season. What does the Bible tell us about government? What role should a Believer play in government? Are you a good citizen– a good Believer-citizen?
THE BEGINNING OF HUMAN GOVERNMENT. From reading the first part of the Bible, Adonai clearly desired men and women to live in a theocracy– a society ruled by God. Recall the relationship of Adam and Chavvah (Eve) with God in the Garden of Eden.
After Noah’s flood, Noah and his descendants were ordered to leave the ark; repopulate the world; and organize society under the principles of God’s laws, upholding the sanctity of human life and righteousness (read Genesis 8:15-22). This period of time began the Dispensation of Human Government. A dispensation is a special revelation, permission, or commandment of God.
God has given us seven dispensations, and the Dispensation for Human Government is the third dispensation. This dispensation has horribly failed, as we humans have repeatedly shown that we are incapable of ruling (governing) ourselves. The Dispensation of Human Government began after Noah’s flood and will last until Yeshua establishes His Millennial Kingdom (after the Battle of Armageddon, that is, after Yeshua’s Second Coming). Note: Since God has given us free will, He permits us to make our own mistakes. We are like children. Sometimes mama has to let a toddler touch a hot stove to teach the toddler why he/ she should not touch hot items.
GOD APPOINTS, REMOVES RULERS– “GIVE US A KING.” From the Book of Daniel, we learn that God appoints leaders (Daniel 2:21b): … [God] removes kings and installs kings…. Ancient “kings” represent today’s presidents and prime ministers. Other Scriptures include:
● Saul, a bad king: Read 1 Samuel, chapter 8. God still desired a theocracy for Bnei Yisrael, but man’s governmental leaders turned from Him to follow evil, selfish ways. The Jews, weary of their government based on rigid religious laws, desired a monarchy (a king as ruler) instead of a theocracy (a priest as ruler). They demanded (1 Samuel 8:6b): [The elders of Israel said] … “Give us a king to judge us.”
Read 1 Samuel, chapter 9. God complied with the wishes of the people. He gave them a tall, handsome king (Saul). This inept, evil Saul betrayed God, though, and was later replaced by David. We have had many “bad kings,” such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, and their ilk– men who have followed Satan, rather than God. The coming Antichrist will be the most evil of all “kings” who ever lived.
SIDELIGHT: Saul was physically attractive. In our age of television and social media, does elevation of tall, handsome, popular leaders– fitting Saul’s description– to positions of power remind you of American politics? A robust, tall, athletic candidate is much more likely to win an American election. For example: Abraham Lincoln could not be elected president today (because of his scraggly face and high-pitched voice). Franklin D. Roosevelt could not be elected president today (because of his partial paralysis and confinement to a wheelchair). Note: A popular choice for a nation’s leader may not be the proper or best leader, and people may suffer because of a bad choice. END sidelight.
● Nebuchadnezzar, a bad king but God’s servant: Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon (present-day Iraq). In 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar moved his army against the Jews, destroyed the First (Solomon’s) Temple, destroyed the walls of Jerusalem, and took many Jews captive. The Jews remained in Babylonian captivity for seventy years, as punishment for the seventy Shemitahs (Sabbatical years) in which God’s commandment to let their fields lie fallow (not sown and harvested) every seventh year was not observed. It might seem that Nebuchadnezzar was an enemy of God, but God referred to him as “Nebuchadnezzar, My servant” (read Jeremiah 25:9, 27:6, and 43:10). Note: God may appoint and use leaders in ways that mystify us. Remember that even the Apostle Paul only understood a little of God’s ways, which he called “mysteries” (for example, read 1 Corinthians 13:12). I have heard people complain, “I just can’t understand all of the Bible.” I want to say to such people, “Congratulations. You are human. You are not supposed to understand ‘all’ of the Bible. No one ever has understood ‘all’ of the bible, and will never do so until at least the return of Yeshua.”
Governing authorities: Paul commanded us to obey governments (Romans 13:1-7): Let every person submit himself to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are put in place by God. So whoever opposes the authority has resisted God’s direction, and those who have resisted will bring judgment on themselves. For leaders cause no fear for good behavior, but for bad. Now if you do not want to fear the authority, do what is good and you will get his approval– for he is God’s servant to you for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid– for he does not carry the sword for no reason; for he is God’s servant, an avenger who inflicts punishment on the evildoer. Therefore it is necessary to be in submission– not only because of punishment but also because of conscience. For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, attending diligently to this very thing.– Pay to everyone what is due them– tribute to whom tribute is due; tax to whom tax is due; respect to whom respect is due; honor to whom honor is due.
Note: God’s appointment of leaders may differ from your wishes. God knows the end of all things, but you cannot see much beyond today. Trust God that His choice of leaders is superior to your wishes.
YESHUA’S ADVICE FOR DUAL CITIZENSHIP IN A SECULAR NATION AND IN GOD’S NATION: Most of us have enough of a rebellious spirit to want to resist governmental authority and power, because we question many things done in the name of government. In the first century, Jews lived under the yoke of the oppressive Roman Empire. Yeshua’s disciples likely harbored animosities against the Roman occupiers of their land. Read Matthew 22:17-21. When asked about paying taxes to Rome, we are given this well-known verse (Matthew 22:21b): … Then [Yeshua] said to them, “Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The disciples needed to be reminded that some things belong to the government (personalized as “Caesar”), while other things belong to God. It is proper to participate in lawful governmental activities, reserving remaining activities for God. [Explanation of “Caesar” in this verse: Tiberius Julius Caesar was Rome’s emperor during Yeshua’s adult life– from AD 14-37.]
The Apostle Peter told us that we are members of a nation of people far greater than America or any other secular nation (1 Peter 2:9-10): But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were “not a people,” but now you are “God’s people.” You were shown “no mercy,” but now you have been shown “mercy.” America and other nations are only temporary instruments of mankind’s government. Heaven, though, is the eternal creation of God. All of us love America and wish to preserve the best parts of her, but America will pass into the “dustbin of history” some day. What will eternally exist, though, is New Jerusalem (Heaven), God’s eternal holy city. Do what you can for your temporary home (America), but prepare all the more for your eternal home (Heaven). Note: Your holy nation in Heaven is far greater than any sinful nation on Earth.
MAN’S LAWS VERSUS GOD’S LAWS: There is an order of supremacy in obeying laws. If man’s laws and God’s laws are in conflict, God’s laws take priority over those of man (Acts 5:29): Peter and the emissaries replied, “We must obey God rather than men. [“Emissaries,” Tree of Life Version, is more commonly translated “apostles” in other translations.] At the present time, you, an American Believer, still have some rights and will usually not be forced to abandon your God-rooted faith to adopt secular, godless actions. Understand that there is an unrelenting attack on Judeo-Chrstian faith, as many secular, atheistic enemies of the cross seek to destroy activities and beliefs based on Biblical faith. Not only is this unrelenting attack against our faith being practiced now, Bible prophecy also foretells horrible end-time wars against Believers. The ultimate attack may be the forced application of the mark of the Beast during the Tribulation (read Revelation 13:16-17). The Unholy Trinity will seek to force all Jews and Believers from following Judeo-Christian faith to follow the False Prophet’s sham religion.
No matter what pressures you may face or what penalties may be imposed, always remain faithful to the teachings of God as recorded in the Holy Bible. Resolve never to accept the mark of the Beast, if you happen to be alive during the reign of the Antichrist. Acceptance of the mark will result in being sentenced to an eternity in Hell (Revelation 14:9-11): And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying in a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he shall also drink the wine of God’s fury, poured full strength into the cup of His wrath. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb. The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. Those who worship the beast and its image and those who receive the mark of his name have no rest day or night.” Note: God’s laws are perfect; man’s laws are flawed. Follow God’s laws above all else.
THE HEALING OF AMERICA: Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative, you surely are well aware of unprecedented, overwhelming problems facing America. You know that America is on the verge of collapse– economic collapse, moral collapse, national security collapse, and collapse by virtually all other measures of society. Can America be saved (healed)? If so, how?
God gave us a formula for healing a nation (2 Chronicles 7:14): [Adonai said] “… when My people, over whom My Name is called, humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
God gave us four requirements that must be present from a nation’s citizens before He would “heal their land.” There is a qualification for these four requirements, though. He said He will listen only “to My people, over whom My Name is called.” He did not say He would listen just to kings, generals, politicians, or others in positions of power. He would listen only to “His people.” If you are a Jew or Believer, you are one of His beloved children and you are called by His name. Your Heavenly Father will listen to you!
God will probably only listen to a sinner, if he/ she cries out for salvation, but He will not listen to a sinner’s plea for healing of a nation. Intercession for a nation’s sins is reserved for “My people, over whom My Name is called.”
The prophet Daniel, a good man, probably had little sin in his life. Even so, Daniel fasted, wore sackcloth and ashes, and prayed for his people and their sins. Read Daniel, chapter 9 to learn more about this man of God who took the sins of others upon himself and prayed for forgiveness of his countrymen.
Note: How can you help to heal America? An ill nation is like an ill patient. A patient’s disease may progress past the point of recovery (a terminal condition), and death becomes inevitable. Is America so ill– that is, have her sins become so irreversibly entrenched– that healing is no longer possible? Do what you can for America. If America fails, make certain you are caring for yourself, your family, and your neighbors. I fear America is in a critical condition and may be so ill that she cannot recover.
We do not know whether America can be healed. Only God knows. Even though all of us probably love America, America is only a Believer’s temporary home. If you understand Judeo-Christian theology, a Believer’s home is in Heaven (New Jerusalem). If you are a Believer, Yeshua has been busy preparing your home for you (John 14:2-4): [Yeshua said] “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you may also be. And you know the way to where I am going.”
Even though sinners and evil persons throughout the world may destroy America, our Messiah is preparing a sinless, eternal home for us, which we cannot even begin to imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9): But as it is written, “Things no eye has seen and no ear has heard, that have not entered the heart of mankind– these things God has prepared for those who love Him.”
A BELIEVER’S CIVIC RESPONSIBILITIES. Please think about ways you can become a Believer-citizen, a citizen of whom God is proud. I remind you of three things you can do (and there are other things):
(1) Be an exemplary citizen: You want your neighbors to be exemplary citizens. But, are you the exemplary citizen role model you want them to emulate? Are you the exemplary citizen role model you wish your children/ grandchildren to emulate? You have heard, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Individual citizens are links in the chain that builds a nation. Every weak link weakens the chain of a nation. Live your life in fellowship with God and walk in Yeshua’s footsteps. Your “link” in America’s ”chain” will be strong and may serve as a model for others. If like-minded “strong links” join, America’s “chain” will be stronger.
(2) Pray for your leaders: Pray for your leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4): Therefore, first of all I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made on behalf of all people – for kings and all who are in authority– so we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and respectfulness. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. He desires all men to be saved and come into the knowledge of the truth. In confession, I have trouble praying for some of our national leaders. They embarrass and disgust me. I consider them to be enemies of the American Republic. If Yeshua could pray for those who crucified Him, however, well, ….
(3) Be a Believer who votes: American Believers have the power to decide every election, but they refuse to exercise that power. Many Believers who do not vote are among the most strident critics of the “evils” of big government!
According to the respected Pew Research Center, Believer Christians voting statistics are dismal:
● Believers who actually vote have declined by 15 per cent since 2008, while the number of religiously unaffiliated voters nearly doubled in the same time period. There may be a heavy turn out of pro-choice voters this November– voters not noted for their devotion to the Bible.
● Voters self-identifying as “Christian” dropped from 79 per cent on 2008 to 64 per cent in 2019. This decline is starker in Democratic voters than in Republican voters.
● See several polls that document the declining interest in Believers seeking to exercise their suffrage to advance Biblical ideals, including: Percentage of Christian voters drops 15% since 2008: Pew | Politics News (christianpost.com)
● We Believers could have the power to decide all election races, but we forfeit that power. We let non-Believers determine our nation’s future. Shame on us! Hundreds of thousands of young American men and women have died in our nation’s wars to preserve the freedom for us to vote. If you do not vote, you disgrace the sacrifices of the men and women in military service who died for you.
REGISTERING TO VOTE IS EMBARRASSINGLY SIMPLE: If you are not registered to vote, please register as soon as possible. In fact, register before getting out of your chair today. See following information about online voter registration.
Learn as much as you can about which candidates will best support your Biblical ideals. Then, vote in every election. Admittedly, this is tricky. Many politicians are hypocrites. “Hypocrite” comes from the Greek word for “actor.” [ ὑποκριτής || transliterated, hypokritēs || pronounced, hoop-ok-ree-TACE || hypocrite = “actor, pretender”]
Many career politicians are skilled actors (hypocrites). In Yeshua’s time, stage actors wore masks. If the actor played a happy part, he wore a happy mask; a sad part, a sad mask; etc. It is often difficult to discern what a politician is really like, since all we see is his/ her “politician’s mask.” But, do the best you can, seeking help from the Ruach ha-Kodesh.
When you vote, take the Ruach ha-Kodesh with you into the voting booth. Do not vote for a Democrat or a Republican merely because of party loyalty, but vote for a man or woman who seems more likely to uphold your Biblical beliefs. If you do not vote, please have pride in your lazy character and never complain about politicians or government. Your refusal to participate in the political process should shame you from ever opening your mouth about America’s present or future. Remember the words attributed to Edmund Burke (1729-1797), although he may not have packaged his statement so succinctly: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” If you, a Believer, are doing nothing for God’s Kingdom, you are allowing evil to triumph!
If you have not registered to vote, you probably can register in the next few minutes, while seated in the comfort of your home (if you live in one of 42 states or the District of Columbia which permit online registration).
● For general information, see “How to Register to Vote,” https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote .
● For any Tennessean (who is a U.S. citizen, a resident of Tennessee, at least 18 years old on or before the election in which a vote is cast, and has not been convicted of certain felonies), see “Welcome to the Tennessee Online Voter Registration System,” https://ovr.govote.tn.gov . Answer simple questions online, and you are registered! Now, you and the Ruach ha-Kodesh use your voter registration card every election and vote for the most God-fearing candidates you can identify! Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 07-Aug-2022 10th of Av, 5782 Tish’a B’Av (celebrated)
De 4:25–40 Jer 8:13–9:23 Lam 1–5 1 Co 3:1-20
Ex 32:11–14, 34:1-10 (PM) Isa 55:6–56:8 (PM) Matt 5:1-12