Posted in Uncategorized

Kings and Kingdoms of Beasts and Man: Thoughts and Insights During the Season of Advent

Being in the season of advent, I wanted to take a few moments of your busy season to explain to you what it is that we are truly celebrating. Some think that we celebrate the “baby Jesus.” I would like to challenge that notion. We do not celebrate a mere babe, per say, but rather the birth of a king; the ushering in of a kingdom.

What I give to you in this article are some of the insights that I have gained and shared with my own congregation this past year. A note of warning, this is a bit lengthy (approx 4,000 words). I do not expect you to read it in one sitting, but as it is Christmas week, I have no intention of checking back here until the beginning of the year. This is a conglomeration of thoughts and insights gained over a lengthy period of time. At some places you may feel that I did not discuss things deeply enough. Other times you may find that I’ve said to much. Or, I suppose there may arise questions in your minds as to where exactly I am drawing the conclusions or inferences that I am. I realize that there are some areas that suffer atrophy, and it is my intention at some point in the future to discuss them in greater detail. With those things in mind I will pick up where I left off a moment ago…

At some point in the spring I believed that my study of the book of Daniel had reached a sufficient level of efficiency that we as a local body might begin delving into this prophetic book. The first six chapters of the book focus primarily on the historic happenings to a few well known biblical characters (Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael1 and a Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar). Whereas, the remaining chapters of the book focus more on present/future events.

On Prophecy

For the uninitiated there are two categories where prophecy can be divided. You have the one that is perhaps more commonly thought of “foretelling,” which deals with the prescription of what will transpire in the future.2 The other category is labeled “forthtelling” and this focuses on the prescribed will of God for mankind in every area of life (i.e., the Decalogue, as one example). The Bible consists more the of the second type of prophecy (forthtelling) than it does with the first (foretelling); although, one will sometimes see an overlap between the two (e.g., Exod 20.12; Eph 6.2; cf. Deut 30.15-19).

There is also a two-fold aspect to some prophetic passages of the Bible. These are what I call the “shadow and type” prophecies. The type is the perfect image that the shadow reflects. From what I can tell, these are always in reference to Jesus Christ. For the sake of time, I will only provide you with one, but if you have an inquiry into others feel free to ask.

Shadow and Type Prophecy…

The one I now refer to is often called protoevangelium (first-gospel)3 in theological circles. Genesis 3:15 reads as follows:

I will put enmity between you [serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring [seed] and her offspring [seed]; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (ESV).

Here we are told of two different types of offspring or seed (the terms are both singular and plural; context determines meaning). There is the seed of the woman and there is also the seed of the serpent. They are said to have enmity (i.e., hostility) towards one another. Both seeking to strike the death blow against the other. The only one who is successful as a conqueror is the seed of the woman over the seed of the serpent.

But of whom do the differing categories of seed refer to? As a shadowy reference (or a general application) this speaks of those who are godly people (the children of God, those born from above in faith; cf. John 3.3, 5), and the ungodly (cf. Psa 14.1-3; Eph 2.1-3). But the Type (specific reference) the two differing seeds refer to Jesus Christ and the devil. For the hostility between the two categories of “seed” are those that serve God (in Christ), and those who serve another; namely, the beast of the field, the serpent (in Satan). Both striking at one another, but only the “seed of the woman” delivers the killing blow. (We’ll discuss this a little later).

A Question of Dominion

Obviously, this particular passage has overarching implications for the rest of the Bible. Thus, the reason that I wanted to highlight it. In the book of Daniel, this concept is woven throughout. Specifically, we find that there is a comparison and contrast between two differing types of kingdoms. The kingdom of beasts and the kingdom of Man. The hostility that we see expressly foretold in Gen 3:15 is further illustrated in the book of Daniel.

Before we delve into Daniel’s book, I need to take one other quick detour (back to the beginning) to explain why this hostility between the two type of seeds is really the enmity of two types of kingdoms seeking dominion. If you wonder why this year (2020) has been so crazy, what I’m about to share with you sheds some light on the reasoning behind the turmoil we are currently experiencing here in the USA.

The Dominion Mandate…

We know that in the beginning God created all things (Gen 1.1). We also know that in the beginning God made man as His chief representative; an image bearer (Gen 1.26-28).You have probably heard it said that God has made mankind as His steward. But what does that mean? I will tell you. To be God’s steward means to act on His behalf. To think, to speak, to live in a manner that accurately represents our Maker. God gave mankind (male and female; v. 27) dominion over all the creatures of the earth, with the express charge “to subdue the earth” (Gen 1.28) according to His will.

What we need to realize is that the dominion mandate has never been removed. God’s plan of dominion through His image bearers is, as it were, set in stone. The problem that mankind has faced since the fall is that there is now a struggle for power.

Prophet, Priest and King…

You see, being God’s steward also means that God made man to be prophet, priest and king:

  • Prophetic Office: An entrusted herald of the Word of God. One that not only obeys the commands of the Creator God, but speaks them authoritatively into every facet of life.
  • Priestly Office: As God’s priest the man is made to minister to the Lord through the giving of sacrificial worship; which is obedience. The priest is charged with worshiping God in Spirit and Truth.
  • Kingly Office: As a king man is given full dominion over all creatures, including the command to subdue the earth, to bend creation to his will; which is a reflection of the will of God.

This was the charge, the responsibility, laid before Adam in the beginning. Though his wife was a fellow image bearer, equal in standing before God their Maker, she was under his charge. He was created first because he was given preeminence over her. Remember that the fulfillment of the law is love, and that love is expressed when one recognizes God’s absolute sovereignty. For to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is to bow down to His authority over you. To keep the commandments, which is love expressed through faithful obedience, is a recognition of God’s supremacy. Thus, the man who loves God with all of His being comes to God in humble fear in order to gain God’s wisdom and knowledge in living righteously. To love one’s neighbor is an extension of this truth, for one cannot truly love their neighbor as themselves if they fail to honor the commandments that guard our steps in our neighbors behalf.1

What happened in the garden, however, was a total disregard for these truths. Adam failed to exercise dominion as a king in the garden, submitting to a beast of the field. Adam failed to offer God true worship in sacrificial obedience as a priest, preferring to elevate, and therefore, worship himself by partaking of the fruit. Adam failed as the Lord’s prophet in that he heeded the word of his wife over the voice of God.2

Adam’s sin brought down on all his children the curse of sin (Rom 5.12). When we are born we are born like Adam became, a child of disobedience (Eph 2.3; cf. Rom 1.18-34). And God has purposefully kept us in that state since the beginning so that we might hope for true freedom from this bondage to corruption (Rom 8.20-21).

Observations of Cain and Abel…

If we look at Cain and Abel, what do we see? We see two different types of men born from the same woman. These brothers represent the enmity promised to the children of man (Adam means man). This is seen easily enough because Cain slew his brother Abel in the field. But what we also need to see is that both of these men sought to exercise dominion on the earth. Cain exercised dominion as a farmer, and Abel did so as a shepherd. What is also true, but you may have not thought this through, is that both of these men were led by their religious zeal. Abel offered what God desired in faithful obedience because he loved Him. Cain offered what his god desired in faithful disobedience because he loved him.

That is to say, Abel loved God and this is expressed through true worship. He sought to exercise dominion in a godly way by keeping God’s commands. Cain loved his god too, and this is expressed through the worship that he offered. He sought to exercise dominion in honor of his god; which was himself.

You see, the lie that the serpent propagated in the beginning is that “they could be like god.” All that Adam and Eve had to do was abide by their own rules. Ignore God’s designation of good and evil and declare their own. This is the lie Cain embraced. His life reflected the conviction that he was his own god. When he offered worship, it was not to the Creator God, but to himself. This is the reason why God was not pleased with Cain’s sacrifice. You cannot please God without faith, and the only faith that Cain had was in the work of his own hands. His own thoughts were to him, holy scripture.

Beastly Kingdoms

My point, or what I want you to see right now, is that both men (Cain and Abel) sought to exercise dominion on the earth. Both men sought to exercise the function of prophet, priest and king. But only one of them acted like a man, the other acted like a beast.

Observations of false kingdoms…

Kingdoms of men that exercise dominion apart from the Holy God who made them act like beasts. They rule like beasts. This is why the Bible refers to such pagan kingdoms as beastly (cf. Dan 7; Rev 13). Rather than acting like a true man that lives for God and honors Him with their lives, ruling according to His Holy will, these beastly kingdoms follow the whims of their own hearts.

If you were to take a quick survey of all the ungodly kingdoms of this earth historically, what you would find is that everyone of them has pretended that they are god-in-the-flesh. We see this with Cain, who raised a city and through his lineage exercised a form of dominion on this earth in the creation of culture (music, tools, industry, etc.; Gen 4.17-22). But, by the time of Noah the religious zeal of this pagan culture filled the earth with “great…wickedness…[where] every intention of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6.5; ESV). A little later we see the rise of Nimrod (Gen 10.8-10; cf. Psa 91.3; Jer 16.16; Lam 3.52).1 Then you have the Pharaoh of Egypt who stood against Moses because he recognized no god over him, believing that he was the sun god incarnate (see Exod 1-15). King Saul of Israel evidently believed something similar for he raised an image of himself up to be honored in the land (1Sam 15.12). He constantly refused to listen to the voice of God, but held his own word in higher esteem (1Sam 15.22-23). And, when his life was in danger he turned to his own hand to deliver him from his enemy, rather than the Lord (1Sam 31.4).

Let us not forget the kings of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome that likewise assumed that they were gods-in-the-flesh. Even if we were to turn to our recent past do we not find other tyrants who have falsely assumed that they are gods? Did not Hitler of Germany? Or what of Stalin of the Soviet Union? Shall we forget about Pol Pot of Cambodia? Or the Democratic Party of our day?

Observations from Daniel’s Book: Two Kingdom Types

There are two specific chapters that we are going to briefly focus on here. As I pointed out above, there is a compare and contrast being presented to the reader of two different types of kingdoms. The first grouping presented in Daniel always appear majestic and mighty, but the second type of kingdom is said to be the greater.

Daniel 2…

In Daniel 2 we are told of a dream that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon had. In this dream there was a great statue (an image) made up of elements of the earth. “The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay” (Dan 2.32-33). These elements represented four kingdoms of the earth. The golden head was Nebuchadnezzar (i.e., Babylon; Dan 2.36-38). The silver represented the kingdom to come after Babylon (Dan 2.39a), whom we know historically to be Medea-Persia. The bronze represents a third kingdom which shall rule after the Medea-Persia has been conquered; namely Greece (Dan 2.39b; cf. Dan 8). And the fourth kingdom is one identified as iron mixed with clay, a kingdom of strength mingled with weakness; also known as Rome (Dan 2.40-43).

There is a fifth kingdom mentioned in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It is different than the rest, for rather than coming from the earth, its origins are from above. It is identified as a “stone [that] was cut out by no human hand” (Dan 2.33), which was hurled at the image in order to destroy it. In the dream the stone that crushed the statue grew into a great mountain the filled the earth (Dan 2.35b). Daniel provides the meaning (interpretation) of that mountainous kingdom:

“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever….”

Dan 2:44

Daniel 7…

In Daniel 7 we are told of a dream that the prophet Daniel had during the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, son of Nebuchadnezzar. In this dream Daniel declared,

“I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another.”

Dan 7:2

The first beast was like a lion (Dan 7.3), the second like a bear (Dan 7.4), the third like a leopard (Dan 7.5), and the fourth was indescribable, although it certainly had characteristics like a bear (Dan 7.7, 19).

Without delving deeply into every detail, the interpretation of the beasts is offered in Dan 7:17,

“These four great beasts are four kings [i.e., kingdoms] who shall arise out of the earth.”

In other words, they are symbolic representations of the four kingdoms earlier revealed in Dan 2. Just as there was one statue (one image) and four kingdoms in Dan 2, there are four kingdoms and one beast ultimately being described in Dan 7. Each kingdom is described as a beast, because each kingdom is beastly in nature; a reflection of its master. This should hearken the readers mind to Gen 3 where the serpent is described as a beast of the field, the one who usurps the authority granted to Adam by Adam’s willful decision. And just like in Dan 2, in Dan 7 there is a fifth kingdom spoken of, and a compare and contrast is once again given.

The final beast has a little horn (Dan 7.8) and it is shown to be antagonistically hostile to the members of the fifth kingdom, “the saints of the Most High” (Dan 7.22). It serves in this function as a representative of the hatred for God and His people. However, in Dan 7:9-11 we see that a judgment takes place where the beast experiences permanent judgment at the hand of Yahweh (Dan 7.11). The other beasts are said to have their dominion taken away but they are permitted to exist for a time (Dan 7.12). Again, there is much more that we could spend time discussing, but I am only trying to give you a bird’s eye view.

In Dan 7:13-14 the fifth kingdom is introduced. Just like the stone that was cut without human hands is said to grow into a great mountain to fill the earth, this kingdom is said to see no end to its reign of influence. Here’s the text…

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

Okay, what is the meaning? As I tell members of the congregation, prophecy is given for the children of God. The purpose is so that these things given are revealed to us, not kept locked in mystery or some strange hidden code. If you want to know the meaning of this grouping of verses, then all you have to do is continue reading, for the answer is given to us in the text. In verse 18 we are given the proper interpretation:

“But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.” (repeated in vv. 22, 27).

But why does Dan 7:13-14 refer to “him” or “one like a son of man,” and these verses say “saints of the Most High?” The answer is found in the two-fold meaning that I described to you above. The shadowy meaning here in Dan 7 is that God’s people are possessors of the kingdom of man. The meaning in reference to the Type that the shadows reflect, however, is Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ.

The Kingdom of Man Explained

Who was the earth created for and granted to? Mankind. Who is said to have the earth as their inheritance? The meek, the humble, those that fear God (Matt 5.5; cf. Psa 37.9, 22, 29, 34). Jesus was born as a king (John 18.37; Matt 2.1-2). His kingdom did not derive from the earth, though His rule is here on earth (John 18.36; Col 1.12-14).

When I preached through the gospel of Luke, one of the things I sought to stress from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry is that He came upon the scene as the rightful prophet, priest and king of the earth. He viciously attacked wherever the curse was found. He preached with great authority the Word of God, giving its true meaning and intent (as Prophet). He offered to God true worship through sacrificial living, upholding the law of God perfectly in faithful obedience, obedience even to the point of death (as Priest). He exercised dominion, subduing the earth to the will of God in combating the curse of sin, as He waged war against the works of the devil. Demons fell before Him, Satan fled from Him, and this authority He gave to His true disciples (citizens of His kingdom) as well (as King).

At Golgotha, Jesus pierced the head of the serpent. And, though the beast(s) thought that they had struck the final blow against Him, He arose from the grave victorious over all opposition. Daniel 7:13-14 is often misunderstood as a sign of Jesus’ second coming. But this is a misreading of the text. For Daniel’s vision shows that it was

“with the clouds of heaven [that] there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.”

Dan 7:13

Notice the direction is “to the Ancient of Days” meaning up to the Father, not down to the earth. And Dan 7:14 says at that time, before the eternal God in heaven, that

“to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

And according to Isaiah, the government of this kingdom which Jesus has received will continue to grow in influence (Isa 9.7). How so? Through His people.

“All authority on heaven and in earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matt 28:18-20

Final thoughts…

We need to be reminded during this advent season that though we remember the birth of our king, He is not a baby any longer. We serve the Lord and Savior of the world. He is the world’s Lord—King. He has dominion now and He exercises it through us His servants.

We live in a period of time when the kingdom of beasts seems to be victorious over us. They seem to be exercising dominion in such a way that there is no hope. This is a lie. Satan is said to flee when we resist him. Does that sound like he is all powerful to you? Does that sound like he has dominion over you? No, it is the exact opposite. The only reason why things look the way they do now is because we have failed to exercise our birthright. If we stopped looking at the world around us as if we were merely grasshoppers and we stood against the tyranny surrounding us, we would prevail. The beasts overwhelm the land only when God’s people are unfaithful. It may be that the time we face is a testing of the marrow of mice or men. Are we men? Are we citizens of Christ’s kingdom? Then what do we have to fear? What are we doing in the living of our lives that shows we are not cowards, but men of great courage? In a way we are Esther. We have been positioned in a foreign land, occupied by a bunch of pagans and we are being told to act. But will we listen to the voice of Mordecai and stand? Or will God have to raise another because…we will not!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. God bless.

ENDNOTES:

1These three friends of Daniel are often more easily recognized by their Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.

2Reader, please bear in mind that “future” is a relative term. It can mean something as little as “later in the day” or something greater as “a few hundred years in the future.” As always context helps us determine how far into the future is being meant.

3Meaning the first time it is given in recorded Scripture.

Posted in Biblical Questions

My Money, My Property: A God Given Concept

In my last post I answered the question as to whether or not the concept of a nanny state was condemned in Scripture. If you’d like to read my thoughts on that then you may click here. Today, I wanted to address another question regarding personal wealth. I’ve been challenged on the idea of “my money” and “my property” as “troubling” by a reader. This post is a defense of sorts of my position. Enjoy.

The commandment “Thou shall not steal” presupposes the idea that people have personal property/wealth. Now there is a legitimate sense in which one might say that all things are God’s. He is the creator of the heavens and the earth (Gen 1.1), and in an ultimate sense all property, all forms of wealth, are the Lord’s (Exod 19.5; Psa 24.1; 50.12). In fact one of the first instances that we see the law of God put on display in the Bible is in the beginning.

No Trespassing, No Theft…

After God had created man, placed him in the garden, and eventually made the woman from his side, the Lord made it very clear to Adam that he (and his wife with him) had been given delegated authority on the earth. All dominion was given to mankind (male and female) in the sense of stewardship to their Maker. In light of this fact, all the earth was presented to the man and woman as a gift from the Lord.

He tells the man in Genesis 2:16, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden…,” for “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food” (Gen 1.29). The only caveat God placed on the man (and woman through him) was in regards to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That one, of two trees placed in the middle of the garden in Eden, had a “No Trespassing” sign placed upon it. The Lord warned Adam, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…” (Gen 2.17a), and the sincerity of the prohibition was marked with a death penalty: “…for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2.17b). To attempt to steal from the Lord, which in this particular case was an attack on His sovereign position, was to meet dire consequences.

The ability to acquire wealth…

We are told in the Bible that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1.17; cf. Matt 7.11). He not only gives to His friends, but also to His enemies (Matt 5.45; cf. Psa 145.9). And so, He likewise expects His people to do the same thing (Matt 5.44; cf. Exod 23.4-5; Prov 25.21-22).

Therefore, it is rightly said that everything that we acquire in this life is a result of our heavenly Father giving these things to us. This includes the place and timing of our birth (Acts 17.26; cf. Deut 32.7-8). This includes our ability to acquire wealth (Deut 8.18), and even the lose of it (Deut 15.11; Prov 22.2).

After God offers the prohibition against theft in Exodus 20:15, He then lays out for His people a variety of case laws that pertain to not only what constitutes theft, but also the type of penalties to be enacted against the violator of the law (cf. Exod 22). The severity of the punishment was to fit the crime. If a person stole a possession then restitution was to be offered to reimburse what was stolen and to penalize the thief (Exod 22.4, 7-9, 12; cf. Luke 19.8). If a person sought to steal a fellow image bearer of God, to essentially rob them of their life, then the perpetrators life would be forfeit (Exod 21.16; Deut 24.7).

God expected that if a person wanted to acquire a commodity that another person had, then the person in question was to pay for the item. The owner set the limit for the price of sale. If the purchaser tried to rob the seller of their profit, then that act would be seen as theft and the individual in question would be counted liable. Equal weights and measures were the sign of just commerce amongst the people (Deut 25..13-16; Prov 20.10). Unjust weights and measures were the sign of corruption, and a call for God’s vengeful judgment to fall (e.g. Amos 8.4-7).

Although property pertains to more than just land, a persons land was considered their own sovereign domain. This was their heritage from the Lord. They were expected to exercise godly dominion over it, and to build a lasting inheritance for their offspring. To attempt to steal someone’s property by moving the marker was a criminal offense in the land of Israel (Deut 19.14; 27.17).

Wrong on all levels…

Theft is wrong on all levels and this includes theft by government coercion. I raise this issue because of the way in which the civil government here in the United States has encroached upon personal property of individuals and families in the form of theft, called public property. It is one thing for a community to decide what they want to do in a unified voice with their own personal property, but quite another for a government agency to assume that they have the legal right to put their fingers on what is not lawfully theirs.

In short, the “No Trespassing” sign in the garden has been extended throughout creation to the children of God. That is not a typo. All property, all wealth is a gift from the Maker, this is true, and all people come into possession of such things because of the common grace of God, this is also true. However, in an ultimate sense all property and wealth which is God’s, which is in turn lent to mankind in the form of legal stewardship is also temporary depending upon what the person does with the wealth and property afforded to him/her.

All the earth is the Lord’s and it is the meek that shall inherit the earth (Matt 5.5). The wealth of the people that do not serve God is held in reserve by the Lord for His people (Exod 3.22; Prov 13.22). This is why it is said that Canaan vomited the Canaanites out of the land (Lev 18.25), and it is also the reason why Israel was driven from the land through war with Assyria and Babylon between the years of (700-580 B.C.), and later in 70 A.D. by Rome (cf. Lev 18.22). Wealth and property are not guaranteed, they are on loan from God. While you have the property you own it is as a tenant, but if you are an unfaithful servant even what you have will be taken away from you (Lev 20.22; Luke 12.16-21; Matt 25.14-29).

Again this applies to individuals, families and nations. The law of “no theft” holds in a personal as well as civil governing fashion. Today, I want to present two biblical examples that verify what I have been discussing.

Civil Government and Personal Property

The Bible is filled with a lot of information. Some of it is prescriptive other parts of it are descriptive. A prescriptive portion tells how one should act; whereas, a descriptive part relays the events of the past to the reader. The judgment of the descriptive passage, like the prescriptive passage, is left to a determination of the Law-Word of God.1

The Tale of Two Kings…

David was a righteous man. Even a brief study of his life shows a heart that loved the Lord. Yes, it is true that he committed some egregious sins during his life. This shouldn’t surprise us since we are all sinners and our righteousness is imputed by God’s grace rather than an independent trait of our own. Left to our own devices apart from God’s sustaining grace and we are prone to stumble headlong into all sorts of despicable things.

Well, there is one event in the life of David that is offered that demonstrates a loving caring heart. One that loved God and neighbor. And it pertains to the subject we have thus far been discussing. What is interesting is that we have a counter example provided for us a little later in Israel’s history—but I get ahead of myself, I apologize.

At a time when a plague hit Israel because David decided to number the army of Israel (see 2Sam 24.1; 1Chron 21.1). To end the devastation being wrought by God’s wrath, David was commanded by the prophet Gad to make an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah (Ornan) the Jebusite (2Sam 24.18; 1Chron 21.18). When the king approached Araunah the man inquired as to why David had come? When David told him the reason (1Chron 21.22) the man offered to give to David the threshing floor along with wood and wheat for a grain offering (1Chron 21.23). But David said to the man, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (1Chron 21.24; italics mine).

I will grant that most commentators focus on the second portion of David’s comment “not offer[ing] burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” It is true that our service to the Lord should cost us everything, for our lives are forfeit or else carrying the cross of Christ is a meaningless sentiment. However, the first part of David’s explanation should not be missed. He understood that what Araunah possessed was his alone. This was his inheritance from the Lord God. To just take the man’s property without paying for it would have been a dishonorable thing. David realized that what the man possessed had value and that value was worth its “full price.”

A little later down the line another king came to rule and his name was Ahab. Ahab was an unrighteous king. But he saw the property of Naboth the Jezreelite as something he desperately wanted. King Ahab coveted Naboth’s beautiful vineyard. He said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money” (1Kgs 21.2).

On the surface this seems a fair thing to say. Naboth possessed a commodity that the king desired. The king offered what he believed to be a fair price for the land. But it is the owner that possesses sovereign authority to do with his possession as he sees fit. And, it doesn’t matter who is seeking to purchase it, if the owner does not want to sell, then God gives the individual the right to do with it as he sees best. So, Naboth responded to king Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers” (1Kgs 21.3).

When the king’s wife Jezebel learned of this she said to her husband, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite” (1Kgs 21.7). Jezebel had false charges brought about Naboth for blasphemy and had him stoned to death, so that her husband could steal the man’s possession. And God through His servant Elijah condemned the two of them to death (1Kgs 21.17-19).

What’s my point?

Two civil magistrates wanted the personal property of another. The one purchased the property because the owner wanted to sell it. The other stole the property and killed the owner because they coveted what the owner possessed. Theft is theft. Doesn’t matter if it is an individual or a civil governing official, the prohibition “Thou shall not steal” stands as a righteous standard that shall not be crossed.

Once again we see that socialism is evil. And just because someone tells me “Yeah, but our government already does it” doesn’t mean that the government or the person trying to defend it is right. It is wrong for the civil government to steal a family’s inheritance, their land or their money. And it is wrong for you as an individual to want them to do it so that you can have some form of benefit from it. I wish more people took the time to think through these truths. Saying this is my money or my property should not be viewed as a troublesome concept, but a biblical one. God gives and therefore it becomes ours and He says no one else has permission to acquire it by any means without our say so. Period.

ENDNOTE:

1For example, Lot fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah is a prescriptive activity of what one should do when warned by God to flee an area of judgment. On the other hand, Lot sleeping with his daughters in a drunken stupor after being saved from the destruction of the cities on the plain is a descriptive passage of how corrupted he and his children were from living in a culture that tormented his righteous soul. This later event should be taken in light of God’s Word as a warning to guard one’s heart by God’s Law-Word, and not to follow the whims of pagan culture.

Posted in Biblical Questions

Is the Nanny State a Biblical Concept?

A few weeks back I was asked a litany of questions by a reader that I believe are important areas of concern for the Christian who seeks to live their life in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. We are all commanded in Scripture to “Love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength” and in a similar fashion to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” These are not guidelines but direct commands.

The question we must ask in answering these commands is “How am I to show love first for God and then for neighbor?” Loving God is only possible when we obey His voice. Meaning when we uphold His Law-Word in our life (Matt 5.17; Rom 3.31). For it is the law of God that defines the proper way we are to respond to our Lord and Savior and to our fellow man. The two “love” commands mentioned above are summations of the entire moral code that God has revealed in the Old Testament (Matt 22.40; Rom 13.9-10).

Today, I wanted to offer a brief answer to one of the questions that was posed to me by the reader of a post I had written entitled “How to Know Whether You Should Stand or Kneel “. He asked, “Can you find any examples of ‘nanny state’ activity being condemned?” This particular person took issue with my stance that socialism and communism are sisters sharing an underlying presupposition about personal wealth and property. In our back and forth dialogue he challenged this premise among others. Looking back I found the conversation very fruitful. Some dislike arguments or debates where two sides cannot seem to come to agreement, but I believe that they may serve as growing opportunities for those who seriously desire to know the truth.

So, does Scripture (the sixty-six books of the Holy Bible) condemn a nanny state? I believe so, but before I explain why, I want to lay out what I believe is a foundational issue that undergirds my response.

An Issue of Authority

It is my contention that the civil government has a limited sphere of authority where it is allowed to operate. I base this line of thinking on the fact that only the Triune Creator God of the Bible is absolutely sovereign. His authority is limitless in that He does whatever He pleases as a reflection of His holy nature. All other authorities are limited because they derive their authority from God (Rom 13.1-2).

This may be witnessed from a variety of examples…

  • As individuals: All people are created in the image of God (Gen 1.26, 28). The image that we are expected to reflect as a byproduct of our being God’s creature is to reflect Him in all areas of life (word, thought and deed). Thus, we are supposed to be self-governed in light of God’s Word. I’m speaking about the original intent of God for man; pre-fall. After the fall (Gen 3), the inward bent of mankind fell under the curse of sin and as a result we all, as children of Adam, are born children of wrath, sons (and daughters) of disobedience (cf. Eph 2.1-3). The two love commands mentioned above are still in effect, because God’s moral law is still in effect (Matt 5.18). The way we live this life will require an accounting our part. We are responsible for our actions, not the actions of others (Ezek 18.20). We are to be self-governed, we do not have authority to govern others.
  • As parents: Parents are supposed to represent God in their household (Exod 20.12; Deut 11.19). They are given authority to govern and discipline their children in the light of God’s Word (Prov 13.24). But a parent’s authority is limited to their own family unit. Parents do not possess the right to govern or discipline the offspring of another home.
  • As elders/overseers: Within the Church God has ordained leaders to watch over His flock (Acts 20.27-28). They are to govern and discipline the children of God in Christ in light of God’s Word (Eph 4.11-16; Heb 13.17). This requires teaching, instructing, rebuking and correcting so that every person is fully equipped for every good work (2Tim 3.16–4.2). The leadership of one local body does not have authority to govern or discipline members of another congregation. The Church’s authority is unique in that it has authority to speaking into the life of the individual, the family and the state on how they should perform their duties as image bearers of God. The symbol of the Church’s authority is the “keys” of the kingdom (Matt 16.19; 18.18).
  • As civil authorities: Within the confines of the civil government the role of the magistrate, which is identified as a minister of the Lord God in Scripture, is to uphold the good and punish the evil (Rom 13.3). Unlike the Church whose symbol is “keys,” the state bears the symbol of the “sword” (Rom 13.4). Their role is limited in the sense of executing justice and purging evil from society (e.g., Deut 19.9b-20).

All of these spheres of governance are to be guided by one universal standard—the Law-Word of God. Since as Jesus testified, “only God is good” the only way one might truly define good versus bad behavior in the individual, the family, the Church or the Civil government is by that which is revealed from God—His Holy Word.

On the Legitimacy of the Nanny State

Having expressed my categorical understanding of authorities and their subsequent limitations, I believe we are now able to begin looking at the issue of whether or not a nanny state is a legitimate exercise of the civil government.

A brief definition…

So that we are all on the same page, I wanted to take a moment and offer a brief definition of the subject being questioned for legitimacy. A “nanny state” is one that attempts to provide for the needs of her people. This includes a variety of areas and/or services. Things like education, healthcare, food and living assistance, employment, wage and price controls on businesses, etc. Some I suppose would include emergency services like EMS/EMT, Fire, and police. I would be inclined to place police in a separate category as they are designated as law enforcement, tasked with protecting the citizenry and maintaining the peace.

An issue of funding…

Now the question is how does a “nanny state” provide those various services? Do they raise their own money in order to pay for them? Often times you will hear those that lean strongly to the social left in our nation (like Bernie Sanders) promise free healthcare, free education, free living, free food, etc. But who pays for the medicine or the medical staff? Who pays for the literature and the teaching fees? Who pays for section 8 housing? Who pays for the credit on the EBT card? Where does the funding come from for such programs? Who fits the bill for the cost of production, for the construction of facilities, for the maintenance and upkeep of services? Where does the money come from?

The nanny state sounds great to those on the receiving end of the promised services (needs met), but from where do they acquire the wealth to provide such things? The backs of others. Since the civil government does not produce wealth, it must glean from the wealth of others. That is to say, they must take from the wealth of the citizens to provide for the needs of others. This is accomplished through taxation.

False Pretenses…

Socialism pretends that property should be public rather than private. That personal wealth must be distributed to others. They take from the first-fruits of some citizens that are considered well-off, in order to given to those who are deemed “poor.” Socialism loves a graduated tax rate. If you work harder than your neighbor, if you are wiser with your time and you manage your resources better, and this is demonstrated in the building of wealth, then you will be gouged at a higher rate.

Why is socialism evil? Where might we turn to find a condemnation of the nanny state? Wait for it. Its really easy. So easy in fact you need to prepare for it:

“THOU SHALL NOT STEAL.”

Exodus 20:15

Closing Thoughts…

According to the Word of God no one has the right to another persons’ property. It does not matter if it is your neighbor, the Church, or the civil government. No one has the right to reach into another man’s wealth and take it for themselves. To argue that all you’re really concerned about is the poor. To say its not fair that you have this much wealth and your neighbor doesn’t. To demand that what another has should be given to others, without the owner deciding of their own free will—apart from any form of coercion—is demonic.

I’m not saying that every one who has bought into this line of thinking is purposefully serving the devil’s desires, but to say you can take from someone else without their permission, without their cheerful desire to give, is to challenge what God has written as holy, good and loving. Judas Iscariot had that attitude and we know who he served (John 12.5-6).

Based on this text alone the concept of the “nanny state” is an unbiblical practice. Period.