Judgment, Politics, and the Bible

Judgment, Politics, and the Bible

By Martin G. Selbrede

The Covenant News ~ February 08, 2009

The judgment of God: not optional in history

God is the governor among the nations (Psalm 22:27-28); therefore, He is “a God of judgment” (Isa. 30:18) when man breaks His Law. When God does act, it is always in terms of His Law, His eternal standard: “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies…” (Isa. 28:17).

God’s judgments – misunderstood
God’s rule over the earth doesn’t operate according to our expectations. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). Scripturally, judgment is treated as a “strange work” and “strange act” of God (Isa. 28:21) – strange because there should be no need for judgment since God provides adequate opportunity to repent, and because God must assemble extraordinary instruments of judgment (e.g., He is said to “hire a razor” when He calls upon the Assyrians to come in judgment against Israel in Isa. 7:20).

God’s judgments – always certain
God’s graciousness in delaying His judgment often gives rise to the mocking question, “Where is the God of judgment?” (Mal. 2:17). God’s forbearance is intended to provide opportunity to obey His laws. In Rev. 2:21, God says of Jezebel that “I gave her space to repent of her fornication, but she repented not.” Too often forbearance is treated with contempt and misinterpreted as license to continue in disobedience. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Eccl. 8:11). God waited five centuries before dropping the hammer on Israel. God warned His people (Lev. 26:33-36) that if they violated the land Sabbath law requiring the fields to go unworked every seventh year, the nation would be cast out and scattered and “the land shall enjoy her Sabbaths.” When Israel began to violate these ordinances, God didn’t appear to follow through with judgment. But a suspended sentence isn’t an acquittal. In 2 Chron. 36:21 the long-promised deportation (to Babylon and beyond) finally occurred and the emptied land rested for seventy years – the amount of Sabbaths that Israel had refused to honor over the course of half a millennium. God is never mocked.

God’s judgments – our prerogative to invoke or deflect
In an era when in countless churches “the law is slacked” (Hab. 1:4) by contemporary Christian theology, where the “great things of His Law are regarded as a strange thing” (Hos. 8:12) by pastors, where His Law is displaced by the “teaching of the precepts of men” (Mark 7:7-9, Matt. 15:9), we confront the warning of Psalm 119:126 – “It is time for Thee, O Lord, to work: for they have made void Thy Law.” Although Christians ought not to loosen even the least of the jots and tittles of God’s commandments or to teach men so (Matt. 5:19), many Christians today do exactly that. National decline inevitably follows such a profound spiritual decline and God begins His work of judgment in an unexpected place: “the house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17). We must recover the faith of America’s founding fathers, who understood the Scriptures and the unceasing relevance of the entirety of God’s Law far better than our current paperback-ridden, sound-bite-happy generation. If we apply godly judgment to ourselves today, God won’t have to place a heavy hand upon us tomorrow.

The fear of God: not optional in politics

If we’re timid before men, we show they count more than God does in our hearts: “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). The left-right political paradigm propagated by the mainstream media creates a false choice for voters while feeding our fear of man. The Biblical paradigm tends in a completely different direction. Fear of man perpetuates itself because man-fearing people instinctively know deep down that the Lord is not on their side. In Christ’s day, the people were up in arms about their slavery to Rome but didn’t care about their slavery to sin. Although sin is the true enslaver of souls (every other alleged enslavement is false and perpetuates the environmental fallacy and satanic determinism), they couldn’t see that Jesus came to save them from it because they were focused on political freedom. When Jesus got in the way of their faulty focus, they killed Him.

Fear of God – relevance to society: Fear of God that is deep, true, and convicting entails a regard for all of His laws and commandments. It results in a society of justice, peace, sound money, diligence, productivity, and blessing. Conversely, “the fear of man bringeth a snare” (Prov. 29:25) and leads to a society based on statist means of salvation and deliverance. To exchange the fear of God for the fear of man is to transfer total power from God (Whose Law maximizes our liberty) to the state (which must minimize our liberty to make good on its promises: to provide total protection, the state needs total power). The fear of man shifts the basis of societal order from moral to regulatory, with the result being totalitarian socialism. This is part of the curse of “making flesh (human means) our arm (strength)” (Jer. 17:5). Only the fear of God leads to boldness before men and true freedom. A God-fearing people will not tolerate the encroaching totalitarianism we are realizing in modern America.

Fear of God – relevance to voting: One of the texts routinely preached upon and used in Election Sermons in colonial America was 2 Sam. 23:2-3. “The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and His word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” This was not David’s personal opinion. This was an imperative laid down by God Himself for all men and women who govern. While early Americans understood that God forbids putting anyone into power who doesn’t rule in the fear of God, today’s voters are more fearful of “wasting a vote” than they are of God and His clear command. As Jesus said, “I will forewarn ye whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him” (Luke 12:5).

Fear of God – relevance to justice: Above anything else, God requires His people to do justice (Deut. 16:20). Fear of man dislodges a person’s commitment to justice because it always entails a rejection of God. Since God loves justice (Ps. 11:7, Ps. 33:5), injustice leads to God’s judgment. Justice done by a political ruler is proportionate to that ruler’s fear of God. Conversely, acts of injustice are done in proportion to a ruler’s fear of man. Therefore, an electorate’s fear of man is its own punishment due to the injustice the people ultimately suffer at the hands of ungodly rulers they put into office, as well as the people’s ensuing enslavement to continue acting upon their fear of man. A man-fearing electorate incites God’s judgment not only on themselves, but also on the man-fearing rulers they elect. The “unjust judge” of Luke 18:1-8 “did not fear God” and denied the widow the justice she sought from him. The officers of state are to act as ministers of God (Rom. 13:4), exercising specific limited powers delegated by God – the ministry of justice. If they keep God’s laws, they share in God’s authority over human life (Ps. 82:6). If judges and rulers fail to keep God’s laws, perverting justice, they “shall die like men” (Ps. 82:7). God Himself will bring judgment and capital punishment on a nation that despises His Law.

The Law of God: not optional for liberty

America – God’s Laws abandoned
The spilling of innocent blood in the tragic abortion industry is just the tip of the iceberg of the many transgressions of God’s Law that America will be judged for. God has laid out how a society must be run in His Word. All of His laws are important, and our founding fathers would be aghast that modern America is in continual violation of most of them. For example, our forefathers knew that God’s Word says if His people obey His statutes with regard to citizen-administered relief of poverty (annualized to 3.4% of one’s income – Deut. 14:28-29, 16:12-15), “there would be no poor among you” (Deut. 15:4). But “hardness of heart” (Deut. 15:7) and refusal to obey God’s statute have led to the transfer of social responsibility to the state so that America’s welfare state has swollen to immense size without ending poverty at all (see Taxation paper). Our forefathers would be appalled at how many parents today disregard God’s mandate to raise their children in the fear of God (Eph. 6:4), and instead give them to America’s state-run humanistic government schools during their critical formative years. God’s judgment on the nation for this particular lawlessness has been multi-faceted: increasing property taxes and a shameful perpetual decline in morality and academics (see Education paper). Our Christian founding fathers wrote safeguards into the Constitution against the unbiblical fiat currency we currently use, which God declares to be an abomination to Him (Prov. 11:1) (see papers on Taxation and Economic Crises). America’s founders who embraced a biblical foreign policy of nonintervention (Deut. 17:6) would be fearing God’s judgment today regarding pre-emptive military campaigns (2 Chron. 35:20-25) that harm noncombatants (see National Defense paper). Neglecting God’s Word and entrusting the state to handle poverty, education, or anything not expressly assigned to it by God’s Word brings God’s curse. Jer. 17:5 treats the person who trusts in man, who makes flesh their arm, as one “whose heart departeth from the Lord.” To entrust the state with prerogatives that God is holding us individually accountable for means our hearts have departed from Him.

America – free republic to totalitarian state
The legal foundations of America, established on Biblical law via common law, have eroded and the character of the people has decayed as a growing reliance on the state has displaced personal responsibility under God. Any state not based on Biblical law is a false god, for it replaces God’s laws with its own. Jeremiah 2:11-13 compares Israel to her neighbors, observing that the heathen were more loyal to their false gods than Israel was to the True One. Israel exchanged the Lord God “for things that do not profit.” This is a double evil: “forsaking the fountain of living waters” (God) while “hewing out for themselves broken cisterns that cannot hold any water” (v.13). Hewing out for themselves means building a society according to one’s own wisdom. Totalitarianism is introduced incrementally as society shifts from a moral to a regulatory basis. The loss of liberty is not detectible over the short run. Citizens come to regard humanistic regulations as sensible and desirable. This is how “the wicked frame mischief using law” (Ps. 94:20). Ortiz says of the New Covenant of Hebrews 8:10, “Herein lies the essential structure of Christianity: God-Law-Individual. It is direct, immediate, and unencumbered by ecclesiocracy and statism.” Today we are encumbered by these joint evils – mega churches (where people are entertained and kept busy but are not taught God’s Law) and a big brother civil government (which is demanding obedience in the name of security to an ever-expanding tablet of humanistic laws) – because we have abandoned God’s laws and our responsibility to obey them. When people disregard God’s laws, the state takes over at the high cost of abridging individual liberty.

America – the theological underpinnings of national decline
47% of American adults attend church regularly – sufficient for Christians to prevail culturally as they did with vastly smaller numbers at our founding. But “modern Christian leaders have the ear of national leaders and preach in the White House and in Congress without affecting the national march into degeneracy and apostasy” (Rushdoony). This dichotomy exists because our forefathers, who worked to keep America a light to the nations, embraced a faith far removed from that held by most Americans today. Theology and doctrine shifted in the 1830s, propelling conservative Christianity through more than a century of self-marginalized decline and irrelevance. This trend only began to slow in the 1960s and 1970s with home and Christian schooling. Unfortunately, there’s a huge gap between modern Christendom and the culture-shaping convictions of our forefathers regarding the foundations of liberty: God’s 613 laws, commandments, statutes, precepts and testimonies (Deut. 28, Lev. 26, Ps. 119:64). (See Theology paper.)

America – her foundation is still our hope for the future
Since the 1830s, theologians have progressively cut the heart out of Christian activism, arguing that “you don’t polish brass on a sinking ship” because cultural darkness is supposedly increasing by God’s design. “People who expect the world to end very soon, and are planning on being raptured out of it, are not likely to be concerned about dominion over the earth, nor the application of God’s Law to the whole of life” (Rushdoony). 1 John 2:8 teaches that “the darkness is passing away and the true Light is shining already.” The Scripture cannot be broken: the darkness is in actual process of passing away as the Great Commission to disciple all nations (Matt. 28:18-20) is obeyed by God’s people and He continues to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Acts 2:17). If we truly fear God, we will take Christ’s question seriously: “Why callest me Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say?” Christians are not to neglect God’s Law: “God forbid, rather, we establish the law!” (Rom. 3:31). “Turning the world-changing Word of God into a symbol of impotence, escapism and cultural irrelevance entails locking Christ up in the church. If we persist in locking Him up inside the church, He will shatter the church just as He shattered the tomb.” (Rushdoony)

Martin G. Selbrede
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