1 Timothy 4:1 (KJV) Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
A number of respected Pastors and Christian Columnists across our nation are rightly sounding an alarm at the thickening shroud of global governance descending upon our nation. With the promised "change" now being delivered, the spectre of a militarized one-world spirituality is darkening the horizon of Earth under the guise of "change", "hope", "progress", and "peace".
I understand -- and share -- the righteous anger over the sorry state of the church and its lackadaisical response to the evils of our time. Though we take some comfort that our Lord could return at any time for His Bride (to provide us with the promised "escape" spoken of in Luke 21:36 even if it doesn't take the form of the Rapture as is widely believed), it appears that even those whose blessed hope is in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture should take heed and prepare for precipitous times ahead -- just in case.
1 Peter 4:12-16 (KJV) Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
In light of increasing daily distress over our nation's (this world's) moral and political descent into darkness, I've felt the need to study this subject now especially with the threat of a global pandemic and a nuclear war looming.
Last week, I finally got the chance to sit down and watch the film Defiance. If you haven't seen it, or if you're unfamiliar with the story (a true story nonetheless!), it's the saga about how in August of 1941 the Nazi forces swept through Eastern Europe targeting Jewish people.
Among the survivors not killed or restricted to ghettos are the Bielski brothers: Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber), Asael (Jamie Bell), and Aron (George MacKay). Their parents are dead, slain by the local police under orders from the occupying Germans. The brothers flee to the forest, vowing to avenge their parents. Yet, beyond that single act of vengeance they are split as to how they should respond to the German atrocities and the compliance of those who were once their friends and neighbors.
They encounter other Jewish escapees hiding in the forest and the brothers take them under their protection and leadership. Over the next year, they shelter a growing number of refugees, raiding local farms for food and supplies, moving their camp whenever they are discovered by the Germans.
Here's the trailer:
Defiance Film Trailer
At one point in the movie, when the survivors are all huddled in the forest and contemplating what they should do next, there's a pretty good debate about the faith-oriented response (the human-related response) of the survivors to the Germans and those who continue to aid them.
I know that we've touched upon this idea in these parts in the past, but there was one quote made by one of the Tuvia character during this particular sequence that really made an impact on me because I have a feeling the Body of Christ will be faced with a similar predicament soon.
On the issue of whether or not we should fight back, or become the aggressors and go on the offensive against such brutal tyranny:
"We will take only from those who can afford to give, and we will leave those who can't alone. Our revenge is to live! We are not thieves. We are not murderers. We may be hunted like animals, but we will not become animals. We have all chosen this...to live here free like human beings for as long as we can. Every day of freedom is like an act of faith. And if we should die? Trying to live? Then at least we died like human beings." Tuvia (Daniel Craig's character)
What's your stance on the subject? I've often said that just because we're Christians doesn't mean we are to be doormats. Yet, at the same time, I'm starting to recognize that perhaps taking to the streets and fighting back in the form of hand-to-hand combat and guerrilla warfare (to go on the offensive at all) is not the way to go.
Of course, as with all things, we look to the Bible for some guidance. The word "defiant" or "defiance" does not show up anywhere in the Scriptures. However, the word "vengeance" does. In fact, we find it in the King James Version 45 times in 39 verses. Likewise, the word "revenge" appears only 5 times in 5 verses.
As far as I can tell, God NEVER gives us a command to take matters into our own hands and try to seek vengeance via our own efforts because vengeance is ALWAYS reserved for the Lord and the Lord alone.
What about specific historical situations that are recorded in the Bible? Can they also provide us with some insight as to how to handle ourselves in the face of such growing opposition and oppression? I believe they most certainly can.
Lot's Wife - Don't Look Back!
The first clear example that comes to mind is the story of Lot's wife. No, it was not about "fighting back" in the typical sense, but in another sense it could be argued that his wife's willingness to turn back to the world illustrated her heart's true motive to stay and try to fight to preserve the world, the reality, the way of life, she had come to know so well. Surely, that's an appropriate commentary for us, isn't it?
Luke 17:32 (KJV) Remember Lot's wife.
Jesus simply says "Remember Lot's Wife" using her as a symbolic warning to professing Christians to not turn back to their sin after leaving it, but I wonder if we can also apply a more literal instruction here as well.
Joseph - A Model Christian
The slave traders took him into Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, one of the Pharaoh’s officers. Joseph served his master well and gained great favor, but the master’s wife tried to seduce him (a young man of impeccable integrity). After he rejected her, she went to her husband with false accusations. It resulted in Joseph’s imprisonment. Did he fight back even though he knew the truth? No, he didn't. Once again, God proved his presence and protection for Joseph.
We find that Joseph was a man of great integrity. He was tried and tested by events in life that could have left him bitter or angry. Instead, he had a close relationship with God in which he remained steadfast, regardless of the undeserved adversities and trials that he was forced to endure.
As a man of great faith, Joseph was open to hearing in his spirit what God intended for him and his life to come. God proved through Joseph that social position is of little importance to God, bringing him from a meager standing to a role of great importance and example.
God honors integrity, obedience, and faithfulness. Our obedience to Him and His Word will bring increased guidance and blessings from Him. With God’s help, any situation or appearance of things gone wrong, can be used for a good outcome when we remain steadfast and have a personal relationship with God. It's really that simple and truly a matter of faith.
To Rome - Imprisonment and Witness
Today, the operative word in computers is "interactive." Books in software permit us to interact with the text by writing our own endings. By the way Luke concludes the Book of Acts, he shows us that he wants us to interact fully with its message -- not that we control it, but that it controls us. Thus, the arrival at Rome becomes another possible example of how we are to respond in the face of unjust oppression (Acts 28:11-16).
Paul has made clear he belongs to, serves, and believes in the one true God, who was his protector and deliverer:
Acts 27:23-25 (KJV) For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
So, today, although there are others who will undoubtedly point to this nation's Founding Fathers and tout secular ideology (i.e. patriotism) as our means of deliverance, our protector, and our savior from tyranny, isn't the Christian supposed to refute such a position and know who is really in gracious control?
If we keep reading this account we come across an incredible irony: Paul the imperial prisoner makes a triumphal procession to the capital of the Empire! How did he accomplish this? Through God's provision (and the fulfillment of His Word) when Paul encountered some Roman Christian brothers in Puteoli!
What an attractive picture of the worldwide network of support and encouragement that Christians know as part of the Body of Christ! This speaks directly to what I wrote in the last entry about feeling as if now should be the time to get to know my family, friends, and neighbors the best I can in the pursuit of genuine fellowship. To the cosmopolitan Roman then, and the sophisticated but unconnected urbanite now, Paul's experience of instant, but genuine intimacy and full-fledged mutual commitment in the company of brothers at Puteoli, is a refreshing picture of what they long for and can have in the gospel (compare Acts 16:15, 33-34; 21:7; 27:3).
At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged (literally, "took courage"). Paul "took courage" especially at the sight of the Roman Christians. Because the Judaizing opposition either followed Paul to Rome or greeted him there (Philippians 1:15-19), this show of support was surely most significant to him. As Christians today face the future, they too need support from one another, especially in prayer, if they are to "take courage."
How did Paul bear witness? With complete freedom. Inwardly, he knew no pressure of fear to conceal or obscure or hesitate about the truth. Rather, boldly (literally, "with all boldness") by the power of the Spirit -- candidly, clearly, and confidently -- he was preaching and teaching. Paul's prison epistles from this period mention serious adversaries and ask for prayer that he might be bold (Ephesians 6:19-20; Philippians 1:15-20). If even Paul had to ask for prayer for boldness, there is hope for the rest of us.
The outward freedom Paul knew is framed by the very last word of Acts: akolytos, "unhindered". Though there may be incarceration, the Word of God is not bound. Luke has fully demonstrated that the implementation/application portion of the salvation message is indeed true (Lukek 1:4; 24:47). And if his readers in any day embrace that message, they will soon find themselves embodying it, proclaiming repentance to the forgiveness of sins in His name to all people "with all boldness, unhindered."
So may it be till Jesus comes. Perhaps that will be the greater purpose in any persecution we will face in the future -- to praise God at all times no matter what, but to also proclaim the Gospel to those who desperately need to hear it; those rounding us up or forcing us to do something against our will. Perhaps.
So, What Is The Appropriate Biblical, Christian Response To Tyranny?
What should we make of this desire amongst Christians (heck, I've even felt passionately about "fighting back" to some extent too in recent weeks) to outline measures that people can take, en masse, to peacefully reclaim liberty and restore Constitutional order?
It should be clear by now that this article isn't concerned with suggesting a roadmap for political action. Rather, it is to articulate and apply what I've learned through my recent studies about a Biblical response to the foreboding future tyranny that is prophesied (and proceeding) to unite the world in a Babel-like rebellion under the coming Antichrist.
Surprisingly, and I've even hinted about this already, the cause and cure of our nation's decline is a controversial subject even among conservative Christians. I'd venture to guess that most people reading this probably agree with the statement, "A real Christian patriot would never allow his country to be taken over by a gaggle of elitist goons bent on stealing his liberties..." because I used to feel the exact same way just a few short weeks ago!
The Berean Call in a commentary dated April 2, 2009 titled "Would Paul Answer The Call To Christian Patriotism?" provided us with some excellent points to ponder. Forgive me for the lengthy excerpt, but I haven't found a Christian response to this debate that captures the truth of the matter and presents it in such a coherent way as this piece did.
Here's the excerpt:
"Christian Patriot", huh? These two words are inextricably linked in the minds of most Americans who grew up with any kind of serious education regarding the nature of our Constitutional Republic and the faith of our Founding Fathers. The ideals of a "Christian Patriot" are indeed wonderful -- to live in a nation that exalts our Creator and whose government is firmly rooted in God's Word. But is this our earthly hope and promise prior to Jesus Christ's return? And, is this the mission to which the church is called -- to establish "one nation, under God, indivisible...?" Is this the example of our spiritual forefathers?
Let's also consider Joseph and Daniel. These courageous men (both types of Christ, among many), were subjected to all manner of trials and temptation, and yet they did not resist the enemy with force. Still, God spared them. They both rose to prominence in pagan cultures that literally worshiped demon gods -- Satan himself -- in various manifestations, but did either Joseph or Daniel attempt to overthrow these empires by political persuasion? Did they stir up the faithful to stage a protest or ignite a revolution? No, of course not!
"That's the Old Testament!" some might protest. Then what of Paul? What of Peter? Did these equally courageous New Testament saints resist their captors with force? Did these powerful apostles of Christ start a political party to declare their independence from the pagan world in which they preached? To a man, no. All of Christ's disciples except John were martyred -- and not for their "inalienable rights" to live in a country that worshiped God nor for their right to "keep and bear arms."
We have enjoyed (and oft taken for granted) the liberties afforded us at the expense of those who bled and died for our gain. This is a testament to their courage, faith, and God's grace -- but does this mean that the American Revolution is a biblical example and pattern of behavior for us to follow? To my own initial confusion and dismay (as it contradicts years of conservative Christian-heritage instruction) there is not a single example in Scripture of "armed revolution" of any kind as a pattern for the church.
Remember, it is the Lord who raises up kings (both just and unjust) and allows them to dictate the rules of the land in order to bring about His will for His people (Psalm 75:7; Daniel 2:21; Proverbs 21:1); and, as we have seen in the example of Israel, "judgment must begin at the house of God" (1 Peter 4:17).
Grievously, America is ripe for judgment...and so is the church. Though it is difficult for us to "count it all joy" (James 1:2-4), the persecution and trials that are coming upon us are for the purification of God's remnant. As such, a true soldier of Christ seeks to "understand the times" (1 Chronicles 12:32) and prepare his household, his church, and his community -- not for a revolution of might but one of heart and mind.
In fact, Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world... [else] would my servants fight" (John 18:36). Do not misunderstand -- I am not a pacifist by strict definition. I support the Second Amendment; I'm teaching all three of my sons how to be responsible marksmen, whether for food provision or self- and family defense. But here's the difference: the right to "keep and bear arms" was not granted to us by God. If (when) our government knocks on my door and demands my weapons under threat of violence or imprisonment, would it be a biblical response to resist or "open fire!"?
Thousands of neo-Patriots cheered, as did I, when former NRA president and "Moses" actor Charleton Heston declared that the only way he would surrender his weapons is when the enemy (our own government) "pried them from [his] cold, dead, hands." But through study, prayer, and reflection, I've come to the conviction that it would be foolish to give my life for this "right" given to me by man. Though reluctantly and in the flesh, I pray that I will "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mark 12:17; Romans 13:1-7). If necessary, I'll defend my family with my life without a rifle, but we must trust in God's ability to deliver us from that "temptation," or trial, when it comes (Psalm 22:4; James 1:2-4).
My fear today is that if Christians answer a "call to arms" to fight whatever totalitarian regime is being plotted (in preparation for Antichrist), then godly men will be imprisoned or die, leaving women and children behind to be ravaged both physically and spiritually. Going down in a "blaze of glory" like the Revolutionary "heroes" sounds good to our own flesh, but if we are dead men, how can we minister the gospel under whatever pagan ruler or communist culture rises to replace our Constitutional Republic?
We are in a spiritual battle, but we must choose on which hill we are willing to die. Dying for Nationalistic Pride or even for our "Rights" is not the same as dying for the cause of Christ. Far better for godly men to survive in a pagan nation and submit to rule of law (which God ordains) and to subsist by His Word—unless (or until) we are asked to bow down and worship a false god. Such an affront would still not be cause to take up arms. In the life-and-death trial of the fiery furnace, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah did not go into the flames as "National Patriots," willing to die for their "Bill of Rights," nor did they offer any physical resistance to their captors. Like Christ's, theirs was a peaceful obedience and demonstration of submission to God, who alone is able to save (Daniel 3:17-18; James 4:12; Hebrews 7:25).
Does this mean, as some brethren suggest, that I am weak, unfaithful, or lazy? Does it mean that I am consigned to our nation's "fate"? No! On the contrary, I am reminded that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood," which causes me to re-focus God's precious resources of time and energy on eternal things -- not on fulfilling the "American Dream" for myself and my posterity, nor on establishing God's "kingdom now." Rather, we must earnestly set about "redeeming the time" (Ephesians 5:16) with renewed fervor to preach the gospel and make disciples -- not for an earthly hope of heaven here, but with an eye on his kingdom to come (Christ's eternal kingdom). Scripture is clear that this present terrestrial globe "shall melt with fervent heat...and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). That includes every church building, every mansion, every monument, every false god, and every political power structure built or imagined by mankind -- whether Democrat or Republican, Communist or "Christian."
As Christians, we should protect and defend human life wherever we are. We should never deny Christ in order to save our lives, but to throw ourselves in front of an advancing tank that threatens our "Constitutional" liberties would only crush and silence our voice for God, and would do nothing for the cause of Christ.
These are difficult issues that one must prayerfully work through. May our Lord continue to sharpen us all for His glory and His purpose, "having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13) and, as He commanded, "Occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13) -- doing so not in a passive state but in a state of action for the gospel and cause of Christ. "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).
Amen! My sentiments exactly! This is PRECISELY where my heart and mind have been set for the past month now. That can't be for no reason at all. I thank my Heavenly Father for leading me through this exegesis. Folks, our marching orders are clear I think.
Ultimately, I'm left wondering if the fact that an overwhelming majority of Christians that I know are predisposed to "fighting back" by taking matters into their own hands rather than heeding what the Scriptures clearly tell us (that the battle and vengeance is the Lord's) is evidence of the fulfillment of another end times prophecy:
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (KJV) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Maybe that's why guys like Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, and Steve Quayle are so popular these days. It's one thing to shine the light of truth on the darkness of deceit to try and expose evil so that people will not be deceived (after all, if people fall for the deceptions of man, then how much easier will they fall for the deceptions of the Antichrist with all his "lying signs and wonders"?), but another thing entirely to incite people to respond in any way that would go against good, sound Biblical teaching especially when they claim to be doing what they do for the Lord (ok, Glenn Beck is the exception from the list of names I referenced above). That's just not right.
We need to make sure our motives are pure when it comes to this discussion. Are we protesting and reporting on such issues because we want to open people's eyes and ears to the truth so that they will recognize their need for the the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ before it's too late, or are we doing it just to prevent further change and maintain the status quo of this life we've come to know and love so well? Food for serious thought.
What are your thoughts on this debatable, uneasy subject? Is this the proper conclusion that's applicable to our time, situation, and faith? Is this the appropriate Biblical response of defiance, or is it an act of disillusionment and the embodiment of naivete?
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