Category Archives: Government

Be Careful What You Ask For, You Might Get It

Sometimes our Father withholds something from us that we ask for and it is a good thing. Sometimes he may give us what we ask for and it is not good. Israel asked for a king. They got one. Samuel makes the case why this was a mistake, but they are stuck with it. They looked at how all the other nations were run and desired to be like them. God’s intent was for them to be special, set apart, his own people. He was to be their king.  Samuel makes it plain… with or without a king, they will do well to obey the LORD and do poorly if they do not.

We do well to remember that we must develop relationship with our Father. Our government can not save us.

1 Samuel 12

Samuel Addresses Israel

     1Then Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have listened to your voice in all that you said to me and I have appointed a king over you. 2“Now, here is the king walking before you, but I am old and gray, and behold my sons are with you. And I have walked before you from my youth even to this day. 3“Here I am; bear witness against me before the LORD and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? I will restore it to you.” 4They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” 5He said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day that you have found nothing in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”

      6Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who appointed Moses and Aaron and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. 7“So now, take your stand, that I may plead with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did for you and your fathers. 8“When Jacob went into Egypt and your fathers cried out to the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron who brought your fathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place. 9“But they forgot the LORD their God, so He sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. 10“They cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We have sinned because we have forsaken the LORD and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth; but now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve You.’ 11“Then the LORD sent Jerubbaal and Bedan and Jephthah and Samuel, and delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around, so that you lived in security.

The King Confirmed

     12“When you saw that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ although the LORD your God was your king. 13“Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the LORD has set a king over you. 14“If you will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God. 15“If you will not listen to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the command of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers. 16“Even now, take your stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes. 17“Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call to the LORD, that He may send thunder and rain. Then you will know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the LORD by asking for yourselves a king.” 18So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.

      19Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.” 20Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21“You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile. 22“For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself. 23“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way. 24“Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25“But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.”

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

One Nation, Under One True God…Thankful and Humble Before Him

You will often hear today about “separation of church and state”. Many will claim we must separate our faith and obedience to the one and only God from our government. This is clearly not the intent of our founders and more importantly not the intent and desire of God. Further, it is a lie to say that this is how our nation functioned. “separation of church and state” is nowhere in the Constitution. It appears in some letters from the founders. It is primarily focused on the government not determining which denomination of Christianity we should follow. We see overwhelming evidence in history, if we study it (because schools will not teach it anymore). I have previously shared George Washington’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation and also some resources about our history (Silencing God). Today I wanted to highlight another Thanksgiving proclamation from Abraham Lincoln to help us remember how our country should be humble and repentant and thankful before God… and yes how our government should represent our Christian faith in the one true God without apology.

I am referencing below a website by a historian named Bill Petro for Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation and afterwards Fox News for Abraham Lincolns 1864 proclamation. I am sure you can search these out online in many places.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION – 1863

Following the initial Presidential Thanksgiving proclamations of George Washington, John Adams and James Madison, there were no further Presidential proclamations for this day until Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day during the Civil War, but it was not initially in November. Instead it was in the Spring of 1862 and then again on October 3, 1863 for victories in battle. He later established the common Fall celebration of Thanksgiving for the blessings of the year on Thursday, November 26 1863. It was on March 30, 1863 that Lincoln, in his Proclamation for a Day of Prayer and Fasting said the following:

“…It is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

“We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subject to punishments and chastisements in
this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins; to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

“But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

“Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

“It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”

Abraham Lincoln later went on to say on October 3, 1863:

“It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

Editor’s note: The following is a proclamation from Abraham Lincoln on Thanksgiving Day, October 20, 1864. (Fox News.com)

It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry and abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on the occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for the return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.

(From <https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/abraham-lincolns-thanksgiving-day-proclamation>)

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Look To God Instead Of Government

It is not the LORD’s will that a king, or any sort of government would take his place in our lives as leader and provider. He is our leader. He and his word directs our path. Sometimes he uses prophets to help communicate that, but the emphasis should be on him and his word. Whatever form of government we have should be directly pointing back to YHWH and obeying his instructions and laws. He does not want us looking to how others that do not follow him govern as an example for us. He wants us to look towards him. It is the sinful nature of man that tries to establish government separate from YHWH and then submits to the laws of man where he would not submit to the the law and instruction of the Father.

1 Samuel 8

Israel Demands a King

      1And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel. 2Now the name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in Beersheba. 3His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.

      4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; 5and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” 6But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. 8“Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day—in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9“Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them.”

Warning concerning a King

      10So Samuel spoke all the words of the LORD to the people who had asked of him a king. 11He said, “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. 12“He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13“He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14“He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. 15“He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. 16“He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. 17“He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. 18“Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

      19Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, 20that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21Now after Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the LORD’S hearing. 22The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and appoint them a king.” So Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”

Be careful what you ask for as a nation with regards to separating the Father from our government. He will allow it if we reject him, but it will be to our own peril as a nation.

A few more interesting points of consideration… just like Eli, Samuel had children that did not follow in his ways. Samuel was a righteous man. Was it his fault as a father? or did his sons make their own choice to rebel against YHWH? or was it simply that the LORD had not chosen them to be faithful followers? There is always a bit of the second part in every situation like this. We all have personal accountability for following or rejecting YHWH. We do not get any information about Samuel as a father, but one might reasonably conclude that if he had failed as a father, it would be highlighted in the historical record like it was for Eli. Also, we see that Samuel was not rebuked by YHWH for his failure to discipline his sons, or at least it is not recorded here. If it comes down the the third option, the LORD not choosing them to follow, then we must simply trust in the LORD even if we don’t understand.

To make this more personal, imagine it is your children that are not following in his ways. What would you do differently as a parent? Do it now. Pray for him to help your children to follow obediently and faithfully. Learn the ways of the Father in his word and don’t simply accept the teaching and ways of man. Then teach your children. Live out the example for them, admitting when you are wrong and changing behavior to follow YHWH more closely even when it is hard.

Perhaps worth a comment also is the dire warning about a king includes the fact that he will take 1/10th of your stuff. That was considered high apparently for that culture and time. Now look at us. Our obese federal government clamors for 25, 33, 50% and more of what we earn and squanders it on many corrupt and ungodly or mismanaged programs they should never operate in the first place. Clearly in comparison to God’s word, the taxes we face are much too high and instead of looking to what other failed nations are doing as an example, we should look to God and his word for guidance in all things.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Get Involved. Influence the politics of our country… or someone else will.

We have important elections coming up very soon. People will be put in positions of influence at local, state, and national levels. Whether it is a local city council member, a board of education member, or a senator or congressman headed for Washington D.C., they all have influence over the policies that govern our nation or locality.

Many Christians seem to be disengaged at times. They see the sin rampant in society and often in candidates as well. They choose not to vote. If we, as followers of Christ, do not vote… than others who reject Him will. No matter how imperfect the candidates, we should do our homework to understand the candidates… not just what they say (many lie) but also what their previous actions reflect. We should pray.

We must also test the values and principles they support against scripture. We must not choose someone because of the superficial diversity of their skin color or biological sex. Choose based on their values. Personal integrity matters, but so does policy and policy will have significant implications.

As an example, I have seen Christians turn against a man who had sinned (adultery) and repented (genuinely) years ago, but stood for the sanctity of life (against abortion). They instead turned to a man who has not committed adultery, but openly pronounced that he avidly supports abortion and promoting the homosexual agenda (encouraging them to embrace this lifestyle even at the expense of the rights of Christians rather than encouraging them to get help and repent). Which is the better candidate? Which is more consistent with God’s word? I will give you a hint… as Christians we believe in repentance and forgiveness of sin.

Another man in a different senate race was accused of dating women too much younger than him 40 years ago but had demonstrated 40 years of honorable living and openly professed his faith in God. His opponent openly supported abortion, the killing of millions of babies. How is this even a tough choice for a Christian? But it went the wrong way and another  ungodly person was sent to direct the policy of our national government.

Sometimes the decisions seem tougher. A Mormon ran for president awhile back, against a man who claimed to be Christian. However, the policies and beliefs that the false Christian supported were not consistent with God’s word. The Mormon supported policies more consistent with our Christian values. Many did not vote for him because he was a Mormon. Meanwhile they voted for someone who was not a Christian either, but he claimed to be. Many bad policies have damaged our country since and continued to normalize ungodly behavior in our nation.

Staying home is not the right answer either. If we stay home, it just means someone else will vote, someone who may be voting for an agenda to overturn Christian values and embrace godlessness. We must not hold out for a perfect candidate. They do not exist. Look for the one who will protect our freedom to worship and live the way our Creator intends. Look for the one who will say no to a blatantly sinful agenda of normalizing abortion, homosexuality, transgender, etc. In most cases today, they don’t even pretend to hide their ungodly agenda.

I encourage you to know your candidates, pray for your locality and our nation, pray for guidance on how to vote and be active. Not only vote, but engage people ahead of the election to influence them also. Let us take back our country for righteousness and cast aside wickedness and depravity which is all to often being normalized.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Honor Authority

Peter provides some challenging material to think through about honoring secular authority.

1 Peter 2:13-20

Honor Authority

      13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

      18Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

On the surface, this seems reasonable. Generally speaking it seems right to respect and honor authority. Where this gets tricky is where we are told to honor authority even if they are unreasonable. It seems the main thrust is that you are more likely to bring honor to YHWH and to bring others to him by honoring authority. This is not to be taken to mean that ungodly authority can instruct you to rebel against the ways of YHWH and you just say you are honoring authority for even as you are subject to earthly authority, you are more so subject to the authority of the creator. Consider Daniel, and Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego. Consider the disciples and Yeshua himself as they confronted authority in the Pharisees while preaching and teaching. There are boundaries and we are accountable first to our Creator.

However, we are warned not to let our freedom be a covering for evil, but to let our freedom lead us to be bondservants of the LORD, choosing willfully to serve him.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

When There Was no King In Israel…

We previously explored the language in Judges 17 and 18 about there being no king in Israel. It was associated with idolatry, even amongst a priest, and lawlessness. In Judges 19 we again see this emphasized as we read a story of great lawlessness and conflict, with each man doing what he feels is right in his own eyes.

Many questions could be asked… such as, “Why does a Levite have a concubine?” or “Why did he tolerate her playing a harlot and pursue her?” How about “Why did her father make it so difficult for them to return safely home by constantly imposing on them to stay?”How about “Why was so much wickedness accepted within the tribe of Benjamin?”

We will see more in chapter 20, but for today, just try to absorb and reflect on the lawlessness that takes place when there is no clear government in place to lead or constrain the people. People tend to degrade to doing whatever they feel like that they can get away with. It is a good reminder that human nature is sinful and selfish and not at all righteous and good. Righteousness and goodness come through YHWH and his transforming us to be more like him.

Judges 19

A Levite’s Concubine Degraded

      1Now it came about in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, who took a concubine for himself from Bethlehem in Judah. 2But his concubine played the harlot against him, and she went away from him to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah, and was there for a period of four months. 3Then her husband arose and went after her to speak tenderly to her in order to bring her back, taking with him his servant and a pair of donkeys. So she brought him into her father’s house, and when the girl’s father saw him, he was glad to meet him. 4His father-in-law, the girl’s father, detained him; and he remained with him three days. So they ate and drank and lodged there. 5Now on the fourth day they got up early in the morning, and he prepared to go; and the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Sustain yourself with a piece of bread, and afterward you may go.” 6So both of them sat down and ate and drank together; and the girl’s father said to the man, “Please be willing to spend the night, and let your heart be merry.” 7Then the man arose to go, but his father-in-law urged him so that he spent the night there again. 8On the fifth day he arose to go early in the morning, and the girl’s father said, “Please sustain yourself, and wait until afternoon”; so both of them ate. 9When the man arose to go along with his concubine and servant, his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Behold now, the day has drawn to a close; please spend the night. Lo, the day is coming to an end; spend the night here that your heart may be merry. Then tomorrow you may arise early for your journey so that you may go home.”

      10But the man was not willing to spend the night, so he arose and departed and came to a place opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). And there were with him a pair of saddled donkeys; his concubine also was with him. 11When they were near Jebus, the day was almost gone; and the servant said to his master, “Please come, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.” 12However, his master said to him, “We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners who are not of the sons of Israel; but we will go on as far as Gibeah.” 13He said to his servant, “Come and let us approach one of these places; and we will spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.” 14So they passed along and went their way, and the sun set on them near Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. 15They turned aside there in order to enter and lodge in Gibeah. When they entered, they sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night.

      16Then behold, an old man was coming out of the field from his work at evening. Now the man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was staying in Gibeah, but the men of the place were Benjamites. 17And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city; and the old man said, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” 18He said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, for I am from there, and I went to Bethlehem in Judah. But I am now going to my house, and no man will take me into his house. 19“Yet there is both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and also bread and wine for me, your maidservant, and the young man who is with your servants; there is no lack of anything.” 20The old man said, “Peace to you. Only let me take care of all your needs; however, do not spend the night in the open square.” 21So he took him into his house and gave the donkeys fodder, and they washed their feet and ate and drank.

      22While they were celebrating, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have relations with him.” 23Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly. 24“Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them whatever you wish. But do not commit such an act of folly against this man.” 25But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and brought her out to them; and they raped her and abused her all night until morning, then let her go at the approach of dawn. 26As the day began to dawn, the woman came and fell down at the doorway of the man’s house where her master was, until full daylight.

      27When her master arose in the morning and opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, then behold, his concubine was lying at the doorway of the house with her hands on the threshold. 28He said to her, “Get up and let us go,” but there was no answer. Then he placed her on the donkey; and the man arose and went to his home. 29When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel. 30All who saw it said, “Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up!”

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

A Prayer for Defense Against the Wicked

There are no special words that must be repeated in prayer. However, I find it rewarding to sift through the word of YHWH and to find the prayers of his people as examples of how to pray in certain situations. It helps to guide and mature my prayer life and gives me perspective.

One such prayer is from Psalms and is a prayer for YHWH to defend against the wicked. I think this is a prayer today that we can pray not only for an individual, but for our nation, recognizing that the wicked which seem intent on destroying us are within our own nation trying to separate us from YHWH as a nation and instead desiring that we should all answer to and serve an all powerful central government which provides for us. (That will not work well, it never has.)

Psalm 7

The LORD Implored to Defend the Psalmist against the Wicked.

Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjamite.

     1O LORD my God, in You I have taken refuge;
Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me,

      2Or he will tear my soul like a lion,
Dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.

      3O LORD my God, if I have done this,
If there is injustice in my hands,

      4If I have rewarded evil to my friend,
Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary,

      5Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it;
And let him trample my life down to the ground
And lay my glory in the dust.

Selah.

      6Arise, O LORD, in Your anger;
Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries,
And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.

      7Let the assembly of the peoples encompass You,
And over them return on high.

      8The LORD judges the peoples;
Vindicate me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.

      9O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;
For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.

      10My shield is with God,
Who saves the upright in heart.

      11God is a righteous judge,
And a God who has indignation every day.

      12If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword;
He has bent His bow and made it ready.

      13He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons;
He makes His arrows fiery shafts.

      14Behold, he travails with wickedness,
And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.

      15He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he made.

      16His mischief will return upon his own head,
And his violence will descend upon his own pate.

      17I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness
And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Dividing the Land

The book of Joshua devotes a lot of time and effort to documenting how the promised land was divided. It reminds us  that the Bible is an actual historical document, recording real events. It reminds us that YHWH is not some far off God that cares nothing for the details of his people because he is too busy. He gave them victory. He gave them the land. He helped them distribute it.

Joshua 18

Rest of the Land Divided

     1Then the whole congregation of the sons of Israel assembled themselves at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there; and the land was subdued before them.

      2There remained among the sons of Israel seven tribes who had not divided their inheritance. 3So Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? 4“Provide for yourselves three men from each tribe that I may send them, and that they may arise and walk through the land and write a description of it according to their inheritance; then they shall return to me. 5“They shall divide it into seven portions; Judah shall stay in its territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall stay in their territory on the north. 6“You shall describe the land in seven divisions, and bring the description here to me. I will cast lots for you here before the LORD our God. 7“For the Levites have no portion among you, because the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance. Gad and Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh also have received their inheritance eastward beyond the Jordan, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.”

      8Then the men arose and went, and Joshua commanded those who went to describe the land, saying, “Go and walk through the land and describe it, and return to me; then I will cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh.” 9So the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities in seven divisions in a book; and they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh. 10And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the sons of Israel according to their divisions.

The Territory of Benjamin

     11Now the lot of the tribe of the sons of Benjamin came up according to their families, and the territory of their lot lay between the sons of Judah and the sons of Joseph. 12Their border on the north side was from the Jordan, then the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north, and went up through the hill country westward, and it ended at the wilderness of Beth-aven. 13From there the border continued to Luz, to the side of Luz (that is, Bethel) southward; and the border went down to Ataroth-addar, near the hill which lies on the south of lower Beth-horon. 14The border extended from there and turned round on the west side southward, from the hill which lies before Beth-horon southward; and it ended at Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), a city of the sons of Judah. This was the west side. 15Then the south side was from the edge of Kiriath-jearim, and the border went westward and went to the fountain of the waters of Nephtoah. 16The border went down to the edge of the hill which is in the valley of Ben-hinnom, which is in the valley of Rephaim northward; and it went down to the valley of Hinnom, to the slope of the Jebusite southward, and went down to En-rogel. 17It extended northward and went to En-shemesh and went to Geliloth, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, and it went down to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 18It continued to the side in front of the Arabah northward and went down to the Arabah. 19The border continued to the side of Beth-hoglah northward; and the border ended at the north bay of the Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan. This was the south border. 20Moreover, the Jordan was its border on the east side. This was the inheritance of the sons of Benjamin, according to their families and according to its borders all around.

      21Now the cities of the tribe of the sons of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho and Beth-hoglah and Emek-keziz, 22and Beth-arabah and Zemaraim and Bethel, 23and Avvim and Parah and Ophrah, 24and Chephar-ammoni and Ophni and Geba; twelve cities with their villages. 25Gibeon and Ramah and Beeroth, 26and Mizpeh and Chephirah and Mozah, 27and Rekem and Irpeel and Taralah, 28and Zelah, Haeleph and the Jebusite (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah, Kiriath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the sons of Benjamin according to their families.

I can only imagine how this type of activity would take place today… with dirty politics and underhanded deals and smear campaigns against one another. People would be protesting in the streets that they deserve one piece of land or the other. The media would report full of bias to influence the outcome. If any spoke up for YHWH, they would be attacked for not separating their religious beliefs from government affairs. It is refreshing to see a group of people who made and accepted decisions based on acknowledgment and submission to the LORD as a whole.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

What Did Jesus Say About Paying Taxes?

Mark 12 documents an encounter Jesus had with the Pharisees and Herodians as they were trying to trap Him. He not only deflected their trap, but also laid out  straightforward guidance for all of us in regards to submission to government and paying taxes.

Mark 12: 13-16

Jesus Answers the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes

      13Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15“Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.

Clearly Jesus did not agree with everything the Romans were doing, but He still gave guidance to pay the taxes to Caesar. Some may speculate that He was just deflecting the trap question, but Jesus never provided a wrong answer just to avoid a trap. He always took the opportunity to address the trap and make a point on the right way of doing things also.

For those who need more convincing… the Bible has it.

Romans 13:1-7

Be Subject to Government

      1Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

It is ok to work lawfully to reduce the tax burden. Governments usually waste money badly. Often they spend on things which may not honor God. However, just refusing to pay is not the guidance that Jesus provided for His people.

We can also recognize that not all governments are acting as described in Romans 13. Some persecute followers of Christ openly and actively. You could perhaps debate then if you are required to pay taxes, but to what end? To give them more cause persecute you? The government was no friend to Paul as a follower of Christ as he wrote Romans. Keep that in mind.

We can debate the “why” Jesus gives this instruction. Perhaps it is as simple as the fact that He does not want Christians to be misunderstood by unbelievers as lawbreakers, unruly, selfish, greedy, and rebellious on matters that do not offend God. Maybe He does not want His people putting their freedom at risk or constantly distracted by a fear of arrest so that they live not in the fullness of joy He intends. Maybe he wants us to be content with what we have and avoid greed.

It is indeed different if the government calls us to reject our God or  His instructions. Then there well may be times where we refuse to obey as we stand for a higher authority, our Father and Creator, if there is a direct conflict between the laws of men and the laws of God.

This article was developed in partnership with GrowGodsMoney.org.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

A Call To Prayer For Our Nation

There is a battle going on for our nation and for nations around the world. It is not always fought with military. Often it is fought through politics. There are many who want to keep leading our country farther and farther away from a Christian worldview. They want to demonize people who live out their faith by suing them (e.g. bakers, florists, artists). They want to create rights for people who are struggling with their sexual identity while stripping rights away from Christians who want to live according to YHWH’s word. They want to fight for the right to provide free abortion to kill children while decrying that any who oppose abortion are against women. This is nonsense. It is lies. Half the children killed would grow into women.

We see this battle playing out in politics. There is a push to make government the sole provider and master of all things instead of YHWH. The government should determine what healthcare and education you get. The government should take your money and decide whom to give it to. Instead of equality of opportunity, they want to claim equality of outcomes. There will never be an end to it. We need only look to countries like China or Russia to see how the government, once established with enough power, will continue to persecute and scatter those who follow Christ or try to control them.

At this point, the odds are stacked against the righteous in terms of the power of the government, the way in which education has been stripped of God and Biblical focus and replaced with a secular worldview, the way in which traditional mainstream news media have a clear bias in reporting (as well as new media like major social media platforms), the way in which pastors are silenced on politics under threat by the IRS to revoke non profit status, and these are just some examples. For those who deny Christ, there is no concept of “fair play” or true right and wrong. They constantly redefine what is right and wrong to suit their purpose.

But take heart, that if we are on the Lord’s side, than we have all we need. If we are to follow Christ, we must actively stand up and stand against evil. We must influence others. We must vote. We must not believe the lie that we are to separate our faith from our government. Our government was founded based on faith in YHWH through Christ. We must recognize that this is a spiritual battle for our country as well. We must not remain neutral, but rather based on God’s word get involved despite any persecution we may face.

More than anything we must humble ourselves and pray. Let us repent from sin, rededicate ourselves to the Lord, and pray for Him to bring our nation back to righteousness. Pray that He would defeat the plans of the evil and raise up righteous leaders across our nation in government and in churches and in education and in the news.  Let us pray for our nation in this battle between evil and righteousness as David prayed for Himself in similar situations he faced.

Psalm 7 

The LORD Implored to Defend the Psalmist against the Wicked.

A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjamite.

     1O LORD my God, in You I have taken refuge;
Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me,

      2Or he will tear my soul like a lion,
Dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.

      3O LORD my God, if I have done this,
If there is injustice in my hands,

      4If I have rewarded evil to my friend,
Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary,

      5Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it;
And let him trample my life down to the ground
And lay my glory in the dust.

Selah.

      6Arise, O LORD, in Your anger;
Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries,
And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.

      7Let the assembly of the peoples encompass You,
And over them return on high.

      8The LORD judges the peoples;
Vindicate me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.

      9O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;
For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.

      10My shield is with God,
Who saves the upright in heart.

      11God is a righteous judge,
And a God who has indignation every day.

      12If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword;
He has bent His bow and made it ready.

      13He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons;
He makes His arrows fiery shafts.

      14Behold, he travails with wickedness,
And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.

      15He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he made.

      16His mischief will return upon his own head,
And his violence will descend upon his own pate.

      17I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness
And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

Pray for our president and congress. Pray for those in the judiciary to be guided by godly principles consistent with our Constitution as written, not as changed to imply what others today want it to say. Pray for local and state officials. Influence others. Do not remain silent. Vote. Continue praying. Let us take action to help bring about a return of our nation to righteousness and away from darkness.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.