When to Speak

When Not to Obey (5)

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

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The Threat of the Gospel
Political leaders can sometimes find religion to be a thorny issue. It has been not uncommon, throughout Western history, for civil magistrates to lash out against Christians in an effort to interrupt or cease the spread of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Romans unleashed ten waves of violent persecution against the Church between the years 100 and 314, only to fall ultimately under the irresistible power of the Gospel. The local ruler on the Hebridean island of Eigg slaughtered Donan and his fifty companions, hoping to extirpate the Gospel from her land. She did not. The Medici’s hanged and burned Savonarola; his reforms went ahead anyway. Luther was put under the ban, and a contract issued on his life; the Gospel spread like wildfire. 72,000 Huguenots were murdered on a single day in 1572, but the Gospel kept going on. The Church came under severe persecution in the Soviet Union; now only one of these entities remains.

When to Worship

When Not to Obey (4)

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Daniel 6:10

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Control Freaks
Governments like to control things, have you noticed that? That old temptation to abuse political power has many guises. With Darius we see a new example of government going bad and acting horridly. Darius may have been a very powerful man and a skilled military leader. But he was apparently a few cars short of a full train. He was easily flattered by his lackeys and, thus, led to take an action that even he would later recognize as completely foolish.

Darius’ fellow Persians, who were appointed to administer the realm he had taken over from the Babylonian king, didn’t like the fact that Daniel was kept on in an influential role. He wasn’t “one of them” after all, and he should not be allowed more power than they, or, so these political appointees reasoned.

Whom to Worship

When Not to Obey (3)

“If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods...” Daniel 3:17, 18

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Ruler Worship
Sometimes people who gain political power become confused about the purposes and limits of that power. As we have seen, sinful rulers can easily begin to think that they must wield their power in what would, if done publicly, be easily seen to be unjust ways, in order to further their own ends. So rather than make a big public show of violating conscience and the moral law, they do it under the radar, where (they hope) their mendacity will not be visible to the population.

Other rulers are insecure and need to be continually reinforced with the idea that their people love them. So it was, apparently, with Nebuchadnezzar.

Whom to Fear

When Not to Obey (2)

But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live…So God dealt well with the midwives. Exodus 1:17, 20

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The Temptation of Political Power
Because governments are comprised of sinful people, even though they have been instituted by God to pursue His good purposes among men, it doesn’t surprise us when, from time to time, governments turn very, very bad and become horrid.

The temptation to use political power in unjust ways for one’s own ends is a very powerful temptation, indeed. When the Founders of this country crafted our form of government, they built in a series of checks and balances between the various entities of our government – federal and state – so that this temptation could be minimized by lawful means. This system of checks and balances has served our country very well for more than 230 years.

When He Is God ...

When Not to Obey (1)

...for he is God’s servant for your good. Romans 13:4

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Instituted by God
Governments are somewhat like the little girl with the little curl in the middle of her forehead. They can be a very, very good thing. In fact, this is why God instituted governments among men, to help ensure that His good purposes of order, justice, fruitfulness, peace, and love would flourish.

Because human beings are sinful and prone to seek our own ends at anybody and everybody else’s expense, governments serve to check that sinful propensity and constrain wickedness through just laws and the use of the sword.

Truth to Media

Truth to Power (7)

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” Jeremiah 23:16, 17

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The Power of the Media
In his book, The Media in America, John Tebbell observes, “the media which so many people today are quite willing to beat into the shapeless gray mass of uniformity and conformity have been prime shapers of our culture and political development, to an extent never witnessed before in human history.”

Christians are rightly concerned, therefore, about the extent to which the media today has become fixated on a moral and social agenda that flies in the face of Biblical teaching. Throughout large sectors of the media, Biblical teaching is ignored, flouted, opposed, and mocked, whether in the TV sitcom, the editorial page, or on the evening news. Truly, corruption and sin have settled into the worldview of many in the media, to such an extent that they express open hostility to anything smacking of Christian teaching or Biblical truth.

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