“In the Midst of Your Enemies” (6)

A commentary on I Samuel, by Joel McDurmon, 2013. Reviewed by Andrew McColl, Part (6), 9/9/2014

21. From this [I Sam.13:19-22] it should be quite clear why would-be tyrants move espe­cially for gun control laws before much else. An armed populace always presents the end to tyrannical and socialistic plans. Without this obstacle removed, there shall be no domination, no subjugation of the people, no elite-directed utopia (p.183).

Tyrants are always suspicious of armed, confident independent subjects. Charles II sought to disarm Protestants, and one of the early attempts of Britain to move against dissident Americans prior to the War of Independence, was when the British Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, General Gage, sought to stop armed protest by confiscating American stores of arms in September 1774.[1]

The English Revolution of the 1640’s, and the American Revolution which began in 1776, were conservative, defensive revolutions, resisting new and unpopular taxation. One of the reasons they were both successful, was that the revolutionaries were able to obtain similar or better firearms, than those they were fighting against. These two revolutions have much to teach us, as does our own home-grown revolution in Australia, commonly (but inaccurately) called the Rum Rebellion of 1808.

George Washington claimed that

Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence… From the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable… The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honour with all that’s good.

Confiscation of firearms was the normal procedure for twentieth century tyrants. Why? So that subsequent resistance to revolution would be difficult for the people to sustain. No firearms-no power to resist. The Turks confiscated the Armenians’ firearms in 1915, before beginning their massacre of 1.5 million innocents, and Hitler through a selective gun registration process, prevented Jews from owning firearms. By 1936, Jews were defenceless.

In 1940, when England was threatened with invasion by Germany after the fall of France, millions of firearms were donated by Americans and shipped over to England because individuals in England possessed few firearms for self-protection in the case of invasion.

Mao claimed that “power comes out of the barrel of a gun,” and one of his first acts when taking over an area of China, was total firearm confiscation from the community.

When the Hutus murdered some 800,000 Tutsis in 1994 in Rwanda, they had access to firearms, not the Tutsis.

22. …when wicked kings rule you can guarantee it is an expression of wickedness in the populace. This leads to two phenomena: first, the abandonment of God’s Law in civil government leads to the cre­ation of arbitrary statutes, usually in an effort to glorify and perpetuate the greatness of the wicked establishment, or special interests associated with it. Second, along with this comes and ever-increasing difficulty of returning to liberty before total tyranny or social collapse comes about. This latter phe­nomenon itself has two parts: 1) efforts at restoration and revival will almost always have to originate as grassroots efforts. These will at first comprise a minority, and the minority will have to fight uphill… 2) The longer tyranny is allowed to creep, the more entrenched it becomes, the more evil it does, and the more difficult it becomes to remove. Yet even here we will see that God can move even complacent masses to withstand tyrants and override tyrannical laws (p.199).

McDurmon here indirectly shows the great need for the church to be the foremost institution in mobilising the community against all forms of tyranny. The best resistance to tyrants must be among the community’s grass roots, and it is the church which is most ably equipped for this task.

How? Because the Bible tells us that the church is “the pillar and support of the truth” (I Tim.3:15). We have a proclaiming role in every community: encouraging, directing and confronting, with a long heritage and history going back to Elijah, Nathan and John the Baptist.

Historically, the church has been aware of this, and it’s no accident that significant political progress in Christian nations around the world, including defiance of tyrants, has been brought on by bold, uncompromising Christian leaders like Stephen Langton (the Archbishop of Canterbury who wrote the Magna Carta, in defiance of King John), Oliver Cromwell and Margaret Thatcher.

We believers cannot remain silent when great national matters are being decided. At Mordecai exhorted Esther, “Who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14) There are occasions when silence is a crime. Rather, we must accept the God-given charge to leaven the community with the values of the kingdom of God. If we do not, others will bring their peculiar form of leavening to the community, with dire consequences. So, the first task we have is faithfulness to God and His Word, and proclaiming that Word.

23. The path to dominion is constant faithfulness to His Law no matter what may come. This means that you should simply do your job, and get busy and serious about doing it. Just as God commanded Samuel the priest to get busy doing things that priests do, so He calls you to get busy home­making, or accounting, or video editing, or engineering, or building, or dig­ging, or whatever. God has not only provided the holy things like His Word and corporate worship; He has also provided the all-too-often-demeaned normal parts of life: your extended family, your business, your friends, your job, your grocery store. All the things we take for granted or treat as parts of a daily grind—these are the things we should engage in with the most optimisticeagerness. It is from these things that God provides most of the opportunities for us to advance the kingdom in subtle but meaningful ways (p.236).

I appreciate McDurmon emphasising the run of the mill activities we all have, as part of our daily responsibilities. Getting out of bed and attending to our God-ordained tasks is a most important aspect of our faithfulness to God, that mustn’t be diminished.

Is baking a loaf of bread important? It is, when there are people who’ll be waiting to consume it. Is getting the washing on the line, sweeping the floor, completing the grocery shopping and paying the bills? Of course.

The Reformers knew this, 500 years ago. Bell claimed that, for the Protestant reformers,“All work was endowed with virtue.”  Luther claimed that “A housemaid who does her work is no farther away from God than a priest in his pulpit.” For Zwingli and Calvin, “work was connected with the joy of creating and with exploring even the wonders of creation.” Calvin added that “if a man is deprived of his work he is degraded.” [2]

Don’t push the world along and live in a world of fame

Be like the oxen and get there just the same.

Solomon was blunt: “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest” (Prov.6:6-8).

24. So Paul reminds us that we do not wage war according to the flesh, and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but have divine power to tear down strongholds (2 Cor. 10:3–6). Do not forget, therefore, that dominion begins and is thoroughly maintained by prayer, by praise, by mercy, by self-sacrifice, by worship, by the arts, and similar things. If your dominionism is not thoroughly saturated with these things, and with the earnest desire to pursue such things, then you need to repent and reset (p.240).

If we want to win the world to the gospel, this requires Christian faithfulness and responsibility, right throughout what we do. We all want progress and we’d like it quickly, but the church’s international decline which has been happening for centuries, may take generations to turn around. Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither will the church be.

Healthy growth happens the way that Jesus described: “First the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head” (Mk.4:28). This means we ought to be cautious about instant success and flash results. Oak trees take much longer to grow than mushrooms, but they also last much longer. The Christian individual in all he’s doing, should aim to be much more like Steady Eddy than Flash Harry.

The first assignment we are told that David had was away from people, down the paddock looking after his father’s sheep. He may have been destined for greatness, but would we have thought so initially from where he began? And this should serve as both an encouragement and a warning to us.

The scripture teaches us that “…the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God” (I Cor.1:28-29). Neil Diamond, in “Rhinestone Cowboy” sang, “I want to be where the light’s on me,” but that should never be the Christian’s anthem. We should never be concerned about where we are serving, so long as it’s in the place where God wants us to be.

The scripture always warns us that “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). So when there is only a seemingly minor task to attend to which is unimpressive to man, we ought to make it our goal that we deal with this as well as we can.

If we want to win the world to the gospel, this requires Christian faithfulness and responsibility, right throughout what we do. We all want progress and we’d like it quickly, but the church’s international decline which has been happening for centuries, may take generations to turn around. Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither will the church be.

Healthy growth happens the way that Jesus described: “First the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head” (Mk.4:28). This means we ought to be cautious about instant success and flash results. Oak trees take much longer to grow than mushrooms, but they also last much longer. The Christian individual in all he is doing, should aim to be much more like Steady Eddy than Flash Harry.

The first assignment we are told that David had was away from people, down the paddock looking after his father’s sheep. He may have been destined for greatness, but would we have thought so initially from where he began? And this should as both an encouragement and a warning to us.

The scripture teaches us that “…the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God” (I Cor.1:28-29). Neil Diamond, in “Rhinestone Cowboy” sang, “I want to be where the light’s on me,” but that should never be the Christian’s anthem. We should never be concerned about where we are serving, so long as it’s in the place where God wants us to be.

 

[1] Source: Wikipedia.

[2] Bell, D., “Work and its Discontents,” 1956, p.54-56.