1. God’s Legacy of Progressive Peace:

The fifth part of a Biblical covenant is a program of inheritance– a lawful transition that mortal men need in order to extend their dominion over creation.

The goal of foreign policy is peace. This means peace on God’s covenantal terms. There is no other basis of lasting peace: personally, locally, nationally, or internationally. God does not offer rebellious mankind peace on any other basis. To be at war with God covenantally is to abandon the only basis of peace on earth.[1]

Almost everybody proclaims that they want peace. The Biblical ideal of swords being hammered into ploughshares (Isa.2:4; Mic.4:3), appeals to most, until they consider their requirement to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. So far as true peace is concerned, it is at root an ethical issue for “the righteous nation” (Isa.26:2). International peace has mostly been an illusion, because those who proclaimed that they were seeking it have mostly been at war with God (and thus with others), in their hearts. The individual or nation at war covenantally with God, will never find peace in this life or the next.

Jesus did not come to bring us peace in this world. He brings us peace with God which assures us of conflict with God’s enemies. The search for peace goes on, but Christ alone brings perfect peace through perfect victory. He gives it definitively to His people when they are converted. He brings it progressively in history. He fulfils it finally at the last judgment. (HON, p.122).

Ambassadors or Diplomats?

The problem with Western foreign policy [today] is that it is conducted by diplomats for the sake of those elitists who benefit from continued trade with the enemy. The economic deal-doers have taken control of the policy-making organizations… Diplomats are specialists in softening rival positions, trading with the other side. The result has been a steady retreat by the West in the face of danger for over three generations… An ambassador is to represent the national interests of his country. He is not a professional negotiator. Negotiators are useful professionals, but only when a nation is negotiating with its allies. They should not be let anywhere near a self-identified enemy. We should not trade with the enemy, so we need to keep specialists in trading (that is, economics or politics) completely out of the picture (HON, p.132).

A pre-occupation with commerce has muddied the waters, and weakened the foreign policy of western nations. Thus, as one shrewd observer wrote in 1984, “for both constitutional reasons and reasons connected with the peculiarities of totalitarian politics, the State Department [of the U. S.] is not the proper agency to formulate and execute foreign policy toward the Soviet Union or any other totalitarian state. These states play by different rules and must be dealt with accordingly.”[2]

We need ambassadors who understand the theological nature of the confrontation, and who will press the claims of Christ. Diplomats can negotiate the details with covenanted allies, pagan allies, and even neutrals. They should not be allowed to negotiate with hostile nations. They do not possess the required skills (HON, p.137).

Clearly, the inheritance of the earth by the covenant people of God is a long-term process. It is cumulative. It necessarily involves a transfer of assets from the unjust to the just. Those who obey God’s covenant laws steadily inherit the inheritance of those who disobey God’s covenant laws. Thus, the covenantal process of cumulative inheritance necessarily involves the covenantal process of cumulative disinheritance.[3]

In Summary:

  1. The goal of international relations is peace with God, not peace with Satan.
  2. International relations must face the fact that nations seek to impose their will on other nations, just as God seeks to impose His will on His enemies.
  3. Christian nations must trust in God, not weapons.
  4. We are not to go unarmed into battle, however: David and Goliath.
  5. Christian foreign policy is to seek the surrender of the nations of the world to God through an international covenant.
  6. Peace is the fruit of a previous victory, though not usually a military victory.
  7. Perfect peace comes only at the last judgment.
  8. Perfect peace is a legitimate goal in history, but impossible to attain.
  9. Perfect peace, perfect victory, and perfect humanity are found only in the Person of Christ.
  10. This perfection is imputed to us definitively at the point of conversion.
  11. Peace with God produces conflict with God’s enemies.
  12. Humanists seek their peace through conquest or international agreement.
  13. Swords are turned into ploughshares as the enemies of God surrender covenantally and nationally to God.
  14. If there is no such thing as a Christian nation, there can be no such thing as international peace in this world.
  15. God lures sinful empires to turn ploughshares into swords as preliminary acts of aggression against Christian nations.
  16. This act of rebellion then brings destruction to the rebels.
  17. Tyrants eventually “overplay their hand.”
  18. Arms control is an illegitimate international goal.

Conclusion:

One of the greatest challenges in our era, is convincing Christians how important they could be both in their own nation, and amongst the nations of the world. Christians have been reluctant to believe that their mission could be beyond individuals and families. We have believed the gospel, but we have had difficulty believing that the gospel of Jesus Christ had an application beyond these spheres. This has resulted in a comprehensive lack of effectiveness beyond the realm of the individual.

Until Christians start taking the offensive by preaching the whole counsel of God, the absolute sovereignty of God, and the gospel of comprehensive redemption, they will remain covenantal subordinates to the retreating humanists of the West. They will remain on the side of the losers (HON, p.237).

But all this can change. It will change at some point, when believers wake up to the fact that they have been seriously neglecting their responsibilities before God, and that the promised land of the whole world awaits them. What must we realise?

That Christians are ambassadors of reconciliation: primarily, the reconciliation of man to God, and secondarily, the reconciliation of covenant-keeping men to each other. Christians are assigned the task of announcing to the whole world that the gospel of Christ alone offers hope to the world. God is reconciling the world to Himself in history through His Son, Jesus Christ. This is God’s program for healing the nations. No other program, no other faith, no other plan can work. This is the only basis of permanent peace that God offers to men and nations in history (HON, p.233).

 

 

[1] North, ibid, p.121.

[2] R. Pipes, “Survival is not Enough: Soviet Realities and America’s Future,”1984, p.275.

[3] North, ibid.p.217.

Homosexual Presidential Candidate Quotes The Old Testament To Support The Minimum Wage

Here we go again. A hypocritical Leftist quotes the Bible to support governmental theft. Forcing companies to pay a minimum wage is theft. In addition, noting is said in the Constitution that gives authority to the Federal Government to pass minimum wage legislation.

The President and every member of Congress takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, therefore, passing a law to force companies to pay a certain wage rate is unconstitutional and violates the oath they took.

Here’s what Pete Buttigieg said in the latest debate:

This is so much bigger than a trade fight. This is about a moment when the economy is changing before our eyes. There are people in the economy who go through more jobs in a week than my parents went through in the lifetime. The minimum wage is just too low, and so-called Christian conservative senators right now, in the senate, are blocking a bill to raise to minimum wage.

Buttigieg argued, “scripture says, ‘whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker,’” a reference to Proverbs 14:31: “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

This is the same man who is in a same-sex relationship and claims to be married to a man. Such a relationship denies the God-created order (Gen. 1:26-272:18-24Matt. 19:4-5) and manifestly goes against numerous prohibitions (Lev. 18:2220:13).

Notice the Proverb says “whoever.” The Proverb is not only about employers. It’s all-inclusive and includes civil government. The biggest oppressors of the poor are civil governments. A forced minimum wage hurts the least skilled, the very people who need any job they can get.

The minimum wage also hurts businesses whose profit margins are not that great. A forced increase in the minimum wage (including Social Security and Medicare) often hurts small business owners the most.

Minimum wage legislation is also discriminatory. Walter Williams has made the observation that often “teenage black males are considered undesirables by the general population. In other words, they are discriminated against. They suffer from the stereotypes attached to their particular group. He asked the obvious question: ‘How does someone who is part of a group that is discriminated against find a way to prove to somebody doing the discriminating that his assessment is incorrect?’ It was really this question: ‘How do undesirables break through the discrimination against them?’”1 “Whenever federal minimum wage laws mandate an increase in the minimum wage, within a very short period of time, the unemployment rate for black teenage males increases.”2

By being able to compete with other workers by working for less.

Dr. Gary North writes the following in his commentary on the book of Proverbs:

Verses such as this one [Prov. 14:31] can be misused in the name of God. Promoters of coercion by the State in the name of social justice invoke Old Covenant passages that commend mercy. But their appeal to such passages is a cover for oppression. The heart of mercy is its voluntarism. The fact that a person is not compelled by civil law to lift up another person is what constitutes an act of compassion as merciful. If the person in need of assistance has a legal claim on compassion, then the issue is obedience to the civil law rather than grace.
Coercion goes beyond the undermining of mercy. The State takes money from one group and transfers it to another group. This transforms politics into special-interest competition. Gaining a majority in a civil government allows wealth redistribution by force. This is the essence of judicial oppression. It is common for defenders of the welfare State to justify this because the official targets of State power possess greater wealth than the official recipients. But the issue of economic oppression has to do with the use of the State’s monopoly of violence to extract wealth from a targeted group of voters who did not win elections. (236)

Nothing is said in the Bible about paying a particular wage. The Bible does require that whatever wage for work is promised, it must be paid.

You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the LORD and it become sin in you (Deut. 24:15).

What does Jesus say about the minimum wage? Nothing. Consider the following:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyardAbout nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt. 20:1-16).

A forced minimum wage is a denial of property rights and the denial of property owners and workers to enter into contracts voluntarily. Employer/employee relationships are contractural. The government becomes the oppressive third party.

  1. Gary North, “How Minimum Wage Laws Promote Racial Discrimination” (July 18, 2014). []
  2. Gary North, “Minimum Wage Laws: a Litmus Test for Economists” (February 24, 2014). []

The Beginnings of Christian Reform (46)

Christianity and International Relations (4)

Nations with Rival Covenants are Always at War- Alliances are not Covenants:

The fourth point of the covenant structure is judgment. God imposes dual sanctions in history: blessings and cursings.

Peace is therefore seen in the Bible as the ability militarily to wage war successfully, if necessary. But what about turning swords into plowshares? If peace really means preparation for war, how can swords be converted into plowshares? They cannot be, until the enemies of God have died on the field of battle, or else have retreated or surrendered. Christian international relations can seek military disarmament only if Christians affirm the legitimacy of, and work toward, national and international covenantal commitment to God. Only if nations as nations affirm the covenant of Christ can international relations progressively attain peace.[1]

The goal of godly foreign policy is to conduct the earthly war of God against enemy nations, but to do so if possible without resorting to armed conflict. The goal is long-term peace through the public covenantal surrender to God of all the nations that are presently enemies of God. Foreign policy is to seek out avenues of long-term peace, but on Christ’s terms: surrender. Only then can swords safely be beaten into ploughshares (HON, p.102-103).

Should Christians be peaceful people? Yes, for the Bible commands us to “seek peace and pursue it” (Ps.34:14). But the previous part of the verse instructs us to “depart from evil and do good.” We also know that while Jesus Christ is “the Prince of Peace” (Isa.9:6), He is also “a warrior” (Ex.15:3). He said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace to the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Mat.10:34). Christians are involved in a spiritual conflict.

Our conflict is not primarily with people (Eph.6:10-12), but it does involve people. People who are at war with God (James 4:4), will generally be in conflict with God’s people, and sometimes this involves physical weapons. People outside Christ have a different understanding of “peace,” to what the Bible teaches. Furthermore, Christians must ensure that they do not unwittingly identify with humanistic schemes of pacifism, which will probably be disastrous.

Thus, Christians can and must claim peace as their goal, but only on God’s terms. It must be the product of covenantal faithfulness throughout the world. If armies are not to cross borders, there must be a covenantal peace offensive. This peace offensive is the preaching of the gospel. It must not be the false promised peace of perpetual coexistence with evil. It is the limited but growing peace that God grants to victors in the spiritual wars of life (HON, p.105).

Diplomatic Relations:

Diplomacy means working out differences. There is no way to work out differences between nations that are ideologically, officially, and continually engaged at war against each other. Only a nation led by fools or knaves maintains diplomatic relations with rival nations that openly intend to destroy them. The standard argument against breaking diplomatic relations goes along these lines:  “We cannot ignore the existence of a superpower like the Communist China.” Nonsense; diplomatic relations have nothing to do with the public acknowledgment of a nation’s existence. During a shooting war, nothing is clearer than a rival nation’s existence, but upon either nation’s declaration of war, diplomatic relations are mutually severed between them.

The issue is pure and simple: formal recognition of a nation means that another nation accepts it as being part of the “family of acceptable nations.”… The idea of permanent ideological warfare until one or the other culture is destroyed or conquered is foreign to those who seek the formal, visible, covenantal unity of mankind. Granting or continuing diplomatic recognition, like breaking recognition and recalling one’s ambassador and consulate officials, is a moral and judicial act, an acknowledgement of another nation’s moral and legal legitimacy among the community of free nations. It has meaning far beyond the mere acknowledgment of a nation’s existence or even its right to exist (HON, p.115-116).

There can never be peace in history outside of Christ. There can be temporary cease-fire agreements, but never a lasting peace. What Christians must understand is that peace is attained through the preaching of the gospel and the discipline of the nations. There is no other way. God will not permit peace on any other terms. War and peace are always covenantal concepts. As long as God and Satan are engaged in a spiritual, historical, and cosmic battle, so their covenanted disciples will be engaged in spiritual, historical, and earthly conflict. Foreign policy must be restructured in every Christian nation to reflect this struggle. It, too, must be reconstructed in terms of the Bible. The goal is international peace, but only on Christ’s terms (HON, p.118-119).

The Old Testament prohibition against covenants with foreign nations referred specifically to covenants between the Israelites and the nations of Canaan: “You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods” (Ex.23:32). By implication, it now prohibits any formally covenanted Christian nation from establishing a covenant with any non-Christian nation (HON, p.197).

The Bible specifically says that Abram’s relationship with his neighbours, was one as with “allies” (Gen.14:13). Why is this an important difference? Firstly, they were his local acquaintances; they were locals, so they shared the legitimate common interests of neighbours. A peaceful locality was in their interests, and Abram was prepared to go along with them to war, if the occasion required it (Gen.14:13-24).

So at different times, it would be practical for them as locals to work together for a specific goal. When Abram went to rescue Lot, and Aner, Eshcol and Aner accompanied him, Abram saw to it that they were reimbursed for their trouble. So, they had a limited but important level of relationship, which meant they could accomplish certain goals together.

The limitations on Abram’s relationship with these men were almost certainly based on the fact that they were not of the same faith of Abraham; thus they were clearly not linked covenantally. Even with Sodom, Abram was prepared to have a temporary defensive alliance, for a specific goal (the release of Lot).

Abram’s godly and practical relationship with his neighbours, is in stark contrast with Jehoshaphat’s foolish relationship with Ahab. Having already allied himself in an evil and destructive alliance by marriage with Ahab’s daughter, Ahab seeks to take this one step further. He puts on a feast for Jehoshaphat, and invites him to join him in making aggressive war against Ramoth-gilead (II Chron.18:1-3). Jehoshaphat’s reply is most illuminating: “I am as you are, and my people as your people, and we will be with you in the battle.”

This is the language of covenant and of marriage, reflected in Adam’s initial description of his relationship with Eve (Gen.2:23-24) and in Ruth’s commitment to Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17). Jehoshaphat is only saved from battlefield death by a miracle (II Chron.18:30-31), and earns himself a rebuke from the prophet (II Chron.19:1-4). Strangely, Jehoshaphat does not learn from this mistake, but repeats it, and earns another prophet’s rebuke (II Chron.20:35-37). Paul warns us, “do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (II Cor.6:14)

Every aspect of life must come under the public rule of Christ (I Cor.15:24-25). This is why the basis of progressive public peace (though never perfect peace on sinful earth) is the successful waging of spiritual warfare by Christians. Public peace can only be established in history through public covenantal (representative) conquest by Christ the King. All other forms of peace are either temporary cease-fire agreements or deceptions by the enemies of Christ. International relations must be governed by this fundamental Biblical principle of history (HON, p.202).

It is our job as Christians to work constantly to plunder Satan’s house, in every area of life. This is what dominion means. This is what serving as the leaven of God’s kingdom means (Mat. 13:33). It is what it means to be an ambassador for Christ, a disciple of Christ, disciplining the nations. This involves pitting Satan’s less consistent followers against his more consistent followers. In foreign relations, this is the equivalent of exorcising demons. But it necessarily involves exercising good judgment. We must distinguish between friend and foe. This is what the foreign policy of the West, and especially the United States, has failed to do for over two generations (HON, p.210).

Alliances to Spoil Satan’s House:

A Christian nation should distinguish between six types of nations: 1) Christian nations that are covenanted with each other; 2) Christian nations that for some reason are outside the covenanted group or groups; 3) pagan allies that are nonetheless on the side of God’s representative nation or nations if war with pagan empires breaks out; 4) pagan neutral nations that are sitting on the fence, weighing costs and benefits of choosing one side or the other; 5) pagan nations that are aligned with the empire; and 6) pagan empires that are determined to serve as international satanic leaven (HON, p.207).

The Christian nations must be prepared to strengthen their allies in order to weaken our enemies. The principle of “divide and conquer” is Biblical (see Mat.12:24-26, 29). It has been said that “nothing succeeds like success,” but it can also be said that nations like people, are more easily persuaded by success than by shouting. Evangelism by visible success has a clear Biblical precedent (Joshua 2:8-12; 9:22-24; I Kings 10:1-9; Acts 3:9-10) which Christians should be awake to.

 

[1] North, “Healer of the Nations,” p.125.

 

I Eat Eggs Laid by Caged Chickens

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!”(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)- in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men. These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence (Col.2:20-23).

People who refuse to worship the God of the Bible are inevitably pagans and idolaters in some form. It’s only natural. As Chesterton said a century ago,

When people reject God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything.

We’ve seen this recently in Australia, first with chickens, then with dogs; actually greyhounds, whose racing days were over. It’s paganism. As Paul explained,

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Ro.1:25).

In a free market, people can choose what they want. With eggs, there are choices of size, and source: caged or free-range. Free-range chickens require more labour and land on the part of the grower, but there is a proportion of consumers who are happy to pay extra for “free-range eggs.”

Perhaps “free range” chickens are more healthy; they can go outside, walk and flap around, and enjoy fresh air, sunshine and grass to eat. That sounds good. I think it would be better than being stuck in a cage, and they would not be standing permanently on mesh, which I know is hard on their feet. But being in a cage means they don’t stand around in their excrement. Perhaps free-range eggs are better. But how can you measure this?

The Bible does say, “A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal…” (Prov.12:10). Anyone’s concern for the welfare of chickens is legitimate, but chicken farmers are concerned for their welfare too. If they weren’t, they’d be out of business, fast. It’s a competitive business.

Australian free-range eggs retail for about 50-100% more than caged eggs. Could my family afford to eat free-range eggs? With four adults in the house, we eat about five dozen eggs a week. We probably could, but we buy eggs from caged chickens.

Why?  I like cheap.

Think of the poor person, for whom setting aside the necessary money for eggs each week is a struggle. The price of eggs is very important to him. For him, cheap is very important, and I’m on the side of the poor man, when it comes to price. If he wants caged eggs, and can’t afford the free range eggs, that’s how it is. Consider this verse:

…He [God] does not forget the cry of the afflicted (Ps.9:12).

I say, “Think of the poor person. Let the free market determine the outcome with eggs.”

Should there be laws requiring free-range eggs? Now this will get messy, very messy. This subject gets emotionally charged, tax-payer funded bureaucrats have a field day, the price of eggs goes up, the free market goes out the door, and the poor suffer. A commodity the poor consider essential is now harder to purchase.

The most important factor of this list above, is this:

When the free market has gone out the door, the poor suffer.

But you thought this was about suffering chickens in cages? No, not now. In the free market, wealthier people may be able to afford free range eggs, if that’s what they want. In a free market, they’ll choose, and the poor will get what they want, too. To my mind, that’s the simplest and best solution to this controversy, because impositions will not help. “…Even the compassion of the wicked is cruel” (Prov.12:10).

Conclusion:

When governments fool around with the free market, it’s not just uneconomic, foolhardy and hurtful to many, it’s also unchristian. It always messes up people’s lives. This applies to everything, including the care of chickens. But when people can choose freely, they’ll get what they want. Is that what you’d like?

…the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever (Ps.9:18).

The Beginnings of Christian Reform (45)

Christianity and International Relations (3)

                    God’s World Government Through Biblical Law:

The third aspect of the Biblical covenant is law, specifically Biblical law.[1]

Obeying the laws of God is to become a way of life for all men. The covenant-keeper is supposed to talk about the law from morning to night as he works beside his children. [Deut.6:8] The law governs every aspect of our lives, and so we are to talk about it throughout the day. Our very conversations are to remind us of the comprehensive nature of God’s law. Because God’s law is comprehensive, our discussion of the law is to be comprehensive. Every covenant-keeper is to become an expert in the law of God. He is to think about it, discuss it, and explore its implications every day. Men are to discuss God’s law daily because they are to honour it daily through obedience.[2]

The principle of leaven which Jesus spoke of (Mat.13:33), is this: God’s kingdom progressively replaces Satan’s as the dominant power in world history. Leaven is silent, and it seems unimpressive; but it gets the job done.

After the resurrection, the disciples came to a mountain. Like the mountain Garden of Eden, where God gave the law to Adam, and like Mt. Sinai, where God gave the law to Moses, so was this mountain in Galilee: Christ gave them the law. He gave them His Great Commission. Christians are to make disciples of the nations. They are to bring the nations under the discipline of Christ, through the law of God –“teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Mat.28:18).

Christians must discipline the nations. This discipline begins with self-discipline under God’s law. What we must understand, however, is that it does not end with self-discipline. This is what Protestants and traditional conservatives have long ignored (HON, p.82). The universalism of the Great Commission must be recognised by Christians. God requires that nations submit to Him covenantally: legally, formally and publicly, and that they obey His law.

For two thousand years, Christians have resisted this. They have cried, “We’re not under law; we’re under grace,” implying that God’s law is irrelevant in the New Testament context. Then they have wondered why the world around them has been dominated by oppression, tyranny and bloodshed. Is there a correlation? Of course. As a consequence, the church has generally been willing to substitute natural law for God’s law, being unable (or unwilling) to recognise that natural law is a humanistic, pagan substitute that leads directly to oppression, injustice and tyranny.

Man’s problem has never been a lack intellectual ability. Man’s problem has always been sin: a lack of ethics; his unwillingness to submit to God. Biblical ethics, not intellect (beginning with a recognition that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world), is the key to righteousness, whether it be for the individual, the family, the church, the community or the nation.

Christians have understood the universal claims of Jesus on the hearts of men, but they have continued to ignore the universal claims of Christ on the mind, lives, and public allegiances of men. They have not restructured their worldview in terms of the idea that God is King of kings and Lord of lords. God has laid down the law to mankind, yet His disciples have paid very little attention to God’s law, generation after generation, century after century. They think that they can escape the requirement of the Great Commission to discipline the nations (HON, p.96). Where the Bible speaks of “nations,” we have substituted “individuals.”

It is time for Christians to abandon the myth of natural law. It is time for them to declare instead the covenants of God. It is time for them to proclaim the ethical terms of the covenant, God’s revealed law, for God is the Sovereign Creator who governs all of history. It is time to abandon the myth of neutrality. If “natural law” really is a Greek, pagan construction with no absolutes, and no relationship to Biblical law, there is no alternative to a Biblical, bottom-up theocracy.

 

 

[1] For more on this, see Gary North, “Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus,” 1988.

[2] Gary North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, Ch.28.

 

What’s The Best Approach To Interpreting The Bible?

If you had to instruct someone on how to interpret the Bible, how would you go about doing it? There are many books on how to interpret the Bible. These books in and of themselves aren’t bad, but the ordinary Christian is not going to spend time taking a hermeneutics course and studying these texts.

R.C. Sproul’s primer Knowing Scripture is helpful. I always begin with the Bible itself. Let the Bible interpret itself. Two recent encounters with specific texts brought this methodology to mind for me.

Someone asked about the mark of the beast and buying and selling. Marking the hand and forehead is not difficult to figure out if you start with the Bible. Many prophecy enthusiasts make an appeal to current affairs, what Greg L. Bahnsen described as “newspaper exegesis.” This is the tail wagging the dog. There are a number of places in Scripture where marking the hand and forehead are found:

  • You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. (Deut. 6:8; also Ex. 13:916Deut. 11:8).
  • The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst” (Ezek. 9:4; also Rev. 7:2-3).

These are obviously not bar codes or RFID chips. This is not to say that getting chipped is a good idea; it’s only to point out that the Bible is describing something else. With a little comparative digging, a student of the Bible can figure out what the Bible means about marking the hand and forehead.

If we start to claim that what’s being described in Revelation 13:16-18 is about modern-day surveillance technology, then we have a problem with the first verse in the next chapter of Revelation:

Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads (14:1).

If Revelation 13 is about modern-day technology, then what do we do with the mark of the lamb on a person’s forehead?

By letting the Bible interpret the Bible, we find a passage like the following:

“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name” (Rev. 3:12).

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Then we get to Revelation 13:17 and buying and selling. Where have we read this before? “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who were selling doves” (Matt. 21:12; also, John 2:14-16). Access to the temple was corrupted by the money changers and the priesthood that let it happen and most likely profited by it. They had turned the temple into a robber’s den. Those who went along with the system had identified with an obsolete edifice (the temple?) that was about to be judged and demolished (Matt. 24:1-3).

Buying and selling, in terms of the Bible, is not always about commerce; it most likely has something to do with the temple and the religious apostasy that was prevalent in Jerusalem in the lead up to the destruction of the temple. Take notice of Luke 17:28 where “buying and selling” are set in the context of the destruction of Jerusalem in their generation.

The mark of the beast — 666 — applied to both the sea (Rome) and land (apostate Israel) beasts. The corrupt Jews had declared, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15) and continued to persecute the Christians up until the Temple’s destruction. The true temple dwellers in the New Jerusalem have the name of Jesus “and the name of His Father written on their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1). They don’t need to “buy and sell” in the temple because Jesus (“the Lamb”: 14:1) is their access to redemption. He is the temple and we are “living stones … being built as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).

There may be more going on, but I will contend that these are the places to start. Begin with the biblical material and work your way through the material to get a Bible-eye view.

While working on an article about how to respond to false accusations, I came across this passage:

Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” (Acts 23:1-3).

Sure enough, there’s a passage in Ezekiel that mentions whitewashed walls in relation to specific events:

Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God, “Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing. O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord. They see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, ‘The Lord declares,’ when the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope for the fulfillment of their word. Did you not see a false vision and speak a lying divination when you said, ‘The Lord declares,’ but it is not I who have spoken?”’”

Therefore, thus says the Lord God, “Because you have spoken falsehood and seen a lie, therefore behold, I am against you,” declares the Lord God. “So My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am the Lord God. It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace. And when anyone builds a wall, behold, they plaster it over with whitewash; so tell those who plaster it over with whitewash, that it will fall. A flooding rain will come, and you, O hailstones, will fall; and a violent wind will break out. Behold, when the wall has fallen, will you not be asked, ‘Where is the plaster with which you plastered it?’”

Therefore, thus says the Lord God, “I will make a violent wind break out in My wrath. There will also be in My anger a flooding rain and hailstones to consume it in wrath. So I will tear down the wall which you plastered over with whitewash and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation is laid bare; and when it falls, you will be consumed in its midst. And you will know that I am the Lord. Thus I will spend My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it over with whitewash; and I will say to you, ‘The wall is gone and its plasterers are gone, along with the prophets of Israel who prophesy to Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,’ declares the Lord God” (Ezekiel 13:15-16).

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What is this prophecy in reference to? The destruction of the temple and judgment on Israel under the Old Covenant. Did Paul have this passage in mind in his response to the high priest? The high priest sure reacted swiftly with force after hearing it. He most likely knew the connection.

Was Paul saying that the apostate Jewish religious leaders were like the false prophets of Ezekiel’s day? (1 John 4:12 Pet. 2:1). Were they the “scoffers”/”mockers” that Peter mentioned? (2 Pet. 3:3). Jesus had prophesied about their generation (Matt. 24:34). That generation was coming to a close and many were saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet. 3:3-4).

The best way to learn the Bible and interpret the Bible is to begin with the Bible.

The Beginnings of Christian Reform (44)

Christianity and International Relations (2)

II. All Nations Under God-Missionaries make the Best Ambassadors:

The second part of a Biblical covenant structure, is hierarchy. God has established a hierarchical structure of authority to govern His three covenantal institutions: church, State and family.

May He also rule from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth. Let the nomads of the desert bow before Him, and His enemies lick the dust. Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. And let all kings bow down before Him, all nations serve Him (Ps.72:8-11).

We know that God is three Persons, yet also one Person. He is God, yet He is plural. Mankind also is one, but many. We are divided religiously, racially, geographically, culturally, and in many other ways, yet we are all one blood. We are all sons of God by birth-disinherited sons. Salvation is by adoption: God adopts the formerly rebellious back into His family through Jesus Christ, and we become sons of the inheritance. Therefore the dividing line within humanity is not blood (or race) but ethics. Every person is either a disinherited son (like Cain and Esau), or an adopted son, through the sovereign grace of God shown to us in Jesus Christ.

The dividing line between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, in terms of the nations, is the same. It is not a case of blood, or geography, but covenant. Which nations are sons of the covenant? With them, we will have fellowship.

Christ’s victory at Calvary in principle reclaimed the ownership of the whole earth from Satan, and it legally transferred this certificate of ownership to God’s people. The certificate of ownership is the New Testament itself. The New Testament is a covenant: a legal document. It assigns the inheritance to God’s adopted sons (Jn.1:12). The boundaries of this nation of nations in principle are the whole earth. Though sin will restrict a perfect working out in history of these boundaries, the goal of Christians all over the world should be to work toward this goal: the creation of a formally covenanted confederation of Christian nations under God. God’s kingdom must triumph in history over Satan’s kingdom. Christ’s nation of nations must triumph over Satan’s empire of empires (HON, p.51).

Just as the builders of the tower of Babel had “the same words” (Gen.11:1), the covenantal basis of Christian institutional unity will be a common confession or creed. This could be as simple as “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil.2:11). The only possible source of empowering for this kind of institutional unity can be the Holy Spirit.

Allegiances to God begin with individuals, families and churches. It must be a “bottom-up” process, but ultimately it must finish up with the nations of the world. Liberty and justice for mankind, is not merely an individual issue, but with implications for families, communities and nations. Does this suggest a theocracy? Of course. (Every government is essentially a theocracy, depending on the values of those in power.) But it is a “bottom-up” theocracy, not imposed from above. For a nation to refuse to confess Jesus Christ as Lord, is implicitly to confess Satan.

Consider what Paul was doing. He was going through the Roman Empire preaching the kingdom of God. The Jews were correct in charging the disciples with preaching another King, Jesus. That is exactly what they were doing. And in the end, pagan Rome fell to Christianity. The triumph of Christianity did mark the end of the pagan Roman Empire. Christ triumphed over Caesar in history through His people.

Was Paul an isolationist? Hardly. He was an ambassador of Christ’s international world order. He warned his listeners of the judgment to come. Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords.

This is the message of God’s internationalism. This message repels humanist internationalists as much as it repels humanist isolationists. It means that God will destroy their pretensions of autonomy. The Biblical answer to humanist internationalism, humanist isolationism, and humanist nationalism is Biblical covenantalism. The covenant is primary. Every institution must be reconstructed in terms of the Biblical covenant. This includes international relations (HON, p.75-76).

God’s Holy Mountain:

Isaiah 2:2-3 typifies the mountain is God’s dwelling place, His house. It is the place where He teaches us His ways. Out of Mt. Zion goes God’s law. It is the covenant law of God that subdues the nations. This process of subduing the nations begins with self-government under law, but it does not end there.

What is this mountain? Clearly, it is the institutional church. The institutional church preaches God’s Word. Out of the institutional church flows the law of God. The passage does not teach that the institutional church will control the world. On the contrary, it is the people who obey the law that flows out of the church who will subdue the earth. This is the notion of godly decentralisation. It is God’s Word that brings Christians victory over His enemies (HON, p.156).

This is what began on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the representatives of the nations, who then returned to their respective nations as representatives of God’s heavenly kingdom. It is the missionary who above all, is to announce to the pagan world the two-fold judgment of God: blessing and cursing. It is therefore the missionary who best represents a Christian nation in a foreign land. He is the full-time servant of Christ’s kingdom who is best equipped to mobilize grass-roots support in favour of Christian freedom and against the tyranny of Satan’s empire. He is best equipped to begin the bottom-up process of evangelism that ultimately leads to the establishment of a covenanted confederation of Christian nations.

The office of ambassador (described by Paul in II Cor.5:20), is primarily as a representative of Christ. This office is the model for civil ambassadors. It is not that the office of civil ambassador for some earthly kingdom has become the model for the Church office of witness-ambassador. On the contrary, the Church office of witness-ambassador is God’s model for the civil government’s office of ambassador. The witness-ambassador is the person who brings God’s covenant lawsuit before the people and kings of rival kingdoms, as Jonah did. It is crucial to notice that Jonah did not ask Nineveh to submit covenantally to Israel. He informed them of God’s requirement that they surrender unconditionally to God (HON, p.158).

In a seriously Christian international world, the national witness-ambassador of a Christian nation invites the representative leaders of pagan nations to enter into a peaceful alliance (though not yet a covenant) with Christian nations, thereby giving time for missionaries from Christian nations to preach the gospel to the pagan nation’s people. Then, steadily, as the gospel brings converts into the Church, the once-pagan nation is transformed. Upon becoming officially, covenantally Christian, it is then invited to enter the family of Christian nations on a covenantal basis. It is not asked to subordinate itself to any other nation, but it is asked to subordinate itself to the Christian nations’ covenanted appeals court system. This is Christian internationalism, and it is the standard of foreign policy set forth in the Bible (HON, p.159).

We are all colonialists. Christians promote the colonization of the world under God. Humanists promote the colonization of the world under Satan. Christians do not promote the colonial ambitions of any single earthly nation, but instead promote the creation of a world Christian civilization…the answer to false colonialism is God’s colonialism: discipling the nations under God’s heavenly commonwealth (HON, p.173).