I believe it necessary to continue the commentary from last week titled “When the wicked rule,” because there are vital essentials that pastors and the church in general must “own” if we are to change the spiritual, moral, cultural and political direction of our nation. The key is not focusing solely on the wicked rulers, but rather the fact that they have collectively been granted authority by the people.
To clarify, the Hebrew word used in Proverbs 29:2 (“when the wicked beareth rule …”) is “rasha” (pronounced “raw-shaw”) and is used 260 times in the Old Testament, describing legal wrongdoing according to God’s standards, not man’s. Another key illustration using this word is:
They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. (Prov. 28:4)
Going back to biblical commentator Matthew Henry, he explains this passage in relation to how the “righteous” are to respond when evil deeds, wicked behavior and related consequences are elevated:
Those that do indeed make conscience of the law of God themselves will, in their places, vigorously oppose sin, and bear their testimony against it, and do what they can to shame and suppress it. They will reprove the works of darkness, and silence the excuses which are made for those works, and do what they can to bring gross offenders to punishment, that others may hear and fear.
Since I am well aware that some who read this will contend against both the scripture and this application, let me let them off the hook. If you reject the Bible as God’s inspired and inerrant Word, reject Jesus Christ as God in flesh and in general think Christianity is just another religion, none of this makes any sense. You have to go figure out your own truth and reality, which in fact most Americans are doing. Have fun. The bottom line: Argue with God since both Christianity and the Bible are His idea.
Thankfully, there are millions of Americans who do still believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Creator of heaven and Earth who sent His Son for our redemption and still governs in the affairs of men as asserted by even the least religious of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin. One of the clergy of the colonial era who interacted with Franklin as a young man was Cotton Mather (also author in 1702 of “The Great Achievement of Christ in America”). Mather observed that even in the early days of our country, the blessings of Christianity have posed a “side effect”:
Religion begat prosperity, and the daughter devoured the mother.
The very blessings brought by biblical Christianity produced complacency, resulting in apathy, leading to irreligion, finally opening the door wide to all forms of ungodliness and evil. While we in 21st century United States have shaky claim to practicing orthodoxy as widely as they, the continued blessings of peace and prosperity have created lazy Christians in regards to contending with the evil of our day.
While the speed of the rush to tyranny by the Obama administration and the Democrat majority in Congress has been stunning, the reaction of the American people has continued to escalate as shown by the steady decline in Obama’s favorability rating – now below 50 percent. The question before us is whether we will look past the surface issues to root problems at the people level.
Evil can only prevail, as we were reminded by Sir Edmund Burke, when good men do nothing. In addition, when we do something, we need to make sure we are doing the right things in the right way at the right time.
The right things include focusing on changing hearts and minds through the presentation of God’s truth and love in our lives as well as our words. Attempting to change legislation without building the moral and philosophical base among the people – starting with the church – will fail. Ignoring the governing process and allowing it to stay in the hands of those who reject God’s standards of truth and have no fear of Him is also destructive.
As the tyranny of socialized health care, “cap and tax” radical environmental and anti-free market policies, promotion of no-holds barred sexual diversity (aka the “Pedophile Protection Act”), the threat of opening up federal subsidization of killing unborn children and other forms of wicked acts by those we have chosen to represent us roll out, it is no time for the church to have just another prayer meeting.
As we challenged pastors in a Houston summit this week, we have to pray, serve and stand – all at the same time. Then, as Cotton Mather’s renowned father, Increase Mather, asserted, “… if (we) suffer, because (we) dare not comply with the wills of men against the will of God, (we) suffer in a good cause.”