Note: Bill Cloud is the author of the new book"Esau Rising: Ancient Adversaries and the War for America's Soul."
Kim Davis, Melissa and Aaron Klein, Cynthia and Robert Gifford – these are just a few of the ordinary Americans whose lives have been turned upside down because they took a stand for righteousness. Some incurred heavy fines; some were threatened with violence; at least one spent time in jail. Their crime? They dared to believe that God's Word is superior to man's opinion, even if those men (and women) wear black robes. These people trusted that their religious liberties, guaranteed to them by the Constitution, would be honored by their representatives in government. They were mistaken. They and others unfortunately found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, caught up in the tidal wave of political correctness and LGBT activism.
It would be one thing if people of faith only had to contend with antagonists within the private sector, but, as has been made clear time and again, the Tolerance stormtroopers have many allies in public service. At every level of government there are those who aggressively or passively assist in the war against godly standards. It's a perfect example of what the Psalmist described when he said, "The kings of the earth … and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 'Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us'" (Psalm 2:2-3).
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The latest example of this alliance comes from my native state, Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal recently vetoed legislation that would have reinforced the primacy of religious liberty in that state. Had it become law, the widely supported bill would have protected a pastor from being forced to perform a same-sex marriage. It would have protected religious organizations from being required to host such ceremonies and shielded them from being forced to hire someone opposed to the organization's beliefs. But then came the activists and the threat of economic sanctions by the likes of Disney, Apple and the NFL, until finally, we saw the all too predictable caving in to the pressure – by a self-professed conservative, no less.
In defense of his action, Gov. Deal said, "I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community." But on the other side of the argument are those, like state Sen. Josh McKoon, who feel that "It's open season on people of faith in Georgia." It does seem that the prevailing social and political winds are blowing against those who profess faith in God. How else can the governor's statement be interpreted? Does he mean that when two of the same sex ask to be joined in marriage, pastors in Georgia can say "No" without the threat of legal action? It doesn't sound that way to me. I predict that as soon as a minister in Georgia decides to obey God rather than man, the cries of "Discrimination!" will be heard in courtrooms throughout the state. It's hard to believe, but in today's America the so-called rights of the LGBT lifestyle trump long-established religious liberty – a freedom specifically addressed in the Bill of Rights.
Furthermore, it has become obvious that those who cry the loudest for tolerance and co-existence have no desire to co-exist with people like me. They seem willing to accept almost any mindset and lifestyle with the exception of one: They can't stomach the notion that the Bible is the only and final authority when it comes to matters of right and wrong. Many of them view this "bigoted" position as a threat that must be legislated into silence and eventual extinction. The troubling news for believers is that these progressive thinkers seem to have gained the upper hand. So beware! If you truly believe in the God of the Bible and that His Word is sovereign, you may eventually see your name added to the list of ordinary Americans who dared to stand for righteousness and paid dearly for it. One day soon we may all find ourselves laboring under the yoke of tyranny, and it is that terrifying thought that brings me to this question: Why is this happening?
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I believe the answer to that question is found within the Scriptures, specifically a prophecy in Genesis 27. The prophecy said there would come a day when the carnal and lawless spirit of Esau would have opportunity and cause to break the yoke that had kept him in check. He would be given that opportunity because he had a grievance against his brother, Jacob. His grievance was this: The people of God (Jacob) were not walking worthy of the birthright they had been given. We could put it this way: When God's people started behaving like Esau, they would, consequently, be placed under the burdens of his yoke.
This is what I believe is happening in our country. Because we have turned from the God of our fathers, the spirit of Esau is rising up and attempting to force into compliance with his worldview those who are in relationship with the God of Israel. From "Esau's" perspective, the ultimate goal is to drive God's people to their knees in submission to Esau's rule. However, from God's point of view, I believe the intention is to drive us to our knees in repentance and submission to His will!
And so it is that our present circumstance brings to mind a quote from Dickens: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." In other words, in this desperate hour, I want to be found on my knees – not in servitude to the lawlessness of this generation – but in submission to the Almighty.
Could it be that Kim Davis, the Kleins and others were not in the wrong place at the wrong time after all but were exactly where God wanted them to be? Perhaps this present situation is intended to provoke people of faith to boldly and publicly stand for righteousness as never before. Indeed, we have come into the kingdom for such a time as this! Even though we may feel the weight of Esau's yoke, let us embrace the example of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego. Let us respectfully but adamantly declare to all who defy God's sovereignty, "As servants of the Most High, we will not bow to your will, no matter the cost."