Friday, April 05, 2013

The Sword And The Gun


After waking up, getting dressed, taking the dog for a walk, and making myself a cup of tea, I got right into prayer. After prayer I opened my bible and finally settled on reading through a portion of Acts. As I read, I noticed that the Lord has given us examples of how the Apostles and disciples responded to their mistreatment by the authorities, both secular and religious. Time and time again, not once did any of the Apostles or disciples of Christ take up arms or resist in any way. Then I thought, “If it’s okay to fight against a tyrannical government, then where is the evidence of this in the New Testament? Where are the examples of the Apostles' physical resistance to government tyranny?” I couldn't seem to find any examples in the book of Acts, nor could I remember an instance in any other book of the New Testament.


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The founding fathers of our great nation had the foresight to set boundaries in which our government could operate. They also gave the people of this nation the authority to take up arms if our elected officials moved toward creating a tyrannical government. I used to think that coming against a tyrannical government was okay, but then my thoughts began to stir and I began wondering whether I was okay with this because I was walking in the flesh instead of walking in the spirit. Protecting our country from foreign and domestic enemies seems logical.  After all, attacks can come against the citizens of this country from outside our borders or from within. What I can’t seem to understand is where, in the New Testament, are the followers of Christ instructed to rise up against their own government by the use of force. Not even Jesus was concerned enough to speak out and rally against the Roman government during His time on earth. Jesus even went so far as to say that they should give to Caesar what belonged to Caesar and to God what belonged to God.

If we look at online news articles, we can see evidence that our nation is in a downward spiral. It seems as if decisions are being made by major organizations, judges and government officials (from the local level to the White House) that can only harm our nation and bring it to ruin economically, morally and spiritually; to bring us from a position of power in the world to one of submission to a one world authority. Gun confiscation, abortion, post-birth abortion, the Islamization of America, increased persecution of Christians, racial division, economic collapse, gay marriage, corrupt government, etc… In the face of what is happening in our nation, we have the responsibility to stand up and fight the corruption and sin, but we must proceed within the constraints of the law and, more importantly, the word of God. 

You may ask, “Didn't the Apostles and disciples operate in civil disobedience? Doesn't that make it okay for us to do the same?"

What kind of civil disobedience did the Apostles and disciples of Christ participate in? Their civil disobedience was limited to preaching God’s word, healing the sick and casting out demons, even when they were told not to do so upon threat of punishment or death. They certainly did not go beyond this level of civil disobedience to a more violent form by brandishing weapons or committing any form of physical violence.

All you have to do is look at the complete text of the New Testament and you will find only one instance where someone responded to authorities with force. It’s the recorded incident of when Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:50-54. Here Jesus rebukes Simon Peter for taking up the sword and striking the servant of the high priest. A few verses before this, we find that the "large crowd" who came to arrest Jesus were armed with clubs and swords.  The modern equivalent would be to have the authorities show up brandishing their guns and tasers. Jesus rebuked them for showing up armed, but He did not resist them.  An interesting note, though. In John 18:6 we see the power of God knocking the armed crowd to the ground as Jesus speaks to them.  It's sort of a foretaste of what it will be like when Jesus returns and defeats His enemies with the sword from His mouth, which is the Word of God!  Okay, getting back to the discussion at hand...

The same incident with Peter and the sword is recorded in the following portions of scripture:

Mark 14:46-48  Although this account doesn't mention Jesus’ rebuke, it does give us more details about the group that came to arrest Him… they appeared with weapons. So with this clarity, we can see that in Matthew 26:52, Jesus rebuked the use of weapons against the Roman and Jewish authorities, even though they approached Jesus and the disciples armed.

Luke 22:48-52  Again, the use of the sword against the servant of the high priest was mentioned, as were the weapons that the Romans (and possibly Jews???) were carrying.

John 18:10-12  Jesus had his hands bound before being led away.

I don’t want to ignore the scripture that so many people seem to quote to justify the taking up of arms against the government. That would be:

Luke 22:35-38  “And He said to them, ‘When I sent you without purse and wallet and sandals, did you lack anything?’ And they said, ‘Nothing.’ And He said to them, ‘But now, he who has a purse, let him take it, and likewise his wallet. And he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must yet be accomplished in Me, "And he was reckoned among the transgressors"; for the things concerning Me have an end.’ And they said, ‘Lord, behold, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, 'It is enough.’”

Now why would Jesus instruct them to purchase swords and then tell them that the two swords that were already in their possession were enough? Obviously it wasn't meant for their present situation because Jesus rebuked Simon Peter for striking out with his weapon.

Were the swords to be used for protection from man or was it for another purpose? Look what Jesus said as recorded in Luke 22:35 “And He said to them, ‘When I sent you without purse and wallet and sandals, did you lack anything?’ And they said, ‘Nothing.’”

We see here that the Lord is making a comparison. Jesus had previously sent them out in pairs to the cities that He intended to visit. They were not to bring money, food or a change of clothing, yet they lacked nothing. Now, Jesus was about to be arrested and eventually crucified, so He would no longer physically be here on earth with them. It's now that Jesus is giving them instructions to take their purse and wallet and sandals. When you look at it that way, it makes sense.Things were about to get difficult for the disciples once Jesus was crucified. The Lord was no longer going to physically be here on earth. The Bridegroom was leaving and the disciples were going to be sent farther away than they had traveled when they were sent out in pairs by Jesus. Just as they didn't fast while the Bridegroom was with them, they didn't need to worry about their provisions while He was with them either.  

Again… why have swords? I believe it’s because Jesus knew that the gospel wouldn't be accepted by many and that the Apostles would need to fend for themselves, sort of like wilderness survival. They would be shaking the dust off their feet of more than one city and they would need to hunt and kill and prepare game for sustenance as they traveled. They would also need protection against any type of wild animal. Not once in the NT do we see anywhere (other than in the Garden of Gethsemane) that anyone actually used the sword or any other type of weapon against those who would come against them for spreading the message of salvation through Jesus. Nor did the Apostles instruct anyone to use a sword for defensive purposes. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Act 9:22-25  Paul didn't have a showdown with those who were plotting to kill him. Instead, he left the city secretly. He avoided the confrontation. Some “Patriots” operating in the flesh might see this as being a coward, but if you recall, Jesus escaped death a few times by walking away.

Acts 12:1-17  Herod has James killed by the sword, but there is no evidence James used any weapon to defend himself or that Christians formed a militia to defend James. This portion of scripture also describes Herod’s order to arrest Peter with the intent to kill him as well. Peter didn't fight his own arrest. He was bound and led to prison.  What happened? He was delivered by God through a miracle, not through the use of a weapon.

Act 13:49-51  This example shows that the Jews were upset with both Paul and Barnabas and had them thrown out of the city. Again, they didn't fight the forced eviction. How did they respond? The shook the dust off of their feet as a judgment against the inhabitants of the city and they moved on to Iconium.

Act 14:4-6  Here is another example of being attacked by a group of people who were planning on killing Barnabas and Paul. Was their response to defend themselves with their own weapons or to call for backup? No, they became aware of what the authorities and Jewish leadership were preparing for them and they fled from the city. They didn't call for Christian arms against this group… they fled. Again, in the flesh they could be considered cowards, but that’s man’s interpretation of their actions, not God’s.

Act 14:19-21  We have a group of people who have stoned Paul until they thought he was dead. They then drag him out of the city to dispose of his body.  Did he or any disciples fight to protect him? No. After his body was disposed of, the disciples surrounded his seemingly lifeless body and watched in wonderment as he raised himself up on his two feet. Was Paul’s immediate response to seek justice against those who attacked him? No. The word of God says that he went back into the city and then left the next day.

Here’s one more.

Act 16:20-40  Paul and Silas are grabbed, stripped, flogged and thrown into prison with their feet secured in stocks. They didn't draw any weapons and neither did any other born-again believer. They submitted to the authorities, and while in prison that night, they prayed and sang songs to the Lord. What happened next was a miracle. An earthquake… doors flung wide open… shackles removed! The power of God revealed! As we continue reading, we see that the imprisonment of Paul and Silas also led to the salvation of the jailer and his entire family. Paul and Silas had their wounds washed and the jailer brought them to his own house that night and set a table before them. They ate and rejoiced. They were then brought back to the prison before daybreak and word came down that they were to be released. It was only then that Paul mentioned that he was a Roman citizen. This caused the judges to fear because it was against Roman law to injure a Roman citizen. They actually begged Paul and Silis to leave the city. They did… eventually.

Why didn't Paul prevent his punishment by informing the Romans that he was a Roman citizen? Perhaps it was because God wanted them to go to prison so that the jailer and his family could hear the salvation message and repent.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit tells us to be quiet, and that’s probably why Paul didn't say anything before he was flogged and put in prison.

This reminds me of the story in Daniel when King Nebuchadnezzar decreed that everyone was to worship his image.  Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (also known by their Chaldean names of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego) refused to worship the image and they were bound and thrown into the fiery furnace. They had their moment of civil disobedience, but that was because the word of God superseded the king’s law.  Did Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah try to physically resist their captors?  No.  They allowed themselves to be led to the furnace and proclaimed their faith in God by saying, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to return a word to you on this matter. If it is so that our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, then He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16b-18 NKJV)

So here we have documented evidence of incidents that occurred where weapons could have been used for defense, but at no time was a weapon brandished or fists fly.  What does that say to us in our current situation?

We need to be about the Lord’s work.  If God’s word is in conflict with man’s law, God’s word supersedes the law.  If the 2nd Amendment is watered down or stripped from the US Constitution, we need to obey the law of the land.  To form a group under our own authority in order to take up arms against a tyrannical government isn't scriptural.

As Christians we must operate within the law unless it conflicts with scripture, no matter how unjust we believe the law to be.  We must continue to pray that those in a position of power will have a change of heart and that the Lord will move them to back away from their attack on the 2nd Amendment.  If the attack continues and the 2nd Amendment falls, we have to operate within the law and give up our weapons.  That will be a difficult moment in any gun owner's life, whether Christian or not, but it would be necessary to follow the law of the land.

In my opinion, we've waited too long to correct the mistakes that the previous generations have made. The mistakes that this generation has made have compounded the problem. Unfortunately, I see this as an example of reaping what we've sown. As a nation we've supported countries where there are no civil rights or laws protecting the individual liberties of it’s citizens. We've condoned torture, murder and corruption. We've funded and armed rebels who have now become our enemy. Why should we expect our way of life to remain as it has been since the founding of this country? We're reaping the evil that this nation has sown across the face of the earth and within our own borders. God is lifting his hand of protection from our nation.

So what do we do in the meantime? We do what Jesus did, what the Apostles did, what the early church body did... we pray for God's protection and for His will to be done in our life and in our land while we strive to live our lives lead by the Holy Spirit. That’s what we should have been doing all along. By taking up arms, we have become our own protector instead of relying fully on God for our protection.  If you still feel you need to arm yourself, you will need to find alternate methods of defending yourself in the eventuality that guns are outlawed or severely restricted. I, myself, don't feel the need to arm myself. I rely on God to be my Protector. I'd rather be injured or lose my life rather than take the life of someone who still has yet to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. But that's just me. Many people don't feel the same as I do.

One thing is for sure, the church age is coming to a close and a one world government lead by the Antichrist is quickly approaching. If you have not accepted Jesus Christ (Yeshua) as your Lord and Savior, if you have not submitted your life to Him, please do so. Time is short. Here is a link to the salvation page of my blog.  



Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
TribulationHarvest.net

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for your thoughts Ken! Reflections like this and study of the scriptures regarding our place as citizens are vital!

    Please don't minimize your role as a citizen-ruler in this great republic! I have a whole series of posts calling believers to rise to serve as citizens here: http://www.evannehring.com/p/rise-to-serve-on-stages-of-god-and-man.html.

    Of most interest might be these thoughts on Wayne Grudem's model of significant Christian influence on government: http://www.evannehring.com/2012/09/our-model-significant-christian.html.

    Keep writing!

    Evan

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  2. really good post ken. I have reflected on this quite a bit as well. the Kingdom of God is within you, is a book written by tolstoy. excellent look at the subject. His book inspired people like Ghandi and MLK Jr. it is free online. guttenberg i think. 'God bless you man.

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