About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The Kingdoms Of Men - Part 1
"My Involvement"

 

It was August 1980 when my wife and I turned onto the beltway that circles Washington D .C..  Relocating from small town Canada to the capital of the United States of America, called the capital of the world by some, was no small move.  As we exited interstate 270 the exhilarating spirit that envelops Washington saturated my senses.  I had visited large cities before, but metropolitan Washington was distinctively different.  Its overwhelming presence was inescapable.    

 

Once we settled into the Washington suburb of
Vienna, Virginia, it didn't take me long to notice the two passions that dominated the lives of those living around me.  The compelling lure of these passions were hard to resist.  So, like a good northern Virginian, I jumped on the bandwagon.  I became a fan of American politics and the Washington Redskins football team.    

 

I never made it to JFK stadium to see the Redskins play a game.  I did, however, visit the White House and the U. S. Capitol Building.  While Israel was forced to battle the Palestinian Liberation Organization in southern Lebanon, and, while the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union raged, I sat in the senate chamber to listen to Senator Edward Kennedy.  He espoused the virtues of what was called the Peace Movement.  Compared to President Ronald Reagan's concept of negotiating from a position of strength, in my opinion, Kennedy's presentation promoted bargaining from a position of weakness.  Whatever the case, listening to Senator Kennedy did wet my newfound appetite for Washington politics.    

 

Within the year my wife and I moved south from Washington to Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederate South, as it was still thought of in 1981.  After touring the Virginia State Capitol Building I left with an awareness that the Civil War had just ended.  It seemed that fresh in the mind of our tour guide.  That visit, along with the skyline dotted with the odd Confederate flag, and, statues of southern Civil War heroes mounted on street corners, was a constant reminder of America's past political strife.   

 

On one occasion I was handed a number of boxes containing political pamphlets.  I was happy to coordinate the canvassing activities for my congressional precinct in the 1982 midterm election.  I went door to door encouraging everyone to vote for the re-election of Republican Congressman Thomas Bliley.  Ironically, no one knew that I would not be voting in the election.  I would not vote because I could not vote.  I could not vote because I was not an American citizen.  I was, and still am, a Canadian.  

 

There's no doubt that I was influence by
the Conservative Christian Right that was
entrenched in American politics by the early
1980's.  How could I not be influenced?  I lived right in between the two capital cities of Christian Conservatism.  Lynchburg, the home of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority was to the west.  Virginia Beach, the home of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network was to the east.  You might remember Robertson's attempt at the presidency in the 1988 general election.  I visited both Lynchburg and Virginia Beach.  It was hard to resist the Christian Conservatism that swirled around me like a refreshing Atlantic Ocean breeze during the oppressive heat of a Virginia summer.       

 

When we returned to Canada in 1984, Conservative, Brian Mulroney, was Prime Minister of Canada.  My dad sarcastically called him Brian Bologna.  Dad had no sympathy for politicians; no appetite for politics.  As far as he was concerned, politicians were all hypocritical liars and crooks, as was confirmed to him the day President Nixon resigned the presidency in disgrace. 

 

My dad's anti-political sentiment was held by much of his generation of Evangelicals.  It was passed down from the previous generation who often preached a gospel of political abstinence.  Those of the new Christian Conservative persuasion blamed these non-political minded Evangelicals for the moral decline in the social/political environment of both Canada and America.  Christian conservatives believed the lack of Christian involvement in the political arena paved the way for a secularized society to take prayer out of schools, to legalize abortion, and in later years to legitimize same sex marriages.

 

Once back in Canada I was clearly a staunch Christian Conservative Rights advocate.  I joined the newly formed Christian Heritage Party to promote a new political reality, something my dad thought was both na´ve and futile.  He figured I should abstain from all appearance of evil; a phrase he borrowed from 1 Thessalonians 5:22 in his King James Bible.  I, however, didn't view my attempt to sanctify government as an appearance of evil.  Besides, I've always maintained that dad's typical Evangelical understanding of that passage of Scripture was a matter of poor Biblical interpretation.    

    

I'm now 3 decades older than I was in the mid 1980's.  I am still politically, socially, and religiously, conservative.  I keep myself informed on political issues because they are important in relation to Biblical prophecy.  I will cast my ballot to elect a true conservative in the upcoming election for the leader of the Conservative Party of Ontario.  Despite my social/political stance, my aspiration to sanctify the political world within the kingdoms of men has been greatly tempered.  I recall a prominent Bible teacher telling me that if Pat Robertson ever did become president he'd be demoting himself from his position as a preacher of the gospel.  His point was well taken.    

 

My dad's disdain for all things political and all things pertaining to the kingdoms of men has some merit.  No matter their political stripes, all nations are at odds with God to one degree or another, as I believe the following Biblical passages makes clear.      

 

Part 2
'What The Bible Says'

 

My dad's distain for the kingdoms of men is rooted in Genesis 1:26.  As his KJV Bible put it; God appointed man to "take dominion" over His creation.  The word "dominion" is translated from the Hebrew word "radah", meaning, "to tread, to dominate, or, to rule."  Adam relinquished his role to rule to satan.  For this reason Jesus called satan the prince, or ruler, of the nations (John 12:31). 

 

The first politician recorded in the Bible is Nimrod.  He oversaw the construction of the city of Babel and its famous tower.  Despite popular opinion, God did not have a problem with the tower.  It was Nimrod's humanistic, and I believe satan inspired, aspiration to make a name for himself that bothered God (Genesis 11:4). Babel eventually became Babylon.  Because Babylon was founded upon godless aspirations, the Bible often symbolizes it as the conglomeration of godless nations, known to me as the kingdoms of men.      

 

In reaction to Babylonian style kingdoms
 emerging throughout the world, God chose
Abram's descendents Israel to be separate and distinct among the nations.  Israel was appointed to be God's priest, His representative, to the nations (Exodus 19:6).  The fact that nations needed a priest tells me that all nations are in a state of godless depravity.  Of course, like Adam, Israel failed to fulfill its heavenly calling.      

 

Deuteronomy 32:8 tells us about the formation of nations.  "When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He divided all mankind, He set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel (NIV)."  The NIV says the formation of nations has something to do with the sons of Israel .  Other translations say this differently.  The NKJV and ASV use the term "children of Israel " instead of "sons of Israel ".  The ESV and RSV use the term "sons of God".  The NLT uses the term "heavenly court".  The Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament translated a couple centuries before New Testament times, uses the term "angels of God".  Many credible scholars prefer the Septuagint's rendition which implies that angels, not sons of Israel, were instrumental in forming national identities and boundaries.  We have little Biblical information of the formation of nations from God's perspective.  That being said, the prophet Daniel may shed some light on this issue.  

 

In Daniel 10:21 and 12:1 we note that the angel Michael is the prince and protector of Israel.  Daniel 10:20 speaks of the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece.  If Michael is indeed an angelic prince, then the princes of Persia and Greece are angelic princes, who in context, are evil angelic princes representing their respective nations.  Daniel 10:13 tells us that Michael and another angel actually fought the angelic prince of Persia for 21 days.  I, as well as my dad and many others, conclude that evil angels, under the authority of satan, have dominion over the nations; the very dominion Adam forfeited to satan.  We do need to realize, however, that for one reason or another satanic rule over the nations is only permitted under God's ultimate authority.  

 

Throughout the prophetic books of the Old Testament we see all nations, including Israel , opposing God to one degree or another.  The New Testament does not stray from this view of history.  Jesus condemned both the political and religious leaders of the Jews.  Since His ministry was specifically to the Jews (John 1:11), He said little about the politics of Rome.  Nevertheless, both Jews and Romans opposed God as was seen in the execution of Jesus. 

 

We should note that satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in Matthew 4:9.  Satan could rightly make this offer because the kingdoms were in his control.  Jesus refused the offer.  He'd have them in the end anyway.     

 

My dad would remind me that the Apostle Peter agreed with his assessment of the nations.  Peter pleaded with his fellow Jews to save themselves from their corrupt generation (Acts 2:40).  I guess the Apostle Paul agreed with dad too.  According to Ephesians 6:12 he said; "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (NIV)."  These evil forces in the heavenly realms are the same evil princes the angel Michael would have fought.  They are the same evil powers influencing nations today.  

 

The fall of both the kingdoms of men and the evil angelic princes supporting them will occur as the nations gather to attack Jerusalem at the end of this age (Joel 2:3).  As they approach Jerusalem, Jesus will devastate them in one brief second with the mere words of His mouth.  He will then save the repentant remnant of Israel  to whom He will hand the defeated nations over as Daniel 7:26 and 27 predict.       

 

It's clear to me, as it was to dad, that from Genesis through to Revelation, all nations oppose God to one degree or another.  Unlike dad, I do believe that some nations oppose God less than others, but that's no consolation.  A little opposition is still opposition.  Besides, all nations these days are speeding down the fast track away from anything pertaining to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.                     

In light of what I believe the Bible says
about this issue I ask; "How involved should
Christians be in the political affairs of the kingdoms of men?"

Part 3

"Christian involvement"

 

As I've stated previously, my dad's disdain for all things pertaining to the kingdoms of men was common among Evangelicals in his day.  This world view was accompanied by an emphasis on heaven and the future Kingdom of God which was evident in many of the hymns dad's generation sang.  It's my opinion that the preoccupation with heaven and the future kingdom was a result of the gospel they preached, which in simple terms was; believe, be forgiven, and, go to heaven when you die.  I certainly believe in forgiveness and heaven, but that's just one aspect to the multifaceted gospel of Christ.     

 

Another aspect of the gospel concerns the
Kingdom of God.  In Mark 1:14 and 15 we 
see Jesus proclaiming "the gospel of God" by saying "the Kingdom of God is near".  In context, the word "near" means very soon.  In Luke 21:31 He predicted that once certain end time events occurred on earth, the Kingdom of God would be "near".  In context, the word "near" in this passage relates to the end of this age.                

 

At a glance you might think we have a dilemma.  On one hand Jesus said the Kingdom of God was just around the corner and on the other hand He said it would come at the end of this age.  There's no dilemma.  The Kingdom of God comes to earth in two stages.   

 

Just prior to His ascension Jesus spent 40
days explaining the nature of the Kingdom of God to His disciples (Acts 1:3).  Luke didn't elaborate on the details of what Jesus taught during those days.  He did tell us that the believers were to stay in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit came to them in Acts 2, the "invisible" Kingdom of God came to earth in fulfillment of Jesus' prediction that it was near.  The disciples immediately became citizens of the Kingdom of God, but there's more.  This spiritual and invisible kingdom will become material and visible when Jesus returns to earth to rule at the end of this age as predicted in Luke 21:31.  We thus have a two stage coming of the Kingdom of God to earth.    

 

I'll personalize what this means.  When I received the Holy Spirit, I entered the Kingdom of God.  Even though I'm a Canadian citizen, my primary citizenship is in the Kingdom of God, and to it I owe my uncompromising allegiance as one of its ambassadors.  It's my ambassadorial responsibility to represent the values of the Kingdom of God to any and all that cross my path.  So here's the question.  As a duel citizen of both Canada and the Kingdom of God, should I become a politician to promote the values of my primary citizenship, that being the Kingdom of God? 

 

I often look to the Apostle Paul for guidance on this matter.  He was a Jew, but he was also a Roman citizen.  Some suggest that he was a member of the Jewish parliament known as the Sanhedrin.  Whatever the case, he was well informed in both Jewish and Roman political matters.  In Acts 9 we see that Jesus clobbered and dragged Paul into the Kingdom of God so he'd be one of its citizens and ambassadors.  With Paul's political knowledge you might think he'd climb his way up the Roman political ladder to promote his newfound values, but that wasn't to be.  He did, however, work his way through the maze of Roman law and politics, right up to Emperor Nero himself.  He did so, not as a politician, but as a prisoner.     

 

Paul certainly understood the Roman world and his rights as a Roman citizen.  He skillfully used his civil rights to promote his cause when he thought it necessary.  On one occasion, after being unlawfully arrested by the Jews, he stood his legal ground before governor Festus and appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:11).  This he could only do because he was a Roman citizen.  A brief reading of the book of Acts shows us that Paul was quite capable of defending his position in a court of law and before the Roman authorities.  He never backed down from a fight when the Kingdom of God clashed with the kingdoms of men.  Nevertheless, I believe I can safely say that Paul knew he could better serve Jesus by being a preacher and a prophet rather than a politician. 

 

As Christians living in western style demoncracies, like Paul, we can and should use any rights of citizenship at our disposal  to promote and defend the Kingdom of God values.  Caving tinto anti-Christ pressures isn't an option.  Beyond these legalities, I could never discourage Christians from entering the political arena.  I would only hope they understood the nature of the beast, and, a beast it is according to the books of Daniel and Revelation.  A Christian lawyer confirmed this beastly nature of nations when he told me that once you enter the world of Canadian law and politics, the values of the Kingdom of God no longer apply.  That world operates under a completely different value system that has little relevance to the Kingdom of God.  As a lawyer defending his clients in a court of law he knew what he was talking about.  "It's a nasty game", he said.  "You're out to win at any and all cost."   His point was well taken.  Attempting to maneuver your way through an anti-Christian political minefield without compromising your Christian values is no easy task. 

 

So, here's my bottom line.  Unlike many
in my dad's generation, I believe we should 
avail ourselves of any and all citizenship rights to
promote and defend Kingdom of God values.  
Wimping out is not an option as long as we still have the legal right to fight for our faith.  That being said, like many of my dad's generation, I believe the need for Christian prophets outweighs the need for Christian politicians.  How a nation responds to the prophetic word will determine how God responds to a nation.  By the way, as with the Apostle Paul, sometimes prophets become prisoners.  Isn't it strange how God's will is accomplished in apparent defeat? 

 


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