by Dan Jones
What if you woke up tomorrow in the United Caliphate of America?
Or, what if tomorrow, this country was the Union of Socialist States of America?
Would God still be on His throne? Would Jesus still be the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Would it change your relationship with God?
Somehow, the beginning of Advent got me to thinking about the political climate in Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth and the political climate in our country—now and in the future.
Now, I am no historian (and I was a decidedly lousy history student in high school and in college) but as I have grown older I’ve found it easier and incredibly helpful to put the events being studied in the context of the times when they took place.
So, for me, history is no longer about memorizing endless lists of dates and names. It’s about trying to visualize what it would have been like for the Average Joe (or Joseph in this case) at the time the events took place.
So, if I put myself in Joseph’s sandals in 1 AD, I find that the nation of Israel is a Roman province. This is a nation of God’s Chosen People—a people who had been promised a land of their own flowing with milk and honey totally and completely dedicated to God.
Yet it is ruled and occupied by a heathen society of far greater military might.
Yes, Rome allowed the Jews to be Jews—kind of. Judaism was a “permitted religion” but Rome only allowed that to go so far. Caesar was in charge and allegiance to him came before allegiance to God. Being a Jew meant paying a special tax to Caesar.
It’s remarkably like the jizya—a special tax Christians must pay in countries under Islam’s sharia law for the specific purpose of reminding them of their inferiority to Muslims.
In some Communist countries, Christianity is permitted, but only if Christian churches swear first and foremost allegiance to the government. That’s why the true Christian churches in Communist China are underground churches. Despite recent “reforms” in China, the government there has torn down over 1200 crosses from “permitted” Christian churches. Communism cannot abide playing “second fiddle” to any ideology and it has historically been particularly intolerant of Christianity.
From what we know of the Roman occupation of Israel, and specifically the province of Judea where Jerusalem is located, we see that it is ruled by Herod the Great.
Herod was not a Jew and even though he had rebuilt the wall and the Temple of Jerusalem, he was despised by the Jews because he was a ruthless, murdering, evil man. Herod answered to Quirinius, and Quirinius answered to Augustus Caesar, who was worshipped as a god. Augustus Caesar was actually referred to as “Son of God” and “Messiah” in parts of the Roman Empire.
This would kind of be like the United States with all its Christian background and Christian inscriptions on its official buildings being ruled by a low-level Muslim who answered to a mid-level Communist who was under the authority of a Communist of god-like status. (Granted, that is not a perfect analogy.)
No wonder the Bible mentions insurrections against the Romans.
And, they had been waiting a long, long time. Because of Israel’s disobedience to God, they had been conquered and ruled by other nations and kings for over 600 years.
The political climate of the day was so charged that the religious scholars of the day (the Pharisees) believed that when the Messiah foretold in the writings of the prophets came, He would do so to restore the political freedom of Israel.
After all, Isaiah 9:6 says the government will be on his shoulders.
Of course, that prophecy would come true, but it would be centuries later and not in Israel at all--it would be in Rome. (That is irony of Biblical proportions.)
And that brings me back to my original question. It’s abundantly clear that the foundations of the government of this country rested on the shoulders of Jesus Christ. Yes, there were absolutely and positively built into our society broad areas of acceptance for differences in interpretation of various aspects of theology and doctrine, but the government formed in this New World was never, ever intended to pull down a single cross or elevate itself in any way above the One True God.
That has changed.
Our country continues to slip further and further from God. There are elements in this country actively and purposely attempting to exclude God from our society. Prophecies about people exchanging the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1: 18-32) are being played out before our very eyes.
And, there are those who believe the answers to humanity’s needs come not from God, but from Government.
But here’s the thing.
Even if that happens, it does not change God. He will still be on His throne and Jesus will continue to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus will continue to be the only way we are truly free.
Government may increase its rule over our homes and our land and our possessions and even our bodies, but government can never have rule over our souls.
Then Jesus said to them, "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." And they were amazed at him. (Mark 12:17 NIV)