National Sovereignty and God – Nehemiah 13:1-3

It Is Not In The Best Interest Of A Nation To Allow Those Who Hate The Nation And Its People To Dwell Among Them

1 On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God, 2 because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.) 3 When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent.

Enlighten Everyone

My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge

There has been a great disservice done to the people of the United States of America.  In an attempt to socially engineer an entire generation of people to forget and reject their country’s past as evil and antiquated, for years educators have been excluding the founding documents of the nation from the public instruction of the children.  These documents shed light on the foundation of the nation, as provided by the Lord God Almighty Himself, and provides the basis for which the nation has since been, for the most part, a place where people who yearned to be free from the oppression of tyrants and religious persecution to come and live without the fear of repercussion the practice of hard work and righteousness.  That era has passed, and now even their children have been deprived of the knowledge of what led to the formation of the nation, as well as the character and intent of the founders of the nation.

In this passage, the Israelites had listened to the reading of the word of God.  It is critical that we know our founding documents and laws.  For the Israelites, it was the word of God.  As disciples of Christ, it is STILL the word of God.  We are strangers in this world.  As inhabitants in a strange land, we have an obligation to follow the rules of the land where they do not conflict with the word of God.

But how can you follow the rules of the land if you do not know what they are?

How can you know if the leaders of the nation are following the rules of the land if you do not know what they are?

The Israelites, after learning again what was in the law of God, realized that they were not following God’s law, and attempted to make the necessary changes to begin to follow what God had required of them.

Unconditionally Unite

One of the first things that they did was to recognize that the word of God had authority in their lives.  We too must realize that not only does the word of God have authority in our lives, but that the leaders placed over us have implemented laws to help govern us in our day to day actions.  And while not every rule of man is righteous, every directive of God in His word IS righteous.

The people in Jerusalem at that time united together.  They had several common bonds:

  • Genetic ancestry (they were all family through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)
  • Geographic residency (they were living in Israel, specifically in Jerusalem)
  • Godly instruction (the word of God was their law)

United we stand, divided we fall – Aesop

It is important that the people of a nation be in agreement with the laws of that nation.  In the case of the United States of America, no one has a gun pointed at their heads instructing the people that they may not freely move nor forbid them to leave to go elsewhere.  They live there by choice.  If people live in a nation by choice, should they not unite in agreement with the laws that govern how they are to behave in that country?

Practice what you Preach

For the disciple of Christ, it is imperative that we practice what we preach.  Hypocrisy is a terrible sin and a temptation that each of us faces each and every day as we are presented with the challenges of life.  Joseph faced grave consequences for upholding the law of God when Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce him and he declined.  We too must take the time first to know the law, to obey the law (where it is not in direct contradiction to God’s law), and to not only obey the law, but encourage and exhort our leaders to do the same.

The laws of men are not perfect, but should be in place to protect the citizens of that nation from the harm that happens when sinful people seek to take advantage of, harm, impede, or otherwise cause damage to others.  If we do not follow the laws set before us, are we not being hypocrites?  In the United States of America, the people there have the ability to change the law.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing when an unjust law is changed so that the people can live in peace and freedom.  It is a curse when evil people seek to impose their will upon others by getting into the positions of power that permit them to manipulate the switches and levers of power to their own benefit rather than the freedom of their people.

The law of God is clear and concise.  It is not written in legalism, wrapped in an enigma, and shrouded in mystery.  It is plain and easy for all who read it to understand it.  So it should be with the laws of men.

In the case of the Israelites, the word of God told them to exclude the Ammonites and Moabites from them because they had not helped the Israelites in their time of need, but intended harm to the Israelites, even hiring Balaam to curse them.  In the same manner, nations should be permitted to exclude those people who ignore and refuse to respect the laws of that nation who are seeking entrance to live in that nation.

These people intend harm to the people of the nation; for if they are unwilling to submit themselves to the laws of the nation through the established processes that the nation has set for entry into the land, they certainly will ignore any other aspect of that nation’s laws when it conflicts with their own interests.  Such people are to be considered dangerous, and are to be excluded from the possibility of ever being permitted entrance into the nation, even for the purposes of visiting.  The Israelites took action, and excluded those foreigners from among them.  Nations who have leaders who are wise should consider doing the same.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I take the time to know the laws of my nation?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for Your word.  Thank You for freeing me from the bondage of sin.  Thank You for Your great mercy and compassion.  Thank You for being holy and righteous in all that You do.  Help me to better understand Your word so that I may live in a manner that better glorifies Your name.  Help me to understand the laws of my nation so that I may obey them and thus bring glory to Your name.  Help me to encourage the leaders of my nation to obey the laws of the land and act in righteousness towards all.  Give me the courage to do so, even if doing so may bring about my imprisonment or death.  Help me to fear no man, but only to fear You, Lord God Almighty.  Grant me the strength and courage to live a life that loves my neighbor, but doesn’t excuse or ignore their evil.  Help me to stand up to wickedness through righteousness as You empower me to do so.  Give me the words to say to all who ask why I do this.  Remember me today, Oh God, as I seek to step out for You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

Freedom in Christ – John 8-32

Freedom is not Free

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Finding Freedom

Freedom can only be found in the truth.  And there is only one person who can rightfully claim the title of truth – The Lord Jesus Christ.  The word freedom is bandied about quite a bit.  But what is really meant by “freedom”?  Have we not already been given free will?  Are we “free” from obeying laws?  Where are the boundaries of “freedom”?

Boundaries Bared

Christ came to fulfill the law, not abolish it.  So we find that we still have boundaries.  Jesus said:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

We also know:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

The boundary of freedom is love.  So, what exactly are we being freed from?

Pardoned Prisoners

Sin entered the world through one man, and through one man we have been redeemed.  Sin leads to bondage.  When we sin, it is like we are taking a very powerful, very addictive drug.  It immediately has its grasp on your life.  And, just as an addict is a slave to drugs, we become slaves to sin.  When we sin, we voluntarily enter into bondage, whether we realize it or not.

Sin prevents us from living out a full life.  Just as boundaries exist to protect people from danger, sin creates a different type of boundary, much like a prison cell.  It keeps the person from being able to do what God has called them to do.  Every person has a calling from God on their life.  Most don’t recognize that or see their calling because of sin.  As a result, we often lead meaningless lives in pursuit of whatever will temporarily fill the void in our soul, a void that seeks to be filled.  That void can ONLY be filled by having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  And we are prisoners in an invisible jail cell until we are freed by Jesus Christ, who brings truth to us.  And when we know the truth, we shall be set free from the bondage of sin.

Vexing Vigilance

But like God, who pursues all of us in an attempt at reconciliation with Himself, sin seeks to capture us again, and make us its prisoner.  John Philpot Curran said the following:

“It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”

To keep free from sin requires eternal vigilance.  The world, the flesh, and the devil continually exercise pressure upon men to conform to their desires.  It is only by spending time with Jesus Christ every day that provides us the power, desire, and ability to withstand the tugs.  Like a reformed alcoholic who is forced to walk past bars and liquor stores every day, we must resist the temptation to once again indulge in that which caused our imprisonment.  Only through eternal vigilance in this shall a man remain free from sin’s grasp.

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question: Am I resisting or yielding to the things that so easily ensnare me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for my sins.  My soul replies, “Hallelujah!”  Please help me as I navigate through this world.  I am bombarded every day with temptation.  Guard my eyes and my heart that I may not yield to it.  Rather, help me to yield completely to the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit that I may honor you, Father.  Your word says that when I am weak, You are strong.  Provide me with the strength to follow Jesus and resist evil.  Instill within me a steadfast spirit of contentment and obedience.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?