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A Bible Study of The Scripture

Lesson 12: What is Biblical response to unGodly government

Summary to date:

We started with a statement that we live in a time of Biblical illiteracy. One area in which this is pronounced is in the understanding of the Scripture concerning what we today call civil government. A brief look at Romans 13:1-7 (main New Testament passage on civil government) led to four questions about the validity of the predominate teachings from the pulpit today.

The next seven weeks we studied both Biblical references and historical references to the Scripture to answer those four questions. The answer was that the two common interpretations of Romans 13:1-7 today, are in conflict with Scripture.

Last week we returned to Romans 13:1-7 in detail from the perspective of our Christian duty is to obey Godly civil government. We have no Christian duty from the Scripture to obey ungodly government.

This week we will start looking at the question that is virtually ignored from the pulpit. What is our Christian duty when faced with an ungodly government and how should we respond.

Verify that according to Scripture we have a duty to respond.

Not responding to ungodly government can bring the wrath of God. Speaking through His prophet Hosea in Hosea 7:2-3:

Verse

King James Version

New International Version 1984 (NIV)

 

2

And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.

but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me.

3

3They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.

“They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies.

 


The people of the Northern Kingdom had failed to respond to the kings and princes, to reign in their leadership against God’s commandments. The people were punished along with the kings and princes. As we studied in previous lessons this was also true when Saul violated the covenant with the Gibeonites, David numbered the people without consulting with God and when Ahab committed abominations against the Lord.

Proverbs 28:4

Verse

King James Version

New International Version 1984 (NIV)

4

They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law resist them.


“the law” if referring to God’s Word, not man’s  or the world’s law. Those who forsake God’s Word praise the wicked. Wicked is used in many places in the Bible and never in a positive way. But those who follow God’s Word “contend” or “resist” those who are wicked.

Psalm 94:15-16

Verse

King James Version

New International Version 1984 (NIV)

15

But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.

Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

16

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?

Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?


This passage reminds us that Judgment is founded on righteousness. Christians should be upright in heart and not swayed by the wicked or ways of the world. Verse 16 asks a very important question. Who will rise up for the Lord against evildoers and who will stand up for the Lord against iniquity.

Some question or would argue that this does not apply to civil government. But that is resolved in verses 20-22.

Verse

King James Version

New International Version 1984 (NIV)

20

Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?

Can a corrupt throne be allied with you— one that brings on misery by its decrees?

21

They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.

They band together against the righteous  and condemn the innocent to death.

22

But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.

But the LORD has become my fortress,  and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.


“throne of iniquity” or “corrupt throne” refers to civil government and one that has abandoned God’s Commands and Authority for civil government. Can such a civil government have fellowship with the Lord? The answer is “no” it can not. This also points out that the laws of ungodly civil government may moy be pleasing to the Lord. Verse 21 points out that ungodly civil government does the opposite of the two functions that God ordained for civil government.

Verse 22 leads into how a Christian should respond. God is our defense, we have to follow God’s commands.

The first and constant response is to be righteous. To follow God, not men. To not be influenced by the ways of the world or false doctrine into doing nothing or making the king glad (Hosea 7:3). This is one method to stand up for God against the workers of iniquity. In our land they can only be successful in their iniquity when a majority do not stand up against them. Conversely they will be successful in their iniquity when a major do not stand for the Lord.

There are three types of contending or resisting in the Bible: 1) Verbal, 2) Flight and 3) Self Defense. We will cover the first two in this lesson.

Biblical response 1: Verbal

If the iniquity or wickedness is not physical violence then Christians should respond in kind. In the Bible this was a verbal response. Today it would include some written responses as in our technology driven culture many verbal forms of response have been replaced by written communication.

I Kings 18:17-18

Verse

King James Version

New International Version 1984 (NIV)

17

And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?

When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”

18

18And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.

“I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals.


Ahab was a king that was exceedingly wicked in the eyes of God. He was also a king that had a habit of killing prophets who did not please him (reference Psalm2:3). Elijah was attacked in this case verbally so he responded verbally.

2 Samuel 24:2-4

Verse

King James Version

New International Version 1984 (NIV)

2

For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.

So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”

3

And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?

But Joab replied to the king, “May the LORD your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”

4

4Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.

The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel.


Joab was given a command from the king, which he knew was wrong. He advised the king against this action. However he was over-ruled by the king. This action angered God and resulted in the death of 70,000 people by three days of pestilence. Joab was not one of the 70,000.

Discussion: How would we apply this Biblical principle today?

Biblical response 2: Flight

Flight can be a form of resistance. In this sense it not an act of cowardice. Certainly we would not confuse a command of Jesus with cowardice:

Matthew 10:23

Verse

King James Version

New International Version 1984 (NIV)

23

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.


Jesus commanded his disciples to flee when they were persecuted in a city. To go to another city.

John 7:1

Verse

King James Version

New International Version 1984 (NIV)

1

After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life.


Jesus avoided Judea, not because he feared for his life, it was not time yet. But this is an example of Biblical flight to avoid iniquity.

Acts 9:23-25

Verse

King James Version

New International Version 1984 (NIV)

23

And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:

After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him,

24

24But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him.

25

25Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

 

But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.


The Apostle Paul used flight to escape from Damascus. He discussed this again in II Corinthians 11:32-33. As further verification of the meaning of Romans 13:1-7 that we covered last week, the Apostle Paul was fleeing from a government official (“the governor under Aretas the king” II Corinthians 11:32).

Flight is not always an option and it is not always successful. In Jeremiah 26:20-23 Urijah  was preaching the truth against a wicked government. Jehoiakim the king was incensed that someone would have the audacity to attack him and his kingdom. He issued a command to put Urijah to death and Urijah fle to Egypt. Jehoiakim sent men to Egypt who kidnapped Urijah and brought him to Jehoiakim who then murdered him.

How would we apply this Biblical principle today?

Biblical Responses to ungodly government: Biblical Self Defense:

Warning: Self defense is just that and nothing more. It is not a license to rebellion:

I Samuel 15:23

Verse

King James version

(Holman Christian Standard Bible)

 

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry


There can be a fine line between self defense and rebellion. The Scripture does present a Biblical principle of a Christian has a Christian duty to defend one’s self, family, community and work of God from violent attack by violent self defense if needed. However while self defense can be used to defend God’s work it can not be used to further God’s work.

An example of preparation for self defense is in Nehemiah during the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Let’s look at Nehemiah 4: 7-17:

Verse

King James version

(Holman Christian Standard Bible)

7

But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth,

When Sanballat, Tobiah, and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the repair to the walls of Jerusalem was progressing and that the gaps were being closed, they became furious.

8

And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.

They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw it into confusion.

9

Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

So we prayed to our God and stationed a guard because of them day and night.

10

And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.

In Judah, it was said: The strength of the laborer fails, since there is so much rubble. We will never be able to rebuild the wall.

11

And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.

And our enemies said, “They won’t know or see anything until we’re among them and can kill them and stop the work.”

12

And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you. 

When the Jews who lived nearby arrived, they said to us time and again, “Everywhere you turn, they attack us.”

13

Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 

So I stationed people behind the lowest sections of the wall, at the vulnerable areas. I stationed them by families with their swords, spears, and bows.

14

And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

After I made an inspection, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the great and awe-inspiring Lord, and fight for your countrymen, your sons and daughters, your wives and homes.”

15

And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.

When our enemies heard that we knew their scheme and that God had frustrated it, every one of us returned to his own work on the wall.

16

And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.

From that day on, half of my men did the work while the other half held spears, shields, bows, and armor. The officers supported all the people of Judah,

17

They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.

who were rebuilding the wall. The laborers who carried the loads worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other.


As Nehemiah was leading the rebuilding of Jerusalem, word came to him that they were subject to a violent attack from the surrounding kingdoms. His reaction was to prepare for self defense after praying for God’s protection. There was no hesitation by Nehemiah to make adequate preparation for defense and it should be noted that the people were armed.

Jesus told his disciples to be prepared for self defense. After the first Lord’s Supper but before leaving the upper room: Luke 22:36-38

Verse

King James version

(Holman Christian Standard Bible)

36

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

Then He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money-bag should take it, and also a traveling bag. And whoever doesn’t have a sword should sell his robe and buy one.

37

For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

For I tell you, what is written must be fulfilled in Me: And He was counted among the outlaws.[e] Yes, what is written about Me is coming to its fulfillment.”

38

And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.

“Lord,” they said, “look, here are two swords.”    “Enough of that!”[f] He told them.

f: Luke 22:38 Or It is enough!


The Scripture has many passages that confirm a Christian’s right of self defense.

However to repeat the Warning at the beginning of this lesson: Matthew 5:44-45

Verse

King James version

(Holman Christian Standard Bible)

44

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

45

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.


For individuals, the three Biblical methods of resisting ungodly government are; Verbal, Flight and Self Defense if personally (or family) are attacked. In today’s society Verbal would include most forms of written communication and what we now call lobbying.

It should be obvious that these three methods are simply our Christian duty and without Divine Intervention probably will have minimal restraint on ungodly government unless exercised corporately.

These are individual actions. Next week we will look at more corporate methods; Lower Magistrates. That will be followed with a conclusion for the Bible Study.

Following the conclusion, will be an invitation for those who are in agreement and are so called to continue in another venue to answer the question, “Now what do we do?”

 

 

Next: Lesson 13

Lesson 13: The Lower Magistrate

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