Cult Of Government
by Liz Michael
Today, I'm going to make some of you uncomfortable, because I'm telling you about one of the most widely committed biblical sins in the world. Maybe you'll think I'm some wild-eyed unkempt freak wandering around in the wilderness. Well, so were Elijah and John the Baptizer.
No, it's not heresy, or adultery, or coveting, or theft, or bowing down to statues, altars, fruit, or any such thing. It's not even murder, rape or robbery. It's not greed, or lying, violating Shabbat, or inhospitability, or sassing your mom. It certainly isn't homosexuality, about which only a handful of verses exist. No, this sin is much more offensive to Yahweh the Creator. As evidenced by so many of his faithful scribes writing about it.
What in the world could I be talking about? It's a simple thing really. It's something that most of America, even most of the world, does on a daily basis. Even most Christians do it and do it rather faithfully I might add.
I'm talking about the sin of worshipping the government.
Reading Genesis you will see a common thread among the patriarchs. None of them lived most of their lives under a human government of any type. Does that not seem incredible? Yet it is true. Abraham left his family in Chaldea, which was under a government, to live in a "promised land" which had no government. Abraham was quite fearful of government authority, fearful enough to lie to the Egyptians: he didn't believe he could even trust the Egyptians to honor his marriage vows.
Abraham's children never lived under a government. In fact, the first descendant of Abraham's to live under a government was Joseph: he was sold into slavery by his brothers who were jealous of him. In that day, living under a government was tantamount to living in slavery. Eventually the whole family was forced to live in slavery as a sort of divine karmatic justice.
Moses' liberation of the Hebrews was not just a liberation from slavery, but a liberation from government itself. In the wilderness they were free. Unwilling to trust their Creator to maintain their freedom, they decided to sell themselves into slavery again, by "crafting an idol". In their insecurity, they couldn't handle freedom: they had to have something to prostrate themselves to, and they gave their wealth to that end. Even if the thing crafted was only a useless symbol of government power, and not an actual government. The narrative said that they were compelled by Yahweh to wander the desert 40 years, and not enter the promised land, because they couldn't handle freedom.
When the Hebrews finally did reenter the promised land, they again, lived, for all intents and purposes, under a non-government. Periodically, when they would not carefully guard that freedom, they were captured by other governments and forced to live under arduous restraints. One such restraint under the Philistines was an early form of gun control, or "sword control", as they forbade the Hebrews from practicing blacksmithing.
When were they delivered from their capture? When they were willing to fight for their freedom. During the time of the Judges, every time they fought for their freedom, they got it. Yet living free wasn't enough for these Israelites. Did they value the freedom they had, and seek to "export" that freedom to their neighboring nations? No, they actually ENVIED the nations which DIDN'T have freedom. They wanted to be "like them". They demanded a "king".
A prophet named Samuel was distressed at this request, and prayed earnestly about it. According to the narrative, Yahweh spoke these very interesting wods: "Listen to what they're saying: it's not you, Samuel, they've rejected, but me. As they have done from the day I brought them out of Egypt until today, fosaking me and serving other gods, so are they doing to you."
I want you to understand that. Yahweh never intended mankind to live under government. Yahweh equated loyalty to government, and fashioning government, to "serving other gods".
Samuel warned the Israelites what would happen if they decided to take a government as rulers of them, and it is something we today should consider: the king would:
"....draft your sons to make an army, and force others to farm to feed it, and still others to make weapons for it....he will take your best fields and give them to his attendants (eminent domain and confiscation)...he will tax your grain and give it to his officials. You sevrants will be conscripted to be his servants (tax accountants, doctors, teachers, and numerous other examples), and take the best of your labor for his own use. He will take a tenth of your means of production, and you will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and Yahweh will not respond."
Most of the Hebrew prophets didn't spend most of their time fighting sin. They spent most of the time fighting the government. Most of the governments of Israel and Judah occupied much of their time trying to kill the prophets, succeeding more often than not. Many people have been taught that this was a battle over whose god was the true god, but this was much more than a religious war.
The war between the kings of Israel and Judah and the prophets was a war between the government and those who prostrated themselves to it, and those who refused to. Don't be deluded into thinking this was about worshipping statues or trees: these were only the symbols of the real struggle.
The writers of the Scriptures spoke about "Ba'al". A very interesting term, because if you read every archeology text and history book that you can dig up, you will not likely find a god specifically called by that name. I submit to you that "Ba'al" is not as much a real god as a concept. Ba'al means "Lord", and is implied to mean "husband", in the sense of someone who rules over you whose every word you must obey. In other words, worship of Ba'al is worship of government. Ba'al was not as much a single god as he was a dominant culture.
And not much has changed in last 3,000 years. The biblical writings themselves reveal this continual war between government and the Creator's followers. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to prostrate themselves to the statue that represented the statue of the Babylonian king, i.e the government, and were thrown into a furnace. Daniel also refused to alter his prophecies to favor the government and was thrown into the lion's den. Esther and Mordecai had to conspire to cleverly manipulate the government in order to avert a holocaust of the Jewish people.
Daniel's beast, and his statue, are symbols of human government. The various metals of the statue are various forms of government. Much of Jesus' teaching was about how and when to comply with the ruling government without betraying Yahweh. But even the seemingly (to us) unthreatening teaching manner of Jesus was seen as threatening to the authority of government. The record of the slaughter of 11 of the 12 apostles confirms this.
Moreover, during the time of Jesus, we see yet another government. We see a "temple government", which in later times became a "church government", a government professing to use the authority of Yahweh to impose human rulership. It is this government in the form of the Sanhedrin which arranged the crucifixion of Jesus. It is this government which is prophecied by John the Relevator through the symbol of the false prophet and the second beast of Revelation, the one who looked like a lamb but spoke like a devil. John's prophecy uncannily recounts before the time the entire history of the evil rulership of the Christian church. The formula of murdering prophets of Yahweh, under the justification of heresy, was faithfully retained from the days when Ahab and Jezebel hunted down Elijah.
The founders of what we now know as the United States did a very interesting thing. They crafted a mechanism by which they hoped to bind government and keep it from oppressing the citizen. They sought to "bind down Ba'al". As best they could they attempted to hamper the ability of "the King" to impose his will on the people. No, it was not perfect. There were still grevious evils done in this America. But they set a model, probably as close to one as had ever been attempted, to that "non-government of Israel" which preceeded Saul.
And like the Israelites, Americans have been clamoring for a "king" ever since. They have been trying with all their might to "go back to Egypt", or in our case, to "Britain", in terms of style of government. They have been "worshipping Ba'al"! Not by adapting an eastern religion or paganism or some such other thing, but by worshipping "The Great Mother Government". Even when it has no power to do any good, just like that Golden Calf in the wilderness many years ago.
Indeed, many of the churches of today seek to impose their vision of what "America should be" on America, instead of preaching the real vision that the Creator has been trying to show them all along, the one which is in their very scriptures if they will only look. Namely, a society without, for the most part, a ruling government, a society where people are allowed to do what is right in their own eyes. Because only in such a society is the true value of a human being allowed to prosper. Only in such a society can most people develop the character to see the will of the Creator set before them, and choose to do the right thing.
Another example set in scripture, was that the children of Israel were never liberated by Yahweh until they stood up, armed themselves, and liberated themselves. Just as Thomas Jefferson stated that the government which governs best governs least, he also stated that "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." It was true in the time of Gideon, and true in the time of the Maccabees. It is true also today.
As Elijah said to the cult of government of his time, to the First Couple Ahab and Jezebel, who in many ways resemble our own, "How long will you halt between two opinions?"
Copyright, 2000, LizMichael.com, www.lizmichael.com Permission to reprint granted so long as the website and the copyright remains referenced. No exclusivity may be retained by any individual or press entity which reprints.
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Last updated 08/05/2010