Working with Social Institutions (1)

We have identified that God has ordained various institutions in society: the family, the Church and the State. The wise person wants to honour the things God has designed and made, to ensure he’s in harmony with God’s plan for all of creation and His people. As Gamaliel advised (Acts 5:38-39), the wise person doesn’t want to end up fighting against God.

But life gets challenging when institutions refuse to acknowledge the God-ordained limits on their authority. This has been a common thing historically.

Pharoah believed he was a god, and could take innocent lives. He told the Hebrew midwives, “when you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live” (Ex.1:16).

Herod was similar. He was threatened by the news of another king in Israel. His solution? Kill the child (Mat.2:16).

Hitler said in 1937,

This new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.[1] He also said in 1938,

These boys join our organisation at the age of ten…and they will not be free again for the rest of their lives.[2]

What was he doing? Violating God’s order, by usurping the role of the German family. But as Shortt said,

Nowhere in the Bible does God delegate the education of children to the state or to the disciples of other religions.[3]

Education Departments are not in the Bible, but parental responsibility most certainly is. The sentiments of Education Departments around Australia are not the same as Hitler’s, but there is a similarity: they treat families as commodities for the Department’s good, and they lord it over them, rather than viewing themselves as being employed by taxpayers to assist families in their childrens’ education. This difference in attitude has important consequences.

What else do Pharoah, Herod, Hitler and Australian Education Departments have in common? They are all humanistic. They all concur with Pharoah. “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?” (Ex.5:2)

From Genesis onwards, God’s people have had to conclude that when governments move out of their God-appointed roles and become abusive and tyrannical, this requires great shrewdness and flexibility on the part of God’s people.

What strategy did Moses’ mother and his elder sister Miriam employ to protect Moses? (See Ex.2:1-10). The Bible tells us that Moses’ parents “…were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Heb.11:23), and you could only call theirs’ a sophisticated strategy of subterfuge. “Jochebed even deceived Pharoah’s daughter into believing she was in no way related to the child (v.7-9),”[4] and she finished up being paid to breast-feed him.

When the Hebrew mid-wives (see Exodus 1) knew they were dealing with a baby-murderer, they were quite content to utilise deception, and lie to him.

Was this right on their part? Yes, because the Bible says that “you shall not murder” (Ex.20:13). It says that seven things are an abomination to God, and one of these is “the shedding of innocent blood” (Prov.6:16-17).

The essential issue is this:

The illegitimate laws of a civil government may be legitimately skirted when they come into direct conflict with a fundamental Biblical principle.[5]

The Bible makes it very clear that the mid-wives “feared God” (Ex.1:17, 21), and that God subsequently “was good to the mid-wives… [and] established households for them” (v.20, 21). They preferred to lie to a murderous Pharoah (whom God later drowned in the Red Sea-Ex.14-15), than to kill innocent Hebrew babies, and God honoured their obedience and faithfulness to Him in giving them families of their own.[6]

Christians must conclude this fact: when government officials move beyond their God-given tasks and attempt to usurp the role of the family (as they have frequently done since Genesis), we need to know who we are dealing with, and determine how to respond. For a Department to implicitly claim that “We are responsible for the education of your child,” is a usurpation of parental responsibility that requires wisdom, prayer and initiative on our part.

In this, the Bible encourages us. It says that “When the wicked rise, men hide themselves…” (Prov.28:28), and that “a wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust” (Prov.21:22).

What about today?

The New Testament’s position is replacement, not conquest. With this perspective, Christians in the fourth century captured the Roman Empire. Yet that empire had persecuted them for three centuries.[7]


[1] Quoted in William Shirer, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” 1968, p.343.

[2] Quoted in A. Klonne, “Youth in the Third Reich,” 1982, p.80.

[3] Bruce Shortt, “The Harsh Truth about Government Schools,” 2004, p.55.

[4] See Gary Demar, p.118.

[5] Gary North, “Moses and Pharoah,” 1985, p.67.

[6] See North, “Moses and Pharoah,” ch.4: “Illegitimate State Power.”

[7] Gary North, “Ethics and Dominion,” 2012, p.237.