From Generation to Generation (5)

O God, do not remain quiet; do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. For behold, Your enemies make an uproar, and those who hate You have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against Your people, and conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more” (Ps.83:1-4).

Understanding how to deal wisely with our opponents, has been a perennial challenge for Christians through the ages. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been something we’ve always been very good at, and this has cost us dearly on occasions.

As in most things there are always extremes. The first is to be totally compliant when our opponents have legal authority. This of course, is what they want us to do, because compliance means that we grant them total control. They say “Jump!” and we say, “How far?”

The other extreme is one of attack, of violence. In the first century, many Jews in Israel were resentful of Rome and tried to forcibly resist the Roman occupation, but Rome knew all about force and dealt with them easily. And let’s be clear: there is no Biblical justification for violence in a land not at war, or when violence is not threatened.

So what we have to do is avoid extremes and find God’s way, and there are Biblical patterns for this. Jordan’s comments are helpful here:

It is pre-eminently women or subordinates who practise deception in Scripture. That is, those in a vulnerable position, who do not have power to engage in direct confrontation, are advised to use deception and lies to evade the dragon. Thus …we have the Hebrew midwives in Exodus 1, and the deception practised by Jochebed in Exodus 2, the deception by Rahab in Joshua 2, and the deception by Jael in Judges 4 and 5.22. Powerless subordinates such as Jacob use deception against tyrants such as Isaac in the situation recorded in Genesis 27 (although we should note that the woman here is the primary actress in protecting her covenant-seed). When Samuel fears the power of Saul, in I Samuel 16:2, God Himself gives him the deceptive strategy. [1]

When the State becomes so diabolic that it tries to seize the control of children, it forfeits its right to honesty and obedience from Christians. The Christian’s political obedience in any context is always conditional. Peter pointed this out when he explained to the Council that “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29), and parents today should be unwilling to hand over the control of their children to a monster, just as Moses’s parents were unwilling.

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict (Heb.11:23).

So, even though we live in a land of relative blessing and great promise, there is much still to preserve, beginning with our children. We ought to be fearlessly protective of them, for they belong to God.

In Genesis 20, the serpent tried again. Realizing that the godly seed had been promised (18:9-15), he sought to defile the bride before the seed could be born. Visiting among the early Philistine, Abraham again used deception to protect Sarah. Again the king violated basic rules of hospitality and fratriarchy and took the bride. God cursed him, but offered him a way of escape if he would ask Abraham to pray for him. The king professed that he had not meant to sin, and restored Sarah, along with many gifts, to Abraham.

The curse upon Abimelech for attacking the bride was that the women of his household all became barren. This was reversed at the request of Abraham (v.17f.). Again we see deception used as a strategy. God again lets Abraham know that if He had not blessed the deception, it would not have worked; but no criticism is offered of the lie itself. Again we see the righteous prospering under the dominion of the ungodly.[2]

Protection through deception is thus a well-trodden Biblical path. The Bible teaches us that “a prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naïve proceed and pay the penalty” (Prov.27:12). This pattern of response is found repeatedly throughout scripture, because hiding things of great value or importance, is something Jesus said His Father does (Mat.11:25). Jesus “hid Himself” from the Jews (Jn.8:59).

John Whitehead comments,

Rahab’s action in protecting the Israelite spies in Joshua 2 was illegal because her government was an enemy of Israel, and the spies were there in preparation for war against her country. Therefore, Rahab’s duty was to her own king, her government, her own people; or was it?

No, she chose in her heart to follow the God of Israel. She lied. She hid spies and helped them escape. She broke the fundamental laws of her own legal government because behind it she saw another kingdom. Rahab risked everything in order to follow the laws of God, including telling lies.[3]

When Moses knew that Pharoah wanted to kill him, he fled from Pharoah to the land of Midian (Ex.2:15).

Rahab hid the two spies sent to Jericho (Joshua 2:6). Gideon was beating out wheat in a wine press (Judges 6:11) when God spoke to him. He was hiding what he was doing.

Ehud hid a sword under his cloak when he came before Eglon, to kill him (Judges 3:15-22).

Jael secretly crept up and killed the wicked Sisera, while he slept peaceably in her tent, after she had deceived him with her hospitality (Judges 4:17-21).

Jotham hid himself from his murderous brother Abimelech’s slaughter of all his brothers, and managed to escape (Judges 9:5). Later, he accurately prophesied the destruction of Abimelech and all that followed him (Judges 9:7-20; 56-57).

David, when he was pursued by Saul, had to hide from him (I Sam.19-28).

Jonathan, knowing his father wished to kill David, told David to “…stay in a secret place and hide yourself” (I Sam.19:2).

Jonathan and Ahimaaz (spying for King David when Absalom was rebelling against him), hid in a well and a woman spread a covering over it “so that nothing was known” (II Sam.17:17-20).

When Jezebel sought to kill all the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah “took a hundred and hid them by fifties in a cave” (I Kings 18:4).

When Elijah knew that Jezebel wanted to kill him, he ran for his life, before throwing his mantle over Elisha (I Kings 19).

Jehosheba hid Joash from the murderous queen-mother Athaliah (daughter of Ahab) for six years to protect him, till the right time (II Kings 11:1-3).

Solomon instructed us, “When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; but when they perish, the righteous increase” (Prov.28:28).

Conclusion:

Christian obedience should always be conditional on the faithfulness to God of those whom we are being called upon to obey. This means that evil holders of authority forfeit a measure of our obedience.

We and our children belong to God, so we are responsible to obey God with all that we have, and protect all He has given us.

Children are a gift of the Lord… (Ps.127:3).

 

 

 

 [1] James Jordan, in “The Tactics of Christian Resistance,” (Ed. Gary North) 1983, p.53-54.

[2] James Jordan, in “Tactics…,” p.54-5.

[3] John Whitehead, in “The Theology of Christian Resistance,” (Ed, Gary North), 1983, p.8-9.