The lords Of This Age (note the capitalization)
I finally watched the whole of the movie Schindler’s List, and can understand why it was nominated and won some Oscars. It was a typical Steven Spielberg film: all out in production, even to the point of fitting the period (all in black-and-white). It was, in a word, blunt; especially in depicting “man’s inhumanity to his fellow man,” and the sheeplike trust and innocent hope law-abiding citizens have in those who govern them.
I very well might be opening a can of worms with this post. I’m not thinking so much about how/why the Holocaust happened or whether or not something like this could happen again. I (and I think most people) will admit that it did happen and that similar atrocities are taking place around the world.
I’m wondering more about whether it would or can be stopped from within a country – one with a Christian culture – by those targeted and those who believe that what they see happening is wrong.
Let me be specific: when, if at all, is it our duty as Christian citizens to rise up? What is God’s will in the matter?
What does God’s Word say?
Romans 13:1 ESV – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.
This is the simplest instruction, to “be subject” to your government. But let’s check out a few more verses which add some qualifiers:
Titus 3:1 – Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.
Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who have to give account.
1 Peter 2:13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be the Emperor as supreme or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
The way I read these verses, they are recognizing (presumably from experience) the possibility that rulers do abandon their responsibilities to allow for good work to be done, to watch over their citizens in an openly-examinable manner, and to punish the lawbreakers and praise the lawful.
The explanation for why this happens is also documented in the Bible:
Ephesians 6:12 NIV – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
…from the Jubilee Bible 2000 translation:
“against The lords Of This Age.”
#1. The Bible teaches “submission” to the governing authorities when those authorities are doing their “jobs,” when “all things are equal, so to speak; when there is glory to God (freedom for those who choose to give it), peace on earth (or at least in one’s own nation), and good will toward (all) men. (Luke 2:14)
#2. When all things are not equal; when leaders are exercising evil (and the big difficulty is recognizing what constitutes those conditions), we are called to obey a higher power:
Acts 5:29 – We must obey God rather than man
Acts 4:7 – Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
#3. God himself is our example. Isaiah 59:12-19 says that God “did it himself, took on the work of righteousness, of salvation. KJV translation’s verse :19 reads
When the enemy comes, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.
#4. Is that ‘standard’ one of us?
1 Thessalonians 5:21 …test all (“prophecies”) against what you know to be good..
…with the implication that we will know what is good by spending quality time (learning) in the Word of God, and in prayer and meditation. We are to struggle against this world’s darkness wherever we perceive it, loving God and loving others.
In extreme cases,
James 4:17 – Whoever knows the right thing to do, and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
Isaiah 59:15-19 says that God will make everyone pay for what they’ve done. Will that also include what they have not done?
Finally, there are two ways to “rise up.” One, of course, is to join the resistance. The other is that chosen by Oskar Schindler, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and others. I really wonder which I would choose…