Chapter 11:

Loyalty to the Kingdom

The Kingdom of God is a real government, established by God with his Son Jesus christened as its King. Dan 7:14 says: “to him there were given rulership, honor, and a kingdom, that the peoples, nations, and language groups should all serve him. His rulership is an everlasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom will not be destroyed.”

But not all people want to be in this kingdom. Before the Roman governor Pilate, Jewish leaders accused Jesus of "subverting our nation and saying he himself is Christ a king." It was Pilate’s responsibility as governor to defend the sovereignty of Rome against subversives and revolutionaries. So he asked Jesus: "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus answered: "My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be handed over to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source." In effect, Jesus said, ‘Yes, I am a king; but my kingdom is different from yours; it will not be established by political revolt. My disciples are not dangerous to you.’ Although Pilate found Jesus harmless and sought to release him, the mob demanded blood, so he finally gave in to them. As governor, he should have defended the innocent, but that was not as important to him as preserving peace in the province. —John 18:36, Luke 23:2, 3, 20-25.

The same issue of allegiance continues today between God’s Kingdom and the governments of the world. Although most nations today advertise themselves as defenders of freedom and the oppressed (yes, even totalitarian dictatorships say that), sometimes persons who are trying to be true to God and faithful to His Kingdom are accused of subversion in courts of the world. True Christians do not seek to overthrow present governments, but we do expose their faults, their limitations, even their wickedness, as we teach people to put their faith instead in the perfect government of God. Governments that expect total loyalty find this hard to accept.

Jesus warned us, saying "look out for yourselves; people will hand you over to local courts, and you will be. . . put on the stand before governors and kings for my sake." (Mark 13:9) But it would serve a good purpose: he added, ‘it will result in your giving a witness to them. What you are to say will be given you by holy spirit; I will give you wisdom which your opposers will not be able to dispute.’ (Luke 21:12-19) So really it is a privilege to defend God’s Kingdom in worldly courts. Man's law will conflict with God's law at times. Loyalty to the Kingdom moves us to answer as the apostles did when they were ordered to stop speaking about Christ: "we must obey God as ruler rather than men." Could you take such a stand? —Acts 5:29.

To know when to stand firm, we must first know what God’s law is. We do not want to defy man’s law needlessly because of misunderstanding God’s will. Nor do we want to obey man’s law blindly, being unaware when God would have us do otherwise. The same applies in areas other than law. For example, we may face social pressure to conform to popular customs. Not all common customs are unacceptable, but it should not surprise us to discover that there are customs in this world that displease God. When we learn of these, loyalty to God sets before us a choice: will we "go along to get along," or will we choose what is right?

It is natural to want to fit in and be respected. We want people to find the Christian way of life attractive, because it is indeed the best way of living. We do not want our submission to God to be seen as unreasonable, even oppressive and cultish. On the other hand, we cannot let pleasing men become more important to us than pleasing God. Jesus said: "Everyone that confesses union with me before men [who disapprove], I will confess union with him before my Father; but whoever disowns me before men [letting them intimidate us], I will disown him before my Father." (see Matt 10:32-39 and Mark 8:38 for more.) There is no escaping it: being a true Christian will mean being regarded as peculiar, even despised, by many people of the world. "All those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will be persecuted," says 2 Tim 3:12. —see also John 15:19-21.

We take heart from the fact that some who opposed us violently have later become Christians themselves. Paul, one of the most zealous Christians on record, admitted that he was "formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man." But he was shown mercy, because he had acted out of ignorance. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of ignorance in the world. So, while remaining optimistic, true Christians do not expect to be popular. If everyone is praising you, if you fit into the community seamlessly, it is time to take stock; you may be doing something wrong. —1 Tim 1:12, 13.

Submitting to the Law of God

The world promotes a self-centered, independent spirit. In contrast, the Bible consistently emphasizes obedience. Ecclesiastes 12:13 says: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.” God does not want slavish, fearful obedience. He wants our submission to be because we respect (which is what "fear" means in this context) and trust him, with faith that his way is best, so that we are devoted to him, loyal from the heart. Our dedication to him should be above our other loyalties, such as to family or community. In a word, love is the foundation of our relationship with God; to love Him is in fact the greatest command. (Matt 22:36-40) So we may need to work at it, to develop that relationship, if at first we are not inclined. We may not feel so close to him at first, because we have unanswered doubts, but because we see how important it is, we set to work at getting those answers. Jesus put it this way in a prayer: "This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God." —John 17:3.

Love for God is not just a warm feeling. It is proven by what we do. See 1 John 5:3 and 2:3-5, Matthew 10:37. From Adam and Eve in Eden to the end of the Millennium, throughout the Bible the foremost issue kept in focus is this: Do we faithfully obey God or do we rebel?

Obedience to God requires moral courage, because wicked men also demand obedience. We rightly condemn those who obeyed Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot (and an endless series of other despots), for not having the moral strength to DISOBEY, to resist. If only more had refused to obey, so many innocent lives would have been saved. This moral challenge continues today all over the world. If all people would stand up for what is right, such men could not even come into power.

The three young Jews in Babylon gave us an example of courageous dis-obedience. Mindful of the Second Commandment ("you must not bow before any image"), they refused to give homage to an image of the State erected by the king. The penalty for this was to be death by fire. They did not know going in that they would not die, but they stood firm anyway. Jehovah saved them from the fiery furnace, and the king had to honor the true God. (Read Daniel 3, with especial attention to verses 17, 18, 24, 25, and 28.)

Christians must face a comparable test in our time. Nations today regard their national emblems with reverence very similar to that given to idols in ancient times. In many lands ceremonies honoring the flag bear a striking resemblance to the scene on the ancient plain of Dura. True Christians know how God feels about such genuflection before an image and are prepared to refuse to bow, kiss, salute, sing, recite a pledge, or whatever else the special act of devotion may be. Even though the consequences may be severe, we do not look for excuses and justifications to compromise. We preserve our life by obeying God. Men may honor themselves with high titles and pompous ceremony, but they are still just men. They may threaten, imprison, even torture and kill us for refusing to bow to their will, but they cannot end our life in God’s eyes. They cannot take away the new world that awaits us. By trusting God, we have strength to be loyal to him. (Read 1 Pet 2:13-17, 2 Cor 1:8-10, Psalm 9:18-20, 145:18-20, Luke 12:4, 5, Romans 8:35-39.)

Balanced against this resolute stand is God’s instruction to be submissive to worldly rulers, to be good citizens, to be cooperative. Therefore we do respect national emblems, as representing a lawful government. We do not join anti-government protests, and we would never burn a flag as a act of defiance. If we must petition them for justice, we do so using lawful means, to the extent they allow for it. No government should take our firm obedience to God as a threat. —see Romans 13:1, 2, 7.

Misplaced Loyalty

Although Satan enjoys using brute coercion, he does not always test our loyalty so directly. He actually gets more success with cunningly deceptive tactics, finding a person's blind side. The only sure defense is to truly know God; then we are morally alert, we have no blind side. As Paul said, we will "not be overreached by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs."

One of Satan’s designs is to "disguise himself as an angel of light," to get people to disobey God thinking they are obeying Him. (2 Cor 2:11; 11:14) For example, German soldiers in World War I proudly wore on their belt buckles the slogan, "Gott mit uns", that is, ‘God is with us’. They were wrong; God did not support their confidence with victory. Naturally, those who won the war believed God was really on their side, but did their victory prove that? Surely they were sincerely fighting "the war to end all wars." By now we know how miserably they failed: the Great War was just the beginning of the horrors of the end times.

Does this look like an angel of light to you?

Social and economic upheaval followed the Great War, and totalitarian Fascist, Communist and Nazi agitators presented themselves as saviors. Many people embraced their propaganda as the answer to the weakness, corruption, failures and injustices of the existing governments. Seeking justice, they followed that counterfeit "angel of light" rather than following the Prince of Peace. They were led directly into World War II.

Many who thought themselves Christian supported Hitler enthusiastically. They liked his tough law-and-order approach, his militaristic nationalism, his extreme pride of nation. He opposed pornography, prostitution, abortion, obscenity in modern art, and homosexuality. His Nazi Party advocated discipline, punctuality, cleanliness, and respect for authority. And he had a final answer to that "Jewish question." What was there not to like?

So religious leaders willingly reassured the German people that Nazi policies did not violate tenets of Christian faith and morality. As a result, when "duty" called, they went with a clear conscience and shot Jews and other "enemies of the state" in the back en masse, even inviting their wives or girlfriends to visit and observe the carnage. There was no secrecy, and no sense of shame or guilt hindered them. Many of the atrocities were meticulously recorded and photographed.*

World War II was supposed to "make the world safe for democracy," but freedom and democracy are still far from secure in this world. Satan likes to see people fight, the more viciously the better, and to date his most effective tool, after intimidation, has been religious fervor. Today there are those who claim to be "God’s army" fighting "holy war" (jihad) while committing the most ungodly of atrocities in his name. World Trade impact In 2001 suicidal "holy warriors" destroyed the World Trade Center in New York, crushing almost 3,000 "infidels". No doubt the terrorists’ last words were "Allahu akbar!" (God is great!) Such is the power of Satan’s form of religion. Or as Arab journalist Ahmad al-Sarraf asked on Al Jazeera TV soon afterward: "Why don’t we have tolerance? This rhetoric of hatred is in all sermons, in all schoolbooks." That is an excellent question. We should ask ourselves: what does my religion teach? Just as important, what do its members actually do?

What about ourselves personally? Do we refuse to follow evil, or do we allow ourselves to be deceived? When the marching band plays patriotic music and the politicians wave the flags and the preachers fervently urge us to join the fight, do we cry "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!"?

Christian Warfare

Bible prophecy is clear: until the end true Christians will be a minority, a tiny minority, in a world that largely fails to know God. And until the end the world will go on fighting and carrying on wars. Grand words will ‘justify’ every side. Nothing Christians do will change that. Do we care? —Mark 13:4-13, 22.

Absolutely. God does not tell us to stand by and do nothing. He tells us how to respond. Do we obey Him, or do we listen to what the leaders or activists of the world say must be done? God recruits us as His soldiers and equips us with effective weapons for His kind of war. Christians are "God’s army", but they fight a spiritual warfare. Paul describes our war at 2 Cor 10:3-5: "Though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage warfare according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God; and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to Christ." (see also Ecclesiastes 9:18, Daniel 11:32-34.)

Our "sword" is not steel, it is God’s word of truth (see our fighting equipment described at Ephesians 6:10-18; this is illustrated in Chapter 2). We do not use this "sword" to injure anyone, and we do not compel people to bow before God. Rather, with God’s word we attack the roots of conflict: ignorance, deception, selfishness, pride. (2 Tim 2:24-26) By teaching loyalty to the kingdom of God above any authority on earth, we point people to the God of love, not the god of darkness.

In this we are fulfilling a prophecy: “In the final part of the days, . . . many peoples will go and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ . . . He will render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor will they learn war anymore.” Those who listen to God do not even learn how to wage war. They leave such methods behind; they find better ways to solve their differences. —Isaiah 2:2-4.

God's instruction to 'love your enemies' may not seem at first to be practical, but his wisdom always proves superior in the end. To the Muslim, violence is the honorable response to religious insult, and to the modern radical Jew, double retaliation will "teach them a lesson they won't forget!" So we have an endless exchange of exploding zealots and bulldozed houses. Mark well the peace they have achieved by such 'wisdom'. Yes, peace through violent intimidation, works every time. . .

God says: “The entire Law is fulfilled in one commandment, namely: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ If, though, you keep on biting and devouring one another, look out that you do not get annihilated by one another.” (Gal 5:14, 15) “Whatever other commandment there is, is summed up in this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does not work evil to one's neighbor; love is the law's fulfillment. . . Let us therefore throw off the works belonging to darkness and let us put on the weapons of the light. Let us walk decently . . . not in strife and jealousy.” (Rom 13:9-13) If we learn the ways of God, even though they are difficult and not without risk, we will succeed.

But of course most people will not listen. Not everyone is willing to be taught the ways of peace. So there will indeed have to be a ‘war to end all wars’. That will be God's war, and it will not need our participation. (compare 2 Chronicles 20:12, 15-17, 22, 23; see Ezekiel 38:18-23 and Rev 19:11-18. For more detail see chapter 8, Armageddon.)

Self-defense

Military leaders admit: war is a poor way to solve problems. Yet sometimes it seems as if an invisible hand pulls groups of people into a disastrous confrontation, and no one has the moral power to resist it, to find a better way.* Would that invisible hand be God? No. Rather, it is the "god of this world", Satan.—2 Cor 4:3, 4.

But what if we are attacked? Does God put an invisible shield around his loyal ones? Within limits, yes, he does. Pilate said to Jesus: “Do you not know that I have authority to release you and I have authority to execute you?” Jesus answered him: “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been granted to you from above.” (John 19:10, 11) Earlier, when Peter had valiantly tried to use a sword to protect Jesus from an armed mob, Jesus told him: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than 12 legions of angels?” (Matt 26:51-53) Jesus felt quite secure, very well protected indeed. Yet he died very painfully just a few hours later. Was he a fool?

No, he was the Son of God. He knew exactly what he faced and why. Likewise, we are well protected. On his last night with his disciples, Jesus asked of his Father: "Watch over them because of the wicked one. . . the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world." (John 17:11-16) We do not know if God will always intervene to deliver us from death, but we know He can, and will, if it should be. If he chooses to let us die for our faith, we have to accept that. We trust his promise to raise us up, as he did his Son. —recall Daniel 3:17, 18; see also 1 Pet 2:21-23, 2 Kings 6:15-23, Psalm 37:39, 40, 27.3, and 34.7, 15-19, and Psalm 91. (There are in fact dozens of scriptures that reassure faithful ones of God's protective care.)

Of course, not all danger comes because we are Christians. We may be attacked by an animal, or by a criminal or mentally disturbed person. Can we forcefully defend ourselves? Yes. Jesus himself instructed his disciples to prepare for the Christian ministry: “Let the one who has a money bag take it, likewise a food pouch, and let the one who has no sword sell his outer garment and buy one. Then they said: ‘Lord, look! here are two swords.’ He said to them: ‘It is enough.’” (Luke 22:36-38) It was later that very night that Peter tried to use one of those swords to defend Jesus against the mob of fanatics. Yet Jesus sharply rebuked him for doing that, saying "all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword." So why did he tell them to have one? Was it just to teach this lesson, and lesson learned, they should now get rid of them and go on unarmed?

No, the advice to carry a sword was clearly for their future work* and implies a reason would exist to use it. We see that God does not authorize us to fight the government or an overwhelming mob of religious fanatics (any such attempt would likely end badly anyway.) On the other hand, defending oneself, one’s family, or an immediate neighbor from a smaller threat, perhaps a lone attacker, may be valid cause to use a weapon. Whether to fight or flee or call for authorized force is a judgment God leaves to us. We do have to remember that we will have to account to him either if we misuse our "sword" by overreacting with rash violence, or, on the other hand, if we were to do nothing to defend an innocent one being attacked when we had the means to do so. So our conscience should not paralyze us with uncertainty from undertaking vigorous and effective physical defensive action, where it is justified.

The modern equivalent of the sword is the firearm. Some believe that "the best answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." This is not advice from God. In America mass shootings by deranged fanatics have become almost common. There may be "good guys with guns" present, but they are rarely in position to make as much difference as they might fantasize beforehand. More likely they will get shot by the police or by another "good" guy who is confused over who is the bad guy. People who know guns well admit that they are not as useful in close defense situations as we might imagine. Most attackers catch their victims off guard so they do not have time to react in kind.

What then is God's advice? Don't shop at Walmart? No, we can be in danger anywhere, although some places do carry more risk. Christians generally avoid large crowds of rowdy drunken partygoers. Actually, most attacks are one-on-one, as muggings. Besides being alert to where we are and who is around us, we have the spiritual weapons God gives us: faith that steadies us, self-control and mildness that enable us to speak and act in a way that can defuse anger or calm a belligerent drunk. See Col 4:6, Prov 15:1 and 25:15. Most fights in this world are escalated by both sides; since Christians are peaceable "as far as it depends upon them", they miss a lot of action. "Blessed are the peacemakers" applies here too (Matt 5:9). —See Rom 12:18, 1 Pet 3:13-17.

Some misunderstand Jesus’ words at Matthew 5:38, 39: “You heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ However, I say to you: Do not resist the one who is wicked, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other also to him.” "Eye for eye" was God’s Law, and Jesus was not telling us to disrespect that. (see Deut 19:16-21) But this law of talion, as it is called, was meant to be applied by the established judicial system. It did not sanction personal retaliation, it did not excuse personal revenge.

Some believe Jesus here forbids self defense, but protecting oneself and others from injury is not the issue. Rather, he is teaching us to have a peaceable frame of mind: we should not be "macho", easily goaded into a fight. A slap is meant to injure our pride, to get a fight started. Some have said, ‘if your enemy slaps your cheek, turn the other; when he slaps that one, deck him.’ And it is true, patience does have its limits. Unfortunately, a provocateur often is bold because he has an edge we do not see; once the fight begins, we may fare badly. God gives us a more effective way of dealing with a belligerent: by an unexpectedly calm reaction (thereby showing strength, not fear) we may defuse a volatile situation and even "conquer evil." At Romans 12:17-21 we find one of the most difficult passages of scripture to obey: "Return evil for evil to no one. . . do not avenge yourselves. . . if your enemy is hungry, feed him." If we exercise this self-restraint, what effect may we have? "By doing this you will heap fiery coals on his head." Ah, that sounds like sweet revenge. But it is not. Paul here is alluding to the way metal ore was refined: coals were heaped over the ore to intensify the heat, and the desired metal would come flowing out. So, if we respond to provocation as God instructs, we ‘pour the heat on’ our enemy’s conscience, if he has any trace of one left, and reduce or eliminate the conflict.*

If we were to own a weapon or have some awareness of defensive techniques, we would have to guard against a tendency to feel too confident, to put our trust in arms rather than in God. Further, sad experience shows that easy access to a lethal weapon greatly increases the chance of it being used inappropriately, such as in a moment of anger or despair, or by curious children. Also, owning a weapon may prove more provocative than protective. Some antagonists regard such preparedness as a challenge to be confronted, not respected. On balance, we find we get more respect as a peaceful, confident Christian. It is better to meet carnal warfare with spiritual weapons. Yes, it works. Yes, it takes serious faith. —Revelation 13:7-10, Isaiah 30:15.

As for facing a mugger who wants no more than valuables, Christians estimate material things as highly disposable. We are cautioned not to get emotionally attached to any material property, since we will probably lose it all in the chaos of the Great Tribulation anyway. Our eyes are on the wonderful things of the new world to come. —Heb 10:34.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us what is the most important self-defense by far: “Above all the things that you guard, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.” How do we do that? Science says, by diet and exercise. Quality food, and avoiding unhealthy things such as excess sugar, also worry, and keeping the rest of the body in tone, are proven good habits for heart health. But in scripture, "heart" usually means your inner self, your spirit, your attitude and motivations. What is a healthy "diet and exercise" for that heart? Proverbs 2:10-15 answers: “When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge becomes pleasant to your soul, thinking ability will keep watch over you, and discernment will safeguard you, to save you from the bad course, from the man speaking perverse things, from those leaving the upright paths to walk in the ways of darkness, from those who rejoice in wrongdoing, who enjoy the perverseness of evil.” Verses 2-6 tell us how to find this wisdom: “Accept my sayings and treasure up my commandments, by making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to discernment ... if you call out for understanding and raise your voice for discernment, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and you keep searching for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the knowledge of God. For Jehovah himself gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and discernment.” (See also Prov 9:10.) Simply put, you live a lot longer being smart than being violent. In fact, God’s wisdom gives us life forever.

The Government's Sword

While God forbids us from taking revenge personally, he says, "Vengeance is mine, I shall repay." He may do that himself, and "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb 10:30, 31) God may also choose to use authorized agents to punish wrongdoing, as Paul goes on to explain at Romans 13:1-4. There, ungodly governments of the world are called "God’s minister [agent or servant], an avenger to express wrath upon the one practicing what is bad." In fact, for this purpose it "bears the sword." So, although they may disregard and offend God in many ways and will meet their own destruction in due time, worldly powers do serve God’s purpose when they maintain order by punishing wrongdoing, even when that includes capital punishment. With that sword it may kill with God’s approval. Of course, they sometimes do it unjustly, even against God’s innocent people, and for that they will have to answer. But God does not condemn them when they do it correctly.

Does that include war? The evidence from scripture says yes, although very few of the many, many wars fought have served God’s will even a little bit. And those few that did invariably went on to inflict suffering for which the perpetrators were condemned. A case in point is Assyria when it devastated Israel. Jehovah calls Assyria "the rod for my anger" against the "apostate nation" (Israel). (Isa 10:5-7) Yet in the same context Isaiah continues, "when Jehovah finishes all his work on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, He will punish the king of Assyria for his insolent heart and his proud, arrogant eyes." (vs 12.) In our time the day will soon come when Satan will maneuver all the militaries on earth to fight against God. Which side of that war do you want to be on? —Rev 19:19.

Military Service and Taxes

So then, should Christians join national defense organizations? Christians consider Psalms 33:16-19: “No king is saved by a large army; a mighty man is not saved by his great power. The horse is a false hope for salvation; its great strength does not ensure escape. Look! The eye of Jehovah watches over those fearing him, those waiting for his loyal love, to rescue them from death, and to keep them alive.” And Isaiah 31:1: “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for assistance, who rely on horses, who trust in war chariots because they are numerous, and in warhorses because they are mighty. But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, and they do not search for Jehovah.” Israel was at that time turning away from Jehovah, looking instead to Egypt, a pagan nation, as a savior because of its military strength. Nations today may say, "In God we trust," but do they really? What does their behavior prove? We learn from the mistake that the Israelites made, and do not put our faith in the military might of worldly governments. —Compare Micah 3:9-11, Jer 17:5.

Syrians cry for help

Despite its limits noted earlier, in this world sometimes violence is the only way to suppress determined evil or to rescue innocents from oppression. Christians benefit along with everyone else from such police or military force.* Even so, when we look closer we usually find that the use of force was a belated response made "necessary" by neglect, or worse, by years of selling arms into local conflicts. Witness the mass slaughters in Rwanda, the Balkans, Cambodia, Iraq, and Sudan: all tolerated, winked at, ignored, allowed to drag on and milked for profit until there is almost no one left to save, and then someone has the bright idea to go in with guns blazing, spending billions of dollars destroying infrastructure and lives to bring "peace." After a few episodes of this, one would think the world would learn something about prevention, but no; how could they make money off that?

Christians should not join this "necessary violence," even if it may accomplish a good end or two amidst the destruction. We stick to the better path God has given us. We do far more to defend the country we are in and serve mankind by rooting out of men's hearts the evils of ignorance, pride, deceit, selfishness and indifference to morality, than could ever be accomplished by killing people and blowing up buildings. Such evils cannot be fought with heavy artillery. "Smart" bombs are useless against the stupidity of Godlessness.

What if the government conscripts us for work it considers necessary for national defense? Jesus gave us this guidance: "if someone under authority impresses you into service for a mile, go with him two miles." (Matt 5:41) In those days Roman soldiers moved from posting to posting by walking, and they had the authority to commandeer any handy bystander to carry their load for a mile. It is not likely he would entrust the civilian with his weapons; rather, such one would carry the provisions and personal gear. So Christians do not balk at obligatory service, even if it has a peripheral connection to government activities they disapprove. Of course, that does not mean we ask no questions and accept any assignment! Our response depends on the purpose of the work requested of us. We may be able to serve in good conscience if the road, bridge, hospital or whatever being built, has legitimate civilian or humanitarian use and does not directly enable violence or oppression. If others so misuse it later, they will be the ones to bear judgment.

Of course, we feel no need to volunteer for such service. We already have a most honorable assignment, the Christian ministry. Our ministry serves the security of all nations, as already mentioned, by teaching things fundamental to good citizenship—morality, diligence, active concern for one’s neighbor. Unfortunately, no nation as a whole will take the position of real security, on God’s side. We do not labor under the illusion that our work will reverse the tide of godlessness overtaking mankind.

The first two of the Ten Commandments show that Jehovah does not accept divided loyalty: (1) "You must not have any other gods before my face. (2) You must not bow down to them [idols or any part of creation]. . . I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion." —Exodus 20:3, 5.

Jesus says knowing God means everlasting life. (John 17:3) Knowing God means knowing this: a Christian cannot pledge fealty to ungodly men, saying ‘I will do anything you command.’ Or as it is sometimes put, "My country, right or wrong." This is another reason Christians have always refused to belong to the organized militaries of this world: the very first thing new soldiers are taught is reflexive obedience to orders. Any tendency to ask questions before obeying, such as might be caused by having independent moral judgment, is drilled out of them in boot camp. Submission and conformity is established and enforced by intimidation (Satan's favorite tool), team loyalty, and other psychological manipulation.* A Christian cannot allow his conscience to be subverted, or yield it to a worldly government. That would be a direct denial of God’s superior authority.

As any combat veteran knows, the battlefield is no place for nuanced moral assessments. It is shoot first or die. During World War II it was found that only about 20% of new soldiers would shoot to kill when ordered to do so. Their upbringing gave them a psychological barrier against taking another person's life. This caused considerable casualties when the enemy had no such inhibitions, so the military now have soldiers practice wanton slaughter with violent computer "games" similar to the popular Grand Theft Auto. Now they can boast an initial "willingness to fire," as they call it, of near 90%. A Christian sees this as a ruining of the heart and want no part of it.* Rather, we want to be part of the prophecy (mentioned earlier) ‘In the final part of the days [which is right now], God will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths. He will render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares; nation will not lift up sword against nation, they will not learn war anymore.’ (Isaiah 2:2-4) Are you letting God teach you now? Who would the opposite instructor be?

Another point: The world admits openly, "the first casualty of war is the truth." Or as Sun Tzu put it in The Art of War, "All warfare is based on deception." That of course should never be true of the Christian's spiritual warfare, but it is a practical fact for literal war. National leaders lie to the enemy of course. They also lie about the enemy, to their own soldiers and citizens. They lie to their own people about how the war is going and what cruel excesses they are committing in their pursuit of victory. The very purpose of the war may be a lie. How could a true Christian, who "conducts himself honestly in all things," have any part of that?* —Heb 13:18.

Taxes

In Jesus’ day, Rome dominated Palestine with a sometimes heavy hand. So Jews asked Jesus: ‘Should we pay taxes to Rome or not?’ Although some of that tax money went to maintain infrastructure useful for commerce, for the most part it supported the Roman military and political machine. And of course, a considerable amount slipped into corrupt pockets, just like today. The Jews hated being forced to give up their hard-earned income to pay for such things. Did Jesus therefore say it was immoral to underwrite such works, that this was a moral point on which to take a stand? No, he pointed out that the money was minted by Caesar, and said "pay Caesar’s things to Caesar, and God’s things to God." (Luke 20:22-25.) In effect, that money was never really theirs, despite all the work they went to to get it. Jesus tells us to "work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting." Our focus should not be on acquiring wealth in this unjust world. It is better to keep our material affairs simple and modest. This also tends to minimize taxes, although some are demanded for simply existing. See Matt 6:19-21, 31-33, John 6:27.

What if taxes are excessive and oppressive? Christians do not foment revolt, but that does not mean we have to accept mistreatment quietly. If there are legal ways to protest injustice, we will use them. And if "Caesar" targets taxes specifically at Christians to destroy them, he will find he has a higher power to reckon with. God may allow us to be oppressed for a time, but he does not allow us to be crushed out of existence. See 2 Cor 4:7-9, Isaiah 41:10-13.

So we do not cheat; if we can, we pay whatever tax the government imposes. We know they use some of it well and much of it quite badly. But we are not expected to check their books and pay only the part we approve of. They face their judgment for what they do with it. We are free of that. (As mentioned earlier, one useful service paid for by taxes is a degree of law and order. See Romans 13:3-6.)

Of course, if the tax laws are so byzantine that not even a tax lawyer can understand them, a Christian cannot be morally faulted for not complying perfectly. A good faith effort is sufficient. Jesus is not asking us to make tax compliance our religion.

Continue with Part 2: Nationalism and Racism  |   Back to top

Luke 23:2-3, 20-25
Then they began to accuse him, saying: “We found this man subverting our nation, forbidding the paying of taxes to Caesar, and saying he himself is Christ a king.” So Pilate asked him: “Are you the King of the Jews?” In answer he said: “You yourself are saying it.”
. . . 20 Again Pilate called out to them, because he wanted to release Jesus. Then they began to shout, saying: “To the stake with him! To the stake with him!” The third time he said to them: “Why? What bad thing did this man do? I found in him nothing deserving of death; I will therefore punish him and release him.” At this they became even more insistent, demanding with loud voices that he be executed, and their voices prevailed. So Pilate made the decision that their demand be met. He released the man [Barabbas] they were demanding [to be released], who had been imprisoned for sedition and murder, but he surrendered Jesus to their will.

Luke 21:12-19
But before all these things happen, people will lay their hands on you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and governors for the sake of my name. It will result in your giving a witness. Therefore, settle it in your hearts not to rehearse beforehand how to make your defense, for I will give you words and wisdom that all your opposers together will not be able to resist or dispute. Moreover, you will be handed over even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all people because of my name. But not even a hair of your heads will perish. By your endurance you will preserve your lives.

Matthew 10:32-39
Everyone, then, who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in the heavens. But whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens. Do not think I came to bring peace to the earth; I came to bring, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man's enemies will be persons in his own household. Anyone who has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and anyone who has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not accept his torture stake [Gr:stauron, Latin crux; see chapter 4b] and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his soul will lose it, and whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.

Mark 8:38
For whoever becomes ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

John 15:19-21
If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you. Keep in mind what I said to you: A slave is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have observed my word, they will also observe yours. But they will do all these things against you on account of my name, because they do not know the One who sent me.

1 Timothy 1:12, 13
I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who imparted power to me, because he considered me faithful by assigning me to a ministry, although formerly I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man. Nevertheless, I was shown mercy, because I was ignorant and acted with a lack of faith.

Matthew 22:36-40
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He said to him: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.”

1 John 5:3
For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.

1 John 2:3-5
By this we know that we have come to know him, namely, if we continue observing his commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet does not observe his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person. But whoever does observe his word, in this person the love of God has truly been made perfect. By this we know that we are in union with him.

1 John 3:23, 24
Indeed, this is his commandment: that we have faith in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he gave us a commandment. Moreover, the one who observes his commandments remains in union with him, and he in union with such one. And by the spirit that he gave us, we know that he remains in union with us.

Matthew 10:37
[Jesus said;] Whoever has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and whoever has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me.

God commands us to respect our parents and love our children, but no matter how strong our devotion to family is, it must not be greater than our respect for God.

Daniel 3:17-18
If it must be, our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the burning fiery furnace, O king, and to rescue us from your hand. But even if he does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold that you have set up.

Daniel 3:24-25
King Nebuchadnezzar then became frightened and quickly rose up and said to his high officials: “Did we not tie up three men and throw them into the fire?” They answered the king: “Yes, O king.” He said: “Look! I see four men walking about free in the midst of the fire, and they are unharmed, and the fourth one looks like a son of the gods!”

Daniel 3:28
Nebuchadnezzar then declared: “Praised be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel and rescued his servants. They trusted in him and went against the command of the king and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God!”

1 Pet 2:13-17
For the Lord's sake subject yourselves to every human creation, whether to a king as being superior or to governors as sent by him to punish wrongdoers but to praise those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorant talk of unreasonable men. Be as free people, using your freedom, not as a cover for doing wrong, but as slaves of God. Honor men of all sorts, have love for the whole association of brothers, be in fear of God, honor the king.

2 Cor 1:8-10
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the tribulation we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under extreme pressure beyond our own strength, so that we were very uncertain even of our lives. In fact, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. This was so that we would trust, not in ourselves, but in the God who raises up the dead. From such a great risk of death he did rescue us and will rescue us, and our hope is in him that he will also continue to rescue us.

Psalm 9:18-20
But the poor will not always be forgotten,
Nor will the hope of the meek ever perish.
Rise up, O Jehovah! Do not let mortal man prevail.
May the nations be judged in your presence.
Strike them with fear, O Jehovah,
Let the nations know that they are only mortal men.

Psalm 145:18-20
Jehovah is near to all those calling on him,
To all who call on him in truth.
He satisfies the desire of those who fear him;
He hears their cry for help, and he rescues them.
Jehovah guards all those who love him,
But all the wicked he will annihilate.

Luke 12:4
Moreover, I say to you, my friends, Do not fear those who kill the body and after this are not able to do anything more.

Romans 8:35-39
Who will separate us from the love of the Christ? Will tribulation or distress or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword? Just as it is written: "For your sake we are being put to death all day long, we have been accounted as sheep for slaughtering." To the contrary, in all these things we are coming off completely victorious through the one who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God's love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 13:1, 2, 7
Let every person be in subjection to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except by God; the existing authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God. Therefore, whoever opposes the authority has taken a stand against the arrangement of God; those who have taken a stand against it will bring judgment against themselves.

7 Render to all their dues: to the one who calls for the tax, the tax; to the one who calls for the tribute, the tribute; to the one who calls for fear, such fear; to the one who calls for honor, such honor.

[Of course, we cannot give worship to men, even if that is demanded; if the "fear" or "honor" expected clearly rises to that level, we have to decline, regardless of the consequences.]

2 Cor 2:11
. . . that we may not be overreached by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.

2 Cor 11:14
. . . And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps disguising himself as an angel of light.

Mark 13:4-13, 22
[The disciples asked:] "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are to come to a conclusion?" So Jesus began to tell them: "Look out that nobody misleads you. Many will come on the basis of my name, saying, 'I am he,' and will mislead many. Moreover, when you hear of wars and reports of wars, do not be alarmed; these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in one place after another; there will also be food shortages. These are a beginning of pangs of distress. As for you, look out for yourselves. People will hand you over to local courts, and you will be beaten in synagogues and be put on the stand before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them. Also, in all the nations, the good news has to be preached first. And when they are taking you to hand you over, do not be anxious beforehand about what to say; but whatever is given you in that hour, say this, for you are not the ones speaking, but the holy spirit is. Furthermore, brother will deliver brother over to death, and a father a child, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all people on account of my name. But the one who has endured to the end will be saved. . . For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will perform signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, the chosen ones.

For a full discussion of the signs of the nearing end, see chapter 7.

Ecclesiastes 9:18
Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but just one sinner can destroy much good.

Daniel 11:32-34
Those who act wickedly against the covenant, he will lead into apostasy by means of smooth words. But the people who know their God will prevail and act effectively. And those having insight among the people will impart understanding to the many. And they will be made to stumble by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plundering, for some days. But when they are made to stumble, they will be given a little help.

2 Tim 2:24-26
A slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all, qualified to teach, showing restraint when wronged, instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed. Perhaps God may give them repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the Devil, seeing that they have been caught alive by him to do his will.

2 Chronicles 20:12
[King Jehoshaphat prays when a great coalition of enemy forces approaches:] O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless before this large crowd that is coming against us; and we do not know what we should do, but our eyes are toward you.
15-17He [Jahaziel the prophet] said: “Pay attention, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat! Here is what Jehovah says to you, ‘Do not be afraid or be terrified because of this large crowd, for the battle is not yours but God's. Tomorrow go down against them. They will be coming up by the pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley before the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight this battle. Take your position, stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah in your behalf. O Judah and Jerusalem, do not be afraid or be terrified. Tomorrow go out against them, and Jehovah will be with you.’”
22-23 [marching toward the enemy:] When they started off, joyfully singing praises, Jehovah set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and the mountainous region of Seir who were invading Judah, and they struck each other down. And the Ammonites and the Moabites turned against the inhabitants of the mountainous region of Seir to destroy and annihilate them; and when they finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

Ezekiel 38:18-23
“On that day, the day when Gog [the evil leader of a massive attack on God's holy people at the end of the days] invades the land of Israel,” declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, “my great rage will flare up. In my zeal, in the fire of my fury, I will speak; and in that day there will be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. Because of me the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the wild beasts of the field, all the reptiles that creep on the ground, and all humans on the surface of the earth will tremble, and the mountains will be thrown down, and the cliffs will fall, and every wall will collapse to the ground. I will call for a sword against him on all my mountains,” declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. “Every man's sword will be against his own brother. I will bring my judgment against him with pestilence and bloodshed; and I will rain down a torrential downpour and hailstones and fire and sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many peoples with him. And I will certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”

As explained in chapter 6, "Israel" here means God's favored people in the last days. This is no longer those born Jewish nor is it the modern state of Israel.

Rev 19:11-18
I saw heaven opened, and look! a white horse. And the one seated on it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. His eyes are a fiery flame, and on his head are many diadems. He has a name written that no one knows but he himself, and he is clothed with an outer garment stained with blood, and he is called by the name The Word of God. Also, the armies in heaven were following him on white horses, and they were clothed in white, clean, fine linen. And out of his mouth projects a sharp, long sword with which to strike the nations, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron. He also treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his outer garment, yes, on his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. I saw also an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice and said to all the birds that fly in midheaven: “Come here, be gathered together to the great evening meal of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and military commanders and strong men, and the flesh of horses and of those seated on them, and the flesh of all, of freemen as well as of slaves and of small ones and great.”

2 Cor 4:3, 4
If, in fact, the good news we declare is veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.

Matt 26:51-53
But, look! one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest and took off his ear! Then Jesus said to him: "Return your sword to its place! for all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels?" [Luke's account then adds that Jesus restored the severed ear. Lu 22:51]

John 17:11-16
I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them on account of your own name, which you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them, I used to watch over them on account of your own name, which you have given me; and I have protected them, and not one of them is destroyed except the son of destruction, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given your word to them, but the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world. I do not request that you take them out of the world, but that you watch over them because of the wicked one. They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.

Daniel 3:17, 18
If it must be, our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the burning fiery furnace, O king, and to rescue us from your hand. But even if he does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold that you have set up.

1 Pet 2:21-23
In fact, to this course you were called, for just as Christ suffered for you, he left a model for you to follow closely in his steps. He committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth. When he was being insulted, he did not insult in return. When he was suffering, he did not respond with threats, but he entrusted himself to the One who judges righteously.

2 Kings 6:15-23
When the attendant of the man of the true God rose early and went outside, he saw that an army with horses and war chariots was surrounding the city. At once the attendant said to him: "Alas, my master! What are we to do?" But he said: "Do not be afraid! For there are more who are with us than those who are with them." Then Elisha began to pray and say: "O Jehovah, open his eyes, please, that he may see." Immediately Jehovah opened the attendant's eyes and he saw, and look! the mountainous region was full of horses and war chariots of fire all around Elisha. When the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to Jehovah and said: "Please, strike this nation with blindness." So he struck them with blindness, just as Elisha had requested. Elisha now said to them: "This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and let me lead you to the man you are looking for." However, he led them to Samaria. When they arrived in Samaria, Elisha said: "O Jehovah, open their eyes so that they may see." So Jehovah opened their eyes, and they saw that they were in the middle of Samaria. When the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha: "Should I strike them down, should I strike them down, my father?" But he said: "You must not strike them down. Do you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Give them bread and water so they may eat and drink and return to their lord." So he spread a great feast for them, and they ate and drank, after which he sent them away to return to their lord. And not once did the marauder bands of the Syrians come again into the land of Israel.

Psalm 37:39, 40
The salvation of the righteous is from Jehovah;
He is their fortress in the time of distress.
Jehovah will help them and rescue them.
He will rescue them from the wicked and save them,
Because they take refuge in him.

Psalm 27:3
Though an army should set up camp against me,
My heart will not fear.
Though war should break out against me,
Even then I will remain confident.

Psalm 34:7
The angel of Jehovah camps all around those fearing him
And he rescues them.

Psalm 34:15-19
The eyes of Jehovah are on the righteous,
And his ears listen to their cry for help.
But the face of Jehovah is against those doing what is bad,
To erase all memory of them from the earth.
They cried out, and Jehovah heard;
He rescued them from all their distresses.
Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted;
He saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Many are the hardships of the righteous one,
But Jehovah rescues him from them all.

Psalm 91
Anyone dwelling in the secret place of the Most High
Will lodge under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to Jehovah: “You are my refuge and my stronghold,
My God in whom I trust.”
For he will rescue you from the trap of the birdcatcher,
From the destructive pestilence.
With his pinions he will cover you,
And under his wings you will take refuge.
His faithfulness will be a large shield and a protective wall.
You will not fear the terrors of the night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that stalks in the gloom,
Nor the destruction that ravages at midday.
A thousand will fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But to you it will not come near.
You will only see it with your eyes
As you witness the punishment of the wicked.
Because you said: “Jehovah is my refuge,”
You have made the Most High your dwelling;
No disaster will befall you,
And no plague will come near your tent.
For he will give his angels a command concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
They will carry you on their hands,
So that you may not strike your foot against a stone.
On the young lion and the cobra you will tread;
You will trample underfoot the maned lion and the big snake.
God said: “Because he has affection for me, I will rescue him.
I will protect him because he knows my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him.
I will be with him in distress. I will rescue him and glorify him.
I will satisfy him with long life,
And I will cause him to see my acts of salvation.”

Col 4:6
Let your words always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should answer each person.
[Note: seasoned with salt, pleasant to the taste, not salty.]

Prov 15:1
A mild answer turns away even rage, but just one word that causes pain provokes anger.

Prov 25:15
By patience a commander is won over, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

Rom 12:18
If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.

1 Pet 3:13-17
Indeed, who will harm you if you become zealous for what is good? But even if you do suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are happy. Do not fear what they fear, nor be disturbed. But sanctify the Christ as Lord in your heart, and always be ready to make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason for the hope you have, but doing so with mildness and deference. Maintain a good conscience, so that in whatever way you are criticized, those who speak against you may be put to shame because of your good conduct as followers of Christ . For it is better to suffer for doing good, if it is God's will to allow it, than for doing evil.

Revelation 13:7-10
It [the beast that rules the world; see chapter 8 of this book] was permitted to wage war with the holy ones and conquer them, and it was given authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation. And all those who dwell on the earth will worship it. From the establishment of the world [of men], not one of their names has been written in the scroll of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is meant for captivity, he will go into captivity. If anyone will kill with the sword, he must be killed with the sword. These things will require endurance and faith on the part of the holy ones.

Isaiah 30:15
For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, says: "By returning to me and resting, you people will be saved. Your strength will be in staying calm and showing trust." But you were unwilling.

Heb 10:34
For you expressed sympathy for those in prison and you accepted joyfully the plundering of your belongings, knowing that you yourselves have a better and an enduring possession.

Prov 9:10
The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Most Holy One is understanding.

Deut 19:16-21
If a malicious witness testifies against a man and charges him with some transgression, the two men who have the dispute will stand before Jehovah, before the priests and the judges who will be serving in those days. The judges will thoroughly investigate, and if the man who testified is a false witness and has brought a false charge against his brother, you should do to him just as he had schemed to do to his brother, and you must remove what is bad from your midst. Those who remain will hear and be afraid, and they will never again do anything bad like this among you. You should not feel sorry: Life will be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Romans 12:17-21
Return evil for evil to no one. Take into consideration what is fine from the viewpoint of all men. If possible, as far as it depends on you, be peaceable with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but move out of the way of the wrath [of God]; for it is written: "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah." But "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals on his head." Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.

Romans 13:1-4
Let everyone be in subjection to the superior authorities, for if not for God there would be no orderly authority, but they are set in order by God. Therefore he who sets himself against the authority has taken a stand against the arrangement of God; those who have taken a stand against it will bring judgment against themselves. For those ruling are an object of fear, not to the good deed, but to the bad. Do you, then, want to have no fear of the authority? Keep doing good, and you will have praise from it; for it is God’s minister to you for your good. But if you are doing what is bad, be in fear: for it is not without purpose that it bears the sword; for it is God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath upon the one practicing what is bad.

Isa 10:5-7
Aha, the Assyrian, the rod to express my anger, and the stick that is in their hand for my denunciation! Against an apostate nation I will send him, against the people who enraged me. I will command him to take much spoil and much plunder, and to trample them like the mud in the streets. But he will not be inclined this way, and his heart will not scheme this way, for his intent will be to utterly annihilate, to cut off many nations not a few.
For he will say, “Are not my princes at the same time kings? . . . will it not be that just as I have done to Samaria and to her valueless gods, even so I shall do to Jerusalem and to her idols?” But when Jehovah finishes all his work on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, He will hold the king of Assyria to account for his insolent heart, for his proud, arrogant eyes. For he has said, “I will do this by the strength of my hand, and with my wisdom, for I am wise.”

Rev 19:19
I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war against the one seated on the horse and against his army.
verse 11-14 tells us which side the rider of the white horse is on: "I saw the heaven opened, and, look! a white horse. And the one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. . . and the name he is called is The Word of God. Also, the armies in heaven were following him . . ."

Micah 3:9-11
Hear this, please, you heads of the house of Jacob and you commanders of the house of Israel, who detest justice and who make crooked all that is straight, who build Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with unrighteousness. Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests instruct for a price, and her prophets practice divination for money. And yet they lean on Jehovah, saying: “Is not Jehovah with us? No calamity will come upon us.”

Jer 17:5
This is what Jehovah says: “Cursed is the man who puts his trust in mere humans, who relies on human power, and whose heart turns away from Jehovah.”

Revelation 12:15, 16
And the serpent spewed out water like a river from its mouth after the woman, to cause her to be drowned by the river. But the earth came to the woman’s help, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river that the dragon spewed out from its mouth.

Luke 20:22-25
They questioned him, saying, "Is it lawful for us to pay tax to Caesar or not?" But he detected their cunning and said to them: "Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?" They said: "Caesar’s." He said to them: "By all means, then, pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God."

Matt 6:19-21
Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:31-33
So never be anxious and say, "What are we to eat?" or, "What are we to drink?" or, "What are we to put on?" For all these things the nations eagerly pursue. Your heavenly Father knows you need such things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these needed things will be added to you.

John 6:27
Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you; for on this one the Father, God himself, has put his seal of approval.

2 Cor 4:7-9
However, we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the power beyond what is normal may be of God and not of ourselves. We are hard-pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed.
Isaiah 41:10-13
Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be anxious, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you. I will really hold on to you with my right hand of righteousness. Look! All those getting heated up against you will become ashamed and be humiliated. Those who fight against you will be brought to nothing and perish. You will search for them, but you will not find them, those men in a struggle with you. They will become as something nonexistent and as nothing, those men at war with you. For I, Jehovah your God, am grasping your right hand, the One saying to you, "Do not be afraid. I will help you."

Romans 13:3-6
For those rulers are an object of fear, not to the good deed, but to the bad. Do you want to be free of fear of the authority? Keep doing good, and you will have praise from it; for it is God’s minister to you for your good. But if you are doing what is bad, be in fear, for it is not without purpose that it bears the sword. It is God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath against the one practicing what is bad. There is therefore compelling reason for you to be in subjection, not only on account of that wrath but also on account of your conscience. That is why you are also paying taxes; for they are God’s public servants constantly serving this very purpose.

Matt 10:32-39
Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in the heavens; but whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens. Do not think I came to bring peace to the earth; I came to bring, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and whoever has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not accept his execution post [Gr:stauron] and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his soul will lose it, and whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.

stauron is also often translated "torture stake", a cruel and humiliating way to execute criminals in ancient times. Basically, Jesus meant we have to be ready to go to the limit for him, no matter what the enemy throws at us. We are his soldiers, so we cannot enlist with the opposition!

Matthew 12:36, 37
I tell you that every careless* word that men speak, they will render an account concerning it on Judgment Day; for by your words you will be declared righteous, and by your words you will be condemned.

*The original word, argon, literally means "not working." That is, no effort or care put into it, or of no value in accomplishing anything worthwhile. So here it means thoughtless, reckless, inattentive, negligent, valueless, flippant, unguarded. We expose our deeper feelings (and flaws) when we speak impulsively, without thinking. We may even surprise ourselves by what comes out of our mouth. Under pressure, our words reveal whether we are really loyal to God or self-serving. and we will be judged accordingly. Standing up courageously in the face of intimidation requires soul-searching preparation of our heart. If we have not thought this through we will crumble under pressure. So words do matter.

John 17:3
This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 7:6
Do not give what is holy to dogs, neither throw your pearls before swine, that they may never trample them under their feet and turn around and rip you open.

1 Sam 21:10-15
That day David rose up and continued his flight from Saul, and he eventually came to King Achish of Gath. The servants of Achish said to him: “Is this not David, the king of the land? Is he not the one they sang about when they danced, saying, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, And David his tens of thousands’?” David took these words to heart, and he became very much afraid of King Achish of Gath. So he disguised his sanity in their presence and acted insane while among them. He was making marks on the doors of the gate and letting his saliva run down his beard. Finally Achish said to his servants: “You see that this man is crazy! Why bring him to me? Do I have a shortage of crazy men that I need to have this one acting crazy before me? Should this man come into my house?”

2 Corinthians 4:2
We have renounced the shameful, underhanded things, not walking with cunning or adulterating the word of God, but by making the truth manifest we recommend ourselves to every human conscience in the sight of God.

2 Corinthians 6:3-8
In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, so that no fault may be found with our ministry; but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, by the endurance of much, by tribulations, by times of need, by difficulties, by beatings, by imprisonments, by riots, by hard work, by sleepless nights, by times without food; by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by kindness, by holy spirit, by love free from hypocrisy, by truthful speech, by God’s power; through the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left, through glory and dishonor, through bad report and good report. We are regarded as deceivers and yet we are truthful,

1 Thessalonians 2:3-5
For the exhortation we give does not arise from error or from uncleanness or with deceit, but, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the good news, so we speak to please, not men, but God, who examines our hearts. In fact, you know that we never used flattering speech or put on any false front with greedy motives, God is witness!

Review for Chapter 11

Why did Jesus’ disciples not fight to defend him?

Why are Christians sometimes accused of subversion?

How does God want us to regard laws of men?

What bold stand must Christians make?

How should we view those who persecute us?

Why do we obey God?

How can we gain courage to stand against evil?

How has Satan induced people to misdirect their loyalty?

Why did earnest people support Hitler?

Why are the World Trade Towers gone?

How are Christians warriors? What do we fight?

In what way do we "learn war no more"?

Why did Jesus feel secure?

What assurance does God give us in the face of danger?

May we defend ourselves? Explain your answer.

What must we defend with our life?

Why did Jesus tell us not to resist the wicked?

What does "turn the other cheek" mean?

Is vengeance always wrong? Explain your answer.

What scriptures bear on serving in national defense organizations?

What "defense" assignment do Christians fulfill full-time?

What are "Caesar’s things" that we return to him?

What must we firmly refuse to give "Caesar"?

Restore Scripture View

For more detail see the book Betrayal—the German Churches and the Holocaust, pages 2-11.

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Army Lt Gen Harold Moore writes: "Most wars are costly mistakes whose causes are rooted in the failure of diplomacy and poor judgment in national leaders. It is far easier to get into a war than it ever is to get out of one."
See also this commentary on the price of war. (Author not affiliated with this site.)
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Deduced from the advice "sell your outer garment and buy one." If he meant it entirely for what happened that same night, that would not make sense. Of course, they couldn't buy a fancy sword for the price of an overcoat. It would be more like a cheap machete, good for cutting brush and killing snakes. And maybe causing a would-be mugger to look elsewhere for easier prey. They would only use it against an attacker as a last resort.

A specific instance of this was prophesied at Revelation 12:15, 16. It is possible that the defeat of Nazism in World War II fulfilled that prophecy.

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Martin Luther King Jr, an ardent activist against racist oppression, put it nicely:

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate,
adding deeper darkness
to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate,
violence multiplies violence,
and toughness multiplies toughness
in a descending spiral of destruction.

The world stubbornly refuses to learn this and spends untold wealth on military "readiness," but relatively little on solving the causes of fear, distrust and anger between peoples.

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This link to Wikipedia on "basic training" is enlightening.

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Here is a link with more information about the harmful effects of violent games: How Violent Video Games Are Exemplary Aggression Teachers.

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This is not to say that a Christian must never lie. The scriptures give examples that show it is permissible to deceive an enemy who has proven that he would only use the truth to do violence to the truth. It is not reasonable to "spill the beans" (pearls) before swine who will then turn around and rip you open. However, this is a tightly proscribed exception: we must be truthful even to our enemies, insofar as we can be sure that they will not misuse it. We can never deny God, even to protect ourselves. Nor could we lie to induce anyone to put faith in God's truth; that would be a self-defeating contradiction. —Matt 7:6 (see also 1 Sam 21:10-15; 2 Cor 4:2, 6:3-8 and 1 Thess 2:3-5).