Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Obvious Truths Should Not To Be Scorned



“Every civilisation decays by forgetting obvious things”

G. K. Chesterton

I was reading my Bible today in preparation for my sermon on Sunday, and though I am preaching through Hebrews, I was making use of something that James says in his small letter, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body” (James 3:2). I thought two thoughts in quick succession. Boy that is such an obvious statement, and yet it is so powerful. This got me thinking, that so much of what the Bible says is just simple, plain, common sense. But then most profound wisdom is incredibly simple.

Over the years I have heard Christians from time to time scorn preaching, because it is repetitive. That is, they observe that preachers are just preaching the same old obvious truths again and again. Constantly repeating the gospel, messages about sin, message about righteousness, and so much more, that are not really new at all. These are old truths and well known to many believers. I have heard some people who grew up in the Church say, "I don't need to hear preaching any more, because I have heard it all before. It's just the same things over and over again."

But now, looking at our society and the state it is in, do you see how important it is to point out the obvious and consistent truths regularly, again and again and again? Just a short while of this not happening in society and people deny that gender is fixed in the womb, they deny that infants in the womb are people, they deny that men and women are different, and they forgot that the state is not God and does not have absolute authority over all aspects of our life, and much, much more.

It was once common to hear the Bible taught in classrooms in public schools, for prayers and hymns to be sung, and for preachers to be regularly on campus. And many people thought, well we don’t really need this to be good, so let’s get rid of it. And look what has happened. People have gone from knowing basic, simple truths, to saying such simple truths are evil and oppressive. We forget all too quickly. And not just the secular society forgets, so too does the Church. I often hear from people how much of a scriptural desert their church is, or a church they visited it. I know many churches are oases of truth in a wicked culture, but many are not, many are just secular clubs with a Christian skin suit.   

This is why Peter said, "Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have" (2 Peter 1:12). Peter knew that people had to be reminded of basic truths. He knew this deeply and made it a part of his ministry to ensure people were reminded of the basics, constantly. His gospel, narrated through Mark, his letters, are filled with simple timeless wisdom, that reminds us to get the basics right in life. Much of the Bible is this way. So much of the Bible is just basic, simple wisdom, but so much of society rejects it and ignores it so often.

People, Christians, society, the culture, all need to hear obvious truths regularly, because to the sinful mind often obvious things are not obvious. This is especially true of the rebellious. The heart is deceitful and wicked above all things. Humans can be clever, and often too clever for their own good, and think that they know better than the Lord. Such is the deceitfulness of sin, that it can cause us to outright deny or simply forget the importance of basic truths. You stop telling people these obvious truths and church and society go insane, because sanity is doing the obvious things well, and to do this we need constant reminders.

So don’t scorn preaching. If you have a simple pastor, who gets up weekly, opens the word of God, and seeks to explain those old and obvious truths again and again each week, give thanks to God. Because God in his graciousness has given you a great gift, someone to remind you how and why to continue to look back to God. And pastors if you have one of those congregations that is thirsty for the word of God, also praise God, because this is a great blessing. Without this, we can really get ourselves in trouble. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Every civilisation decays by forgetting obvious things.” If this is the case, then every basic unit of civilisation can be maintained by remembering the basic things, praise be that our Lord gave us his Scriptures which do this better than anything else.

Saturday, 16 April 2022

How Could God Kill His Own Son?

 



Video version here

Eleven (now sixteen) years ago Richard Dawkins released his book The God Delusion. In that book a highly educated and respected Oxford professor takes much delight in using out of date, barely reasoned arguments that a first-year undergrad is trained to debate, to try and refute the existence of God. He then ends the book saying we can’t be completely sure God doesn’t exist - the guy couldn’t even convince himself with his own arguments. In the second chapter of his book he begins by attacking the God of the Bible with a line of accusations about his character. According to Dawkins, God is a lot of horrible things, including “filicidal.” What’s filicidal you ask? He’s accusing him of murdering his own child. He’s obviously referring to the death of Christ on the Cross and the Christian belief that it was the Father’s will to crush the suffering servant for the sins of all of us. Some atheists love to trash this as divine child abuse, or child murder.

Now at first glance you have to agree with Richard Dawkins. Child sacrifice is a horrible crime and one we all agree on these days. Sadly this was not always the case. Many cultures in the ancient world, and not so ancient world, practiced child sacrifice. In fact, as recently as the modern era tribes were encountered in Africa, the Americas, and other regions which practiced child sacrifice to their gods. The Bible always called this evil!

Yahweh himself strongly commanded the Israelites to never do such an abominable thing in Israel, of course they disobeyed him, but that’s a discussion for another video. Even when God tested Abraham and asked him to sacrifice his son, God never intended to allow it to happen. He provided a substitute, a lamb, and it is very likely that God was using this test, at least partially, to show Abraham, the former pagan, the futility and evil of child sacrifice. So, if child sacrifice is thoroughly pagan, and the Bible calls it an evil practice, then how could God the Father kill his own son?

Because God the Father is not the Father of God the son, in the same way that any human father is to their son. In human child sacrifice a human father takes their defenceless child, and brutally murders them to appease some terrible, petty deity, in order to get better crops, favour in war, or some other perceived blessings. If God were Jesus’ Father in the human sense, then this would pull apart the whole gospel. But God is not Jesus’ Father in this way.

Just as God the Father is fully God, so is Jesus, the Son of God fully God, along with the Spirit who is also fully God. One God in three persons. They have lived in perfect relationship for eternity, and always will. Their relationship is as eternal as their power, and there is no helpless member of the Trinity. Jesus is God’s son in the sense that he is eternally begotten of the Father, of the same essence, and is an equal person, in the three-person Godhead. In his earthly ministry he submits to the Father as a son does to their father, and he now sits at the right hand of the Father on the same throne. The Father’s will is the Son’s will, and the Spirit’s will. They are united and unified in a way that we as humans can only dream of and will not fully experience until heaven.

Therefore, Jesus was not some helpless human being sired by some Zeus like deity in a nubile human beauty and killed in some petty ritual. No, the cross was the culmination of God’s plan of redemption, that had been conceived before the creation of the world, by all of the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus was raised as a man, by human parents, but he was the God-man, fully man and fully God. Perfectly capable of taking care of himself, to a degree that none of us can fully comprehend.

After all Jesus said this: “17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18). Jesus laid down his life by his own will, because, if he hadn’t no one would have been able to lay a finger on him.

God didn’t murder his Son, God the Father and God the Son got together with God the Spirit and hatched the ultimate plan to rescue us from the consequences of our sin. The people who murdered Jesus were the corrupt Romans officials and weak Jewish leaders. But he went to his death willingly to pay the sacrifice for our sins. He let them nail him to the cross, so the punishment we deserve for our sins could be forgiven.

How could God kill his own son, is the wrong question. Why did Jesus willingly die for us is the question we should ask? And the answer? Because he loved us and wanted to make a way for us to come to the Father.

 

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

The Church is to Blame for the Destructive Extent of the Mandates

 



“Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject.”

John Stuart Mill

I sat in a room full of pastors once and the discussion made me more furious than perhaps any other discussion I have had with a group of leaders in my life. This was a room filled with pastors of all ages, young one’s like myself and older pastors too, but most of the men were older and experienced pastors, men who had been around in life and ministry for some time.

They were talking about the National Redress Scheme and how it would work, and why it was better for Churches to sign on to the program offered, rather than go it alone. The National Redress Scheme is a system set up to compensate the victims of institutional abuse. It is an attempt to reassert justice for the victims of abuse and it is necessary. So, it was not this which angered me.

What angered me was something the pastors said. I asked a question about why so many pastors did not report abuse to the police at the time. One of the worst aspects of these abuse scandals is not that the laws at the time did not have the ability to punish offenders, it was that the laws at the time were often not applied, because things were kept, hush hush, on the down low, quiet. One of the older pastors said to me, “You have to understand Matt, it was not the done thing at the time to report this sort of thing.” Other pastors in the room nodded, as if to say this settled the issue.

This is what made me furious and I let them know it. I asked them why did they need to be told that they should seek justice for harmed children. There was no excuse for not taking this stuff to the police. This is part of a shepherd’s role; when made aware of danger we need to protect the littlest lambs from wolves and devouring lions. Why did the government need to make a law for mandatory reporting? Should not pastors have led the way in this? I was furious at those men, and they were rightly chagrined. But their reason stuck with me: it wasn’t the done thing. In other words, they couldn’t bring themselves to go against the culture of society in that day.

Society is now punishing the Church for this neglect and complicity in many ways. There is the financial compensation, which is the least that the victims deserve. There is the decline of the Church in Australia. And there is a social denigration of the Church’s reputation. Even though some of the secular authorities were just as culpable in many abuse situations themselves, many people, rightly, hold the Church to a higher standard. Christians and non-Christians alike in Australia believe the Church should be a place of justice that seeks to advocate for true justice in society as well. They are right to hate the Church’s failure in this regard and to wave it in the Church’s face.

But God in his grace gave the Church a chance to redeem itself: Covid. In the last two years, society was faced with a time of rampant anxiety, and as people do when they are anxious they lose sight of what is right and find themselves willing to do or support things they would not normally do or support. Out of fear for a virus that was shown from very early to have a very mild effect on the majority of people, a malady hyped up around the world by terrified and often dishonest leaders and media personalities, the nations of the West began to employ unjust mandates in an attempt to control the virus – mandates which really controlled the populations who had been terrified by what their leaders said about the virus. These mandates required Western people to override long held views on human rights, and just basic decency, all in an effort to cajole the population to accept certain measures; like coerced vaccination. Fear was propagated at every level of society, and voices of reason were quashed and labelled as trouble-makers, anti-vaxxers and more.

This situation handed an easy win to the Church. All the Church had to do was step up and say clearly that mandated medical care is evil and no one should lose their job or be coerced to have a vaccine. They should be free to choose and freedom to choose requires that they are not pressured in anyway. To help it stand in such a way, the Church simply had to draw on its deep tradition of advocating for liberty of conscience, its long tradition of standing in the way of tyranny, and simply say: we do not agree with mandatory vaccines.  

In the height of the hysteria secular leaders and media personalities would have attacked the Church, but eventually once people calmed down, they would have appreciated the fact that the Church did not lose its cool in a moment of anxiety. It was a softball throw, an easy win for the church. Take the momentary unpopularity but do the right thing for the nation in the long term. The response was a no-brainer: mandates must be condemned. And yet, the Church dropped the ball utterly. Very few spoke up, and those that did were rebuked by loud voices in the Church’s media arms. Why didn’t many speak up?  Well as they may say in the future, “You have to understand Matt, it was not the done thing at the time to speak up about this sort of thing.”  

Now the narrative is breaking and secular authorities are starting to say the right thing:

“According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, it can be unlawful to require an employee to be vaccinated and that ‘the need for vaccination should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the nature of the workplace and the individual circumstances of each employee’.

It goes on to say that the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, and Age Discrimination Act 2004 makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of pregnancy, disability, and age, including employment – with disability broadly defined as including past, present, and future disabilities. Strict rules or conditions that impose mandates on these groups may result in ‘indirect discrimination’.

One key test to reasonableness about imposing mandates is whether alternative methods can be used to achieve the same goal. It also seeks to determine whether an ‘unjustifiable hardship’ would be placed on the employer.”[i]

This is what those of us who have been opposing the mandates have said all along. The same article notes:

“The Courier Mail has reported that the Human Rights Commission (Commission) has sensationally intervened in the Supreme Court challenge brought by educators – believing the CHO has gone too far. According to reports, the Commission claimed the vaccine mandate for teachers and childcare workers was outside the Chief Health Officer (CHO) John Gerrard’s powers under the Public Health Act 2005. The Commission further stated that the right of the CHO to give such directions was conditional based on reasonable and demonstrably justifiable limits upon human rights and that based on the present evidence, the CHO’s mandates were not justified.”

This has been obvious to many of us for a long time now, but finally the narrative is breaking and secular authorities are starting to admit that things have gone way too far.

Where was the Human Rights Commission all along? Doing the same thing Church leaders were doing: hiding from the obvious truth that the mandates were unjust, wicked, and needed to be opposed. But at least now the Human Rights Commission has spoken up. The majority of Church leaders in Australia are still silent. Instead of being at the front of this issue, having roundly condemned evil from the start, the Church sat on its haunches and cuddled up to the world, submitted itself to the mandates, stayed quiet about their injustice, and in some instances even enforced them in their spheres of influence. The Church did what it had done in the past with the abuse scandals: shown it was no better than the culture of society around it. And the saddest thing is this did not have to be.

It was the Church that taught the concepts of liberty of conscience to the West. Early Anabaptists and Baptists had already fought the battle for freedom of conscience on disputable matters and won. Hence such Christian teachings can be found in secular Australia laws, such as this example from the Queensland Human Rights Act 2019:

“20Freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief

(1)Every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, including—

(a)the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of the person’s choice; and

(b)the freedom to demonstrate the person’s religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching, either individually or as part of a community, in public or in private.

(2)A person must not be coerced or restrained in a way that limits the person’s freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief.”[ii]

This has also had an impact on medical human rights laws, the same act tells us:

“17Protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

A person must not be—

(a)subjected to torture; or

(b)treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way; or

(c)subjected to medical or scientific experimentation or treatment without the person’s full, free and informed consent.”[iii]

This was not rocket science. There were clear injustices being perpetrated on society, and the Church already had a grand tradition of having stood against similar injustices in the past. The Church of the past had opposed slavery, spoken out against one man owning the body of another, worked for safer working environments, spoken against child labour and more. Early Baptists paved the way in the English speaking world for liberty of conscience; they had influenced and taught other denominations to take up the cause, and such teachings were eventually set into the laws of countries like Australia.

This was a battle that had already been fought, won and settled on the right side; no one has to right to coerce another on matters of conscience. History had already chosen the side of liberty of conscience in disputable issues, and all the Church had to do was remind people that this was the case and stand firm against mandates. The government likely would have still gone too far, but at least we would have had clean hands. And there is the likelihood that the unified voice of the Church would have had an amazing chilling effect on tyranny.

The Church failed on this issue massively. But not all of the Church. There were voices that spoke up. Writers at Caldronpool, The Canberra Declaration, Bill Meuhlenberg at Culture Watch, Bob Cotton at Maitland Christian Church in NSW and others were speaking. They were marginalized, attacked by the majority of Christian media, called all sorts of names, but there were people who did not forget the Church’s role in a time of crisis is partly to challenge authoritarians from going too far. Because of these bold Christian leaders no one will be able to seriously say in the future that “it just wasn’t the done thing to speak up about it at that time” because brave men and women did speak up.

God gives kings authority to rule and he gives the Church the authority to call kings, that go too far, to account. It has been the balance of these two biblical teachings that have helped make the West so great in the past. A balance of powers. The Church and State both taking an active role in society are necessary for a just land.  

The Church was given a softball on this issue and on the whole it failed utterly. For many reasons, but partly because it has forgotten its own legacy. This is why myself and Tim Grant wrote Defending Conscience: How Baptists Reminded the Church to Defy Tyranny. We want to remind the Church in Australia of how the concept of liberty of conscience was developed, and the great things it achieved in Western society. The Baptists were central in this history, but it was not until they convinced other denominations to take up the cause that liberty of conscience started to become enshrined in Western law.

You can buy this book here at: https://lockepress.com/defending-conscience/. It can be pre-ordered now, and should be released soon. This book is part of our efforts to remind the Church of this legacy.

In my view the Church is largely to blame for what is happening in society, because the Church forgot its great calling: to command nations, including national leaders, to obey the teachings of Jesus, and these include not coercing people’s bodies to accept something they do not want. For Christians we are taught in the Bible that Christ bought those bodies with a price, they are his, they are not Caesar’s, and they are not the Premiers. And for all people, the human body carries the image of God, not the image of Caesar, so still it is owned by God and not the state.  

The Church failed on this issue, as it had failed on the abuse issue. It better soon start lifting its game or God and society will have no need of it, because it will just fade into the society around it and become irrelevant. The Church is at its best when it fearlessly stands against the culture’s sin, whatever it is, even when it is unpopular, especially when it is unpopular, because that is exactly the legacy our own Lord displays for us in the gospels.  

List of references:



[i] Christin Carney 2022,  “Queensland Human Rights Commission claims vaccine mandate outside CHO’s power”, Australian Free and Independent Press Network, https://afipn.com.au/queensland-human-rights-commission-claims-vaccine-mandate-outside-chos-power/?fbclid=IwAR2pE_e30j-HOCVTbxZRRVl8GK69cMQZLhcR_g-GWHfma7AJzJJbofpU9sc.

[ii] Queensland Legislation, Human Rights Act 2019, https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/whole/html/asmade/act-2019-005.

[iii] Ibid.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Why Only White People Can Be Racist

 

image: unsplash

Why is it the position of much of progressive culture that only white people can be called racist? This is one of the most pervasive and pernicious issues in our society today and it has a lot of influence of the discourse about racism. Whoopi Goldberg got herself in trouble by referring to the holocaust as white on white violence, not racism.[1] This shocked a lot of people, many just wrote her off as dumb, uniformed, silly. Maybe she is not the sharpest tool in the shed, after all none of the women on The View are that intelligent. But what a lot of people missed in the discussion is that from some quarters racism is something only white people can be to non-white people. Kenan notes, “Racism today is viewed primarily through the lens of “whiteness” and of “white privilege”. It is something that white people dish out. And something from which non-whites suffer (unless you’re an Asian-American, in which case you are deemed to be almost white).” Because Germans and Ashkenazi Jews were all light skinned, and racism is only something white people can do to non-white people, then from the perspective of this definition of racism how can this be a racial issue? Whoopi Goldberg fell for the trap of being honest about how many people view racism today[2], but she opined on the wrong issue, one that is just as sensitive as racism itself.

Of course, this whole discussion is confusing for the average person, because for most people racism is the sin of hating your foreign neighbour because of their ethnicity. Most people are not ok with this. This is why people find it utterly confusing that a large segment of the progressive left teaches that only white people can be racist. People know that anyone of any race can potentially hate people of other races. So, they are utterly confused when they hear progressives say that only whites can be racist.

For progressives, racism has to do with power and privilege, and for some progressives it is only associated with power and privilege. White people in the West collectively hold the power and privilege because of sheer numbers and having been the ones who made the West and this means in everything including wealth, language barriers, education and more, they have an advantage[3]. Because of this, only white people can be racist, because apparently they hold all the good cards in the deck, and this is used to maintain their power.[4] So, when someone of another coloured race does something which is hateful of another coloured race, it is not racist because of white power pervading society. When a person of colour does something hateful against a white person, this is because it is a reaction to, or result of, white power pervading society, and therefore it is not racist. In essence, only white people can be racist. It is the original sin of the white race.

This may appear to be a rather extreme summation of the view of racism found in many circles on the left. But it is not, for instance, this article in Vice titled: Dear White People, Please Stop Pretending Reverse Racism Is Real: It's literally impossible to be racist to a white person, educates us on why only white people can be racist;

“Simply put, Morgan said reverse racism doesn't exist and a person who claims otherwise is ‘outing themselves as someone who has little to no experience or knowledge of what racism is.’ Racism is based on a couple of things—historical, systemic oppression and power, Morgan explained. And as far as history goes, white people have never been persecuted for the colour of their skin[5]—so there's no point comparing their experiences to those of black, brown, and Indigenous folks. ‘It's slavery, colonialism, theft all kinds of violations on systemic proportions... versus feelings being hurt.’ There's a difference, he noted, when white people who are in a position of power espouse a hatred of minorities than when it's done the other way around”[6] (Manisha Krishnan, 2016).  

For those who are obsessed with privilege and power, the genuine and perceived privilege of modern people of European descent, is itself a crime. There are likely many on the left who do not see it this way, but for many in that political camp racism is about power and privilege. Others may have a more moderate perspective, that is essentially that all people can be given to racism, but because white people hold the power and the privilege and it is our duty to punch up at those with the power, then we should only really highlight the racism of the white people in society.[7] Practically speaking this perspective has the same application: white people need to give up their positions of power and privilege to those of other skin colours.

You will hear these perspectives commonly referred to as critical race theory, or in the past you may have heard them referred to as cultural or social Marxism, or identity politics, or the oppression Olympics or something else. These are just changing names for the same poisonous ideas that are all designed to guilt the European descended man – an now increasingly woman - into feeling inherently evil. It is common to see them applied to overlapping progressive ideologies like gender theory, feminism and other leftist critical theories. The name changes often, I think it is just best to call them all wicked subversive poison, myself.

But when you understand the origin of the term racist, what it originally meant, and how it was originally used, then you can understand why the progressive says only white people can be racist, because the word racist does not, at least originally, mean what you think it means. NPR informs us, “The Oxford English Dictionary's first recorded utterance of the word racism was by a man named Richard Henry Pratt in 1902. Pratt was railing against the evils of racial segregation.[8]

Ok, so far, so good. This fits with how most people think anti-racists should think, condemn racial segregation. Let’s keep reading then to see who these wicked racists were that Pratt was railing against;

“Segregating any class or race of people apart from the rest of the people kills the progress of the segregated people or makes their growth very slow. Association of races and classes is necessary to destroy racism and classism.

Although Pratt might have been the first person to inveigh against racism and its deleterious effects by name, he is much better-remembered for a very different coinage: Kill the Indian...save the man.

"A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one," Pratt said. "In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man."

We're still living with the after-effects of what Pratt thought and did. His story serves as a useful parable for why discussions of racism remain so deeply contentious even now.”[9]

Shocked? Taken aback? Who was Pratt railing against when he spoke of the evils of racism? The Indians, who wanted to remain segregated and maintain their race and culture. As he said, “All the Indian there is in the race should be dead.” Pratt’s view was that those who wanted to preserve their culture had an unhealthy and dangerous racism, and that this love for their race, their desire to be separate and maintain their own culture needed to be stamped out of them. His means for achieving this was creating mandatory “Indian schools” where Indian children were taken to be taught how to read and write like American children, so they could fit into the successful culture around them.

"For his time, Pratt was definitely a progressive," Snyder said. Indeed, he thought his ideas were the only thing keeping Native peoples from being entirely wiped out by disease and starvation. "That's one of the dirty little secrets of American progressivism — that [progress] was still shaped around ideas of whiteness."

Snyder said that Pratt replaced the popular idea that some *groups *were natively inferior to others with the idea that some *cultures *that were the problem, and needed to be corrected or destroyed. In other words, he swapped biological determinism for cultural imperialism.”[10]

To most modern readers, Richard Henry Pratt is the racist because he wanted to wipe Indian culture out,Kill the Indian in him, and save the man." This is the epitome of racist today. But the grand irony is those who would call Pratt the racist or referring to his ideas as racism were using a term that he coined to describe a nationalistic trait that needed to be expunged from the Indian peoples; national pride and the desire to retain their language, culture and identity. The racists were those, on either side, who wanted to preserve Indian culture. Because it is preservation of unique cultures which is racist. So in part, the term racism was coined to condemn those who would preserve their culture, assert that their race existed, and that they wanted it to be preserved. It was a man who was every bit as progressive as today’s progressives that coined the term racism in English.

It is fitting that progressives would say today that only “white” people can be racist, because it is those with European heritage that are having their cultures over-ridden and done away with. It is western nations that are told they must celebrate multiculturalism in their borders, and downplay their own culture. It is those with European heritage that are concerned about the changes in their nations, and the decline of their peoples, it is those with European heritage that have begun to notice that just like the native Indian before them, they are being replaced and their culture, nations, and way of life is under assault. The progressives quite fittingly have dusted off the original usage of the word racism and applied it to western people’s today, to suppress their desire to defend their nationalities.

What did the word originally denote? A people who were not happy about losing their culture, national identity, and way of life. It makes sense for the progressive to then say only white people can be racist, because it is only those of European heritage who are not supposed to defend their culture. Every bit of “race” in the westerner must be stamped out so that he does not reassert himself and his desire for his people to be preserved. What’s worse is how many westerners loathe their own people and culture.

The idea of white nationalism makes no sense to an Aussie like me, because I am not French, I am not Dutch, I am not German, I am not Swedish. I am Australian and of British heritage on both sides of my family, with a little bit of Slavic Russian mixed in. But for those in the West of European heritage, whatever it is, it is now their kids who are being retrained in schools to forget their national identity and history, it is now their culture which is called bland or neutral, the value of other cultures is now lifted above their own culture, and it is their heritage nations which they see being transformed around them into new multicultural Babylons. And it is when they say, “Hang on a minute…” that they are immediately called racist, just like the original victims of that term in early 20th century America.

So, why can only white people be racist, according to the progressive leftist? Because it is traditional western culture that is being replaced, and all the other cultures that are being used to replace it need to be granted favoured status. To achieve this one of the most powerful rhetorical words possible, racist, has to be turned on those who don’t hate anyone really, but just love their people and their way of life. They need to be called the most deplorable of things, so that they will be disincentivized from lifting up their hands to say, “Hang on a minute…” as a people.

Reject the term racism. Don’t be ashamed of saying I don’t want my society to change, and if we want it to change we will do it ourselves. If you are Christian note progressivism and multiculturalism has coincided with the decline of Christianity in West and note that this should not be unexpected. Multiculturalism killed the national religion of Israel, introducing all kinds of different cults and competitive belief systems, relativising society, and diluting true belief in God. God warned his people that this is the result of importing the religions that inevitably come from multiculturalism. You end up getting a society where a Christian Prime Minister will play down his own faith but openly celebrate the prayers of faiths that were once at war with our entire way of life.[11]  

This is not about hating people. Progressives say that those who want to preserve their culture and national identity are racists. That is the VERY origin of the word. But really those who want to preserve their culture and identity are just good citizens, honourable subjects, and people who love their nation. Jesus loved his nation, Paul loved his nation, David loved his nation, Moses loved his nation (even when they angered him immensely with their grumbling, he advocated for them to be saved from destruction). One of the hallmarks of righteous people in the Bible is that they love their people. Why on earth would we accept anyone calling us racist for that? Laugh it off. Only a wicked man hates his own people because it is fashionable.   

List of References:



[1] Malik Kenan, 2021,  “Whoopi Goldberg’s Holocaust remarks drew on a misguided idea of racism”, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/06/whoopi-goldberg-holocaust-remarks-were-born-of-ignorance-not-racism

[2] Whoopi was not uninformed, she was speaking to the common way racism is defined in sectors of the left today, Kenan also notes, “So deep does the elision of racism and whiteness run that even the ADL, a leading Jewish organisation, defined racism as “the marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people”. In the wake of the Goldberg controversy, the ADL changed to an “interim” definition. In a mea culpa blog post, Greenblatt acknowledged that its own understanding of racism had been “so narrow” that it had “alienated many people who did not see their own experience encompassed in this definition, including many in the Jewish community”.

[3] Just like a Chinese man in China, or an Indian in India, but they ignore this fact.

[4] When progressives who say they advocate for equality say those who are in positions of favour and power, hold the privilege and the power and use it to maintain their privilege and power, this gives you a strong clue about what they really want. Not equality. They want the privilege and power, because they believe such things are their means of maintaining dominance over those they disagree with or disapprove of.

Handing such people power and influence is the height of foolishness, because they do not believe it is to be used to serve the people, but to privilege and give favour to their identity group, whichever group that happens to be.

[5] The Turkish empire favoured taking white people as slaves, especially young white girls and boys, does this count? Or this because of white privilege as well? “Much attention and condemnation has been directed towards the tragedy of the African  slave trade , which took place between the 16th and the 19th centuries. However, another equally despicable trade in Barbary slaves was taking place around the same time in the Mediterranean. It is estimated that up to 1.25 million Europeans were enslaved by  Barbary corsairs and their lives were just as pitiful as their African counterparts. They have come to be known as the white slaves of Barbary.” https://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-africa/white-slaves-barbary-002171

[6] Manisha Krishnan, 2016, Dear White People, Please Stop Pretending Reverse Racism Is Real: It's literally impossible to be racist to a white person. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/kwzjvz/dear-white-people-please-stop-pretending-reverse-racism-is-real?fbclid=IwAR0pTAtC5j-ZFnNJlMDyqKONaPrEApKATA-D8jx5-ozMbC17jjoH1dikqhc

[7] I once had a prominent leftist academic explain to me why a poor white kid born into a 3rd generation welfare home was more privileged than a Saudi Prince, because it was simply the colour of his skin that gave him that privilege. It mattered not how much privilege the Saud Prince had, or that he and his family could dictate how much Aussies on welfare pay for petrol, he didn’t live here, so it wasn’t relevant. Such a bankrupt worldview.

[8] Gene Demby, 2014, The Ugly Fascinating History of the Word Racism, NPR, https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/01/05/260006815/the-ugly-fascinating-history-of-the-word-racism

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] https://buset-online.com/message-from-the-prime-minister-ramadan-2022/#

Sunday, 3 April 2022

What Does The Bible Say About Alliances?

 



“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.”

Psalm 146:3

(Here is the video version of this talk, here).

Over the last week or two I have written a lot about why we should not intervene in foreign wars. Some people might ask why I care so much, the bombs are over there, not over here, who cares what our government does overseas, it’s not our problem…this is precisely the problem. We are at ease like fattened calves enjoying the ride on the trailer to the slaughterhouse. Sure, one way to approach that is to enjoy the nice view on the ride, another way to look at that is: oh no, things are about to get really different and messy. In this context we need a deeper understanding of how God interacts with nations, because nations that are at ease in wickedness will be judged;

“1 Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! 2 Pass over to Calneh, and see, and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory, 3 O you who put far away the day of disaster and bring near the seat of violence? 4 “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, 5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, 6 who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! 7 Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away” (Amos 6:1-7).

Australian’s care more about their next leisure activity than the fact that our nation just declared war by giving arms to a foreign nation at war. No war has every seriously effected the Australian mainland since WW2 and even the attacks by Japan at the time of that war were relatively minor compared to what was happening in most of the other theatres of war.[1] Aussies culturally think of war as something “over there”, something for the barbarian lands, where we go to establish justice and freedom. This view that war is “over there” has helped make us a nation that cares more about getting the boat out to go fishing, or the smoker out to slow cook a brisket, than telling our leaders to stop engaging in foreign wars. Like ancient Israel, we are a nation at ease in a time before the judgement comes. 

In some of my previous pieces on war, I noted three pillars of non-interventionism: sovereignty of government, sovereign borders and rejecting alliances. Some people really struggled with the concept of “not going down to Egypt” meaning: alliances are always to be avoided. To be fair, it is understandable why some people will struggle with this, because I am challenging what is essentially a well establish behaviour of nations. To say we should avoid alliances sits in stark contrast to how we think about international relations. We think it is good and decent and necessary to have military alliances with similar nations, so we are ready for whatever wars come. Most Christians can agree alliances are dangerous, and most should be avoided, and not interfering in most wars is wise. But they can’t handle the idea of this not going far enough, they struggle with the idea that we should never have military alliances. So, what I want to do in this piece is show how central this theme is to the Old Testament and that it is carried into the New Testament. You will see by the end of this argument just how powerfully this theme is backed up in the Scriptures.

Do Not Go Down To Egypt

I already explored this in more detail in a previous piece, but there are a few more things to be said. Isaiah says also this about alliances;

“30 Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; 2 who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! 3 Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation” (Isa. 30:1-3).

In Scripture building military alliances is idolatry. Straight up. This is how it is consistently referred to. It is important that some of these references regard Egypt, the dominant power for Israel to rely on. If you are going to make alliances, you make them with the strongest possible partners and even this was condemned. But the ESV notes the words translated “who make an alliance” here means “who weave a web”. This has within it the intrinsic scheming that accompanies making foreign alliances, something the Bible outright condemns (Ps 2:1-3).

The KJV, however, reads this passage to mean, “that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit”. This reading of the Hebrews words still has the meaning of making alliances but is built upon the root concept “to pour out” or make a “libation”[2]. This reading has in view the concept of the rituals of making an alliance with a foreign nation. “Again, this act would constitute rebellion against Yahweh, for it would involve recognition, if not worship, of Egyptian gods.”[3]

So, explicitly, and clearly, the concept of alliances in the Bible is rebuked from the outset. Depending on how you interpret the words in this passage they either carry the idea of scheming like the wicked pagan nations or covering your nation with the protection of foreign powers instead of God, just like a pagan nation. You don’t even need an understanding of Hebrew to glean this meaning, because the plain text of Isaiah 30-31 clearly frames trusting in alliances as idolatry.

Hosea says essentially the same thing;

“8 Israel is swallowed up; already they are among the nations as a useless vessel. 9 For they have gone up to Assyria, a wild donkey wandering alone; Ephraim has hired lovers. 10 Though they hire allies among the nations, I will soon gather them up. And the king and princes shall soon writhe because of the tribute” (Hos. 8:8-10).

Those familiar with the Old Testament language of idolatry know that what Hosea is saying here is that Israel has committed idolatry, spiritual adultery, by hiring foreign nations as allies. Not only is this sinful, and condemned here, as in Isaiah, but Hosea notes how allying with other nations had ruined Israel, taking away its distinctiveness among the nations, and enslaved it to foreign tribute. Alliances fail, they corrupt your nation, they come with great cost, and they make you like the pagan idolatrous schemers around you.

This is not just a warning for Israel either, “Turn to him from whom people have deeply revolted, O children of Israel” (Isa. 31:6). Alliances are not ok for pagan nations, but a sign of their wickedness, and why they have so many troubles. This is a warning for God’s people, and all people to turn and trust in God, not alliances. The pagan nations rely on alliances and are constantly ruined because of this. This is a deep and consistent theme in the Bible, going all the way back to the founder of God’s people, Abraham.  

Abram and the Men of His House

There is a remarkable passage in Genesis 14 which mentions Abram and his allies. But if you just stop at this surface glance you will miss how this passage powerfully teaches us not to rely on alliances.

The context of the passage is a war between two alliances of kings. One led by Chedorlaomer and the other by the king of Sodom. The allies of Chedorlaomer defeat the king of Sodom and his allies, who flee, and in the process Abram’s nephew lot is captured (vv.8-12). This is where Abram’s allies are now mentioned, “13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram.” Someone escapes and comes and tells Abram about what has transpired. Abram is currently staying near his allies, likely this escapee is related to these allies, or maybe Lot and his household. So, what happens next?

This is where you would expect the captain to round up his allies, gather as large an army as he can, and lead them in battle against the five victorious kings. But an alliance of kings has already failed. What does Abram then do?

“14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus” (Gen. 14:14-15).

Abram did not round up his allies, he rounded up the men of his own house. This is remarkable because there is a clear contrast between his behaviour and that of the kings on either side of the previous battle. The kings gathered alliances and were defeated, and one of those alliances was defeated by a man with the men of his household, his servants, born and trained in his house. Genesis is careful to note this, and then repeat this, so we know Abram did not rely on alliances.

This is not missed by the ancient witnesses, the righteous priest of God in that region notes;

“18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” (Gen. 14:18-20).

Abram’s refusal to rely on allies shines light on the God who gave Abram the victory. Abraham here sets the model for a righteous people: trust in God, not in alliances. To drive this message home Abram refuses to keep any of the loot for himself but only accepts what is given to his men, and the men who were owed back their possession, such as his allies.[4] The passage is very clear to note Abram relied on the men of his own house and God, not these allies.

There is practical wisdom for this as well. Alliances built by foreign cultures are inherently unstable and fragile. Many examples can be given, but anyone familiar with the famous account of the Iliad will know that Homer goes out of his way to note that the allies of the Trojans spoke many languages, and the Greeks were united in their common language and culture. This gave the Greeks a definite advantage on the battlefield, because just from the perspective of passing along commands, there was less difficultly. Managing alliances is tricky, relying on the men of your own house, or in other words your own people, and your God, is far wiser.

Not Allowed to Marry Foreign Women

Not only is relying on the men of your own people wise, but so is marrying the women of your own house. The Old Testament had very strict rules around who the Israelites could marry. If you do not understand how foreign relations worked in the ancient world, then you will miss some of the significance of what God is saying with these rules. Deuteronomy 7:3-5 notes why the Israelites should not marry the women from the nations surrounding them, when they take the land of Canaan;  

“3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. 5 But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.”

Foreign women will lead your men astray. Most Christians understand the individual aspect of this warning. Don’t marry a foreign woman today, for Christians, means don’t marry an unbeliever. They understand the application for Israelites was that they were not to allow the influence of foreign gods into their nation. This is why Boaz did not sin by marrying Ruth, because Ruth had renounced her foreign gods and proved her dedication to Yahweh through her righteous living. But there was more to this rule than just this.

In the ancient world, indeed, in Royal circles until very recently, it was customary for alliances to be made by marrying the daughter of a king or noble to another king or noble. This had the effect of cementing the closeness of the relationship between the two nations. But it also had the effect of allowing the foreign nations to influence each other with their cultures. If you read Bede’s ecclesiastical history you will see the Roman Church used this as a strategy to convert pagan kings in Anglo-Saxon England. But ancient peoples did this with their various pagan ideologies as well. Which is why marrying foreign women was forbidden, it was to protect Israel from such influence and stop foreign alliances, causing Israel to be caught up in foreign agendas.  

The Kings of Israel often disobeyed this command. The most famous examples of this were Solomon and Ahab. Of Ahab we are told;

“30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. 31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. 32 He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:30-33).

And of Solomon we are told;

“Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. 3 He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings 11:1-3).

Solomon took this to a level far beyond what Ahab did after him, marrying more women than most people would think conceivable. This opened the door for foreign influence in Israel;

“4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.”

You can think of kings giving their daughters to foreign leaders as an ancient form of state craft and influence. Via these foreign marriages alliances were made with many nations, and through those alliances the influence of these nations seeped into Israel. This can come in by trade alliances as well, but military alliances particularly corrupt, because they require nations coming together for a common cause.[5] It’s not an accident that the more we have gone to War under the banner of the United States the more we have lost our culture to their culture. There is nothing new about how this works.[6] The Bible warned us about this several thousand years ago. We just don’t want to listen.

For those who say, the Bible did not condemn foreign alliances, then explain how a nation like Israel was supposed to make military alliances with foreign nations, if they could not take the women of those nations as their wives? This command alone, without all the other stuff we have examined, proves military alliances with foreign nations were roundly condemned, and even trade alliances would have been more difficult, though not as much. By cutting off the ability for Israelites to marry foreign women, God was making it very hard for Israel to rely on alliances.  

Do Not Look To Princes

This is one of the most important themes in the Bible, and it is found all through the Old Testament. Man cannot save us, only God can. Now we often individualize this, but this is just as often, if not more, about the salvation of your nation from invasion as it is personal salvation. This exhortation is found again and again in the Bible, but especially in the Psalms. The Psalms is a powerful book which teaches us how to worship, praise, sing and pray to our God, and how to think about our fellowship with God. We read again and again in the Psalms why we should not look to princes.

God is the one in whom there is true power. “11 Make your vows to the Lord your God and perform them; let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared, 12 who cuts off the spirit of princes, who is to be feared by the kings of the earth” (Psalm 76:11-12). Why trust in princes when you can trust in the God who cuts of the spirit of princes in his own timing? Who alone is to feared? God. Turn to him when your nation is in trouble, because there is no one in whom it is better to look to, “8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9). For those who want to say this is just a teaching for Old Testament Israel, can you really say these verses are out of date? Of course not. It has always been better to look to God and it is still far better to look to God.

One particularly powerful place to meditate on this theme, if you disagree with me, is Psalms 144 to 150. These Psalms serve as the concluding passages of the book of Psalms and summarize many of its themes and teachings. They are filled with all of the reasons individuals and nations should look to God and in doing so they highlight the importance of not looking to Princes.

Psalm 144 directly addresses the concept of war, and trusting in God during war, “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Ps. 144:15). Why is such a nation happy? Because it is God who gives the victory, “9 I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you, 10 who gives victory to kings, who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword” (Ps. 144:9-10). Alliances do not give victory; we know this to be true because alliances fail. The first two alliances we see in the Scriptures fail (Gen. 14). One alliance is defeated by the other alliance and the second alliance was defeated by a man with the loyal members of his household. History is filled with examples of foreign alliances failing. God only preserves those who look to him, “20 The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy” (Ps. 145:20). Psalm 145 reminds that our help needs to come from the Lord. And who should trust him? Just Israel? No, “My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever” (Ps. 145:21). All who live and breathe should trust him. 

Because God only preserves those who look to him, we should not trust princes, “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help” (Ps. 146:3; KJV). Why would you trust in princes when you can trust in the one who made the heavens and the earth? Again and again, Israel defeated its enemies and their alliances when it was righteous and trusted in God. Hezekiah did not defeat Assyria with swords, but with prayer, faith and trust in God. Because peace comes from God, “14 He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat” (Ps. 147:14).

Someone might respond, but Matt Psalm 147 notes that God gives peace to Jerusalem; are not these Psalms just directed to Old Covenant Israelites? No, not at all, as Psalm 148 shows us; who should look to the Lord and trust and praise him? All nations and their leaders, “11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!” (Ps. 148:11). God made his special covenant with the people of Israel, but this does not mean that other nations were not supposed to look to him as well. Not trusting in princes is a command for all people, all nations. Only God can save. If he removes his favour from your nation, no alliance will save you.

You are familiar with this teaching, but you more often hear it only applied in the context of individual salvation. However, the Scriptures also apply it to national salvation from foreign threats. I simply cannot see how Christians can just brush aside this teaching in the Scriptures. It is too consistent and it is easy to demonstrate that it is applicable to Gentile nations as well as Israel. 

Alliances God Did Allow

God allowed the kings of Israel to make trade alliances with foreign kings, as long as they did not marry their daughters, and encouraged nations to have friendly relations. Solomon, as noted above, is a good example of how to do this wrong, “Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh's daughter and brought her into the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem” (1 Kings 3:1). But he is also an example of how to do this right, “And the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him. And there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty” (1 Kings 5:12). Hiram and the Phoenicians were a major source of both the materials and expert tradesmen used to build the temple of God. Obviously, Hiram was a righteous man. God was okay with Israel and Judah trading with foreign nations, but he was in no way fond of free and unrestricted trade as I have discussed elsewhere.

But military alliances with foreign powers were forbidden. Judah and Israel were allowed to ally together, but only with God’s permission. For example, we see how Jehoshaphat responds to Ahab’s request for a military alliance in 1 Kings 22;  

“1 For three years Syria and Israel continued without war. 2 But in the third year Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3 And the king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, and we keep quiet and do not take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?” 4 And he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses” 5 And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord” (1 Kings 22:1-5).

Jehoshaphat knew the wisdom of not even joining with Israel in an alliance without God’s permission. Well, he did at least when he was a younger king. In his later years God judges him for joining an alliance with Israel;

“35 After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted wickedly. 36 He joined him in building ships to go to Tarshish, and they built the ships in Ezion-geber. 37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.” And the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish” (2 Chron. 20:35-37).

The NIV translates the word “joined” as “alliance”. This appears to have been either a trade or colonization alliance and God was not okay with it because Israel had an unrighteous king. This is especially notable when read in the context of the rest of the chapter, which we will look at now.

Note how a righteous national leader should respond to a foreign invasion threat;

“1 After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). 3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. 7 Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ 10 And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— 11 behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

13 Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 14 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”

18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,

“Give thanks to the Lord,

    for his steadfast love endures forever.”

22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.

The Lord Delivers Judah

24 When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the Lord. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 They came to Jerusalem with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29 And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around” (2 Chronicles 20:1-30).

Is this not amazing? Lord, give us a leader for our nation like Jehoshaphat. Give us people like the people of Judah in that day. Is this not the definition of a conclusive example? The verse which most jumps out at me is verse 12, “O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. That is the cry of the faithful in a time of need, to look to God and not to alliances. I don’t know how the Bible could be more clear that we should not to look to alliances. This is a remarkable passage. And it is thoroughly consistent with the Bible’s teaching on this topic.

This did not just apply to Israel either. As we saw from Psalm 148. A righteous nation looks to God and a foolish nation to alliances. Is Australia any more capable of opposing a horde of nations than Judah was? No, therefore we need to look to God.  

What does the New Testament say?

I think it would be silly to just brush aside much of this teaching because it is found in the Old Testament and mostly directed towards Israel. The theme of looking to God is just too strong in the Bible to brush away like that. Israel was designed to be God’s model nation for other nations to learn from, so this wisdom has some application for Gentile nations then and now. Plus, we showed how the Psalms say this applies to other nations, and Paul said this, remember: “11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:11-12).[7] The temptation of smaller nations is to rely on alliances. The temptation of larger, more powerful nations is to think they can dominate and direct smaller nations. These are common temptations that still exist today. But there are two more direct passages that I want to show you.

There is a passage in the New Testament you will not fully understand without recognizing its reliance on the Old Testament theology that we have just explored. Paul says in Acts 17;

“26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring’” (Acts 17:26-28).  

God created the nations and put them within their own borders so that they would seek him, and him alone. Now is this more consistent with chasing alliances or trusting in God for protection? The answer is obvious. This was part of God’s intention for giving nations borders and sovereignty. They were meant to not interfere with each other, but instead seek out their creator in times of need. This was not just a principle for Israel; ALL nations were meant to do this, as the Psalms highlighted. Instead, the nations chased foreign gods and all kinds of nonsense, forgetting that all people were made by God, and this causes the trouble we see among nations today. It may be impossible to return to this state perfectly, but it is not impossible for a nation to make a stance that they will remain within their borders and not seek to interfere with other nations. Up until recently Switzerland managed to do that and prosper. But there is more relating to this in the New Testament.

God’s final act of judgment on the nations before he judges the earth in the great while throne judgement in Revelation shows how consistent this teaching is in the Bible. What is that final act of God’s judgement before then? To judge an alliance. We read in Revelation 20;

“7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:7-10).

The final alliance of nations is judged by God, and so is the second to last alliance in Revelation 19;

“17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh” (Revelation 19:17-21)

Whether you read these two passages as looking at the same final battle, or that one is before the millennium and one after, or even just as allegorical, the application is the same: the final great alliances of men will be stirred up by the devil and destroyed in both instances. One may respond, but Matt, these alliances are bad because of who they are seeking to fight, the Lord Jesus, who beats them thoroughly. I would simply respond: we have gone through the whole Bible and shown that God does not like nations engaging in alliances, commanded his people not to do them, and it was the pagan nations, who are dominated by the devil, that continually stirred up alliances for war. This consistent teaching is observed from Genesis through to Revelation. When the scriptures stay consistent on an issue from beginning to end, it is foolish to ignore it.

How do you make sure you are not part of this final alliance being judged by God? You look to God and not alliances with foreign kings. We have a responsibility to warn people about being caught up in this final alliance. Even if you believe that believers will be raptured first, which I don’t[8] still, again, we have the same application, warn people to look to Jesus not to alliances. Warn nations to look to Jesus, not alliances.

Look to God

Someone might be reading this and wondering, but Matt, what if we see another nation invading another nation, shouldn’t we do something? Yes, absolutely, we should take it as a warning to look to God and ask him what we need to repent of. Because every nation that is invaded in the Bible is invaded as an act of judgement of God on that people and their kings, or leadership. This is such a consistent teaching in the Bible that we cannot ignore it. When you see a nation being invaded you should immediately turn to God and ask for his favour to remain on your own nation. If you do not have leadership that can do that, then you are in serious trouble. What we should not do is seek to intervene.

King Josiah sought to interfere between Egypt and Babylon, and God allowed him to die and be punished because of that. In fact, God explicitly condemned Josiah through Neco for this act;

“20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to meet him. 21 But he sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” 22 Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. 23 And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” 24 So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem. And he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah” (2 Chr 35:20-24).

This line is especially notable, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war.” Christians today think nothing of having our nation interfering in wars between foreign powers. But one of the few (or only?) examples we see of this in the Bible, is when God condemns the righteous king who in this instance was too big for his boots. Josiah was a good king, a good man, and a good leader. But none of this gave him the right to interfere between Egypt and Babylon. Indeed, not only did he not have the right to do so, it was foolish.

We should not look at another nation under judgement and laugh or take advantage, either, but fear God. Edom stood aloof and took advantage of Judah’s disgrace. God said this to Edom;

“12 But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress. 13 Do not enter the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; do not gloat over his disaster in the day of his calamity; do not loot his wealth in the day of his calamity. 14 Do not stand at the crossroads to cut off his fugitives; do not hand over his survivors in the day of distress. 15 For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head” (Ob. 1:12-15).

God told Edom they should heed the invasion of Judah as a warning. When a nation is invaded, it is because God has removed his favour from them. Ask yourself this: is our nation deserving of the favour of God or is our nation poised for judgement? We don’t need more alliances here in Australia, we need to repent and seek God’s favour again. We need leaders who will do this.

Don’t rejoice in the humbling of another people. Look and fear the Lord. Ask: “Lord what do we need to repent of here?” Pray for our leaders to have the wisdom to look to God. In fact it’s in the context of this very topic that we are asked to pray for our leaders: “1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim 2:1-2). The job of our national leaders is to keep our nation quiet and peaceful. This is not possible if they are gallivanting around the world and acting like the international police. The job of the Church is to pray for our leaders to keep us out of foreign wars and to pray for our leaders not to oppress their people, but simply to righteously serve and look after their own people. 

So, what does the Bible say about foreign alliances? It says: look to God instead. Man cannot save, man will fail, God is eternal in power so trust in him and not alliances.

List of References



[1] This is not to dimmish the loss of life by the several hundred people who died, but simply to note that Australia has never been successfully invaded since colonization, nor has it had to face war in its own territory, except in very minor instances in WW2.  Cf. this article https://gallery.records.nsw.gov.au/index.php/galleries/war-and-australia/war-and-australia-world-war-ii/war-and-australia-world-war-ii-1942-the-bombing-of-darwin/ or this Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_raids_on_Australia,_1942%E2%80%931943#Attacks_on_north_Queensland,_July_1942 for more information on these attacks.

[2] John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah Chapters 1-39, William B. Eerdmans Publishing, p545.

[3] Ibid, p545.

[4] Vv. 14-15 make is clear that Abram only went up to battle with the men of his own house. V. 24 appears to imply that his Amorite allies were with him. This is easily reconciled if we recognize that the man who escaped was coming back to Abram’s allies, and therefore among the kings takings were possessions of Abram’s allies, which he promptly got back for them when he rescued his son Lot with the men of his household.

[5] There are more reasons why they particularly corrupt. Combined military campaigns cause nations to align their identities together to make them more cohesive in war time, and they forge the nations closer in reliance on each other, and much more. Which we may explore in a future piece. They can also have the opposite effect, turning allies into arch enemies.  

[6] I for one really despise this loss of Australian culture to American globalism. Some level of trade and friendly relationship is good, but Australia is now beholden to American cultural and military ambitions, and this has had the effect of stamping out the unique Aussie identity, which I believe is worth preserving.  

[7] Yes, I know this was directed to Christians, and that is my point. We are to learn from the Old Testament, that which is applicable for us and wise, and then we are to teach this to the people of the nations. We cannot control their application of it, but we can at least point them in the right direction.

[8] Here is a detailed look at all of the passages referring to the gathering of the elect, which show it happens with the second coming and occurs after the tribulation:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8an3W3F3ys