Tyranny: Part 2 by Abidan Shah, PhD

TYRANNY – 2 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: How many of ya’ll would agree that the old cartoons were the best, like the Looney Tunes and the Merrie Melodies? With elections going on, one of my favorite ones is “Ballot Box Bunny,” where Yosemite Sam runs for Mayor. Of course, Yosemite Sam hates rabbits, especially Bugs Bunny, and he promises to “rid this country of every last rabbit!” When Bugs Bunny hears that, he decides to run for mayor too. Both try to win the townspeople over, but Bugs Bunny gets the better of Yosemite Sam, as expected. Sometimes, election season can seem just as crazy and comical. Last week, in part one of our message on the Tower of Babel titled Tyranny, we saw how every period in history has Nimrods, even ours. Their desire is to concentrate power and rule the world. In today’s message, we will look at the American idea, how this nation was created to stand against such Nimrods. Main point: Unlike most governments in history, America was founded with the understanding that all people are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Denying those rights goes against the dignity of people who were created in the image of God. Unless we return to our Judeo-Christian foundation, we are at a great risk of losing these freedoms. We need a revival in America.

1 Samuel 8         4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

Context: The passage we just read marked a very important period in the history of God’s people. It was about 1000BC. The people of Israel had been in the land for several hundred years. The government was a tribal confederation with the law, the priesthood, and the tabernacle. Until that point, the people of Israel had been ruled directly by God. The people had followed a set pattern: they disobeyed God and sinned – God would send a foreign power against them – the people would cry out in their suffering – God would raise a judge, a military leader, to deliver them – they would go back to their old ways. The judges could only deliver the people, but they couldn’t unite them. Some like Samson were not very righteous. This was a very turbulent period in the history of God’s people. Four times it says in the book that “In those days there was no king in Israel” (Judges17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25) and, a couple of times, it adds, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The people were very fragmented, and they needed a king to bring them together and be a man after God’s own heart. God had promised them this several times earlier, but quite specifically in Deuteronomy 17        14 “When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, “You shall not return that way again.’ 17 Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. 18 “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.” Unfortunately, things didn’t go this way. The people demanded a king. Samuel tried to dissuade them in 1 Samuel 8       10 So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. 11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and putthem to his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.” The people did not listen but insisted on a king in 1 Samuel 8       19 “…No, but we will have a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” God wanted a man after his own heart to represent him, and they simply wanted to replace God. God told Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:22 “Heed their voice, and make them a king.”

Application: How do you respond when God tells you no regarding a want in your life? Sometimes God gives in to teach us a lesson.

Now, began the period of the kings of the united kingdom of Israel – Saul, David, and Solomon. They all started well, but then went downhill. Saul was the quickest with his belligerent and foolish behavior; David was much more obedient to God, but he too failed, as you can see in the incident with Bathsheba and having her husband killed; then came Solomon, who started well but then messed up terribly with 700 wives and 300 concubines and built high places to idols. After him, the kingdom split apart into the Northern kingdom of Israel and the Southern kingdom of Judah. Although, there were kings who did well like Uzziah, Hezekiah, and Josiah, most of them had a god complex. They became like the kings throughout history. Bill Federer in his very helpful book Who is the king in America? gives a list of kings with a god complex: King Gilgamesh of Uruk – demigod (part human and part divine), Babylonian and Assyrian kings – king “priests,” Egyptian Pharaohs – Son of the god Osiris, Tyre kings – bridge between the temporal and celestial worlds, Persian kings – special relationship with the divine, South Asian kings – “agents of God,” Chinese Emperor – mandate from heaven, Roman Emperors – deified Caesars, Indian kings – high caste of Brahmin, Incas – delegates of the Sun god, Japanese emperors – descendants of the Shinto god Amaterasu, Caliphs – successors of Mohammed, the messenger of Allah, etc. 

Now, I want to switch gears and focus on the founding of America. What was the situation like in Europe that led to people coming to this New Land? What led Columbus to sail the ocean blue in 1492? For starters, it was the Ottoman Muslim Turks. They had cut off all the trade routes to India and China. In fact, this was not the first time that this had happened. When Islam first began to spread in the 7th century AD, they destroyed libraries with thousands of years of knowledge. Think about how they cut off the Mediterranean trade and the export of papyrus from Egypt. This led to a paper shortage, which in turn led to a drop in literacy. The coming of Islam plunged the world into darkness. I mentioned last time, it was Charles Martel (The Hammer) who stopped the Muslim invaders at the Battle of Tours in AD732. Thank goodness for the monasteries that kept knowledge alive. Yes, there was some progress made by Muslims in math, medicine, and architecture, but overall, it wasn’t good for Europe or the world. Fast forward through the Crusades to the rise of the Ottoman Empire and the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The invasion of Constantinople, Byzantium, and Greece led to flight of the Greek scholars to the west, especially to Florence, Italy, taking their knowledge with them. This rediscovery of the classics led to the Renaissance in Europe. They also carried with them manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, which led to the Reformation in Europe.

Don’t forget that more was happening in Europe than just a time of wonderful discoveries. This was the period of the Spanish Golden Age when Spain became the most powerful empire in the world. So also, the Ottoman empire was spreading, and, in 1529, Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, had the Turks surrounding Vienna, Austria. Don’t forget that during all this It is but by the grace of God, he didn’t get through or today the world would look very different. Also, during this period, Charles V of Spain (the Emperor of the Holy Catholic Empire) struck a deal with the Protestants known as the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. It came with the principle “whose is the reign his is the religion.” Hence, certain nations in Europe were Roman Catholics like Italy, Spain, Portugal; Germany was Lutherans; The Netherlands was Dutch Reformed; Scotland was Presbyterian; England was Anglican, etc. How does all this connect with the idea of kings? Even with the Renaissance and the Reformation in Europe, there was the “divine right of kings.” King James I said, “Kings are…God’s lieutenants…upon earth…sit upon God’s throne…The king is overlord of the whole land… Master over every person…having power over the life and death of every one.” The king of Franc, Louis XIV called himself the “Sun King,” as his people revolved around him as the planets revolve around the sun. he would say, “It is legal because I wish it.” Yes, people could read the Bible, but, no, they couldn’t believe whatever they wanted to believe. According to the Act of Uniformity of 1558, people had to attend the Anglican church once a week or be fined 12 pence. Those who opposed the king in England were either the Puritans or the Separatists, with some Anabaptists and Baptists. The Separatists first went to Holland in 1607 and then came to America as “Pilgrims.” Later, the Puritans followed. All of them were trying to get away from the idea of the King playing God in their religious lives. Fast forward to how the colonies began as safe havens for certain denominations – Massachusetts – Puritan, Rhode Island – Baptist, Connecticut and New Hampshire – Congregational, New York – Dutch Reformed, Pennsylvania – Quaker and Lutheran, Virginia – Anglican, North and South Carolina – Anglican, Georgia – Protestant, etc.

When time came for the Revolutionary War, the big question was how can we continue to be free, especially with regards to religious convictions, when we separate from England? If small, then democracy is fine; but as the country grows and people move around, how will that be feasible? Our founding fathers came up with a “democratically elected constitutional republic.” 

Listen to what some of our leaders have said:

  • “This Magistrate is not the king. The people are the king.” Governor Morris (penman of the Constitution)
  • “The people are the sovereign of this country.” John Jay (first chief justice of the Supreme court)
  • “The ultimate arbiter is the people.” Thomas Jefferson
  • “The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both congresses and courts.” Abraham Lincoln
  • “In no other place and at no other time has the experiment of government of the people, by the people, for the people, has been tried on so vast a scale as here in our own.” Teddy Roosevelt.

Was Roosevelt quoting Lincoln at Gettysburg? Yes, but where did Lincoln get it? John Wycliffe, in the prologue of his English translation of the Bible in 1382 wrote, “This Bible is for the Government of the People, by the People, for the People.” Federer reminds us that the job of the pastors is to the be counsellors to the king (the people of this nation).

Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

Revelation 19:16 “And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Invitation: Are you praying for our nation? Are you aware of the effort to eradicate this history of our nation? Are you saved? Is Jesus your king? Are you leading others to him?

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