Making the Big Transition (II)

Why should we be pessimistic, like that first generation of former slaves? Why should we wander in the wilderness, generation after generation?  Why should we despair? Why should we adopt the mentality ofslaves, or the mentality of the beleaguered garrison in the last outpost?

It is Satan’s garrisons that are defending the outposts, and when Christians recognize their responsibilities for building the kingdom, and when they master the law of God as a tool of dominion, and when they gain a vision of freedom through self-government, and when some victory-oriented leaders step forth to lead them into battle in every area of life, then Satan’s troops will find themselves defending their last outpost. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against God’s church.[1]

The choices facing the Church today are not new ones. They have actually been building in the background for many hundreds of years, but we have been unable or unwilling to deal with them courageously, and the results of our indecision have kept building up. We have gotten ourselves into a mess which will require now the grace of God, our decisiveness and the obedience of generations of Christians to get out of it.

What is the cause this mess? The Church, due to its disobedience, has steadily become irrelevant in the community, but the Bible has the solution to this: Christian obedience.

When people are challenged to change, it sure helps to have examples of how to do it. Thankfully, the Bible has lots of examples we can follow; men and women who found themselves, their family, their church or their nation at a major cross-roads or crisis, and were able to make the appropriate choice.

Two Biblical characters most relevant in this situation, are Job and Boaz (in the book of Ruth). It is unclear from scripture when Job lived, though he may have been a compatriot of Abraham. What is evident, is that he had a great understanding as a patriarch of the Biblical responsibility to care for needy and vulnerable people.

Job in his affliction lamented what seemed to him to be the injustice of his situation. He said that

I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper. The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me, and I made the widow’s heart sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I investigated the case which I did not know. I broke the jaws of the wicked and snatched the prey from his teeth (Job 29:12-17).

The Book of Ruth (written during the time of the judges) tells us that Ruth returned from her sojourn in Moab with her mother-in-law Naomi. Both women were now widowed and impoverished, so their circumstances were by no means flattering, but the Bible says that “…Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth…whose name was Boaz” (Ruth 2:1). Ruth went out to work gleaning in the fields after the harvesters (which essentially meant she would be picking up the harvest left-overs), and found herself in the field of Boaz.

Boaz cared for Ruth and Naomi in their situation. In this, he was carrying out the commands of scripture:

When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands (Deut.24:19).

Both Job and Boaz can be viewed by us in an individualistic fashion: godly men caring for  widows and other needy people. But the Bible is not essentially about individualism, as much as it is about the obedience of God’s covenant people to Him.  In fact, we are making a serious error if we read the accounts of these two men and view them as quaint individuals of another era, irrelevant for today. Job and Boaz are Old Testament examples of God’s covenant people, reaching out in obedience and compassion to care for godly, impoverished widows, orphans, fatherless and aliens.

This is what God commands us to do, this is what the early Church taught and did (see Gal.2:10; James 1:27; Acts 6:1-6), and this is a powerful means of extending the gospel in the world.

The power of the early church was in its remarkable ministry of service to the needy, to widows and orphans, to the sick, the homeless, and to travellers. Captives were ransomed, discarded newly-born babies picked up and reared, and much, much more. It was the power of obedience.[2]

God spoke through Isaiah,

…I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea (Isa.48:17-18).

The scriptural teaching that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb.13:8) binds the Church today as an institution to the obligations and responsibilities that Job and Boaz fulfilled in their day. The Bible tells us that “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction…” (Ro.15:4).

It is time we accepted this. Our failure to do this consistently for centuries now has lead to all manner of social evils. The State with its socialistic “compassion” has stepped in to do what we should have done, and as a result western society is devastated with rates of taxation, unheard of only a few generations ago.  Making a lot of money now, is a two-edged sword.

Benjamin Franklin famously commented that the two certainties of life are death and taxes. For most of human history, this has been correct.

But Franklin wasn’t a Christian. He ignored the fact that for hundreds of years in Israel, before the period of the kings, there were no state taxes. Consistent gospel preaching, with its social application for generations should lead to the reduction and possibly the elimination of taxes as we know them.

We have become slaves through our own sin, but we can remedy this by our repentance and obedience. The Bible says that “by lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for…” (Prov.16:6). The Church can regain its powerful place in the community, firstly by caring for those God commanded us to care for. This will lead to it gaining authority in the community again.

The Chinese say, “every journey starts with a few small steps.” It’s time the Church started taking those small steps of recovery on what will be an exciting journey of Christian reconstruction and service.

[1] North, G., “Unconditional Surrender,” 1994, p.361-2, 364.

[2] Rushdoony, R., “In His Service,” 2009, p.38.

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