I am sure by turning to Egypt the people of Judah were hoping to save their way of life, but in doing so, it cost them everything.
Rev. Jonathan David Faulkner
Let’s start with some candor, Politics, in the United States of America, has become an idol, but not just politics, political parties and their platforms have been idolized as well. It has come to the point where it does not matter if the person or party delivers on their promises, we will vote for them regardless because we want so badly the carrots they are dangling in front of us. Do not believe me? Consider the phrases you are likely hearing from people on both sides of the isle about the upcoming elections (yes, I have heard these from people on both the left and the right). “This is the most important election of our lifetime,” “They are trying to destroy democracy” (again, heard on both left and right) “You are not a Christian if you do not vote for…insert whichever party you are a member of here.” And so on and so forth ad-nausea. Both sides are screaming at their people to “WAKE UP” about the evils of the other, again, it is exhausting. Of course, these are signs that these things have become idols of the people, there is hardly even an effort to look to God on these issues, God has been replaced by gods who we think hear us but do not. For the Christian, it seems too that “religious Liberty” has become more important to us than doing what Jesus told us to do. Another Idol.
Here is the thing, some of these things are good things, religious liberty, working towards ending abortion even lowering the cost of healthcare so people can get it who cannot typically afford it. But when these things become idols, when we fight for them at the expense of human beings, which requires us to ignore Jesus the Son of God, we are asking for trouble as the people of God. Christianity itself may even make the category of Idol as we seek to “preserve” Christian freedom, again, at the expense of the people we are to be serving and loving. Christian Nationalism, as it was with the Nazi’s and is so today, is idolatrous because it quates the nation in which one lives with the kingdom of heaven when the Bible is explicitly clear about the Kingdom of God transcending every single kingdom of the earth. This Idolatry is something to be repented of when you consider that if we do not, it will lead to our destruction.
Judah can be an example to us, in the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah, both in the time of Hezekiah and in the days leading up to the Exile their were attempts by the people to save themselves from the destruction prophesied to them by reaching out, not to God, who had promised to stay his hand of punishment if they repented, but the governments of man. Just like Christians today have turned to governments and men to secure for themselves what they think will save them from the rising tide of secularism, the Judeans thought Egypt would save them from the destruction wrought by the Babylonians. As if their neighbors to the North were not an example to them for what happens when you rebel against a powerful empire. King Hoseha’s revolt against the Assyrian Empire brought about the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Zedekiah apparently was not aware of Hoshea’s treachery and its outcome, or he thought something different might happen by pursuing the same means. Sennacharib was right, Egypt would ultimately fail to save the Judeans, only God could do that, and He had. He had also sent prophets and priests to warn them of what would happen if they continued to rebel against God. This sort of rebellion was nothing new, it started at the base of Mount Sinai with the Golden Calf who Aaron claimed was the god led the people out of Egypt and it continued to the time of the Exile and even after it. For Specific references to the end of Israel and Judah see the end of 1st and 2nd Kings, Jeremiah 52, Isaiah 36-39 and so on. These things should stand as warnings to us in how we live as the people of God in the kingdoms of man.
Now, I am sure someone will raise the objection: “But the New Covenant?” Yes, the New Covenant is a Covenant of Grace, but that does not mean that God allows us to do what we want, when we want, or tolerates idolatry. It also does not mean we are immune to judgment because we claim Christ’s name while acting contrary to how he told us to live. Jesus said to his Disciples that if they do not repent of their sins they would perish (Luke 13:1-9). At the same time though, he acknowledges that God is patient and Christ has stepped in on our behalf to offer us more time to repent and bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Those trees that do not bear fruit, be they people or church, get torn down and used for firewood and a new tree will be planted in their place. The Northern Kingdom of Israel should have been wiped out 200 years before it was, yet God waited, sent prophet after prophet to get them to repent. Jesus then comes as the son, the final sign that we should repent, if w do not repent because of Christ, we will never repent at all. God then comes as a judge, it is God that separates the sheep from the goats, the true believers from the pretenders. The Apostle John’s final words to his community were “Little Children, keep yourself from Idols” 1 John 5:21 because he knew that idolatry would lead to their destruction. To be Christian in Name Only is to be sent away into eternal damnation, Matthew 7 and 24 make it abundantly clear that God requires something of us, fruit that we have genuinely repented of our sins, a relationship with Him and love towards others.
The bible is clear that there is never anything good about idolatry, it should never be utilized to save oneself because it will always lead to the same result, destruction. In fact, in Judah’s case it only sped up the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, their refusal to repent meant they were carried away long before Judah which did have two major periods of religious renewal, one under Hezekiah and one under King Josiah. The Christians in Nazi Germany also gave themselves over to Idolatry in an effort to save their way of life, their wholesale sell out to the Nazi Party sped up the secularization of Europe and the Church in Germany is only now starting to recover over 70 years later.
Idolatry is covenant breaking, even of the New Covenant in which Jesus upholds the law (Matthew 5) and makes it a matter of the heart. Love God, the first table of the Covenant means you Love God first and foremost, you do not put anything in His place and in loving Him and experiencing His love for you, in turn, you love other people. IF you put something, anything in front of the Lord God, you are blaspheming Him which carries the penalty of eternal death. Human King Making, as God tells Samuel in 2nd Samuel 1, is a rejection of God’s rule. Governments are here to keep us from our worst inclinations and God uses them to either refine His people or judge us, they should never be confused with His means of spreading His Kingdom, or worse, for his Kingdom.
Philip Schaff wrote that things like “Religious Freedom” are aberrations, they only exist in a liberal democracy because man granted them. They are not the norm in the world, and they can be easily taken away when not stewarded well. God does not mandate religious liberty, man did that, and again, if not stewarded well, it can be taken away. The only “right” the Bible expressly says we are given by God is the “right to become Children of God” John 1:12. That is literally the only thing that the Bible says is your “right” to receive, everything else is given by man, and man can and does take it away.
Now, this does not undermine the reality that human beings are made in the image of God and worthy of respect and dignity. That is also God given, but it is inherent in our make up and not a “right” it is something that should just happen because we are following God our Savior. That is, you do not have the “right’ to chose to treat someone any which way you want. The Image of God is intrinsic and created. I do not get to decide that someone is or is not made in the image of God and I do not get to decide if I do or do not treat them There is a difference between a man made right, and something that is gifted by way of creation.
The point is this, by seeking the favor and power of man, and idol of this world’s, by looking for salvation by another way, looking for it in Egypt, we are turning our backs on the God who saved us from Egypt in the first place. Further, by placing our hope in man for salvation, in man’s political parties and partisan’s we are only speeding up our demise and the rate at which our culture secularizes and speeding our way into exile in which we will face all the persecutions we have claimed have been happening all along. It is not a matter of if, but when and instead of scrambling for power and position, we should be preparing ourselves for the reality before us, because we have made things worse for ourselves as believers, not better. We may have bought time so the current senior saints can die in peace, but the generations behind them, in buying that time, are being fed to the wolves of this world. There is no thought to the situation the older generation is leaving the younger generation in, and that is concerning. God may not visit the sins of the father on the children, but the world does not hesitate to.
There are some positives to this post-Christian culture we have created for ourselves, the younger generation, people like myself and more so my daughter Erin, will, if they become Christians, once again going against the grain of society and find themselves with no choice but to follow God. It will not be a matter of cultural Christianity verses authentic Christian Faith, nominal Christians will be choked by the secularism that they are inundated with. Only the realy, deeply rooted Christians will survive.
So let me put this is the starkest and plainest terms possible, Donald J. Trump cannot save Christianity, Joseph R. Biden cannot save Christianity, Republicans cannot save us, Democrats cannot save us. Democracy cannot save Christianity, Religious Liberty is a man given right no matter how much we claim it was given by God. To put our hope in any of these men or these political parties or to put religious liberty before loving our neighbor is idolatry and contrary to the word of God. The only hope for Christianity is the same hope it was for Israel, turning to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. There is no one or nothing that can save us and if we keep turning to the world, we may find ourselves speeding up our own demise.