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Dear Friends in Christ,
The first amendment to the Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This amendment is really getting a lot of debate these days. Everyone seems to agree with it, but the problem seems with interpretation. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” seems simple. Our government is not to establish a state religion. The Pilgrims fled from England because anyone who didn’t belong to the Church of England was fined or imprisoned. So they fled toAmerica.
“The government must not prohibit the free exercise thereof.” This seems to be a can of worms. During Prohibition Congress outlawed the making or selling of alcohol. It created a problem for churches who served wine at communion. The Jehovah Witnesses forbid blood transfusions. The government has laws where a child of a JW who needs a transfusion is made a ward of the state. ObamaCare says all insurance policies needed to provide birth control. That includes the morning after pill that causes an abortion. How Christians spend tax dollars is part of our faith. We don’t want to pay for abortions. While our government has conceded that church run insurance plans are exempt, most Christians have insurance plans through companies that must comply to the government. In other words, your tax dollars will buy abortions. I hope all Christians are upset by this. $540 million of tax revenue has gone to fund Planned Parenthood in 2013. They are the biggest abortion provider in the United States. Christians need to be awake and aware and always living in love for our God. Our nation depends on us. That’s a point we learn from Abraham’s Road trip today. “The Good the Godly Bring to a Nation.” 1) There is a need for order; 2) The role the godly have in bringing that order. A lust for power has been deeply rooted in man’s heart since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve wanted control of their own lives. Look what happened since then.
Perhaps you don’t recall these names you already heard today, but we go back 2100 years before Christ. Four kings made an alliance headed by Kedorlaomer from Elam, 1000 miles east of Canaanwhere Abraham was living. He wanted to do what Alexander the Great did before Alexander the Great even lived. He wanted to conquer the world. At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.” How about a test at the end of the service to see who remembers all these names?
I wish I could say Kedorlaomer and his three buddy kings were good guys, but they weren’t. The guys they were going to war against, the kings ofSodomandGomorrahwho allied with three others weren’t either. The reason this is important and on the pages of Scripture is because Lot, Abraham’s nephew was living close toSodomandGomorrah.SodomandGomorrahwas the future home of Abraham’s descendants; it was part of the Promised Land whereIsraelwould live. This was the homeland of Jesus.
The four (led by Kedorlaomer) were against the five (led by the kings of Sodomand Gomorrah). It was really no match. Kederlaomer and his buddies won hands down. Sodomand Gomorrahand their buddies paid tribute to the bone. In the thirteenth year, the five had enough of funding other people’s kingdom and they rebelled. Big mistake! Kederlaomer and his friends bowled over everything in the way. Eventually the Kings of Sodomand Gomorrahmet their Armageddon. “Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.” Since Lot was so close to Sodom, he was captured and his fortune was looted.
The world hasn’t changed much, has it? Government is needed to protect its citizens but no matter who the government is, it is run by people, sinful people.
In 1776 Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. The purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to express the convictions of the hearts and minds of the American people. It includes some unforgettable phrases like these: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I have always wondered what Jeffersonintended when he said that we are all created equal. Certainly we are equal in one very unflattering way. We are all sinners. It shows in all people including the ruling class. The evidence from history is overwhelming. Jeffersonalso said, “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone.” That’s why he and the founders of our nation wanted to have a government with an Executive, Judicial and Legislative branch so there would be a system of checks and balances. But it is easy to see that each branch of government has imperfect people. Where there is sin there is disorder.
Here is where the Christian comes into the picture. The godly are not perfect by any means, but as redeemed children of God we do have every reason to bring honor to God who bought us with the blood of his Son. Here is where Christians ought to really shine.
A messenger who escaped the wrath of the four found Abraham. “Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.”
Abraham, this child of God, was called to go to war to save his late brother’s son,Lot. We spoke about this last week when Abraham andLotchose to go different ways. The land could not support them. Lot chose the land next toSodom. We hear that elections have consequences. Lot had elected to live nearSodom, a wicked city. Abraham had reasons to say, “Hey Lot, you made your bed, now lay in it.” He didn’t. Abraham went to war.
God gives government for a reason. “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” The government is here to protect its citizens against the wrongdoer. It is God pleasing we have laws to make it illegal to hurt and harm others. It is God pleasing to have a police force and a standing military. Sin is the hearts of everyone. Sin shows. Sin shows in disrespect for others.
Abraham got involved big time as an agent of God. He made an alliance with two brothers, Eshkol and Aner. He put 318 of his servants into the mix of an army and “went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.”
Some say that Christ was a pacifist and would never have fought in a war. Any form of violence is incompatible with the Christian faith. The Amish, the Mennonites, and many others fall into this category.
So was Abraham wrong? Is it wrong to be a soldier? When soldiers came to John the Baptist to ask what they should do as fruits of repentance, Jesus replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” John didn’t tell them to do anything they could to get out of the army. In Acts 10 we are introduced to a centurion, Cornelius. Peter went there to preach the Gospel. The Spirit worked faith. Nothing there says that he quit the Roman army.
Romans 13 says the government has the responsibility to bear the sword. They didn’t use swords to shave their legs; they used swords to inflict punishment, even death. While soldiers kill, they are acting as agents of the government to protect citizens. To refuse to go and defend the nation is a lack of love. It is a sin against the state and a sin against God.
Godly citizens will not only serve as soldiers but in many other capacities. The Lord says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” I hold our commander in chief responsible for getting rid of any mention of the Lord in our military. That is what is happening. But if our leaders had any intelligence at all and faith in their hearts, don’t we want the God who fought with Abraham fighting with us too?
As citizens we need to let people know he is the Lord of our lives and the Lord of our nation. Don’t be ashamed of Him. He redeemed you with his blood so we could be part of his army. Let people know that he matters in your life by being in his house regularly. Help make his house a beacon of Christ to this part of our nation.
As a godly citizen let our nation know we care about others. Also get involved in the community around us. Let people know that God’s people care. Our evangelism committee is working on things we can do to make that happen – Relay for Life, North Fulton Community Charities. Hospitals and Nursing homes are always looking for people that will volunteer a couple of hours here and there.
Our nation more than ever needs to know that Jesus is “in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.”
While rulers of all sorts don’t know it or don’t want to admit it, God’s people know that Jesus is in control…of all things, including our nation.