The prophets of the Old Testament were authorized agents of God. They were His prosecuting attorneys. They brought a covenant lawsuit against the nation. They reminded the people, the nobles, and the king of the covenant that God had made with their forefathers at Sinai. Then they reminded the listeners of the stipulations (laws) of that original covenant. They pointed to the obvious violations of these stipulations in their day. Then they warned everyone of the fact that God, the true king of Israel, would bring His negative sanctions against the nation: war, pestilence and famine. All of these negative sanctions had been spelled out in the original covenant document (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). Finally, the prophets called the nation to repentance, promising the blessings of God - positive sanctions (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) - if the nation did repent. Understand, these sanctions - positive and negative, blessings and cursings - were applied corporately to the whole nation. They were not simply sanctions against personal sins. When the two parts of the nation were sent into captivity, righteous people as well as evil people were taken out of the land.
This office of prophet culminated in the person of Jesus Christ. His cousin John had brought a preliminary covenant lawsuit - against Israel. He then baptized Jesus. From that point on, Jesus brought the main covenant lawsuit against Israel. (John was executed when he brought God's personal covenant lawsuit against Herod and his wife.) When Israel refused to repent, God raised up His church. Not only was the church required to bring covenant lawsuit against Israel, it was required to bring the same law-
suit against the whole world. This was why Paul was raised up to go to the Gentiles (Acts 13), and why Peter was sent to the Roman centurion (Acts 10).
What this means is that the covenant that God made with Israel has now been extended by God to the whole world. God today calls all men to repentance. All people are now clearly under the ethical terms of the covenant (God's Bible-revealed laws). Thus, it is the task of Christians to warn people of the nature of this covenant - a sovereign God, a hierarchical system of governments, biblical laws, God's sanctions in history and eternity, and God's system of inheritance and disinheritance.' In short, Christians are to preach the gospel.
But we are not just to preach it verbally. We are to preach it by our deeds. God requires word-and-deed evangelism. One of these visible deeds is our resistance to publicly sanctioned evil. This is as true today as it was during the Old Testament.
The Bible reveals numerous cases of lawful, righteous protests against civil authority. They are not all of the same intensity. I present here a series of steps that seem to me to be progressive, depending on time and place. It may be that under different circumstances, several of them might be interchangeable. But this guide at least serves as an introduction to the question of the stages of lawful resistance.
First, there is the case of an individual who knows that a law is wrong, and who protests verbally. He obeys it, but he warns the civil magistrate that it is an immoral law and recommends that it be repealed. Joab did this when David insisted that the people be numbered in a military census, even though there was no battle scheduled (II Samuel 24:3-4). For this sin, God sent a plague on Israel that killed 70,000 people (II Samuel 24:25). (This story
1. Ray R. Sutton, That You May Prosper: Dominion by Covenant (Tyler, Texas; Institute for Christian Economics, 1987).
affirms the biblical doctrine of representative hierarchical government. The king sinned, and the people suffered the terrible consequences: physical sanctions. But Joab, who had protested, was spared.)
Second, the protester protests verbally and refuses to obey the order. The protester then voluntarily suffers the punishment. This is what the three young men did when Nebuchadnezzar told them to worship the image or suffer death in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3).
Third, the protester rebels against civil authority, warning the civil ruler of the evil that he is doing, but then leaves the geographical jurisdiction of the civil government. This is what Elijah did when he warned the king about God's coming judgment of drought, and then hid in the city of Zarephath in the nation of Sidon (I Kings 17).
Fourth, the protester refuses to comply with the law. He recognizes that there is no institutional way to protest, and because of his unique position in being able to deflect the evil consequences of the law, he or she adopts the strategy of deception rather than personal emigration. The best examples in the Bible of this approach are the deception of Pharaoh by the Hebrew midwives (Exodus 1) and the deception of Jericho's authorities by Rahab (Joshua 2).
Fifth, the people as a corporate assembly intervene and tell the ruler (executive) that he will not be allowed to bring sanctions in order to enforce a bad law. The people of Israel did this when they refused to allow Saul to execute Jonathan for having eaten some honey during a battle, which Saul had previously prohibited (I Samuel 14:43-46).
Sixth, a God-anointed protester warns the representatives of the people and challenges them to rebel against lawfully constituted authority. This is what Elijah did when he directed the assembled representatives of Israel to kill the 850 priests of Baal and Asherah after God had publicly intervened in history to prove that these priests were false priests (I Kings 18:40).
Seventh, the God-ordained lower official joins with other officials and revolts against unlawful central government after a series
of official protests. This is what Jeroboam did when Rehoboam, Solomon's son, imposed harsh new taxes (or possibly a system of forced labor). Jeroboam created a new nation, the northern king dom of Israel. "So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day" (I Kings 12:19).
We should also consider the question of lawful resistance against a military invader. Ehud the judge slew King Eglon of Moab through the use of deception (Judges 3:15-26). He then called the nation to a military revolt (Judges 3:27-30). Similarly, Jael deceived the fleeing Canaanitic general Sisera, even though her husband (a higher covenantal authority) had made some sort of peace treaty with Sisera (Judges 4:17). She rammed a peg through his temple until it nailed him to the ground (Judges 4:21) - a graphic symbolic fulfillment of God's promise to crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). For this act of successful military ag gression and household covenantal rebellion, Deborah praised Jael in her song of victory (Judges 5:24-27).
There is no indication in the Bible that any of these acts was morally or judicially improper, and in most cases, God granted visible positive sanctions as rewards for such action. Anyone who says that resistance and even revolution (rebellion) are not morally and judicially justified in the Bible has to ignore or deny a great deal of Scripture, and also renounce the legitimacy of the English Revolution of 1688 and American Revolution of 1776, as well as renounce the various anti-Nazi national underground resistance efforts during World War II.
Reader, are you ready to do this?
Back in 1971, R. J. Rushdoony wrote a little pamphlet called Abortion is Murder two years before the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. Few Christians noticed the pamphlet. Two years later, in 1973, Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law was. published. This book identified the historical background of modern abortion. Abortion is a revival of a moral issue that brought Christians into conflict with ancient pagan Rome. There was no reconciliation possible between Rome and the Church, between the pagan Caesar and Christ. It was only settled when Christians took over the Roman Empire.
In Biblical law, all life is under God and His law. Under Roman law, the parent was the source and lord of life. The father could abort the child, or kill it after birth. The power to abort, and the power to kill, go hand in hand, whether in parental or in state hands. When one is claimed, the other is soon claimed also. To restore abortion as a legal right is to restore judicial or parental murder (p. 186).
Christians must now make up their minds: Are they going to assent to legalized murder or oppose it publicly? Are they going to break the civil law as a means of challenging it as a test case, or are they going to allow humanists to continue to authorize the murder of babies? The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned its own prior rulings at least 150 times. Are Christians ready to give the Court an opportunity to do it again?
Trespassing for Dear Life: What is Operation Rescue Up To? by Gary North. Dominion Press, Fort Worth, Texas, 1989. Chapter 2, Pages 7-11.
Text of this document provided by Biblical America Resistance Front solely for the purposes of research, education, and comment.