Leviticus 19:4 – Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God.
The children’s cartoon series “VeggieTales” is often criticized by folks for the liberties that they take with scripture when they make stories based on real people and events in the Bible. On one hand, I must admit that I myself am disturbed about some of the decisions that they make and the motivation behind it. On the other, many of these same Christians have a lot less to say when
HOLLYWOOD does the same! However, there was one instance where their decision to “adapt” rather than “depict” Biblical events had a permanent profound effect on me: the “Rack, Shack, and Benny” episode, a treatment of the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace as told in Daniel 3. In it, they chose to portray
Babylon as a sweatshop factory using child labor, and Nebuchadnezzar as the factory’s owner who became obsessed with his business. Now had they adhered to scripture, I would have seen Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refusing to worship the Babylonian gods or the statue of Nebuchadnezzar and pretty much ignored it, as most of us Christians tend to do whenever we deal with something regarding the Bible that we perceive ourselves to know everything about and keep. But instead, Rack, Shack, and Benny refused to worship a CORPORATE SYMBOL! Now living in a “democracy” (which is actually supposed to be a republic but is no longer; a topic for another time), I could not personally relate the notion of a crisis over whether to bow down to the statue of a king to my own experience: I had always read the story thinking OF COURSE no Christian should do such a thing, as I have never grown up in a monarchial society where everyone is raised from a small child with the same love and reverence for the king as many Christians have for, well, the pope or Santa Claus. It never occurred to me that a Christian growing up in such a society would compartmentalize by elevating God as God in a religious context, elevating a king as king in a political/cultural/nationalistic context, and see not the least bit of conflict. To the contrary, they elevate them both TOGETHER, with the affection and esteem of one enhanced by the other, to the point where they are jointly mentioned: “For God and king!” or “God save the king!” and similar. This is even more so the case in nations where the king is considered to be also a religious leader (to this day, the monarch of
England is called “the prime defender of the faith”) and in some instances to be a deity himself!
Now while I know all of those things INTELLECTUALLY, I never FELT any of it, I never PERSONALLY RELATED any of it to myself. Why? Not so much because I was not raised to revere a monarch (indeed, quite the opposite!), but rather because NO PASTOR OR PREACHER HAD EVER DONE THEIR JOBS AND CHALLENGED ME TO! That is, not until VeggieTales‘ Rack, Shack, and Benny did. Growing up in this culture, I am personally very familiar with our worship of not only corporate symbols, but with the economic, political, and social institutions that they represent. This struck a chord with me both because A) there are corporations that I truly revile (Nike, Kenneth Cole) and B) at the time there were corporations that I REALLY LOVED (Coca – Cola, Hewlett – Packard, Wal – Mart). It was easy to see what I hated about corporate
America represented in that corporate symbol and go “bow down to that? NEVER!” But I also had to come to grips with the fact that when it came to not only the companies that I personally loved but to the “American way” (politics, economics, culture) that those companies (in my mind) supported and represented which I loved even more, then I realized that I had been continuously bowing to “the big bunny” (in Rack, Shack, and Benny the corporate symbol was a 70 foot tall statue of a rabbit, the logo of a company that manufactured rabbit – shaped chocolate candy), and that it was no different than a Babylonian bowing to the Nebuchadnezzar statue.
And the timing was perfect. Not only had I recently read Daniel, but it was political season (and I was a “Christian conservative”) and a prominent news item was an atheist’s lawsuit to prevent his child from having to say “The Pledge of Allegiance” in public school because it contains “under God.” How truly sad it is when the bold enemies of God are closer to the truth than professed committed Christians! The “religious right” was more concerned about using the government to force everyone to respect their traditions, legalism, and notions of righteousness (which even if doctrinally sound – and it isn’t – and universally kept – and it isn’t, not even among the very Christians that wanted to use the government to force it on people – wouldn’t save a single person from the lake of fire) than going out into the jails, AIDS hospices, and public housing projects to show love and charity and allow God to use them to bring people to Christ. And not only should people who do not believe in or respect our God not be forced to pretend that they do by either government force or cultural pressures (it does not please God, make this nation more righteous, or bring unbelievers any closer to salvation), but there is the much bigger question of why any Christian would pledge his allegiance to anything or anyone but Jesus Christ! Our governments are not only made and run by men, but men who have either given themselves over to or unable to resist the many evil spirits that are drawn to and lurk wherever there is human power. They are evil, they are of the world, and all the references to some state being “a Christian nation” won’t change that. People who believe otherwise are simply deluding themselves regarding the fact that the world is utterly corrupt and the Christian must totally separate himself from it in order to please a God who cannot look upon corruption. Now I do concede the point that such a thing as “a nation of Christians” – a country where the vast majority of the population has legitimately accepted salvation through and are attempting to daily live for and serve God through Jesus Christ – may have existed, and
America might have once been an example. But there has never been “a Christian nation” or “a Christian culture”, because for it to have REALLY been “a nation or culture of Christians”, then those very Christians should have hated and rejected their nations as part of the world.
Some of this is due to people being raised to believe a lie from small children by their parents, by their schools, by the media, and by their very churches. And with regards to the church, some of this is due to misapplying the Old Testament to our contemporary times. Yes, the Israelites loved their nation, their land, their laws, their courts, their industry, etc. But remember:
Israel was NOT the world!
Israel was a nation created by God, and all of the good and virtuous things in that nation were LEGITIMATELY good and virtuous because they were given to them by God, including their government! God did not create
Israel for the rest of the world to model itself after, especially under the new covenant. Rather, God created
Israel to SEPARATE IT FROM THE WORLD so that He could have a holy nation and people to use to bring His Son Jesus Christ into the world so that He could redeem it with His Blood. Now I do not know the nation of origin of whoever might be reading this, but I feel confident in saying that your nation is not one that is holy, but rather is such as one of the world that God created
Israel for the purposes of separating it from! God did not create democracy. God did create republicanism. God did not create capitalism, socialism, communism, monarchy, or theocracy. God did not create “western Judeo – Christian” culture or any other culture save that in biblical
Israel during the rare times that they actually obeyed God. None of those things honor God, and to none of those things does God give respect. And the fact that so many people stand up in their churches and say otherwise is shocking. The fact that virtually everyone simply accepts what they are taught rather than reject it in order to follow God as did Abraham, Moses, the apostles, and so many other righteous men in the Bible is even more shocking. It is as if you actually CAN fool ALL of the people ALL the time, especially when the people WANT to be fooled!
There, I said it. It is OH SO EASY to buy into the notion that Christians should honor and revere the state, introduce religion into state matters, and the state into religious matters when A) the nation is majority Christian, B) the nation is mostly free and prosperous economically for most people, and C) the government allows – and helps – its Christian majority use its freedoms and prosperity to SIN. That’s right, Christians love America because
America facilitates the SIN of Christians AND doesn’t even make them feel bad about it afterwards. As a matter of fact, it is getting rare for even “theologically conservative” churches to do things that even so much as inconvenience the sinful lifestyles of Christians. Now obviously, were this nation majority Muslim or pagan, or if it were impoverished and significantly restricted freedoms, Christians would be a lot less likely to pledge allegiance to the flag, swear on the Bible, make political speeches in churches, advocate taxpayer support for religious schools (an absolutely absurd idea) and religious instruction in public schools (an even worse idea), and claim that an economic and political system created by pagan Greeks and Romans is some gift to America from God. It is even easier for the wealthy, upper, and middle class Americans to sit around and talk about how “blessed” and “righteous” the American way of life is, because they are not among the poor, who benefit from “the American way of life” only in the sense that you are superficially better off being poor in America than in most other places. And yes, these people who benefit from our system at the expense of others have long had churches willing to indoctrinate them into the notion that they “deserve” their status because “they are talented, hard working, high character Christians” while the poor deserve their fate because they lack your virtue. Very few places are to be found are churches that actually preach the Word of God concerning the poor, such as “Blessed are the poor” and “the poor shall always be with you.”
But on this “Christians support America because
America lets and helps you sin and does not make you feel bad about it” … you may believe this to be a radical statement. It is not. Proof of this was the huge failure that was Prohibition, and remember Prohibition was enacted decades before drunk drivers began their reign of terror on our highways. Were smoking or gambling to be banned, you would see similar results. Now I am not claiming that drinking, smoking, and gambling are sins because the Bible condemns none of them. But the fact that many Christians would love their nations a lot less were they illegal is mighty revealing! And the same is true of things that ARE sins, and not only that but also illegal. First off, let us get something out of the way: if the vast majority of Christians truly felt that gay marriage and abortion were wrong, then the former wouldn’t be an issue and the latter would not be available on demand, and the same goes for pornography. And then there are things like illegal drugs and prostitution: the government could be much more effective in fighting those scourges by taking a much harder line, but they do not because our “Christian majority” would never stand anything but inflicting brutal treatment on minorities and the poor as some attempt to CLAIM that something is actually being done. Seriously, were it not for the fact that minority and poor criminals are hardest on the minority and the poor, I would be “soft on crime” (or to be honest, soft on minority and poor people who may or may not be criminals) as well! Make no mistake, were the police to make the brunt of their law enforcement activity, or the government be too heavy handed with inconveniencing the sinful indulgences of the people who fill our rural churches and suburban megachurches, or if these people were suddenly thrown into the same hardscrabble tenuous existences that our WORKING poor has to make do with, then there is NO WAY that this utterly foolish notion that “the job of every Christian in America should be to loyally support and stand steadfastly behind his or her nation” would be accepted. To the contrary, Christians would be the government’s harshest skeptics and critics!
This is not my being legalistic or trying to be “holier than thou”: after all I did refuse to condemn drinking, smoking, and gambling as sins, and I actually am one of those who believes that rather than “trying to keep oneself (superficially) pure”, Christians ought to be in the nightclubs, strip joints, and gay bars trying to win converts as Paul (who occasionally found himself eating things sacrificed to idols while being a guest in the home of pagans that he was trying to convert) and Jesus Christ (who came eating and drinking only to be rejected by those who also rejected John the Baptist who neither ate nor drank anything more than wild honey, locusts, and water) did, and if God chooses to use me in that fashion one day I would be considerably blessed. Rather, this may wind up being a real snare for Christians during the endtimes. Read the truly terrifying accounts of how Adolph Hitler was able to seduce overwhelmingly Christian Germany into following him into doing unspeakable crimes by making appeals to Christianity and nationalism, and moreover created a new religion where people worshipped the state and Norse mythology in the place of God and His Christ. Now just as the plagues upon
Egypt and the desolation and destruction of the temple were prophetic foreshadows of what will happen during the great tribulation, Adolph Hitler was a prophetic symbolic forerunner of the beast, also called the anti – Christ. Start with the fact that Christians are being taught to love, cling to, and defend the world through the state rather than reject it, and add to it the fact that so many wealthy, upper, and even middle – class Christians are capable of doing or abiding ANYTHING so long as they retain their sense of economic and social order, status, and security. Remember: slavery and segregation ended in America not so terribly long ago, and if anything the percentage of professed Christians in this nation was higher then than now, when the even worse abominations of abortion and homosexuality (please recall that like drinking and gambling, the Bible never calls segregation or slavery a sin, and the fact that Christians have gone along with describing segregation and slavery as sins shows how they have conformed to the world, and yes I am a black man saying this) are ever entrenched and accepted with only a few Christians raising any real opposition (whether that opposition is through politics and media or through EVANGELISM).
Now while Hitler was obviously possessed by and dealing with a legion of demons that he used to help seduce and subdue
Germany, he was no beast (anti – Christ). The beast will have the power, seat, and authority of Satan and will use it to trick, seduce, and compel people to follow him. But the truly sad thing is that in a lot of cases, he won’t need it, even when it comes to professed Christians. Remember: the beast will come to power during a time of great economic, political, and social unrest such as the world has never seen. So for a lot of people – including Christians – all he will have to do is put his hand on the Bible, wrap himself in the flag, and promise to return the precious order, security, prosperity, and freedom to sin without guilt to get oh so many people to follow him. And yes, I did say Christians, because so many Christians have been raised with the doctrine that it is their Christianity that grants them the RIGHT to enjoy those things. Again, how many preachers have you heard assert that
America is powerful and prosperous because we are a Christian nation, and the day we turn away from God will be the day that we fall? Well the day will come when this nation is teetering on the brink and the beast will come along promising to return us to “our rightful place” by restoring “that old time religion”, and every pastor who is going around preaching those sermons are doing nothing but fatten frogs for that snake! Even the notion that “our system is so great because we allow people religious freedom” should be challenged. After all, wasn’t it persecution by the Jews,
Rome, and most everyone else that caused the church to spread like wildfire? Right now, Christianity is spreading like wildfire in Muslim, Buddhist, and communist regimes! On the other hand, when Rome ceased the persecution of the church, made Christianity the state religion, and banned all other religions, their way of “spreading Christianity” became A) with the sword and B) by making shocking concessions to paganism, basically allowing people to practice their old religion so long as they were willing to superficially call it Catholicism (which, incidentally, santeria is nothing but an extreme version of).
America, the more prosperous we become, the further the churches have drifted away from Biblical truth. This is not only the case of the theologically radical, revisionist, liberal, and “moderate” denominations, but even the “fundamentalist” or “theologically conservative” churches who have strong doctrinal statements of belief in their official church literature but desperately avoid saying anything that would condemn, convict, or even challenge anyone from the pulpit or choir stand. The more of the world’s prosperity and freedom to sin that Christians partake of, the more loving of the world they will become. People claim that the reason why the church is drifting away into apostasy is because of the educational system and
Hollywood. The truth is that were public schools and
Hollywood acting the way they do now back in the 1940s, Christians would have their own schools and would be making their own movies! So, the real reason is clearly that the Great Depression, the World Wars, and the communist nuclear threat have ended. As a matter of fact, this current revival that is going on in some quarters can be attributed to the loss of the agricultural – manufacturing sector that used to support small – town America and the middle class, and the complete breakdown of family, social, and community units (which by the way also negatively affects the economy) is creating a large number of broken desperate people who wind up turning to God (and there would be even more of them if the church was actually seeking these people instead of building megachurches that sit half – empty on Sundays).
But make no mistake. The government is of the world. Corporate
America is of the world. Our culture and freedoms are of the world (for Christians are not free, but rather bondservants bought with a price). Do not think that God gave us these things because we were somehow better than Christians who are dying of war and starvation and at the hands of communists, Muslims, and pagans just on the other side of the same planet. A prominent Christian minister that I will not name thought that he could just go over to
Africa and use his prosperity/ word of faith doctrine plus the millions that he had made selling that doctrine and in a few months he would transform a whole nation! He thought that he could save
Africa, which was one of the first places that Judaism and then Christianity spread to (read I Kings 10 and Acts 8:27 – 40) with “the American Christian way.” His efforts were such a massive failure that he has now retired from the ministry (although I am praying that he will get back into the fight and realize that even though HIS GOALS were not achieved through his works God’s Will was nevertheless done, and he did help a lot of people, as a matter of fact a far less ambitious version of his program is continuing without him). The evidence is all around you, starting with your Bible, then your history books, and then the newspapers, and not to mention some ministries out there that are actually representing the truth in Christianity instead of bending it to fit the lusts of a particular nation or culture. Many Christians actually proudly proclaim that they are American, French, British, German, or what have you first. Others allow themselves to be fooled by the conceit that they can love their country (and their wealth and status) second so long as they love God first (thanks to the convenient “mistranslation” of Exodus 20:3 and similar: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” should read “Thou shalt have no other gods BESIDES me.” This almost certainly goes back to the Roman era so people could think that they could love their state and their king and their society so long as they “didn’t put them before God.” As if it is possible to worship both a state and a system that you live in every day and a God that you never see and love the latter more than the former. How will you EVER learn to love the latter by faith alone if you can daily fill your belly using the former? Christians are supposed to consider themselves member of a universal Body of Christ and nothing else, and moreover supposed to act like it.
If you have never heard this before, or if you have heard it (or felt it) and rejected it, consider yourself warned. The time of the beast (anti – Christ) is soon to come. Even if he doesn’t come 5 or even 50 years from now, worldly conditions are going to continue in a way that is most conducive to his taking power over and being followed by the whole world. So even if you are not around when the beast comes, by failing to reject loving the world through patriotism and other forms, you are making it that much easier for your children or for your neighbor to be deceived by him because of your example and your failure to take a stand for righteousness in the natural realm and make a lasting difference in the spiritual realm. Am I saying that you should become a subversive or a traitor? God forbid. Despite what the “liberation theologists” want you to believe, there is not one shred of evidence or single instance of Jesus Christ or one of His followers or even the people who were baptized by Paul or other members of the early church becoming political subversives. Quite the contrary, Jesus Christ brought people like Simon Zelotes (the Zelotes, or zealots, were violent subversives; the terrorists of their day) out of that lifestyle of murder and hate and taught them to overcome by love, sacrifice, and suffering persecution.
Jesus Christ said “Render under Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” Now that was actually a powerful restating of the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego lesson. Why? Because just as there was an statue of Nebuchadnezzar which the Hebrews were not to bow to, the ROMAN currency had THE IMAGE OF CAESAR ON IT! So while the Pharisees were out provoking subversion and rebellion among the people by telling them not to pay taxes to Caesar instead of getting the people ready to recognize and receive the Messiah, Jesus Christ was telling them not to regard the money because IT WAS OF THE WORLD AND NOT GOD’S TO BEGIN WITH! And just as the image of Caesar was on Roman money, we have images of former Presidents and famous buildings on ours. In addition to, of course, occult, pagan, and masonic phrases and symbols (there are plenty of websites on the topic, but watch the movie “National Treasure”, which by the way contains very little in the way of objectionable content as far as mainstream Hollywood releases go; among other things it details how many of our “Founding Fathers” were masons and similar). Now I am not going to assert that the beast (anti – Christ) will be a mason, but rather that he will be the master of masons and everything else in the world, and if you are in the world by virtue of your patriotism, worldly status and comforts, worldly ideas, or anything else, then unless God intervenes and opens your eyes and/or saves you, the beast will be the master of you as well.
Father God in the Name of Jesus Christ, please turn your church away from patriotism, nationalism, culturalism, or anything else that causes them to love the world and to have other gods besides you. Please raise up prophets, preachers, and teachers that will warn Your people concerning this abomination and great danger so that they can return to the true faith of loving You with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength and loving their neighbor as themselves. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
The demons that work in this area are idolatry, worldliness, mammon, selfishness, greed, pride, hypocrisy, and fear. All of these things make people think that it is acceptable to worship nations, systems, ideas, money, and other things of this world rather than worshipping Elohim exclusively. Please read the Basic Spiritual Warfare guide to learn more about how to go against these demons to help set captives free and win battles in the name of your God through the power, authority, and victory given to you by his Son Jesus Christ and by his blood shed for you!