Why did God go ahead with creating a rebellious people?

Monday Musings for January 09, 2017

Good morning, Musers,

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union… have first had to dissolve a previous union by violent means. True, this made us free… but it also makes us children of rebellion twice over. First, we’ve rebelled against God as human beings, and second, we rebelled against the British government. But have you noticed… and even among professing Christians… that we are proud to be known as rebels on some level?

Now, don’t misunderstand me: I am proud to be an American — after all, I am invested in her achievements — and I am proud that she carries the standard for freedom throughout the world. But before we Christians beat our chests about God-and-country, let us remember that we thumbed our noses at the same a few centuries ago, when God-and-country meant God-and-England.

I bring this up not to argue against social progress; the time had certainly come for individuals to have a greater voice in their own governments. But I am saying that in the beginning, it was not so. The purest form of human government — the one that pointed to God most directly — was an absolute monarchy with no rule of law.

In today’s assemblage of sovereign nations, there is little room for absolute rulers. But let me ask you something: when Jesus returns, will he not rule absolutely? (Revelation 2:27) Or do you think that his kingdom will have a congress, courts, blue-ribbon commissions — or even a politburo? Now, there are many biblical passages speaking to a human role in government after Christ returns (1 Corinthians 6:2-3; Revelation 20:6), so unless we take such passages as strictly metaphorical, some kind of “pluralistic” government might be in play… although I’m not weighing in on that here. But I am saying that our present form of human government is expedient — not pure… and that God wants pure.

Representative governments are rather like divorce in that they are both purity-killing expedients; they are concessions, designed to make life more livable in a society that is devolving through sin (Matthew 19:8-9). But whether or not you agree with this assessment, these governments are symbolically impoverished… especially when compared to the rule of Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon’s absolute ruler. Nebuchadnezzar did what he wanted to whom he wanted and when he wanted, yet God declared his to be the best type of kingdom. (Daniel 2:31 ff.)… although the time for such human rule has passed.

Now, the US was not alone; many nations had similarly “progressed” beyond the potential for pure leadership… to divorce, if you will… so I must ask, at what point is rebellion right? Is it ever right? If so, what kind of “right” is it that distances itself from God? Before you answer (and especially if you are a believer), there is something you should know: Jesus never rebelled.

Jesus paid his taxes (Matthew 17:27) — and he even went obediently to the cross! (Phil. 2:8) Paul, too, taught obedience to the persons whom God had ordained as leaders (Romans 13:4)… even those who were leading a corrupt system like the chief priest (Acts 23:5). Peter and company broke out of this a little by declaring that he would disobey men if it contradicted God (Acts 5:29)… but that standard would support a homegrown terrorist. Muslims do not have the right God, the right theocracy or the right vision for the world, but the principle is the same: do an evil deed (rebel against the government) to advance the “greater good” of Islam. How’s that? Because only the timing and the details differ from when we did that nationally.

As you can see, sin complicates everything… and we make concessions to it daily… which is our reasonable lot. So, although I cheer America’s independence, I also understand that rebellion is plain-old wrong… and what a miserable man I am because of it!

C. S. Lewis observed that “It cost God nothing, as far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.” … and that’s today’s real topic. Rebellion is never good — it’s sin. But God knew we would rebel… and he created us anyway! Why was that? I have some ideas, of course, so come and see — and enjoy the musing.

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