Romans Thirteen

“Christians cannot measure whether we should revolt against the state, as if a certain states could fall short on the status of being states, and therefore need to be revolted against. Nor can we measure by this yardstick whether a nation-state has been ordained by God, because all nation-states have been predestined by God. All the powers that be are subject to the sovereignty of God, and Christians are to be subject to them all.

It is not by accident that the imperative of verse 13:1 is not literally one of “obedience”. The Greek language has good words to denote “obedience”. What the text calls for, however, is subordination. The Christian who refuses to worship Caesar but who is put to death by Caesar, is being subordinate even though he is not obeying.

The motives of this subordination are found not in fear or in calculations of how best to survive, but “in the mercies of God” (12:1) or in “conscience” (13:5). If the reason of our subordination is not God’s having legitimated the wrath of the state (or delegating the wrath to the state), what is our reason? Further attention to the motif of subordination as it is urged upon the slave ( I Peter 2:13) or upon family members (Col 3:18), shows the reason to be that Jesus Christ himself accept subordination and humiliation (Phil 2:5).

The willingness to suffer is then not merely a test of our patience or a dead space of waiting for Jesus to return. Willingness to suffer instead of killing is an imitation of God’s victorious patience with the rebellious powers of his creation.

John H. Yoder, Politics, p 213

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10 Comments on “Romans Thirteen”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    “The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men” was arguably the most important Witherspoon argument the Princeton president ever made. It was a sermon, based on Psalm 76:10 (“Surely the wrath of men shall praise thee; the remainder of Wrath shalt thou restrain.”), and delivered on Friday, May 17, 1776, a day designated by the Continental Congress to be set aside for prayer. That Witherspoon delievered this sermon on behalf of American independence on a Friday, as opposed to Sunday, or the Lord’s Day as Presbyterians called it, was a concession to the differences between the affairs of men (politics) and the ways of the divine (piety). He even admitted in the sermon that his bringing politics into the pulpit was odd. “You are my witnesses,” Witherspoon declared to the Princetonians gathered in the town’s Presbyterian church, “that this is the first time of my introducing any political subject into the pulpit.” Even so, the sermon which must have lasted for over an hour proved to be so useful for the purposes of independence that it was published the next month in Philadelphia where the Continental Congress was then meeting. Its popularlity also accounts for Witherspoon’s election in late June of 1776 to serve in Congress as a representative from New Jersey, a post that placed him in good stead to sign the Declaration of Independence. The timing of the sermon in Witherspoon’s own career and in the conception of a nation about to be born no doubt accounts also for the decision to make it the first text included in the multi-volume edition of Witherspoon’s works. Still, for all of the circumstances that help to explain the legendary status this sermon achieved, the logic of Witherspoon’s devotional discourse was equally powerful in giving voice to a conception of liberty that would prove to be enduring among American Protestants.

    On the surface, the text from Psalm 76 was an odd one for the points the Presbyterian college president would hope to make. In the first part of the sermon Witherspoon wrestled with the idea that human evil, “the wrath of men,” could in fact glorify God. Without addressing the question of theodicy directly — the defense of divine goodness in the light of human wickedness and suffering — he did attempt to do justice to the paradoxical character of divine will, that is, how ultimate good could emerge through proximate evil. Some of his examples were unimaginative, such as the idea that without suffering people tend to grow complacent, or the even more obvious notion that the wrath of men noted in the Psalm “clearly points out the corruption of our nature,” a point seldom missed by ministers of Calvinistic persuasion like Witherspoon. But when he turned to the positive effects of suffering the relevance of the sermon to the cause of American independence became more difficult to discern. For instance, the death of Christ and its larger theological significance as a triumph over sin and death was for Witherspoon indicative of the lesson that “Persecution has been but as the furnace to the gold, to purge it of its dross, to manifest its purity, and increase its lustre.” Not only was the martyrdom of the early church “the seed of Christianity,” but at the time of the Protestant Reformation “nothing contributed more to facilitate its reception and increase its progres than the violence of its persecutors.”

    The trouble with these illustrations and the reasoning behind them was that the paradoxical quality of suffering could work against independence as much as for it. If the wrath of man actually contributed to divine glory, and if the parliament and king were treating the colonists unfairly by taxing them without adequate political representation, could not the difficulties caused by such treatment be interpreted as adding to God’s praise? Or if suffering and persecution had historically increased the resolve of Christians, would not the slights from London endured by believers living in the British colonies bolster their trust in and dependence upon God? To be sure, Witherspoon’s reasons for appealing to this biblical text made some sense; he was, after all, trying to nurture the resolve of patriots about to enter a difficult struggle with one of the more powerful nations on earth. Still, attempting to employ the logic of Christian suffering to justify political rebellion was an argument that could easily backfire.

    Even more strained was Witherspoon’s logic when he turned to the topic of religious liberty. In the second part of the sermon, where he applied the meaning of the text to the political situation in the colonies, Witherspoon attempted to inspire his listeners to patriotic greatness by exhorting them to trust in God and hope “for his assistance in the present important conflict.” [549] The patriots could, he believed, have confidence in divine assistance if their cause was just, their principles pure, and their conduct prudent. Although the character of the patiots’ principles and conduct gave Witherspoon room to conclude the sermon with admonitions to greater selflessness and virtue, he had little doubt about the nature of their cause. “[T]he cause in which America is now in arms,” he declared, “is the cause of justice, of liberty, and of human nature.” Witherspoon explained this assertion by noting that the colonists had not been motivated by “pride, resentment, or sedition.” Instead, the desire for independence from England arose from “a deep and general conviction” that religious and civil liberty, as well as “the temporal and eternal happiness of us and our society” depended on political autonomy. Here Witherspoon was not simply regarding religious liberty as one part of a broader set of civil liberties, as if civil liberty would guarantee freedom of conscience. Instead, he had a more precise relationship between civil and religious liberty. “The knowledge of God and his truths,” Witherspoon further elaborated, “have from the beginning of the world been chiefly, if not entirely, confined to those parts of the earth, where some degree of liberty and political justice were to be seen . . .”

    In effect, Witherspoon was articulating the logic of many American Protestants after him which assumed that true religion, that is, Protestant Christianity, only flourished where civil magistrates protected civil liberties. The flip side of this assumption was the similar belief that Protestantism was the best soil from which civil liberty could grow. Witherspoon made this relationship crystal clear when he asserted that “There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire.” For this reason, if the colonists were to “yield up our temporal property” to parliament through unfair taxes, they would also be delivering their consciences “into bondage.”

    The religious basis for political freedom allowed Witherspoon to end his famous sermon with a call for greater religious and moral zeal. “[H]e is the best friend to American liberty,” the Presbyterian concluded, “who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind.” This did not imply political preference for the theological descendents of John Calvin. Witherspoon’s brief for true religion did not include great concern for the “circumstantials of religion, or the contentions of one sect with another about their peculiar distinctions.” Debates then about the mode of baptism, the frequency of observing the Lord’s Supper or even the extent of Christ’s atonement were not at issue in this notion of “true and undefiled religion.” Roman Catholicism would eventually emerge as a problem for the advocates of religious and civil liberty in part because the papacy would reveal itself fairly hostile to those notions as they developed in Europe after the French Revolution. But most Protestants were welcome — the Church of England being an obvious exception — as long as they were morally upright or, in Witherspoon’s words, felt “more joined in spirit to a true holy person of a different denomination, than to an irregular liver of his own.” In effect, the combination of moral integrity, fear of God, obedience to divine law, and the resistance to the temptations of vice, was the religious recipe for civil liberty. What this list meant for the nonreligious was of course a problem that Witherspoon avoided, especially when signing Thomas Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence.” But a month or so before the distribution of that document, the difficulties raised by the presence of non-orthodox Protestants could be set aside.

    Of course, Witherspoon’s assertions were explicitly political in the sense that his understanding of the relationship between religious and civil liberty had a direct bearing on the issue of political independence from Britain. But his ideas had much broader significance for the way that Anglo-American Protestants would understand the place of faith within the political and cultural institutions of the United States. Witherspoon was just one voice in a much wider development that characterized Congregationalists in New England, Presbyterians in the middle colonies, and that eventually would permeate Baptists and Methodists who were setting up churches as fast as the frontier pushed south and west. In particular, Witherspoon’s ideas on Christianity liberty were foundational for what Mark A. Noll has recently called Christian republicanism. Politically, this constellation of ideas featured two main themes, according to Noll: “fear of abuses from illegitimate power and a nearly messianic belief in the benefits of liberty.” As such the best form of government was one that preserved freedom, which would in turn nuture human flourishing. The obvious corrolary to the ideal of liberty was that any form of political interference with freedom would degrade persons and prevent national prosperity. As Noll writes, the “critical oppositions” in Christian republicanism were “virtue against corruption, liberty against slavery.” Of course, the danger of liberty was libertinism and that is why religion was so crucial to liberty’s success. As much as Witherspoon the Calvinist might have registered reservations about giving sinful human beings unprecedented political freedom, as long as these free citizens were devout the excesses of liberty did not need to be feared. For the logic of Christian republicanism concluded that virtue (“defined as disinterested public service”) promoted freedom and social harmony, while vice (that is, “luxury, self-seeking, idleness, and frivolity”) yielded tyranny and social unrest.

    p47-51, beyond a secular faith, hart

  2. markmcculley Says:

    the Romans did not kill Jesus because Jesus was not political, oh wait the Romans did kill Jesus but still i think at least one person who said hosanna on the road must have been in that room with the priests later saying crucify—–Jack Kilcrease : “of the whole human race, only a very small number was actually present at the crucifixion. To say to a sinner that, hypothetically, he would have killed Jesus may very well be true, but it does not solve the problem of how this sinful attitude is manifest in the sinner’s own life….Such a hypothetical makes one’s sin into an abstraction….

    allowing the disciples to keep two swords among the 11 for self-defense (since they were still in the world).” is
    1. itself a political statement and an alignment with a political cause.
    2. ignoring the context of the “two swords”. Were two swords indeed sufficient for “self-defense”? Is that what Jesus Christ meant when He said “enough”? Was Peter supposed to use a sword to slice off ears only in order to defend Himself and not to defend His friend? Is it a ‘vile thing” not to kill your enemies for the sake of showing your wife that you are both male and sovereign?
    I am not advocating that we go back to the Augustinian conception of “the two swords” as endorsed by the Magisterial Reformers. But it is only one more kind of Constantinianism to say that the example of Jesus is not relevant when it comes to our self-defense in this age and in this world. The Lord Jesus Himself lived in this age and in this world. His example is not the gospel but it is the Law.
    I Peter 2: 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, having died to sin, live to righteousness.
    http://jamesmcgahey.blogspot.com/2013/03/jesus-and-two-swords-justification-for.html

    .

    https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/did-you-kill-jesus/

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Gary North thinks we can’t do private vengeance, but maybe we can do private pre-emptive violence. To avoid the command of Romans 12 (leave the wrath to God), say that Romans 12 is only the after-the-fact wrath of God (administered by Muslims and atheists alike) and not about “before the wrath” violence. North is not working with a theory of punishment which “satisfies justice” but instead with a “humanitarian theory of punishment” which is not according to justice but for the greater good and which is “useful” for himself and those he loves. “I kill to stop killing”. I take up the sword so you won’t take up the sword”. North is armed and threatening immediate violence against anybody who is armed and threatening immediate violence

    mark asks–so was the death of Jesus to “satisfy justice”? Was Christ’s a result of God’s wrath and vengeance and justice? Or was the death of Christ not about satisfying justice but a preemptive (and often successful) use of violence for the greater good?

    And why did Jesus Himself die for the greater good, when he could have killed others for the greater good? And why did Jesus himself “satisfy vengeance and justice” when he “could have” made others satisfy justice?

    http://www.garynorth.com/public/14653.cfm

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Richard Gamble— Today, 50 years after the city on a hill first appeared in modern political rhetoric and nearly 400 years since John Winthrop shepherded his flock to New England’s shores, Americans are left with a secularized metaphor, politicized and nearing the point of exhaustion. The metaphor has been forced to carry an impossible load of nationalist, populist and collectivist aspirations. Americans have inherited two political cities looming so large in the media, the political culture and even the church, that together they have eclipsed the historical Winthrop and the biblical Jesus. The biblical metaphor, appropriated by the Puritans, has been transformed so successfully into a national myth that few can see or hear these words without all of their modern political meaning attached. Even many Christians, how might be expected to guard their property more vigilantly, argue over which national values the politicized city should stand for and miss the fact that they have lost their metaphor. They argue over which party ought to build the city, over whether Kennedy’s or Reagan’s vision best defines the city, rarely stopping to consider whether Jesus ever had America in mind in the Sermon on the Mount. Such is the power of civil religion in twenty-first century America. Even if Americans manage to convince themselves, in spite of the evidence, that John Winthrop envisioned a glorious future for American ideals and institutions, can they really convince themselves that Jesus intended the United States to take up his disciples’ calling as a city on a hill? Distracted by a contest between two early political cities, Americans forget that the original city on a hill was not even American.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Preston Sprinkle: If the state mandates that blacks can’t drink from the same water fountain as whites, it very well has the divine right to do so, according to certain interpretations Romans 13….Wayne Grudem says that the “sword in the hand of good government is God’s designated weapon to defeat evildoers” and goes on to apply this to America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    God executes vengeance through Rome after he prohibits Christians from doing so. Compare these two statements, which are only a few verses apart:
    Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (12:19)
    For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out the God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (13:4)
    There’s an intentional contrast.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theologyintheraw/2015/12/romans-13-doesnt-tell-christians-to-kill-their-enemy/

  6. Mark Mcculley Says:

    p.52 of The Reformers and their Stepchildren, Verduin

    In the sacral pattern heresy is automatically sedition. The Codes of
    Justinian decreed that “Heresy shall be construed to be an offence
    against the civil order” (XVI, 5:40). It has been said that Calvin
    sought, late in the trial, to have sentence commuted to the effect
    that some mode of execution other than by fire would be Servetus’ lot.
    The reason for this suggestion was that Calvin wanted Servetus
    eliminated as an offender against the civil order. Death by fire was
    for offenders in the area of religion. Hence Calvin’s concern in the
    matter. It was the same sensitivity that made Margaret of Parma, in
    1567, specify death by hanging for Guido de Brès. It would look better to have de Brès destroyed as a seditionist than as a heretic; hence death by the noose rather than by the flame. So also in the case of Servetus.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=LUM-FCtmCZAC&pg=PA52&lpg=PA52&dq

    • markmcculley Says:

      -Yoder– cannot measure whether we should revolt against the state, as if a certain states could fall
      short on the status of being states, and therefore need to be revolted against. All nation-states have been predestined by God. We are to be
      subject to them all…. Satan took Jesus up and showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world —-handed over according to God’s determined plan
      and foreknowledge, lawless people nailed Him to a cross and killed Him. Many defendPilate’s jusrisdiction to kill Jesus instead of
      obeying Jesus by not killing. It is not at all “obvious” that Romans teaches that human creatures now in this age are to be loyal to two
      kingdoms at the same time. The powers are doing the very thing that
      Romans 12 forbid us to do. Romans 12 does NOT say, don’t use evil to defend yourself but wait until you can join up with the powers to
      administer God’s wrath. God uses the wratth of Assyria against Israel, but that does NOT make Assyria “obviously a legitimate agent of wrath”
      Nor does it mean that human creatures can or should have two masters and two kingdoms.. God’s sovereignty uses Satan. as God’s servant. This does not mean that Romans 13 gives us a standard by which we discern if we need a new Satan to replace the old Satan. Sinners sin against other sinners, but they are neither commanded nor given standards to adminster wrath (you won’t use Jesus or Moses but you
      seem to think that both covenants are the same as the natural standard given Adam) , but nevertheless the evil actions are used by God for God’s purpose.

      Reformed —be pacifist in the societal sense, yet also infallibly teach that the magistrate can legitimately be God’s servant as avenger?

      Mark– your interpretation that Paul or Jesus is teaching that the magistrate is “legitimately God’s avenger” is quite fallible. Your
      inability to find the standards for legitimacy vs illegitimacy helps show that you fail to make a distinction between what God ordains in
      history vs what God commands and forbids.

      Reformed My response would be that the moral law during the Mosaic economy *is* a different form of the same law that Christ gave; the
      civil and ceremonial are part of the shadows and types, thus fulfilled and obviated with the coming of Christ.

      mark: Yes, that question-begging moraal/ ceremonial distinction was
      used the Romanists (before and after Trent, and now in the new
      perspective) to say that some kinds of works (not other kinds) are
      necessary so that faithis inevitably never alone for “final
      justification”.

      David VanDrunen—A common reading of Matthew 7:17-20 in my own Reformed
      tradition is that Jesus is about to clarify the Mosaic law in response to Pharisaical corruption of Moses. This fails to reckon with the
      radical, eschatological newness of the coming of Jesus and his kingdom
      …All six of Jesus’ “You have heard” statements either quote or
      paraphrase the actual teaching of the Mosaic law, not contemporary Jewish interpretation of it….Whereas the Mosaic law prescribed
      procedures for divorce, oath-taking, just retaliation, and destruction of enemies, Jesus proscribes these very actions.

      David VanDrunen– We must consider how Jesus’ commands in 5:38–42 are
      different from the lex talionis as imposed in the Mosaic law. The “eye for an eye” formula appears three times in the Mosaic law and is
      evidently a cornerstone of its jurisprudence. It was likely not
      intended to be applied in an overtly literal way, but represented a
      key legal principle: justice was to be strict, proportionate, and retributive.14 As such it encapsulated the Mosaic theme that Israel
      would be justly rewarded in the land if they faithfully obeyed God’s law and would be justly (severely) punished if they disobeyed ….Jesus is legislating a different principle ….The lex talionis prescribes a second action that is proportionate to the first action: the person who causes the injury is to receive the same injury in return. Jesus’ words in 5:38–42 preserve the twofold action and the proportionality
      of the lex talionis. The difference is that he exhorts his disciples to bear the second, retaliatory action themselves.17 A proportionate penalty is still borne, but the wronged party rather than the wrongdoer endures it. This reflects the larger Matthean theme that Jesus’ disciples must imitate Jesus in his suffering at the hands of sinners.

      http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/article/bearing-sword-in-the-state-turning-cheek-in-the-church-a-reformed-two-kingd

      Mark: …as also my argument that a Magisterial Reformation is only another theology of glory, because it adds the violence of nationalism
      along side the efficacy of Christ’s death.
      Reformed–This fundamentally misunderstands because it tries to combine the assumptions of two systems.

      mark—it never seems to ever occur to you that I have read and understand what you have read and understand, but nevertheless
      disagree. I guess this goes with worldview that talks about being “Exiles” and yet still loudly affirms not only the legitimacy of the
      world’s violence but also agrees to participate in it for the sake of “society”. There is more than one definition for two kingdom paradigms
      . In one theory, church and state are distinct. For example, Calvin
      gets called to pastor by the City Magistrates, and the City tells the
      church (Calvin) how often it can swallow the leader. But “doctrine
      develops” and what was once “moral law” becomes merely ceremonial and accidental, so then there is another two kingdom theory in which the
      state no longer calls itself Christian, but nevertheless “true Christian churches” confess the legitimacy of the new form of Constantine. What the Reformed have called two kingdom is not what the
      Lutheran have called two kingdom (otherwise you wouldn’t be getting so much kickback from Reformed institutions) , and neither of those
      theories is the same as one in which there are two kingdoms in this age but only one is Christ’s and the other kingdom endorses violence
      as something either indifferent to Christ or legitimated by Christ.

      Reformed — hence, you attribute the Reformed teachings about the magistrate to “glory” because you assume that the violence of the
      magistrate belongs to the kingdom of Christ.

      Mark–since i don’t like it when you say “you do not understand”, I
      won’t say that about you here. But neither do I want to say that you
      are deliberately misrepresenting. It is the glory of Christ that
      Christ is now already sovereign over both good and evil. Not only does
      God in Christ predestine all things, but Christ the creator is risen
      mediatorial Lord of all creatures. I am not denying that God hides
      Himself, or that God ordains what God has not commanded (Lutherans
      talk about left hand vs right hand) . Do you want to agree with me
      that the violence of the world is not commanded by Christ or governed
      by Christ’s standards Jeff? if we can agree on that, then the next
      step (for you) is to agree with me that the violence of the world is
      predestined but not approved by Christ.

      If we agree Christ is already king now, but also agree that the
      present passing away age is not the same as the age to come, how does that in any way make it ok for you to be loyal to two different kingdoms in this present age? Since it is not yet glory, it doesn’t
      matter what we do? Even if that were so, why would you so object to us now being pacifist?

      Hebrews 2: For in subjecting everything to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him. 9 But we do see Jesus crowned with glory and honor
      because of His death

      I Corinthians 15: 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. 24
      Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He mus tREIGN UNTIL

    • markmcculley Says:

      http://reformedlibertarian.com/articles/theology/nebuchadnezzar-and-romans-13-person-or-office/

      Did God use Nebechadnezzar “to bring peace and order to society”? Was his rule “part of common grace”? No and no.

      There was nothing common about God’s punishment of Israel by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. His oppression of Judah was a special holy war
      curse, not common grace. It was a fulfillment of the Mosaic curse found in Deuteronomy 28 for Israel’s disobedience to Mosaic law (Jer.
      11:1-17), as was Assyria’s destruction of the 10 tribes

      Habakkuk 1:5 “Look among the nations and watch—
      Be utterly astounded!
      For I will work a work in your days
      Which you would not believe, though it were told you.
      6 For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans,
      A bitter and hasty nation
      Which marches through the breadth of the earth,
      To possess dwelling places that are not theirs…
      9 They all come for violence

      2 Chr. 26:17 Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of
      their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. 18 And all the
      articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon.

      That doesn’t sound like common grace to me. Nebuchadnezzar’s rule did not bring peace and order in Judah. It was never intended to. His rule (oppression) was wicked, violent, and unjust. It brought death and destruction, not peace and order. His sword was equivalent to famine and pestilence (Jer. 38:2, 17-18). Habakkuk and Asaph the Psalmist (representing the faithful remnant) cry out to the Lord for justice
      against Nebuchadnezzar for what he did to Judah in Jerusalem.

      Habakkuk 1:13 Why do You look on those who deal treacherously,
      And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours
      A person more righteous than he?
      14 Why do You make men like fish of the sea,
      Like creeping things that have no ruler over them?…
      17 Shall they therefore empty their net,
      And continue to slay nations without pity?

      • markmcculley Says:

        The Babylonians knew they were acting as judgment against Jerusalem (because they heard the prophets) and thus sought to excuse themselves.

        Jeremiah.50:7 All who found them have devoured them;
        And their adversaries said, ‘We have not offended,
        Because they have sinned against the Lord, the habitation of justice,
        The Lord, the hope of their fathers.’

        But this was no justification for their actions.

        Jer 50:10 And Chaldea shall become plunder;
        All who plunder her shall be satisfied,” says the Lord.
        11 “Because you were glad, because you rejoiced,
        You destroyers of My heritage..
        14 “Put yourselves in array against Babylon all around,
        All you who bend the bow;
        Shoot at her, spare no arrows,
        For she has sinned against the Lord.
        15 Shout against her all around;
        She has given her hand,
        Her foundations have fallen,
        Her walls are thrown down;
        For it is the vengeance of the Lord.
        Take vengeance on her.
        As she has done, so do to her…
        18 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:
        “Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land,
        As I have punished the king of Assyria…
        28 The voice of those who flee and escape from the land of Babylon
        Declares in Zion the vengeance of the Lord our God,
        The vengeance of His temple.
        29 “Call together the archers against Babylon.
        All you who bend the bow, encamp against it all around;
        Let none of them escape.
        Repay her according to her work;
        According to all she has done, do to her;
        For she has been proud against the Lord,
        Against the Holy One of Israel…
        33 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
        “The children of Israel were oppressed,
        Along with the children of Judah;
        All who took them captive have held them fast;
        They have refused to let them go.

        God commanded Judah to submit to the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar.

        Jeremiah 21:8 “Now you shall say to this people, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 He
        who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and [c]defects to the Chaldeans who
        besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be as a prize to him. 10 For I have set My face against this city for adversity and not for
        good,” says the Lord. “It shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.” ’

        Why did God command them to submit? Was it simply a matter of natural law that they had to submit to a conquering tyrant?
        Rutherford— “Conquest, seeing it is an act of violence, and God’s revenging justice
        for the sins of a people, cannot give in God’s court such a just title to the throne as the people are to submit their consciences unto,
        except God reveal his regulating will by some immediate voice from heaven, as he commanded Judah to submit to Nebuchadnezzar as to their
        king by the mouth of Jeremiah. Now this is not a rule to us; for then, if the Spanish king should invade this land… it should be unlawful to resist him, after he had once conquered the land : neither God’s word,
        nor the law of nature could permit this. (Lex Rex, 41)

        (Consider Abram’s behavior in Genesis 14).

        He commanded them to submit, by a positive law, in order to weed out the faithful remnant in Judah and spare them. Those who trusted in the LORD and believed his word concerning their judgment would be spared (it wound up being 7,000). Those who did not listen to his warning but listened to the false prophets proclaiming peace in the city would be destroyed.


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