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Politicizing Jesus?

A few months back, we were having dinner with friends in a local restaurant when we heard a woman at the next table complain—very loudly—about her pastor. She didn’t want to hear about politics from the pulpit. She said that he should stick to talking about the gospel. After all, that’s why she goes to church.

This woman made another curious comment. She exclaimed that they “shouldn’t politicize Jesus.”

Don’t politicize Jesus? Well, it’s a little late for that. Look at the announcement that the prophet Isaiah made about the coming Messiah:

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)

That’s a lot of polarizing speech for someone who we feel shouldn’t be political.

In fairness, we need to clarify that some of this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. From hindsight, we know that this passage talks about both Jesus’ first and second coming to earth. It’s true. Jesus rejected the idea that he had come to lead the charge to free Judea from the rule of the Roman Empire. He didn’t deny it would happen, but just not at that time. See Acts 1:6-7.

Is it possible that those who say that God does not involve Himself in politics have never read the Bible? Let’s look at 3 points about the connection between God and governments:

1. The idea of self-governance was God’s idea, not man’s.

Democracies and constitutional republics are examples of self-governing models of government. We can see through history, however, that dictators and authoritarian rule are the default setting when it comes to human beings making the rules.

Our founding fathers used the Old Testament as the blueprint for how to construct a government for the people, by the people. Read more about the Separatists here.

The Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20 form the basis for our legal system in the United States and many nations throughout the world. God provided the rules of don’t kill, don’t steal, and don’t lie as the way governments can create order and protect their citizens.

To go a step further, the idea that our rights come from God—not government—comes only from the Bible.

2. Jesus’s life and death were profoundly impacted by the political conditions of His day.

According to scripture, the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, a city in central Israel. But there was a problem. Jesus’s parents had settled in Nazareth, a town 90 miles to the south.

There was no practical reason for Joseph to relocate his expectant wife to a town where he had no family and no job. However, a federal mandate required Joseph to move. The leader of the Roman Empire, Caesar Augustus, wanted to conduct a census so that he could impose more taxes on his citizens.

Since Joseph was a relative of King David, he was required to report to Judea. After a long and strenuous journey, Joseph and his finance settled in the town of Bethlehem. If it were not for the law enacted by a pagan rule, the Messiah would have been born in Nazareth, not Bethlehem See Luke 2:1-8.

The Roman Empire during Jesus’ day covered most of modern-day western Europe, including Spain, France, England, and Germany; parts of Asia including Syria and Saudi Arabia; and a section of northern Africa, which included Egypt. To view a map, click here.

A few years later, His family fled to Egypt because of political persecution in Israel. When King Herod learned that the “King of the Jews” had been born according to an ancient text, the vindictive and sadistic king determined Jesus to be a threat to his throne. Herod was so paranoid that he ordered the slaughter of thousands of infant boys within a 50-mile radius.

And, although this aspect of Jesus’ life is seldom discussed, He eventually was arrested, detained, and executed as a political prisoner—not a criminal one. The Roman governor presiding over Judea even admitted to this. See Matthew 27:11-24.

3. At its core, the Gospel is about who will rule the kingdoms of the world.

During the infamous temptation of Jesus recorded in Luke 4, the devil offered Jesus authority over the kingdoms of the world. A point that is often lost on us—THESE KINGDOMS WERE SATAN’S TO GIVE AWAY.

Yes, Satan is the god of this world. His evil desire has always been for more power.

In his infinite wisdom, The Creator understood that corrupt governments would oppress their people and suppress justice.

And yet, the people of Israel rejected God as their nation’s leader and requested a king like all the other nations. 1 Samuel 8:6-9 says this:

“Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. Do everything they say to you,’ the Lord replied, ‘for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt, they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.’"

Samuel issued a dire warning that a king (or dictator) would steal their wealth, force them into slavery, and traffick their children. See 1 Samuel 8:10-18.

Understanding the history of Israel, it’s easy to see why the prophecy given by Isaiah presented Jesus—the Messiah—as the righteous ruler who will establish His kingdom with righteousness and justice forever.

The Wrap Up

Just like the loud woman at the restaurant, we all tend to have an egocentric view of God. We think of Him as our personal butler. We talk about, sing about, and preach about what He does for me: how He will help me, protect me, provide for me, etc. Me, me, me.

Without a doubt, God cares for us deeply as individuals.

But we shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger picture, either. When we take a step back, we understand that the Creator of the Universe devised an elaborate plan before the beginning of time about how He will crush the principalities, authorities, and powers of this dark world under the feet of Jesus. See Genesis 3:15 and Ephesians 6:12.

Is there any question that the “powers of this dark world” includes corrupt governments and political leaders?

America—similar to ancient Israel—is also on the verge of rejecting God’s plan for self-governance. If we do, we will see the same fate as those nations struggling under authoritarian rule.

I pray we never find out.

Major Amir Tsarfati, a decorated officer in the Israeli Army, said in a Happening Now event in Southern California in 2020, “Socialism always comes to power in a semi-democratic way but will never let go of power until there is bloodshed. I’ve seen it many times all over the world.”

Thanks for reading and remember to always pursue The Truth!

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