I know full well how hazardous an enterprise it is to set sail on the controversial and disputed sea of Scriptural interpretation….
Yes, same here. This is one reason (of many) that I strongly prefer to keep theological discussion off limits. I know this is difficult to do, given the topics at this post, and I appreciate that you all respect this desire. As you know, my intent behind these topics is to examine the ramifications of broad religious issues on the social, governance, and political aspects of society.
I guess today I am going to somewhat cross that line. The reasons are twofold: first, the examination Casey takes on is precisely on the point of freedom; second, the topic is one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented and misused regarding the Christian take on government.
The topic? In two words: Romans 13. Casey offers a full examine of both Old and New Testament Scripture regarding kings and government authority, as a few verses should not be taken in isolation.
Casey begins with the go-to chapter, 1 Samuel 8. To summarize: Israel had no king; up to this point the governance was provided by God and by judges. The Israelites demanded a king. God, recognizing that the Israelites were rejecting Him, permitted them to take a king – but only after warning of the usurpations that the king would impose: taxes, mandatory service, etc.
The subsequent history of the kings of Israel, from Saul, through David, Solomon, and Rehoboam, followed by the division of the kingdom is very far from edifying and can be seen as the fulfillment of God's warning delivered through Samuel.
The book of Hosea, in chapter 8, touches on this idea of God permitting, but not approving: "They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not."
Regarding the life of Jesus, Casey offers…
…we can see immediately that his very life was bookended by acts of political significance, from King Herod's murderous intentions at his birth to the final drama of his politically inspired execution.
This is the lens through which all Scriptural discussion of kings and earthly authority should be viewed. Casey offers that the New Testament is a target-rich environment when one wants to find passages regarding kings and government; he limits himself to five. I will touch on only a couple of these.
The first is the temptation in the desert, when the devil showed Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world, promising to give Jesus all authority over these if Jesus would only worship him. Well, we know Jesus didn't take the devil up on the offer, but what else can be understood from this?