Let me start with a story. A man who had survived the great Johnstown flood died and went to Heaven. And not long after, all of the inhabitants of Heaven were allowed to take center stage and tell everyone about the most significant event that had happened to them while on Earth. The man couldn’t wait to tell everyone about his surviving the great Johnstown flood. After a long wait in line, it was finally his turn. The man was so excited to tell everyone his story. But just as he was climbing the stairs to the platform, an angel leaned over to him and whispered, “Don’t forget; Noah is in the audience.”
I am reminded of that story when I read the Scriptural passage in Hebrews 12: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.” The witnesses the Apostle speaks of are the great champions who have gone on before us, which are mentioned in chapter eleven. Included by implication in the great “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11 are the three young Hebrews: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (verse 34, “Quenched the violence of fire.”)
So, what was it that got these three young men included in this list that along with the likes of Abraham, Moses, and David? You’ll find their story in Daniel chapter three. In a nutshell, they refused to bow down to the image of the king. In other words, THEY DISOBEYED A CIVIL GOVERNMENT THAT HAD BECOME TYRANNICAL. And for refusing to submit to the king, they were thrown into a burning fiery furnace.
Come to think of it, many of the people named in the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith” got there because of civil disobedience. Speaking of Moses, the Scripture says, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king.” So, when did Moses forsake Egypt? When he killed the Egyptian taskmaster who was beating a Hebrew slave to death. That’s when!
Rahab is also mentioned in this Biblical “Hall of Faith.” Who was Rahab, and what did she do? She was a prostitute who lied to government soldiers and helped the Hebrew spies escape the city of Jericho. Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthae are also listed. Who are they, and what did they do? They were men who led armed rebellions against oppressive governments to which they had been subject.
Daniel is inferred in Hebrews 11 when it says, “Stopped the mouths of lions.” What did he do? He refused to submit to his civil government when commanded to not pray aloud (for only thirty days). And for refusing to submit to his government, he was cast into a den of hungry lions. Yes, God delivered Daniel from the lions and the three young Hebrews from the burning furnace of fire. But the point is, they each DISOBEYED civil government, and God brags on them for it in Hebrews 11.
So, what are all these “Romans 13-ers” going to say to Daniel, Moses, and Gideon when they get to Heaven? What are they going to say to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? What are they going to say to those men who “overthrew kingdoms” (Heb. 11:33), “waxed valiant in combat” (vs. 34), and “turned to flight . . . armies”? (Armies are government-sanctioned, government-supported, government-ordered entities–vs. 34.)
I cannot count the number of times I have heard some TV or radio preacher say something to the effect, “Well, I’m glad we were given freedom here in the United States, but our Founding Fathers were wrong to rebel against the British Crown. According to Romans 13, they should have submitted to King George.” Barf! Gag! Spit! What hypocrisy!
To all of the Romans 13 Pharisees out there, I say, if you are really going to believe and preach that garbage, at least be honest enough to stop celebrating Independence Day on July 4. It was the day when men became traitors to Great Britain and officially declared a revolutionary war. And stop flying the Stars and Stripes in your church auditoriums. It was the flag of rebellion. How dare you say America’s founders violated Romans 13 in one breath and with the next breath say you thank God for the freedom that was purchased AT THE SACRIFICE OF THE BLOOD OF THE MEN YOU SAY VIOLATED ROMANS 13! Pardon me, but I just cannot think of anything that is more hypocritical than that!
And remember this about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: it was AFTER they disobeyed their king and were thrown into the furnace of fire that they met the Son of God. It was King Nebuchadnezzar who said, “I see four men loose . . . the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Daniel 3:25)
Think about it: where did Moses meet the Lord? In the wilderness by a burning bush after he had defied Egyptian tyranny by killing an Egyptian taskmaster who was beating a Hebrew slave to death. Where did Gideon meet the Lord? In a threshing floor as he willowed his grain in defiance of evil civil authority. When did Stephen meet the Lord? When political and religious leaders were stoning him to death for refusing to submit to their iniquitous injunctions. And think of this, too: where did the Lord Jesus meet man? On a bloody Roman cross–being placed there by the civil and religious rulers of His day.
Most Christians today are looking to meet the Lord in a heated or air conditioned church sanctuary with padded pews and ornate windows, with an orchestra playing and a choir singing, and fried chicken waiting for them after the service. But that’s not where you’re going to find the Fourth Man.
When you resist the religious Pharisees who are trying to intimidate and coerce you into submitting to their legalism and tyranny, then you will see the Fourth Man. When you resist the power establishment that demands that you accept their politically correct philosophies and ideologies, then you will see the Fourth Man. When you refuse to be bought, bribed, or bullied by the “good old boy” network that seeks to control you, then you will see the Fourth Man. When you resist your family and friends who try to shame you into abandoning the principles of liberty and freedom that God, Himself, has planted in your heart, then you will see the Fourth Man. When you are threatened and persecuted and you say, “I must obey God rather than men,” then you will see the Fourth Man.
Do you really think you’re going to find the One who went to a bloody cross in a meadow of roses? The only roses He knew were the ones whose thorns were smashed on his skull. You won’t find him in a garden, unless it’s the Garden of Gethsemane. You’ll find the One who went to the Cross in the same place that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found Him: in the Burning Fiery Furnace.
God said told us that when we pass through the floodwaters, and when we walk through the fire, we would find Him to be with us. (Isaiah 43:2)
Of course, let me be careful to say that real Christians are peacemakers. They desire to live a quiet and peaceable life with their neighbors, their civil authorities, and even with other nations. They readily recognize and respect lawful, God-ordained authority. But, at the same time, they will not surrender that which is holy and give it to swine! They absolutely will not become toadies for unlawful government that attempts to usurp the God-given authority and jurisdiction to which it has been divinely assigned!
I am often reminded of this quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “There are, I am sorry to say, many Temples in our midst in this country which are no better than brothels.”
Gandhi’s quote could be said of many so-called churches in America today, for they, too, have become little more than glorified brothels that pimp for the government. “Submit! Obey! Don’t resist!” they constantly preach. I wonder what they will say one day to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
P.S. Let me wish all of our wonderful mothers out there a very Happy Mother’s Day! I thank God for my mother. I wish she were still here, so I could personally tell her that I love her.
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