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Both Taboo Subjects

Please read Jeremiah 22:1-5 in your go-to Bible.

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I recently read “Killing the SS” by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. It’s an account of the extraordinary measures some people took to bring former Nazis out of hiding and to justice. The parts of the book I disliked the most were the descriptions of the atrocities the Nazis committed in and outside their concentration camps.

I will spare you the details: believe me just reading about them casts a shadow on your soul. I’ve wondered how such a situation came to be. How is it that so many people would willingly participate in such evil? How could they be so convinced that horrible injustice and violence were the right things to do?

There is historical evidence that the Nazi movement was founded on pagan German religions that Christianity had nearly erased from the earth. People cite the Nazis’ fascination with the occult as evidence that Nazi leadership in particular and perhaps the nation in general were possessed by the devil.

While it is undoubtedly true that Satan had his way in Nazi Germany, demonic possession is not a good answer to account for their war crimes. The reason some people want to put the blame on spiritual evil is they don’t want to face the evil in human nature. They don’t want to have to think about this kind of thing ever happening again.

Turning a blind eye to evil is never a God-approved action. The light of Christ is supposed to dispel the darkness. His love must be apparent in the words and deeds of His people.

The evil of Nazism is not confined to history books; it is an ever-present danger that will rise again if human nature is again unrestrained by the ethical life God demands. Take for example, the flirtation with socialism we’ve seen in the last two presidential election cycles. Remember that the word “Nazi” stood for the National Socialist Party of Germany. We can’t put our future in the hands of such people.

Today we’ll look at both politics and religion, both of them considered taboo subjects in “polite” conversation because people fear a difference of opinion will manifest in animosity. I believe one must not exist without the other. We’ll take a look at Jeremiah 22 where both subjects are met head-on.

Politics are unavoidable; the question is, does your faith make any difference in your politics?

1. The taboo subjects are politics and religion.

Definitions matter in every conversation, so let’s start there. Politics can be defined as the art and science of people getting things done.

In worldly politics, the ends justify the means, so morality is an inconvenience easily thrust aside to get results. Worldly politicians may have high standards for results but low standards for their methods.

In godly politics, the ends and the means are equally important, equally subject to God’s commandments. People who act politically following God’s way have the highest possible standards.

Actions matter more than words in both politics and religion as actions are a window into the soul of the actor. What we say and do - especially when we think no one is looking - are indicative of our true spiritual state.

2. Politics and religion in Jeremiah 22: the king was supposed to set an example worth following.

The rulers of Judah at that time are listed in verses one and two. The KING of JUDAH was Jehoiakim. He reigned briefly, from 609 - 597 B.C., in the middle of Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry. 2 Kings 23:37 says HE DID EVIL IN THE EYES OF THE LORD, JUST AS HIS FATHERS HAD DONE.

The OFFICIALS includes the king’s officers, members of the court, and members of the royal family.

THOSE WHO COME THROUGH [the] GATES of the city of Jerusalem may depict the elders of the city, as they held court at the city gates. I prefer to take it to take the words to refer to the people: everyone who entered the capitol city. There is a very real sense that all the people - not just the leaders - have responsibility for the moral condition of a government.

Leaders and followers alike share the core political responsibility of verse three: DO WHAT IS JUST AND RIGHT (“fair dealing”). Jeremiah develops this foundational responsibility by giving three specific commands, three examples of what justice and righteousness look like.

The first example was to RESCUE the robbery victim FROM THE HAND OF HIS OPPRESSOR. Here’s where the priest and the Levite did wrong by the man injured by robbers in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. The Law required them to stop and RESCUE that robbery victim. In disobedience, they walked on by him.

The second example was to DO NO WRONG TO THE ALIEN, THE FATHERLESS OR THE WIDOW. These three classes of people, the ones at the bottom rung of society’s ladder, enjoyed specific protection according to the Law (see Exodus 22:21-26; 23:9; Leviticus 19:33-34; Deuteronomy 10:18-19; 24:17).

The third example was to NOT SHED INNOCENT BLOOD. Worship of idols sometimes involved the live sacrifice of one’s own children. This command forbids all actions that involve the murder of innocent people.

If these commands were obeyed, the reward would be an eternal dynasty. (4) Prosperity and peace are implied in this verse: the leaders will come & go in peace.

If these commands were NOT obeyed, t dynasty of David would come to RUIN. (5) The prophecy mentions the PALACE several times, but the warning is not about a single building, but the nation it symbolized. The nation would be ruined by rulers like Jehoiakim who did evil in both their politics and religion.

God underscored the seriousness of this warning by swearing an oath on Himself. This is the highest possible oath since there is nothing greater than God upon which He could swear. They were to take this warning very seriously. A day would come when there would be no more second chances and RUIN would fall.

Politics are unavoidable; the question is, does your faith make any difference in your politics?

How about using v. 3 as one’s standard for determining which candidates and which party (if any) are worth supporting? The main question is based on the overall command: “Do they DO WHAT IS JUST AND RIGHT?” If a candidate or a party is willing to say anything or do anything to get elected or pass legislation, they are not worthy of your support. More seriously, they may require the opposition of conscientious Christians.

Jeremiah offered three examples, three applications of the main question.

Do they RESCUE the robbery victim FROM THE HAND OF HIS OPPRESSOR? Candidates and parties that are more concerned about the rights of offenders than the rights of victims are not worthy of your support.

Do they DO NO WRONG TO THE ALIEN, THE FATHERLESS OR THE WIDOW? An important measure of any civilization is the degree to which the people protect the most vulnerable people among them. Candidates and parties that want to marginalize or mistreat the unborn, the elderly, the ill, or dying are not worthy of your support.

Do they NOT SHED INNOCENT BLOOD? The sacredness of human life is the most fundamental truth on which civilizations are built. Politics can be simplified, but it is always at the expense of freedom. Candidates and parties who are willing to condone rioting and overlook murder are not worthy of your support.

I must make it plain to you that in these comments I am not endorsing any candidate or party. My intention is to help you make political choices that line up as closely as possible with what Scripture teaches. People who practice worldly politics aren’t shy about showing their scorn for people who practice their politics and religion together. That’s exactly backwards. God has scorn for people who claim they keep them separate. A candidate or party that claims any kind of faith but does not practice it in the exercise of their politics is not worthy of your support.

We must be Christians in the voting booth as much as we are Christians in the sanctuary. To be one and not the other proves the lie of both. Vote according to the Greatest Commandments and the Golden Rule, and pray hard before you vote and pray harder afterward.

RESOURCES:

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, Jeremiah, Charles Lee Feinberg

The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Jeremiah, J.A. Thompson

https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/nazis-occult?rebelltitem=4#rebelltitem4

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