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Group Explores Biblical Expectation to Obey Government

Club 14 Fitness


By George Miller, 1-30-23

This article chronicles a session on obedience to government and how far it should go. This may be of interest to non-Christians as well as Christians, since the foundations of government in the USA have a strong Christian influence and the wisdom of the Bible going back thousands of years and related studies provide useful teachings and perspective that all could draw upon.

The increasing level of offenses by out-of-control government at all levels around the world, some of them seemingly going wild, has many concerned and wondering what to do about it. Government and allied organizations’ COVID response, unwanted wars, social policies, civil rights violations, murders, robbery, onerous taxation, spending, illegal immigration, election fraud, inflation, bankruptcy, unwise development, school performance, kleptocracy, weaponization of civil government, against the People are some areas of concern.


Statists and the secular left sometimes selectively quote or attempt to paraphrase the Bible as saying that Christians/people are to obey government without question. There are many passages that indeed call for people in general, not just Christians, to respect the foundations of civil government, which are God’s plan to help organize an orderly, just society, by obeying government. However, there are also provisions for identifying when it is serving neither the Peoples’ interest nor God’s laws and what to do about it.

It is tricky to fathom and to formulate responses when that occurs. So, several members of a Christian fellowship I belong to initiated a discussion session on this at a recent meeting. All of the group members are a subset of a large Bible study group at the First Baptist Church of Fernandina Beach, FL.

We asked our Bible study leader, Dr. Rich Turner, who has touched upon the subject multiple times before with us, to lecture and lead the discussion. It turned out to be quite lively and educational, with 20 participants, stretching out for two hours and ending only because the initial ideas were explored and it seemed that a follow up session on consequences should follow.

Dr. Turner came to Christianity in his middle years, after a traumatic injury while serving aboard a U.S. navy nuclear submarine. With 25 years of honorable service in the Navy, he is accustomed to detailed and comprehensive provisions to make things happen.

Rich, as he prefers to be called, showed up, as usual, very well-prepared, with a seven page document (it appears at the end of this article) he had researched and written, replete with biblical citations and interpretations. Rather than just start with passages on obeying government and when not to, he first built us a foundation. He defined and explained the terms Nation, Nationalism, Government, then finally Civil Obedience and when and how Disobedience should occur.

Session Summary

I’m definitely no bible scholar, but have some experience in opposing government actions. With that perspective, the session results in layman’s terms are summarized, as follows …

God has structured society to live within:

  • His laws
  • Family structure
  • Civil government

… in that order

All that assumes family leadership and government acting legitimately within God’s law. We know it frequently doesn’t happen that way. So we need to know how to identify and deal with those exceptions.

A Nation is a society of people organized with the resources to achieve common goals and protect the people. It has boundaries, territory and generally common culture, language, interests and possibly ethnicity. It usually has lower level jurisdictions to govern regionally or locally, but beneath the national structure. You might see how difficult it is for the USA, which has many cultures, languages, ethnicities, philosophies and conflicting loyalties.

God created nations and puts them up and down at will, as in Job:12:23

Nationalism is a strong love, loyalty and devotion to one’s nation. But it should not conflict with devotion to God and His laws.

Government is an institution to lead/manage a nation and its lower level jurisdictions. The Lord commands obedience to legitimate government. This is a huge issue when secular government may not acknowledge that.

Civil Obedience to government means following its laws, paying its taxes and even participating in government as a Citizen, resident or even visitor. God, via the Bible, has decreed that this should be done, unless government/officials do things/set requirements in violation of His laws. But all human governments violate God’s laws. So the real issue is when the government sets laws that would compel us to sin. He commands us to pray for even corrupt/evil officials/government.

Civil Disobedience means not following existing laws. This term is most often used in the context of opposing unjust laws and doesn’t include obviously criminal actions such as murder, stealing, etc. The crux of the matter is determining when and if disobedience is justified and how to go about it, if at all. Disobedience could involve unsanctioned protest, or outright disobedience of the law or orders.

The U.S. civil rights movement is a sterling example of that, with now-famous unauthorized protests, lunch counter integration, school desegregation and bus-sitting examples. It was deemed necessary to do that, as the system wasn’t working and laws were actually in conflict with the Constitution, but more importantly, God’s laws.

Dr. Turner stressed that in such cases, only the minimum amount of resistance necessary to get the job done should be employed. He also cited Matthew 18:15-17 ESV which instructs us to first confront the other party in a dispute, then escalate it to an appeal within society, before playing hardball. The civic group County Citizens Defending Freedom has those verses built right into its modus operandi. Turner provided multiple biblical examples of civil disobedience portrayed as good.

He emphasized his overarching thoughts on the subject at the end of our session and also included them in his notes given to us:

Biblically, civil disobedience is justified only when government, through the laws, rules or policies that it enacts compels us to sin, or when there is no legal recourse for fighting injustice. I would add that our resistance should be the minimum necessary to rectify the wrong or injustice. This is of course very situation dependent and we should rely on the word of God and the Spirit of God to direct our thoughts and actions.

Most of the required opposition can be done within the law, but when all other alternatives are exhausted, civil disobedience may be the only remaining way to correct the situation.

Some other thoughts expressed:

One participant cautioned about taking nationalism/patriotism too far, warning that it could affect love for others, oppose faith, pointing out such problems a few other countries, including China and Russia.

Most agreed that faith can be a stabilizing influence on government everywhere. On the other hand, religion can also be a negative influence, as it has been in Iran. There didn’t seem to be a strong support for theocracy, although the Bible says that Christ will eventually rule but that’s God in charge, not people. Government efforts to suppress Christianity should be opposed.

Romans: 13 is a key biblical section addressing government authority (far more on biblical instructions in Dr. Turner’s notes included in this article).

Having less and less common culture and less Christian influence in the US is affecting the nation negatively.

A participant observed that powerful forces are seeking to make the concept of nations passé, “racist,” and promote open borders.

One observed historical warnings that Democracy can’t work properly without faith. Let everyone submit to government, but these are instituted by God and have no authority without him and his laws.

Don’t make a deal; with the devil or you will lose. The Jews weren’t conquered by Rome, they caved and made a deal (and lost).

What if the righteous are punished instead of evildoers- seems to be happening a lot.

Show patriotism, love and devotion to your country. Pray for the President even if he’s wrong and/or you disagree. Pray for our enemies. God instructed the Israelites to pray/help Babylon while they were exiled.

A countervailing opinion that came up (paraphrased): “we’re not of this world, should stay out of it and pray… so we don’t need patriotism” Someone later told me that he was being sarcastic.

One opined that an advantage to the bad stuff happening is that it helps make us seek God.

“Go out and touch our world- the Jews have done it all over the world.”

In civil disobedience, use the minimum pressure to right things, but do NOT waffle backwards. Attempt negotiations. A participant cited the Book of Daniel on how he negotiated with pagan priests to allow him to eat a sanctioned Jewish diet while in captivity. He appealed respectfully and proposed a solution, which was accepted.

Matthew 18 and Daniel 3 were cited as instructions on when to refuse.

Frederick Douglass, escaped civil war era slave, was held up as an example on how to oppose wrong government policies.

Know your laws better than your opponents. A “mandate” is not a law. One of our sometime congregants who is a now famous attorney has proved that multiple times.

Use “lawfare” like our opponents do to peacefully fight our way, when possible.

Know the Joseph Goebbels “big lie” technique- how to identify and oppose misinformation and tyranny. Official/corporate/NGO COVID misinformation abuses were cited.

Deal with phony accusations of “hate” and “racism”, by addressing flaws in the underlying rhetoric/”logic” and exposing them. Of course there are real examples, too. Make sure they are not from you.

Some “rules of engagement”:

Just tell the truth, convincingly and with supporting facts. Examples: The now popular and unscientific “gender theory” and resultant surgical, chemical and psychological horrors was cited as an example needing opposition and truth; a local “Pride” camp- at a church; a pastor “married” to her “wife”.

It’s not just national laws, mandates and customs, but also state and local ones.

Levels: God, family, government- but also increasingly corporations and NGO’s (Non-Government Organizations) need attention.

A strategy needed.

We shouldn’t be surprised by any of this, as the truth is systematically suppressed.

Don’t look to government, only the Word of God. Start at home.

Government and media are going downhill.

We need to act. if our government and colluding organizations go against God’s book.

A future session (next is February 2) will address what and how to react to unacceptable situations. We look for Godly guidance to help shape our responses.

Session Attendee Comments:

I thought that the topic and discussion last night was incredible!  Then, what do we do about it?  We definitely need more group discussion about that, and we sure can’t do it alone!

I look back on my life and see that as a Christian, I have been part of the reason we are where we are!  I believe I watched evil enter into our country and did little or nothing about it.  Prayer in school, abortion, porn, on and on…..  I’m wondering if I didn’t have discernment about the times?   Why didn’t the church and I rise up against abortion?  We just watched it happen…  

God cannot be OK with the world condition. His Word tells us that He gives the world more time so more can come to know him but then He has to have a limit.  Jesus compares what the world will be like at the end to the days of Noah and my guess is we are there or past that!  Sin in abounding and seemingly more and more debased as time goes by!

Billy Graham said that if God allows America to go much further, he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!  

I realize that I am the one that needs to change, I need to humble myself and seek God.  Godly community seems to be part of that as well, where we seek God individually and as a whole, and that would lead to us joining together with like minded Christ followers to hold up Gods standard in our lives to a lost and dying world, sharing Christ in any way we can.  If our government goes against Gods book, we cannot continue to sit idly by on the sidelines and expect that God alone changes our world!  God uses people!



It was gratifying to see a group of believers searching for the proper method to express their faith in the context governmental regulation and socially hostile environments. It is tough to stand for moral positions and be called a hater. We learned that Proverbs tell us it is wisdom to hate evil. Proverbs 8:13.

 John the Baptist called the Pharisees “a brood of vipers”(not  the most loving words, btw). Well, we have this generation’s of snakes pushing evil (abortion, transsex, school porn, etc). If we want to be wise, it’s ok to hate these things because they’re evil. Having hatred for the people celebrating these things and grooming your children to cross over, seems natural but we are told to hate the sin and love the sinner…after all, but for the grace of God, I could be like them. But Jesus died for me and them as well. I trust his word where judgment for these transgressions (and mine) are in his hands. 

Got it. Okay love the sinner. Imagine being a chaplain advising soldiers in WWII, to hate the sin but love the sinner…We’d be speaking a different language. I am hoping our group addresses more deeply the rules of engagement in our post-Christian society when standing against  secretized trans conversions of children, and the infanticide laws being approved in America…I know this: I hate these developments. Lord, help me to love the folks who are hell-bent on making a mockery of your order and creation.”



This session exceeded my expectations. I have developed a greater respect for involved congregants and the church’s teachings, especially the sane understanding and application of these- and of course, the dedicated guidance of Dr. Rich Turner. This is not just praying and hoping and it certainly isn’t rioting in the streets. It certainly isn’t blind obedience, either. I will develop a less confrontational but more effective approach to conflict resolution, test it and see how well it works.


Here are Dr. Rich Turner’s presentation notes

Thoughts on Nations, Nationalism, Citizenship, Patriotism,  the Government, and Civil Disobedience

I have tried to keep this paper short while at the same time provide us with the verses to help settle this matter in our hearts. We have the word of God before us and the Spirit of God within us, so let’s dive into the discussion.


“1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”” (Ge 12:1-3 ESV)

But it is not just “a great nation”:

“1 ¶  When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2  that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3  Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 ¶  “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5  No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6  I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.” (Ge 17:1-6 ESV)

God is the one who established the nation of Israel. But it is more than just Israel. According to Paul, God established the nations themselves:

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,” (Ac 17:26 ESV)

Follow Paul’s thought. God created Adam (the one man) and from him he created all the nations of mankind that live on all the face of the earth. The Greek word translated “nation” is the Greek word ἔθνος (ethnos) it means tribe, troop, company, or nation.

Further, Paul tells us that God “determined the allotted periods of their existence” as well as the “boundaries of their dwelling place.” Paul’s points seem to be two-fold:

  1. God calls nations into being at times that He decides, and God puts down and lifts up nations at times that he decides. Surely this is the lesson we learn from the book of Daniel. Just one example is the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had, which Nebuchadnezzar demanded that the “wise men” tell him not only the interpretation, but the actual dream as well. If you remember, they could not, but Daniel did.

Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar in great detail and specificity the dream that he had:

“31 ¶  “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32  The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33  its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34  As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Da 2:31-35 ESV)

Daniel then told the interpretation that was given to him from Yahweh:

“36  “This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37  You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38  and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all —  you are the head of gold. 39  Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40  And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41  And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42  And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43  As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44  And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45  just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”” (Da 2:36-45 ESV)

Scholars are in widespread agreement that what Daniel was seeing were the kingdoms or nations, that would follow one another.

Vs 36-38 – First, the head of God is the Nebuchadnezzar and likely the Babylonian nation (605 -539 B.C.).

Vs 39 – Second, the Babylonian nation would be followed by a second nation, a nation represented in the statue as sliver arms and chest. Scholars agree this is the Medo-Persian nation (539 – 331 B.C.).

Vs 39 – A third kingdom will rise after the Medo-Persian empire, namely the Greek empire (331-63 B.C.).

Vs 40-43 – Here a forth and strong and powerful nation will arise. Scholars agree this is the Roman empire (63 B.C.-476A.D.)

God is sovereign in the establishment of these nations, and their existence as a nation. As you think about these nations, think for a moment about the United States (est. 1776). God was sovereign in the establishment and he alone will decide how long America will last. God is the sovereign over the nations.

Thoughts on Nationalism

When you think of nationalism and the Bible two groups should come to mind, Jews and Romans. There could be no fiercer nationalism than the nationalism exhibited by these two groups.

It is interesting as we consider wicked nations, many may come to mind. But let’s be honest few were as evil, furious, or powerful as Rome. Think of the Caesars or think of the Roman soldiers.

Here we have insight that is beyond compare because John the baptizer and interacted with many Jews and Romans who possessed a strong nationalism. It is important to note that Jesus and Paul were both Jews, while Paul was also a Roman.

So, what do we learn about John the baptizer’s interaction with Romans? Let’s look first at his interaction with soldiers. John is preaching and making some pretty harsh comments about those who have come out to be baptized by him. In the audience were both soldiers and tax collectors. We can imagine that John would have some very condemning statements to say against tax collectors and well as Roman soldiers. We will pick up at the end of his sermon:

“6  and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” 7  He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8  Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9  Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10  And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11  And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12  Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13  And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14  Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”” (Lu 3:6-14 ESV)

He could have said anything including step away from serving a pagan nation. That is not what he said. Rather, let your conduct be right and honorable as you serve the nation to which you are serving. There are other examples, but these make the point. He did not even call Jews who were serving as Roman tax collectors to step-down.  Rather: “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Be honest and conduct yourself with integrity.To the soldier, who was the military arm for the Roman empire, John did not call him to renounce his position as a soldier, but instead: “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

But it is not just John the Baptizer…

As Jesus was approaching Capernaum, a Roman Centurion (one who was in charge of 100 soldiers) came up to him. Centurions were selected based on merit and these men were generally a rough and tough lot. We read:

“5 When he (Jesus) had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6  “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7  And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8  But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9  For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10  When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” (Mt 8:5-10 ESV)

Jesus not only did not tell him if he was going to be a follower of Yahweh, or a follower of Himself, the Centurion would need to step down and no longer serve in the Roman army. Rather, Jesus commented on the greatness of this Centurion’s faith.

But it is not just Roman soldiers. Let’s look at an interaction between Jesus and a chief tax collector:

“2  And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3  And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4  So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5  And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6  So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7  And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8  And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9  And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.” (Lu 19:2-9 ESV)

It is important to note that Jesus did not have a problem with Zacchaeus (a chief tax collector) who was an Israelite, serving the Roman nation as a tax collector. He was very interested in how he served (honesty and integrity).

The Government

As people who are citizen’s of a natural country, yet at the same time, and more importantly citizens of heaven the Bible provides very clear guidance on how we behave in reference to the earthly government:

“1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2  Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4  for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5  Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6  For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 ¶  Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” (Ro 13:1-7 ESV)

“13 ¶  Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14  or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1Pe 2:13-17 ESV)

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,” (Tit 3:1 ESV)

…”Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”” (Mt 22:21b ESV)

Each of us will find ourselves in a nation and being subject to the governing authorities. In as much as our government is the “Caesar” of our day, we are to render respect, which includes paying taxes within the legal structure that we find ourselves.

Another question that might come up is should we serve in a pagan government. Again, I believe the Bible gives a clear principle to help us make that decision:

“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Pr 29:2 ESV)

We must realize that God established the nations and the governing authorities that are over us (pagan Rome, Old Testament Israel, or America). They have been placed there by God and their authority comes from God.  

Can a Christian Be Patriotic?

Obviously, it depends on what we mean by patriotic. Webster’s dictionary defines patriotic as “love for and devotion to one’s country.”

We know we are to be subject to governing authorities (Rom 13:1-7). This means we should be good citizens of that country and its laws so long as those laws do not call us to disobey God. In America, a constitutional republic, where individual citizens have the ability to change and influence government by voting or by being politically involved when appropriate and in appropriate ways, part of being a good citizen is voting and having whatever positive influence we can on government up to and including running for public office.

Equally we are obligated to pray for our leaders:

“1 ¶  First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2  for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4  who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1Ti 2:1-4 ESV)

An example of being a good citizen. The nation of Israel, because of their sins has been taken into Babylonian captivity, this happened in 586 B.C.. Here is what God told those in exile through the prophet Jeremiah:

“1 ¶  These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2  This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem. 3  The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said: 4  “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5  Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6  Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7  But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer 29:1-7 ESV)

If God could command Israelites, who had been taken captive by the pagan nation of Babylon to pray for that completely pagan city, and to seek the welfare of that completely pagan city. Then it is an easy stretch for me to believe and promote that I should pray for America and seek the good of America, Florida, and Nassau county.

There is an overarching principle, and I will close this section off with:

“13 ¶  “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Mt 5:13-14 ESV)

I believe this means salt and light in every area of our lives. We are to be salt and light in all areas of society (employer, employee, public servant, public servant, service member, etc).

Thoughts on Civil Disobedience

There are a couple of important principles, as we think about this topic.

First, the Bible is clear we are to render unto God the things that are God’s (Mat 22:21) and when Caesar calls us to disobey God, it is at that point that we must resist. I believe the Biblical principle is that we should use the minimum resistance necessary to get the results that do not cause us to disobey God.

We see this overarching principle in church disciple:

“15 ¶  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Mt 18:15-17 ESV)

More significantly, we saw this principle with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:

“1 ¶  In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2  And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3  Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4  youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5  The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6  Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7  And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. 8 ¶  But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9  And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs,” (Da 1:1-9 ESV)

But if necessary:

“8 ¶  Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9  They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10  You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11  And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12  There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” 13  Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14  Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15  Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” 16  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”” (Da 3:8-18 ESV)

Hebrew Midwives:

“15 ¶  Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16  “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17  But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.” (Ex 1:15-17 ESV)

Saul’s Command to Kill Jonathan:

“23  So the LORD saved Israel that day. And the battle passed beyond Beth-aven. 24 ¶  And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.” So none of the people had tasted food. 25  Now when all the people came to the forest, behold, there was honey on the ground. 26  And when the people entered the forest, behold, the honey was dropping, but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath. 27  But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath, so he put out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes became bright. 28  Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food this day.’” And the people were faint. 29  Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of this honey. 30  How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies that they found. For now the defeat among the Philistines has not been great.” 31  They struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. And the people were very faint. 32  The people pounced on the spoil and took sheep and oxen and calves and slaughtered them on the ground. And the people ate them with the blood. 33  Then they told Saul, “Behold, the people are sinning against the LORD by eating with the blood.” And he said, “You have dealt treacherously; roll a great stone to me here.” 34  And Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people and say to them, ‘Let every man bring his ox or his sheep and slaughter them here and eat, and do not sin against the LORD by eating with the blood.’” So every one of the people brought his ox with him that night and they slaughtered them there. 35  And Saul built an altar to the LORD; it was the first altar that he built to the LORD. 36 ¶  Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them until the morning light; let us not leave a man of them.” And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” But the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.” 37  And Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day. 38  And Saul said, “Come here, all you leaders of the people, and know and see how this sin has arisen today. 39  For as the LORD lives who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But there was not a man among all the people who answered him. 40  Then he said to all Israel, “You shall be on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side.” And the people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.” 41  Therefore Saul said, “O LORD God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant this day? If this guilt is in me or in Jonathan my son, O LORD, God of Israel, give Urim. But if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim.” And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped. 42  Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan.” And Jonathan was taken. 43  Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” And Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am; I will die.” 44  And Saul said, “God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan.” 45  Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the LORD lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, so that he did not die.” (1Sa 14:23-45 ESV)

Peter and John:

“13  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14  But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 ¶  But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16  saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17  But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18  So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19  But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20  for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”” (Ac 4:13-20 ESV)

There are other examples, but this gives us enough to understand the direction of all of them.

Closing Thoughts

Biblically, civil disobedience is justified only when government, through the laws, rules or policies that it enacts compels us to sin, or when there is no legal recourse for fighting injustice. I would add that our resistance should be the minimum necessary to rectify the wrong or injustice. This is of course very situation dependent and we should rely on the word of God and the Spirit of God to direct our thoughts and actions.

George Miller is Publisher and Co-Founder of Citizens Journal Florida, based in Fernandina Beach. He is a “retired” operations management consultant, software and publishing executive and manufacturing management professional.

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