Bible and Voting – Part 16Proverbs 14:34 • Dr. Andy Woods • October 23, 2016 • The Bible and Voting 2016
SUGAR LAND BIBLE CHURCH
October 23, 2016 The Bible and Voting, Part 16
Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them Mark 7, verses 20-23. And if you’re here visiting for the first time you’re going to say what kind of church is this, what in the world? Well, we are actually at the tail end of a study; I was going to use the analogy I’m going to try to land the plane today but since we’re talking about terrorism I didn’t think that was the best thing to say so that metaphor not withstanding we’re at the very tail end of a study on the subject of the Bible and Voting. You know, voting, and politics and debates and all that kind of stuff is in the air. This is not the kind of series to tell you who to vote for; that application is between you and the Lord. It’s a series really designed to communicate biblical principles that I think sustain people in any election as we are given a great stewardship in this country of electing people to office. And I guess one of my great fears is we, as God’s people, go about that practice largely the Bible is the last thing we think about. So this series really is designed to get us to understand that the Bible speaks to the great issues of the day.
We’ve gone through various economic issues that the Bible speaks to. We’ve gone through various social issues that you hear about in the culture all of the time that the Bible speaks aggressively to, including things like abortion and the debate about marriage and so forth. And really we’re at the very tail end of the study where we’re learning that the Bible actually speaks about issues related to foreign affairs.
One of the key points for today is to remember that God is the one that has authored the nation-state. Independent nations functioning on their own freedom independent of global government, this is one of the things that God established to maintain the social order, which includes a lot of different things that nations have a responsibility to do that the Bible speaks of. Examples would include enforceability of national borders. Examples would also include the obligation, I believe, that nations have to bless the nation of Israel, and in fact, whether God blesses or curses a nation largely depends upon their posture towards Israel. And then another obligation that we’re looking at here is the whole subject of military strength and use. Nations under certain circumstances have not just the right but the obligation under God to curtail evil through military power.
And of course this topic gets into something that we wrestle with quite a bit because it’s something called terrorism, its advent in our world. You know, terrorist activity has almost become a normal staple of American life; it’s almost regularly that we pick up the newspaper or watch TV, listen to the radio and we hear about some terrorist activity or event which claims the lives of innocent people; 9-11, Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon bomber, Orlando Florida, Chelsea New York, San Bernardino, California, even abroad in places like France, Nice France, (I think you pronounce that niece, it looks like it says nice France, but I think it’s Nice, France if I’ve got my pronunciation correct. Paris, on and on we could go.
And you look at something like that, as horrific as it is and you wonder where is God in these things? And beyond that, has the Bible actually addressed this issue. I’m thoroughly convinced as we complete our study, hopefully today, God willing, I’ve been saying that for the last six weeks but I think today we’re going to complete it, but the Bible actually addresses this issue of terrorism. In fact, when you let the Bible talk and you actually investigate what the Bible has to say it speaks far more aggressively on the issues of the day than your typical Christian is even aware of.
We talked about terrorism’s false causes; if you don’t have a biblical framework you have to attribute evil to something and so you get explanations like poverty, lack of education, it’s America’s fault (that’s called American Imperialism). None of them really capture what the Scripture says about where violence emanates from. We’ve looked at several verses but violence in the Bible, particularly terrorist activity, is the result of two things coming together in a person’s heart. The first is the natural depravity that we all have.
Jesus is very clear when He talks about murders in Mark 7:20-23, that these things proceed out of the man. The fact is, all of us have the potential for murder and every good criminal investigator understands that. Nobody is somehow above and beyond the propensity or the proclivity to murder. And that’s why we need the Scripture in our lives to act as a countervailing influence telling my sin nature to not do things it naturally wants to do. Jesus, in Mark 7:7-23 says it’s not what goes into the man that makes him unclean, it’s what proceeds out of man. And he gives a whole laundry list of sins which I won’t repeat to you here because we’ve gone through this passage, but one of the things he articulates is murder. [Mark 7:20, “And He was saying, ‘That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,  deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.’”]
When murder comes together in a person’s heart alongside an ideology of some sort that gives them permission to murder in the name of accomplishing some sort of higher good you have the makings of a homegrown terrorist. And therefore if you don’t have the right cause for terrorism you’ll come up with the wrong solution. We have many people today, because they’re not informed, many of our leaders, by the light of God’s Word they come up with all kinds of definitions or attempts to deter terrorism which, on the surface, looks like they emanate from a good human heart but they really never grapple with the issue because they never deal with the issue in terms of what the Bible says about it. If you don’t have the right cause of a problem you can’t come up with a right solution. Amen. So military reduction, appeasement, dialogue, treaties, subsidies, apology tours, these are all in the air; these are all the thinking of the leaders and yet isn’t it interesting that terrorism has not been abated but continues on, even more aggressively as the years roll on.
The book of Ecclesiastes “Because the sentence of an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.” And this gets now into the effective deterrent for terrorism and God has an institution that He has established to curtail violence. Violence, of course, is something that characterized the pre-flood world in Genesis 6:11, it says, “Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.” And although the flood waters changed the environment or the geography or topography, cleansed the world, they never fixed the human nature in man which is bent towards evil. The sin nature continues on into the flood world as the world is repopulated through Noah’s three sons.
Thus God established the institution of human government, Genesis 9:6, where God says, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” The fear that government places in the hearts of people provides a natural deterrent or check and balance against the violence that is inside all of us. If we didn’t have the institution of human government the world would quickly regress to what it was like before the flood.
Some people say well when is Andy going to quit talking about politics and get back to the Bible? The fact of the matter is, we wouldn’t have any understanding of politics or government if it weren’t for what? The Bible. The Bible provides the foundation for properly understanding government and politics. And this is why many things that people do in the political world seem crazy to the Biblicist because they don’t start from the right premise; they don’t start from the Scripture and build up. Many people have a worldview, many people have theologies for that matter, but because those worldviews and theologies don’t begin with the Word of God they have a worldview which doesn’t work, is aberrant, and in fact in the long run causes destruction.
So we need to hold all thoughts, as Paul tells us, accountable to the Word of God, even how we think about political issues. This far transcends mere partisanship. It deals with a biblical philosophy of life, all of life, including politics. God, therefore, has ordained human government to restrain evil. Paul comments on that in the New Testament, Romans 13:3-5, we’ve read that passage, we’ve read that passage, But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” [Romans 13:3 “For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;  for it is a minister of God to you for good.] “But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.  Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.”
The government is not perfect but it produces in us something called fear. Not all fear is bad; fear of being caught, fear of being prosecuted, fear of being imprisoned is something that God established to hold back the actions of people from what their sinful impulses are telling them to do. And if a person is controlled by their sin nature and a radical ideology literally the only thing that’s going to prevent them from doing more mayhem, which is going to destroy more lives made in God’s image, is the fear of government itself. That’s the logic of the Noahic Covenant which goes back to Genesis 9 which is the beginning of human government.
Now of course we all have examples of governments that go too far and that’s why we, last week, went through the eight principles of just war; these are principles that Christian theologians generally recognize and embrace; governments can’t just go to war for the sake of going to war. There is an unjust reason governments go to war and there are just reasons governments go to war. And it’s so important in this age of terrorism that we understand the biblical principles of just war so we can understand if our own government, that’s accountable to “we the people” is stepping out of biblical guidelines.
And beyond that there is a way to prosecute a just war; four concepts that we looked at last time, when to go to war, eight concepts; how to prosecute a war, four concepts. The Bible again is speaking to these things. And we conclude our study, we wrap up our study today by looking at what I would call legitimate methods that governments of the earth can employ under God in deterring something as terrible as terrorist activity.
I tried to show you what government should not do but what can government do? And some of the things that I’ll talk about may be sort of surprising to you because they seem at first unloving. They seem at first glance somewhat unchristian. At first glance it kind of looks like they contradict the Sermon on the Mount at points. But I’ll show you that each of these methods, I believe, are in fact ordained by God and necessary to deter what? The evil and the depravity that already exists in human beings.
You see, if you start from the premise that men are naturally good some of these things that I’ll talk about seem overly harsh but the reality of the situation is from cover to cover the Bible teaches the depravity of man. People, when left to their own devices have the ability to do good things but by and large if left to their own devices and their heart is uninfluenced by, (A) Scripture, (B) a parental upbringing that’s good, and (C) the threat of fear from government, they will have a natural bent or a natural propensity towards evil and that’s the whole logic of why God established human government in the first place.
So here we go. Number 1, what is something legitimate, what are things that are legitimate that the nation/state is obligated under God to do to curtail something as evil and wicked as terrorism. Number 1, they have to have the freedom to give it the proper label. How can you solve a problem, any problem, let’s leave terrorism out of it for a minute. How can you solve the problem of cholesterol? How can you solve the problem of finances? How can you solve the problem of over eating or under eating? How can you solve any problem unless you are allowed the freedom to label the problem for what it is.
And you see, this is where we are already losing right here in the United States of America because we are not allowed (because of political correctness) to put the right label on the problem. The problem has to do with depravity coming into contact with a radical ideology; the most radical ideology that we’re facing today is what I like to call consistent Islam or fundamentalist Islam or people that take the teachings of Islam, which we’ve gone over in this series, some of them, to their logical and natural consequences. You cannot say today radical Islam is the cause of terrorism because somehow we have in our mind that that’s denigrating the religion of somebody else. We are so afraid of this issue of political correctness that it has blinded us to our ability to… the first thing you have to do before you solve any problem is put the proper label on the problem.
So what is terrorism today called? Well, anything but radical Islam. And by the way, just for the record, I really don’t like the expression Radical Islam. The problem is not “Radical Islam,” the problem is Islam consistently applied; that’s the problem. I much prefer the expression Fundamentalist Islam or Consistent Islam. That’s not to say that every Muslim is a terrorist but those Muslims that aren’t terrorists are living inconsistently with what their own holy books demand. There is a minority of Muslims in the world, and even in the United States of America that are believers in everything that their holy book demands. That’s the problem! That’s what they call radical Islam, I prefer the expression consistent Islam or Fundamentalist Islam. But they won’t even allow today (the government) to use the expression “Islam” when talking about terrorism. They use expressions like this: work place violence.
You know, the terrorist activity in San Bernardino county there was so much evidence, not to mention in Fort Hood, of the beliefs of the perpetrators of this crime. It doesn’t take any great skill at all to discover their motives on social media, things they’ve written other places. But because of political correctness, because of the fear we have of denigrating someone else’s religion we call it other names, like workplace violence. Here’s one of my favorites, Overseas Contingency Operations, what in the world is that? Islamic consistently applied terrorism! Any government on the earth that wants to solve this problem has to be given the freedom to give it the proper label.
The second freedom that any government on the face of the earth has the freedom under God to do is something called deterrence. Deterrence is the idea that look, I won’t harm you because I know that you’re more powerful than me militarily and if I injure you, you will come back at me two-fold, three-fold, four-fold, five-fold. And that’s what keeps my hand, or many hands of the earth from doing evil; plain and simple deterrents.
Back to Deuteronomy 13:10-11, now granted, this is from the Mosaic Law but it clearly establishes that deterrence works. It talks about crimes that you committed within the nation of Israel, and Moses said this: “So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Look at this next clause,  “Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you.”
Today people debate whether deterrence even works. Well, may I just say to you that if you respect the Bible (and you obviously do or you wouldn’t be here) deterrence works. God’s inerrant Word tells us that it works; the threat of punishment from government itself. You’d be surprised how many people out there in the world do not believe that the deterrence actually works. Why do they think that way? Because of their misconception of human nature. Humans are basically good they think, largely getting that idea not from the Bible but from modern day psychology so you can dialogue someone out of an evil act.
My home state of California, Diane Feinstein, made this statement: Senator Diane Feinstein, of California, has said nuclear weapons are” quote, “not a deterrent but a grave and gathering threat to humanity.” Close quote. I disagree with her. When I was in that state I didn’t vote for either, I voted against her because I believe that deterrents actually work, I believe that the threat of a nuclear exchange holds people’s hands back from evil which keeps me safe, my wife safe, my daughter safe, my church members safe as well.
I like the way Wayne Grudem, in this book that I’m using here, called Politics – According to the Bible: a conservative evangelical theologian summarizes the issue, he says this, “Will nuclear disarmament ever be possible? The short answer is no.” He goes on and he says, “This is why the United States in particular has a weighty responsibility to maintain clear superior nuclear force that can defeat any potential attacker and it must speak and act in such a way that the potential attacker is convinced that the United States will overwhelmingly retaliate if a nuclear weapon is launched against it. To fail to do so would be to fail to protect the citizens of the nations effectively.” [Politics – According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture by Wayne A. Grudem]
I understand the fear of a government going too far; that’s why we went over the principles of just war last week. But if the principles of just war are followed deterrence is an actual biblical concept. And if I haven’t offended you yet let me keep trying here.
Number 3, a missile defense system; I believe that a missile defense system is a logical thing that any government of the earth in this war-torn world would seek to implement. And I remember when President Reagan argued for a missile defense system back in the 80’s, it was called The Strategic Defense Imitative, SDI, and I remember the ridicule, the absolute ridicule that he received for this proposal. They mocked it as something called Star Wars and they argued that it would never work. And they argued that President Reagan claims to be a Christian, he claims to be a Bible believer and yet what is he talking about, this missile defense system which intercepts missiles out of the sky.
Well, suddenly the nation of Israel is under attack and they got some ideas from us related to SDI and Star Wars and they are able to do that very thing. And as these weapons of destruction are launched into the borders of Israel suddenly you begin to see the logic of a missile defense system. To me it’s common sense; it’s not even a matter of debate, it’s just simple logic given the innate depravity of people and the rapid spread of radical ideologies around the world that would seek to destroy the United States or any other country through weapons of mass destruction.
One of the things that’s interesting is what kept us safe during the Cold War era? There was something called the Cold War, as you know, and we were kept safe during that whole era because of two basic assumptions: number 1, you have only two nuclear super powers. That’s assumption number 1. The United States and the former Soviet Union. And number 2, both parties that have nukes or nuclear weapons are rational, or logical. What does that mean? We want to survive; they want to survive. They like life; we like life. So what kept each other from destroying one another is the belief that’s called MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, two nuclear super powers, both of them are logical and rational parties or players in the sense that both want to survive.
That’s what kept the United States and the world free for all of the decades of the cold war; those two assumptions. Do those two assumptions apply today? Let’s take the first one; there’s only two nuclear super powers. Obviously that assumption doesn’t apply today, think of all of the nations that are entering or have entered the nuclear club. I don’t even know if this list is exhaustive. My list is nine, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea… North Korea which went nuclear during the former Clinton administration, (I’m not sure if we’re going to get a second Clinton administration, I don’t know who I’m going to vote for, Ahab or Jezebel in this next election), Israel, and then if you’ve been following the news you know that Iran has nuclear ambitions. In fact, the United States, for reasons I don’t even understand, is expediting Iran crossing the nuclear finish line; should Iran get their hands on nukes that brings the number from two up to ten. So the first assumption of mutual destruction only two nuclear super powers in the world, that assumption is gone.
Well, what about this idea that both parties are rational, both parties are logical, both parties love life and want to survive. That doesn’t apply any more either, particularly when someone’s mind is contaminated by an ideology which tells them that if you die in the cause of Allah you immediately go into heaven where all of your essential desires through seventy virgins are immediately gratified. If somebody believes that, and obviously there are people that do or they wouldn’t be driving planes into the World Trade Center buildings on 9-11, people obviously believe that, how do you rationalize with somebody like that? How do you use logic? How do you say to them we will wipe you out if you damage us?
So the concept of logic or rationality is out; the concept of only two nuclear superpowers is out, and in that type of environment is not a missile defense system something logical that we would seek to implement and not ridicule? We need to think about these things. We need to think about the implications of these things under the authority of God who has given the nation-state the power to protect its own citizens.
Something else is preemption, a preemptive attack. Let me quote, just for a minute, from Dr. Grudem’s treatment of this. He writes, “But defeat of such terrorists poses a particular problem for law enforcement.” Why? Because many of them are committed to giving their lives to what they think of as a martyrdom in the cause of God in carrying out terrorist activities or attacks. This means that older forms of criminal investigation that are aimed at capturing and punishing the wrongdoer after the attack” which is the old school of thought, “simply will not work, because with a suicide bomber the wrongdoer is already dead.” Do you see that? “Under Islamic ideology the wrongdoer is already dead, therefore they must be defeated before they can launch the attack.”
The advent of Islam, it’s not new but it’s new in the sense of its incursion into the borders of the United States has gotten us to rethink the way typical criminal investigation and deterring crime is taking place. Do you arrest the person after the fact or do you try to stop it beforehand? If someone in their mind is already dead because it’s just a matter of time before the plane collides with the building and their soul goes into the presence of nirvana or Allah, where sensual desires are gratified with seventy virgins, that person is already dead, and thus the necessity of trying to stop a crime before it begins to occur becomes a necessity. That opens the door to all kinds of things, doesn’t it? Wiretapping, monitoring people.
I’m aware that government is going to use its power here but I’m also aware that there is something at work in our world that we’ve probably never seen before, at least in this country, a radical ideology which declares people to be dead before they actually die. So if you already believe that you are dead before you actually die there’s nothing, there’s really nothing to hold you back from evil. And how do you keep our children safe, our world safe, our churches safe, in that type of environment? It gets into the whole subject of preemption.
Let me take you to another one here. This takes us to number 5, invading another nation. I believe that under God if the principles of just war are followed one nation has the right to invade another nation to stop a greater harm from occurring. Certainly we understand that with World War II, where the allies invaded Nazi Germany stopping Hitler’s spread of Nazi fascism throughout the earth. And you say well, what kind of pastor are you? I mean, you’re talking like this? I thought you were a man of God? I thought you believed the Bible?
Well, my response is have you read the book of Obadiah lately? Obadiah is one chapter; Obadiah was written against a nation named Edom. I have a map there of Edom, very close to the borders of Israel in the Transjordan. And there’s this one chapter book called Obadiah; I believe he was probably the first writing prophet, and the whole subject of the book is why did you not intervene, Edom, to help the nation of Israel. Obadiah verse 11, you can read the whole book when you get home, it’s a very short read, but verse 11 says this, “On the day that you stood aloof, On the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem–You too were as one of them.”
And here’s the context of that prophecy. Babylon invaded the nation of Israel, mistreated the nation of Israel. Edom, a border state, just sat there and pretended like it wasn’t happening; it did nothing. And God now is bringing condemnation upon Edom because they didn’t act. May I put this in modern vernacular? They didn’t act unilaterally to help a fellow nation, in this case the nation of Israel.
You start putting some of these things together and if the principles of just war are followed one nation has the right under God (under certain narrow circumstances) to enter another nation, to invade another nation, to prevent a greater evil from transpiring. This is the expectation of God. Obadiah, Edom, that wasn’t God’s special nation, the nation of Israel. They came sort of from the same roots, these two, but Edom was not God’s special nation and even though Edom was not God’s special nation (Israel was God’s special nation) Edom under God had an obligation to help out a sister, a fellow brother nation. And God devotes an entire prophetic book to condemning Edom for not helping.
So the proper label, the subject of deterrence, missile defense, preemption, invading other nations, let me take you to a sixth one, holding nations accountable that harbor terrorists. Under God a nation has a responsibility, not just to hold those within its borders committing terrorism and bringing them to justice but it has a responsibility to exert pressure on other nations. And this is why following 9-11, although I wasn’t personally crazy about everything the Bush administration did during that era, the speech that George Bush gave following 9-11, I believe is articulating a biblical concept. Bush said this to an address of a joint session of Congress following 9-11. Quote, “We will starve out terrorists their funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations” plural “that provide aid or a safe haven to terrorism. Every nation and every region now has a decision to make: either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded as a hostile regime,” in other words, an enemy of the United States.
It’s not enough simply to stop terrorism within your own borders. In fact, as we all know borders are becoming sort of porous, aren’t they. It’s hard to get our politicians even to enforce our own borders, which enhances the travel of terrorists from one nation to the other, which demands that we not only hold terrorists accountable but we hold other nations accountable for their irresponsible policies related to terrorist activity.
Let me take you to a seventh point here: Spying. Nations under God to stop evil have an obligation and a responsibility to be invested heavily in spying, work like the CIA. What does the CIA do? It coordinates America’s spy network around the world. You say well, is this in the Bible? My goodness. We need to read the Bible a little bit more carefully, don’t we? Joshua 2:1 sent out what? spies to spy out the land of Canaan. Joshua 2:1. Joshua 2:1 says, “Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’ So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there.” Spying there is in the book of Joshua.
David sent out spies, 1 Samuel 26:4, to spy on the whereabouts of King Saul. [1 Samuel 26:4, “David sent out spies, and he knew that Saul was definitely coming.”] David sent out another spy, Hushai, to serve as an undercover agent when Absalom was about to capture Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 15:32-37; 2 Samuel 16:15-19; 2 Samuel 7:15-22.
2 Samuel 15:32-37, “It happened as David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, that behold, Hushai the Archite met him with his coat torn and dust on his head.  David said to him, “If you pass over with me, then you will be a burden to me.  But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so I will now be your servant,’ then you can thwart the counsel of Ahithophel for me.  Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So it shall be that whatever you hear from the king’s house, you shall report to Zadok and Abiathar the priests.  Behold their two sons are with them there, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son; and by them you shall send me everything that you hear.”  So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 16:15-19, “Then Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, entered Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him,  Now it came about when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, ‘Long live the king! Long live the king!’  Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?”  Then Hushai said to Absalom, “No! For whom the LORD, this people, and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain.  Besides, whom should I serve? Should I not serve in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father’s presence, so I will be in your presence.”
2 Samuel 7:15-22, “Then Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, entered Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.  Now it came about when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, ‘Long live the king! Long live the king!’  Absalom said to Hushai, ‘Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?’  Then Hushai said to Absalom, No! For whom the LORD, this people, and all the men of Israel have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain.  Besides, whom should I serve? Should I not serve in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father’s presence, so I will be in your presence.’  Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, ‘Give your advice. What shall we do?’  Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father. The hands of all who are with you will also be strengthened.’  So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.  The advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one inquired of the word of God; so was all the advice of Ahithophel regarded by both David and Absalom.”]
If we knew a little bit about the Bible we would see that spying, CIA type activity translated back into that day, was normal. And one of the things that is very disturbing for me to watch in this culture is how the CIA, America’s spy network, is demonized constantly. In fact, the propaganda on this is so severe that it comes right at us through the entertainment world. Anybody see the Jason Borne movies? The Jason Borne trilogy? I watched all of them, I thought they were very good, I thought they were very well done, they’re taken from a novel but it’s interesting, the movie reaches a different conclusion than the novel. Did you know that? They took some literary license, the movie producer. Do you know who the bad guy is in the movie? It’s the CIA. The CIA is the bad guy! America’s spy network is the bad guy.
Now we look at that and we say well, it’s just a movie, it’s just harmless. This is seeping into the minds of people. Another movie that I watched, now some of these movies I watch I don’t watch because I agree with them, I like to do what I like to call opposition research to figure out what is being said, and then I get some popcorn out of the deal. The movie came out in 2007 is called Rendition. The whole focus of Rendition is how it’s actually America going abroad and torturing people, America is the bad guy.
And let me say something; I know this is going to step on a few toes and we can still be friends at the end of the day, but I know there are people, even in this group, and I see this constantly on the internet, I see it on social media, I see it on You-tube and what we are told over and over again by a certain group of people, and it began really with a video called Loose Change, which is easily accessible online, you can read it, and basically the premise of it is 9-11 was an inside job. America is really the entity that brought down the twin towers.
Now I would commend to you an edition of Popular Mechanics, an engineering magazine that goes through the arguments that Loose Change makes and refutes them point by point if you are prone to that type of thinking. I wish I had more expertise on the subject but let me tell you about the part of that that really disturbs me: it takes America’s eyes off the ball; no longer is it fundamentalist Islam or consistent Islam that’s the problem, suddenly it’s America that’s the problem, and consistent fundamentalist Islam really isn’t so bad after all because America brought all this on herself.
And this is the part of it that most impacts my soul when I hear this kind of thing because it’s demonizing an institution that although is not perfect, is not an institution that God wants demonized. God wants the CIA, God wants an aggressive military posture, not to make the world less safe, less stable, but it has the opposite effect, it makes the world more stable.
So as you hear this from people I want you to think about, very carefully, even if you’re a subscriber to this, what this does to a person’s mindset, particularly a young person that may not have a fully developed worldview yet? What is that going to do to their heart? What is that going to do to their soul in turning their mind against an institution that God Himself has established and God Himself has ordained and how it gets our eyes off what the actual problem is. So Selah, which means in Hebrew consider carefully.
One more and we’re finished, but don’t celebrate yet, this might take us a little while. And by the way, even before I get to this last point, do you remember what the Apostle Paul said? 1 Timothy 2:1-4, “1First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,” and then he specifically says,  “for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness [and dignity.  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.]” he is rehearsing what Paul said in Romans 13, he is rehearsing the function of the Noahic Covenant, and he is basically saying that the believer has an obligation to pray for the institution of human government, because the institution of human government if it’s functioning correctly performs this great service in the world of deterring evil. And as evil is curtailed we enjoy a time of tranquility and quiet, which according to this verse enhances the movement of the gospel.
And people all of the time say don’t get wrapped up in politics, just worry about the gospel. Look at how Paul connected the two there. Look at how he connected the proper functioning of government to the rapid transmission of the gospel. I mean, if anybody understood this it was Paul since he just got released from Roman imprisonment. He knew what a corrupt government could do to halt the progress of the gospel We have so bifurcated in our minds politics from spiritual things that we have created a false dichotomy that God never created. And so we, as Christians are called upon to (unless the government is abusing its power) submit to government, pray for government, respect government. We are not anti-government people. This is why I can’t get onboard with the Libertarians; I can’t get on board with anybody these days. But the Libertarians will come along and they’ll say we should get rid of government, I mean, they don’t even argue we should have limited government, let’s just abolish it.
Abolish it? If you abolish it you’ll have a wild, wild west scenario just like that, that will be exactly what was happening in the days of Noah. God ordained government for the social order. That’s why we are called upon to pray for government. Can I ask you a simple question? Do you know the names of your city council members? Do you know the names of your state and local representatives, those that represent us in the Texas Legislative Branch? Do you know the names of the Texas Supreme Court justices? Do you know the names of the United States Supreme Court justices? Do you know the names of your federal and national Senators, Congressmen and women? How can you pray for those people unless you know who they are? And yet we’re called upon as God’s people to make active intercession for these individuals because of the function that they fulfill in society.
And so many Christians want to get involved in a political cause of a boycott to correct some kind of social evil and there are many social evils on the menu, don’t get me wrong, but it is the conviction of my heart that if we were actively interceding for these people regularly as God’s people a lot of the social evils that we are so upset about (rightfully) wouldn’t exist. And it’s almost like we’ve gotten the cart before the horse. Yes, let’s be good stewards; yes, let’s show up and vote but let’s not let that be a substitute for intercession and prayer.
Do you pray for the CIA? I do, I pray Lord, I know there’s great evil in this world and I pray today that Your active spy work that You have ordained, that’s not perfect and can do wrong things, would function correctly and hold someone’s hand back from evil today so beings that bear your image are saved, first of all physically protected and secondly have the opportunity in their lives, before they are whisked into a violent and early grave to hear the gospel and trust Jesus Christ as Savior for salvation. We don’t even pray like this today, do we? If we’re honest. And yet this is our calling as the people of God.
This last one some of you may be surprised on this one; “I believe that it is within the auspices and the jurisdiction of the nation/state to stop terrorism by pursuing enhanced interrogation techniques.” Charles Krauthammer of Fox News articulate something that he calls the ticking time bomb test. The ticking time bomb test says this: How should the United States treat a captured terrorist, especially when it has a strong reason to believe that the terrorist has planned a future terrorist attack against it or has detailed knowledge about a future attack. Newspaper columnist Charles Krauthammer called this the ‘ticking time bomb’ test. Gruden summarizes the moral question; the moral question in this case is whether the United States Government has a moral right to use less than humane treatment, including treatment that causes discomfort and even significant pain in order to preempt or to compel the terrorist to do what is morally right, namely to disclose the location of the ticking time bomb or the identities and the locations of those planning to carry out a future evil attack.
A bomb is ready to go off in Houston, New York, Los Angeles, somebody with a terrorist mind knows exactly where that bomb is. That terrorist happens to be a prisoner of the United States of America and you’ve got to get that information, don’t you? The typical means of dialogue aren’t going to work with someone that’s steeped in a radical ideology. You have to use something more aggressive; that’s what’s been called enhanced interrogation techniques. Now I find this to be… and some of you will be surprised by this, I find this to be a biblical concept. Why do I call it a biblical concept? Because the Bible teaches the reality of physical pain without creating lasting damage in a person.
God uses this on us all the time if you think about it. Proverbs 13:24, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” There are ways to bring pain into a person’s life that won’t permanently damage the person. That’s what enhanced interrogation is all about. Now some of you are just looking down your nose at me; how could you say that? How could you think that? If you’re a mother or a grandmother may I just say to you, you use this all the time. It’s called the quick shoulder squeeze. Those of you that are in authority over children know exactly what I’m talking about. In fact, I’m very proud to say that our VBS crew knows exactly how to use this. This involves the squeezing of a muscle, the trapezius I think is how you pronounce that, that runs between the shoulder and the neck; it hurts, and yet is one of the most effective means of discipline with no physical damage.
I believe the governments of the earth have an obligation under God to use what we would call non-traditional enhanced interrogation methods to prevent the ticking time bomb from destroying millions in an innocent city. One enhanced interrogation technique is truth serum. “A related issue is the injection of sodium pentothal, commonly called truth serum. It tends to reduce a person’s inhibitions and make him more willing to talk with interrogators. It has also been widely used in previous years as an anesthetic for surgery.” I. C. Grudem says, “I see no moral obligation to use this or similar drugs in exceptional cases to attain valuable information about terrorists.
We’re living in a time period where we have to start thinking about these issues. The second is something you probably know a little bit about, you’ve heard a little bit about it, called waterboarding. “This involves holding a prisoner’s head down so that his head is lower than the rest of his body while he faces up. The cloth is put over his nose and now and water is poured over the cloth giving the prisoner the, watch this, sensation of drowning.” He’s not actually drowning, it gives him the sensation of drowning. For a number of years this same process has been used on thousands of U.S. troops, giving them survival evasion resistance escape, SERE, training to resist an enemy if captured and this has been done ‘with the full knowledge of Congress.’”
There are a plethora of voices that will tell you that such practices are inhumane, they are un-Christian, and the fact of the matter is they don’t work anyway. Do they work? They are surprisingly, in fact astonishingly effective. “As a result of such coercive methods a terrorist,” now this is a name that I can’t even pronounce so I’ll just call this guy Z, Z “disclosed information which led to the capture of” another guy I’ll call R, “another of the planners of September 11th who in turn disclosed information which helped lead to the capture of KSM,” you might know who KSM is, Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and other senior terrorists and the disruption of follow up plots aimed at both Europe and the United States.” These are actually tactics and techniques that are overwhelmingly effective in procuring information.
Hayden and Mukaseyi in a Wall Street Journal article on these enhanced interrogation techniques make this very interesting statement; they say, “It is doubtful that any high level Al-Qaeda operative would provide useful intelligence in response to traditional methods of interrogation. Yet KSM and Z provided a critical information after being waterboarded, information that helped prevent a second wave attack in Los Angeles.
These two authors go on and they say in other words, these enhanced interrogation techniques worked remarkably well. The claim that they don’t work is disproven by U.S. history. The authors go on and say that “the idea that these measures never work is a “ignorant view.” Now you say wait a minute, wait a minute, isn’t there something called the Geneva Convention, which is an international treaty that protects the rights of prisoners of war? Grudem writes this: “When someone enters the United States to carry out a terrorist attack that person forfeits their status as a prisoner of war for two reasons. Number 1, he is deliberately attacking civilians, and number 2 he is fighting out of uniform since he is trying to disguise himself as an innocent civilian. Therefore according to international law he is not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.”
But the other side is true also—can a government go too far? Of course they can, that’s why the principles of just war are so critical. There are five ways the government can go too far. Number 1, immorality, to commit actions that are in themselves immoral, such as raping a prisoner. Secondly the government can go too far is in the denial of medical treatment. Third way the government can go too far is in what we would call sadistic humiliation. The fourth way the government can go too far is in the far is in the violation of religious convictions; to attempt to force a prisoner to violate religious convictions that pose no threat to the United States nor its defense, for example, it would be wrong to give a Muslim prisoner only pork to eat, or only alcoholic beverages to drink so as to force him to sin against his religion or starve to death. That probably would be an example of the government going too far.
And the last way a government can go too far is in the creation of lasting physical damage, to do things that would shock the conscience of any court, such as cutting off fingers or toes, gouging out eyes, branding someone’s face, twisting and binding limbs so severely so as to cause permanent disability, and so forth.
So with all of these issues there’s always a balance. Yes, let’s hold the governments of the world accountable for doing what God called them to do, which may even include enhanced interrogation, pain without causing lasting physical damage, but let’s not go overboard here. And let’s also understand that the people administering the government are corrupted sometimes, and all times by the same sin nature as the person they’re interrogating.
Terrorism’s false causes; terrorism’s true causes, ineffective deterrents to terrorism, effective deterrents to terrorism, going too far in deterring terrorism, legitimate methods in deterring terrorism. That concludes The Bible and Voting series as we’ve looked at economics, social and foreign affairs, issues, you’re probably saying to yourself I’ve never heard anything quite like that in my local church. But I trust that you have enjoyed that.
Next week we’ll be returning to verse by verse teaching of the Word of God as we’re going to be taking a look, going verse by verse through the book of Daniel. I chose the book of Daniel because number 1, I have never taught an Old Testament book in this church, and number 2, Daniel is describing events of the last days, many of which we’re seeing coming to pass before our eyes. And finally, number 3, Daniel is a book about living for God in a pagan culture because Daniel and his three friends as teenagers were exported from the land of Israel 350 miles to the east in a place called Babylon and they were called upon to live for God in a culture that was pagan, knew nothing about God and in fact didn’t have the same assumptions about God that they were used to when they were comfortable in the land of Israel.
And whoever wins this election, the fact of the matter is America is becoming, not just a post-Christian culture but to a large extent becoming an anti-Christian culture. So we’re having to make choices constantly as God’s people regarding taking stands or living for God in a world system that’s very hostile to God. Our brothers and sisters around the world have been living in that type of circumstance for the last 2,000 years. It’s unique to us here in the United States because we have been blessed to live in a culture with Christian assumptions. But as those Christian assumptions are discarded we have to start thinking the way the rest of the Christian world has had to think and live and so those are the reasons that I’ve selected the book of Daniel.
If you’re here today and you don’t know Christ personally our exhortation to you is to believe in Jesus Christ, the only hope for lost Scroll to tophumanity. Jesus stepped out of eternity into time to pay a price for our salvation which we could never pay. His last words on the cross were “It is finished!” His bodily resurrection from the dead proved that He was who He claimed to be and by exercising simple faith in this man, Jesus Christ, and His promises you have the hope of eternity. It’s not something you have to walk an aisle to do, join a church to do, raise a hand to do, give money to do, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you trust in the provision of God and your eternity is secure the moment you do that. And if the Spirit of God is convicting you in any way that you need to do that our exhortation here at Sugar Land Bible Church is to respond to that convicting message by trusting Christ and Christ alone. If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray.
Father, we’re grateful, first of all, for Your Word and how it speaks to volatile issues of the day. I thank You also for a special group here that wants to grow and hopefully has grown in this area. I pray, Father, that you’ll be with us as we move through the book of Daniel and as only Your Holy Spirit can do as You make it clear it to us and apply it to our lives. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We lift these things up in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said….