Saturday, September 5, 2015

Four Biblical Examples of Man Obeying God rather than the State (or King)

Excerpted from article by John Piper:

  • 1) There is a long and respected tradition of civil disobedience in biblical history which God not only allows but also praises. It starts in Exodus 1. The Israelites had lived in Egypt under the rule of the Pharaohs for several centuries. They became very numerous, so the king of Egypt commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill all the boy babies born to the Israelites (v. 16). But verse 17 says, "The midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live." And verse 20 adds, "So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and grew strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families." It seems clear to me that these women were not subject to the governing authorities. In fact, they saw the command of the king not as a command of God, but contrary to God's command. So they disobeyed the civil authorities for God's sake, and God was pleased. 
  • 2)  King Nebuchadnezzar made a royal decree that all who heard his music must fall down and worship the golden image of his god. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to obey the edict (3:16–18). So they were thrown into the fiery furnace, and God miraculously saved them and thus put his stamp of approval on their civil disobedience. 
  •  3) Darius the king establishes an edict that for thirty days no one can make a petition to any god or man other than Darius himself (6:7). Daniel was one of Darius' three chief presidents (6:2), but verse 10 says, "When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem; and he got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously." The result was that he was thrown to the lions. But again God shows his approval of Daniel's disobedience by saving him from the lion's mouth. 
  • 4) When Peter and John were arrested by the Jewish authorities and commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, they answered in Acts 4:19, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." So they went on teaching in public and were arrested again. The high priest said to them in Acts 5:28, "'We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.' But Peter and the apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than men."'