"Such were the clans  of Noah's descendants, listed by descent and nation. From them, other nations branched out on earth after the flood."
Genesis10,32. Sovereignty of God
"Yahweh's voice in power, Yahweh's voice in splendor. 5 Yahweh's voice shatters the cedars." Psalm29,4-5 (Sovereign Voice of God creative or desructive)
6 "By the word of Yahweh the heavens were made, by the breath of his mouth all their array. 9 for the moment he spoke, it was so, no sooner than he commanded, than there it stood." Psalm33,6 and 9 Voice of God creative or destructive
"Go, therefore, makes disciples of all nations..." Matthew28,19. Sovereign voice of God = human obedience
"Then Jesus said to them, 'Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.' " Mark12,15-17 (Sovereign voice of God = human obedience)
"The nations will will revere your name, Lord, and all earthly kings your glory, 16 when the Lord builds Zion again and shows himself in his glory." Psalm102,15-16.
Today's sermon is a broad one "The Lord's Voice Above All Others."
Preachers like to focus messages and break down topics into digestible bits. But there are also times when the Lord wants big and broad preaching about the major realities of biblical revelation, like ours today. His voice is as broad as the heavens and earth, and as deep as the Word. It's also kinder than any other voice we may have ever heard, and more specific and demmanding, as specific and demmanding as martyrdom, or like like what happens when your neighbors ox breaks through the fence and is ambling toward your family picnic.
His voice is as gentle as your best friend's voice and a firm as Vermont granite.
'His voice above all others' is a huge subject, but a necessay in this modern age more than ever. Why? Because the principle characterization of our 21st century is distraction from a multitude of voices, espousing a multitude of tasks, and a multitude of values that might or might not bless us as human beings.
And amidst this our salvation depends on hearing His voice and doing what He tells us. As the Father's voice boomed at Jesus' baptism: "This is my beloved son, hear him!"
Our Lord is saying to our distracted age: "Jesus is my beloved son, hear him!"
It used to be we had fewer voices in our lives, say our parents and family, and perhaps a boss, a spouse, a friend. Now there's a multitude of voices, stronger and more demanding but further and further away from us. Fox News tells us that we all really should establishmentarian conservatives, and that all tv newswomen wear red dresses. The unrelenting voice of NSNBC tells us that we are really all just wanna be liberals in need of a new heart. The Washington Post, speaking for the USA, or the USA within the beltway empire, tells us they really know who Bernie Sanders is, and so they like his opponent better.
So many media voices have purposely become like religious communities, preaching to the same choir, building a brand by building a voice. One local newspaper just started an "insider" prgram to increase their voice in your life.
All the political special interest groups with all their money all have voices and makes sure that all DC hears them. Wall Street Banks have a voice and they use it. Governments at every level have a voice tells us all they are doing for us, of all the progress and that surely prosperity for all is just around the bend.
And in case we don't hear enough voices during the day "Coast to Coast" will provide them for us through the overnight.
Our culture has become a media mediated cash based shouting match, like the amped up voices of professional wrestling (at least they know what's fake and real) whereby we will say and do almost anything to get attention. Facts, principles, laws, values, fairness, justice, all are secondary. What matters is shouting the loudest, and gets the most attention.
Hundreds of voices, and their accompanying images, compete for our minds, bodies, souls and spirits, and our children absorb all this faster than any of us could imagine.
The Lord's Voice Is More Powerful
In this distracted environment it's Jesus' voice that we need to hear. His word, his discernment, his news, his images, his visions are meant to guide our lives.
Praise Him that His voice is always more focused, powerful and influential than any politician or church or corporate media. Praise Him that His voice cuts through all the distraction, and makes itself known in our lives. His voice gets us through day and night, through the week, through the month, through the year, through tthe rapture of the bride, through the seven year tribulation against Israel, through and into the millenial, through and into the kingdom of God, through and into reigning and ruling from Zion with Him: "Yahweh's voice in power. Yahweh's voice in splendor. 5 Yahweh's voices shatters the cedars." Psalm29,4
Psalm 33,6: "By the word of Yahweh the heavens were made, by the breath of his mouth all their array." ... V.9: "for, the moment he spoke, it was so, no sooner had he commanded, than there it stood! 10 Yahweh thrawts the plans of nations, frustrates the counsels of peoples; 11 but Yahweh's own plan stands firm for ever, his hearts counsel from age to age."
Here's the voice of the Jesus I've heard recently: "Trust my voice above all others. I speak about everything to all who will humble themselves and listen. I speak before I act. I tell people what is really happening, and what will happen. I do nothing without telling my prophets. Don't ever doubt my voice. Ask and you shall receive. Ask to hear my voice, and I will speak to you. I talked to King David. I talked to Samuel, my priest and prophet. I talk to my people day in and day out. And I will talk to you too."
That's a God's voice still speaking today.
How dare we Christians think the voices of the world are stronger or better than the Lord's voice. How dare we not seek out and listen to His voice. Only His voice shatters the proudest heart and restores the lost and hurting, and sustains us on our walk. Only His voice created the universe out of nothing and created you and me too, spoke us into existence. The Lord's voice gave us our souls and personalities, each one unique.
He knows how to talk to his own, how to encourage, how to correct, how to influence, how to love, with all the right words, not because he's slick and done his polling, but because he cares for us. So we cast all our cares upon him.
Hearing His Sovereign Voice
His "voice" might come from our own conscience or from a scripture that comes to mind or by reading it. His word is his will. He and His voice are meant to be sovereign in our life. Sovereign means that He and his voice are the supreme power and the supreme jurisdiction in our life. So when he speaks we humans obey.
Other times the voice of God comes to us from a wise elder, such as a parent, or pastor, who knows and follows the word. I add that caveat "who knows and follows the word" because we have "pastors" and churches who give their own words, not the Word, or they quote each other, and quote their denominations, and other denominational leaders, and they count on the fact that their people think they are receiving the Word. But they aren't.
None of these are the Lord's voice.
Well if you are having difficulty hearing the true voice of God, open a bible for yourself. Don't have one? Buy one. Read it- listen to the Lord's voice as you read it! He'll speaki through his word when you read it. And then hang your life and that of your family on His word and his voice only.
Don't let any other voice take His position as the first voice in your life.
A Simple Exercise To Hear His "Now" Voice
There are many times in life we need to hear the "now" voice of God for ourselves to know how he wants to do, and how to live our lives. We are told to "ask and we shall receive." I have preached this many times, and I'll repeat it here quickly: if you have never heard God's voice, do this simple faith exercise, for one whole week. It's really easy. You like don't have to get in shape and join the gym to do it. Just before you go to sleep, when you are not distracted, when your not thinking about ten things, say "Jesus I love you. I want you to be my Shepherd."
Trust the word - calling on the Name of Jesus invokes his presence and His voice. We spoke about this when we talked about the covenant of adult water baptism. We call on his name, trust Him, His Spirit and voice will soon be calling on your name. He will hear you. John10,3 says the sheep of his fold hear his voice. So pause after you tell him you love him, and listen for his answer until you fall asleep. Sooner or later you will hear: "I love you too." Or, "Of course I love you" or something like that. Or "What took you so long to talk to me!" Try it! It will work if you have any faith at all, even the size of a mustard seed, a sesame seed.
It's simple- his voice, His Word, was and always meant to be above all other voices in our lives. Like I said, it used to be we just had just a few voices in our lives, now we live in a world where we turn on the TV or search the net and hear all the slickest and wordliest and most well trained voices, 24 hours a day. Make no mistake, no matter how clear or effective, many of these voices compete for the place God meant for His voice alone.
Think about it, we live in a time where so many voices are far away. This is one of the reasons living amidst a local church community and rubbing shoulders and interacting with people there and around town is so important. At church, ideally, we hear the word of God right there in the living and risen body of Christ. I experienced that for the first time recently, the living and risen body of Christ as in church. At a good church like this, we hear God's word of caution, or correction, sort of 'face to face' in the body so to speak. We can learn something that can change our spiritual and practical lives such as greater thanksgiving, the importance of prasingand following God. We learn these lessons in community, amongst each other, amongst the risen body, face to face and soul to soul, praise you Jesus.
Whereas the distant voices in our lives tend encourage us to be mostly DIY (do-it-yourself), and stay away from human interaction. DIY is ok for many things, and it's great to learn online, but Jesus did all His ministry in public, talking and visiting with people. It's weird in that today we are living in such a distracted culture that some people like refuse to interact with each other, even in public. They obviously prefer their own private voices. It's as if we are being taught by our technology and a new "manners" to avoid each other, to keep our distance. Is this why people won't go out of the house without ear buds on?
Well Jesus is the best teacher and wants to be close by to us and talk to us both in private and when we are in public. And he wants us to talk to each other in public and private in that he gave us loosed tongues on the day of Pentecost that we might match our voice up to His. For those of us baptized in the Holy Spirit, He's right there living inside us. And he'll speak to us from there, not from outside us, but from inside us. That's how close his voice is. It's so much easier to hear his voice when he lives inside us.
You might say and think "I'm not close enough to the Lord to hear his voice, to match my voice up to His. I don't even know anything about baptism in the Spirit, like you "Holy Rollers." My answer to that? His sovereign will is that you hear his voice, that you know it. If you are not baptized in the Spirit yes that makes it harder to hear, but that's no excuse for not hearing.
The problem with us not hearing His voice is not with him. His desire is that we would be born again of His Spirit. His desire is that we all would hear and heed His voice in every form it comes to us. His desire is that we would not just hear his voice once or twice in our lives, but regularly, so regularly that he would call us his "friend."
What's the chief characteristic of friends, they know the sound of each other's voice!
Jesus' Voice Is That Of A Friend That Sticks Closer Than A Brother
I listened to the retirement ceremony of the hockey goaltender Martin Brodeur last week, live on WFAN radio from the Prudential Center In Newark New Jersey. Martin Brodeur, as far as records go, is likely the greatest professional goalie of all time. He was all about the team. He won three Stanley cups with New Jersey, and perhaps more impressive, two gold medals for Canada, the first gold being Canadas first hockey gold in fifty years.
This ceremony was very well planned, just like a good church service, and we heard all these well known voices of Marty's friends. There was the clipped it's-all-taken-care-of voice of former NJ GM Lou Lamarillo, and the rich voice of Hall of Famer and former NJ coach Jaques Lemeiux, who has an unforgettable hockey voice. There was the rapid, bouncy and enthusiastic voice of play by play announcer "Doc" Emrick, who is the most recognized voice in all hockey right now. They all spoke eloquently as friends about all that Marty accomplished in hockey.
And then Martin spoke with his friendly French Canadien drawl. All these unforgettable voices, a synphony of iconic hockey voices.
And I was like "Lord that was awesome, but they are saying so much about a fellow hockey player?" And then the Lord said to me "I'd say all those kind and thankful things about the least of my brothers and sisters out there spreading the gospel."
And I was like, I accept that Lord, praise your loving NAME.
I accept that word and bolstering love.
I accept your voice who calls me and you "friend."
After I heard ll those hockey voices, I heard a higher voice. If I hadn't heard the Lord's voice, if I wasn't eager for it, I might not have realized that what we faithers do for our GM, Jesus, and our fans, the saints and angels in heaven, is important too.
Important to our GM, who one day will round up our fans and team-mates and say "well done my good and faithful servant."
So for you churchgoers out there who have grown comfortable not hearing the Lord's voice, it's time to stop being a doormat, stop accepting that Jesus' voice is second to the world the devil and the flesh. Second place to any man's voice. In Jesus and through Him and with Him we are poised and ready to hear his voice above all others. There's is no better friend. There's no better voice. So, it's time wake up and and know his voice like the bible says, and ask him about everything we want to know.
Ask and listen- we don't quit until we get our answers!
We live in an age where many folks often will bare intimate details of their personal lives, in whatever setting public or private, and will ask Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew and Dr. Oz and Dr. Ruth just about everything and take their answers, in public or private, so how can we be too humble to ask the the living God of Israel, who made us, and knit us in their mother's womb, and knows us better anyone? His voice will be more discreet and loving, more private or public as the case may be, than any voice out there.
His Voice Can Be Heard By His Enemies And All People
Revelation17,17 proves that God can influence and talk to anyone, and any nation and any group of nations, even that group of ten nations that will gang up against his people Israel in the end times, that is, folks who seem the farthest from Him.
How could this be? Because His voice is above all others, above all barriers, all obstacles, even lack of faith:
"God has influenced their minds [minds of ten nations] to do what he intends [to turn on "the prostitute"], [and] to agree together to put their royal powers at the beast's disposal [antichrist] until the time when God's words shall be fulfilled."
If God can influence the minds of his enemies and those of His people Israel, when those enemies are not the least bit interested, by talking to them, don't you think he will take the time to talk to us, who might have the faith courage to talk to Him?
The God of Israel, the angel of the Lord, God come down, ran after the pagan gal Hagar, fleeeing from her cruel and jealous mistress Sarah. He ran after her so he could talk to her, Genesis16,7ff: 'The angel of the Lord came upon Hagar by a spring in the wilderness [this is where he talks to us, where and when we are undistracted], the spring on the road to Shur, and 8 he said. 'Hagar, Sarai's slave-girl, where have you come from and where are you going? She answered, 'I am running away from Sarai my mistress.' 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to ill-treatment at her hands.' 10 He also said, 'I shall make your descendants too many to be counted.' 11 The angel of the Lord went on: 'You are with child and will bear a son.' "
Here's a gal that wasn't even asking to hear the Lord's voice, who was on the run, and yet He speaks many important things to her. She heard His voice and she obeyed. The Lord speaks to all people, the only difference is some listen and obey, and others keep running.
And how much more will the God of Israel talk to those of us who want to hear his voice!
The Lord God of Israel, by His own voice, at Isaiah 45 spoke to the Persian King Cyrus, successor king to empire of Babylon. He called upon Cyrus and anointed Him to deliver the Jews out of their seventy years of Babylonian captivity, anointed him to let them rerturn to Judah:
"Thus says the Lord to Cyrus his anointed, whom he has taken by the right hand, subduing nations before him and stripping kings [Babylon's kings] of their strength; before whom doors will be opened and no gates barred: 2 I myself shall go before you and level the swelling hills; I shall break down bronze gates and cut through iron bars. 3 I shall give you treasures from dark vaults, and hoards from secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, Israel's God, who calls you by name and given you a title, though you have not known me."
Our Lord raises his voice so even those far from him, who don't even claim Him, who have never known him, will hear it, and obey, praise His holy Name.
Voices InThe Wilderness Have Heard In The Wilderness
Before that, at Isaiah40, Isaiah heard the voice of Lord telling Judah of their final messiah and the kingdom of God, Jesus:
"A voice cries, 'Prepare in the desert a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our God across the wastelands. 4 Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be levelled... 5 then the glory of Yahweh will be revealed and all humanity will see it together.' " This is prophecy. This is the voice that spoke out Israel's redemption. Prophets hear the voice and repeat the voice, for the voice is sovereign, and once heard, it is to be obeyed.
John the Baptist was the herald of Israel's redemption. He heard the voice of the Lord saying Jesus was the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. And that just what he said, no more less. John the Baptist was soley devoted to the sovereign voice of God, obedient to His voice, above all, to his sovereignn voice alone. When God told him it was not right that king Herod ignored his own wife and married his niece, Herodias, the wife of his half brother Philip, John spoke up, for Jesus. He raised the voice of the Lord above the voice of double dealing half Jewish, half Indumean-(Esau) -Roman king.
John was so devoted to the voice of the Lord that we learn that at John1,19ff the chief priests and Levites sent a committee to ask who he was. So strong was his prophetic voice for salvation, they thought he might be the messiah himself, or Elijah come back, or the Prophet greater than Moses that Moses had promised [Deuternomy18,15-18, Acts3,22, who was Jesus]. Instead, in all humility, he merely defined himself as the Lord's voice, his herald, the herald of Israel's messiah, who would take away the sins of the whole world.
Oh what humility and obedience from John the Baptist, what a humble way he defines himself, as the voice of one crying out in the desert, in the wilderness, the voice of one who has put aside other voices, and heard the voice above all voices.
John1,21: " 'Then who are you? they asked John. 'We must give an answer to those who sent us. What account do you give of yourself? 23 He answered in the words of the prophet Isaiah: "I am a voice crying in the wilderness, 'make straight the way of the Lord.' "
In the wilderness, away from distractions, is where we hear the voice of God, away from the din and roar of the shouting matches, away from what everybody else says. My freinds the world, the devil and the flesh, all have distinct voices, and they are trying to close our ears to Jesus, and brand our minds with their brand, and its distractions.
John contemporaries were likely saying "who does that John dude think he is? Oh I bet he thinks he's the messiah, as many have said. I bet he thinks he's that better and bigger prophet that Moses spoke of. I suppose he thinks he's Elijah, who never died, now come back after being translated into heaven."
But John, who had heard the voice of the Lord, just said "I am the voice crying in the wilderness.." That is, "I am nothing, but a voice, representing the voice is above all others. Nothing but the dude that repeats what God says. Nothing but the man who says our messiah coming, and now is here, so make straight paths for Him and in your own life. I'm just the voice that says Jesus is the One who takes away the sin of the world."
John was the voice of God two thousand years ago. He lived and breathed out the spoken word of God.
Similarly, and more excellently than John, Jesus we know from John1,14 was 'the word made flesh.' That is, God's spoken Word made incarnate, the spoken Word of God made man. That's how important the spoken word of God is. The spoken word, Jesus, the now Word defines his incarnation and how God chooses to save us, by the washing of his once incarnated human blood.
Jesus is now looking for other John the Baptists in our own age, that would make His voice first, and then go out and tell a new generation of folks that the only way to escape the demands of the word of God is "to repent and trust in the goodnews" repent and come to Jesus, all you who are labor and heavy burdened.
No One Is Excused Forn Hearing His Voice
The only way to escape the certain judgment of the spoken voice of Jesus and His gospel, and His written word is faith in Him and it. Faith in Jesus is our only escape from the exactitude of his voice. He is our mercy. He knows our exact name (John10,3 and 14-15). He knew the exact name and rank of King Cyrus. His voice told king Cyrus to do a specific thing, a good and exact thing, let his fellow Jews come back to Judah, let them come back and build their temple and religion and get back to serving me.
And Cyrus, a Persian, a supposed foreigner to the Lord's voice, got the point. He heard the sovereign voice of God and he obeyed, and was deemed "anointed" saved by the Lord. Even a pagan heard the voice of God, and knew he would have to answer to Him if he disobeyed that voice. That hearing of the voice, and doing it, was his salvation and our salvation.
Donald Trump, Hillary and Bill, Ted Cruz, and Bernie Sanders. Have they heard his voice yet? I don't know. Roger Ailes and and His Fox News team have they? Vladimir Putin? Washington DC? The nation of Israel, the shrouded young Jihadi? We Christians love you all and here's some news: our Lord talks to everyone who is willing to listen, like Cyrus, and by His grace you too.
The issue is always this: any one of us undistracted enough to listen as He speaks?
His voice is the highest voice in all the cosmos. It's worth seeking and following it. The pervasive distraction of our modern age is a mere explanation of our deafness, it is no excuse! Because we know from the word that our Lord and God reaches out and speaks to all.
Oh praise his Name, because every day prior to our judgment is another day Jesus' voice still speaks mercy, still covers us from the exactitude of his word, still says "friend and sinner it's not too late." His voice still invites 'whomsover will' to His gospel, to hang their lives on it, just as Jesus chose to hang on the cross of Calvary's hill (as Gene Scott used to preach). Oh that his voice of mercy would fall upon the ears that up to now have been stone cold deaf, or stopped, and that these ears that would warm and buzz and burn, and hear and obey, before it's too late.
I'm preaching 'The Lord's Voice Above All Others."
Preamble To Six Major Times We Heard His Voice But Didn't Heed It
From here on I want to list six times that God's people or church have not heeded the sovereign voice of the Lord and instead substituted our own. One of them is from the Hebrew Scriptures, and the other five from the "New Testament." These six highlight that when we disobey his voice, there are lasting consequences. But the fact is, the God of our Judeo Christian bible respects our human freedom, and the freedom to create our own mess, to explain away his voice, to stop up our ears, or outright ignore his voice, and instead listen to our own.
I'll list six but I'll preach only the first two, and I'd like to preach number six, and we may have touched upon numbers three through five on The Preaching Hour already:
1. His voice said to King Zedekiah: make peace with Babylon in 598 BC;
2. His voice of Jesus said separation of church and state is essential to our new faith;
3. His voice said "Come follow me and I [by my Spirit] will make you fishers of men;"
4. His voice said "baptizing them in the Name..." into a new covenant and mission not the domination but the liberation of humanity;
5. His voice said "You can't serve God and money.." but 'prosperianity and market Christianity say "now we are the norm;"
6. His voice "What good is it to gain the whole world [like in an empire] and lose your soul?" We conquer the word with our new gospel faith.
First Two Disobediences Reveal Some Important Views About How God Sees The USA Today
From these first two, we'll see that God wants to say some things about the good old USA, especially where it types out as similar to the nation of Israel. And where it types out as dissimilar, where it doesn't track Israel. We know from scripture that God has oft spoken to Israel, and that his his voice to them is an eternal one, and is still being heard there too. Praise God for the faith that our Jewish brother and sisters.
I believe that God in Ezekiel 17, which we will get to in a bit, also speaks to the USA now, as he spoke to Israel of old in about 600BC, when he was telling Israel to keep its peace treaty, keep its word, with Babylon.
Since the whole sermon from here on out depends on understanding the similar and dissimilar typologies between the USA and Israel, I'm going to lay out these types here and now. Then we'll get to the Ezekiel 17, and New Testament scriptures, that back up these similarities and disssimilarities.
The similar typology between the historic and present nation of Israel and the good old new nation of the USA is based on the revealed written word of God, and the now word of God's voice, which I heard on 15 different occasions, over ten years. His vooice applied the word of Ezekiel 17 to Judah in 600BC to the good old USA in our own days. Perhaps, we'll have an occasion to break down these Now words in more sermons, but suffice to say for here, is that I don't preach these two types lightly, but after ten years of hearing the voice of the Lord about them.
Major Similar and Dissimilar Typology Between Israel Then And Now And Good Old USA
The similar typology is that God wants both nations to remain separate politically and religiously from the nation of "Babylon," or present nations that comprise Babylon. Historically, there was the actual nation of Babylon of old (a real nation in 600 BC, the time of Ezekiel17) and the new "Babylon" (a future real threat, the whole world of nations, aginst Israel and the true Church, not just a symbol). The "old" or "historic" Babylon per the bible has morphed an ever present and future religious and political and biblical reality, a threat to all bible believers, Jews firstly as well as Christians. "Babylon" will only be removed from this present world by God himself.
The similarity then is that both Israel and the USA are being told to be separate from political and religious "Babylon," past, present, and future. The spirit of Babylon, and all the voices that speak for it, want us both (and all nations and religions) to listen to the voice of the world, the devil and the flesh. But Israel's political and religious sepration from the world, according to the Word, has defined her religiously and politically, and has historically ensured and defined her very survival.
Only God's grace and His word could have kept Israel alive, and that only by keeping her seperate. How can we explain the present day hatred of Israel, other than that they have in some way been made separate by God's graceful election and protection from the rest of the world. And the goyim, or gentile, nations hate this.
Likewise, from God's point of view, the purpose of the great and relatively recent American experiment is to separate us from the political and religious kings of Europe, from "Babylon" so to speak. This physical separation granted us (and Canada and other new world nations) in the good old USA a political and religious freedom defined by the Providence of God, not defined by political or militray exceptionalism (a nation is a nation is a nation), but by God's blessing of separateness, separate from any national or multinational church, or church as extension of a king or queen, that has come before, a separate place where politics and religion start afresh, with a seperation between them and freedom guaranteed to both of them by law and by God's grace. In this way, you might even consider that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were granted to us "Americans" (including our neighbor nations to the north and south) by God for a reason, just as God want a separate nation of Israel to develop His universal salvation and represent him as light to the nations.
The dissimlarity between the good old USA and Israel is that the USA is no "new Israel." This is a truly obnoxious term, fighting words, obnoxious to Jews and to the Spirit and truth of biblical revelation. This is the ugly conceit of "replacement theology," an a mistaken Puritanical notion that the Puritans inherited from Christendom that gets both the Hebrew scriptures and New Testament wrong. It also is a grave sleight to the modern democratic nation of Israel, still under increasing stress, which hasn't been replaced politically or religiously by any nation, and praise the God of Israel, never will! Let alone be replaced by any Johnny come lately gentile church named the "Massachusetts Bay Company."
Puritan Roger Williams Brought Freedom And The Voice Of God To USA
This idea derived from a false reading of 2Samuel7,10 by the Puritans of the Masasachusetts Bay Company in the 17th century (Barry p. 121): "And I will about a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may have their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly." Most Puritans saw themselves as the new Israelites, and America as a "New Israel," where church and state would finally be joined in purity, because they were just so much more religious and faithful than all the churches and all the reformers who had come before.
This false idea has left many modern American Christians with a foggy biblical mindset longing for more than the great gift God gave us as Christians in the USA, a nation that separated state from church on behalf of bible believing and bible following Christians, praise Jesus. A nation that doesn't team up with a church, or vice versa, a state that doesn't allow the state to pollute the church, praise God, a state that doesn't shame and maim and assasinate it's political and religious enemies in the sacred name of our Lord.This is the exceptionalism that we Christians in the good old USA should be espousing.
Who needs any woolly headed notion of replacement theology in the good old USA when we have already, for the first time among nations, tasted both the political freedom and religious freedom of Revelation18,4, in that we have already taken one step out of Babylon, when we have no governments reigning over what we believe, and say, and how we worship our Lord, and how we respond to his voice.
In fact, both modern Israel and the good old USA have both pre-tasted what it means to be both poltically free and religiously free, to have both a true faith and no religious and political despots hunting us down, and maiming us, or throwing us in the king's tower or onto the torture rack, to pry us from our conscience and beliefs. This is the radical and seprate blessing of the good old USA. This idea of seprateness inspired by God was given to Roger Williams who founded Rhode Island and mid-wifed the political and religious idea of Amercian political and religious freedom, a new people and nation, a people and nation separate from past, present and future "Babylons" of the world.
Praise God we became separate in our religious and political freedom! That's enough for any church short of Jesus' institution of the millenial kingdom. As Paslm102,16 says: "For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory." He doesn't need our help to build Zion because by His word he is building it himself.
The noted author John Barry in 2012 wrote a book about this Roger Williams, brilliant Puritan minister, who could have been just another bulbous and successful religious control freak. But by the grace of God, He heard the voice of God and desired to be a religious freedom fighter, who wanted to know and live the Word, more than fit in with his fellow Puritan New England clerical Brahmins: Roger Williams And The Creation Of The Amercian Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty, Viking.
Williams understood from watching the back and forth butchery between the rising tide of Puritanism in England, and the repression and persecution of them by the Catholic Kings and Bishops and Anglican Kings and bishops. And then the payback of their butchering by Puritan leaders. And one of the things I learned from this book is that the "Massachusetts Bay Colony" adopted the same European religious-political divide and conquer politics and religion, over all the other colonies and their ministers. They tried this but the voice of God was saying 'This was separate soil." In this the Massachusetts Bay Colony was just copying what Rome had done 1500 years earlier, and going with the flow of contemporary religious and political history.
This Massachusetts Bay Colony banished Williams himself as heretic, for saying that no civil magistrate of any religious stripe could force any person to keep the first four commandments of the ten. The Massachusetts Bay Inquisition ran him out of Salem, and would have sent him back to the torture racks of the Anglican state church, or execution if he didn't recant to his bulbous political and relgious masters. But he escaped to the Naragansett Indian country south of the colony, run out in the dead of winter. The Naragansetts treated Williams much better than any of his fellow English or Massachusetts Bay Puritan confreres.
This accomplished author John Barry notes (p.316) that all the big wheels of Romanism (Augustine, Dominic, Acquinas, More) and all the big wheels of Protestantism (Luther And Calvin), and the Massachusetts Bay Colony, all believed in the persecution and execution of unrepentant heretics in the Name of Jesus. Not one one apparently thought enough of the voice of Jesus who said "when a man strikes you on the rigth cheek, turn the other also." (Luke6,29 and Matthew5,39)
Likewise, no one save very powerful in the world had rightly interpreted Hebrews12,14: "make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness [seprateness] no man will see God."
Barry notes Arnold off Brescia burned at the stake in 1155AD for insiting on separation of Church and state, as were countless others "heretics" in Europe, and even some Quakers in 17th century Massachusetts too.
Williams Experienced The Wrath of Babylon And Said Not Here
Williams saw a fouled-up political based religion and a fouled up religious based politics all joined together. It had come over from Europe and was now planting itself on this new providential and seprate soil. He perhaps didn't use the word "Babylonianism," but he sure new what it was because he had experienced its wrath himself.
And the Lord's voice put it in his heart to stop it right here in the good old fertile land of New England.
Yes Williams knew that by God's grace and Providence (the first city of religious freedom in all the world) this New England place was meant to be truly a new place where every man's conscience is set free, for better or worse, a place where true liberty of worship and politics was born, Praise Jesus for the good old USA.
What's different about the good old USA and Israel politically and religiously and historically, is that we have both heard the voice of the Lord to come out of Babylon, we have both tasted the freedom for which we have been set free:
Revelation18,4 is the ongoing spoken voice to both Israel and the good old USA, both politically and religiously. It is ongoing and everlasting command of Jesus to His Israel and His bride church:
"I heard another voice from heaven saying; "Come out of her, [Babylon old and new, God talking to John the Revelator about both his people the church and His people Israel], my people [Israel and church] lest you have any part in her sins and you share in her plagues,..."
This timeless iteration of Lord's voice is nothing more or less than the updated call of Leviticus20,7 upon the nation and people of Israel: "be ye Holy as I am holy." To be holy is to be separate, simple as that. God didn't tell Israel to be exceptional, super human, or divine, or look down on the rest of the world, he simply told them to be separate, and faithful, and wait for Him.
Same as the call on the entire church of Christ: 1Peter1,15-17; 2Corinthians6,17. To be a Christian is not the call to be part of an exceptional political nation. It is not to set up worldly kingdoms in the name of God. Not the call to meddle in every nations politics and wars. It is the voice that says "Be ye separate. Be ye mine! And mine alone. Be ye Holy, as you await me." Wait for me and the kingdom.
As Roger Williams said when he declined to be part of the pastor's team of the Masachusetts Bay Colony " I durst not officiate to an unseparated people." (p.150)
Six Major Times God's People Disobeyed His Sovereign Voice
1.His Voice To The King Zedekiah Was To Make Peace With Nation of Babylon 600 BC:
Ezekiel17:12ff "Say to that tribe of rebels, 'Do you not know what this all means?' Say this, 'Look, the King of Babylon came to Jerusalem; he carried away the king [Zedekiah] and the princes, and took them to his home in Babylon. 13 He took a member of the royal family [Zedekiah] and made a treaty with him, forcing him to swear loyalty, having already deported the leading men of the country [Judah], 14 so that the Kingdom [Judah] would remain modest and without ambitions, and would keep and honor his treaty. 15 But the prince [Zedekiah] rebelled against him [King of Babylon] and sent envoys to Egypt to procure himself horses and a large number of troops. Will he succeed?"
The Lord is quite upset here. He has spoken to Zedekiah in 598BC and told him to politically appease and pay tribute to Babylon, who raised him to power. Babylon was the ruling power-empire of the day. God's strategy is always to maintain Judah's and Israel's holinesss, their religion, their tie to Him, so if they had to be babylon's vassal at least they could keep their temple and their faith. They are first a holy people, a people of the book, a religious and seperate people, set aside, and prophesied one day to all be his holy priesthood (Exodus19,6).
Faced with the punishment of exile and the righteous anger of the Lord here in Ezekiel17 we remember that kingship, thus the ability of a mere man to politically speak for Him, was something that God and the prophet Samuel gave Israel only reluctantly, a mere man who would further take the people's attention away from God as their king (1Samuel8,7ff).
From Ezekiel17,14 we know that God was OK with the exile of Judah to Babylon in 586BC, to teach them a lesson in humility about corrupted religion and corrupted politics. Well the thing about exile, or any type of suffering, is that it keeps you unified. It keeps you dependant on God, so even Babylonian exile, God's purposes of keeping Israel holy and seperate and unified could and would be served. Praise the Lord.
We keep in the back of our mind here that we know from Revelation17 and 18 that Babylonian exile is our position as Christians. We are also dispersed like Israel of old so to speak, cf 1Peter1ff. We don't have a holy nation, a politically and religiously unified nation like Israel of old. We don't have a physical Temple any more, we have Jesus risen (1Peter2ff), and that's enough, that's all God gave us. Jesus is our freedom ticket out of "Babylon."
Another Reason Why Israel Was Exiled In 598BC
At Ezekiel 8,3ff the prophet, while in exile in the actual physical nation of Babylon, is taken by his hair by the angel of the Lord back to Israel, to the entrance of the Temple, and Ezekiel teaches us why God is so mad, and further reasons, beyond Zedekiah breaking his peace treaty with Nebudchadnezzar (Ezekiel17,15) explaining why Judah is in exile.
At Ezekiel 8,5 we read: "He [angel of Lord] said, 'Son of man, raise your eyes to the north.' I raised my eyes to the north, and there, to the north of the altar gate, stood the statue of jealousy at the entrance. 6 he said, 'Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the monstrous and loathsome things that the house of Israel is practicing here [in the Temple] to drive me out of my sanctuary? And you will see practices more loathsome still."
Scholars believe that the angel is here referring to an unholy altar made as a replica of a pagan altar in Damascus Syria referred to in 2Kings16,10 that king Ahaz (reigned 736-715BC ) used to try and politically appease the Syrians. It didn't work Israel went into exile in 722. Here's the further lesson about "Babyloniasm." The king Ahaz, in God's Name, has dictated to the Temple priests, crown dictating to church, that they have to replicate a foreign altar!
The Lord says No Bueno.
Now God was in His temple, and God is Spirit (John4,24) just as He is in His Christian people, and he is not going to stay there when his religious folks cow tow to some a political hack king named Ahaz.
This is big picture preaching-so lets stay right with it here about 600BC. We have a priesthood that has been corrupted for 130 years by a replica of a Syrian altar. We also King Zedekiah who has broken his word, also given in God's name, about a peace treaty with Babylon that would have avoided the exile and allowed Judah, to stay separate in their land.
So the Lord says 70 years of exile for you all, that will teach you Judahites, state and church, to remain holy and separate, that will teach you not to so mix up poltics and religion that you lose your Temple and your last vestige of any political power. That will teach you kings who defile my holy house and people. That will teach you not to become slavish and idolatrous priests turning their backs to Yahweh's sanctuary but prostraing themselves in worship of the the sun, Ezekiel8,16:
"He led me to the inner coiurt of the Temple of Yahweh. And there, at the entrance of to Yahweh's sanctuary, between the portico and the altar, there were about twenty five men, with their backs to Yahweh's sanctuary and their faces turned towards the east. They were prostrating themselves to the east, before the rising son."
So what did God Spirit do- He left the Temple, left Jersalem. He left the Judah that had joined church and state (Ezekiel10) and he went with them as a sanctuary for them in exile where he promised them a new covenant, and a new spirit, Ezekiel11,16ff "Yes I have sent them far away among the nations and I have dispersed them to foreign countries; and for a while I have been a sanctuary for them in the country to which they have gone." 18 "When they come back, they will purge it [Israel] of all it's horrors and loathsome practices." [like union of church and state]
Isn't it interesting that there were no more kings in Israel after that deal breaker Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. Better a Nehemiah, a humble layman, a servant of the Lord, a mere governor, rather than a king, with the divine presumption of kings! No wonder King Jesus later came along and said separate church and state, like the idolatry of the foreign nations.
God's voice to Zedekiah was yes make the treaty with Babylon, and stay a separate nation in the land of Judah, faith and holiness always being more important than political power and intrigue. Then, after Zedekiah disobeyed, God is so concerned about the holiness of his people, the separateness of them, he goes in Spirit to Babylon with them.
They are humbled there for seventy years, but still his separate people.
Praise His Name, somebody.
2. The Voice of the Lord Said The Separation of Church And State Is Essential To Biblical Christianity
Our Lord Jesus knew that the union of church and state in Judah hadn't worked out so good, though his people of old begged for a king so they could be like other nations. But God has always been more interested in an Israel and a church that heard "be ye seprate!"
No wonder amidst the Roman occupation of His land and people and nation Jesus said to the Pharisees trying to trip him up, trying to get him to try unite politics and faith again, now to make revolution, at Mark12,15-17: Recognizing their hypocrisy he said to them, 'Why are putting me to the test.' Hand me a denarius and let me see it.' 16 They handed him one and he said to them, 'Whose portrait is this? Whose title?' They said to him, 'Caesar's.' 17 Jesus said to them, 'Pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar- and God what belongs to God.' And they were amazed at him."
The voice of Jesus was the sepration of church and state is essential to our biblical faith.
I want to make this point in a different way too. In this modern day and age, ever since the proposed the League of Nations back in the early 20th century, there has been unleashed a loose idea of political collectivism, that says nations are passe, that nations are evil and cause wars.
Israel will never accept a loose or tight notion of collectivism, since collectivist empires begining with Babylon, the Greece, then Rome, then the Nazis had not at all been kind to them.
In our own day this loose collectivist notion lives on in the form of bashing the whole concept of the nation state as if we should have grown out of this immature idea of individual nations, as if we moderns know better now. And there are some who would like like to minimize the sovereignty of Israel, and other powerful nations, but the word of God says "Such were the clans  of Noah's descendants, listed by descent and nation. From them, other nations branched out on earth after the flood." Genesis10,32.
The nation state is a gift from God. It is His will. It is His voice above all others. It's never meant to be replaced but by the kingdom of God.
Nazism, fascism, and communism, and any new fangled new world order only can thrive when the God given nation state concept of the bible is put aside, when the sovereignty, and the seprateness of each nation, like the good old USA, is given away.
There are groups of elites wordlwide who even today perhaps who would enjoys a one world government that would protect them, but we have yet to find any one world government that will respect and protect the God given human, political and religious rights granted by our creator. Our own history, and the history of Israel past and present proved that separation of chruch and state is better than union of church and state. People often forget that Rome began well as a Republic, but then went the way of "hail Caesar." Hail Caesar was also religious statement of faith, against the Lordship of our Lord Jesus. Some of the Ceasars claimed divine power. Their union of church and state, which crashed, was followed by the Holy Roman "Christian" Empire, which did all their politics and statecraft and all that went with it in the name of Jesus.
We Jews and Christians have seen how much better it is to have a sepration of church and state. Our Jewish forbears, by faith, had learned how to live outside of Israel and yet exempt themselves from worshipping the foreign gods of other nations, an exemption that Daniel tried to get before the Lion's den, an exemption that the Roman Empire sometimes honored, an exemption that the Holy Roman Empire sometimes honored, save for forced baptisms in Spain. This was their wise course, to stay religiously separate. They learned this in the crucible of relgious and political history.
May all us Christians heed the voice of Jesus and keep our religion, our fullest and truest freedom, from any state interferance. So we would not take the mark on our hand or forehead (and so serve them with our acts and minds) of any ambitious beastly government, or beastly world ruler that tells us that the nation state, and borders, and the laws of indidual nations are not important.
Because, short of the kingdom, nationhood is essential to Israel and the good old USA and it is the word of God: Be Ye Holy, be ye separate, both here in the good old USA and in every nation thereafter, praise the name and the Word and the prophetic voice of Jesus.
For some governments and religions to be truly free, they must be separate from other governments and religions that are not truly free.
As Issac Backus one of the Founders of Brown University in Providence Rhode Island said: "Roger Williams was the first founder and supporter of any truly civil government on earth." (p.392)
Roger Williams, like Menno Simons from the Netherlands (1496-1561), knew that when our Lord and savior Jesus said 'render unto Caesar that which is due Caesar and to God that which belongs to God" he meant exactly that, literally, a sepration of church and state. And thousands of other Christians have given their lives for just this truth, in the beging of the church, in it's middle history and of late.
Point To Ponder And Conclusion
Does the seperation of church and state as taught by Jesus mean that Christian Pastor Jerry Falwell as a "nursing father" (as the Puritans of old saw themselves) should not have endorsed Donald Trump for President?
Write or call in and tell us what you think. In all your freedom of conscience, association, politics and religion, praise Jesus for the separate nation known as the good old USA.
As you ponder that question we might go somewhat easier on the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony if we took a moment to remember that they really thought they were doing God and humanity a favor by joining church and state, by ministering as both civil magistrates and religious pastors. That was their time and that's all they knew. Thay didn't have a multitude of folks around them who had read and interpreted the bible for themselves, like we do today praise Jesus, folks who know his Word and know his voice.
In conclusion, the voice of God is to be above all others in our lives. It is graceful and sovereign and knows no limits. It can reach into the deafness of any heart, into the life of any human that gives him even the slightest ear.
For those of you who have heard his voice, the word and Spirit say "to his voice be true."
To those of you who have never heard his voice, let me say again it is the only voice that can save us from the exactitude of His word. There is no sweeter sound. So friend and sinner, his is the voice you want to hear, Call on the Name of Jesus, give him your bag of sins, and lay down your baggage, and rest in His love. Ask Him to forgive you, ask him to be your Lord. Ask in His Name to hear his voice, call on his Name, and ask Him to speak life and new creation into your soul, body, mind and speak, and heart.
And you'll hear his voice above all others.
As the Father said "Hear Him!"
PREACHING HOUR TV
TUESDAY EVENINGS - 8PM EST
Preaching Hour TV weekly on Cox PATV Channel 15 in Cheshire, Southington and Meriden CT and on VCAM Channel 15 10pm Fridays in Burlington VT.read more...
Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...