"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Saturday, May 27, 2023

The MESSIAH KING and His Relationship with the ROMAN Government

The mentality of the Jewish leaders and teachers 2000 years ago, was one of expectation for the Messiah coming to Israel, in order that they might find freedom from the oppression of the Roman Empire.

As expected, the Messiah did come, by not in the manner that they expected: they wanted a warrior Messiah, a fierce and valiant warrior like Joshua or David; they wanted the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, but what they got was the Lamb of GOD – not what they wanted, but what they needed.

The LORD was far more interested and dedicated to providing freedom for His people from the oppression of sin than from any government. The oppression that Israel has experienced from Gentile nations began with the First Exile from Canaan land, their exile to Babylon. This commenced what’s known as “the times of the Gentiles” (LUKE 21:24). This is not to be confused with “the fullness of the Gentiles” spoken of by Paul in ROMANS 11:25)

It started with the Babylonian captivity, continued through the Persian, Greek and Roman Empires and on through history under various Islamic regimes, then Spain, then England.

Today that oppression is a lot more subtle, but no less real at the hands of the U.N., the E.U. and even from the USA (specifically our State Dept. that has worked against Israel secretly ever since they became a nation; read Dave Hunt’s book A Cup of Trembling).

Yet our LORD Jesus never spoke of casting off the Roman rule by political activism and rebellion. Not once! In fact, if anything, His attitude towards the ruling power of that day, was anything but violent.

We understand that government of independent, sovereign nations is something that GOD ordained – rather than what man had envisioned at the beginning of our history: a one world government and religion at the Tower of Babel. When GOD confused their languages, people splintered off and formed small groups according to their common languages. Those groups became nations.

The Table of Nations we have recorded in GENESIS 10; you can trace virtually any modern nation back to its roots and identify them by this listing of ancient nations.
And as we know, the nations of the world are coalescing and merging back together to form a renewed ‘Tower of Babel’ as it were; a Revived Roman Empire, complete with a one world order of government and religion which will serve the antichrist. Eventually he will not merely oppress Israel, he will seek to utterly destroy Israel.

And it’s then at the Second Coming that Christ will come not as the Lamb of GOD, but as the Lion of Judah! You see, the religious establishment back in the day had a right understanding of what the Messiah will do, they just had the timing wrong. His first mission was redemption from sin, His second mission will be rescue from annihilation.

But let’s examine some instances where our LORD had some interaction with the Roman Government and its representatives:

Even before He was born into this world, through human agency and by the sovereign will of GOD, Greek became the universal language throughout the Roman Empire. And the Romans built a system of roads and thruways that spanned the Empire. Both language and roadways ensured that the Gospel would travel speedily through this common language and competent roads, some of which are still existing today!

Then we saw GOD’s fingerprints on this idea that Caesar should invoke a census (it’s called a tax in Scripture) of the population, which required everyone to register in their native city. That brought both Joseph and Mary back to Bethlehem, just in time for their baby Messiah to be born and fulfill the prophecy in MICAH 5:2.

The very fact that Israel had to be under Roman rule was necessary because the Messiah was to die on behalf of His people, but the prophecy indicated His hands and His feet were to be pierced (PSA 22), describing crucifixion, which was the criminal punishment only the Romans used.

The Romans and Gentiles in general were so despised by the Jewish people, especially their religious leadership, that they believed the only purpose any of them served was to fuel the fires of hell.

They had forgotten that the LORD came not just for His own people, but also for the Gentile nations:
I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles,
So the LORD had a very different view of Gentiles in general, and a certain Roman Centurion and his great faith in particular!

In MATTHEW 15 the LORD Jesus answered the scribes and Pharisees regarding their traditions:

MATTHEW 15:7-9
7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you
[ISA 29:13], saying: 8 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'

Vs.12-14 Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"  But He answered and said, “Why no! I didn’t realize that! Tell me about it!”
No that isn’t what He said, did He? 13 "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.

The LORD Jesus then leaves the region and travels to Tyre and Sidon and is confronted by a woman of Canaan, specifically a Siro-Phoenician Greek:

MATTHEW 15:21-22
21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.

She was a Greek woman, but she knew enough about the Jewish faith that she rightly identified Jesus as “the Son of David” – The Messiah! His response:

Vs. 23-28 – 23 … He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us." 24 But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" 26 But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." 27 And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." 28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Then we have this account about this Centurion recorded in MATTHEW 8 (We learn from LUKE 7:5 that this Roman officer financed the building of a synagogue for the Jews out of love for their nation, for which the Jews esteemed him worthy of receiving from the LORD this requested miracle: the healing of his sick servant).

MATTHEW 8:5-13
5 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented." 7 And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." 8 The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 "For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." 10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour.

Something to be reminded of about the Roman culture – slaves were cheap. If you had a slave and it was injured or deathly sick, toss it to the curb, let it survive as a slave or die – no matter, just go out and buy another one.
Not this Centurion – he cared about his servant, was unwilling to toss him out, but traveled a great distance to meet up with the LORD Jesus and make this request, having complete confidence in the LORD’s ability.

He confessed that he, a Roman Officer was under the authority of Rome, and because of that, Rome rendered authority to this Centurion to issue orders and commands, and knew they would be followed.

What this Centurion was confessing, was that he understood that Jesus was under GOD’s Authority and because of that, Jesus could issue orders and commands of the supernatural sort, and the Centurion knew they would be followed.

This sort of faith amazed Jesus – He hadn’t witnessed this kind of faith anywhere in Israel! He was truly amazed at the faith of this Gentile!

MATTHEW 22:16-22
16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. 17 "Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 "Show Me the tax money." So they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" 21 They said to Him, "Caesar's." And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.

The Herodians plotted and came up with a plan to trap the LORD Jesus; first they flattered Him, then asked Him if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not. If He said “yes”, He would lose His followers because every Jew hated Rome and resented having to pay taxes to such an ungodly government – I don’t suppose any of you can relate to that…
If He said, “no” then these Herodians could get Jesus in trouble for encouraging the people towards insurrection, for it was considered rebellion to not pay taxes to Rome.
How would you have answered that question?

The LORD asked for a coin, and when they provided one, He asked one simple question: “Whose image and whose inscription appeared on this coin?” They answered “Caesar’s”.

Humanity was created in the image of GOD; and even though GOD created the gold from which that coin was made, the fact that it had Caesar’s image on it, testified that in one sense, it belonged to Caesar – the same way that we belong to our Creator who created us in His image 
and has written His inscription in our hearts:
"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
So we pay what we owe in taxes to government. But government is not the granter of our freedoms: the purpose of government is to protect our freedoms, not provide our freedoms. GOD is the granter of the liberties that He has given.

So governments can claim the right of taxation, but government does not have the right to claim souls. In EZEK 18:4 GOD declares: “…all souls are Mine…” Any oppressive government that makes such claims end up in the dust, just as Rome did, and long after they’re gone, souls that they oppressed live on into eternity, either judged and sentenced to perdition or liberated from the power of enslaving sin to dwell forever in the government of GOD’s heavenly domain!

Next we have the King of Heaven being brought before the Roman Governor of Israel, Pontius Pilate:

MATTHEW 27:11-23
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" So Jesus said to him, "It is as you say."

Get the picture – this Roman official with royal vestment sitting on a type of throne has this man brought before him, dressed in simple garb, bound and a bit bloody and Pilate asks this man, “So, you’re the King of the Jews, right?”
And the LORD answers, “Right.”

I can imagine that Pilate was a bit confused but also rather amused at this encounter with this unlikely king who looked more like a beggar.

MATTHEW 27:12-14
12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, "Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?" 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.

Without any concrete evidence provided by the chief priests and elders, it all came down to their word against the word of the LORD, and Roman courts erred on the side of caution. Without evidence, all the accused had to do is deny the charges and their case is dismissed. Yet Jesus remained silent – and amazed Pilate because the LORD declined to deliver Himself from His adversaries.

MATTHEW 27:15-18
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. 16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" 18 For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.

Pilate understood that the religious leadership in Jerusalem was extremely envious of the LORD’s ministry and how crowds by the droves flocked to Him and hung on His every word. This supported Pilate’s judgment that Jesus was completely innocent of these trumped up charges.

MATTHEW 27:19-23
19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, "Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him." 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" They said, "Barabbas!" 22 Pilate said to them, "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said to him, "Let Him be crucified!" 23 Then the governor said, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they cried out all the more, saying, "Let Him be crucified!"

Even Pilate’s wife, because of her dreams, understood that Jesus was “a just man” and warned her husband to have nothing to do with Him! Even Judas, after he betrayed the LORD Jesus confessed that he “has betrayed the innocent blood” (MATT 27:4)!

Nevertheless the religious leaders demanded His execution by crucifixion!

So let’s pick up this account in the Gospel of JOHN:
JOHN 19:6-12
6 Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him." 7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God." 8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, 9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?" 11 Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." 12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, "If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.
Again, Pilate proclaims Christ’s innocence, but the chief priests come back with “He made Himself the Son of GOD!”

Pilate’s reaction? “he was the more afraid”, that is, to a greater degree was he frightened, alarmed, in awe of in reverence. What’s the issue here? Why would a Roman Authority who doesn’t believe in any of this “Jewish religious nonsense” when he, a pagan worshiper had more gods and to spare to worship?
In fact, in the Roman pantheon of the gods, many of the gods took human females as wives and the women gave birth to demigods (half god, half human) – that were also called “the sons of the gods”.

If Pilate believed he was dealing with some strange Jewish version of a demigod, he certainly didn’t want to offend the god who was his father! This makes sense now why he asked Jesus the question: “Where are you from?” But the LORD didn’t answer him, even when Pilate protested: “I can get you off the hook, but you got to give me something here!”

But the LORD replied, “The greater sin has been committed by the one that delivered me into your hands”. Was He speaking about Judas? Or the religious leaders? I think both!

And Pilate’s reaction: “From then on Pilate sought to release Him”.

But the Jews threatened Pilate:
“"If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.” In other words, “Your allegiance to Caesar is questionable if you let this insurrectionist retain his claim as a king!”

Pilate had to put down two insurrections already, and his superiors were beginning to doubt he had what it took to govern these unruly Jews. If one more riot took place on his watch, Caesar would likely see him deposed and humiliated. He couldn’t take the chance, so against his better judgment, he releases Jesus to the Jews.

MATTHEW 27:24-26
24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it." 25 And all the people answered and said, "His blood be on us and on our children." 26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.

MATTHEW 27:62-65
62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.' 64 "Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first." 65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.

It’s almost as if Pilate, suspecting that Jesus might have been a demigod, was telling the Jewish leadership concerning the tomb of Jesus and keeping it secure: “Lotsa luck there fellas! See if you can keep THIS guy in the grave!” – If he only knew!

Last words: The Roman Empire was full of debauchery, wickedness, sexual sins and tyrannical when it came to Caesar worship – any who refused potentially faced the death penalty. Yet not once did the LORD Jesus, or His apostles incite Christians to rebellion and throw off the Roman yoke of bondage.

What about us here in America? Can we incite a revolution, take down our corrupt government by force and reinstitute a Constitutional form of government? Check out commentary by the late pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa: ROMANS 13* and see what the apostle Paul says about government. Is he talking about an evil and corrupt government that oppresses the people, or a just and fair government that wants to uphold law and order?
*Check out TTUF's own exposition on ROMANS 13!

Then consider whose kingdom you’re a part of: the Kingdom of GOD or the ‘kingdom’ of America. And if this sounds like I’m playing both sides of this argument, making both sides seem credible, it’s because I am. Something we must all pray and seek GOD about!

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