Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stuck with Pharaoh, we long for Solomon

I notice a pattern in the news stories about American politics. At the risk of being too America-centric with respect to applying prophetic indicators, let me say for the record that though the news excerpts below are about the American President, this by no stretch means that these indicators are absent from other global rulers.

Indeed, we have seen what fury the people participating in the Arab Spring/Days Of Rage wrought on Libya's Qaddafi, Egypt's Mubarak, and other rulers in Africa and the Middle East. We saw how nervous the kings of Bahrain and Jordan became during that revolutionary time. The Bahraini king even gave a large sum of money to each family in his kingdom to calm them down and to buy time. We see the population's discontent with the (sexual) excesses of Italy's Berlusconi, and that France's Sarkozy, while apparently not as excessive or oppressive, will possibly lose his runoff election this weekend due to the faltering economy.

That said, I have noticed, as you no doubt have noticed, the US leadership veering drunkenly toward excess of spending, of regulation, and of uncaring attitude toward the people. You have heard, no doubt, of the unfortunate plethora of stories where bureaucrats close down lemonade stands, rip up front yard gardens, stop garage sales. Yet those in power like Michele Obama take 17 vacations in three years and seems to have forgotten the concept of public service. But they sure do remember how to have date night. Rep. Pelosi co-opts military airplanes for trips back home. Obama parties like it's no tomorrow.

The bible has much to say about leaders who fail to honor God and help the people. The bible is replete with events, warnings, and punishments of kings and rulers who oppress the people they are supposed to govern wisely.

Verses like this one in Leviticus 19:13 are echoed throughout the pages of the Scriptures: “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning."

But the leaders, kings, and rulers of today continue to seemingly prosper, while pressing their thumb of power ever deeper into our lives and ripping out what valuables they can to continue to support their lavish and wanton spending. Though it is bad now, this kind of power abuse will be rampant in the Tribulation because the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit will cease His restraint of sin, and it will blossom like mold on a gushy banana. (Revelation 18:3- "For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.")

James 5:4 says "Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts." Revelation 6 shows the poor working all day for a loaf of bread but in Revelation 18 the ultra rich continued their trade in ivory, spices, furniture, even the souls of men throughout the Tribulation.

The gap between the rich and poor continues to grow even now, the rulers increasingly deaf to the cries to stop spending, and the love of many even in the faith waxes cold for the brother. (Matthew 24:12). Our governments are increasingly interested in the peons like us rather than solving the problems we elected them to solve. They regulate us to death and scurry off to enjoy a sexcapade or a luxurious vacation and have forgotten how to govern righteously. We are plagued with Pharaohs and enduring a famine of Solomons.

"A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days." (Proverbs 28:16).

Take this example of unhealthy governmental interest in a person's private life:

Blogger faces jail time over nutrition blog
"It’s the sort of story you expect to come from a third world superstitious kleptopcracy – yet it happened here on American soil, in North Carolina, thanks to good old fashioned state-level bureaucracy. Reason Magazine brings us the bizarre and senseless story of a Steve Cooksey, a former diabetic who put himself on the popular “Paleo” diet and decided to tell the world about his experiences, only to have the North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition (yes, that exists) come down on him: This past January the state diatetics and nutrition board decided Cooksey’s blog — Diabetes-Warrior.net — violated state law. The nutritional advice Cooksey provides on the site amounts to “practicing nutrition,” the board’s director says, and in North Carolina that’s something you need a license to do. Unless Cooksey completely rewrites his 3-year-old blog, he could be sued by the licensing board. If he loses the lawsuit and refuses to take down the blog, he could face up to 120 days in jail. The board’s director says Cooksey has a First Amendment right to blog about his diet, but he can’t encourage others to adopt it unless the state has certified him as a dietitian or nutritionist."

Government is protecting us from our opinions. How thoughtful. Or this terrible example:

Barack Obama attempts to intimidate contributors to Mitt Romney's campaign
"Try this thought experiment: You decide to donate money to Mitt Romney. You want change in the Oval Office, so you engage in your democratic right to send a check. Several days later, President Barack Obama, the most powerful man on the planet, singles you out by name. His campaign brands you a Romney donor, shames you for "betting against America," and accuses you of having a "less-than-reputable" record. The message from the man who controls the Justice Department (which can indict you), the SEC (which can fine you), and the IRS (which can audit you), is clear: You made a mistake donating that money. Are you worried?"

"Richard Nixon's "enemies list" appalled the country for the simple reason that presidents hold a unique trust. Unlike senators or congressmen, presidents alone represent all Americans. Their powers—to jail, to fine, to bankrupt—are also so vast as to require restraint. Any president who targets a private citizen for his politics is de facto engaged in government intimidation and threats. This is why presidents since Nixon have carefully avoided the practice. Save Mr. Obama, who acknowledges no rules. This past week, one of his campaign websites posted an item entitled "Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney's donors." In the post, the Obama campaign named and shamed eight private citizens who had donated to his opponent. Describing the givers as all having "less-than-reputable records," the post went on to make the extraordinary accusations that "quite a few" have also been "on the wrong side of the law" and profiting at "the expense of so many Americans."

Rather than knowing that they exist to lead, to govern, to inspire, to serve, the President and other rulers today oppress, indict, and steal. Nice, Obama. Nice. Yet is his own house in order? No.

Secret Service scandal: 'Party's over, boys'"
The Secret Service scandal involving prostitutes in Colombia has brought new orders about personal behavior – no more carousing. On some trips, agents will even have chaperones."

Now think about this for a second. The Secret Service men who are trained to devote their life to the highest official in the land, who define self-sacrifice by committing to hurl themselves in front of a bullet, have to be chaperoned like two year olds in a candy store so they won't hurl themselves in front of a prostitute? Whatever happened to self-possession?

"For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well." Proverbs 23:27
"For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure." Proverbs 11:14
"Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross." Proverbs 26:23

Blue-collar voter resentment building over Obama vacations?
"Blue collar Democratic voters, stuck taking depressing “staycations” because they can’t afford gas and hotels, are resentful of the first family’s 17 lavish vacations around the world and don’t want their tax dollars paying for the Obamas’ holidays, according to a new analysis of swing voters. …McLaughlin handled blue collar and Catholic voters in Pittsburgh on April 3 and Cleveland on March 20. He found that they are very depressed about the economy and feel that their tax dollars are being sucked up by both the rich and those living on government assistance."

The bible says of kings, "But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself." (Deut 17:16-17).

The Deuteronomy verse expressly forbids kings to excess. Barnes Notes says "Excess is forbidden. Vast accumulation of treasure could hardly be effected without oppression; nor when effected fail to produce pride and a "trust in uncertain riches" 1 Timothy 6:17." Kings were forbidden to use their office to heap up riches for themselves.

In the bible, there are hapless kings, apathetic kings, and kings who not only do not believe and who are sinful through and through, but who actively campaign against God. Pharaoh was such a one. Jezebel was such a one. Ahab was one too. The progression of evil kings always got worse. The next generation was worse than the one before, and so it is today. We started with Washington, Jefferson, Adams. We end up with Nixon, Clinton, Obama...

"Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed--and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors--and they have no comforter." Ecclesiastes 4:1

So what shall become of them? Amos 5 & 6 speaks to the Day of the Lord when He deals with the unrighteous rulers who oppressed the people. They "... trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine." (Amos 5:11).

"You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror. You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambsand fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end." (Amos 6:3-7)

Of these Amos versesJohn MacArthur teaches, "God really indicts the rich, not because just they're rich, but because they have become rich at the expense of the poor."

As for us brethren, especially those in either civic or ecclesiastical positions of leadership, "So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober." (1 Thessalonians 5:6). The word sober there in Greek is nepho, "to be sober, unintoxicated" refers to having presence of mind & clear judgment, enabling someone to be self-controlled.

Apparently at the highest levels of power self-control is a thing of the past. That is what makes the Christian stand out as light and salt. (Mt 5:13-16)

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