Unmasking the Beast

We all have our limits, and I just reached mine. Draconian mask mandates and quarantine requirements have scuttled our Thanksgiving plans. The out-of-towners who were going to come to our place next week cannot come now because of “the rules.” Thank you, governors. It’s hard to believe this is still the United States of America.

I get it. The virus is serious to certain segments of the population. Those in the vulnerable categories need to do what they must in order to keep themselves safe. And no one is advocating reckless behavior on the part of anyone. But has there ever been a pandemic in history where the healthy were required to isolate themselves? Moreover, if the last lockdown worked, why are we having to lock down again? And if the last lockdown didn’t work, why are we, uhm, having to lock down again? They keep playing us, and we keep letting them.

Some state regulators across the country are even telling us we have to mask up in our own homes. No. That’s not going to happen in this household just because the state says so. If you want to wear a mask in my house, you’re free to do so. I might even wear one, too, if you happen to be edgy about my not having one. Basic kindness is willing to do such things.

Additionally, I’ll mask up when I come into your store because it’s your store. Same thing at church if that’s what it takes to prevent others from thinking I’m a hazard to their health. But the state will not tell me that I have to wear a mask in my own home. Nor will I let them peer through my windows to enforce their squidgy little mandates. There’s a Fourth Amendment in this country for a reason.

Besides, this is Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Don’t tread on us. We rightly snubbed our nose at the edicts of our [adjective deleted] governor when all this lunacy began, and we paid the price for it. In a rank display of petty party petulance a few months ago, he re-opened every county in the state but ours, delaying us by a week, just for retribution. How courageous of him. After marching in a protest without social distancing, he now wants to tell everybody else how to live. “Rules for thee but not for me.” 

Likewise, the U.S. Speaker of the House got her hair blown out a couple months back contrary to her own rules. Ditto the mayor of Chicago, a senator from California, and the governor of the same state, who recently yucked it up unmasked at a posh restaurant, contrary to his own mandates. One can be forgiven for believing these requirements are all just political posturing; otherwise, our overlords would happily and consistently comply with their own rules. But they don’t. So, here’s an idea. Now that so many statues have been torn down in this country, there’s plenty of room for new sculptures of these folks to take their place. I have a feeling more than just the pigeons would use them.

A therapist once told me that a discernible pattern in my life has been that I tend to over-submit to authority. He was right. (It’s a malady rooted no doubt in being the middle child growing up, along with a variety of other family of origin issues.) But no mas. Somebody’s got to push back on this ridiculousness.

I’ve never been a revolutionary, but tyranny tends to kindle a spirit of resistance inside those who’ve had enough. Holding a posture of defiance and insurrection is certainly no way to live life over the long haul, but on occasion, it’s warranted. This is one of those occasions, especially as we hear politicians prepping us now for “The Great Reset” to come, another globalist dream that will end in a nightmare. 

Now, before any super-spiritual types try to insist that believers are just supposed to shut up and “surrender our rights” all over the place in order to be Christlike, keep in mind that Paul appealed to his Roman citizenship more than once in Acts 22-23. Was he wrong to do so? No, he was just standing on his own history, not to mention the prerogatives that come with being a free moral agent made imago Dei. In our day, being a good citizen in a constitutional republic means participating in it, not mindlessly clicking our heels and saluting whenever bogus state decrees are issued.

There are, in fact, numerous accounts of civil disobedience in Scripture—a practice that resurfaces whenever the state exceeds its authority. Until then, believers comply, and happily so. We’re not the kind of people who go looking for fights. We want to be good citizens in the countries where we find ourselves across the world. But when the line is crossed, believers push back, willing to face whatever consequences a feckless state might try to throw at us.

In Exodus 1, for example, the Egyptian Pharaoh commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill all the male Jewish babies who were recently born. An extreme patriot would have carried out the government’s order, yet the story tells us the midwives disobeyed Pharaoh and “feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live” (Exod 1:17). The account goes on to say the midwives lied to Pharaoh about why they were letting the children live; yet even though they lied and disobeyed their government, “God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, he established households for them” (Exod 1:2021). Quite significantly, we know the names of these two midwives (Shiphrah and Puah), but we’re never told the name of the Pharaoh who issued the evil edict.

In Joshua 2, Rahab disobeyed a direct command from the king of Jericho to produce the Israelite spies who had entered the city to gain intelligence for battle. Instead, she let them down by a rope so they could escape. Even though Rahab had received a clear order from the top government official, she resisted the command and was spared from the city’s destruction when Joshua and the Israeli army destroyed it. 

The book of 1 Samuel records a command given by King Saul during a military campaign that no one could eat until Saul had won his battle with the Philistines. However, Saul’s son Jonathan, who had not heard the order, ate honey to refresh himself from the hard battle the army had waged. When Saul found out about it, he ordered his son to die. However, the people resisted Saul and his command, and they saved Jonathan from being put to death (1 Sam 14:45). 

Another example of civil disobedience, which poses no threat to the general practice of biblical submission, is found in 1 Kings 18. That chapter briefly introduces a man named Obadiah who “feared the Lord greatly.” When Queen Jezebel was killing God’s prophets, Obadiah took a hundred of them and hid them from her so they could live. Such an act was in clear defiance of the ruling authority’s wishes. 

In 2 Kings, we read of an apparently approved revolt against a reigning government official. Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, began to destroy the royal offspring of the house of Judah. However, Joash the son of Ahaziah was taken by the king’s daughter and hidden from Athaliah so that the bloodline would be preserved. Six years later, Jehoiada gathered men around him, declared Joash to be king, and put Athaliah to death. 

The book of Daniel records a number of examples of civil disobedience. The first is found in chapter 3 where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to the golden idol in disobedience to King Nebuchadnezzar’s command. The second is in chapter 6 where Daniel defies King Darius’ decree to not pray to anyone other than the king. In both cases, God rescued his people from the death penalty that was imposed, indicating his approval of their actions. Likewise, Esther showed great courage in exile by confronting the king directly, declaring, “If I perish, I perish.”

In the New Testament, the book of Acts records the civil disobedience of Peter and John toward the authorities that were in power at the time. After Peter healed a man born lame, Peter and John were arrested and put in jail for preaching about Jesus. The religious authorities were determined to shut them up, but Peter said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). Later, the rulers confronted the apostles again and reminded them of their command to not teach about Jesus, but Peter responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). 

In the book of Revelation, we read of “the beast,” who commands everyone to worship an image of himself. But the apostle John, who wrote the Apocalypse, states that all who become believes during that period will disobey the beast and his government, refusing to worship the image (Rev 13:15), just as Daniel’s companions violated Nebuchadnezzar’s decree to worship his idol. 

I need to study the biblical theme of civil disobedience more in depth, but this is a start. As noted above, we’re told that “The Great Reset” is coming. That may be so, but it will not come with my acquiescence. I’ve been overly compliant for too long. Will anyone come see me in jail if that’s where I land? Or write me a letter? If my next assignment in this life is to have a prison ministry, so be it. I don’t think I’ll look too good in an orange jumpsuit, but Paul’s life shows us how much good can be done for the gospel in prison. 

Several years ago, the mayor of Houston floated the idea of pastors being required to submit the text of their sermons to the government for review—to see if any preachers were speaking against their latest deranged pet policies. Talk about government overreach. I remember thinking at the time, “No. That’s not going to happen here. Ever. I will never reduce myself to preaching only state-approved sermons.”

The fact that politicians would even think about doing such a thing unmasks them as part of the beast. They shouldn’t be surprised, then, when some people develop a 2A affection because their 4A was violated.

Image Credits: patriotdepot.com.

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