Australasian Signs of the Times, vol. 18

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Australasian Signs of the Times, Vol. 18

1903

May 4, 1903

“What to God?—What to Cesar?” Australasian Signs of the Times 18, 18 pp. 207, 208.

ATJ

Civil government is civil, and has nothing to do in the matter of legislation, with religious observances in any way. The basis of this is found in the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 22:27. When the Pharisees asked whether it was lawful to give tribute to Cesar or not. He replied: “Render therefore unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” BEST May 4, 1903, page 207.1

In this the Saviour certainly separated that which pertains to Cesar from that which pertains to God. We are not to render to Cesar that which pertains to God; we are not to render to God by Cesar that which is God’s. When Cesar—civil government—exacts of men that which is God’s, he demands what does not belong to him; in so doing Cesar usurps the place and the prerogative of God, and every man who regards God, or his own rights before God will disregard all such interference on the part of Cesar. BEST May 4, 1903, page 207.2

This argument is confirmed by the apostle’s commentary on Christ’s words. In Romans 13:1-9 is written:— BEST May 4, 1903, page 208.1

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain for he is the minister of God, a avenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another for he that loveth another limb fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not covet and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself. BEST May 4, 1903, page 208.2

It is easy to see that this scripture is but an exposition of Christ’s words, “Render therefore unto Cesar the things that are Cesar’s.” In the Saviour’s command there is plainly a recognition of the rightfulness or civil government, and that it has claims upon us which we are in duty bound to recognise, and that there are things which duty requires us to render to the civil government. This scripture in Romans 13 simply states the same thing in other words, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God.” BEST May 4, 1903, page 208.3

The passage refers to civil government, the higher powers—the powers that be. Next it speaks of rulers, as bearing the sword, and attending upon matters of tribute. Then it commands to render tribute to whom tribute is due, and says, “Owe no man anything; but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Then he refers to the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth commandments, and says, “If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” BEST May 4, 1903, page 208.4

There are other commandments of this same law to which Paul refers. There are the four commandments of the first table of the law which say, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me;” “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image;” “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;” “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Then there is the other commandment in which are briefly comprehended all these, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” BEST May 4, 1903, page 208.5

Paul knew full well these commandments. Why, then, did he say, “If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself?”—Because he was writing concerning the principles set forth by the Saviour, which relate to our duties to civil government. He thus showed conclusively that the powers that be, though ordained of God, are so ordained simply in matters of man with his fellow-men, and to those things alone. BEST May 4, 1903, page 208.6

Further: as in this divine record of duties that men owe to the powers that be there is no reference whatever to the first table of the law, it therefore follows that the powers that be, although ordained of God, have nothing whatever to do with the relations which men bear toward God. BEST May 4, 1903, page 208.7

Therefore, it is true that the state can never of right legislate in regard to any man’s religious faith, or in relation to anything in the first four commandments, a man invades the rights of his neighbour, as to life, family, property, or character, then the civil government says it is unlawful. Why? Because it is irreligious or immoral?—Not at all; but because it is uncivil, and for that reason only. It never can be proper for the state to ask any question at [sic.] to whether any man is religious or not. The sole question must ever be, Is the action civil or uncivil? BEST May 4, 1903, page 208.8

“Christian Patriotism” Australasian Signs of the Times 18, 18 pp. 212, 213.

ATJ

A. T. JONES

In the second year of his reign alone, to King Nebuchadnezzar there was shown to a dream a great image, whose head was of gold, his breast and arms of silver, his sides of brass, his legs of iron, and his feet and toes part of iron and part of clay. By the word of the Lord through Daniel this was explained to Nebuchadnezzar as signifying the course of empire from that time until the end of the world. BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.1

This dream was given to Nebuchadnezzar because that, while upon his bed, thoughts had come into his mind as to “what should come to pass hereafter.” From what came to pass afterward, it is evident that his thoughts upon that question were to the effect that the mighty kingdom of Babylon, which he ruled—the head of gold—would in its greatness and glory continue on and on indefinitely. To correct this view, and to show him the truth, was the purpose of the dream. BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.2

The instruction in the dream, through the divine interpretation, was that the golden glory of his kingdom would continue but a little while, and then another would arise, inferior to his, and another, and another, and then there would be division, with all these descending in a regular scale of inferiority; and then, at last, “the God of heaven” would “set up a kingdom,” and this alone would be the kingdom that should stand forever, and not be given to other people. BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.3

But Nebuchadnezzar would not accept this view of the subject accordingly, he formulated his own idea in a great image, about a hundred feet tall, all of gold fron head to feet. This image he set up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon, to be worshipped, and called all his princes governors, sheriffs, captains rulers of the provinces, and people generally, to worship it. BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.4

This was a positive setting up of his own idea against that of God. This was to declare to all people that his golden kingdom was to endure forever, that there was to be no such thing as another kingdom arising separate from his and inferior to it, and after that others, descending so low as iron mixed with miry clay. No! there should be only his golden kingdom of Babylon, and it should never be broken not interrupted: but should stand forever. BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.5

In a number of points this was an open challenge to the Lord. It was the assertion that Nebuchadnezzar’s idea of the kingdoms of men should be accepted as the true and divine idea, as against that of God’s, which had been given. It was the assertion that the embodiment of this opposing idea should be worshipped as God. As the idea and the embodiment of it was altogether Nebuchadnezzar’s, this was simply the putting of Nebuchadnezzar himself in the place of God, as the ruler in the kingdom of men, the head of all religion, and the director of all worship. BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.6

A great day was set for the dedication of Nebuchadnezzar’s idea, and the inauguration of the universal worship of it. A great multitude was assembled of many peoples, nations, and languages of his wide realm. When all were assembled, a herald proclaimed: BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.7

To you it is commanded, O people, rations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, he fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.8

In the great assembly were three young Jews—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And when all the others fell down and worshipped, these stood bolt upright, saying no attention to the law that had just then been proclaimed, nor to the image. They were at once reported and accused to the king. Then the king “in his rage and fury” commanded them to be brought before him. It was done. He asked them if it was true and of purpose that they had not worshipped. He then repeated his decree and the dreadful penalty. But they answered:— BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.9

O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver as from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hands, O king. But if not, be it known onto thee,O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.10

The furnace was heated seven times hotter than usual, and they were bound and cast into it. But suddenly the king rose up in astonishment from his throne, and cried to his counselors,— BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.11

Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.” But he exclaimed. “Lo, I see four men loose,walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.12

Then the king called them forth, and said in the presence of all:— BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.13

Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent Hin angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.14

God had commanded all nations to serve King Nebuchadnezzar, and that whatsoever nation would not serve him, that nation the Lord would punish. Yet here He wrought a wondrous miracle to deliver the men who had openly and directly refused to obey a plain and direct command of the king. How could this consistently be?—Easily enough. This command, this law, of the king was wrong. He was demanding a service which he had no right to require. In making him king of the nations, the Lord had not made him king in the religion of the nations. In making him the head of all the nations, God had not made him the head of religion. BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.15

But being an idolater, and having grown up amid idolatrous systems, Nebuchadnezzar did not know this. With idolaters, religion always has been, and still is, a part of the government. In heathen systems, religion and the governments are always united; while in the true system, the genuine Christian system, they are always separate. BEST May 4, 1903, page 212.16

And this was the lesson which God there taught to Nebuchadnezzar. In a way in which it was impossible not to understand, the Lord showed to that king that he had nothing whatever to do with the religion, nor with the directing of the worship, of the people. The Lord had brought all nations into subjection to King Nebuchadnezzar as to their bodily service; but now, by an unmistakable evidence, this same Lord showed to King Nebuchadnezzar that He had given him no power nor jurisdiction whatever in their souls’ service. BEST May 4, 1903, page 213.1

The Lord thus showed to King Nebuchadnezzar that, while in all things between nation and nation, or man and man, all people, nations, and languages had been given to him to serve him, and he had been made ruler over them all, yet in things between men and God, the king was plainly and forcibly given to understand that he had nothing whatever to do. The God of heaven there taught to that king, and through him to all kings, rulers, and people forever, that in all matters of religion and worship, in the presence of the rights of conscience of the individual, the word of the king must change; the decree of the ruler is naught. BEST May 4, 1903, page 213.2

And this was written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come. This is important instruction and present truth to-day. For throughout the whole English-speaking world to-day King Nebuchadnezzar’s example of arrogance is being followed—and that even by those who profess to know God and to be guided by the Bible. Nebuchadnezzar’s offence was in setting up his own idea, and forming it into a decree, and then enforcing it as the late. And throughout these nations to-day there are people who profess to know God and to be guided by the Bible, who have set up their own or some other one’s altogether human idea of the Sabbath against God’s idea of the Sabbath—Sunday against the Sabbath of the Lord—and have secured the framing of it into a decree, and are having it enforced as the law. But it is all wrong just as Nebuchadnezzar’s assumption was wrong. And every man who will be faithful to God must say. We will not serve thy gods nor worship the image of the Sabbath which thou hast set up. And in the presence of the rights of conscience of the individual to day, the word of the ruler must change; such laws are simply naught. BEST May 4, 1903, page 213.3

Nebuchadnezzar learned his Iesson. And this truth was spread to all the nations and languages in that day and it must he spread to all in this day. Will all who to-day are following his wrong course, learn this lesson and correct their ways, as did he. BEST May 4, 1903, page 213.4