Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Babylonian Envoys

1 At that time Merodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. 2 And Hezekiah was pleased with them, and showed them the house of his treasures—the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory—all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. 3 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?”

So Hezekiah said, “They came to me from a far country, from Babylon.”
4 And he said, “What have they seen in your house?”
So Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.”
5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: 6 ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD. 7 ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”
8 So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.” (Isaiah 39:1-8)

6 (Jesus said, ...) “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." (Matthew 7:6) There is a clear distinction between that which is Ceasar's and that which is God's. Caesar has no business interfering in the affairs of the church, and the church is not bound, under God, to reveal to Ceasar all that the Lord has commissioned her to do.

In some places around the world, the technology available to Caesar is so invasive that faces can be recognised and matched with images stored on a database. The predictions of Brave New World and 1984 are present reality, not just literary fantasy.

We in the West have much to learn from the church in the East. The church in the East has flourished under an intrusive Caesar. Whereas, up until recent decades, the West has enjoyed the benefits of hard-earned freedoms that were won be previous generations of Christian martyrs.

These freedoms have been systematically surrendered. One of the areas in which the Western church has compromised its integrity is through accepting Caesar's money in the guise of funding the work of social welfare agencies. Social Welfare is not the province of Caesar. It is the work of the family and the local church.

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