The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” ~Acts 15:6-11 NASB
“Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth. “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” ~Acts 15:27-29 NASB
But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” ~Acts 16:28-31 NASB
For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. ~Matthew 23:4 (NKJV)
And He said, “Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. ~Luke 11:46 (NKJV)
Three different authors, 2 Gospels, and one historical document later we see how burdens are placed upon us in different ways. We also see that no one from the church leadership, of Jesus’ time, did not aid the people in helping the people. Rather they only aided in the surmounting of the problems being placed upon the people.
The Sanhedrin are as much a political body as the Roman hierarchy, or Jesus’ time, or perhaps between the Republican or Democratic Parties of our time. The Machiavellian Theorem of the time (i.e., THE PRINCE) states:
It is precisely this moralistic view of authority that Machiavelli criticizes at length in his best-known treatise, The Prince. For Machiavelli, there is no moral basis on which to judge the difference between legitimate and illegitimate uses of power. Rather, authority and power are essentially coequal: whoever has power has the right to command; but goodness does not ensure power and the good person has no more authority by virtue of being good. Thus, in direct opposition to a moralistic theory of politics, Machiavelli says that the only real concern of the political ruler is the acquisition and maintenance of power (although he talks less about power per se than about “maintaining the state.”) In this sense, Machiavelli presents a trenchant criticism of the concept of authority by arguing that the notion of legitimate rights of rulership adds nothing to the actual possession of power. The Prince purports to reflect the self-conscious political realism of an author who is fully aware—on the basis of direct experience with the Florentine government—that goodness and right are not sufficient to win and maintain political office. Machiavelli thus seeks to learn and teach the rules of political power. For Machiavelli, power characteristically defines political activity, and hence it is necessary for any successful ruler to know how power is to be used. Only by means of the proper application of power, Machiavelli believes, can individuals be brought to obey and will the ruler be able to maintain the state in safety and security. ~Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Niccolò Machiavelli, 2. The Prince: Analyzing Power
In a nutshell: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely! This mind-set was upheld by the writings of Murry Rothbard in Anatomy of the State where it is discussed that the purpose of the State (whether it be the Federal, state, or local governing authorities) was to maintain or increase it’s power in order to stay in existence even at the demise of those who yielded their rights to create the government in the first place. (Slightly paraphrased, but close enough!) Sadly, man has this propensity to increase his power over others in order to ensure their survival in their position and maintenance of of power and control. There was an adage during WWII in Germany where “it was not Hitler you had to worry about, but all the little Hitlers that were created along the way.” It seems to be much the same within all religious factions, once you get to digging into their histories.
This behavior was reiterated in the Bible, in that while at the end of the period of the Judges in the Hebrew peoples history when the people called for a King to be among them that they could be like other nations.
But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. ~1 Samuel 8:6-7 NKJV
By rejecting God, we have rejected His guidance and leadership. And thus we were to be led by men and all their corrupt ways, if they so refused to be led by the ethics and righteousness of God. It is by our poor decisions that our burdens become so heavy, and once day, as I mentioned in a previous post:
“I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me, and the cost is more than I can bear.” ~Benjamin Martin, opening monologue of ‘The Patriot’ [Posted on 6/11/2018 in “When Men Run From God”]
In this respect, our sins [or past decision] will return to visit us all, and in some cases the cost to each of us may be too much for us to bear! Sadly, we all run from God or the church for varying reasons, usually we are running from God because of the politics within the church…which is not a good reason, at all! We tend to justify ourselves, but wrongly so. All to often the church, or the church leaders to be more specific, are making greater demands on the people that are not biblical…yet, they themselves do not uphold these demands on themselves, as they are the ones in power.
We all have our reasons for doing just about anything and we find ourselves being able to justify our arguments. But rarely will we go deeply into prayer over any particular matter. Which is one of our downfalls, as was for Joshua when he failed to consult God over some travelers. THIS is one of man’s greatest downfalls, we do not pray enough or seek counsel of God near as much as we should!
In my post, on 5/7/2018, in Prayer is the Foci of All Things, I spoke heavily on our need for prayer and God’s good counsel. Unfortunately for us, we fail to see how our poor decision making skills desperately need God’s counsel through prayer until after the fact. If we could just learn this one thing early in our lives, we could avert many of our problems and many more of our future poor decisions which tend to visit us later on in our lives! But we just want to get through this particular problem…and lo and behold, the problem crops back up on us. Why you ask? Because we do not seek counsel of God, because we do not pray for guidance or aid, because…because…because…
Often times, the load(s) placed upon us is a test of our character or ethics, because God knows that we can carry such a load, or because there is someone in our future with whom we will cross paths and we can help them. Yes, God does prepare us for those moments, just as God places the words in our minds and in our mouths for those arguments and debates for His greater Good!
The final synopsis of all this is:
FEAR IS OVERCOME WHEN WE LIVE WITH COURAGEOUS FAITH! ~Pastor Scott Beckenhauer, Calvary Christian Church
In the sermon given by Pastor Scott Beckenhauer, on 5/20/2018, one of the Lessons we learned was “Courage is not the absence of fear bu moving, in spite of fear!” the second Lesson was, “Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what God can do!” Now, these are not new lessons for us to learn, but they are age old lessons. Going back to the book of Genesis. Use them well, my brothers and sisters, remember them and pass them on to your children and grandchildren. We should not allow such teachings to be forgotten!
May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!
MK Murphy, PhD, DD