Who is King?

By Joel McDurmon

Who is King?

You’d better get the answer to that question right. The difference between right and wrong means the difference between everything from sin and salvation, to freedom and bondage, to liberty and tyranny. For all the problems we’ve read about so far, the answer to this question either causes them or begins to solve them.

Christ has all power in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), has ascended and set down at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33–36; Heb. 1:3, 13), and shall rule from that throne until all His enemies are vanquished (1 Cor. 15:23–26; Heb. 10:12–13). He is the “King of Kings, Lord of Lords” (Rev. 19:16), and the “prince of the kings of the earth” (not just a heavenly king, Rev. 1:5). At His name every knee shall bow and tongue confess—in heaven and in earth—that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:9–12). Nothing escapes His control and Lordship, and He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3). There should be no question to any Christian of any denomination, Christ is King—King now, King forever, of heaven and of earth.

As faithful Christians, then we must submit to His word, His edict. We must strive to bring every area of life under His law. This obviously causes tensions in areas where man’s desires and laws ultimately conflict with Christ’s: Christians must choose which King they shall serve in that situation. This does not mean that no other King has legitimate authority: God sets up earthly rulers as His ministers. But it does mean that no other law-order has legitimate authority; when an earthly king usurps the areas of life that God has designed and decreed for the individual, the family, or the church, then that ruler has departed from His calling as God’s minister, and has denied God’s law. When such tensions arise, Christians must make every lawful effort to remain faithful to Christ.

If we answer this question properly, we at least position ourselves to reap the fruits of liberty. When we recognize, nationally, that a King exists who transcends mankind, before whom all men, even our leaders, are created equal, and to whom all mankind must submit and give account, then we have stripped the machines of tyranny to their barest skeleton (we can never permanently eradicate them in this age), and have lowered the potentate to the same frailty as our own frame. In this case, God gives man rights, and we can call the State to account for its deviancies and infractions.

But if we fail this answer, and instead assume somehow that the State is the giver and judge of rights— that some men are born to rule, that some men somehow deserve to rule, that some charismatic personality, vaulted to status by public clamor, should rule, or that men should rule because of their wealth, connections, promises, SAT scores,[1] education, etc., etc.—then we have already denied the reign of Christ, and accepted humanism in one of its various forms. In this scenario, we have declared that man has no ultimate recourse beyond the highest of his peers—we have greased the rails of tyranny, and shall give account, nationally, to the exactings of a fallible human being.

Rejecting God as King

God Almighty, via the prophet Samuel, warned and pleaded with the Israelite nation not to accept a human king. But they argued with Samuel: “Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:3). They wished to abandon their status of self-government under God which had so distinguished them among the nations. They wished now to be “like all the nations.” God told Samuel, “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them” (1 Sam. 8:6).

So God forewarned them of what an earthly king would entail:

This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. And he will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards, and give to his officers and to his servants. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys, and use them for his work. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day (1 Sam. 8:11–18).

As missionary and scholar R. J. Rushdoony notes, this prophecy describes the God-rejecting State with at least six distinct features:

1) Conscription of sons for military service

2) Conscription of youth for compulsory State service

3) These conscriptions will include young men, young women, and animals

4) Expropriation of property in land and wealth by the State

5) Taxation at the 10% level God ordained for the Church

6) God’s refusal to answer prayers during this judgment.[2]

It is not hard to find these characteristics in the history of Israel that followed, but the Christian should also recognize them as the hallmarks of our allegedly free society today. In some cases the “procedure of the king” far surpasses the tyranny of Israel (10% tax!), or even the tyranny of Egypt for that matter (20%, Gen. 47:26). Consider some of the ways in which our “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave” includes the features of the God-rejecting Israel:

Firstly, military conscription. The U.S. has a well-known history of military conscription that lasted through several wars—even Elvis had to go!—until 1973. Even though the draft ended, contingency plans remain in place, and thus every male 18–25 years old must register with the “Selective Service System” so that the king has you on a list in case he needs to reinstate the draft. In its own words, the SSS exists to “provide our Nation with… the most prompt, efficient, and equitable draft possible, if the country should need it.”[3] Failure to register (your duty by law) remains punishable as a felony including up to five years in prison and up to a quarter-million dollar fine.[4] The only exemption is for those already serving in the military! In short, you cannot legally avoid military conscription in this country if the king wishes you to fight.

Secondly, labor or service conscription (subsuming both numbers 2 and 3 above) is under serious discussion. While such compulsory service does yet exist, some leaders and rulers have plans to institute it as soon as they can. In a July 2, 2008 campaign speech, Obama emphasized his desire for people to be servants of their government. In the construction of a dream of government lordship, repeating the word “service” some 35 times, Obama famously departed from his written, prepared speech[5] to say, “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”[6] For starters, he promised to expand AmeriCorps—a government funded program that essentially trains young people to become government servants—from 75,000 slots to 250,000 per year, a 333% increase. Then he aimed for those who refuse to join voluntarily: “I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you’ll have done 17 weeks of service.”

Just so you’d know this wasn’t just campaign fluff, once in office he appointed Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff. Emanuel is now famous for favoring compulsory national service of all youth in America, as he said in a 2006 book, The Plan: Big Ideas for America:

It’s time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, all Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service….

Here’s how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They’ll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack; how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we’re hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities’ most pressing needs.[7]

Just to make sure you realize he means full compulsory conscription, Rahm ridicules that “Some republicans will squeal about individual freedom.…”[8]

Compulsory national service will enforce the God-rejecting, God-replacing State’s belief that it owns its people and can demand their service and sacrifice at will. This is especially true of the youth, and is the long-held belief of the liberal-leftists, who wish to impose military-type conscription as an every-day, peacetime policy. See William James’ 1910 essay “The Moral Equivalent of War,” where he says, “We should be owned, as soldiers are by the army, and our pride would rise accordingly.[9] The Corporation for National and Community Service (the parent-government organization to AmeriCorps and others) considers James’ vision as part of its foundational “national service timeline.[10] Obama signed the so-called “GIVE” Act, H.R. 1388, also known as the “The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, an Act to reauthorize and reform the national service laws,” into law on April 21, 2009. The bill increases the federal budget for such programs ten-fold, and expects to spend $6 billion on “mandatory” “service-learning” programs in schools and other organizations over four years.

Following James’ vision, the current administration, and leftists in general, believe that the State “owns” its people, and that it can mandate their service at will.

Thirdly, the State confiscates property and land almost at will. Aside from the general fact that any property tax essentially represents rent paid to the State, and that the State uses “eminent domain” laws to grab any land it wishes for its purposes, as long as said purposes can somehow be argued as “in the public good,” the king has very clear means of taking property for himself. Just this year liberals rushed through the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009—a conglomeration of dozens of conservation and environmental bills that resulted in the confiscation of two million acres of land as wilderness, and over 1,000 miles of river, among other things. The State believes it owns the land, and the State takes it for its purposes at will.

Finally, the 10% tax I have already hinted is a mild tyranny by modern standards. In the modern industrialized, civilized world, the lowest level of taxation as a percentage of gross domestic product is still over 20%, the average being closer to 30%, and some nations pushing 50%.[11] The 10% tyranny of Israel and even the 20% tyranny of Egypt would represent radical steps toward freedom in today’s world. As God demands a tithe (10%) of his people, the modern State considers itself two to five times more deserving than God, and as a result we stand more cursed than ancient Israel to that same degree.

Even if none of these things existed in the Unites States, even if the few not fully in effect now remain that way, the mere fact that some people—some leaders—believe these things constitute the ideal society and work tirelessly toward that end, should rouse every freedom-loving individual to action. In terms of freedom and liberty, this type of society is a tragedy. In biblical terms, this tragedy is the judgment of God upon a God-rejecting State.

Part 2 to Follow…

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[1] So thought NY Times opiner David Brooks, who hailed the Obama administration thusly: “This truly will be an administration that looks like America, or at least that slice of America that got double 800s on their SATs. Even more than past administrations, this will be a valedictocracy – rule by those who graduate first in their high school classes” (“Obama’s valedictory,” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/21/opinion/21iht-edbrooks.1.18036143.html [accessed August 27, 2009]).
Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, [1973] 1983), 34–5. ).
[3] http://www.sss.gov/what.htm (accessed August 27, 2009).
http://www.sss.gov/FSinternet.htm (accessed August 27, 2009).
“Obama’s remarks on service,” Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2008, http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/07/02/obamas-remarks-on-service/ (accessed August 27, 2009).
“Barack Obama: Call to Service in Colorado Springs, CO,” 16:44–16:58, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Df2p6867_pw (accessed August 27, 2009).
[7] J. D. Tuccille, “Obama’s Chief of Staff choice favors compulsory national service,” examiner.com, Nov. 6, 2008, http://www.examiner.com/x-536-Civil-Liberties-Examiner~y2008m11d6-Obamas-chief-of-staff-choice-favors-compulsory-universal-service (accessed August 27, 2009).
J. D. Tuccille, “Obama’s Chief of Staff choice favors compulsory national service,” examiner.com, Nov. 6, 2008, http://www.examiner.com/x-536-Civil-Liberties-Examiner~y2008m11d6-Obamas-chief-of-staff-choice-favors-compulsory-universal-service (accessed August 27, 2009).
[9] Quoted in Michael Gallucci, “The ‘GIVE’ Act Calls for Your Kids to be ‘Owned’ by the State,” lewrockwell.com, March 25, 2009, http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig10/gallucci1.html (accessed August 27, 2009).
[10]http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/role_impact/history_timeline.asp (accessed August 27, 2009).
[11] http://www.oecd.org/document/4/0,3343,en_2649_34533_41407428_1_1_1_37427,00.html (accessed August 27, 2009

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