Have you ever used the rights you have as a US citizen – or citizen of your own country? I am aware that many countries don’t offer as many rights or freedoms as the USA does. But you who live in most of the western countries know you can call your House representative, Senator or your member of Parliament, etc. If there is an issue you’re concerned about.
Have you ever done so? Why would we believers in our Savior, who look to the city whose builder and maker is God as Abraham did (Hebrews 11:9-10), ever call our elected officials or appeal to the civil liberties and rights we have been given by our earthly country?
Remember Paul says our citizenship is in heaven (Ephesians 2:19; Philippians 3:20) from where we eagerly await our Lord and Savior. So why on earth would we use our earthly citizenship?
The reason for it is simple:
*** To whom much is given, much is required. Compared to much of humanity’s history, we have been given more than the vast majority of people have ever experienced down through time.
*** The Apostle Paul did this very thing. Though Paul clearly believed himself to be a citizen of the Kingdom of heaven, he also definitely claimed and used his Roman citizenship.
Paul was born in Tarsus as a Roman citizen of Jewish parents. So he had a Hebrew name (Saul) and a Roman name (Paul). Anyone born in certain designated cities, such as the city of Tarsus, were automatically given Roman citizenship and given Roman rights—as Paul says he was born a Roman (Acts 22:28). As he traveled around in Gentile and Roman areas, it was more beneficial to use his Roman name.
It was illegal for example, to whip or scourge a Roman citizen without him first having gone to court and presented his case in a trial. You can read that whole story in Acts 22:20-29. The Roman military commander who was about to flog/scourge Paul was scared for a while, hoping Paul wouldn’t sue him. He admitted that he – unlike Paul – had to BUY his Roman citizenship at great cost. So by using and appealing to what was the law of the land at that time, Paul in that instance was able to keep from being flogged mercilessly.
Let’s read it:
Acts 22:23-29 “Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him.
25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "IS IT LAWFUL for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?"
26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, "Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman."
27 Then the commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?"
He said, "Yes."
28 The commander answered, "With a large sum I obtained this citizenship."
And Paul said, "But I was born a citizen."
29 Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him”
Another time, when Paul felt he wanted and needed more time and perhaps better justice – or just felt led by God -- he “appealed to Caesar” – and so he was sent to Rome for trial. That was like appealing to the US Supreme Court today.
Acts 25:10-12 So Paul said, "I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. 11 For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar."
12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, "You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!"
My point is that Paul USED his citizenship rights when he needed to. And he didn’t feel that in any way impeded his status as a “pilgrim” in this world (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11). Some believers have used the “pilgrim” concept to advise against any use of this society at all. I think Paul teaches us otherwise, by his example.
Others did so as well. A great example is Esther. She was a queen, a wife of the Emperor! But when her people – the Jews – were threatened with genocide by Haman the Agagite – what did she do? She DID seek God first! She and her retinue did pray and fast for 3 days and 3 nights (Esther 4:16). THEN she faced the problem head on, got Haman and the Emperor Ahasuerus (possibly Xerxes) involved – and the rest is history. Haman could have been of Amalekite royal blood, related to Agag who was condemned by God in the days of Saul and Samuel.
For that matter, Ether’s cousin Mordecai, earlier had decided to get involved with what seemed to be a plot to assassinate the emperor (Esther 2:21-23). Some believers might have thought – “Good riddance” and done nothing. But it was Mordecai’s very action, recorded in the annals, that God used to bring Mordecai to mind to the Emperor and it all played a major role in the eventual outcome of the preservation of the Jews.
God used Esther and Mordecai – even as they got more than a little involved with their rights in that kingdom – to preserve the Jewish people and the line of succession to the eventual birth of the Messiah. I suggest you review the book of Esther.
So yes, we ARE indeed pilgrims on this earth, just passing through – as we see the Kingdom of Heaven as our real citizenship, but we really have a “dual citizenship” while on this earth. Paul and Esther and Daniel and others show us that we indeed can and should use our earthly citizenship rights as long as they don’t contravene God’s laws. Our first priority is always to God and His kingdom.
So, for example, I just called the US Senate Switchboard for example – 202-224-3121 – same number you can use. I asked for Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida. My one voice by itself isn’t worth much, but added to the many other “one voices” out there could be powerful.
I left my 2 senators a message: “Please stop wasting all your time on a senseless ‘impeachment’ against the president where no crime has been charged and where the Dems did not present a viable case. Get back to work. Get the senate back to work. I want you to vote to acquit the President who is not even being charged with a high crime or misdemeanor – and get on with your work in the senate of approving judges, passing laws that benefit the country – like rebuilding infrastructure, improving our roads-bridges-airports, etc. and finding ways to have a more affordable health care plan for everyone. Now please… get to it.”
Now you may not agree with what I just said, but that’s not the point of this blog. The point of this blog is – USE the open doors God has given you while you can. “To whom much is given, much will be required.” We’ve been given some liberties so far. The day is coming that our present liberties will be curtailed and removed altogether. Believers will be persecuted terribly, according to prophecy. So use the liberties you still have while you can. Follow Paul’s example.
What are some of the ways – at least in America so far – that we believers can claim the laws of the land – including “appealing to Caesar”, in today’s world, going all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Many of you still work on the Sabbath of God (the 7th day of the week) even though you know you are breaking GOD’S law by doing that. Why? Because you’re afraid you’ll lose your job. Maybe so. But the law says your company can’t discriminate for religious and other reasons.
Feel free to call ACLJ – American Center for Law and Justice with Jay Seculow, etc. They have helped others in the past with this issue. Look up www.ACLJ.org for example. Take a few minutes reviewing their site. They plead the causes for religious freedom in particular. They mention the Christian pastor Lawan Andimi who just recently was beheaded in Nigeria, for example by Boko Haram Islamists. We need to be concerned and be praying and getting involved in these things! And ACLJ could probably help YOU. The pastor, by the way, was shown in a video telling us all “Don’t cry. Don’t worry. But thank God for everything.” Wow. That’s a true witness and martyr.
Christians – even children and teenagers -- in much of the world – particularly right now in Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran and even in Hindu India – are being arrested, tortured and killed for being Christians. You can learn more about all this at www.ACLJ.org And certainly pray for the Christians and Sabbath keepers in Kenya.
So you can “appeal to Caesar” for ---
*** Discrimination against you for keeping the 7th Day Sabbath; unable to work on Sabbath.
*** Ditto for God’s requirement to keep his holy feast days like Feast of Tabernacles
*** You can use any of the anti-discrimination laws when applicable.
*** speak up and PRAY for Christians who are being persecuted and killed around the world.
*** An obvious one to many of you: using your right to vote. Vote for a president who supports Right to Life and is the most anti-abortion president ever. He has his faults, but not voting for him means a greater chance the other side will win with their socialism, pro-abortion, anti-male, anti-white male, anti-Christian, anti- male/female marriage, pro transgender/LGBTQ stances, their open borders, soft on the law and justice, etc. etc. And if you don’t vote, please never complain about the state of the country or what’s going on.
So, though many of you may disagree with me, while I can, I vote for the side that seems closest to the ideals of the Bible. I know God decides ultimately who will govern – but maybe when he sees so many of his children not caring who governs, maybe he gives us the leaders he feels we deserve. And don’t forget, Daniel was a high official in even the pagan governments of Babylon and Persia. So was Mordecai. And so were Esther, and Joseph in Egypt. Nehemiah pleaded his case to Cyrus the emperor. GOD still works his will so often by working through PEOPLE – sometimes even pagan emperors.
Yes, we’re also told we are pilgrims and sojourners in this world. We’re told to come out of Babylon. Those are not contradictions to what I’ve just said. Just use the whole word of God, all the scriptures, and then it will be clear what to do. Daniel, Joseph, Mordecai, Esther and Nehemiah worked in and with pagan governments, but their hearts were not in this present system but in the Kingdom of God. And as I’ve shown, Paul certainly worked the system, while also calling himself a citizen of God’s kingdom. So let’s find that balance.
So – like Paul – while we can, use the civil liberties we can, while we can. Like Paul, use the justice system to your advantage if and when you can. He appealed to Caesar and as a result, even some of Caesar’s HOUSEHOLD were exposed to the truth and became saints –
Philippians 4:22 “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household”.
Wow, how God used that imprisonment of Paul in Rome is spectacular. Paul said it gave him the opportunity to spread the good news and to bring people to salvation.