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    March 9, 1896

    God or Caesar, Which?

    WWP

    W. W. Prescott

    LOVE v. FORCE

    In order to carry on His government on the earth God uses love, and love only, as His power; Caesar knows nothing of the power of love, and uses only force. In Jeremiah 31:3 God says, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love;” and in Romans 2:4 we read, “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness;... not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” and He depends wholly and only upon the power of that love in Jesus Christ to win men to submit themselves to Him.BEST March 9, 1896, page 76.1

    Most men when they die lose their kingdoms, and lose control over their subjects. Jesus Christ, the King of Israel, gained both His kingdom and His followers by dying. And so it is upon the love of God in Jesus Christ that God depends, and though He has been charged with having an arbitrary government, yet He waits and waits, and displays His love again and again to draw men to Him. But He compels none. God gives to every man freedom of will to choose or refuse Him. If he says, “I will not have this man to reign over me,” God does not reign over him. That is God’s method of government. But Caesar knows no such government. He simply controls the body. When the thought goes into outward act, Caesar takes the body and puts it under control, that the man may not be able to express that thought further; but that man, even though shut up in a dungeon, may go right on sinning against God at every breath. Caesar cannot help that. He can prevent a man’s thought from expressing itself in any way to injure his fellowman; but God looks through stones and bars into the heart, and in His sight that man is still a sinner, though he is kept from manifesting it by the power of the sword.BEST March 9, 1896, page 76.2

    TEMPORAL v. ETERNAL

    Further, God deals wholly with things that are eternal; Caesar with things that are temporal. God Himself is eternal. “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” It was through the eternal Spirit that Christ offered Himself for us. It is eternal life that He holds out as a reward. Caesar knows nothing of such things as that. He is not supposed to know whether a man is on the road to heaven or hell. He is not supposed to make inquiry where he proposes to spend his time in the future. All he is to ask is, “What are you doing to-day?” Caesar’s punishment has nothing to do with eternity. He simply deals with temporal gifts, temporal punishments, temporal rewards; nothing more.BEST March 9, 1896, page 76.3

    Then we have the contrast. God in Christ deals with the mind; Caesar with the body. God with the thoughts; Caesar with the actions. God with sin; Caesar with crime. God with morals; Caesar with civil things. God exercises forgiveness, Caesar imposes the penalty. God uses love, Caesar, force. God deals with eternal things; Caesar with temporal things. These are sharply defined distinctions.BEST March 9, 1896, page 76.4

    THE POWERS THAT BE

    But is it not true that the powers that be are ordained of God?-Certainly. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers [notice carefully how it reads; for every word has a meaning. If it is only higher power, there is something beyond that.]; for there is no power but of God, and the powers that be are ordained of God.” It is in God’s order that there should be civil governments on the earth. And we are to yield obedience to those governments. Then, you say, what is the trouble?-There is no trouble if we put the other right with it. “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The very idea of civil government is of God, and He has ordained civil rulers over this realm; but not to rule over His realm. He has drawn the line of distinction between the two, and has ordained the powers that be to rule over things civil, and leave Him to rule over things moral. When Caesar confines his actions to his own sphere, every Christian is enjoined by God to be obedient; that is a part of his Christianity. There should be no one more loyal to civil government, when it is in the sphere to which God ordained it, than the Christian. He should be the model citizen; but when Caesar tries to put himself in the place of God, he makes bad work. He cannot take the place of God. God says, “Stay where I put you, and I command every one of My followers to obey you; but do not come over into My realm; for you cannot carry on My government. Stay in your sphere, and you will have every one of My subjects to be your subjects; but if you get into My realm, You will spoil your subjects and Mine too.” God has made this very plain. Let us go to the Scripture for instruction.BEST March 9, 1896, page 76.5

    THE THREE HEBREWS AND THE FIERY FURNACE

    Nebuchadnezzar the king built a great image all of gold, and set it up on the plain of Dura. He made a proclamation, calling the princes, captains, governors, and subjects of his realm to the dedication of the image. At the sound of the music everyone was to bow down and worship this image, which was really to worship Nebuchadnezzar, because he had had a vision of an image whose head was of gold, representing himself, and from this he made an image all of gold, and set it up to represent himself. In the company were three men, Jewish captives, who had been placed in office by Nebuchadnezzar. When the sound of music was heard, and the whole company prostrated themselves, those three men stood up, and certain ones went and told the king. He was furious with rage, and commanded them to bring the three men before him, and he said unto them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do ye not serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?” “I tell you that whosoever does not fall down and worship this image will be cast into the burning fiery furnace.” “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said unto the King Nebuchadnezzar, We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”BEST March 9, 1896, page 76.6

    At this answer Nebuchadnezzar was all the more enraged, and commanded that the furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was wont to be, and that the three men should be cast in. Why, he said, I am Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon; God Himself has ordained me. What right have these men to disobey my commands? And we have the prophecy concerning Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah 27:5-7: “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto Me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him.” “And he commanded the most mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Therefore, because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, 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. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and king’s counsellors, being gathered together saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.”BEST March 9, 1896, page 76.7

    THE LESSON

    What was the lesson in this for the king? God was saying to Nebuchadnezzar, “You are out of your place. You are My servant; I gave you authority, but not to exercise in My realm. Any command you give contrary to My commands, I will bring it to confusion.” And the lesson is for us in this day. When Caesar gets out of his place, and steps across the line that divides things civil from things moral, God says, “Get back into your place.”BEST March 9, 1896, page 76.8

    MEDO-PERSIA SUCCEEDED BABYLON

    Just according to the prophecy, Nebuchadnezzar, his son, and his son’s son ruled the kingdom. We will read the record in Daniel. “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.” And he commanded to bring in the gold and silver vessels which his grandfather had taken of the temple of the Lord. But while the feast was going on, there came a bloodless hand and wrote on the wall. Belshazzar trembled, and sent for his wise men to read the writing, but no man among them could read it. Then they told him of a man who had interpreted a vision for his grandfather. He commanded him to be sent for, and Daniel was brought before the king. “And this is the writing that was written, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it. Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Peres; Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom.” God had raised up this new kingdom; for we have the prophecy of the fall of Babylon in Isaiah 21:2: “A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam; besiege, O Media.” It was in God’s providence that Babylon fell.BEST March 9, 1896, page 76.9

    And now we have another lesson.BEST March 9, 1896, page 77.1

    DANIEL IN THE LIONS’ DEN

    After Darius had taken the kingdom, we find that Daniel was preferred above the other princes of the kingdom, and that he was made first president of the realm. That of course roused envy, and the men went to work to get his place. They went to king Darius, and said, “King Darius, live forever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.BEST March 9, 1896, page 77.2

    “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” He had been accustomed to pray three times a day, and when king Darius forbade him to pray to God, he paid no attention whatever. He did not close his window and sit in his chair, so that they would not know whether he was praying or not. He got down on his knees and prayed as he had aforetime.BEST March 9, 1896, page 77.3

    Now these men had had just what they wanted. They had heard Daniel pray. No doubt they had heard him pray before that, but they were interested in this prayer. Then these men came unto the king and said, “That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. Then the king when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the suit to deliver him. Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king established may be changed. Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God, whom thou servest continually, He will deliver thee. And a stone was brought and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him. Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he came to the den he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live forever. My God hath sent His angel and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me; forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.” What! had he not broken the law?-Yes; but the king was out of his place in making it, and therefore it was no offence to go contrary to it. And God showed this to be so.BEST March 9, 1896, page 77.4

    What is the lesson?-God is saying, Caesar, “Keep out of My realm; keep on your own side of the fence. The minute you come over here I give My subjects perfect right to disobey you. I will stand by them in it.” And He did.BEST March 9, 1896, page 77.5

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