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The Bible Against the State

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I must confess, I am not a Christian, myself. Not even a believer. For this reason, I do not consider it my duty to follow God's Word as it is transcribed in the Bible. I am a convinced anarchist, though, but for other philosophical reasons.

Obviously, not all believers are Christians. Even, not all Christians consider the Bible as God's literal Word. Neither do they have to. Therefore, my contention, here, is not that all believers, or even all Christians, should be anarchists. But it is my contention that all those who consider the Bible as God's Word – and His Words to be literally followed, should.

For it is my contention that there is one and only one political position defended throughout this Book: anarchism. Which is constantly presented as the only one in accordance with God's Will. To the contrary, political obedience is constantly condemned as a breaking of the Testament, and a giving into Evil.

Because the Big Book is a big book, it is impossible to study, or even indicate, all of the elements that support this thesis.1 So, I will only give two examples. One from the Old Testament, and one from the New.

"Ye said unto me: a king shall reign over us, when the LORD, your God, was your King."  [Samuel, XII, 12]

The story of the Hebrews, as described in the Old Testament, is quite easy to sum up: God saves His people, who continually fall prey to new kings. So says Samuel [XII, 6–11]:

"And Samuel said unto the people, It is the LORD that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.

Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers.

When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place.

And when they forgot the LORD their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.

And they cried unto the LORD, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.

And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe."

Each time His people forsaken The Lord – each time they sin and worship other kings, who finally oppress them, He sends "Judges," such as Jerubaal, to deliver them.2

And it is the story of one of them, the latter, which will be my first example. Rather, the story of two of his sons, Abimelech and Jotham. It goes as follows [Judges IX, 1–15]:

"And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother’s brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying,

Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.

And his mother’s brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother.

And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.

And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.

And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem."

Now, what is interesting is Jotham's reaction, and more precisely the prophetic parable he tells:

"And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.

The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.

But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.

But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?

Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.

And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.

And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon."

In fact, it would not be a far-fetched interpretation to read the preceding parable, not only as an anarchistic, but even as a libertarian prophecy. And there would be much more in the Bible – particularly in the New Testament – to support a libertarian reading of it. This should be the object of a future article, I guess.

As a matter a fact, the previous one-line sum-up of the Old Testament ("God saves His people, who continually fall prey to new kings") is not only Samuel's, but even The Lord's own saying. And the same is true of the prophecy of the evil of politics.

Samuel was a Judge. But he was getting old, and his sons did not follow his steps.

"Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,

And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.

And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.

And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.

And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city." [Samuel, VIII, 4–22]

"Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" [Matthew IV, 10].

My second example is even more convincing; and much more than an example! It is the third temptation of Jesus (according to Matthew, and the second according to Luke). It may be found in Matthew IV, 8–10, as well as in Luke IV, 5–8.

Jesus, "led into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil," was finally taken up into an exceeding high mountain, where the Tempter…

"…sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

How many things we should enlighten in this five verses! Let's stress four only.

1."All these things I will give thee…." From this, it clearly follows that state power belongs to the Devil. Such a deduction is not far-fetched, at all. It is Luke's exact saying:

"And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it.

If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

2."All the kingdoms of the world…." What comes from the Devil is not the power of such or such state, but state power in general, geographically and chronologically speaking. It is the power of all states, state power itself – which is contrary to God's Alliance with His people, or rather, with the whole of Humanity, as far as the New Testament in concerned.

3. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God…." If all the kingdoms of the world did not constitute an Empire of Evil, then, assuredly, Jesus would have said so. He would have replied to the Devil that their power and glory are not delivered unto him, or that they should be delivered from him and given back to The Lord, to whom they righteously belong. But Jesus does not. To the contrary, he acknowledges that state power belongs "to whomsoever [The Devil] will give it," when he only replies that it is sinful to serve and worship the latter.

4."…and him only shalt thou serve." The conjunction of those two propositions, in this very context, means nothing else than that anarchism is logically implied by the first and foremost Divine Commandment [Exodus, XX, 3]:

 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

It is even clearer in the context of the Decalog:

"And God spake all these words, saying,

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

It is after He has characterized Himself as a political Savior (a God saving His people from politics) that the Lord delivers His first Commandment:

"Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

Which explains why "all the kingdoms of the world" are delivered unto the Devil and whomsoever he gives them to.

Conclusion: The "King of kings."

The Lord is sometimes referred to as the "King of kings," in the Bible [e.g., Revelation, 17]. But there is no possible comparison between His King-dom and theirs. To the contrary, the latter are – all of them! necessarily! evil empires. So God says, if we believe the Bible.

Just the same, His Kingdom is sometimes referred to as the "Heaven of heavens" [e.g., Deuteronomy, 10], but the first has just nothing to deal with the blue sky above us. The "Heaven of heavens" means the Absolute sky, just as the "King of kings" is the True and Only Real One. All other kings are false ones: tempting, and deceptive, just like the blue sky (where pagan gods and semi-divinized political authorities have their homes) is only a make-belief, compared to His Kingdom.

  1. A lot of what follows comes from Jacques Ellul, Anarchy and Christianity. Or rather, from the original French version.

  2. The difference between a "Judge" and a king is that the former indicates what is right, according to God's revealed Will, while the latter substitutes his will and laws to The Lord's Commandments. The former pushes His people closer to The Lord, Whom he serves, while the latter pushes them away from Him, and has them worship and serve himself instead.

    Indeed, the Jewish traditional law system is one of the best examples of a stateless and efficient justice. This point cannot be developed here, but should be in a future article.

August 1, 2008