Category Archives: liberty

Nationalism: Who makes the bricks?

Moses wrote the book of Genesis to the nation of Israel who had just been delivered from the oppression of Egypt. In Egypt, they were slaves who made bricks and built buildings for their oppressors. They made bricks day and night to build cities for Pharaoh.
Moses wrote about this when he wrote about the tower of Babel:

Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth (Gen. 11:3–4).

They were building a kingdom to regain what they had lost in Eden. After mankind was exiled from the presence of God, they were scattered. After Noah departed from the Ark, they began to scatter. It didn’t take long for them to organize and seek to build what they had lost.

We will fight the grave. We will make a name for ourselves. We will establish ourselves.

Isaiah later takes this idea and adds to it. Lucifer, by the way, refers to Babylon, not Satan.

Isaiah 14:12–15 (NKJV)
12“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!
13For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;
14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
15Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.

Notice the echoes of the same themes – the tower reaching to heaven. We will be like the most high. We will exalt our throne. We will sit on the mount of the congregation of the Lord. Read the whole chapter. Isaiah is speaking about the spirit that drives Babylon, and every kingdom of this earth.

In other words, “We will establish the kingdom of God on this earth. We will build cities. We will pass laws. We will deal with evil-doers. We will create a society, a City on the Hill. And there will be no more curse.”

View it from the backdrop of the description of Babel. This is a major theme throughout the Bible, but I only want to focus on one aspect of it.

The Tower was built with bricks and mortar. And the original readers of Genesis would have known exactly what that meant. Someone had to make the bricks and build the buildings.

That would not have been Pharaoh, the one with the grand plan. It would have been the slaves.

And so comes the downfall of every single scheme to build the kingdom of God on this earth. Someone has to make the bricks.

Even the founding of our own country, which many claim is the “City on the Hill”, using the phrase of the puritans. Who did the work?

Dabney complained after the slaves were set free that he hardly had time to write anymore because of all the menial labor that wasn’t getting done.

In our own state, the California Indians were enslaved to harvest the crops and build the cities. The adobe houses weren’t going to build themselves.

The “City on the Hill” is a grand idea, until you think about who is making the bricks. One thing is for sure. The one who says, “Come let us make bricks” is NOT the one who is actually making the bricks. The one who holds the whip is the one giving the commands. The one at the other end of the whip is making the bricks.

At the end of Genesis 11, there is a contrast. We are introduced to a new character. Abraham. God gives Abraham a promise, and Abraham believes it. And he learns to wait for it.

Hebrews 11 tells us this:

Hebrews 11:9–10 (NKJV)
9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Abraham lived in tents his whole life, because he waited for another kind of city. A city where God makes the bricks and builds the city.

Dwell on that for a moment.

There is no oppression, no vanity under the sun, no pain and toil.

And truly no more curse. No curse for anyone, for God will take it on himself.

HE makes the bricks and prepares a place for you. And you can dwell in a tent while you wait, if that is what it takes.

THIS is the kingdom of God.

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Filed under liberty, Nationalism, slavery

Enslaved to the opinions of men

Yesterday, in my sermon, I brought up this text.

13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
16 Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–
17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
(Col 2:13-17)

You can listen to the sermon for the main thrust of this text, but the basic idea is that when Christ died on the cross, he removed the curse that was on me. He drank the cup of the wrath of God to the fullest, so that now I am clean, innocent, pure, and an adopted firstborn son of God. This is who you are, whether you are rich or poor, male or female, bond or free. You are the heir of all things in Christ.

The devil thrives on accusation. You aren’t good enough, pretty enough, masculine enough, strong enough.

You would be acceptable to people and worthy of their affection if only you had one more thing….

And so many of us have spent our lifetime trying to gain the approval of men by trying to add just one more thing. Maybe if I learned to like sports. Maybe if I hung out more at men’s clubs. Maybe if I wore the right kind of clothes.

And as we get older, we add to that list of things to do to add just one more thing. It is a powerful motivator. We fear, more than anything, to be rejected by our peers.

If I don’t do ashes, people will shame me. If I DO ashes people will shame me. If I don’t wear the right clothes to church, people will shame me. What are the right clothes? Should I wear a suit? A tie?

Is this dress plain enough? Too plain? Should I wear a hat? What if I accidently call the fellowship meal a “potluck” and the world stops spinning and everyone stares at me?

What if I am caught talking to the wrong sort of person?

If you have been to church, you know what I am talking about. It is the devil’s greatest weapon. You aren’t good enough. You need something else to yourself acceptable.

But you won’t ever find that “just one more thing” because it doesn’t exist. It is just designed by Satan to keep you in bondage.

If you are in Christ, though – every sin and every shame and every failure has already been nailed to his cross and has been put to death in the sight of God. It is finished.

So not only has Satan’s weapon been taken away, but YOU have been set free.

So what does that mean?

Here is what struck me when I was thinking through this passage.

From now on, I will continue to fight against sin. But I will try everything in my power to quit living in fear of men. I have too much to do to spend a moment doing a poll with imaginary people in my head to determine what I should wear, what I should listen to, what I should read, what I should like.

Yes, I will strive to love my neighbor, and be kind to all that God brings in my path, but I will do so out of thankfulness to the One who died for me, not out of the fear of the opinions of men. And that makes all the difference.

The fact is, as my pa would have said, you would quit thinking about what people thought about you if you realized how little they did.

If you are looking to the human race for your acceptance, you’ve got a long ways to go. Most everyone in the human race is busy with their own issues to deal with yours as well.

So live for the one who died for you. Serve God without terror of rejection because you are already accepted in the beloved. You are actually complete in Christ right now, and there is nothing left to add. Flee from anyone who says, “but there is just one more thing….”

It is finished. So don’t live in the sight of men anymore. Honor God, serve the Lord, be kind to all, do good as the Lord has done good to you.

But remember that the world rejected Christ and they will reject you. So for the rest, dance to your own tune.

Love God, and do as you will – as Augustine said.

Wear that shirt if you like it. Listen to the music that you like to listen to. Celebrate Christmas or Ash Wednesday however you want to. Do Easter. Don’t do Easter. Hunt eggs with the kids. Don’t hunt eggs with the kids. Wear a suit to church. Don’t wear a suit to church.

Wear that hat; don’t wear that hat. Call it a potluck or a fellowship dinner.

Just do it for the glory of God, and not in the sight of men. Be without guile and dissimilation. If you are at dinner with friends, if you want a beer, order one. If you don’t and just want water, order one. If you want an appletini with an extra umbrella then order that. Quit letting people shame you by what you want to drink, for crying out loud. give thanks to God and all things are pure.

Love God, and love your neighbor. Be kind to all. But don’t let the opinions of men put you into bondage for a moment.

Human beings will accept you or reject you. Jesus didn’t put too much stock in it, for he knew what was in the heart of man (John 2:24).

Love God, and do what pleases you, for you are complete in Christ.

(For those who are always nervous that someone might get away with sin if we are too antinomian, if you truly love God, you will keep his commandments. That isn’t what I’m talking about. Now tend to your own heart, and leave God’s people in peace).

And also, I am thinking of taking up knitting. It seems to me that it would relax me greatly and help me to be patient with others in long meetings.

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Filed under Gospel, liberty