Pro-Pharaoh Christians?

Why do I suspect that many believers today would have opposed Moses?

Yes, sadly they certainly exist. There are way too many believers today who – if they lived back at the time of the exodus as recorded in Exodus 1-15 – would actually have sided with the pagan Pharaoh and stood against God’s chosen leader, Moses. They would have happily submitted to the dictates of Pharaoh while accusing Moses of being a troublemaker who should just sit down and shut up.

There is no question whatsoever there would be Christians like this. I encounter them on a regular basis. And we have especially seen this over the past year and a half where states everywhere have locked us down and shut us up. Far too many Christians it seems have welcomed the draconian lockdowns with open arms. Hardly any of them are talking about the vital importance of religious freedom and the loss of our most basic of liberties.

The only real question worth exploring is this: Why are so many believers acting this way? Why are so many folks who call themselves Christians actually siding with pagan rulers while attacking and criticising other believers who think that freedom matters, that church matters, and the like? Why are so many defending and seeking to exonerate Pharaoh while turning on Moses? Well, let me offer some possible reasons for all this.

For many of these folks, it seems that the only biblical text on civil government that they know of is Romans 13:1-7. But the truth is, there are numerous passages that speak about the state and about how God’s people should relate to it – in both Testaments. The biblical Christian never just cherry picks one text at the expense of all others, but compares Scripture with Scripture and offers the full counsel of God.

Related to this, their understanding of the Romans 13 text is often deeply flawed. Far too many of them read into this text – again, while ignoring other texts – believing that the State has absolute power and is to be always obeyed and never resisted.

But the state has delegated authority, and it is to come under God and his values. When Jesus confronted the pagan leader Pilate, he certainly reminded him of these basic truths. But I have written often about this. See here for example: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/05/15/the-state-is-not-absolute/

And here: billmuehlenberg.com/2014/12/03/difficult-bible-passages-romans-131-7/

When we hear Christians defending the state and chastising other believers, they usually dish out the same old lines. The reasons to disobey or resist are often summed up in a well-worn phrase about this can only happen when the state commands us to do that which is sinful, etc. I may even have said things like this in the past as well.

But that really does not get us very far. Indeed, because it is an extra-biblical moral norm that we have put together, it often serves as little more than a cliché, and it does not accurately deal with all the biblical material on this issue. The truth is, Scripture records plenty of times when God’s people had to defy and disobey the powers that be – and for all sorts of reasons. See this article for example: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/03/24/12-biblical-cases-of-civil-disobedience/

And this one: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/05/24/more-biblical-cases-of-resisting-the-authorities/

And then we will have these believers claim that the churches are not being singled out here, but everyone equally is facing severe lockdown restrictions. Um, no, not even close. Simply looking at the situation here in Victoria easily disproves that.

Far too often while churches have been fully locked down, or allowed to open with very stringent restrictions, plenty of other groups have been allowed to remain open or to function with much less onerous restrictions. We have had all sorts of things deemed to be “essential services” including pubs, sporting events, hardware stores, even brothels and mass protests (eg., the BLM march), etc.

It would be one thing if everyone were being treated equally here, but they are not. Churches – which really are an essential service – have faced massive shutdowns or restrictions. Even today a large church auditorium that can hold say 3 or 4000 people can only have 50 worshippers in at a time!

But these Pharaoh defenders will still claim that this is no big deal. We can “do church online” they will chant. Yeah right, as if the biblical ideal of Christian fellowship and corporate worship that God expects of his people is just a never-ending series of Zoom or Skype meetings with everyone cowering in fear in their own homes. Good grief, when will believers get some backbone here?

We have so many cowards in the pews and the pulpits who will never stand up for anything, but just sheepishly submit to whatever the secular state tells them to do. They will never dare rock the boat, and as such they have effectively lost any real witness to the surrounding culture starved for truth and examples of biblical courage.

Right now Christians in places like Communist China ARE defying the authorities and continuing to meet for Christian worship, knowing full well that arrests, torture and death will likely be their fate. Yet here in the West except for a handful of brave church leaders, most are cheerily going along with whatever the State tells them to do – no complaints whatsoever. They seem far keener to fully obey the pagan state in all things than the living God.

And I personally know of some of these rare brave pastors who are languishing in jail right now for daring to put biblical worship ahead of the anti-Christian bigotry of the secular left State. Consider Melbourne pastor Paul Furlong. His story is told here, along with how we can help this terrific brother in Christ: mailchi.mp/9786fe6f0398/update-pastor-paul-furlong-imprisonment-4938141?e=58ea942ea7

Christian leaders like Paul are the real champions here, not all the cowardly and compromised Christians who never seem to stand up for what really matters. And of course if and when they ever do wake up to the reality of the ongoing war on religious freedom, it will be far too late. Why am I always reminded of the words of the brave German Lutheran pastor, Holocaust survivor, and resistance leader, Martin Niemoller? He famously said this:

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Moses and Pharaoh

Since I have used the exodus story as the backdrop to this article, let me close with a bit more discussion about it. Of course it needs to be said that in one sense it was a unique, one-off event. It was meant not just to deliver the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, but it was part of the bigger, long-term purposes of God to see the Messiah come to planet earth.

So while it is unique, it is also paradigmatic, and can serve as a model for all believers. Exodus and new exodus themes are found throughout the New Testament. It is appealed to over and over again not just in the Bible but throughout history. The original exodus event gives us important principles about the vital nature of freedom and the place of resistance to tyranny and tyrants.

Image of Exodus And Revolution
Exodus And Revolution by Array Amazon logo

The Jewish political philosopher Michael Walzer wrote about the great influence of the exodus story in the Bible: Exodus and Revolution (Basic Books, 1985). In it he argues that the Old Testament exodus event has inspired and spurred rebellions and revolutions of all kinds for millennia now, and it is a dominant theme of Western political thought.

Getting back to the events described in the opening chapters of Exodus, notice how compromise was attempted by Pharaoh. Having stripped away the basic rights and freedoms of the Israelites, after he had some power encounters with Yahweh via Moses, he tried to do what tyrants so often do: he sought to throw a few snippets of freedom back to the people.

He hoped that such compromises would be enough to keep them forever enslaved in Egypt. Thus in Ex. 8:25 for example we read about how instead of allowing the people to leave Egypt, Pharaoh told Moses: “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” Moses of course rejected this compromise offer.

I am amazed at how similar all this is to the current government overreaction to the Rona and the way so many Christians have responded. So many of our most fundamental human rights and liberties have been stripped away from us by power-drunk leaders, and every now and then, to keep the masses happy, a few crumbs are thrown back to us.

Here in Victoria we see this happening all the time. These power-hungry rulers in effect are telling us this: ‘We are generous and gracious leaders, therefore we will now allow you two hours out of your home each day, not just one. We will allow you to travel 10 kms from your home, not just 5. Are we not so very kind and wonderful?!’

And the really shocking thing is that the masses seem to fall for it every time! They actually think the government is to be applauded and adored for these measly measures. That shows just how cavalier so many have become concerning our basic freedoms which are being stolen away from the people. As I have said before, the appalling reaction of the sheeple has bothered me even more than the tyrannical powers of our tinpot dictators.

All this, it seems to me, shows us why far too many believers, if transported back to Egypt some three and a half millennia ago, would actually have sided with Pharaoh, and resolutely opposed Moses. Scary stuff indeed.

[1663 words]

22 Replies to “Pro-Pharaoh Christians?”

  1. I love the title Bill, Pro-Pharaoh Christians!
    I was only saying to my family this morning that we are so blessed to be Christians. But more importantly Christians that are indeed informed about the evil government in Victoria that is he’ll bent, and I don’t use those words lightly, on destroying Christian faith, freedom and families as I whole.
    When I talk to these Pro-Pharaoh Christians I see them as so deceived by the devil to dilute their glories calling of being a light to the world. Instead they choose to support darkness as the Andrews seeks to literally “kill, steal and destroy as the enemy does.
    Then again we know those that don’t know Jesus, lie under the power of the evil one and those are the one’s I’m reaching out and sharing the gospel to bring them into God’s Kingdom.
    Terry, New Gisborne Victoria

  2. Thanks Bill.
    Good news about Paul Furlong, but tragic news about Tim Stephens in Calgary, Canada: re-arrested in front of his wife and crying children for defying “health orders”. His church had been locked up by authorities, and the congregation was meeting in an undisclosed location, but police helicopters tracked them down, and they went to Pastor Stephens’ home and arrested him.
    See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIy6Oycttkw

    This “pandemic” is but a pretext for a seizure of absolute power, and discriminatory persecution of Christians. It’s only going to get worse, particularly when the new laws about anti-conversion and gender fluidity are rolled out next Feb.

  3. Bill, you ask: Why are so many believers acting this way?

    A couple more thoughts: sadly complacency and in fact happy to anticipate universal basic income for not working and staying at home to pursue social media etc, while being controlled by the ‘nanny state’.

    And also total incomprehension of how truly precious freedom is. For many – having been so blessed living in freedom – how truly precious freedom is will never be realized until it is lost.

    Thank You, Father God, that Pastor Furlong has been freed!

  4. Even after the exodus, Moses and Joshua still had to continually challenge the people to fight for freedom rather than choose the “comforts” of slavery. There are sheeple in the church but it’s our church leaders who need to have God’s perspective on events and lead their churches in God’s truth.

  5. I wonder how many of these believers will rush to take the mark because government told them to do so?

    We are already using the check in app in Qld (under protest by myself). I always ask when the scanners are coming so people can put their hand or forehead under it when they have the mark.

    I fear we are largely resigned to just waiting for the return of Christ but what will the Son of Man find when he returns?

  6. I have wondered this too, particularly in Australia. In Canada and US there has been a growing tide of resistance to state tyranny, whereas here-CRICKETS!! or worse still, applauding the government for shutting churches indefinitely in states like Victoria. Its really pathetic! I am disgusted. I wonder whether its a hangover of the convict mentality. Australians must really love their authoritarian overlords. I am also disgusted with the ACL on this matter. What Christians have effectively said is its ok to call churches ‘non-essential’ services, while going to visit a prostitute, buying alcohol, having an abortion, is an essential service. Well done Aussies! I certainly don’t feel like one of you. I guess that’s because my parents didn’t come here on a convict ship!

  7. I think the problem is that since world war 2 most of us in western countries have enjoyed a standard of living and materialistic riches never before imagined much of it made possible all by governments from the left and right whose original intentions seemed righteous, but of course re-election was always the final goal. What they could never do was imbue their subjects with courage, sacrifice, bravery, perseverance, determination and more, leaving us unprepared for tyranny and evil. Sadly many of our institutions , media, academia, churches, corporations, government and more have followed the same route leaving us naked and cowardly facing a new totalitarian world that takes no prisoners.

  8. There’s a word for these Christians evanjellyfish for they have no spine.

    Over and over in the exodus story you read how as soon as some minor inconvenience comes the Israelites pine for the good old days under Pharaoh and wonder how any people who have seen the works of God could so quickly and so often abandon him for comforts sake then I look around and see so many Christians acting the same way.

    I also wonder how many of these Christians would burn a pinch of incense if asked in order to keep their lives going the same as always???

    Prolonged freedom and comfort is not good for the church. She needs persecution now and then to refresh her. When too much time elapses after winning your freedoms you take them for granted and can have them eroded without fighting. The tree of liberty is said to be refreshed by the blood of Patriots and tyrants as natural manure. So to is the tree of the church refreshed by the the blood of Saints and sinners it too is natural manure!

  9. Bill,
    I saw this only this morning (Thursday 17th June), and I wanted to share it, as I believe that this is precisely the sort of prophetic voice we desperately need right now, and which we desperately lack. This is Pastor Hildebrand of the Church of God in Aylmer, Ontario, who has been speaking out about the gross violations of religious freedom in Canada, and whose own church building has been closed down with the locks changed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yM513yErLjY

    Instead of voices like Pastor Hildebrand, we have boot-lickers (I say that advisedly) to the current government, making sheepish prayers from the pulpits for the Lord to deliver us from the virus, instead of “Lord, deliver us from tyrants who take away our basic rights and liberties”. And we have compliant pastors and ministers who are not prepared to say, in the face of all the anti-Christian legislation brought in over a period of years, and the blatant hypocrisy which e.g. puts limits on churches and public gatherings, but none on brothels, that antichrist rules in Spring St!

  10. Lately I have looked back upon the years and seen many small judgments against us often resulting in nothing from the church revival and repentance-wise and thought about Ancient Israel, specifically the southern Kingdom, and how she too received many small judgments prior to the large judgment. Some brought temporary repentance and revival but others didn’t. God never sends the big one out of the blue, though those NOT paying attention will disagree, he send small ones to get your attention and hopefully bring the nation back.

    We have experienced many small judgments each could have been the catalyst for a repentance and revival situation but the church’s response was weak if not completely absent. The biggest small judgment was 9/11 it was the BEST opportunity we had as people were coming to churches in droves yet so many simply offered comfort nothing more. Instead of a fire a brimstone sermon of what brought this upon us and the need of national repentance we simply gave limp wristed weak kneed sermons while we held their hands and said there there, there there. Some might have tried arguing lets comfort first them give them the gospel but by the time THEY were ready to speak about Jesus and coming to him people were either leaving or had already left. How many pastors when seeing SO many in church thought “ka-ching”??? For at least 100 years we have been experiencing these small judgments including the great depression, the teen rebellion starting in the 50’s with rebel without a cause continuing into the hippie 60’s and 70’s, the sexual revolution starting with Kinsey, a man who used child molesters for his “research”, to the free love era, to the radical feminisms redefining womanhood and making all men appear to be perverted monsters, to exploding STD rates and many NEW STD’s, the rise of homosexual power, the normalizing of homosexuality, the celebrating of homosexuality, the rise in transgenderism, the rise in molestations, the redefining of marriage, the celebrating of the destruction of reality in the form of dozens of “genders”, the rise of Islam on our shores, even pedophilia being more accepted among various groups. I’m sure there are others. He has given PLENTY of warning and PLENTY of time to repent. (More than we deserve) When he judgement comes NO-ONE can claim they were in the dark. “You didn’t warn us, you didn’t give us a chance”. Given the number of warning we been given that went unheeded I’m surprised we lasted this long. (I’ve often said I don’t have the patience to be God I’d be smiting this world every couple years and starting over.) I feel we HAVE passed the point of no return and that the appointed hour is close at hand. “Goodbye America, it was fun while it lasted but as they say all good things must come to an end.”

    So Eden sank to grief,
    So dawn goes down to day.
    Nothing gold can stay.

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