"An empire is necessarily threatened by the gospel. The gospel challenges the theology of man as divine, a theology that always undergirds every empire. But to stamp out their Christian enemies, the bureaucrats must take great risks. The bureaucrats who run the ecnomony always want to meet their production quotas and earn their bonuses. If they persecute Christians, they threaten their organizations' output. Time and again, the most productive citizens of any empire are the hated Christians. They are the ones who are not addicted to alcohol, or absenteeism, or other forms of passive resistance. The biblical idea of service serves Christianity well. The failing productivity of the empire makes the bureaucratic functionaries increasingly dependent on Christians in order to meet the assigned production quotas. Like Jacob in Laban's household, like Joseph in Potiphar's household and in the Egyptian prison, competent service to others creates dependency on the servant. Dominion is by service. 'But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant' (Matt. 23:11).--Gary North, from Millennialism and Social Theory (Institute for Christian Economics, 1990, pp.333-335)
Satan believes that dominion is by power. He seeks to control others. Their resistance slows his ability to bring others under his power. There is built-in resistance to expansion in every empire. Territory and people once captured cannot be held captive indefinitely. They find ways of thwarting the bureaucratic system.
Empires do not survive for long. Their masters must work very fast and take high risks in order to extend the power of their empires. In contrast, Christians have plenty of time. Slow growth multiplies over many generations. This is God's promise: 'For I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands [of generations], of them that love me, and keep my commandments' (Ex. 20:5-6). 'Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack to him who hateth him, he will repay him to his face.' (Deut. 7:9-10).
Pagan empires are invariably cut off in the midst of history. They try to achieve world dominion, but there are always new empires rising up to challenge them (Dan. 8). God will not permit any nation to achieve total world dominion in history. The one-State world is a denial of God's universal sovereignty over man, and also a denial of Christ's progressive kingdom in history. The pagan empire cannot tolerate rivals. It cannot be content with federation. It cannot share the glory of power. It therefore cannot succeed in history.
The kingdom of Christ imposes the requirement of modesty on the nations that compose it. No Christian nation can hope to impose its will by force on the whole world. Such pride is recognized as being evil, as well as self-destructive. Dominion is by service. Thus, the decentralized earthly kingdom of Christ can grow over time to fill the earth [Dan. 2:34-35], but without becoming an empire. No one nation can hope to achieve dominance, though one or two may achieve primary influence temporarily, through adherence to the principle of service. Long-term cooperation among nations is possible only if all of them realize the inherent, God-imposed limitations on the power wielded by any one nation. The Christian nation faces the same warning that Christian individuals face: 'Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall' (Prov. 16:18).
The residents of each nation must regard their own nation as mortal, just as men regard themselves. The more closely a nation conforms to biblical ethical standards, the longer it will survive as a separate entity. This the biblical principle of inheritance. The heirs of any national group will retain their separate character only so long as God continues to grant the nation His grace. Rebellion against Him brings destruction and national obliteration. As always, dominion is by covenant.
'LORD, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our works in us. O LORD our God, masters besides You have had dominion over us; but by You only we make mention of Your name. They are dead, they will not live; they are deceased, they will not rise. Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish. You have increased the nation, O LORD, You have increased the nation; You are glorified; You have expanded all the borders of the land.' (Isa. 26:12-15, New King James Version)
Christians have good reasons to be confident about the earthly future of Christ's kingdom. Pagans do not have much of anything to be confident about. Time is against them. So is God."
|broken pottery from an archaeological dig|