"Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land You gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. And its rich yield goes to the kings [and presidents?] whom You have set over us, because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress."
As we enter tax season, do these verses not ring bells for us? Not only has the government confiscated an increasing share of our livelihoods, but it burdens us with the paperwork and expense of documenting that pilferage on its behalf! Even so, Americans seem to miss the obvious parallels.
I believe that Nehemiah chose his wording in these verses deliberately, to remind his hearers and readers of the warnings of the Prophet Samuel (I Samuel 8:10-18), especially a military-industrial complex (vv. 11-12), diversion of labor to government (v. 13), confiscation of the means of production (v. 14), taxes (v. 15, wouldn't we love to pay only 10%?), and even our very persons (v. 17, especially as military conscription).
Our social-fascist government, whether under liberals or conservatives, is the very curse that Samuel warned of. And, as Nehemiah reminds us, it is because we have brought it on ourselves.
In my particular church, the solution is commonly said to be the election of Republicans. Yet, Ronald Reagan, a Republican president with a Republican Senate, doubled the revenues of the federal government. During the 1990's, the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, and yet grew the government. Even under Republican President George Bush, with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, the federal government expanded more than under any president, of either party, before him. Here in North Carolina, the Republicans control the governor's mansion, as well as both houses of the legislature, yet state spending grew again.
The solution isn't more Republicans. Or more Democrats, for that matter. Rather, the solution is a spiritual change, a looking to God to be our Savior, not to a redemptive state. That will lead to a renewal of a view of government consistent with the VIIIth, IXth, and Xth Commandments. May God speed that day!
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