MIGHT AN UNDERSTANDING OF ‘DEEP STATE’ IN POLITICS DEEPEN OUR WORSHIP?
- The Bible has a lot to say about government. It’s not going to tell you how to engage with it, which party to support, or how (or if you even should) vote (Caleb Mathis).
- The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous (Frederick Douglass).
- In a healthy church we will find that some people emphasize influencing the government and politics, others emphasize influencing the business world, others emphasize influencing the educational system, others entertainment and the media, others marriage and the family, and so forth (Wayne A. Gruden).
- The enemy wants to define you by your scars. Jesus wants to define you by His scars. (Louie Giglio)
- We reduce discipleship to a canned program, and so many in the church end up sidelined in a spectator mentality that delegates disciple making to pastors and professionals, ministers and missionaries (Francis Chan).
- Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self (C.S. Lewis).
TEXT: 1 King 21: 7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” 8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.” 11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.” . . . 17Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’”20 Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!” “I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord.
The closer the political election draws, the more the anxiety level grows in any nation. That is a time for Jesus' disciples to be awake and alert, fully aware that in human history, the only idea of government, an outside authority who gives guidelines to live by, provides protection, and meets needs, is God. All other authority is delegated from the one who is King of kings. Paul writing to Timothy says, ‘I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’ (1Timothy 2: 1-2). The question is what a believer should do when living in governance that is ‘ungodly’, concealing what should be for the welfare of others. Though the biblical advice is that believers submit to the authorities and cooperate with the political system (Romans 13:1-7), how does one act when illegal and unauthorized corrupt deals become the goal? Clandestine organizations may seem powerful but they lead to the use of loyal people to act in ways that cause death of the innocent. How does one distinguish between a prayer and fast called by the deep state using the king’s stamp in order to accomplish their greedy desires and a genuine fast?
It seems as if God's intention was not for human beings to govern themselves because of their evil human nature. God, who through the prophet led the people, saw their desire to be like others as a rejection. ‘. . . now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” 6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king‘(1 Samuel 8:6). God told the Israelites that when they cease to follow Him, they have to support the demand of their kings. God made it clear that human government does inevitably grow, expand, take more power, assemble more wealth, bring more authority to itself and subdue the people. That means people would pay a price for the systems that they come up with. Amorphous entities that have direct access to those in power tend to usurp the will of the people, violate the constitution, leaving people feeling cheated, exploited and being part of what dishonors God’s people. These entities I hear are referred to as the deep state. What should Christians do when caught up in the web of power play by systems that can be deceptive?
Deep state is described as a type of governance made up of potentially secret and unauthorised networks of power operating independently of a state's political leadership in pursuit of their own agenda and goals. The key interrelationships that influence behavior over time form the structure that direct people’s perceptions. Use of propaganda, repeated exaggeration of what is giving a negative impression, are subtle ways meant to result in people acting in a manner desired by those in power. People do not perceive the power and do not see how the structures are being organized and pulled, they just find themselves compelled to act in certain ways. The use of people in ways that end up benefiting some individuals in ways that are not acceptable is not just used in state political arrangements but can be found in churches, families and organizations where God’s name is used as a password. Jezebel used her position and proximity to the king to act in what seemed genuine, yet her hidden agenda was to eliminate the one hindering the king from achieving his greed and disrespect of another’s right. Might good people, Christians who are genuine in honoring God and doing the right, be swayed into clandestine deals and their action be part of what eliminates others? How does one know that the purported demand of the king was disguised evil?
LESSONS FROM AHAB/JEZEBEL –NABOTH STORY (1 Kings 21).
Ahab, the king of Samaria, Israel’s Northern kingdom covets Naboth’s ancestral land. He sulks, refuses to eat and uses emotions that children use when denied attention. His ‘loving’ and ‘caring’ but evil wife stepped into the matter, to help the king get what he yearned to have, though it belonged to somebody else. Jezebel used what today is referred to as the deep state,. Her experience, knowledge, relationship with the king, in addition to her insight and commitment to make her gods replace the worship of the living God, motivated her to use her wits to get her way. Her position gave her access to information and material that she would use to serve her purpose. What did Jezebel know?
- The jelly-like character of her husband – Though a king who seemed to yield power, lead people in battle and probably give speeches, the real decisions were in the hands of his wife and those she chose. Endless, logical debates, conferences and workshops go on without any action. Decisions are made by people ’invisible’ to the discussants. Jezebel, unelected, was running things from the center of power. The king lacked backbone and it would be true to say ‘If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all’ (Isaiah 7:9).
- The elders and nobles – These are the gatekeepers in the community or organization, who maintain an appearance of keeping God’s commandments even when they are not sure of what is happening. To keep up the image, they would seek to do whatever would squelch disagreement. These are people who would rather keep their reservations private rather than spoil the day by raising issues. Such are the people, respected and trusted by the community, yet when they are uncertain or ignorant, they protect themselves by agreeing with others and so laying blame without revealing the underlying differences in assumptions. How would people be noble and yet they could not take time to listen to Naboth’s side of the story?
- Scoundrel – These are people who are easy to buy and use because they have no moral values. These are people who are hired to kill others because they are unprincipled. They do not have to be many, but they are loud, dishonest and deliberately do evil things. They appear courageous and are highly influential assured of deep state protection.
- The word of God – Jezebel’s demand of the elders and nobles was to hold a fast because Naboth had cursed God and the king. The only form of punishment for blaspheming the name of the Lord was death (Leviticus 24:16). In obedience to the king’s command, innocent people went on a fast. To make the plan effective, Jezebel needed only two people well located, who were known as scoundrels. To have the good for nothing people shout that Naboth has blasphemed God and the king, and the nobles and elders join in the cry.
- Blind religious obedience – The letters seemingly from the king with the king’s stamp imply that as a faithful subject one acts according to what is demanded. The people fasted, abstaining from food, because they were committed to God and their king. These people knew Naboth, knew his character but would rather be on the king’s side rather than to find out if there was more than what they heard.
- Social influence in trusting behavior – These are the intentional and unintentional efforts to change another person's beliefs, attitudes, or behavior. The majority-held opinions of those who seem loud, eloquent or having authority are likely to inform the views of others without them realizing it. It is amazing how behavorial scientists explain that people get influenced without realizing it. You hear someone described as bad and without any evidence you realize you also are biased against the same person from then onwards. Powerful invisible forces can silence people. The prevalence of injustices that include corruption should be understood as the outcome of both individuals and the forces of the society or organization one is in.
Be suspicious of the one who is actually in charge – When the scripture commands believers to pray for their leaders, and kings, does that include secret backroom groups of conspirators? The Deep State is nothing more than the unelected leadership that basically runs things. Legislators and those legitimately in power can get away with endless debate and no action. The top person who could be the President or the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), bishop, can posture and give speeches all day long because everybody understands that the real work is being done by bureaucrats or some people in the committee or the spouse. In regard to the running of a nation, the politicians themselves are really figureheads playing to the cameras but others doing the serious business of running a country.
Beware of being part of what you do not understand – Do not join the mob just because of the numbers or the information given. Discernment is at the heart of what Christians are called to do. Discernment is the ability to have a sense of judgment that makes one listen and question again. Some accusations may seem so genuine yet they are sheer propaganda meant to paint another in bad light. The glaring messages from media, social networks, friends, songs, fasting and prayer vigils may all add to influence in an evil direction desired and carefully crafted by another. They create a story about one political candidates and it moves people not to elect him, only later to be discovered it was not true. How sad it must be for one to add their voice to that of the scoundrels in condemning innocent people to death. The blood of the innocent will be on your shoulders (Ezekiel 3:18).
Be conscious of who else is with you – Jezebel knew that two scoundrels, well located, were enough to influence the rest of the group. If you find yourself in the same team with those who have no moral values, then you may have lost your ground. If a person's value can be negotiated, that is a dangerous person because they will sell others for money. A Christian is priceless because of the price that was paid to purchase him. ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies’’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). To join those ‘good for nothing’ in order to gain acceptance by the system is a form of inner blindness.
THE REAL DEEP STATE
There is a God in heaven who cares for people. All those whose decisions move the cultural needle of a people need to fear the one from whom nothing is hidden. God reads the minds and intentions of the people. That is the real deep state who to know should cause each one of us to bow down and worship the Lord.
There is nothing hidden from God – Ahab’s emotional abuse was not amusing to God. He was responsible for the murder of Naboth. Clandestine actions, however concealed from people, are open before God who knows the thoughts and intentions of all people. ‘For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open’ (Luke 8:17).
Recognize the enemy – Ahab viewed Elijah, who had the word of God, as his enemy. The enemy should be one who loves what God hates. Greed, covetousness, and desire to manage people are signs that one is out of order and may regard those who point out evil as enemies.
Everyone has the ability to do what is right -Irrespective of the beliefs of the people and their loud voices, one is able to refuse to be held captive. To God, Ahab had sold himself to evil. It is a choice he continually made until it looked normal. God is holy and His standards do not change. To make choices that contradict what He has clearly spoken is to court danger and death.
While politics push those desiring to take power to sinful and flawed ways, God demands that His people remain righteous and dependent on Him. If God has given one an opportunity to serve people, through politics, or organization, then follow His prescribed method. Love of power that needs one to conceal illegal deals that dehumanize and objectify people will lead to very short term satisfaction followed by a life great distress, pain, tears and losses. Ahab never finally possessed Naboth’s land for long; instead he lost his position, and all his 70 sons (2 Kings 10:6-7) who would have inherited his ill gained property all died. While in power, determine to be on God’s side and be present,. Excuses that you were sulking when those around you made decisions that led to destruction of others is not acceptable. Find your way back to God who is light and in Him there is no darkness. If God has given you a family, do not resign and assign your responsibility to amorphous others or media. Allow the Spirit of God to fill you so that you are able to discern the voice of God, our Father in heaven ,who has given human beings mandate to rule on earth. No deep state can have operations unknown to God. Jezebel and her husband were powerful; they could use ‘deep state’ to have things go their way. However, when they came face to face with the real power, they were powerless. Deep state is God, our Father who is in heaven and before whom all human beings are accountable. Do we truly believe that God can make a difference, not just in our own lives and the lives of our friends, families, and coworkers, but in the lives of politicians?
‘To go deeper with God, you need a holy dissatisfaction with where you’re at, understand His sovereign grace, holiness, forgiveness, and justice. You need to be concerned not just for yourself, but for all of God’s people’ (Steven J. Cole).