“Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, Who write misfortune (violence), Which they have prescribed. To rob the needy of justice, And to take what is right from the poor of My people, That widows may be their prey, And that they may rob the fatherless.” 3. And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?
Here in Isaiah, the Prophet picks up a sub-theme he had begun in chapter 1.
Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
Your rulers are rebels,
partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
the widow’s case does not come before them.
Isaiah 1:10, 23
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter….
23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
but deny justice to the innocent.
Isaiah’s complaint here is about the ruling class in Judah – likely what we call legislators – were continually writing laws that today we would describe as anarcho-tyranny. That is laws were being passed that were manifestly unjust towards the needy, poor and have nots and so tyrannical while at the same time the lawless were exempt from law and so were allowed to be anarchistic. They were in short perpetrating the most egregious wrong under legal forms. It is the perversion from the seat of judgment that is being rebuked by the Prophet.
It is the same old story where God is cast out of consideration among the high born and among the political sock puppets of the high born. They who rise to these positions of political power and influence eventually think themselves as exempted from the ordinary lot of the little people even eventually concluding that they are not answerable to any God.
However, Isaiah tells them in vs. 3 that they will be the first to be visited with God’s judgment. Where will they turn in their day of Desolation? What good will all their power be in that day of visitation?
Isaiah brings back the reality of the God who remembers all before the potentates and sovereigns of Judah. He reminds them there is a God who sits in heaven and sees and who will mete out the whirlwind of divine justice in repayment for that wind of graft and injustice the Kings, Princes, and Leaders did sow.
In this warning Isaiah reminds his listeners and us today that there are many things which God appears to pass by in this life but which in point of fact is merely being set aside till that final day of visitation. How many have been the godly righteous through the centuries who counted on this reality. How many Christians suffered under the rule of a Nero or a Bishop Laud, or a Catherine Medici or Julian the Apostate or a King Charles I counting on the reality that God would not forget to bring a day of visitation upon wicked tyrants who would not repent.
Calvin offers here,
Accordingly, visitation must here be understood to mean the judgment by which God, in opposition to the waywardness and insolence of the ungodly, will bring them back like deserters. But if the judgments of God be so dreadful in this life, how dreadful will he be when he shall come at last to judge the world! All the instances of punishment that now produce fear or terror, are nothing more than preparations for that final vengeance with which he will thunder against the reprobate, and many things which he appears to pass by, he purposely reserves and delays till that last day. And if the ungodly are not able to bear these chastisements, how much less will they be capable of enduring his glorious and inconceivable majesty, when he shall ascend that awful tribunal, before which the angels themselves tremble! (Calvin)
So what this passage is dealing with is the reality of Tyranny and tyrants … of usurpation and Usurpers. The Prophet makes the case that God will by no means acquit the tyrant. God will have His way with the wicked who have oppressed His people and who have overthrown His law in favor of a completely subjective law that serves their own purposes and feathers their own nests. By this passage we can authoritatively say that “God Hates Tyrants,” and promises that there will be a payday some day unless they repent now.
And so today as we take up this matter we want to hold out again to the tyrants who might stumble across this message that will receive them as His own if they will but repent and trust Jesus Christ. If they will but end with their Tyranny and usurpation against God and His just law they can be assured that they will be received but should they spurn this offer from the Sovereign of the universe then they this warning will for eternity ringing in their ears.
Webster 1828 Dictionary defines TYR’ANNY as
1. Arbitrary or despotic exercise of power; the exercise of power over subjects and others with a rigor not authorized by law or justice, or not requisite for the purposes of government. Hence tyranny is often synonymous with cruelty and oppression.
We learn from this just what we read in the passage from Isaiah. Here as in Isaiah the point is that authority and power are be exercised in a illegitimate fashion inasmuch as they are exercised as inconsistent with God’s law revelation.
This is possibility of tyranny is a reality whether or not one holds that God’s law is revealed via natural law or whether one holds that God’s law is to be considered as being revealed via Holy Writ. In both of these positions there is the conviction that Tyranny and tyrants are possible and as such the governing rule of such men has no legal or moral legitimacy. There is nothing in their rule that compels or requires obedience.
Of course tyranny and the tyrant remains a problem for modern man. Indeed, we live right now under circumstances not completely different from Israel experience during Isaiah’s time. Americans likewise have those in leadership who decree unrighteous decrees and who write misfortune. The West is covered with tyrants and here in this country we have been living under tyranny of one degree or another for 150 years with each passing year finding the tyranny ever increasing in degree and substance.
There was a time when the Reformed Church above all other churches would lift its voice regarding tyrants, tyranny and Usurpers and Usurpation. There was a time when ministers would mount their pulpit and cause the walls to shake with their voices raised to heaven decrying tyranny. Such days have long since passed as the church as been declawed, defanged and tamed. Today we are told from seemingly every quarter that we must not raise our voices against tyrants and tyranny. We must “keep in our lane” we are told, completely ignoring the driving habits of our Fathers who joined with Isaiah and said things like we hear from the Divine Samuel Rutherford in his Lex Rex;
“Tyranny being a work of Satan, is not from God, because sin, either habitual or actual, is not from God: the power that is, must be from God; the magistrate, as magistrate, is good in nature of office, and the intrinsic end of his office, (Romans 13:4) for he is the minister of God for thy good; and, therefore, a power ethical, politic, or moral, to oppress, is not from God, and is not a power, but a licentious deviation of a power; and is no more from God…”
Samuel Rutherford- Lex Rex. p. 34
Calvinist Francis Hotman who posed this rhetorical question,
“If a state was once free, but later was conquered by a tyrant, was it not lawful to overthrow the tyrant and revert to that ancient Independence?”
“The nature of wicked princes is much like to warthogs, which if they be suffered to have their snouts in the ground, and be not forthwith expelled, will suddenly have their snouts in all the body; So they if they be obeyed in any evil thing be it ever so little will be obeyed in all at length.”
”When therefore the supreme ruler has become a tyrant, he must be deemed by his own perjury (as against the covenant document with the people) to have freed people from their oath, and not to the contrary, when the people assert their rights against him.”
Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos
(Thought to have been written by a one of two men … both of whom were Calvinists)
“As often as the Magistrate commands anything that is repugnant EITHER to the worship which we owe unto God OR to the love which we owe unto our neighbor, we cannot yield thereunto with a safe conscience. For as often as the commandment of God and men are directly opposed one against another, this rule is to be perpetually observed; that it is better to obey GOD than men.”
Calvin’s Successor in Geneva
“Resistance to tyrannical governors was, according to (Calvinist Pierre) Viret, a legitimate act of self defense. He even endorsed the use of disinformation if the tyrant were persecuting as analogous to resisting a band of robbers. If the political leader acted like a criminal, Viret thought he should be treated like a one, and the citizens were justified in resisting him.”
The Political Ideas of Pierre Viret
Robert Dean Linder — p. 131
The Calvinist Peter Martyr stipulated that others in the public weal, who were in ‘place and dignity lower than princes’ and yet in positions of responsibility to ‘elect the superiors,’ have power by existing laws to govern the commonwealth. If, therefore, a prince does not preform his covenant as promised, ‘it is lawful to constrain and bring him into order and by force compel him to fulfill the conditions and covenant which he had promised, and that by war when it cannot be otherwise done.’
And who does Martyr include in his list of “others in the public weal’ who had a responsibility to keep an eye on wandering Magistrates?
Why Peter Martyr includes “Ministers of the Churches,” as those who had a responsibility to keep an eye on wandering Magistrates.
“Loyal shoulders should sustain the power of the ruler so long as it is exercised in subjection to God and follows His ordinances; but if it resists and opposes the divine commandments, and wishes to make me share in its war against God, then with unrestrained voice, I answer back that God must be preferred before any man on earth.”
-John of Salisbury, Policraticus, 1159
“The Lord does not give Kings the right to use their power to subject the people to tyranny. Indeed when Liberty to resist tyranny seems to be taken away by princes who have taken over, one can justly ask this question; since kings and princes are bound by covenant to the people, to administer law in truest equality, sincerity and integrity; if they break faith and usurp tyrannical power by which they allow themselves everything they want: is it not possible for the people to consider together taking measures in order to remedy the evil?”
Sermon I Samuel Chapter 8
“…when constitutional limited government is abandoned, tyranny is a result. And citizens have a right to resist tyranny.”
– Robert Godfrey
(2010 Ligonier Regional Conference)
“When Tyranny is abroad, submission is a crime.”
Rev. Andrew Elliot
Election Sermon, 1765
Coming in the context of the English “Stamp Act”
Today that kind of preaching is largely considered “out of place.”
And my friends … my family in Christ, Tyranny is abroad and I for one will not submit. For almost 50 years we have put up with the work of the Tyrants who have tortured and killed the judicially innocent while inhabiting their sanctuaries of life. It has seemingly ended but our tyrant in chief of this country stands before God man and laments that it is a dark day in our history that this small portion of tyranny has come to an end.
But for every one portion of tyranny that seemingly passes us by our Luciferian tyrants prepare for us another crown of illegitimate and immoral law to press down upon our brows by passing legislation that overturns our political covenant as a people.
In the typical fashion of the Usurper and Tyrant our rulers pass an omnibus like legislation this week attacking our political covenant that was arrived upon in the darkness of hidden counsels and presented and passed without the opportunity to even fully read and dissect the legislation that has no passed the US Senate. No amendments were allowed to be offered to this legislation which had more the character of a drive by shooting in Chicago then well thought out and crafted legislation And all of it is fouled with the smell of control that the tyrant so much loves and which the Christ lover hates.
Tyranny now covers what has been called our charter of negative privileges. That document growing out of English common law that was itself so influenced by Biblical law. That document that was committed to explaining what the Federal Government could NOT do to the people in their states organized. That document that is commonly called our Bill of rights but perhaps should be more properly called the “Bill of Prohibitions.”
What happened this week is just the kind of thing that Isaiah was seeing in his time. Legislators who decree unrighteous decrees, and those who write misfortune (violence), Which they have prescribed. To rob the needy of justice.
With the tyrants work this week the Federal Government has broadened its ability to infringe the God ordained assignment to keep and bear arms. With the tyrants work this week all that is left of the Due Process guaranteed in the 5th amendment is the Cheshire’s cat’s smile. With the tyrants work this week the Federal Government has weakened your 6th amendment right to face your accuser. Let’s not even talk about the 9th and 10th amendments.
With the voice of Patrick Henry from long ago; I ask friends, what means this legislative action, if its purpose be not to force us into submission?
All of this, if allowed to stand, is the State once again seeking to arise to the position of the most high with the goal of being God walking on the earth. It is the state’s play for divinity … for the right to control the way only God does control. It is this aspect of all of this tyranny that should give the Biblical Christian unrest and cause Him to call out to the God of War. It is this that should energize the clergy across the land to lift their voice to decry wickedness and tyranny in high places. Why should the clergy of all people sit by and remain silent in the face of the State’s attempt to be a god that ranks itself before the only one God? God people can never acquiesce to being controlled by and so serving a God besides the God of the Bible.
Our voices remain mute and our actions are not concentrated because we have lived under long term incremental tyranny and we have adjusted ourselves to the increments of tyranny so that one no longer even notices the next ratcheting up of the tyranny. This gun bill that is being shoved down our throats is just the next instantiation in a long line of tyranny but very few people are screaming ruddy murder. We have become inured to the reality that the FEDS are usurpers and now we just roll with whatever the most recent punch is that they deliver in our direction.
This is so because we have become a Christless people. Having abandoned our great King we no longer have a King to whom we owe a allegiance which would provide us with the solid grand upon which to stand in order to defy Tyrants and Usurpers. We have become so malleable and weak that we even gladly surrender our own seed to the maw of the God-State that we are currently living under.
I am so weary of this Christ-less tyranny. So weary of having to adjust in order to find a way to accommodate it. So weary of having to bow my knee to jackanapes, mountebanks, and blaggards when it should be the tyrants who are the ones bowing their knees to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
From Abraham Lincoln to Woodrow Wilson to FDR and nearly every President since then the tyranny has continued to inflate so that the intolerance of it all screams to the heavens.
And the Church? The Church is like C. S. Lewis’ Lady of the green kirtle who casts spells in order to put people to sleep when they begin to become aroused about the nature of their peril in living under her tyranny. The visible Church is largely useless in this hour having herself decided to now be a servant of the Tyrant that at least a few of us so despise.
If we wish to be free—if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which our Christian Fathers and we have been so long contending—if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must prepare to fight! I repeat it, sir, we must prepare to fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!