The world today is mostly following a world order of countries governed by democratically elected representatives to run their own country. This system might seem fair humanly speaking as everyone has a say in how the country is run. Under such romanticised order of governance, utopic aspiration within a country however did not really materialise.
Crimes and corruptions are still prevalent and economic upheaval causing disruption and distress to the lives of citizen living in democratically governed countries are still the norm. What can be observed are only comparative wellbeing of one nation vis-à-vis other nations for social, academic and economic studies and discussion in order to improve future performance of a nation.
In fact, some countries that are not organised under democratic principles, their citizens are not necessarily worse off. Democracy is not the solution to bring human civilisation to a golden age in this fallen world. If it is, why won’t the most powerful democratic country in this world bulldoze this principle to all undemocratic countries where some of these countries are even her allies. Democracy is often used to justify regime change of a country at a huge cost to human lives and tragic destruction to the targeted country.
Democracy won’t bring such utopian fantasy to fruition. Greed and corruption won’t vanish into thin air within such society. Oppression and corruption in high places will continue. Citizen’s lives will continue to face pressure and challenges that are often man-made in nature dabbling with social engineering introducing unrealistic social economic policies by the elite on the governed.
Hence, under democratically governed countries, it is quite common to see protests and riots taking place where citizens take to the streets to challenge the democratically elected government of the day. The results of such antics are seldom pretty. Damaged properties can be repaired and replaced but lost of lives during such chaos and troubles are irreversible.
Unfortunately, Christians are also caught up in such swirl of disturbance and rebellion. When they are unhappy with the state of affairs of the nation and feel their rights have been trampled upon, they might even feel compel to join in the crowd and participate in such rebellious frenzy. They have a vested interest in their adopted country of residence so participating in protests and sometimes leading to riots seem justifiable, so some believe.
In fact, there are recorded events of protests and riots in the Holy Bible. In the book of Acts, there are two major incidents that are instructional for Christians to take note. The first protest took place in the city of Ephesus.
This incident arose due to loss of income suffered by workmen labouring in the idol related industry. When the gospel of Christ was successful in that city, the business of the idol producing segment of the economy was affected and retrenchment of workmen involved became a pain and those affected took to the streets to demand justice.
And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
The participants of this protest were pagans and their target were Christians. They were there to air their grievances and expected their demands be met.
Another major incident took place in Jerusalem. This time, the Jews were protesting and rioting. Their target was the apostle Paul. Paul had been preaching all over in the Gentile world converting souls to Christ and eating away into the religious dominance of the Jews overseas. They were unhappy with Paul and were in the process of killing him during this incident until the Romans came and rescued him. Once again, the target of this protest was again a Christian.
And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him
Protest and rioting are nothing new under the sun. In fact, the Jews protested during the times of Samuel. They were unhappy with the order of governance appointed by Jehovah God. Their grievance might seem justified as those appointed rulers were corrupt. A deeper look into the issue revealed a deep seated root of rebellion against divine order of governance as though Jehovah God was unable or unwilling to right the wrongs.
1 Samuel 8:1-7
And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
Here is the power of the people at work. They demanded a change of governance and they got it. Their new world order came as they demanded. They got a king and turned out to be worse off under his reign. They lost their liberty and even security and suffered oppression under the rule of a monarchy.
1 Samuel 8:10-20
And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
Actually, much earlier almost immediately after Moses delivered the children of Israel and led them out of Egypt, the power of the people came into play when Moses was up on the Mount with Jehovah God. They wanted a government of the people and by the people to lead them to the promised land but ended in rebellion and idolatry.
And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
Some years later, another protest took place within the Jewish camp. This time was a direct challenge to the authority of Moses and Aaron by some other families of the Levites.
Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face:
The protesters and their families died tragic death divinely appointed for them for their rebellion against divine appointment of the priesthood.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him. And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins. So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children. And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind. If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me. But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD. And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.
Amazingly, having seen divine judgment upon the participating rebels, the rebellion did not cease. Another protest was organised and the people accused Moses and Aaron for killing those rebels the day before. Many more died during this protest, with a judgment from above and no human hands were involved in the slaying of this new bunch of rebels.
But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD. And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah. And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stayed.
So far biblically recorded incidents of protests and riots were never divinely sanctioned. Participants turned out to be ungodly people acting in rebellion against established divine order.
Finally when the Lord Jesus Christ showed up, the Jews were living under Roman oppression and tyranny. The Lord didn’t organise protests and riots to challenge the Roman authority so that the Jews might have freedom of worship and liberty to participate in society and right all the wrongs suffered under Roman rule. In fact, one of a very unreasonable, oppressive and unjust acts to compel a Jew to walk a mile was not only upheld by the Lord but recommended to double that walk of shame and reproach for His sake.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Didn’t the Lord know such an act might violate the Jews’ religious obligation to keep the Sabbath during a Sabbath day? Yet the Lord didn’t allow the Jews to complain and clamour for their religious rights.
So when you see modern day Christians participating in protests for whatever cause, they are joining hands with ungodly people in rebellion. They have no biblical basis and justification to do so. No Christian has ever been commanded in the New Testament to change society through protest marches and riots to get their way to live in liberty and be delivered from all forms of oppression and injustice.
The Christians in the New Testament behaved themselves under adverse circumstances and even brutal unjust tyranny. They were even commanded to honour the king regardless of whether the king was honourable.
1 Peter 2:17
Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
Christians are admonished to conduct themselves in circumspection with regards to the established authority of the day.
1 Peter 2:13-15
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
The power that be are ordained of God. Protests and riots against authority are not only unbiblical, Christians participating in protests are living in rebellion against God. Moreover when Christians participating in protest marches sing hymns and Christian songs, it is not only embarrassing, it is disgusting. They bring a bad name to Biblical Christianity and bring trouble upon law abiding Christians. They show themselves to be lawless and acting unlawfully in violating the rights of others, disrupting road traffic and even causing damages to properties and injuries to law enforcement officers.
Then Christians might complain about persecution and injustice they face. Didn’t the Lord already warn His disciples to expect persecution and to bear the cross?
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
The apostle Paul likewise said the same.
2 Timothy 3:12
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
It is pointless to right every wrong in this fallen world. There will always be injustice in this world whether in democratically governed societies or otherwise. Christians clamouring for state sponsored liberty and protection in order to live their Christian life and practise their faith are not living in faith and do not trust the Lord.
The Lord is sovereign and reigns over every human heart including the heart of kings.
The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
Every evil deed will not go unnoticed under the all seeing eyes of the Lord who will exact vengeance on evil doers in His own time.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Christians unhappy with the state of affair in his place of residency should bring the matter before the Lord in prayer and not take things into their own hands by participating in protests and riots to seek justice. The Lord is on the throne and will dispense judgment in His own time.
If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.
The Lord is able to bring down wicked people at a moment’s notice whether he is an insignificant peasant or a king. When divine judgement falls, it will be beyond imagination like what happened to king Herod.
And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. But the word of God grew and multiplied.
In contrast, the word of God grew and multiplied. Christians should remember the most heinous protest and riot in the Bible was the one leading to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. The power of the people had their way that day according to God’s will.
Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
God may allow protests and riots to take place in society. But Christians descending into anarchy and rebellion have no biblical justification for their involvement.
So Christians must never participate in protests and riots for any cause. Christians thinking that participating in such events can make the world a better place are not only myopic and naive but are rebelling against divine order. They bring the practice of Christianity into disrepute.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
If Christians get involved with politics, they will only show Christianity to be a political force to be reckoned with, to be used to the advantage of politicians and to be discarded and smashed when they stand in the way of the agenda of professional politicians.
The Jewish ruling religious elites were actually politicians in robes during the time of Christ whom the Lord condemned for their hypocrisy. They were fearful of losing their rightful place and privileges in society.
Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
Christians must never conduct themselves like the Pharisees of old. Christians seeking to do the Lord’s work must commit their work to the Lord in prayer for the Lord to open doors for them according to the Lord’s will and not our will.
2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
The bad influence of the world has already permeated into the church where democracy has also become part of the tenet of self government within the local church. You will see voting within the church for almost any matter but not one incident has been recorded in the New Testament for such practice as a doctrine for Christians to adhere to, as far as Biblical Christianity is concerned.
Church leadership is by divine appointment and yet Christians in some churches are taught and encouraged to vote for a man to become their shepherd.
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
So it is not surprising to find Christians participating in protests and even riots against the ruling government of the day. They bring misery upon themselves and judgment from God. They want to bring in a kingdom but unfortunately not God’s appointed Kingdom according to the Lord’s prophetic calendar.
This fallen world will never have perfect peace until the Prince of Peace returns to establish His Kingdom on earth. Meanwhile, Christians are commanded to live soberly, circumspectly and righteously waiting for the coming of the Lord.
1 Timothy 1:17
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Only the Lord can bring in perfect government on earth during the Kingdom Age. Any protests and riots trying to bring in a kingdom of everlasting peace is futile and a hopeless illusion. Christians participating in such events are badly mistaken and are living in rebellion against divine order.
Not a single Christian has been documented in the Bible protesting and rioting against the authority in order to air their grievance and demand changes to unfavourable policies. So Christians must conscientiously stay away from such time of evil lest we cause the name of the Lord to be blasphemed among non believers in this world where some might be seeking to know the truth and to experience real peace in their soul where only the Lord can provide.
But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.
The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
2 Timothy 2:19
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.