Romans 13 – Obey your government?

This post is a follow up to a post on voting, you might want to start with that article: https://expedition44.com/2022/08/09/voting-the-kingdom-conundrum/

Romans 13 is theologically difficult. I would argue the great majority of the Bible seems to speak differently when interpreted by 21st century English-American. Hebrews 11:131 Peter 1:172:11, 2 Corinthians 5:20 and Philippians 3:20 (to name a few) all clearly speak to being in complete allegiance to the kingdom of the Lord and being single minded to only serve one master who is Jesus the Lord of your life.

Romans 13 has become a favorite proof text for every church narcissist who wants to Lord over and rule like a king in the name of Jesus. Does Romans 13 mean that God actually instituted every authority by God and that Christians should comply to whatever they ask?

The Bible agrees. When it seems like it doesn’t, we are tasked with the puzzle of figuring out the best interpretation. In this case, countless verses say to not be of the world, to solely and completely follow Jesus, that God is good (Tov) and not part of corruption, that we as His children are not to compromise to the ways of the world but be undivided and not tangled up in the affairs of the systems of the world.

How do we reconcile, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”


Seeking a better interpretation

The first law of Hermeneutics is context. Any Romans scholar would tell you that you have to read Romans in complete context. As believers, you are the set apart remnant, we should expect persecution, all authority belongs to and should be given solely to the Lord, live as a royal priesthood set apart in living sacrifice. Follow the example of Christ in humble submission and be devoted to the body and the Word.

Paul is chronically in trouble with the government and seen as treasonous by them, eventually He will be killed by them for His traitorous mindset. Some scholars would assert that Romans 13 is referring to church governance. I think that is a viable option, but the reference to taxes and revenue doesn’t really fit first century church as much as a description of state government. It would seem to fit a context of tithing in churches today, but that doesn’t fit the audience so personally I think that “view” shows a poor hermeneutic.

Could Paul be writing to appease the Roman government who would have been screening these letters? Well, that is certainly a consideration. We don’t have records of several letters that we know Paul wrote and they were likely confiscated. I think there is some truth to this theory and should be taken into any consideration on the best interpretation.

Let’s get a few things straight. Paul regularly taught that Jesus was king, NOT Caesar. All authority is given to Christ. In fact, there isn’t anywhere in Paul’s writings other than Romans 13 that would seem to assert ANY “authority” to Caesar. I would argue Romans 13 doesn’t either. Caesar was and should not ever be recognized as a valid authority instilled or given by God. In other words, God didn’t institute the authority of Caesar. According to Paul, Jesus is “the blessed and only Ruler” (1 Timothy 6:151:17Acts 17:6-7James 4:12). This happened all the time in the Old Testament and God clearly doesn’t honor the authority instituted by men or ask His followers to do the same. In fact, one of the reigning messages of the Old Testament is to follow God not the pagan nations. Have nothing to do with them. Yet there still seems to be a sense to this text of trying to live within what they are asking of us.

Paul often taught as a Rabbi in the same way that Jesus did using Hebrew idioms that reminded them of complete teachings by simple phrases. I teach regularly about the use of contronyms, extreme opposites that by explaining the opposite of something shape what is true on the other extreme as well. There is some of this going on in Romans 13 as well. Paul clearly thinks that Caesar is a terror to Christians in I Corinthians 2 and 2 Timothy 2. But I don’t want to major on this as I view it as a minor emphasis. Still, it should be considered in your interpretation.

I also need to touch on paying taxes. Paul doesn’t seem to go along with the Roman government in Acts 16. Neither Paul nor Jesus ever taught their followers to pay tax. Taxation was considered theft or extortion by the Jews. Paul would exclaim in verse 8 that we owe nothing but love to our neighbors. Those words are similar to Jesus. When he was asked to pay tax, it was miraculously paid from a fish which represented money of the world given back to the world. Jesus didn’t pay the tax from money from the purse that was given for ministry. That would have been giving God’s money to the world or stealing.

If something is Evil we are taught to NOT be a part of it, or entangled in it. We are set apart to be of the world but not in it. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of the world. Did Joseph and Mary willfully submit their baby to Herod for execution? Paul spent more time in prison for disobeying the government then he did out of Prison after his 14 years of training.

So, as I, and every other scholar I know, would agree, this section of Romans 13 seemingly being contradictory to the message of nearly the entire lens of the scripture. We have an option not to read “into it” that way. It can’t mean something to us today that it didn’t mean to its intended audience. How would they have interpreted it?

In his commentary on Romans, Colin Kruse observes that in Romans 13 “Paul is drawing upon teaching in Jewish literature about God’s sovereignty over the rise and fall of earthly rulers” (Paul’s Letter to the Romans, 493). Supporting that claim, he lists a handful of key passages from the Old Testament, the Jewish Apocrypha, and Josephus. Here’s his list.

·      
By me kings reign and rulers issue decrees that
are just; by me princes govern, and nobles—all who rule on earth. (Prov
8:15–16)

·      
In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream
of water that he channels toward all who please him. (Prov 21:1)

·      
With my great power and outstretched arm I made
the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to
anyone I please. Now I will give all your countries into the hands of my
servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject
to him. All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time
for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him. (Jer
27:5–7)

·      
He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings
and raises up others. (Dan 2:21)

·      
The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms on
earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. (Dan 4:17, 25, 32)

·      
For your dominion was given you from the Lord,
and your sovereignty from the Most High; he will search out your works and
inquire into your plans. (Wis 6:3)

·      
The government of the earth is in the hand of
the Lord, and over it he will raise up the right leader for the time. (Sir
10:4)

·      
He will for ever keep faith with all men,
especially with the powers that be, since no ruler attains his office save by
the will of God. (Josephus, Jewish Wars 2.140)

Paul commands believers to willingly submit to governing authorities (Rom. 13:1, 4), he does not mean that governing authorities have absolute autonomy or unchecked authority. As Romans 13:4 says, they are “God’s servants,” hence subject to God himself. And it’s this point of reference—the relationship between governing authorities and God—that we need consider more fully.

  • Government leaders are actually a rejection of God (1 Sam 8:5-7)
    • God allows government leaders to have their power, but he is actually working against them (Col 2:15)
    • Hosea 8:4 actually says that leaders are chosen without God’s approval

HYPOTASSO:

The ONLY true authority was and is Jesus. Period. In fact, the rulers and authorities of the world are the enemies and will be destroyed according to I Corinthians 15:24-25 and Mark 10. It is interesting when Paul writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” he uses the word ‘hypotassō,’ which means “submission involving the recognition of an ordered structure.”1 The Greek word hypakouo is the common word for complete obedience and Paul could have used that word, but instead he uses this one. This is the same word he uses in Ephesians when He asks wives to submit to their husbands. The implication is to live in peace but not to go along with something that is ungodly. That understanding is so basic to Paul’s writing that no one in the intended audience would have questioned it.

Why do we? I think because we have been compromised for 2000 years. We have changed definitions to work for us. We like our new definitions better than the Biblical definitions. We don’t think that way. Did Paul imply in any way to go along with something that is un-Godly, no way. There is not a chance His audience would have interpreted this letter in that light, or rather darkness. Any first century Christian wouldn’t think twice about this. They would understand the context to follow Jesus not someone contrary to Jesus. Today we have the big picture and should even interpret the scripture more strongly along these lines. The 7 letters to the churches of Revelation should make this message exceedingly clear to us. (Watch our X44 series on the church for our take on this.)

TASSO

Depending on your translation you’re going to read the words “instituted” or “established” authority by God. This is really the main problem of Romans 13. In our western world 21st century thinking we interpret this word similar to the way a Calvinist interprets predestination. That all things were set in concrete form the beginning of time. That isn’t the Biblical definition of predestination and that wasn’t the first century meaning of the term “establish” either. Tasso meant to arrange or bring order. In the same way that God seeks to bring order to the chaos of the world He doesn’t agree or approve of them, and neither should we. He often meets us where we are and that is messed up. Authority is God’s and most of it in this world is messed up and even abused.

There is also a Deuteronomy 32 worldview tied into this idea but that is a longer conversation that you can watch in our videos on that subject. Revelation is clear that God “hates” the empires of the world (that are contrary to Him) and that they will be overcome and reconciled to Him in the end.

What does the rest of Romans say? Obviously, a verse in Romans can’t be interpreted to mean exactly the opposite to the rest of the book right? Romans 12 (the chapter in context establishing the foundation for the statements of Chapter 13 and in the ancient manuscripts their isn’t a break or chapter difference here) tells us not to conform or be tempted by the world and their systems. We are to bless and love our enemies and even those who persecute us.

NT Wright is likely the best expert on Paul the world has ever known. Personally, I agree with NT Wright’s take on Romans 13, Wright argues that, Romans 13 is in fact a general statement about ruling authorities (as I have alluded the statements about taxes are hard not to apply to government and why I lean this way as well). In essence, in this time between the times where God’s new world is on its way but not quite here, government is something God has put in place to preserve some measure of justice and order and to prevent the world from falling into complete anarchy and chaos. To disagree with this general sentiment is to endorse actual anarchy, which, on the whole, is far worse than government, even though government can certainly go horribly wrong.

As I alluded to in the previous article, no one wants the wild west. But I also make an argument that maybe in a better state of trust in Christ we should. Maybe we are supposed to have the faith to completely trust the justice of the Lord and be able to turn the other cheek in the greatest of adversity. 

In other words, it isn’t a blank check to follow evil as if we are just zombies that can’t think for ourselves. We are called to far greater places and that is expressed in the rest of the book and GREATLY assumed in Paul’s written audience. The apostles clearly defy their rulers when their rulers ask them to do something that violates faithfulness to Christ (Acts 4:23-31). Paul harshly condemns the high priest (Acts 23:1-5). Wright’s proposal is that all of this could have led many Christians into a sort of over-realized eschatological anarchy in which Christians try to overthrow government in the name of Christ. He points to the riots under Claudius and Jewish revolutionaries as examples of actions the early Christians might be tempted to emulate. That, claims Wright, is why Paul is saying this particular thing to these particular people: “Romans 13:1-7 issues commands that are so obvious that they only make sense if there might be some reason in the air not to obey the civic authorities.”[2]

Inasmuch as the authorities are themselves meant to submit to God, calling them back to their purpose is indeed a form of faithfulness to the will of God. That is our calling as those set apart. To bring God’s order to the world’s chaos. Essentially, we should be seeking to call the authorities back to their God-ordained purpose. Martin Luther King Jr. suggested that such a person is “in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”[3]

Simply put, the law does not dictate our ethics or authority, God does.

Peter and Paul knew that if we break an unjust law to highlight and protest its injustice, we should be willing to submit to the punishment for breaking such laws, so that we demonstrate our respect for the role of government in general. We do not follow a God of chaos, each doing whatever we want. But a God of order and respect for one another and the governing authorities.

Romans 13 does not undermine that posture – it informs it.

_________________

Matt and I did a video on the overlap in content between 1 Peter 2:13-17 and Romans 13:1-7. Matt is alos writing his Th.D dissertation on the subject. Many see some contradictions in these texts as well (who to fear in 1 Peter vs Romans). The traditional approach to Romans 13 has been that all governments are ordained by God.

As I have pointed out above, as in Romans, 1 Peter submit does not mean obey, In Peter honor is due to all things and all Peter not just institutions. In this way we honor all people but keep the brotherhood and live as a witness to the authority of light in Jesus that you represent. You can watch the video below.

 

[1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1042.

[2] Wright, NIB, Romans, 722.

[3] Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail,”

 

Watch our episode on 1 Peter 2 and Romans 13:

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VOTING: The kingdom conundrum

Today is primary election day in Wisconsin. I often don’t vote. Some people don’t understand why; and frankly, I seldom try to change anyone’s mind or even share my perspective on the subject. I usually just quietly keep to myself. The last time I voted I simply voted for one person on the ballot and honestly felt “dirty” walking out of the voting stands. Does this mean I am un-American? Well, sort of. Let me attempt to explain. I realize not everyone will agree with my stance and that’s also ok with me. My goal is that perhaps writing this will open some eyes to kingdom dynamics that lead to better Jesus principles amongst the body of believers. Each person is called uniquely for the kingdom of God and likely will think differently according to their own journey (expedition) with the Lord.

This is going to be about a 15 minute read, I encourage you to clear your schedule and make the prayerful investment. I am not asking for much of your time to invest as a Christian in a better perspective for the kingdom you claim allegiance to.

My goal in sharing this, is that you might consider what I think is a better biblical view. Let’s first start out with who we are in the Lord. From the very beginning of creation our vocation in the kingdom of God has been to be bearers of light. We were made to represent the image of God to those in the dark. When God created the world, he created it Good. This is the Hebrew word Tov. It represents the idea of God entering into a partnership with us to bring goodness. We are his instruments to bring good to a broken world; and eventually reclaim what was lost or fallen and bring back the holiness that God designed “it” and us for. God is asking us to represent him to those in the dark and represent those in the dark to God. (This is the definition of a royal priesthood of believers). We are somewhere in the middle right now. If we are new creations in Christ, we are on a transformation journey to leave this world and be fully transformed (kainos-made new) to the kingdom of the Lord. In doing so, one of our missions is to bring others with us into this partnership and journey. This is the life we were designed for, both now and to eternity. If you are clearly the Lords, consider these things.

WALK IN DEVOTION TO THE PRECEPTS OF THE LORD.


1. Can you be a “Christian” American? Can you hold dual citizenship?

When we pledge our obedience (allegiance) to Christ in a profession of faith we are claiming to place complete authority over to Him. Philippians 3:20 (and many other passages) seem to argue for us to consider sole citizenship in Christ. This is the root of what it means to have new life in Christ or be reborn in Him. We are now aliens or foreigners to a nation that we are charged to be simply an ambassador in. Although ambassadors seek to make the foreign countries they are in better places, their allegiance isn’t to that country, and they don’t vote there. (Hebrews 11:131 Peter 1:172:11 & 2 Corinthians 5:20). 

2. Are you validating a system that is anti-God by voting?

In the Bible we are told that human authority usurp Gods authority. Essentially God is the only one that can rightfully rule over people. The world was intended at creation to be ruled by God alone. All authority is the Lord’s and was passed on to Christ. I Samuel 8 tells us that choosing a human ruler is the path to sin, it describes lording over others as slavery. Wanting a human ruler was a rejection of Him.

You cannot serve two masters. You will hate one and love the other, or you will be loyal to one and not care about the other.
Matthew 6:24

3. God’s kingdom is rival to other kingdoms and systems of the world.

Voting is an attempt to “appoint a king to lead us,” which makes God say, “they have rejected me as their king” (1 Samuel 8:5-7). God has never viewed other nations favorably. Every other kingdom outside of God’s kingdom is referred to as “pagan.” God still desires a Theocracy with His people and to regain everyone to Him that is lost in the darkness.

4. God should be your only basis for authority?

Do you desire to empower some people to forcibly control other people? Do you want to give them that power over? What about where the Bible says to submit to authority of the world? God doesn’t approve of the authorities of the world, but he asks us to live at peace with them, that we might win them over.

The idea of giving a human authority the ability to legitimize “lording over” others opens up the door for evil to take the place in the sacred space that should only be given to the Lord. Let’s look at an example. If I come to you and demand that you give me money or I will punish you, most of us would never agree to that deal. Yet somehow, we are ok with voting on how to allow others to do that to us. When someone refuses to comply, they are a criminal now because of the authority we have empowered. We are essentially not only allowing a biblical sin (called theft) but are voting for it. We are impowering men to do what is immoral and against the Lord. We have double standards (and become double minded.) We want to allow government to steal, but if a citizen does the same, we want to put them in jail. This deceptive “voting to power” of human authority empowers morality and sin to be inverted or counter to what God says. This is contrary to Jesus’ kingdom. We simply can’t vote to make an evil act a good act. The kingdom of God doesn’t work that way. You don’t have the right to rule over someone else and therefore do not have the authority to vote that right to anyone else. That thinking is backwards to the authority of Jesus over your life. The right to rule belongs solely to Jesus. There is only one authority of the church and the world and that is Jesus.

5. You’re voting for slavery not freedom.

Will a “public servant” represent the people? What if he/she is a Christian representative? The problem comes down to when the representative isn’t representing you or Jesus. Are you going to be ok with them forcibly victimizing what they think is best on you and those around you? Are you ok with imposing your Christian beliefs on others (Jesus let people choose to accept Him.)

By agreeing to “the vote” we have agreed to enter into master slave relationships and instill this on others. The one given the right to rule is the master; the one with the obligation to obey is the slave. We are essentially voting to choose a new master because we don’t believe that God can or will rule. We are being deceived to give humanity what is only God’s. What happens when we choose “satan” as the result of our vote? The lesser of two evils is usually voting for evil. This kind of democracy creates war not peace.

6. Are you legitimizing evil?

When you vote you are essentially expressing your will for someone else to be in power over others. Some say you are forcing others to pay for what you want. Voting is too often an act of aggression, to impose others to live the way someone else wants them to live. This is the opposite of what the Bible teaches. We are creating mass peoples to draw lines and make those on the other side the enemy. Jesus says the opposite, treat your enemy with love grace and mercy so that you might win them over to the kingdom. Is your vote causing violence? Will your vote bring violence by enforcing views to millions of people that don’t agree? Jesus didn’t force anyone into the kingdom. By voting or legitimizing this system of the world you are likely validating oppression and violence. You are agreeing that whoever wins the vote gets to legally impress their views on everyone else. What happens if their views are evil or anti-God? Guess what, you just went along with it and/or empowered the evil. Every vote is an attempt to dominate others by coercion and oppression.

7. be a peacemaker.

Romans 12 is clear that Christians are to be agents of peace. You have probably heard said, “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.” I would strongly disagree. If you vote, you agree to the system. Essentially if you vote you are agreeing to allowing the outcome. In other words, whoever is picked as ruler has the moral right to dominate an entire nation’s population and possibly impose what is morally and Biblically against God. By Biblical definition this is conforming to the world.


BIBLICAL IDEOLOGY

Is this asking for Anarchy? Do you want the wild west back? These are valid concerns and questions. Essentially Christians are allegiant to only Christ’s kingdom but charged to be agents to reflect Jesus to the world they came from. What would happen in America if the only authority was God’s? In our humanity this is difficult. Who would bring justice to the rape offenders? The murders? Those oppressing others?

The Bible teaches that justice is only the Lord’s and not mine. In fact, it teaches that I should turn the other cheek. What about rape? What if someone rapes your daughter? Do you turn the other cheek? Does God then allow me to represent Him and bring justice to that person? Do I get to do that? I would argue the Bible never teaches that. So then will God just start smiting all the sex traffickers? Will the earth open up and swallow every murderer? Likely not. That was what Jonah was mad at God for.

It is interesting to me that most Christians call those that advocate abortion “murderers.” (To be clear, I am HUGELY pro-life). We view those performing abortions as murders similar to the same camp we put rapists and child molesters in. Before 1973 a Christian would treat them as the enemy. But what we learned over the last nearly 40 years is that we can still treat “murderers” with Christs love. Somehow, we learned to have a cup of coffee with murders and perhaps even come to the place of turning the other cheek, but we can’t do that for rapists or sex traffickers. Jesus could, can, and does, and asks us to do the same. That is difficult in my humanity. Do you trust that Jesus can rule you and this world?

Can God use you as a representative in the government? I am open to this, but personally I don’t like it. That we should vote for Christians to bring light to a dark world. But what happens when it doesn’t go our way? You often hear something like, “now we are in the fight” talking about the politics of Christianity and the ways of our world. Isn’t this a bit anti-biblical? I get a bit uncomfortable when anyone decides they think God is telling them to fight. Does God want you to fight or tell us that He will fight our battles? This is an age-old theological debate. I own a gun range, believe me, if God asked for that fight, I would be all in, but I don’t think He has or will ask me, it isn’t in the Biblical history of His character in my opinion.

Jesus brings light to the interpretation of the Old Testament, and He sure didn’t seem to be advocating the fight, and most (if not all) of the fighting of Israel in the Old Testament seemed contrary to the Lord’s bidding for them. When God first asks Israel to completely follow Him; He opened the red sea and himself defeated the Egyptian army. That is perhaps one of the few pictures we see of God’s ideal, a theocracratic battle.

Should we “take a chance” and vote for the Christians and hope that they don’t turn on us as most politicians are known to do? If you could snap your fingers and make every political officer a Christian would you do it? Wouldn’t that just make Christians seem to be lording over others now? Can we change the system?

Some are also going to present the church problem. Isn’t the church supposed to be the body of believers that “JUST” lives under God’s rule and authority? How are they doing with that. Yea, you see the problem here. Abuse and power are attributes of humankind. God is the only one that is truly righteous. Some of the most hurt people have been at the hands of well-intended Christians. There unfortunately aren’t a lot of churches that seem to represent the Jesus I know or be the kind of people I would desire to rule over me or anyone else. We all need to pray for the humility of Christ.

I just want Jesus.

What is a better view? Biblically both in the old and new testaments it was theocracy. A rule by simply God in your family that would eventually spread to all the world. There isn’t a place for hierarchy in the body of believers. If you biblically “lead” in a gifting area as a shepherd, you lead as a servant in humility taking on the mindset of Christ. You trust Jesus completely. You give yourself, and pray for your family to live in obedient trust and allegiance to the only King and Kingdom, that of Jesus. You act as a light bearing agent in the image of God to reclaim what has been lost for that kingdom. You live according to the word, and the word is Christ. Start with yourself and your intimate family of those proclaiming the only king and kingdom. Start with simply voting for Jesus in your life, and pray that you may be an ambassador, a representative of the body of Christ who wins over the world to the kingdom of Jesus.

What about Romans 13? Glad you asked!!! Click here:

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chagar // girding your loins

chagar: to gird, gird on, gird oneself

Original Word: חָגַר
Part of Speech: Verb of Action that became a Hebrew idiom
Phonetic Spelling (English transliteration) : (khaw-gar’)

The term gird up your loins can be found many places throughout scripture, It is a major theme of the Bible. From proverbs 31, to battle cries, to gentle words of Jesus, and finally eschatological promises; these words have great significance to those in covenant. Today much of the meaning has been lost in translation. Let’s bring it back to our Jesus Culture.

The term is first mentioned in Exodus 12 when the instructions were given for the Passover and preparation for the Exodus. Instructions on the lamb meal and sacrifice and marking your family by the blood of the Lamb.

EX 12:11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

It became an Action Verb like none other for Israel. It was a Hebrew idiom that bore great significance to Israel that they should be ready at any moment to follow the Lord with all they were. Like many Hebrew idioms the chant “chagar” literally become a one word sermon on being ready. Through my life I have always lived by a boy scout type motto of “go prepared” with the connotation of being ready for anything. It has been a missional approach to all of life that is rooted the ancient covenant of the chagar idiom.

Throughout Israel’s history this would become a household family and military chant or reminder that would lead them to battle and most great things that was rooted in the idea of simply doing what was asked in the waiting before the Lord, putting things at the altar, painting the door, and giving them to Yahweh in sacred devotion that He might not only go before you, but that he might completely bring you victory. That complete victories were only of God (or later Jesus) and not at all through you yourself. That in emptying yourself in complete humility Jesus meets your humble sacrifice and does immeasurably more than you ever prayed or imagined. This is the 44. That you bring a complete (22) offering of all you have to offer and God doubles the portion. Takes the number of completeness 22 and doubles it to 44 which is actually the sign of innumerable strength… thus the 144,000 it later represents as the faithful remnant that knows no boundary.

(NOTE: Some people are aware of the theological notion that God intended to literally fight every battle for Israel just like he defeated the Egyptian army in the closing of the Red Sea. That Israel wasn’t ever supposed to actually fight. In this way, when the Israelites did physically fight it was actually a sign of not totally trusting God.)

In war time as the Israelite soldiers rallied for battle and chanted KHAW-GAR as they pounded their spears to the ground, their hope and prayer would be that God would completely fight the battle. That should be the way that we also gird up. That is why Paul makes the connection to rather gird up your mind for prayer rather than the physical. If you can mentally and spiritually give something to God, the end result is that your faithfulness results in little to nothing of yourself and all of what Jesus does. Similar to an ancient Israelite battle you might only be intended to be the cleanup crew that through God enabled or brought healing!

It is likely the same word that Jesus declared (in Hebrew) over his disciples in Luke 12 ““Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet”

In Hebraic culture preparation for weddings and wars meant you were ready to give of your life, the ultimate sacrifice and act of humility for another. This is the Exodus motif connected throughout all of scripture. Paint your doorway and be free! In this way chagar also is used in traditional Jewish weddings.

In Proverbs 31, we read, “She girds her loins.” If you are reading the ESV, it is translated as “she dresses herself with strength,” (which I personally think is an injustice to this verse), but the Hebrew literally says, “she girds her loins.” That phrase refers to the act of rolling up one’s tunic and tucking it under a belt or tying it in a knot. Your tunic gave you added strength such as a weightlifting belt does for us today.

A person would do this to get the tunic out of the way and be able to have freedom of movement. Men would typically gird up their loins if they were getting ready to engage in battle, travel long distances, partake in strenuous running (as Elisha did in 1 Kings 18:46), or perform hard labor. It is also used as a symbol of humility form the father in greeting His lost son in the prodigal son parable. An esteemed elderly man would not typically run or show his legs, this was what young men did. It is a picture of Christ taking a role of ultimate humility to save us from the kazazzah or pot breaking ceremony, we should have rightly received after we disavowed our inheritance and left.

The idiom or chagar chant should bring you to freedom in Christ. To accept being recreated (kainos) as a royal priesthood that lives in freedom and is ready to bring others to this freedom in Christ as those that live in ancient intimate covenant to pledge an allegiance to the kingdom and represent the king that goes before them. To live humbly as temples of the Holy spirit in devout consecration to your mission. That you and your family might be living sacrifices that are enumerable in your vocation to represent the king of kings as His ambassador to dark and hurting world. To function as agents that bring order to chaos and healing to brokenness.

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