Bible Readings for Sunday, October 16th, 2011
– The Week of The 18th Sunday After Pentecost
*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.1. “This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
2. I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
3. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
4. For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.
5. I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me,
6. so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.
7. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.1. Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
3. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
4. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
5. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
6. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
7. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.
9. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.
10. Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.
11. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
12. let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;
13. they will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.
1. Paul, Silas and Timothy,To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.2. We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. 3. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5. because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9. for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10. and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
15. Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”18. But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19. Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20. and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”21. “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22. When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
- I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things. – Isaiah 45:7
- Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. – Psalm 96:9
- They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God… 1 Thessalonians 1:9
- Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” – Matthew 22:21
A quiet and peaceable citizen, true to your government and just to your country…
6. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
17. (The Pharisees and Herodians asked Jesus)”Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
18. But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19. Show me the coin used for paying the tax.”
They brought him a denarius, 20. and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”21. “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Man, this is some of the hardest stuff in the bible for me lately. Rampant government fiscal irresponsibility, out-of-control budgets, never-ending wars, deep cuts to social welfare programs, bought-and-paid-for legislatures, and obscene amounts of corporate spending in the political arena: why should I pay any more in taxes to simply perpetuate this disaster??
Why? Because we are citizens of this country. And while we have the moral responsibility to stand up against corruption and fiscal irresponsibility, we also have a duty to be loyal and true to our country, and paying taxes is part of the gig.
But we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God. So where does our true loyalty lie?
And this was the crux of the trap that the Pharisees and Herodians tried to lay for Yeshua. If he answered, “To God alone”, then they would have promptly turned him over the the Roman authorities for sedition against the Empire. If Yeshua had answered “To Rome alone”, then the listen pious Jews would have accused him of heresy and he would have been discredited.
Then is Yeshua’s answer a cop-out, a weak answer? Not at all.
Every Christian has a double citizenship. Christians are citizens of the country in which they happen to live. To it they owe many things. They owe the safety against lawless people which only settled government can give; they owe all public services. To take a simple example, few are wealthy enough to have a lighting system or a cleansing system or a water system of their own. These are public services. In a welfare state, citizens owe still more to the state – education, medical services, provision for unemployment and old age. This places them under a debt of obligation. Because Christians are men and women of honour, they must be responsible citizens; failure in good citizenship is also failure in Christian duty. Untold troubles can descend upon a country or an industry when Christians refuse to take their part in the administration and leave it to selfish, self-seeking, partisan and un-Christian men and women. The Christians had a duty to Caesar in return for the privileges which the rule of Caesar brought to them.
But Christians are also citizens of heaven. There are matters of religion and of principle in which the responsibility of Christians is to God. It may well be that the two citizenships will never clash; they do not need to. But when Christians are convinced that it is God’s will that something should be done, it must be done; or, if they are convinced that something is against the will of God, they must resist it and take no part in it. Where the boundaries between the two duties lie, Jesus does not say. That is for our own consciences to test. But real Christians – and this is the permanent truth which Jesus here lays down – are at one and the same time good citizens of their country and good citizens of the kingdom of heaven. They will fail in their duty neither to God nor to society. They will, as Peter said, ‘Fear God. Honour the emperor’ (1 Peter 2:17).
Barclay; William (2010-11-05). The Gospel of Matthew, Volume Two: 2 (New Daily Study Bible) (pp. 319-320). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
Do Barclay’s concepts of a “dept of obligation” and “a duty to Caesar in return for privileges which the rule of Caesar brought to them” sound familiar to anyone? Maybe becasue that’s one of the common themes circulating through this country, which I feel is perfectly embodied in US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s popular quote:
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you!
But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea — God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.
But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
We don’t like it, but part of being a good Christian is also to be a true and peaceable citizen.
Therefore, we must give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and God what is God’s. Stand up, change the system, fight for what’s right, but also do your duty as a citizen, too.
Fear God. Honor the emperor.