But Didn’t Daniel Work for the Government?

But Didn’t Daniel Work for the Government? | For the Elect Alone

Mark McCulley

Daniel Was a Slave of the Government


Kevin Craig

We could be talking about Joseph and Daniel instead of about Hitler, George Washington, and Ronald Reagan. I suggest that we live now in the new covenant version of exile, in analogy to the exiles of Joseph and Daniel.  This means that, for us, exile is not a curse but our vocation. Diaspora is not a punishment but an opportunity to sing the songs of Zion in strange lands. Imagine that you hear a really loud knocking on the front door at 3:00 in the morning.

It is not "knocking." It is a government SWAT team breaking down the door. You and your family are dragged out of bed and thrown into a van blindfolded and tied up. When the blindfold is removed, you are in a "camp" of some kind. Every member of your family is in a different camp. You are all under armed guard.

This is called "exile."

Daniel was taken captive and lived in "exile."

Joseph was sold into slavery.

Some people speak of "choosing public service."

Nobody in his right mind chooses "exile." Exile is forcibly imposed.

"Public service" means "working for the government," which means taking people's money ("taxation," "tribute"), depriving them of life ("capital punishment," "war") or liberty ("conscription," "prison"), infringing on their "pursuit of happiness" ("regulation"), or taking people captive.

Daniel did not choose to "work for the government."

The Bible says exile is a punishment for national sins. Exile is the punishment for people who applaud "public service." They are punished by people who have chosen "public service." Isaiah 10 says the public servants who punish the exiles will themselves be punished.

This means we should not appeal to the paradigm of Exodus 32 in which people ordain themselves as priests to God by means of slaying their ethnic brothers. Nor should we argue for the republished “covenant of works aspects of the Mosaic economy” to serve as the standard for those who serve as resident aliens in the regimes of foreigners. In general, we should obey God's Law, even when we are in exile. We should be preaching to the "public servants" who enslave us and persuade them to obey God's Law and free us from exile.
What difference, if any, is there between the exile of us now and the exiles of the Old Testament? Does the law of Christ (the Sermon on the Mount) make anything different today? Does there continue to be a law-ordeal aspect to our getting things done in the civil kingdoms in which live as exiles today? I do not consider myself in "exile" now.
In the Old Testament, God handed nations over to Satan and "the powers."
In the New Testament, the Christ of the Sermon on the Mount has been given authority over all nations.
My assignment under the Great Commission is to enlighten the ignorant "public servants" and those who vote for them.
I would welcome an answer to any and all such questions, but my basic question now is simple. Do you think that Joseph and Daniel acted as agents of the sword for their magistrates? Why would foreign magistrates trust aliens with the sword? Do you think that Joseph and Daniel had acquired dual citizenships, not only in Israel (that was and is to come) but also as Egyptian and Assyrian citizens ? Joseph alternated between prison and slavery. If you were chosen to serve the king in the ancient world, your only other choice was death.
Jeremiah 29 reads: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream.” I take it that Jeremiah was referring to the theonomists of his own time. Jeremiah was the Theonomist of his own time. He was talking to the neo-conservatives. Jeremiah knew the covenant sanctions of God's Law. Neo-conservatives denied them.
II Kings 5:14 reads  So Naaman went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” 16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. 17 Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. 18 In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” 19 He said to him, “Go in peace.”  
On this manner of singing the songs of Zion in strange lands, I would recommend one Mennonite book: For the Nations, by John Howard Yoder (Eerdmans), expecially the chapter on diaspora, “See How they Go with Their Faces”.  And one book by a Quaker, A Biblical Theology of Exile, by Daniel Smith-Christopher( Fortress).  And by the premill evangelical Robert H Gundry, Jesus the Word According to John the Sectarian (Eerdmans).  
Federal visionists (theonomists)  like Leithart are a lot more Constantinian than many Roman Catholics today even when they agree on “sacrament” making the church (or churches)  It’s interesting to me that folks like Leithart and Hauerwas  have made a case for going back to Rome, without ever doing it. They  claim to be “too catholic to be catholic”. Sacrament is Old Testament.
These same folks who want to follow the OT (“the” covenant) model for worship are not agreed about what is legitimate for the people of God when they operate in a second kingdom.  
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7 Comments on “But Didn’t Daniel Work for the Government?”


 1.  markmcculley Says:

1. most who claim “two passports” still sing “God bless American”  
mark: a good reason not to claim two citizenships. I try not to sing “God curse America for its many sins”. I agree. My citizenship is in heaven. All other governments and citizenships are usurpers.
2. Bonhoffer made the difficult decision in favor of God’s kingdom and against the laws of his native country.  
mark: I disagree. Bonhoffer rebelled against Hitler, but what’s make his willingness to kill something “in favor of God’s kingdom”?  
3. members of the Meserete Kristos church in Ethiopa continued to meet and evangelize although the church was outlawed.  
mark: so how does this make them citizens of two kingdoms? They were citizens of the church, aliens, not members of Ethiopia.  
4. Is kingdom citizenship with Christians more basic and fundamental than citizenship shared with Americans  
mark:. “more basic” is relativism, and leads to a situation ethic. We need either or—- Christ’s kingdom or not.  



2.  markmcculley Says:

Gary North, “The Blessings of Serfdom.”  
Joseph, acting as the head of a pagan State, provides us with an acceptable model for a civil magistrate. The key question is this: In what circumstances is his model judicially legitimate: In a pagan State or a Christian State? I argue that his model is valid only in the former case. Pagans who break God’s civil laws deserve to be enslaved politically since they are enslaved religiously. This is the message of Genesis. Joseph did the righteous thing in extracting everything from the Egyptians in the first two years: their land, their animals, and their money. Then, when they faced starvation in the third year, he gave them a choice: either perpetual bondage to Pharaoh, plus a perpetual obligation to pay 20% of their increase in taxes, or else starvation. In dreams, Joseph was told by God what to do.
This rate of taxation was double the rate that Samuel said would constitute God’s judgment against Israel (I Sam. 8:15, 17)…. The text shows that Joseph made the Egyptians pay dearly to stay alive. He bought their lands in the name of the State. He brought them into permanent slavery. He bargained sharply.  
There was another quite obvious alternative: Joseph could simply have given away the food, year by year. The people would have retained their land and their legal status as free men. Later Joseph gave food to his family; he did not enslave them…. I argue in my commentary on Genesis that what Joseph did was tyrannical: not immoral but righteous, for he brought a pagan, God hating nation under God’s negative sanctions in history. He enslaved them. Was Joseph an executive, or merely an advisor?
(Gary North, Westminster’s Confession: The Abandonment of Van Ti1’s Legacy [Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991], 274-276.)  



3.  markmcculley Says:

John Robbins responds to Gary North.
1. The first problem with North’s argument and conclusion is that the argument applies not just to pagans, but to all men. All men are sinners, and all deserve death. North’s argument, if valid, would justify, not just an ancient African despotism, but the complete slaughter of the human race in 1991. His argument, if valid, would prove too much.
I don't see why North's argument leads to that conclusion.
2. The second problem is this: North’s argument assumes that governors ought to judge the religious beliefs of their subjects and mete out punishments according to the truth or falsehood of those beliefs. Therefore it is not only permissible to enslave “pagans,” the enslavement of “pagans” is positively righteous. Robbins assumes that being a "governor" is not immoral.
3. If it is righteous and moral for governors to enslave their subjects, then the civil laws of the Old Testament, such as those found in I Samuel 8, must not apply to governors. Thus, there is no Biblical restriction on the power of governors. It is only righteous for governors in the OT to enslave when directed to by God or His representative (e.g., Joseph).
4. Theonomy teaches that the Biblical civil laws are applicable to all governors even today.  
5. If God’s civil laws apply to all societies, including pagan societies, then tyranny can never be righteous or moral. True.
The question is not, What do the citizens deserve? but rather, What may governors righteously do? Did Joseph, or does any ruler, have the authority to enslave his people? Whether the people deserve it or not is irrelevant. May a ruler righteously enslave his people? In dreams, Joseph was told by God what to do.
God may and has used governors, wicked tyrants, to punish sinners. That is a clear teaching of Scripture. God used the wicked nations surrounding Israel to punish Israel during the time of the judges. The whole of God’s prophecy through Samuel in I Samuel 8 consists of a warning that by rejecting God and demanding a king, the people would be getting the tyranny they deserved.  
It is an equally clear teaching of Scripture that the rulers who do such things are wicked, not righteous. The kings of Israel and Judah were wicked, almost without exception. The kings of the lands surrounding Israel were wicked. They were neither righteous nor moral, even (indeed, especially) when giving a sinful people the punishment they deserved. The issues of whether the people deserve punishment and whether rulers may enslave them are two separate issues. Bahnsen distinguished the "standing laws" of the OT with unique special revelations. Joseph had special revelation.



4.  markmcculley Says:

more from Robbins: “North argues that Joseph is righteous because he was a tyrant. Gary confuses God’s purposes with Joseph’s purposes, God’s motives with Joseph’s motives, God’s prerogatives with Joseph’s prerogatives, and God’s authority with Joseph’s authority. I think the Bible says Joseph's purposes were God's purposes.
But Joseph did not confuse himself with God. Genesis 50:19 “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?” Joseph then distinguishes between his brothers’ purpose in selling him into slavery and God’s purpose in causing them to do so (verse 20). Joseph, for all his sins, did not make the mistake of confusing himself with God. Joseph was in the place of God vis-a-vis Pharaoh, but not his brothers.
(The position of the Theonomists on the power of civil governors is schizophrenic: In this same book, for example, North spends several pages quoting and approving the libertarianism of J. Gresham Machen and condemning the New Deal liberalism of some other faculty members at Westminster Seminary.)  
One of the fundamental logical fallacies that North commits is the naturalistic fallacy: attempting to derive an ought from an is. The fact that Joseph, who was undoubtedly a man of faith (see Hebrews 11:22), did something, does not mean that his action was right. Yet apparently because Joseph was not explicitly condemned by God for his actions, North concludes that what he did was righteous and moral. (North defends Rahab on the basis of a lack of condemnation of her lying.)  
Calvin warns against such faulty reasoning in his commentary on Genesis: But it may be inquired again, whether Joseph’s dissimulation, which was joined to a lying to his brothers, is not to be blamed…. Whether God governed his servant by some special movement, to depart without fault, from the common rule of action, I know not, seeing that the faithful may sometimes piously do things which cannot lawfully be drawn into a precedent. By the general command of God, we must all cultivate sincerity. That Joseph feigned something different from the truth, affords no pretext to excuse us if we attempt anything of the same kind. Joseph temporarily hid his identity from his brothers.

Joseph did not lie to Pharaoh.

I don't see the argument.

And again: Here, not by words only, as before, but by the act itself, Joseph shows himself severe towards his brethren, when he shuts them all up in prison, as if about to bring them to punishment: and during three days torments them with fear. We said a little while ago, that from this fact no rule for acting severely and rigidly is to be drawn; because it is doubtful whether he acted rightly. OK, fine. But Joseph obeyed the Word he received from God re: Pharaoh.
Mark McCulley: I don’t think Robbins and Calvin are despising redemptive history or being “moralists” for pointing out the problems from arguments from silence. Neither should you read too much into the lack of condemnation in the NT of the Roman soldiers’ occupation. I mean both their vocations and their territorial claims over Israel.  



5.  markmcculley Says:

1. Joseph became a dictator: “… without your [Joseph’s] consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt” (41:44).  
2. Joseph married the daughter of a pagan priest (41:45, 50). Hengstenberg says this priest of Heliopolis was the highest in Egypt. Jim Jordan says she was converted. I think he even says Pharaoh was converted.
3. Joseph falsely accused his brothers (42:9, 12, 14, 16).  
4. Joseph swore by Pharaoh (42:15, 16).  
5. Joseph imprisoned his brothers (42:17).  
6. Joseph kept Simeon as a hostage (42:24).  
7. Joseph tormented his father (42:36; 43:14; 44:22, 29).  
8. Joseph framed Benjamin (44:2).  
9. Joseph collected all the money in Egypt and Canaan (47:14).  
10. After being begged to do so by the people, Joseph took all the animals in Egypt for Pharaoh (47:17).  
11. After being begged to do so by the people, Joseph took most of the land of Egypt for Pharaoh (47:19, 20).  
12. After taking control of the land, Joseph moved all the people into the cities (47:21).  
13. Joseph did not take the land of the pagan priests (47:22).  
14. The pagan priests received their food free from Pharaoh (47:22).  
15. Joseph imposed a twenty percent tax on all the people except the pagan priests (47:26).  



6.  markmcculley Says:

Robbins disagrees some with Calvin about Joseph. “Calvin argues that the facts that the people offered their land and animals to Joseph to avoid starvation and later thanked him for saving their lives are evidence that he was not really a tyrant. But Calvin seems to misunderstand what the text says He writes; ‘Seeing that the people had been at liberty to lay up, in their private stores, what they had sold to the king, they now pay the just penalty of their negligence.’ But the text does not support the idea that their grain was originally sold to the king or that they were at liberty not to deliver it to the king. But the Bible suggests that it was "voluntary compliance."
The account says, “Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years” (41:34). Joseph’s imposing a 20 percent tax after the famine would seem to indicate that he imposed a 20 percent tax before the famine as well. In any event, there is no evidence for Calvin’s contention that the delivery of the grain to Pharaoh was voluntary. That being the case, the reason for his defense of Joseph vanishes.  




Stan Hauerwas, After Christendom, p42–The Christian magistrate is in an insoluble dilemma. For the city of God as such, according to Augustine, can never go to war even in self-defense. This is true even though the death of the city is of a different order than the death of an individual. Yet the church is not dependent on any human system for her survival.  
“The only ruler who can be trusted to be politically virtuous is the person who is indifferent to the survival of the relative shapes of the existing order, because he trusts in God’s eternal and immutable providence. Politicians with virtue know about the discipline of dying and martyrdom. This truth places the church at odds with the politics of liberalism, built as it is on the denial of death and sacrifice.” We should not kill invading Chinese soldiers just to keep America from "going communist."

The Christian Case Against "National Defense"


“As Christians we will not serve God or the world well if we pretend (in the naked public square) that the church is only incidental to the world’s salvation. We must witness to God’s rule without ruling.”