The State as "Minister"
13:4 describes the violent, barbaric, sexually depraved Roman
Empire as "the minister of God."
The Greek word translated "minister" is diakonos,
from which we get our English word "deacon." The word
means "servant," "one who serves." Diakonia,
the "deaconate," is defined
- service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the
commands of others
- of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote
religion among men
- of the office of Moses
- of the office of the apostles and its administration
- of the office of prophets, evangelists, elders etc.
- the ministration of those who render to others the
offices of Christian affection esp. those who help meet
need by either collecting or distributing of charities
- the office of the deacon in the church
- the service of those who prepare and present food
When most people hear the word "deacon," they think
of a guy passing the offering plate down the row, or
distributing to the poor from the church Food Pantry. They don't
think of a Roman Centurion torturing Jesus to death. They don't
think of a barbaric army killing fathers and sons, raping
mothers and sisters, and unleashing a torrent of spears and
arrows into the bodies of small children.
sends these evil rapists to "serve" His
purposes. They are His "ministers."
This does not mean that governments have God's ethical
approval. They are righteously condemned and destroyed by
the same God Whose purposes they "serve."
Violations of International Law
It is important to remember that Rome (the capital of
modern-day Italy) invaded Israel years before Christ was born.
Even the United Nations (no friend of Israel) would condemn
Italy in the strongest terms if she invaded Israel today and
established a military occupation government over the people of
Israel. But this is what Rome did. This invasion was morally,
politically, and legally unjustifiable, and a clear violation of
"International Law." It was unChristian. It was
lawless and barbaric. But the Roman Empire "served"
God's purposes. It was God's "minister."
The entity we call "the State" is an example of organized
crime. Christians should do everything they can -- short
of violence -- to rid the world of
entities like "the Mafia" and "the
government." All "governments" systematically
violate God's Commandments against murder
and theft -- that's the very reason
men create them -- but in these very acts of disobedience,
they "serve" God's purposes.
Let's look at a couple of examples in the Bible.
Isaiah 13: Lucifer's Army
Isaiah begins a sermon against Babylon in chapter 13 which
continues through chapter 14. Babylon is going to be judged
for her lawlessness, her violations of Biblical
Law. Her judgment will come at the hands of the Medes.
God's Sovereignty over the State
We see God's sovereignty in Isaiah 13 verses 3ff.
- The soldiers of the Meden army are His "sanctified
ones." (v. 3)
- The Lord "commands" them.
- He calls His "mighty
ones." (v. 3)
- He musters the armies together.
- The armies of the nations
from the Lord
destroy the earth. (v. 5)
- (Not the whole earth, just the land that pertains to
- The destroying armies are "the weapons of His
indignation" (v. 5).
- This is the day of the Lord's "wrath and
fierce anger" (vv. 6-9).
- The coming destruction is a terror for these evil
doers (v. 11).
- God is sending a sword to cut them down (v. 15).
It isn't necessary for you or for me to take vengeance on
Babylon; God will see to it; He and His "sanctified
The Shaking of Babylon's Demonic Power
In verses 10 and 13, the effects of this destroying army are
spoken of in terms of the "stars," which we have seen
are a way of speaking of angelic or demonic forces associated
with the State (see "Angels
and God's Throne of Government" as well as "Stars
and Idolatry"). Isaiah says Babylon's heavenly
patrons are going to be shaken (Isaiah 10:13 - not all
the heavens, just the "heavens" that pertain to
J. Marcellus Kik, in his exposition of Matthew 24, has shown
that this cosmic language is not to be interpreted naturally, or
astronomically, as though the suns from other galaxies are going
to be physically disturbed in the fall of Babylon, Idumea
(Isaiah 34:4-5), Egypt (Ezekiel 32:7,8), or Israel (Matthew
24:29-31). Other writers have provided insight into the nature
of these "principalities
So confused have some commentators been over Isaiah's link
between the State and demonic forces that they have attributed
Isaiah's prophecies against the State of Babylon to Satan
himself! (Isaiah 14:12-14) But it is an understandable
case of mistaken identity!
A Kingdom Divided Against Itself
So why does God allow Satan and his henchmen to incite the
State to war and oppression? Why does God command His
"sanctified ones" to destroy another nation? Why does God
The answer is clear: Babylon has succumbed to Satan's
temptation to be
as gods (Genesis 3:5; Isaiah 14:13). They knew they risked
God's judgment when they made their decision (Romans 1:18-32).
God destroys both men and nations by allowing them to pursue
their evil dreams. He advances His Kingdom by using lawless men
and nations to judge other lawless men and nations. But this
does not mean that lawless nations have God's ethical approval,
nor should they have ours. God's "ministers" are evil
and horrifying. We must not lose sight of just how evil the
state really is.
God's judgment is fierce upon a lawless nation, such as
Babylon, and He deals with Babylon in a covenantal way. Not just
the king, but his citizens are affected. Not just the fathers,
but their wives feel God's wrath. Not just the parents, but
their (covenant!) children (all men are members of a covenant;
all are either covenant breakers or covenant keepers; the issue
is always Theonomy or autonomy). Thus verses 16 and 18 give
graphic and upsetting detail of God's judgment on Babylon. The
Medes are going to dash the children to pieces right before
their mothers' eyes. This may be before, it may be after, they
rape the mothers. Young men, who might be potential soldiers
(even now 12- and 13-year olds are not uncommonly seen in
jihadist uniforms or as members of Latin American
"Liberation Fronts"), will likewise be dismembered and
killed. One scholar blandly declares that these gruesome
atrocities were "common to ancient warfare."
Friend, these gruesome atrocities are common today;
is a myth. Rushdoony has reminded us that Assyria, for
example, left the skulls of the massacred children [and others]
in a large pile outside the gates of the vanquished city. This
in an effort to strike sheer terror and submission in the hearts
of enemies. [In the hearts of those enemies who were thus
affected and thereafter rallied behind the flag of the
Assyrians, such terror is called "patriotism."] These
tactics, far from being limited to ancient warfare, are basic to
the State itself. Mountains of skulls can be found in modern-day
Cambodia, in the wake of Pol Pot. Perhaps the Cambodians learned
such techniques from U.S. soldiers, who slaughtered innocents,
when whole villages were "destroyed in order that they
might be saved." Terrorism is common in the plans of
emerging states in the "third world.")
You see, when it comes to the demon-empowered armies of the
State, war really is hell!
Satan's kingdom cannot stand; it wars against itself. Satan
provokes men to pride, covetousness, competition, and ultimately
war (James 4:1-5; Revelation 13:7). An associations of
covetous men, called the "State," unwittingly carries
out God's judgments upon another State, by destroying it in
fearful war. The "victorious" State is then
face-to-face with God's judgment for their destructive ways, and
will soon be judged by yet another State, equally covetous,
equally proud, and so it goes, until Christ shall have put down
all these "archists" (I Corinthians 15:24-25) by
giving them up to self-destruction, when they can be replaced by
Spirit-empowered Christian self- government.
Isaiah 10: A Summary of Isaiah 13
We can summarize Isaiah's doctrine of the State by looking at
Isaiah 10. This is a prophecy against Israel. God is going to
use Assyria in the same way He used the Medes against Babylon.
Verse 5 says the Assyrian army is the rod of the Lord's
anger. Their weapons are the Lord's
Ultimately it is God Who is sending these unGodly barbarians.
Their purpose is the judgment of a hypocritical nation, those
who have incurred God's wrath. God gives the army "a
command" (v. 6a) to steal, confiscate wealth and property,
and in general to do the things the Assyrian army does best: to
rape and pillage Israelites, treating them like sewage in the
street (v. 6b).
Verse 6 is overlooked by most Christians, whose failure to
separate from worldly influences has desensitized them to the
violence of this verse. God says -- to Israel -- "I give
him a command to spoil." Israel deserves this destruction,
for in spite of a prophetic warning, they continue emulating the
ways of the statists around them.
Israel, an adolescent nation from a conservative,
middle-class background, looks enviously upon the lifestyles of
"the beautiful people," the partying jet-setters of
the nations. Like an air-headed teenager without responsible
adult models, Israel twitters at the fashionable violence of the
tauntingly rebellious punk-baalim and heavy-Ashtaroth rockers --
just a little worldliness without getting "too far"
out of line.
God gives Israel a full dose of what these pagan Humanists
Assyria is only serving God's purposes unwittingly. Assyria
is not doing what they do because they know God wants them to.
The Assyrian "does not so intend" (v. 7). The Assyrian
soldier is just a big "party animal;" with a couple of
six packs under his belt he just isn't satisfied with a bag of
loot and a couple of cunts (cf. Judges 5:30). He goes for the gusto
(cf. Isaiah 13:16-18). Are you titillated or amused at that
language? Then imagine it happening to your wife and
daughter. Israel also winked at such prophetic imagery.
This hideous State-sanctioned
violence is obviously not sanctioned by God in His Law. It
is the antithesis of Godly conduct. And so, not surprisingly,
Assyria shall be judged by God for their lawless destruction.
The very destruction that "served" God's purposes.
We see then that God is sovereign over the State and its
brutal ugliness. God allows Satan to raise up a State and its
armies, and uses this gorilla-machine to judge other machines --
covetous, irresponsible, hypocritical nations -- like the United
States? -- punishing them -- taking vengeance upon them -- in
His wrath. All things
-- but especially the State -- serve God's Kingdom