“You are also to know that you have no authority to impose taxes, tribute or duty on any of the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple servants or other workers at this house of God.” (Ezra7:24)
Exempting religious bodies from taxes is a government tradition with a long history. It is a way by which government honors religious bodies and the good work they do. It is not a God-given right churches should demand from the state. Religious institutions should always be careful to avoid any actions which tie them to the state for support.
Though government authorities are a part of the overreaching intent of God for order, some are abominations to their vocations. A lesson for contemporary Christians is that a free church will be nonexistent in a state that does not recognize freedom of worship or practitioners of worship. Government never has authority to kill religious leaders without just cause and due process of law. Religious leaders who consciously disobey government must be ready to suffer the legal consequences.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY:
Precious Abba, exempting religious bodies from taxes has long been a way to honor those institutions for the good work that they do, and religious entities should be careful to avoid any actions which tie them to the state for support. Some people believe there should not be any exemptions, while others think it is the right thing to do for religious institutions. Further, the exemptions also include some clergy, singers, servants of the church, as well. Most churches are active in the communities they are in, giving to food banks, helping people with citizenship, clothes pantry’s, etc. We pray for all of these and many more not mentioned, who further the kingdom of God in all their locations in Jesus’ name pray. Amen
THOUGHT OF THE DAY:
“Church: ‘Come o worship, leave to serve.’”
But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, and though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get ride of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. After Paul and Silas came out of he prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left. (Acts16:37-40)
The appeal of Paul and Silas on the grounds of their Roman citizenship provides a good example of making the government watch out for its citizens, part of its God-ordained responsibility on behalf of justice. Governments should establish a system of justice that prevents punishment of people for carrying out religious and evangelistic activities. Free exercise of religion should be every citizen’s right. This scriptural standpoint is not shared, however, by systems which do not recognize God. In such societies Christians need to work to change the system while being prepared to endure the legal punishments of the system.
“And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal would had been healed. The whole world was astonished, and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, ‘Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him/” The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God , and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—-all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. He who has an ear, let him hear, If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he ill go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the par of the saints.” (Revelation13:1-10)
Political powers may blasphemously usurp power over governments. In so doing they oppose God and will eventually submit to His authority. Political power is not sufficient reason for a reason for a person to be worshiped. Patient endurance may be he disciples only course of action when government authorities exercise beastly power under Satan’s control.
Second Thought of the Day:
His answer implies we do have responsibilities to the state. These extend only to those “things” that are Caesar’s. A yet higher allegiance pulls upon us, too. We must be faithful to those things of God.
“Later sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words” They came to him and said, ‘Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are: but you the the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right t pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. ‘Bring me a denature and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s, they replied. Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’ s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him. (Mark12:13–17)
The Pharisees intended to trap Jesus in a position which lent loyalty to Caesar and not to God. They wanted to level a charge of blasphemy against Jesus. By getting him to declare non allegiance to Caesar, they could get Him charged with a civil crime. Both attempts failed. Jesus’ response does not resolve all of our questions regarding our responsibilities that we have with church and state, but he does provide some beginning places to inform us.