This is Part 7 of a series of blogs on “Coming out of Babylon.”
For me, discovering the truth about Romans 13:1-7 was a pivotal moment in my life, when I began to understand that the kingdoms of this world have nothing to do with Yehovah’s kingdom and people. Let’s look at the commentary this blog is about:
Let every soul be subject to the higher authorities. For there is no authority but of God (Elohim); the authorities that exist are ordained by Elohim. So that the one resisting the authority resists the ordinance of Elohim; and the ones who resist will receive judgment to themselves. For the rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the bad. And do you desire to be not afraid of the authority? Do the good, and you shall have praise from it. For it is a servant of Elohim to you for good. For if you practice evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword in vain; for he is a servant of Elohim, a revenger for wrath on him who does evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes. For they are Elohim’s servants, always giving attention to this very thing. Therefore give to all their dues; to the one due tax, the tax; tribute to whom tribute is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honor to whom honor is due. (Rom 13:1-7)
I was taught that somehow by serving the governments of men I was honoring my “God” (Elohim). I was 45 years old and had degree from Wheaton College in Christian Education, I had worked in a Christian school for 10 years; but I was an infant in my understanding Yehovah’s word and ways and did not even know who my elohim (my lawmaker and judge) was. I was trained by harlot men to be a man of harlotry. There was a time that I was so involved in the governments of men that I even ran in an election and won a political office. I was blind; but now I see that the reason the sons of Israel wear tzitzit on their garments is to remember to keep only the ways of their Father and to NOT follow the harlotry to which their hearts and eyes are inclined.
Again Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of Yehovah and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your Elohim. (Num 15:37-41)
The more I began to read Yehovah’s words given through Moses and the Prophets (the same words that Yeshua, Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude all taught from), the more I began to see that there was something terribly wrong with my understanding of Romans 13:1-7.
Again, the devil took him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Yeshua (Jesus) said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP Yehovah YOUR ELOHIM, AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE.’ ” (Mat 4:8-10)
You shall fear Yehovah your Elohim and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other elohim, the elohim of the peoples who are all around you (for Yehovah your Elohim is a jealous Elohim among you), lest the anger of Yehovah your Elohim be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth. (Deu 6:13-15)
“Now therefore, fear Yehovah, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the elohim which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve Yehovah! And if it seems evil to you to serve Yehovah, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the elohim which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the elohim of the Amorites (pick your country), in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve Yehovah.” Jos 24:14-15
According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am Yehovah your Elohim. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am Yehovah. (Lev 18:3-5)
Something was desperately wrong! The ways that I had been taught did not agree with what Yehovah says through Moses and the Prophets so I began a search for truth. I searched many days and found nothing but the commentaries of men that maintained this perverted broad road interpretation that men of Elohim should submit to the state and the civil authorities.
Finally late one afternoon while rooting around in the book shelves of a local Christian bookstore I found a book entitled “The Mystery of Romans” by Mark D. Nanos. On the cover it read “The Jewish Context of Paul’s Letter“. It said that the author was the “Winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish-Christian Relations”.
While I do not promote the ways of Christianity or the ways of Judaism but only the way taught to us by Moses and the Prophets (just as Yeshua did), this book helped me knock down a long-held and, at the time, a very precious false image in my mind that was preventing me from deepening my relationship with my Father.
I went directly to the portion in Mark’s book that discussed the 13th chapter of Roman and immediately found this paragraph.
It is my contention that Paul’s instructions in 13:1-7 are not concerned with the state, empire, or any other such organization of secular government. His concern was rather to address the obligations of the Christians, particularly Christian gentiles associating with the synagogues of Rome for practice of their new “faith,” to subordinate themselves to the leaders of the synagogues and to the customary “rules of behavior” that have been developed in the Diaspora synagogues for defining the appropriate behavior of “righteous gentiles” seeking to associate with the Jews and their God.
In my desire to learn truth Yehovah led me to this book. Yeshua said “seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
But from there you will seek Yehovah your Elohim, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to Yehovah your Elohim and obey His voice (for Yehovah your Elohim is a merciful Elohim), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them. (Deu 4:29-31)
I love those who love me, And those who seek Me diligently will find Me. (Pro 8:17)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yehovah, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says Yehovah, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says Yehovah, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. (Jer 29:11-14)
All praise to our merciful Father who always does what He says! If we seek Him with all our heart and soul, we will find Him!
Being a “Christian” at the time, and having never heard about “Hebrew Roots,” I found this scholarly book very difficult to read even with a master’s degree under my belt. But this book set me free and helped me to be like one of the good Bereans who listened to what Paul had to say and then searched the scriptures (Moses and the Prophets) to see if what Paul had to say was so.
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Act 17:10-11)
Mark D. Nanos is like any author who approaches his work with his biases and theologies that are very subtle to the reader. But as we begin to learn Yehovah’s word, many of those subtleties are revealed. Mark’s biases (Yehovah bless him and bring him closer to You every day!) lean towards Judaism. Here is just one example from his book. He, like many “Christians,” often speak of “Christian gentiles” or “gentile followers of Yehovah.” This idea is an oxymoron; when a gentile repents, leaves the kingdom of his first birth, joins himself to Yehovah’s people and turns to all of Yehovah’s ways, he is no longer a gentile. This person is referred to in the scriptures by the Hebrew word “ger” and is translated as “stranger,” “foreigner” and “sojourner” in English. But this precious person is no longer a gentile, he is a citizen of Israel and keeps the same laws as the “ezrach,” those born in the land.
And when a stranger (ger) dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to Yehovah, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land (ezrach). For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. One law shall be for the native-born (ezrach) and for the stranger (ger) who dwells among you.” (Exo 12:48-49)
I give this warning as I would warn anyone; the writers of dictionaries, commentaries, translations, lexicons and concordances all have their biases (myself included) and I want to enthusiastically recommend that every seeker of Yehovah’s kingdom read, at least, Mark’s chapter on Romans 13:1-7. There are 4 men described in this portion who served different roles in the Synagogues, when Paul wrote his letter to those in Rome, and knowing about these men will set us free from the lies we have learned from our fathers.
O Yehovah, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthlessness and unprofitable things.” (Jer 16:19)
When we come out of Babylon we no longer serve in its kingdoms.