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The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
James Madison argued for these delegated and reserved powers in the Federalist Papers:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last [sic] the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.1
Amendment 10 is to states’ rights advocates what Amendment 2 is to gun rights advocates. However, their promotion of the Tenth Amendment has secured little of the power they covet. Even if their efforts were rewarded, their quest for power is the wrong objective. They should be asking such fundamental questions as “What powers?” and “From whom did these alleged powers originate?” – particularly in light of Jesus’2 claim to omnipotence:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power [exousia: authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18)3
Jesus’ all-inclusive claim to authority is an affirmation of His omnipotence. It was not something He was yet to receive, but something He possessed as God incarnate. His authority and power were inherent in the fulfillment of Isaiah’s and Daniel’s prophecies, regarding His first advent and the establishment of His dominion, kingdom, and government:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of YHWH4 of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
And in the days of these kings [of the Roman Empire] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume [outlast] all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Daniel 2:44)
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came [ascended] to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)5
What powers does Matthew 28:18 leave the United States Constitution to claim for the federal government (as in Article 1) or to reserve for the states and the people? What made the framers think they had authority to delegate or reserve what was not theirs to confer in the first place? They probably looked to the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” for at least some of that authority. But what is found in the Declaration is a humanistic concept and a Talmudic tenet: “No legislation should be imposed on the public unless the majority can conform to it” (Avoda Zara 36a).
Just powers are not derived from the consent of the governed, but from Yahweh.6 How were the constitutional framers any different from today’s “legislators” (and most states’ rights activists) who also fail to recognize Yahweh’s sovereignty and omnipotence? When it came to instating Yahweh’s law, the framers were as Biblically rebellious as their political progeny. What the framers did was not so much a usurpation of power as it was a counterfeiting of power, not all that different from what was done by those in the Old Testament who attributed power to idols of their own making (See Chapter 3, “The Preamble: WE THE PEOPLE vs. YHWH”).
In answer to the question, “From where did these alleged constitutional powers originate?,” someone is sure to point to Romans 13:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers [exousia: authorities]. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (Romans 13:1-2)
The Greek word exousia is best translated “authority.” Although it is true that Yahweh sets up and removes even the worst of rulers (Daniel 2:21, 4:17), this does not mean such powers are the same authorities Christians are obligated to obey.
Godly society is based on authority. Ungodly society is based on power. In a Christian ecclesia, brethren deal with each other by authority – not power.7
Romans 13:1-2 allegedly sanctions the powers claimed, delegated, and reserved by the framers. However, this interpretation is defensible only if the next two verses are severed from Verses 1 and 2:
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (Romans 13:3-4)
Yahweh’s morality as found in His law is the only standard for determining what constitutes good and evil. Any surrogate standard causes those who subscribe to it to call “evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20) because “they have cast away the law of YHWH of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 5:24). Any government not based upon Yahweh’s law cannot be the government described in Romans 13:1-4.
People who teach that Verses 1 and 2 apply to any and all governments ignore Verses 3 and 4. By stipulating the type of government to which Christians are to submit, this passage does not come close to describing all governments. In 1743, colonial preacher Jonathan Mayhew expounded upon the Apostle Paul’s intent in Romans 13:1-4:
It is obvious, then, in general, that the civil rulers whom the apostle here speaks of, and obedience to whom he presses upon Christians as a duty, are good rulers, such as are, in the exercise of their office and power, benefactors to society. Such they are described to be throughout this passage. Thus, it is said that they are not a terror to good works, but to the evil; that they are God’s ministers for good; revengers to execute wrath upon him that does evil; and that they attend continually upon this very thing.8
Not all rulers terrorize the wicked, nor do they praise the doers of good. In order to be the type of authority or government described by Paul, rulers must do both. America’s early constitutional government generally qualified in the latter sense, but because it rejected Yahweh’s cruel and unusual punishments in Amendment 8, by which evildoers are terrified, America’s early constitutional government was disqualified as the type of government to which Romans 13:1-2 can be applied. How much more so today! More often than not, today’s government (made possible and empowered by the Constitution) is the antithesis of the government described by Paul. Because today’s Constitutional Republic often praises and rewards the workers of iniquity, while punishing the righteous, it is condemned by Yahweh:
He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to YHWH. (Proverbs 17:15)
Does Yahweh want Christians to submit to an abomination? The government described by Paul to which we are obligated to submit is a Christian government, based upon the authority of Jesus the Christ and implemented upon Yahweh’s commandments, statutes, and judgments. Rather than sanctioning constitutional powers, Romans 13:1-2 excludes any constitution or government that fails to acknowledge Yahweh’s sovereignty and enforce His law.
Caesar or Yahweh?
In Mark 12:17, we find Jesus’ oft-misused statement “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Many people interpret this to mean Yahweh and Caesar have separate jurisdictions, powers, and possessions. Is this true?
The term “Caesar” is used today to represent government in general. However, at the time Jesus made this statement, Caesar was a flesh and blood Roman dictator. What was it that Jesus was saying should be rendered to the Roman Emperor? Did the bodies, souls, and spirits of man belong to Caesar? Did reverence and obedience belong to Caesar? Did the people’s land and other possessions belong to Caesar? What about taxes? Romans 13:7 tells us to “render therefore to all their dues: tribute [tax, NASB] to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” In Verse 6, Paul indicated all these things are due to God’s ministers or servants. Did Caesar qualify as one of the ministers of God described by Paul in Verses 3 and 4? Jason and his Christian brethren certainly did not believe Caesar was due unqualified submission:
…they [“lewd fellows of the baser sort”] drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also… and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. (Acts 17:6-7)
It is unfathomable that Jason and the others turned around and supported that to which they so strongly objected:
But by His enigmatic response, did Jesus really mean for His followers to provide financial support (willingly or unwillingly) to Tiberius Caesar – a man, who, in his personal life, was a pedophile, a sexual deviant, and a murderer and who, as emperor, claimed to be a god and oppressed and enslaved millions of people, including Jesus’ own?9
To have done so, Christians would have financed their own and others’ murders.
Because only Yahweh determines what is good and what is evil (Romans 13:4), the government described by Paul in Romans 13:1-7 is clearly a Christian government established upon the moral laws of Yahweh.10 Therefore, the taxes Paul described as due to God’s ministers, are Biblical taxes. Are we to believe Jesus was suggesting Christians pay Biblical taxes (tithes) to Caesar?
What belongs to Yahweh? And what belongs to Caesar? The answer to the first question answers the second question. Yahweh reigns over and owns everything:
The earth is YHWH’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalm 24:1)
What does this leave for Caesar? Even Caesar didn’t belong to Caesar.
Jesus’ answer was merely another example of His trapping the Pharisees with their own words – in this instance, forcing them to choose their god, Yahweh or Caesar. Christian11 Constitutionalists should take heed. Because no man can serve two masters, the Pharisees eventually made their choice clear:
And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth … and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priest answered, We have no king but Caesar. (John 19:12-15)
When interpreted correctly, Romans 13:1-4 proves that, apart from the areas where his law agreed with Yahweh’s law, Caesar had no legitimate power or authority – except over those who, like the Pharisees and Herodians, had chosen him above Yahweh. Mark 12:17 was never meant to be general instruction to everyone, but only to those who forsake Yahweh’s authority. The same is true of the Constitution and its Republic. Ultimately, the only power belonging to a non-Biblical constitutional government is whatever is attributed to it by the people who believe in it – as it is with all idols and the governments fashioned in their likeness.
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1. James Madison, Federalist No. 45, Federalist Papers, http://www.conservativetruth.org/library/fed45.html.
2. Yeshua is the English transliteration of our Savior’s given Hebrew name, with which He introduced Himself to Paul in Acts 26:14-15. (Jesus is the English transliteration of the Greek Iesous, which is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua.) Because many people are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with Yeshua, I have chosen to use the more familiar Jesus in this book in order to remove what might otherwise be a stumbling block. For a more thorough explanation concerning the use of the sacred names of God, “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
3. All Scripture is quoted from the King James Version, unless otherwise noted. Portions of Scripture have been omitted for brevity. If you have questions regarding any passage, please study the Biblical text to ensure it has been properly used.
4. Where the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) – the four Hebrew characters that represent the personal name of God – has been unlawfully rendered the LORD or GOD in English translations, I have taken the liberty to correct this error by inserting YHWH where appropriate. For a more thorough explanation concerning the use of the names of God, “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
5. See Chapter 2 “The Kingdom: Yesterday, Today, and Forever,” for a more thorough explanation concerning the timing and location of the kingdom.
6. YHWH (most often pronounced Yahweh) is the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible. For a more thorough explanation concerning the sacred names of God, “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
7. “Romans 13 (Part 2),” The Voice of the Promised, April 2010, Special Edition, p. 2.
8. Jonathan Mayhew, “A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers,” quoted in John Wingate Thornton, The Pulpit of the American Revolution: Political Sermons of the Period of 1776 (New York, NY: Da Capo Press, 1970) pp. 69-70.
9. Jeffrey F. Barr, “Render Unto Caesar: A Most Misunderstood New Testament Passage,” LewRockwell.com, http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig11/barr-j1.1.1.html.
10. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Romans 13:1-7, may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $7 donation.*
11. Not everyone claiming to be a Christian has been properly instructed in the Biblical plan of salvation. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Jesus and forgiven of your sins. For a more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be requested from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.
*We are admonished in Matthew 10:8 “freely ye have received, freely give.” Although we have a suggested price for our books, we do not sell them. In keeping with 2 Corinthians 9:7, this ministry is supported by freewill offerings. If you cannot afford the suggested price, inform us of your situation, and we will be pleased to provide you with whatever you need for whatever you can send.
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