Hogging the Philippine scenery in September up till early October this year, 2018, had been news about the act of President Rodrigo Roa-Duterte to revoke, invalidate, or nullify the amnesty granted by Duterte’s predecessor, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a former officer in the Philippine Navy who had led a coup attempt against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Trillanes took it upon himself to judge Arroyo as having committed gross corruption enough to warrant her being deposed from her office, and a new revolutionary leadership set up —with him and his military sympathizers at the helm — that would right this wrong.
Trillanes, apparently, found a good number of Filipinos sympathizing with his cause, and he received no weightier judgment than imprisonment. Other regimes would have called for stiffer penalties – even execution. But, no, Trillanes got away with his attempt to overthrow President Arroyo. When Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III won the presidency, he granted Trillanes amnesty from his rebellion attempt.
Now comes President Duterte seeking to revoke Trillanes’ amnesty and ordering his arrest and retrial for his past coup plotting. Senators and other legal luminaries have entered into the legal fray to defend either Duterte or Trillanes. Both sides are confident that the law of the land is on their side. Many citizens are confused over the issue; some couldn’t care less. Clearly, the nation is in a dilemma!
Revolution in history
The soft stance in some toward coups and coup attempts may be a natural result of the awareness that many nations today – the Philippines included — have arisen from past revolutions. France, the U.S.A., Russia, China and nations in South and Central America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East developed through some revolution against previous rule. To Americans, July 4 is their “Independence Day, but to their former British masters, this day is considered to be America’s “Rebellion Day!”
Besides ideologies, religions have also played an important part in revolutions. The Protestant Reformation movement rocked the Roman Catholic world. Even within religious blocs, attempts to return to or revive conservative views, have resulted in radical factions. The ISIS [“Islamic State”] has attempted to take over cities to try to claim them for the“caliphate”of their Messiah-like “Mahdi.”
The original, first-ever revolution or rebellion occurred multiple millennia ago in the heavenly realms. This was the first-ever known coup attempt against the sovereign rule of God. This was mounted by the archangel Lucifer, who with his angels [comprising 1/3 of all God’s angels, Revelation 12:4 ], to try to unseat God from His throne, and to take over the reins of the universe in place of God as the “Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-15). But God’s almighty power was too much of a match to that of Lucifer, and he and his angels were cast down to earth. Because of his sin, Lucifer has since become Satan the Devil, and his angels now demons. [See: Where Did the Devil Come From? and http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, SELECT “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklet titled “Did God Create A Devil?”]
Satan the instigator of rebellion
True to his nature, Satan seduced our first parents, Adam and Eve, into rebelling against God by disobeying His command to not eat the fruit of the tree He forbade, the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ [story in Genesis 3, see: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”]. Humankind has since followed Adam’s sinful, rebellious ways.
Even the people God had especially chosen for His divine purpose, the nation of Israel, fell into rebellion. This happened when the children of Israel clamored to have a human king like the nations around them. The story is found in 1 Samuel 8:1-10:27. In so clamoring, the Israelites rejected God as their king. And they suffered the dire consequences He had warned them about (8:9-19). God considered their clamor for a human king and thus rejecting God as their King a great wickedness (1 Samuel 12:17-20).
A celebrated case of rebellion was that ascribed to Israel’s first king, Saul. Saul disobeyed God on two counts: 1) He offered an animal sacrifice which was unlawful for him to do but for the ordained priests (1 Samuel 13:1-14); and 2) He disobeyed God’s command to destroy the Amalekites utterly—both men, women and children and beasts. For his first sin Saul was judged by God to “have done foolishly” (13:13). For his second sin, Saul was judged by God as having committed “rebellion” – which God considers to be “as the sin of witchcraft” (15:23)!
In God’s eyes, witchcraft is so wicked and evil that it deserves capital punishment, death (Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 2 Chronicles 33:1-6; Revelation22:8)!
Rebellion against all authority an offense before God
One of the most powerful kings in all human history was Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar. He was called a “king of kings” (Daniel 2:37). He had to learn a difficult lesson so he would realize that “the Most High [God] rules in the kingdom of men, [and] gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4-17, 32; 5:21).
The apostle Paul resonated this in his instruction about being subject to human authority: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain, for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes; for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all [authorities] their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:1-7).
The apostle Peter also instructs: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by Him [God], for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men – as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants to God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:13-17).”
Even in the micro-kingdom of the household, Peter instructs: “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth’ [Isaiah 53:9], who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return, when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him [God the Father] who judges righteously, who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sin, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:18-25).
In the mini-kingdom of the family, a rebellious son was to be dealt with drastically: “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of the city, to the gates of the city. And they shall say to the elders of the city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones, so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel will hear and fear” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
No human government perfect
We know all too well that no human government is perfect. As God revealed it to Nebuchadnezzar, God can, and often does, allow the lowest of men – or women – to occupy seats of authority.
This being the case, what is a man or woman of God to do?
By wisdom, a person can strive to reason with the authorities, but with a humble, respectful attitude. Such was the way Joseph and Daniel managed to get along with harsh authority. See Genesis 39-41 and Daniel 2-4.
But resorting to rebellion and forming an independent group or society often results in all sorts of problems, complications, and dilemmas.
For example, the first rebellion in the history of the nation of Israel occurred when Jeroboam, a high military officer of King Solomon, led the majority of the people – ten of the twelve tribes of Israel– into breaking away from the original monarchy. The malcontents complained about the heavy taxes and other burdens which Solomon’s successor, his son Rehoboam, imposed on the people (1 Kings 11:26-12:21).
Instead of resulting in good, Jeroboam’s rule led the northern kingdom [“house of Israel”] into gross idolatry, until, eventually, the continuing sins of the people caused them to be conquered and taken away captive by the Assyrians. [See: God’s Kingdom and Israel.]
Is it any wonder that most of today’s nations which were born out of rebellion are dogged with multiple challenges?
“Bewitched” into sin
True to God’s assessment of rebellion as a sin tantamount to witchcraft, God allowed the Israelites to be vanquished and taken away captive by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17). [ Witchcraft: a person or group of persons can be “bewitched” into believing a lie, as Adam and Eve were at Eden by Satan the Devil. For turning to a “different gospel” – one not according to God’s word, therefore a lie — the brethren at Galatia were reproved by Paul: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth?” (Galatians 3:1). [See: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!” Freed From Bondage, Beware of False Prophets , and Fake News.]
The streak in man to disregard God’s command or law has a bewitching effect, thereby rewiring man’s perception of what is right and what is wrong. This pernicious effect makes it doubly or multiple times difficult to erase it from one’s mind and heart. [See: Switching Positive and Negative, The Deceitfulness of Sin, A Law-abiding Universe – But Man! and The Rainbow Connection.]
In this life, it is impossible – without God’s help—for a person to overcome a rebellious streak. That is why, under the Old Covenant [Moses’ “ministry of condemnation”] the only recourse to remove the spirit of rebellion, and witchcraft or sorcery from society was through capital punishment – death. [See: Moses and Jesus – Are They Contraries?
In this present dispensation, a rebellion left unpunished according to God’s law, will cause unrest in society. As Proverbs 24:9 says, “The scoffer [KJV, “scorner”—as rebels may also be called for their scorn and disrespect toward authority] is an abomination to men.” And “Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave” (Proverbs 22:10). Instead, peace and calm will result when rebels are put away. Also, the punishment will instruct common men to be wise and not to rebel against or be scornful toward authority (Proverbs 21:11) in the same way.
Rebels to repent — or perish!
Jesus’ repeated word to all sinners is “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish “(Luke 13:3, 5). But how is one to repent of a sin as pernicious and bewitching as rebellion?
Repentance is something that God grants (Acts 11:18). God’s Spirit works in a person’s heart and mind, to help one realize the goodness of God and thus come to repentance (Romans 2:4). God’s Spirit then empowers the person to obey God’s law. [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience, The Higher Law of the Spirit, and Breaking Down Our “Walls of Jericho.”]
As people come to The True Christ, He will give them His Spirit of meekness and gentleness (Matthew 11:28-30). And, as people behave meekly and gently toward each other, they will inherit the earth and enjoy an abundance of peace (Psalm 37:11). [See: World Peace – At Last!]
Attitude toward all authority
Since all authority ultimately traces back to God (Romans 13:1), disrespect toward all authority – high or low, public or in the home – is disrespect toward God!
The archangel Michael showed the example of leaving the judgment of an authority figure – as Satan is, until now – up to God, even as Jesus did to His persecutors (1 Peter 2:21-23). “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ (Jude 9). [It seems that Satan wanted to take hold of Moses’ body, which God had hidden from human view (Deuteronomy 34:6), for whatever evil purpose Satan had in mind.] Jude warns about those who deceive themselves and defile themselves by rejecting authority and speaking evil of dignitaries (Verse 8).
In the Church of God even some leaders, being imperfect men “with feet of clay,” are to be treated with due respect. “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of a double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine…. Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses [what we would call “due process,” based on true, factual evidence, not mere hearsay]. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:17-20).
Only those who learn to look up to and submit to all authority are fit to enter the kingdom of God. Christ as the perfect “King of kings” and “Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16) will not tolerate rebellion of any kind in God’s kingdom, which Jesus will establish after His return to earth. He will, in fact, destroy all defiant, rebellious mankind with the fire of His coming (Isaiah 66:15-16, 24; Revelation 11:15-18). [See: The Battles of the Almighty.]
In a prophecy about the early days of God’s kingdom, which Jesus will establish at His return to earth, a horde of rebellious nations will attempt to attack that kingdom to try to take over the unwalled villages of Israel. The horde will be dealt with swiftly and forcefully by God. The prophecy is found in Ezekiel 38:1-39:16. No enemies of God will be tolerated, and people will “know that I am the LORD, the Holy One of Israel” (39:7). [See: Martial Law.]
A similar attempt will be staged by the same type of rebellious nations stirred up by Satan, who will be released from his prison for a short time at the end of Christ’s 1000-year rule, but fire from God will devour them (Revelation 20:1-4, 7-10).
The unrepentant destroyed forever
Our merciful God will not pardon or forgive a sinner – more so, a rebel – who does not truly repent, and does not bear fruit worthy of repentance, which is obedience to God’s law (Luke 3:8). [See: Why Is the “Unpardonable Sin” Unpardonable?]
A human authority that exonerates or pardons an extreme criminal like a rebel is not following God’s way. And, as such rebels go unpunished, the hearts of men will be emboldened to commit similar crimes (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
Duterte’s desire to reopen Trillanes’ rebellion charge would seem to be in line with this Biblical principle. Many may not see it that way, but God’s word is clear about this.
Because many people do not agree with God’s testimony, there is great conflict and controversy, as is the case with Trillanes. In the final Day of Judgment, everyone will be judged as to whether they have obeyed God’s word or not. Jesus said: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). The entire Bible contains the word of Jesus. He – and His Spirit – has inspired the writing of all the Holy Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:6; 2 Corinthians 3:17; 2 Peter 1:21). Jesus is the “Word” [Greek Logos]—Spokesman for God the Father (John 1:1; 49).
Israel’s King Solomon summarized the whole duty, or the whole man: “Fear God and keep His commandments. For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)! [See: Saved For Good Works.]
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.