May 27, 1897
WHEN God said to Abraham, “Get thee out of thy country, and form thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, into a land which I will show thee,” Abraham went out, not knowing whither he went.”
God had not yet showed him the land or country into which he was to go, and which was to be his. So far, the Lord had only promised to show it to him.
There were three things, however, which Abraham must do before he could fairly expect God to show him the country which He had promised, and which was to be his.
First, he was to get out of his country; secondly, from his kindred; thirdly, from his father’s house.
He left his country; but when he did so, his father and his kindred went with him to Haran, and dwelt there. There his father died; and now, separated from his father’s house, he went on to the land of Canaan.
But there accompanied him yet one of his kindred—Lot, his brother’s son. While Lot was with him, and he was thus not separated from his kindred, though separated from his country and his father’s house, the time could come for God to show to him the land, nor the country which he would give him.
But there came a day when Lot should be separated from him. Lot chose all the plain of the Jordan, and journeyed east, and “They separated thus, one from the other.”
And just then it was that God showed to Abraham the land which He had promised to show him, the country which should be his.
“And the Lord said unto Abraham, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.”
And the country which the Lord then showed to Abraham, and which He there promised him should be his for an everlasting possession—that country embraced the world—for “The promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”
Therefore, when at the word of the Lord Abraham lifted up his eyes to see what the Lord would show him, he saw “the world to come,” which is to be the everlasting possession of all them which be of faith. “For if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
And from that day forward Abraham “sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country;” looking for “a better country, that is, an heavenly;” and looking “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” For, though God promised that He would give to Abraham that land, and to his seed after him, yet as long as he was in this world God really “gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on.”
Now note: God had called Abraham out of his original country, and thus had separated him from that. Then He gave him not even so much as to set his foot on in any other country in this world.
Abraham at that time represented the religion of God. The Lord in His dealing thus with Abraham and in recording it, has shown for all time and to all people that it is his will that there should be an absolute separation of his religion from any State.
Abraham, representing at that time the Church of Christ, being thus totally separated by the Lord from every State and country on the earth, there is thus shown to all people, as an original truth of the gospel of Christ, that there should be total separation of Church and State, and that the church of Christ can never have any country in the world.
So also dwelt Isaac and Jacob, heirs with Abraham of the same promise, accepting with Abraham separation from every earthly State and country, confessing that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth, looking for the country which God had prepared for them, and the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
And that they accepted this freely of their own choice, by faith in God, is shown by the fact, as recorded, that, “Truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly, wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city.”
This dealing of God with Abraham, and the record of it, were for the instruction of all the people who would believe God, from that time to the world’s end. For Abraham was the called, the chosen, the friend of God; the father of all them that believe. And all they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. And not the least element of instruction in this account of God’s dealings with Abraham, is the great lesson it teaches that the religion of God means separation of religion and the State.
Further, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not unto seeds, as of many, but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” Therefore the promises recorded and referred to in the scripture, “To Abraham and his seed,” are always to Abraham and Christ, and to Abraham in Christ. And therefore, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
And when Christ, that promised seed, came into the world a man amongst men, then in Him, as formerly in Abraham, there was represented the religion of God and the church of Christ. And as such he ever maintained the same principle of separation of religion and the State which he himself had set before the world in the life and record of Abraham.
He refused to recognize, even by a sign, the wish of the people to make Him king. He refused, when requested, to act the part of a judge or a divider over men as to the rights of property. He refused to recognize the national lines of distinction, the wall of partition, which Israel in their exclusiveness had built up between themselves and other nations. He refused to judge, or to allow any others to judge, any one for not believing on Him. He distinctly declared that, though he is a king, yet his kingdom is not of this world, and that it is not in any way connected with this world. He distinctly declared the separation of His religion from the State: “Render to Cesar the things that are Cesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And when he sent forth his disciples with his heavenly commission to preach the gospel of his kingdom, he sent them not to one particular nation, but to “Teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.” He sent them to preach the gospel; not to one particular, favored, exclusive people, but “to every creature.”
Thus it is seen again that in every phase of the fundamental principle of the religion of God and the church of Christ, from the beginning to the end of the world, there is required the absolute separation of religion and the State: the total disconnection of his church from every State and country in the world, and from the world itself.