lijah protested against the idolatry and apostasy of Israel (1 Kings 18:18-40); Isaiah protested against the wickedness of Egypt and Cush (Isaiah 20); Jeremiah protested against the social sins of drunkenness, adultery and prostitution (Jeremiah 13); Ezekiel protested against immorality and violence in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 24); Jesus protested against the corruption and desecration of the Temple by the moneylenders who turned the House of God into a den of thieves (Mark 11:15-17).
Biblical examples of challenging unrighteousness in public affairs have included: Personally approaching the officials or by writing letters exposing injustice and calling for repentance and obedience to the Law of God.
Nathan, before King David (2 Samuel 2:7); the delegation to King Rehobam (1 Kings 12:3-4); Elijah before King Ahab (1 Kings 21:20); Elisha before King Ahab (2 Kings 3:14); Esther before King Xerxes (Esther 7:3-4); Daniel before Belshazzar (Daniel 5:17-28); John the Baptist before Herod (Matthew 14:4); Peter and John before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:18-20) and Stephen before the Council (Acts 7:51).
"Who will rise up for Me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for Me against evildoers?" Psalm 94:16
In none of these cases do God's people engage in riotous behaviour, violence or damage to property. Biblically acceptable methods of protest include: writing, delegations, public prayer, preaching, teaching, even dramas and artistic depictions in the market place.
"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land, so that I would not have to destroy it…" Ezekiel 22:30
The Bible condemns those who formed "a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house…" as "evil men" Acts 17:5.
The Bible records a riot in the city of Ephesus (Acts 19:28-32) where the people had no idea what they were actually rioting about! "… they were full of wrath… so the whole city was in confusion, and rushed… some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused and most of them did not know why they had come together."
The city clerk concluded: "For we are in danger of being called in question for today's uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering." Acts 19:40
There is also an account of a riot in the Temple "And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together… now as they were seeking to kill him… " Acts 21:30-31
"And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another. So he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult…" Acts 21:34
In Acts 23:9 we read "Then there arose a loud outcry…"
In the book of Romans we read of the fruit of human depravity: "Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they practice deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes." Romans 3:12-18
The Apostle Paul condemns: "contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, back-bitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults." 2 Corinthians 12:20
The Apostle James teaches: "For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the fruit from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."
The Lord Jesus Christ taught: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God." Matthew 5:9
God has entrusted to us a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God worked pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."1 Corinthians 5:20-21
Dr. Peter Hammond is a Missionary, Historian and Conference speaker. Tel: 021-689-4480; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.frontline.org.za.