What is Fascism?
Are you wondering how this question is going to tie in to our Bible lesson?
Fascism in Popular Culture
Today, everyone of every political stripe has been called a "Nazi" by someone.
This is not a new development. In 1944, at the height of World War II, George
Orwell described this behavior in his essay, "What is a
Youtube personality, "The Black Pigeon",
argues that World War II has
given the West an anti-ideal - Nazi Germany. Instead of aspiring to positive
ideals, we aspire to be as unlike our anti-ideal as possible. Humans do not do
well with negative role models. The man who strives to be unlike his alcoholic
father, becomes him.
The Literal Meaning of Fascism
There are academic definitions of economic and cultural fascism - but nobody
cares or uses them except academics. There is no consistent popular meaning,
other than "people we don't like are fascists". No one uses or cares about the
literal meaning either, but it is historically, and Biblically instructive.
What is a Scepter?
The dictionary defines "scepter" as "an ornamented staff carried by rulers on ceremonial occasions as a symbol of national sovereignty." Egypt used
a "sekhem", Rome used a fasces. The Roman fasces was
a bundle of rods with an axe in the middle. As a child of the Roman Empire,
the United States depicts a bundle of arrows carried by a great eagle on its
resembles the Roman fasces.
In Genesis 9, God gives the authority
and responsibility to every government since the flood to take the life
of murderers. From Egypt to Rome, the power to carry out capital punishment
was the practical mark of national sovereignty - and the sceptre was its
symbol. From Noah to the present, the right of an individual to self defense
is the mark of individual sovereignty. Throughout history, only slaves have
been denied that right.
The Scepter shall not depart from Judah
In Genesis 49 Jacob prophesies on his
deathbed that "The scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh come."
Shiloh is the Messiah, and the scepter did not depart from Judah until
AD 9, when repeated massacres by a corrupt Herod Archelaeus (Wars of
the Jews 2:8) led Rome to banish him to Gaul and remove the power of capital
punishment from Judea, making Judeah a Roman province, appointing Caponius
Procurator (around 7 A.D.):
“But in the tenth year of Archelaus’ government, both his brethren, and the
principal men of Judea and Samaria, not being able to bear his barbarous
and tyrannical usage of them, accused him … Caesar, upon hearing what
certain accusers had to say… both banished him, and appointed Vienna, a
city of Gaul, to be the place of his habitation, and took his money away
from him…Caponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent…to have the
supreme power over the Jews” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book 17; chapter 13
verse 2 and Book 18; chapter 1 verse 1).
By that decree, the Sanhedrin was restricted and adjudication of capital
offenses was lost. The Jews went about mourning for they thought (but see Luke
"Woe unto us for the scepter has departed from Judah and the Messiah has not come!" (Babylonian Talmud, chapter 4, folio 37).
The Word of God had apparently failed. But Messiah had certainly been born,
and apparently (given current date of 4 BC for his birth) had also presented
to the Jewish leaders in the
Twenty some years later, when the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and Pilate
reviewed the case, Pilate tells them to judge him according to their own
laws. "It is not lawful for us to put a man to death." they respond - for the scepter had departed from Judah, and
they must kill their Messiah as the Lamb of God even as they killed the
Passover lambs during the coming day.
The Scepter and National Sovereignty
Why was it such a disaster for the Jews when the Scepter departed from
Judah? The scepter was a symbol of national sovereignty. Even when
under the yoke of Babylon, Persia, or Greece, the Jews were self
governing - as long as they paid their taxes and tribute. The departure
of the scepter meant a loss of sovereignty.
Self Defense and Individual Sovereignty
Over that same 4000 years, there was one common feature of slavery:
slaves could not carry a weapon for self defense. (They were of course
often required to carry one for their masters as "cannon fodder".)
This is why losing the right of self defense is a big deal.