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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Serious Whistle-blowing in the Bible

A whistleblower is someone who lets outsiders know that there is something wrong inside her own institution, be it governmental agency or business. Sometimes the whistleblower gets into trouble.

It recently occurred to me that there were whistleblowers in the Old Testament, and that they often paid the ultimate penalty. Who am I talking about? Here's an example:

2 Chronicles 33:21 Amon was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. 22 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as Manasseh his father had done. Amon sacrificed to all the images that Manasseh his father had made, and served them. 23 And he did not humble himself before the Lord, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself, but this Amon incurred guilt more and more. 24 And his servants conspired against him and put him to death in his house. 25 But the people of the land struck down all those who had conspired against King Amon. And the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his place. (ESV)

These unnamed servants knew that the king was evil. King Amon was following in the worst ways of his father, Manasseh, not his best ways, and was leading Judah in the wrong direction. The servants had no one to whistleblow to -- the king had supreme authority -- so they took matters into their own hands. They may have expected the result -- their own death -- because such things had happened in the past.

In 2 Samuel 1:1-16, an Amalekite claimed to have killed King Saul, David's good king-turned bad king predecessor. David had him killed.

In 2 Samuel 4:5-12, David had the murderers of Saul's son, Ish-Bosheth, who had claimed the kingship, killed.

In 2 Kings 12:19-20, King Joash was killed by his own servants. In 2 Kings 14:5-7, his son, King Amaziah, had the assassins that killed his father killed.

There were attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler, dictator of Germany. Julius Caesar of Rome was assassinated.

Besides the earthly consequences of assassinating a ruler, The Bible's Ten Commandments include a prohibition against murder. Are there occasions when, in spite of this, assassination of a ruler is justified? (And when there is no recourse to a body like the Congress to remove a powerful, corrupt leader.) I'm not sure. I am sure that I hope I am never part of any such plot, as either a conspirator, or the intended victim. I hope that, if God clearly directed me to assassinate a President, I would do so. But it is extremely unlikely that He would do so. God tells us that our rulers are ordained by God, at least as a general principle, and perhaps always. (Romans 13:1-7)

Thanks for reading. Blow the whistle in your company, your government institution, even your church, if it is really appropriate. But don't expect instant gratitude from everybody. You might even be put to death.

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