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The eighteenth century Irish statesman, philosopher and political theorist, Edmund Burke, is credited with the remark that, "Evil prevails when good men do nothing." But this is not true, for evil can not prevail in the absence of good men. In fact, evil needs good men in order to prevail. Where evil is triumphant you can be assured that there are a few good men supporting its progress.
How can this be?
The first thing to remember is that evil always turns on itself. Evil cannot support itself. In the early days of Islam, when Mohammed was reigning at Medina, there was another prophet in another town who pretended to the same prophetic order of Mohammed. The second one proposed to Mohammed that they divide the world between them and make common cause together. So this fellow, Moseilma, wrote a letter to Mohammed and said, "From Moseilma, the prophet of Allah, to Mohammed, also the prophet of Allah, Come now, let us make a partition of the world and let half be thine and half be mine." Mohammed replied: "From Mohammed, the Prophet of God, to Moseilma, the liar and prophet of the devil..." And from that point forward there was war until Moseilma was destroyed. Neither prophet represented the true God. Both were agents of Satan, but the drive of sin leads evil to consume and devour everything, even its own allies.
We find this also to be the case in the Bible. In the last days, the Anti-Christ will rely upon a False Prophet (Revelation 13:11-18) in order to support his tyrannical one-world Government. What is the reward given to the False Prophet for all his hard work in lifting up the tyrannical Anti-Christ? He is to be humiliated, stripped of authority, and burned alive (Revelation 17:16). The Antichrist kills his own false prophet! Evil is full of such betrayal. Evil must always exalt itself, and can never be humble enough to get along with anyone or anything else. Evil must make itself preeminent, and therefore it hates even its own friends and allies. Like a blood sucking virus, evil always commits suicide by consuming the host and everything else necessary to its own survival. The lesson of evil is this: it must always implode inward on itself. It is, in the final analysis, self-destructive.
So evil can not stand on its own. Evil does not prevail when good men do nothing. Evil prevails only when good men help it, because Evil needs the virtue of a few good men in order to make a go of it.
It is instructive to pause here and consider the tyrants of history that have risen to power and to consider the means which they used to obtain their position and accomplish their purpose. In fact, it hasn't been possible for dictators to rule without the devotion and loyalty of trustworthy men.
In the days of Pharaoh, when Moses and Aaron stood before the sovereign of Egypt, he called upon Jannis and Jambres, the religionists of his day, to support his bid against the true God. When Balak, the king of Moab, sought to destroy Israel, he hired the services of Balaam to curse Israel. In the days of Dan, when the marauding, avaricious tribe conquered Laish, they stole a priest and an Ephod in order that they might worship some kind of deity in the far north. When Absalom entered his revolutionary scheme to destroy his own father, the Great King David, he did so by the wisdom and counsel of Ahithopel. When Jeroboam revolted against Judah, he felt compelled to have priests build gods of gold at Bethel and Dan. Ahab and Jezebel were able to do what they did in Israel, in the debauchery of their kingdom, because they were abetted and assisted by the prophets of Baal. In every instance, these tyrannical dictators relied upon the services of loyal and trustworthy men. In every case, these men were not true to God, but they did possess some positive virtues: loyalty, trustworthiness, faithfulness, and commitment.
Take a look at history outside the Bible. Anyone who has studied communism would be blind not to see in it the same loyalty and devotion to materialism that we have in our devotion to the Lord. What about Hitler? "Der Fuhrer," is a salute comparable to the hailing of the Messiah, and it is invested with all the same religious loyalty and faithfulness. Germany's tremendous strength was found in the courage and honor of the common men, but they were all twisted to diabolical schemes and became corrupt through their support of the Fuhrer.
This is the case of all evil empires. All tyrants depend upon the good virtues of love, loyalty, courage and faithfulness in order to rise to power. Tyrants can't trust other tyrants. Tyrants need at least a few men of good will in order to enable them to accomplish their wicked devices. In order to lift themselves from off the ground, tyrants must twist the towering virtues of good men downward. Like the spindly legs of a spider, it takes lean, strong virtuous men to lift the heavy and destructive ferocity of a tyrant from the earth.
Some have said that the quote Edmund Burke made was was actually,
"When bad men combine, the good must associate together; else they will all fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
Good men must associate together and stay away from evil men. Good men must assemble themselves together. If we don't stick together, then evil will pick us off, one by one. Or worse... evil will deceive us and enlist us in its tyrannical schemes, compelling us to serve the beast as its spindly legs. Behind every dictator is somebody just like you, a basically good man who tolerated loose associations with other good men rather then insisting upon the strong bonds of friendship. Behind every dictator is somebody just like you, an isolated individual who was gradually deceived.
We all need the fellowship and love of other good men. As a Father leading your family, you must intentionally choose to form friendships, alliances and associations with trustworthy men who stand for what is truly virtuous. You must model for your children the virtue of love through loyalty and faithfulness. It isn't enough that you stick to yourself and keep within your own house. Evil loves for good men to stick to themselves, alone and isolated. It is in this way that evil is able to easily overcome. You must be intentional and disciplined in making friends with Godly people and cultivating those friendships, strengthening those bonds. And the greatest of all friendships is the friendship that we have with God. The only way to avoid supporting tyrants is to remain faithful to God. So the most important gathering, the most important association, the most important assembly is the assembly of the church for worship on Sunday.
Fathers and Mothers, take care for the friends that you keep. Your children are watching and learning.