Home Reformation Successful Secessions in the Bible and History
Successful Secessions in the Bible and History PDF Print E-mail


To view a video of this presentation, click here.


Let My People Go!

“So Moses and Aaron came in to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me’. Exodus 10:3


The nation of Israel grew out of secession from Egypt. In the Bible, a nation is an ethnolinguistic people group with a shared faith. The Scriptures make it clear that the Hebrews remained Hebrews, even after 480 years in Egypt. They never became Egyptians. We are not geographic accidents, but demographic descendants. The Scripture emphasises that all the families of the nations of the earth are to sing the praises of the Creator in every language and tongue. “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your Blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9


Confusion About What a Nation Is

Unfortunately, many today are confused about the concept of nations. This could be because there are a group of state representatives in New York calling themselves the “United Nations”. Of course, most of them have no legitimacy at all. The United Nations is the largest collection of unelected dictators, mass murderers, drug traffickers and human traffickers on the planet. Most of them are actually gangsters with flags.


“One Nation Under God, Indivisible…”

The United States deludes itself that it is “one nation under God, indivisible…”. Why 50 states in a voluntary union should be considered indivisible, seems incomprehensible to most of us. Yet, Americans are expected to make this pledge on a regular basis. Abraham Lincoln waged a ruinous war in which over 650,000 people died to preserve the union of what was meant to be a confederation. Since that War between the States concluded in 1865, America has become more and more centralised with central government overruling state governments on such matters as legalised abortion and state mandated education.


The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

When the Soviet Union (USSR) broke up, this was considered a good thing and there was much rejoicing as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia and many others seceded from the Union – the Soviet Union. It is a good thing for freedom that the Soviet Union was not indivisible!


The Destructive Legacy of Versailles

There never was such a concept as Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia before the vindictive and destructive Versailles Treaty of 1919 and those entities do not exist today either. They were bad ideas from the beginning. Free and independent nations have broken away from those empires. Yugoslavia, meaning the land of the South Slavs, included Slovenia and Croatia, who definitely are not Slavic, formerly part of the Austrian empire and with Germanic language and culture. However, from 1945 to 1989, the fragile political entity called Yugoslavia was composed of six republics, five nationalities, four languages, three major religions, two alphabets, but only one political party – communist. Another kaleidoscope nation created by the Versailles Treaty, Czechoslovakia, did not long survive the fall of the Iron Curtain and the withdrawal of Soviet armies of occupation. In 1993, Slovakia seceded from Czechoslovakia, peacefully after a referendum.


The Secession of the Ten Northern Tribes of Israel from Judah and Benjamin

In 1 Kings 12, we read of the secession of the ten Northern tribes from the United Kingdom of Israel. After the reigns of King Saul, King David and King Solomon, the United Kingdom was divided when Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, foolishly dismissed the wise counsel of the elders who had stood before his father, Solomon. Instead Rehoboam chose to rather listen to the irresponsible advice of the young men who had grown up with him. As a result, he arrogantly dismissed the petition of his subjects and threatened to tax them even heavier and to burden them with more oppressive laws than they had ever experienced before. “Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying: ‘What share have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Now, see to your own house, O David!’ So Israel departed to their tents.” 1 Kings 12:16


This Is of the Lord

“So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day… There was none who followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.” 1 Kings 12:19-20. When king Rehoboam assembled 180,000 warriors to fight against the house of Israel to restore the United Kingdom, God stopped them, declaring that this secession was of Him.


You Shall Not Fight Against Your Brethren

“But the Word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, ‘Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, to all the house of Judah and Benjamin and to the rest of the people, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel. Let every man return to his house, for this thing is from Me.’ Therefore they obeyed the Word of the Lord, and turned back, according to the Word of the Lord.” 1 Kings 12:22-24


All Authority is Limited, Delegated and Accountable

To the Roman governor, Pilate, the Lord Jesus Christ declared: “…You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above…” John 19:11. Civil authority is clearly delegated by God, limited and answerable to God (Romans 13:1-4; Revelation 1:5; 11:15). The sanctity of human life was the foundation for the establishment of government (Genesis 9:6). The priority of any government should be to protect the right to life of the preborn and every other member of society who is law-abiding.


Civil Government is to Serve Its Citizens

In the teachings of our Lord, it is clear that civil authorities are to be public servants (Matthew 20:25-28). “…The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger and he who governs as he who serves.”Luke 22:25-26. The concept that civil government is a servant of its citizens is a uniquely Christian idea that originated from these verses. Hence, the term prime minister – as the first servant. Cabinet ministers are to be deacons of God for justice.


“Lex Rex”

Before the Reformation the general view of government was summarised in the Latin phrase “Rex Lex – The king is law.” The king’s word is law. The king is above the law. The Reformation inverted this Latin phrase to Lex Rex – The Law is King. The king is under the Law. Samuel Rutherford, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, wrote the book: Lex Rex, published in 1644. Utilising arguments from Scripture and building on Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, Lex Rex attacked the idea of absolutism and statism, emphasizing the importance of covenant and the rule of law. As the prince, or the king, may command loyalty, the king owes his subjects protection. If government fails to provide protection and the rule of law, respect for life and property, then the citizens are absolved of any loyalty to such an abusive ruler who has failed to fulfil his duty.


In Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants

Junius Brutus, In Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants, argued that as we owe our king loyalty, so the King of kings requires loyalty and obedience from all kings who are under Him. If our rulers are in rebellion to the King of kings, we must not join them in their war against God and against His Laws. If a ruler commands that which is against the Law of God, we must obey God, rather than man. If a ruler infringes on the Laws of God and seeks to ruin His Church, it is our right and duty to resist him. “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God”. This was also emphasised by Scottish Reformer, John Knox.


The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate

The Reformers taught that if the central government is corrupt, wicked and oppressive, then the lesser magistrates have the duty to resist. Provincial governors, mayors and magistrates may and must resist and suppress tyrants in central government. Rulers are not permitted to rule for their own self-interests. If central government fails in their promises and duties, the people are exempt from obedience and taxes, the contract is null and void.


The Duties of Civil Government

Romans 13 makes clear what the duties of civil government are. Civil authorities are to be ministers of justice, under God. All authority is delegated authority and is accountable to Almighty God, the Creator and Eternal Judge. Civil government is to be a terror to evil, a minister of justice, executing wrath on those who practice evil. Civil government is not to be a terror to those who do good, but is to protect the law-abiding (Romans 13:1-7).


War Against God

Throughout history there have been those who have attempted to impose their political and religious will on the world, such as Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and Caesar Nero of Rome, who commanded everyone in the empire to worship him. People were required to place the ash of the incense they had burned before Nero’s image on their forehead, before they were allowed to trade in the market place. From Babel to Babylon, from Rome to the French Revolution and from the Soviet Union to Red China, those who seek to impose a one-world government and one-world religion, also seek to control the economy. They pour out blasphemies against God and His people, persecuting those who refuse to bow to their political and religious will. They make war on the saints and attempt to stamp their mark on all that they have power over (Revelation 13:6-17).


We Must Obey God Rather Than Man

God's people have always been called to resist stateism and tyranny. Christians were not persecuted in the Roman Empire for worshipping Christ, they were persecuted for refusing to worship Caesar. And they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their testimony and they did not love their lives to the death.”Revelation 12:11. Those who wage war against God will lose.


The Great Commission and All Nations

When the Lord gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 …to make disciples of all nations, He used the word ethne for nations. Ethne is the root word for ethnic. In the Bible, a nation is an ethnolinguistic people group with a shared faith. We are not merely to make disciples of the 212 countries that claim to be member states of the United Nations. Missiologists have identified over 12,000 ethnolinguistic people groups. Wycliffe Bible Translators identifies 6,909 distinct languages, of which 2,197 are spoken in Asia. Operation World reports that the World Christian Database identifies 13,674 different people groups. The Joshua Project lists 16,350 distinct people groups. Gospel Recordings Network estimates there are over 10,000 spoken languages and dialects. The World Christian Encyclopaedia identifies 13,511 languages and dialects.


Successful Secessions in History - Switzerland

Switzerland seceded from Austria in 1291. Inspired by the story of expert marksman William Tell, who refused to bow before the hat of Albrecht Gessler, raised on a pole in the market square of Altdorf. When William Tell refused to bow, Gessler’s cruel wrath, mixed with a curiosity to test William Tell’s legendary marksmanship, commanded him to shoot an apple off his son’s head with his crossbow bolt. When William Tell succeeded in splitting an apple with his arrow, saving the life of both his son and himself, Gessler asked why he had readied two arrows. William Tell stated that if he had missed with the first, then he would not have missed with the second, in Gessler’s heart! Enraged, Gessler had William Tell arrested and taken by boat across Lake Lucerne to Kussnacht, to spend the rest of his life in a dungeon. A fierce storm enabled William Tell to escape to shore, where he later ambushed and killed Gessler with an arrow, launching the young confederacy’s secession from Austrian rule. The first three cantons which formed the Swiss confederacy, 1291, were Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden. The oldest republic in the world, Switzerland now consists of 26 cantons.


An Island of Peace on a Continent Often Torn by War

Despite Switzerland occupying the crossroads of Germanic and Romansh Europe, as reflected in its form of linguistic and cultural regions, German, French, Italian and Romansh, its confederal, decentralised, direct democracy policy of armed neutrality, enabled Switzerland to stay out of the ruinous world wars. Despite French, Germans and Italians killing one another by the hundreds-of-thousands, Switzerland successfully protected its territorial integrity and stayed out of the conflicts.


Caring for Its Neighbours

Switzerland is the birthplace of the Red Cross, one of the world’s oldest and best known humanitarian organisations and is home to many international organisations and missions which have brought relief to suffering prisoners during the World Wars and provided sanctuary for those fleeing from those colossal conflicts.


An Example of Excellence

Switzerland is one of the most developed countries of the world, with the highest nominal wealth per adult and the highest per capita Gross Domestic Product in the world. In terms of quality of life, three cities of Geneva have been ranked amongst the ten top cities in the world: Zurich, Geneva and Basel. Switzerland is an example of excellence of how people of different nationalities, languages and religious affiliations can live together in peace and harmony – by decentralisation, referendums and Landsgemeinde – community gatherings.


American Independence and Magna Carta

The United States of America seceded from Great Britain in 1776. Demanding their chartered rights as Englishmen under Magna Carta of 1215, the thirteen colonies constitute themselves as the United States of America with their Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776. They maintained that as the English government had failed to protect them and provide their rights, as guaranteed by Magna Carta, 1215, they were absolved of allegiance to the British government in London.


Other Successful Secessions

Led by Prince William of Orange, the Netherlands seceded from Spain, beginning in 1568.


Belgium later seceded from the Netherlands in 1830.


Texas seceded from Mexico in 1836. The Battle of the Alamo (23 February – 6 March 1836) was a pivotal event in the war of independence for Texas. The cruelty and arbitrary lawlessness of president Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, led other Texans to rise up and defeat the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, 21 April 1836, securing the independence of Texas from Mexico.


Nicaragua seceded from Guatemala in 1838.


Norway seceded from Sweden in 1905. Price Carl of Denmark was unanimously elected King by the Norwegian parliament, the first king of a fully independent Norway in 508 years. He took the name Haakon VII. A national referendum confirmed the people’s preference for a monarchy over a republic and the peaceful separation of Norway from Sweden was effected on 7 June 1905.


Finland seceded from Russia in 1917. In reaction to the Bolshevik Revolution, which was tearing Russia apart, the Finns set up their own parliament which declared independence from Russia, 6 December 1917.


The Republic of Ireland seceded from Great Britain in 1922.


Pakistan seceded from India in 1947.


Taiwan seceded from China in 1949.


Singapore seceded from Malaysia in 1965 and has turned an unpromising island swamp into one of the most potent economic powerhouses in Asia.


Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan in 1970.


Namibia seceded from South Africa in 1990.


Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia seceded from Russia in 1991.


Croatia and Slovenia seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991.


Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1991.


Slovakia seceded from Czechoslovakia in 1993.


East Timor seceded from Indonesia in 2002.


South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011.


The Nuba of South Kordofan are at this moment fighting for their independence from Sudan and the Kurds of Turkey, Iraq and Iran are seeking their own country of Kurdistan.


Dr. Peter Hammond

Reformation Society
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480

Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



See also:

Eyewitness to Successful Secession Movements

A Case for Cape Independence

Ten Key Principles of Freedom

To listen to an audio of this presentation, click here.

Copyright © 2021 Reformation Society. All Rights Reserved.