“Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6).
In this instance in the Bible we first see the concept of government as the protection and defense of the individual. Given what humanity had become by our disobedience, God saw the need for humanity to have government as protection of the individual. The sacred nature of life made in His image coupled with the sinful nature of man made it necessary.
“You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15)
Clearly, God desired a just and fair governmental structure. Impartiality is a bedrock premise to the proper functioning of governing and judging in a way that pleases God.
“So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, ‘This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.
He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants.
And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.’ Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, ‘No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.’ And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the Lord. So the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Heed their voice, and make them a king.’ And Samuel said to the men of Israel, ‘Every man go to his city’” (1 Samuel 8:10-22).
The nation of Israel was to be the one people which would be governed on this earth by the Lord, yet they sought what others had, and chose not the better way as a result. For what could be better than a nation governed by God (far superior to even a nation under God).
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good.
But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:1-7).
Paul, in the book of Romans lays out the Christian obligation to obey the governing authorities, as leaders are put in place by the will of God. This is sometimes hard for the Christian to understand and accept when under what appears to be bad or evil leadership. While Paul assumes the governance by righteous authorities, he makes no provision in Romans 13 for instances where government is less than the biblical ideal in his epistle.
“So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:18-20).
Peter and John display what is a clear reason to disobey governing authorities, a rejection or repudiation of our Lord Jesus Christ. They were willing to risk their lives for the Gospel (and indeed, all the apostles except John died a martyr’s death; and many disciples of Christ have died as such since and continue to do so to this day). It could come to a point when one need choose the condemnation of man or the abandonment of faith. The apostles chose the better way of eternal over earthly life and reward.
We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life-physical, intellectual, and moral life. But life cannot maintain itself alone. The creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources…Life, faculties, production-in other words, individuality, liberty, property-this is man…What then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense. Each of us has a natural right-from God-to defend his person, his liberty, and his property…
If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense…God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies. He has provided a social form as well as a human form. And these social organs of persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty…May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works. (Excerpted fromThe Law: The Classic Blueprint for a Just Society – Frederic Bastiat, 1850)
Bastiat in his treatise states that law should do no more than protect individuality, property and liberty, and nothing more. For more than that is a violation of rights established by God. Bastiat sees the harmonious workings of liberty as providing more than any system of rules and regulations can ever do, for they will eventually favor the few or the one over the totality, and as such, destroy liberty through improper use of law.
This was a long way to go to get to the heart of the matter. While a well-balanced government, righteous in actions and placing individual liberty and property above all else may be what is divinely inspired, man on his own is incapable of that over the long run.
Personal desires or greed, the sinful pull of personal wealth and power will eventually erode the most well-intentioned forms of human self-government. I believe this is the erosion we are seeing in our country at an ever accelerating pace today, but it has been building for some time. And this is no surprise given the sinful nature of man.
As Christians, we should participate in the process of electing leaders, seeking out and supporting those with a biblical worldview, with a platform that mirrors our beliefs. But as Christians, we need realize that we are only trying to hold the line, delay the continuing slide of this country, the inevitable slide towards end time events. We should be seeking to reach the lost, and be doing so by trying to elect Christian leaders. But we need recognize a key fact; we need Christ in our lives and over our lives.
We are lost without Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are incapable of true, biblical governance without Him to head it up, and this will not happen until His Second Coming and the establishment of the Millennial Reign. Jesus must return or the plans, the purposes and the very will of God for humanity cannot be fulfilled.
For left to our own devices, we would have ourselves a king (or an individual or small group would force one upon us), and one which cannot, by the definition of our sin nature, be good for any great length of time (length as the Lord would count it).
In Him alone can there be the fulfillment.
Jesus is coming soon!
Even So Come.
Rafter Cross Ministries