God and Government
In looking upon the subject of “God and Government” we will at once for the sake of clarity define the use of the word “God” as the One true God: Jesus Christ, as he has revealed Himself to be in His only written, and perfectly inspired perfectly preserved Word the Bible. The Bible explains to us our relationship to Government in Second Peter 2:9-10:
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government (Root word means lord). Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.”
*The word for government here is the same word that was used by the writers of the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) to translate the word for Jehovah which is the name for Jesus in Hebrew and is found in the King James English Bible as “LORD”.
The word is used also in Ephesians 1:21, Jude 1:8, and:
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
Jude, in the passage above, has reminded us that those who reject Jesus’ Government are comparable to the man Korah in Numbers 16 who rebelled against Jesus’ appointed governor Moses. It is then more accurate to state that God IS Government. We know from the Scriptures likewise that God is Love and therefore that Government is a distribution of God’s Love. Isaiah 9:6-7 declares:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government (Root means power) shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
The notion that it is fitting, or even possible to separate God from government is revealed now to be a lie, or as has been said:
"I support the doctrine of separation of church and state as traditionally interpreted to prohibit the establishment of an official national religion. But this does not mean that we should divorce government from any formal recognition of God. To do so strikes a potentially fatal blow at the concept of the divine origin of our rights, and unlocks the door for an easy entry of future tyranny. If Americans should ever come to believe that their rights and freedoms are instituted among men by politicians and bureaucrats, they will no longer carry the proud inheritance of their forefathers, but will grovel before their masters seeking favors and dispensations -- a throwback to the feudal system of the Dark Ages." (Ezra Taft Benson, "Freedom Is Our Heritage," 10 Nov. 1970)
We may thank the Lord that we have not as a temporal earthly nation reached an age of complete darkness but the above description of an evil dispensation is an increasingly accurate description of the existing American and international economy. At present the preamble to the constitution of each state in America contains an acknowledgement similar to that of the Massachusetts 1780 Preamble:
“We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction…”
The King of Kings has revealed His divine governmental power even in the uses of numbers which show us in a uniform way that His government is perfect and He has His hand in it all. We can see this in the uniform use of the number 12 associated with Government.:
1. 12 tribes if Israel, Genesis 49:28
2. In offerings and furnishings, Numbers 7
3. The 12 disciples, Matthew 10:1
4. Jesus’ physical age when entering the physical temple, Luke 2:42
5. Time in a day, John 11:9
6. Gates and foundations of the city of Heaven, Revelation 21:12, 14
7. Manner of fruit on the tree of life, Revelation 22:2
In Luke 8 Jesus heals a woman who had been ill for 12 years and raised a 12 year old girl out of physical death and then in Luke 9 He gives to His disciples power and authority over devils and disease and sends them out to “preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick”. This is the Work that Jesus’ Government promotes. For any to declare the nation of True America has for its fathers deists which believed in a concept of a god rather than having known the only true God Jesus is one born of ignorance as Federer reminds us:
1620, according to the Gregorian Calendar, 102 passengers set sail on the
Pilgrims' ship, Mayflower.
Their 66-day journey of 2,750 miles encountered storms so rough the beam supporting the main mast cracked and was propped back in place with "a great iron screw."
One youth, John Howland, was swept overboard by a freezing wave and rescued. His descendants include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Humphrey Bogart, Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush.
During the Pilgrims' voyage, a man died and a mother gave birth.
Intending to land in Virginia, they were blown off-course.
Of their landing, Governor William Bradford wrote:
"Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element."
Though half died that first bitter winter, Governor William Bradford wrote:
"Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations...for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world."”
Among other truths, we can make the application here that it is not possible for an individual to separate what he believes from the decisions he makes or what he speaks about. Stated similarly, those who hold a political or governmental office or responsibility ought not be deceived into believing that they have not the right and in fact obligation to speak freely and favorably of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and one of the three men most responsible for the U.S. Constitution stated, ''Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty - as well as the privilege and interest - of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.''” (proconstitution.com)
We believe here that Mr. Jay was not advocating the religion of Christianity, but rather the lifestyle associated with those who walk in obedience with Christ Jesus.
It may do us well at this point to note what some of America’s past governmental appointees have said on the matter:
"It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible." - George Washington
"God rules this world. It is the duty of nations as well as men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow... and to recognize the sublime truths that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord." - Abraham Lincoln
We can then ask and answer on the matter with those who have come before us:
"God, who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift of God?" (Thomas Jefferson, In Love with Eloquence, p. 30)
“Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.” - William Penn – founder of the Province of Pennsylvania
We have before us direction from the Lord on our obligation to His governing authority:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”
First Peter 2:13-19:
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.”
How then may we respect God given authority even when that authority is in rebellion toward God and be obedient in standing for the truth while being obedient to God’s government? For it is indeed that because of the nature of all flesh such circumstances oft exist. The Lord instructs us here:
“And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor. And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's. And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.”
First Samuel 24:10
“..the LORD delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD's anointed.”
“Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
“But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.”
“I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.”
“Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
By God’s grace we might understand this by seeking to understand the relationship between government and law. There is an old and new law between God and men. There is a government under the Old and New Covenants (Hebrews 7:12, Romans 8:2). There are times when we can only be in obedience to the Lord when we are in obedience to men and there are times when we can only be in obedience to the Lord when we oppose men. There is a time to submit to Saul and a time to resist Goliath. There is a spiritual law in our hearts that is given to us by Jesus when we have received Him. This liberty tells us how to rend with power the lion who walks about seeking to destroy us: if we are to do so in the manner of Sampson or Daniel. It teaches us how to become all things to all people for the sake of the good news that Jesus will forgive us of our sin if we repent. It is a freedom that can be difficult not to abuse. It is God’s law that teaches us what is appropriate in marriage (teaching us that among other things homosexuality is wrong), or any other relationship.
“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
We see then that God’s Government is a government by His Person. And that in all things this is a free matter of the heart done under the direction of His Spirit, not a freedom to sin against Him, but not a legal restraint. It is a personal matter beginning with the submission of self-will to the will of God starting with repentance of sin unto salvation from its eternal consequences and continuing into a rule in and over all the affairs of both our temporal and eternal life in Him. This is the struggle that both writer and reader face with government together in this moment.
“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”
Even in the authority that Jesus gives to us to proclaim His saving truths to the world around us we can find abuses or the desire to promote oneself rather than the Lord. Men as a result of bitterness and envy over the ministry or circumstances of others may preach against them for this purpose only. But, we are reminded that the Lord is still in control and His truth will prevail. The key for us is in following the lead of the Holy Spirit in the decisions we make.
“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”
“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
First Thessalonians 5:9-28:
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Copyright; 2012 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved