God’s government over the lives of men is a key truth which will help us navigate through the confusion and competing claims for the hearts and minds of men. Yet that government is not readily understood and so I continue here a ramble through some of the elements of that government.
God is in Control
Deists think of God as a dispassionate and disengaged deity who initiated life but will not interfere with human existence. I am a theist. I believe that God is, as the Bible teaches, actively engaged in the issues of each of our lives.
The Bible reveals that God is in control of all that impacts us and has the power to totally transform or destroy our lives. He responds to our hearts and our prayers, giving us what is appropriate based on our walk with Him.
God is not only in control in the form of an external and interested personality able to impact our lives, but He is also in control via His prescribed order, which He has designed and instigated because it is the functionally effective form of government.
So, both by His sovereign power to intervene and by His prescribed order for mankind we have what I refer to as the Government of God.
Part of God’s prescription for human government is the hierarchical authority structure He prescribed for our good. God has set in place an order of governmental authority in the form of hierarchical authorities who exercise authority by being under the authority above them.
This divine hierarchy is explained by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth. In 1Corinthians 11:3 Paul points out that God is the ultimate authority figure, with Christ under Him. Man is under Christ and the wife is under the authority of her husband.
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Apostle Paul, 1Corinthians 11:3
Insights from God’s Hierarchy
This hierarchy reveals that God endorses and prescribes structural authority. People are not to be a law unto themselves but are to be under authority. But the authority over them is also to be under authority.
The only ultimate source of authority is God. Despotic leaders, corrupt administrators and evil parents are out of step with God’s authority structure, since they are not acting according to the will of God. Those expressions of government, global or domestic, are outside of or in violation of the Government of God, because they have refused to come under God’s authority.
God’s government of mankind not only has God as the supreme authority but it also has the home as the prime component. Every individual home is a direct expression of the government of God. The hierarchy in 1Corinthians 11:3 does not mention any form of civil government, but it leaps straight from heaven to the home. God’s concern for the government of human life is a combination of the divine and the domestic.
Two Important Thrones of Government
A person who wishes to exercise government over the affairs of this world has two important arenas in which to operate. There are two thrones of authority magnified in God’s authority hierarchy (1Corinthians 11:3).
God’s throne in Heaven is the ultimate place of authority. Anyone who wishes to exercise any role within human government must bow the knee to God and Jesus Christ. All other authority springs from them. Anyone who wishes to exercise authority independent of God and Christ must engage in borrowed authority or exercise illegitimate authority over people.
The dinner table is the place of that other throne. The domestic home, under the headship of the father in the family, is the other central place of authority. Anyone who wishes to exercise authority over the affairs of men must be sure to find their place in the domestic home, either in submission or through appropriate carriage of their responsibility.
That is not to say that every husband can rule his home as he chooses. That man only has authority in his home because he is under God’s authority.
A man who will not exercise godly authority in his home, being personally under God’s rule, is disqualified from leadership. He has rejected the government of God. A woman who refuses the authority of her husband is disqualified from leadership. She has rejected the government of God.
The absence of reference to civil government in God’s authority hierarchy is not a mistake. Civil government is a servant to God and man. When civil government interposes itself over the lives of people, without full divine authority to do so, it is evil government.
Civil government is described as government which rewards the good and punishes evil people. When civil government functions as an expression of God’s father heart toward humanity and God’s holiness upheld by man, then it is good government and part of the government of God.
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or to governors, as to them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” The Apostle Peter 1Peter 2:13,14
Civil government is also a servant to the man as he leads him family. Good civil government will support the authority of the father in each family, as the head of his home. It will support that man and provide the resources which God the Father would give to His children to empower them to build strong families.
Kings or Consensus?
Civil government can be exercised by monarchs on a throne or elected representatives in a council, or by village elders and other expressions of administration. When that civil government (no matter how it is structured) functions in support of God’s throne and the domestic family it is a good government, whether it comes from the king and his minions or by social structures with elected officials.
Much discussion is made regarding the relative merits or evils of monarchs, dictators, village elders or democratically elected governments. If the Government of God is in place then the distinctions betweens there structural systems becomes less significant.
Ruling the Human Heart
Note that God’s authority is not expressed in the form of instant judgement. Lightning does not strike every blasphemer on the spot. Adulterers, thieves, liars and murderers are not immediately condemned by God.
Human government often seems much more responsive in dealing with evil than God appears to be. This is because God has assigned humanity the task of administering this expression of His government. It is also because God speaks into human lives via the human conscience.
Human conscience is an expression of God’s government over the individual. Our heart condemns or approves our actions and thoughts. And so this will be an area of investigation in a follow up posting on the Government of God.