Government of God

The primary government to which we all must give account is the Government of God in our lives. But before you get all religious on me and think of that simply as some kind of stuffy or sentimental notion suited to church liturgy, let me assure you that I am talking about real administrative government over people’s lives.

The Government of God is not a religious construct created by bishops and popes to assert their control, but a primary level of government to which all people in every generation must give attention.

When God Governs

Most people have a dualistic notion of reality. They subscribe to various religious concepts, but see them only as notions or religious beliefs. When it comes to practicalities they have a completely different sense of reality.

Most religious people would admit that God is supreme over all, as a religious concept. But when it comes to the practicalities of who is in control, God doesn’t get another thought. This dualism decimates the real substance and authority of people’s lives. They live in a state of contradiction and compromise.

If God only governs in some notional sense then He does not govern at all. If God’s government cannot be seen in practical reality then it is only an empty concept and should not be subscribed to, even by the religious. It would be delusional and vain.

However, God does rule in the affairs of men and God has prescribed a form a government that is to be practically applied on the earth. That government is the government of God in the earth.

Application of God’s Government

In future posts I will explore some expressions of and implications of God’s government. Initial issues to consider include deism versus theism, God’s hierarchical order of authority and the role of personal conscience. I will not cover these in detail here, but wish to focus your attention on the reality of God’s government over your life and how that might be expressed in your experience.

Deism versus Theism

Those who acknowledge God can be relegated to two different perceptions of God’s government of man, relating to the level of intervention which God will exercise in the affairs of men.

Deists are those who believe in the existence of God but who do not expect Him to interfere in the lives and circumstances of humans. They conceive of God as an observer of that which He created and set in motion. Deists see that human history is in the hands of human will and that God will not intervene unless things become very drastic, as with Noah’s flood or Sodom’s sin.

Theists, on the other hand, believe that God not only initiated all things, but remains actively interested in and ready to intervene in human affairs. Theists recognise man’s place in responding to God and calling upon God’s power and they pray with expectancy to a God they know will hear and respond.

God’s Active Government

By the definitions explained above, I am a theist. I live my life with expectancy of God’s active intervention, and calling on God to direct that intervention according to my prayers.

I believe in God’s active government within the affairs of men. Men can conceive and plan what they will, but God has more than the power of veto. God has a pre-emptive will and dynamic foreknowledge, empowering Him to engage with the issues of human existence in a proactive and powerful way.

It is this divine activity that gives zest and substance to God’s prescribed government. His own active engagement gives power to His instructions and His expectations from man.

God’s Prescription of Government

The Bible provides the basis of all human government, developed by His divine guidance from the time of Noah. A complete study of the role of government as God designed it is a worthy investigation, found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

The particular prescription of God’s government that I want to focus here is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. Paul laid out an authority structure in which man is under Christ, who is under God, with the wife 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

God’s Hierarchy

Note the significances of this verse. God’s notion of government and authority is hierarchical. A person under authority is given authority over others.

In a day when the flat organization is being popularised and everyone wants to minimise their responsibility to be under authority it is worth noting that God, Himself, operates within an hierarchical construct of government. Government is not a matter of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.

Note also that mankind is meant to be directly under the authority of God, through Christ. Civil government is not described in this hierarchy. Civil government is, by God’s design, a servant to God and man, not an imposition over the responsibility and authority of mankind. Civil government is not interposed between God and man, nor does it absolve man of responsibility.

Note also that the core unit of social structure, the home, is an expression of the government of God. A husband being responsible for his wife and a wife submitting to her husband is at the heart of divine government on the earth.

Modern Government

Today there are various forces competing for rulership over the lives of men. Governments, big business and social engineers are among those who wish for mankind to comply with their plans.

International law now imposes itself over sovereign nations. At the domestic level children defy the will of their parents and wives assert their independence of the husband’s headship. So government is in an interesting state in homes, communities, churches and nations.

The best way to navigate through the uncertainties and competing claims on the lives of men and women is to submit to the government of God.

Politics and Religion are Intrinsically Linked

The separation of Church and State is a much-misunderstood concept. It is also a concept that is exploited to insist on removal of religious sentiment from the political arena.

The motivation for such ambition is clear. Political leaders down through history have wanted to displace God and act as the ultimate law, rather than as subjects of a Holy God to whom they must give account. The Pharaohs and Caesars are among the better known of the many human leaders who asserted their divinity.

Three thousand years ago the Psalmist taunted those political leaders who tied to conceive of a world where they were not accountable to God.

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD will have them in derision.” Psalm 2:1-4

“Be wise now therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Psalm 2:10-12

Church & State Are Bound Together

Despite all the rhetoric and emotion that may be expressed against religious reality in state affairs it has always been understood that God is supreme over political process. “By me Kings reign” is the claim made by wisdom, which is God’s handmaiden.

By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” Proverbs 8:15,16

God is the Supreme King and Deity

A clear testimony to the intimate connection between Church and State, or Politics and Religion, is the example of God, Himself.

God is the Supreme King, sitting on a heavenly throne over all the Kingdoms of the world. Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

But God is also the God above all Gods. He is the ultimate deity. No idol, deity, spirit, icon, or religion can challenge His supremacy.

Church and State, Religion and Politics are intrinsically combined in one person. So how in the world can it be conceived that the two are not completely and intimately related to each other?

The Spiritual Reality Rules Politics

For all the protestations that human government must be free of religious connection the whole argument is based on nonsense. The world and everything in it is first and foremost a spiritual reality. A moral God created us all and is and will judge us all based on how we submit ourselves to Him. So the idea that human government is somehow independent of divine realities is simple self-delusion.

The Bible gives us several glimpses into the heavenly realm and there we see that a rebellious subordinate is seeking to displace and contend with God. That created angelic being which chose to betray God is no match for God’s ultimate and supreme authority as the creator of all, but he goes about as if he has authority and power, seducing people to join him in rebellion against God.

So human politics and society are constantly under the influence of these two spiritual entities. When people submit to God they enjoy God’s blessing. When they submit to the rebel spirit they come under God’s judgement and various slaveries and degradations.

The State Desperately Needs the Church

Any true statesman knows that his authority and effectiveness is totally dependent on God. He will recognise his desperate need for spiritual support and divine authority. True statesmen, then, will recognise that the state desperately needs the church.

God is currently calling a new generation of true statesmen to arise. They are from many nations and divergent backgrounds. They have distinctive callings on their life and they will each have different levels of influence and impact. But they are the new generation of servant of the Lord. God is calling forth men of character and divine authority who will redeem nations and rescue politics, science, religion and culture from the seductions and disembowelment which we have come to think of as normal.

I call you to be part of that new generation of heavenly statesman on the earth.

The Children’s Bread

Citizens of any nation have a special status, based on their inherited right, or chosen right for those who take on citizenship. Jesus Christ celebrated that special status, so it is enshrined in political reality. Sadly we are seeing an erosion of this special status, so it is timely to investigate our God-endorsed rights.

Children

Jesus Christ spoke of the natural national citizens as “children”.

On one occasion Peter made a mistake in his encounter with the administrators of his day. Peter was approached and asked if his master paid tribute money. Peter unwisely said that he did. Jesus then challenged Peter about Peter’s thinking on this matter.

“When they came to Capernaum those that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Does not your master pay tribute? He said, Yes. And when he came into the house Jesus detained him, saying, What do you think, Simon? Who do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute from? Is it from their own children, or from strangers? Peter said to him, From strangers. Jesus said to him, Then the children are free. However, so we don’t offend them, go to the sea and cast an hook, and take up the first fish that comes up; and when you open his mouth, you will find a piece of money: take that, and give to them for me and you.” Matthew 17:24-27

Why Children

Every citizen is a ‘child’ of the cultural family to which he or she belongs. That is significant and I will probably discuss that point in more depth at some other time.

Suffice it to say right now that what starts as a ‘family’ really should stay as a family. However, what tends to happen is that our leaders stop being ‘fathers’ to us and become greedy brothers and sisters who sell out the ‘family’ for personal status and reward.

Good government does not penalise its own family, but rewards it. Good government creates a wonderful environment for its own children. Good government then taxes the foreigners (“strangers” in the words of Jesus) for using the resources that really belong to the children.

Oh that it were so in our nations today!

In many western nations today the foreign entities can operate within the country with great tax advantages and privileges, while the children are heavily taxed to pay for the borrowings of their leaders (their ‘fathers’?) who have placed them in an unhappy place of national penalty.

Hmmmm…..

The Children’s Bread is for the Children

Jesus spoke of ‘children’ in a political sense on another occasion. He spoke to a foreigner who was seeking His power for a family need. In that conversation with the Syrophenician woman Jesus affirmed His personal calling to the nation of Israel. His power, miracles and grace were intended for the nation of Israel.

Israel was by that time a nation that had existed for more than a millennium. It is easy to forget, after such a long time, that the nation is really a ‘family’. The original children of Israel were the literal children of a man named Israel. As the families grew over successive generations the ‘children’ grew in number to be a national entity in their own right. But they were still ‘children’ of Israel.

In political terms this foreigner was not a member of the family of Israel. Rather than being a child in the family she was something else, like a family pet. Jesus pointed this out by saying that it was not right for Him to take what belonged to the children and to give it to the dog.

While Jesus’ comments sound offensive to our ears it is important to note two things. The woman was not upset. She recognised that His statement was true. She was outside the Kingdom and had no right to the things she requested. She was not a child of Abraham or a descendent of Jacob (Israel). Jesus’ words were not an insult, but a statement of truth acknowledged by the woman herself.

Further to that, Jesus was happy to hear her appeal and expression of faith and to grant her what she asked.

She said (in essence), “It is true that I am a dog, but even the dogs get to eat the crumbs which are dropped by the children. Since not all of your blessings will be enjoyed by the children you can spare one of the crumbs for me.”

“a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she begged him that he would cast the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not right to take the children’s bread, and cast it to the dogs. And she answered and said to him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said to her, For this saying go your way; the devil is gone out of your daughter. And when she came to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.” Matthew 7:25-30

Your Bread

We have seen that Jesus used the notion of ‘children’ to speak of both political realities (paying tribute) and spiritual realities (claiming the blessings belonging to God’s people).

You too are a child and have your own bread. So, what is your bread? What is it to which you have political and spiritual right?

As a citizen of your nation and culture you are entitled to the freedoms and protections afforded to you. You should not be abused by the fathers of your culture and nation. They should be providing you the special blessings which you are entitled to as a member of the family.

As a child of God you are entitled to an amazing range of spiritual and practical blessings reserved for the ‘children’. In fact, you have the right to walk and live in a state that is described as ‘glorious liberty’ (wonderful freedom), as God’s child.

“Creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:21

I encourage you to enjoy the bread that is yours, both politically and spiritually. You are fully entitled to those blessings and it is your responsibility to protect and preserve them so that your own children can enjoy them as well.

The Supreme God

The God identified in the Bible as Almighty God stands as the supreme being of all existence. To illustrate the profound significance of his being allow me to show His supremacy in the core areas of human existence.

Human Existence

Human existence and human life experience are governed by a range of structures, systems and realities. For the purpose of this article let me identify a set of those core areas of human existence.

Individuality is a core issue in human experience. We are all individuals, unique from every other person and creature.

Family is also a core issue, since we are all brought into the world as a result of the actions of others. Those parents and the family from which they come are a reality we cannot ignore.

Society is also a basic issue of human existence. We all live in some form of society with at least some form of social inter-action with others. The society may be a village or a city, and it may be a small group of associates we meet face to face or a global set of friends linked by a virtual social network.

Religion is yet another core issue of human existence. Even those who ignore religion must recognise that much of society and human history is deeply influenced by religious thought and process.

Politics is also included in this list, as societies manage their processes through leaders, elected officials or others who take charge over them, for better or for worse.

Law is another basic issue, whether in the form of human conscience or highly developed legal processes. Law stands apart from politics because political entities are not exempt from, nor lords over, legal processes.

Commerce should also be included in a list of structures and systems which impact our human existence.

Education and Communication are also components of our life experience, whether they are in definable systems or not, so let’s throw them into the mix for good measure.

God’s Supremacy

Let me now review this list of systems and processes and point out where God stands in relation to each of them. You will see that God is ‘supreme’ in every sphere.

Individuality: Our personal individuality cannot stand independent of God. God is supreme over our personal independence and individual uniqueness. God, as our creator, is the master of our whole existence, being the very author of our individuality and existence. So God rules supreme over every individual, no matter how defiant he or she may be in asserting a right to unique existence. They are the pot which the potter has made (Jeremiah 18:1-11) and their individuality has no existence outside of God, who rules supreme.

Family: We are each the product of a ‘father’ and ‘mother’, no matter how casual the relationship may have been which caused us to be conceived. We also come under the influence of those who are not our biological parents but who function in the capacity of father and mother in our lives, by nurture, mentoring or the like. Yet God is the supreme parent. He is our Father in heaven, as Jesus revealed (Matthew 6:9). He is our ultimate ancestor, as the lineage of Christ reveals in Luke 3:38. Christ’s family line is traced back to Adam, as is true for all of us, and we are told that Adam is the “son of God”. So, in terms of ‘family’ God is supreme. He is the most wonderful father ever imaginable, but He is also our ultimate ancestor. We are all His children by virtue of our natural birth as descendents of Adam.

Society: God is the ultimate source of social reality. While it is people who collectively create social entities it is God who has the most profound power over social interaction. When two or more people (society) gather in His name He joins their group (Matthew 18:20). But God is able to do more than just participate. It is He who is able to change the social experience for that group of people or their relationship with other groups of people. Ephesians 2:14 speaks of the ministry of Jesus Christ as the one who makes disparate groups compatible and who removes the social barriers which separate them. God is supreme over social experience.

Religion: God is clearly supreme in this dimension because He is the God above all gods (Exodus 15:11). Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). All the religion of earth pales into insignificance against the heavenly temple and religious practice which is described for us in Hebrews 9:11 and 12,24. God is supreme over all religious reality, because He operates out of the heavenly temple with spiritual processes which have eternal impact, not temporary significance.

Politics: Here again God is the clearly supreme being. Christ is described as the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16). And the kingdoms of this world are taken under the supremacy of God (Revelation 11:15). Politics is clearly an area where God rules supreme – even though most politicians probably react to that notion. They may not mind whatever claims God makes theoretically, but many would not like God to exercise His lordship over them in practice.

Law: Once again this is not an area where there is any doubt. God is supreme over all legal process, because He is the judge of us all. The flood of Noah’s day and the destruction of the great cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are historical testimony of God’s legal supremacy. His Great White Throne judgement (Revelation 20:11,12) will call everyone to legal account, including all the kings, high court judges, magistrates and potentates who have exercised any level of legal authority over another.

Commerce: Commercial practice is regulated by God and overturned by Him. God demands just weights and balances, so commerce is honest and equitable. God limits the capacities for the charging of interest on borrowed monies. And God calls people to find provision in Him, completely independently of commercial process – “come buy without money” Isaiah 55:1. God is also supreme over those processes by which people seek to make commercial gain. God controls the crops, the completion of the building project and whether the money goes through holes in your bag. Commerce is not independent of God, but subject to God’s blessing or frustration. God is supreme over commerce.

Education & Communication: The revelation of God, through the Bible, is the most supreme education and communication in all of human history. No announcement or instruction has ever matched God’s Word in personal, social and national impact, throughout the entirety of human history. All of the news channels, universities, schools of philosophy and so on are lame when compared with the power of God’s word in the mouth of a child or God’s communications in the heart of a frail old man. God is supreme over all these processes and he will hold us accountable for every word which we speak, so teachers, media and entertainers are subject to God’s supremacy in their roles.

God is Supreme

This summary document should alert you to the truth that God is supreme. All those who beat their chests and seek to impress you with their pre-eminence should be recognised as humble and insignificant when compared to God’s presence in your life and circumstances.

I call you out of the tyranny and beguilement of those who wish you to come under their influence. I call you back to the simplicity and power of working with the one who is supreme and not getting entangled with those who wish to displace Him in your world.

The Bible as a Political Text

The world has many celebrated political texts which illuminate various political perspectives. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a political treatise in story form. His “1984” is similarly charged with political messages. Hitler had his Mein Kampf. Marx relied on Darwin’s Origin of Species. Mao had his Little Red Book. Political texts come from the Greeks and Romans, along with many writings from before and since.

The Political Bible

But have you ever considered the Bible as a Political Text? I had never given the matter any thought until recently. I had unconsciously ascribed the Bible to the “Religion” Category. Many people who oppose the Bible are keen to promote it as nothing more than a book of religious sentiment. Sadly, unthinking Christians (and I include myself in this category) have allowed unbelievers to tell us how we can use the book God gave us.

Consider the Evidence

The Bible is the book from which a whole nation was governed for thousands of years. Did you get that word ‘governed’? The Bible supervised the Jewish nation through the stages of personal sovereignty, communal governance, prophetic leadership, judges, kings, priests and messianic ministry.

The Bible prescribes personal responsibility, communal accountability, leadership jurisdiction, limitations of power, prescribed punishments for crimes, payments of levies, interplay of priest and civic leaders, court procedures and so on.

And not only are these things discussed in practice and theory, they are demonstrated in the accounts of people’s lives.

Living in a Political World

Daniel and his three friends lived under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar and successfully confronted that king’s authority, relying on the principles given in the Bible.

Moses confronted the political power of Pharaoh, doing most of his business with that world ruler in Pharaoh’s own court.

Abraham dealt directly with the Abimelech (Canaanite leader) of his day, and so too did Isaac.

Jesus Christ was tried and crucified in the Roman courts and the Apostle Paul made many appearances before Roman appointed rulers.

The people of the Bible interacted with political powers and relied on the teachings of the Bible to empower them and to determine how they stood before those kings.

Some Amazing Political Statements

Consider this quick pick of hot political statements straight from the pages of the Bible.

“And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” Jesus Christ, Mark 12:17

“Jesus answered, You could have no power at all against me, except it were given you from above: therefore he that delivered me to you has the greater sin.” Jesus Christ, John 19:11

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” 1Peter 2:17

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter. 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 your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
Have Another Look

I trust that these few examples are enough to fire up your interest in the Bible as a Political Text. You just might be amazed at the political wisdom and the personal authority you can operate by, once you see what the Bible is really saying.