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.

Politics in the Bible

Expanding a point made in a recent post about God’s Supremacy [The Supreme God] I want to celebrate with you the place of God in politics, by showing you politics in the Bible.

God as the Ultimate Political Figure

Reading through Isaiah recently I was struck by the familiar words of Isaiah 66:1.

“Thus says the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build to me? And where is the place of my rest?”

I was reminded of Isaiah’s vision, described in Isaiah 6:1.

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.”

There is no more powerful political symbol than the throne. While some modern monarchs are reduced to a mere formal role in their society, the throne still bears the age-old significance of ultimate authority.

Of Thrones

The fact that God is seated on a throne immediately speaks of his political authority. Thrones are the places from which the rulers speak. It is their place of power over all in their dominion.

Yet thrones do not always prevail. That is to say that one kingdom will be overthrown by another and the old throne of authority will be displaced. This has been the process of history. Kingdoms come and go and kings reign for a season before being replaced by an alternative kingdom.

God’s Enduring Throne

The Bible tells us that God is on a throne. That throne is special in several ways. It is ‘supreme’ in several ways.

Firstly God’s throne is in heaven. His is not an earthly throne that draws its scope from earthly territory. God’s throne is in heaven, so its scope spreads from there. Earthly geography is just a small portion of the realm over which His throne presides.

Secondly, God’s throne is an eternal throne. It is not vulnerable nor will it ever be replaced by some competitor, or superior force from another land.

“Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of your kingdom is a right sceptre.” Psalm 45:6

Historical Evidence

God’s primacy as the supreme political force in human history should be evident in human history. If it cannot be seen in practice then its reality becomes irrelevant.

Do we see God interfering with human political process? Do we see God exercising His personal political authority over the political affairs of men?

The short answer is ‘Yes’. So let me summarise some of the historical evidences.

Confrontation of Rulers

We see that God’s people were able to confront kings and act completely independently of the prevailing political landscape. God’s people were able to defy kings and rulers, without resorting to violence and without recourse from those they confronted.

Consider the examples of Moses challenging Egypt’s Pharaoh and of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego defying Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar.

Pre-emptive Prophetic Announcement

To prove God’s hand in the political affairs of men we have several examples of God pre-emptively announcing what would happen politically in the future.

God told Abraham about the defeat of Egypt half a millennium before it happened. Daniel prophesied of Alexander the Great and his achievements before they occurred.

God gave Nebuchadnezzar a summary of world kingdoms and their relative significance spanning many centuries into the future.

The prophets warned Israel and Judah of their captivities long before the various invasions and conquests took place.

Present Day Evidences

Current evidence of God being still on the throne and supreme over the events of human politics includes the existence of the nation of Israel. Prophecies of this restoration, against all the odds of human history, were made in Bible times, dating back almost 2,000 years.

The existence of the political entity of Israel is clear evidence that God’s place over the affairs of nations persists to this day.

Another evidence is the persistent ability of righteousness to prevail. If God was not involved in the political affairs of present-day human experience then the opportunity for evil to prevail would be enormous. Yet we see that righteousness still prevails. Evil processes, regimes and purposes, while able to emerge for a season, are brought down and replaced by that which is more reasonable and blessed.

Good Men of Good Intent Still Prevail

Despite the enormous economic and political influence of those who wish to exploit, control and abuse others, men and women of good intent continue to prevail. People with nothing on their side but principle, faith and character have been able to topple regimes, change laws, liberate people and change culture.

This is evidence of God’s sovereignty. God promises His people that if they will do such inane acts (in apparent practical terms) as repent and pray, they will have power and influence over the affairs of life. These otherwise insignificant men and women can achieve much, and they still do today.

God is Still on the Throne

God is the Lord of all the earth. His throne is in heaven and His eyes are on the earth. Any one individual who will be God’s agent in any situation or culture can prevail against all the forces known to man.

No political power, economic contract or military infrastructure can overthrow God, nor can it frustrate the man or woman who is acting in God’s supreme authority in the affairs of mankind on the earth.

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.

Of Lords and Monarchs

Who is ruling you impacts who you can become. So take a moment or two to audit your own allegiances and discover your limitations.

Christians are familiar with the confession, “Jesus Christ is Lord”. That is a key element of personal salvation. Those who wish to be saved by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ must confess Him as Lord of their life. That brings them salvation.

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Making that statement as a true confession can only be done with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

“….. no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.” 1Corinthians 12:3b

The problem for people is that they are entangled with many different lords and monarchs, without realising it. The process of coming under Christ’s Lordship, then, is not as straight forward as one simple confession. It must be real and it usually involves a progressive revoking of other sovereignties along the way.

Many Lords

God’s people are frequently entangled with mixed allegiances and other lords who exercise some level of rule in or over their lives. The prophet Isaiah identified this in his prophecies.

“O LORD our God, other lords beside you have had dominion over us: but by you only will we make mention of your name.” Isaiah 26:13

Note Isaiah’s candid admission that God’s people have had other lords ruling over them. He also recognises that only God will be able to deliver them into a pure allegiance only to Him.

This is the predicament of most Christians. They are in practice polytheistic. My son, Stephen, goes so far as to speak of a Pantheon of idols which each culture gives allegiance to. Christians in western culture still hold most the west’s deities dear in their hearts. These other deities are lords which rule over the Christian, despite the confession of Christ as Lord.

Western Idolatry

The west idolises success, money, education, sex, materialism, fame, self-will and independence as just some of its cultural values. These are idols that are worshiped. Some people give their whole life to the pursuit of these things.

When people become Christians they will likely still continue to worship these cultural values. They will worship them as idols. And that brings them under dominion and lordship of those things.

How We Get Lords

When we worship something or give in to something outside of God’s moral order we become enslaved by it. It may be sin or an idol that we worship.

“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34

“Don’t you know that whoever you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?” Romans 6:16

God is Our Only King

Christians only have one king, The Lord God. Jesus and Almighty God are one God and so I could also rightly say that Jesus Christ is our only King.

Christians in the early church refused to bow to the Roman Caesar, saying that they had only one King and that was God. This put them at odds with the ruling power, since it proclaimed Caesar to be a god.

In the early days of the nation of Israel God ruled over the people through His agents the prophets and judges. God was their king. When the people demanded a human king God specifically noted that the people were rejecting Him from the place of their king.

“And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” 1Samuel 8:7

Replacing God as King

When we seek anything or anyone else to rule over us other than God, Himself, we are rejecting Him from the rightful place as King of our life. If we worship money or success, or chase relationships, fame or popularity, we are rejecting God. We are replacing Him as King, with another.

By that means we end up with many lords who have sovereignty over us. But we have not only offended and rejected God we have denied ourselves our own personal sovereignty.

Voiding Our Sovereignty

We have incredible personal sovereignty as subjects of the Living God. If the God who created all things is your King, and you have a direct line of succession from Him, then you are about as sovereign an entity as anything could be. You have pretty impressive personal privilege when you answer directly to God and Christ. That is exactly what we do as Christians.

We are not under the lordship of priests, pastors or church leaders. We are not under the lordship of temporal kings and government masters. Kings and governments serve our social existence, but we do not answer to them. Since the Roman days and back 1,500 years before then, to the days when Moses withstood the King of Egypt, we answer, as God’s servants, directly to God, Himself.

So when we choose to worship any intermediary sovereign, or come under the lordship of any other person or thing we are voiding our sovereignty. When you worship money you decimate your personal rights before God. You subordinate yourself to something lower than yourself. The same is true when you worship success, fame, political ambitions, career, relationships or people who you revere.

Worship anything but God at your peril!