The Intersection of Church and Secular Politics Part 4

d. The dividing of Canaan by lot to the tribes of Israel (ACT 13:19-20) set up a form of a multi-state nation with a written constitution (the Law of Moses). (1) The tribal possessions were to be distinct though not all equal in size. LEV 25:23; NUM 36:7; PSA 68:27 c/w 1SAM 9:21. (2) Each tribe had its own elders, heads, judges and officers. JOS 24:1. (3) The tribes were expected to have an available militia to be called into duty as needed (NUM 1:3; 31:3), were deemed delinquent when they let their arms diminish (JDG 5:8) and cursed when they did not arise for national security. JDG 5:23.

e. Israel abandoned God's blessings upon principles like the fear of God, self- discipline, self-government, self-accountability and self-defense, opting for an alternative security in the form of a “...king to judge us like all the nations” (1SAM 8:5-7). (1) This shift to centralized power was in the prophetic view (GEN 49:10) but would come at a cost of high taxation (1SAM 8:10-22). Nevertheless, God tolerated their choice and gave them instruction for national survival. 1SAM 12:13-15. (2) Onerous taxation by the central government for all of its projects and armies was what sparked a God-ordained rebellion, secession and refusal to have taxation without representation. 1KI 11:26-32; 12:16-19. (3) If the peoples’ guardians of their liberties and rights have become the oppressors of the people, it is a just concept to appoint new guardians, a process undertaken by popular vote in a representative system and, if all reasonable recourse fails, the people may have to resist and change the system. (4) NOTE: Liberty was a treasured principle in Israel that was hallowed by a fiftieth year jubile which limited exploitation (LEV 25:10) and for the breach of such liberty the nation was harshly judged and subsumed by Babylon. JER 34:8-22.

f. Do not forget that there were distinct domains of power in Israel: the priest could only teach and administer constituted law (DEU 17:8-13), and the king could not assume the offices of the priesthood. 2CH 26:18.

g. The example of Israel shows us that: (1) decentralized, local government is far from a bad thing and the ceding of too much power to a central authority has negative implications. (2) a multi-state nation of defined territories and interests is possible under a common constitution. (3) a monarchy is a legitimate form of civil government. (4) God’s people may not always make the wisest choices concerning their own government but hope is not lost. (5) the doctrine of Rex Lex (king is law) is subordinate to Lex Rex (law is king). (6) the people have rights to life, liberty and property as gifts from God. (7) the interests and consent of the governed have roles in how the governed should be governed. (8) unjust regimes are subject to change and God may ordain it. (9) the commonwealth of a body politic depends upon the recognition of absolute truth, trust in God, godly conduct and the self-restraint of the people which secures themselves against divine wrath while also securing the life, liberty and property of the just. (10) whereas wickedness invites oppressive civil government, tyranny is itself wicked and resistance to it may be required (HEB 11:32-33). One cannot conclude that all forms of civil government must be always rendered unqualified and unlimited submission simply because “...the powers that be are ordained of God” (ROM 13:1).

D. History has provided many examples of civil government, including patriarchal, tribal, federal, monarchy, imperial, totalitarian, fascist, socialist, communist, democracy, republic, church-state hybrid, etc. 1. The commonwealth of the people has been greatly reduced under some, considerably enhanced under others. 2. As noted earlier, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are gifts of God which empower men to seek Him. Therefore, the denial of these things to men is to deprive God of what He desires: the attention and adoration of His creatures. REV 4:11. 3. To exclude the right of private property is to deny the very words of God (MAT 20:15) and surrender the power over one’s own body and mind to another. 4. It is incumbent upon believers to soberly and wisely consider what form of civil government best agrees with God’s own principles and also to know where to draw lines where civil policy usurps God’s policy. 5. There are some areas where one’s personal notions about civil policy would have to be considered unbiblical and therefore resisted by the godly. The dividing line: “What saith the Scripture?”

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