The Christian Vision of Government (X)

The Israelites had experienced firsthand the institutional effects of a social order governed by a law-order different from the Bible’s. They had been enslaved. The God who had released them from bondage announced at Sinai His standards of righteousness – not just private righteousness but social and institutional righteousness. Thus, the God of liberation is simultaneously the law-giver. The close association of Biblical law and human freedom is grounded in the very character of God.[1]

The Christian vision of government must begin and end with the Bible. Every other vision of government inevitably finishes up in either anarchy or tyranny.

So where could we begin? When Israel was about to enter the promised land, (a picture of the Church entering into the world after the resurrection of Jesus Christ), God spoke to Joshua. Amongst other things He said:

…be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go (Joshua 1:7).

Any person who thinks they can legitimately govern people without reference to the scriptures, is a fool, and is courting disaster. Of course, many people have tried and will continue to do so, but that is not our concern: what must WE do?

Jesus Christ, who the Bible says is “…the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev.1:5), made His position in relation to His Heavenly Father abundantly clear, when He declared that “…I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (Jn.8:29b).

So, godly governments must start with the scriptures. But more than that, governments must find out what God requires of them. We soon discover that

what you find in the law of God is never any endorsement that the human condition can be resolved or ameliorated by any process other than God’s graciousness in bringing a people unto Himself who will then conform themselves to His law-word.[2]

This has obvious implications. People mustn’t approach God’s law as though it were merely some arcane, academic subject. God’s law (like God Himself) must be approached with faith and obedience. Speaking of Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us that “…the government will rest on His shoulders…” (Isa.9:6). He is the Lord of the whole earth; thus He requires that His law be obeyed.

People cannot have a “take it or leave it” approach to God’s law, because God is not indifferent to our law choices. In fact, the Bible teaches (Lev.26 & Deut.28) we can expect blessing or cursing, dependent on our obedience to His law. Rushdoony taught that

The foundations of all law are in essence religious and theological: they are questions of ultimacy and moral necessity. Law without faith is an impossibility. Every law order is a moral and a theological order, a structuring of society in terms of a fundamental faith.[3]

Conclusion:                                                                                                                                             The Church and Christians in general, have a task of re-discovery to engage in. We must go digging, and re-discover (as Josiah did some 2700 years ago), the relevance of God’s law to godly, Christian government. And having re-discovered God’s law, we then have to embrace it for what it really is: an aspect of the His covenant based in the blood of Jesus Christ, by which we as individuals and as whole nations can be reconciled with God, see our sins forgiven, and receive His blessing on a national and international basis.

He who rules over men righteously, who rules in the fear of God, is as the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, when the tender grass springs out of the earth, through sunshine after rain (II Sam.23:3a-4).

This is one of the greatest challenges facing Christians who aspire to government leadership. At the end of the day, godly government has to be based in God’s law.

Are we ready for such a radical concept?

[1] Gary North, “The Sinai Strategy,” 1986, p.19.

[2] Ian Hodge, “The Evangelical Influence and the Rise of the Welfare State,”, 27/5/2012.

[3] Rousas Rushdoony, “Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.893-4.