Getting it Right with Government

And the government will rest on His shoulders… (Isa.9:6).

The twentieth century was not a bright one for the general population of nations, all around the world. Why? Governments abused them, and after 15 years of this century, nothing indicates the pattern has changed.

Why does this happen? People don’t take much notice of what the Bible says about human nature, and what the Bible says is not flattering. Take this example:

There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one (Ro.3:10-12).

When people think that they can expect their government to somehow be benign, caring and loving towards its citizens, they are believing something that the world has never seen. It just doesn’t happen.

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) commented,

time after time mankind is driven against the rocks of the horrid reality of a fallen creation. And time after time mankind must learn the hard lessons of history; the lessons that for some dangerous and awful reason we can’t seem to keep in our collative memory.

Our problem has not really been with government, it’s been with us. We were the ones who believed wrong things about what government could and should do, and it has hurt us. It’s still hurting us, because right around the world, people haven’t learned their lesson. Governments of whatever persuasion seem to over-promise and under-deliver, but an ignorant populace seems to keep coming back for more of the same, and they get it.

If we really want to get close and personal, it goes deeper than the general population. We in the church have not taken the Bible seriously. In the face of seductive government handouts that most of the church has been bribed by now for generations, we’ve made a terrible error. We’ve said in our hearts, “What counts is the money. Biblical integrity takes the back seat. In fact, it can go out the door. Just keep that cash flowing, Mr Government Man.”

The modern church has made Judas look like a rank amateur, and God in heaven has heard it all. He knows where our hearts are. And He has seen to it that the church’s authority has been systematically reduced all this time, because where there is no responsibility or integrity, authority will ebb away like the disappearing tide.

But this principle is true: Where responsibility rests, authority lies. If we really want to be influential, effective and authoritative in the community again, we have to go back to the basics of Biblical integrity, and doing things God’s way, just as Josiah did, when he knew Judah was under judgment for its sins (see II Kings 22-23). Hearing the word of God, he set about removing from Judah those symbols of entrenched idolatry, that had plagued Judah for generations.

North has written,

Mosaic civil law did not compel anyone to offer positive sanctions. Rather, it imposed negative sanctions for evil acts. It should be the ideal for every system of civil law to remove all positive sanctions by the State and impose only those negative sanctions authorized by Biblical law. The State is to impose negative sanctions only: punishing public evil. It is not a wealth-creator; it is a wealth-redistributer. It is not safe to entrust to the State the power of making one man rich at the expense of another. It is also not moral.[1]

God’s way begins with the integrity, obedience and faithfulness of His people to His Word. If those who are supposed to be leaders in the church fail to represent Him, God will get rid of them and institute a whole new set of leaders who will faithfully represent Him. It’s happened before such as in Eli’s era, and it will happen again, because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb.13:8). He warned the church of Ephesus that He’d remove their candlestick unless they repented of their sin (Rev.2:5).

But knowing that’s the easy part. Here’s the question that will separate the sheep from the goats. Will you be a part of the problem, or part of the solution?

God’s requirement is government from the bottom up in terms of His law. It begins with the self-government of the Christian man, with the family as a government, the church, the school, a person’s vocation, society and its various voluntary groups and agencies, and finally, civil government, one government among many.[2]

No nation will ever be able to get it right with government, apart from getting it right with God. Good government is not a mechanical process. If we really do want good government, God’s people had best begin by seeking the Lord. For the Bible promises He may be found.

[1] Gary North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, ch.54.

[2] Rousas Rushdoony, “Deuteronomy,” 2008, p.9.