Government is failing; failing in its responsibilities to its citizens, and failing to take responsibility for its shortcomings. Whether the failure to safeguard (or even allow) freedoms or liberties, the failure to protect private property, or the failure to protect life and limb, government is being exposed as unable to deliver on promises it makes to those who live under its rule.
Nevertheless, mankind continues their love affair with government. Having deemed it necessary, they endure government abuses…and even pay for the “privilege”…with seemingly no concern for its costs, economic or otherwise.
This is not about any political party or organization. Nor is it about any particular system, capitalism, communism, socialism, etc. This is about human nature or the design of man; the simple truth is that man was never intended to be governed by another man.
Now we witness governments under-performing everywhere. The US is troubled; a growing government has put its citizens’ liberties and welfare in decline. Europe abandoned many liberties for the “safety” of the state long ago. Now, as economic turmoil continues unabated, governments there are further imposing themselves upon their people. The Arab Spring, which many hailed as a democracy movement across North Africa and the Persian Gulf, has not been a move away from dictatorships and totalitarian control.
As governments fail, in so many ways and in so many countries, it amazes me that so many people miss a clear thread in scripture: all human government is a departure from God’s plan for man, and an assault upon God’s design of man.
The first man, Adam, answered only to God. Indeed, it was as much an interaction between friends, with God coming to the Garden in the cool of the day to enjoy the man’s fellowship, as a superior-subordinate arrangement. In the absence of sin, God imposed no rule upon the man, save one, regarding eating of the tree whose fruit unlocked the knowledge of good and evil. With that single, and hardly onerous, exception, Adam was free to do as he pleased. Then he fell.
Adam was ensnared by sin; attaining the knowledge of good and evil made him subject to his own conscience. However, he was still not subject to another human being. In response to sin’s arrival, God instituted an order, applicable to marriage (Genesis 3:16) The wife became subject to the man for whom she was created, yet God demanded no other superior-subordinate associations for mankind.
While sin changed man’s relationship with God, it did not change man’s nature. Man was created an innocent ruler, with dominion over the earth’s animal and the planet itself, accountable only to God. When Adam forfeited his innocence, God did not then make him a slave; each man subject to his own conscience. Unfortunately, that did not work out well (Genesis 6:5-6) God determined to destroy man, but not completely: Noah, a descendant of Adam, found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
When the floodwaters receded, God did not start mankind over with a new group that would readily submit to human rule. God remained true to the idea that man was answerable to Him alone – not another man – by repopulating the earth with people descended from Adam.
However, men became uncomfortable with that idea. If you know much about Nimrod, then you will understand that organized rebellion against God, in the form of human government, likely began with him. There is no mention, in scripture, of a king prior to Nimrod’s appearance in Genesis 10. While it requires external reading to understand how evil his influence may have been, the proof of that influence appears in the following chapter (Genesis 11:1-4).
God desired that the whole earth be inhabited by mankind. I do not believe God has a problem with men forming societies and partnering, one with another, to accomplish any purpose that is consistent with His purposes for man. However, that is not what went on here. Instead of wanting to be called by God’s name in all the earth, man wanted to be called by a name of their own choosing in one part of the earth. The confusion of languages once again made each man more accountable to God, as he could no longer communicate with his fellow. It also made them more compliant to populating the whole earth, but that did not kill off human government: by the time God called Abram, there were many kings on the earth. Mankind had nearly given themselves over to the notion of being ruled by other men.
As an aside, has anyone noticed that were no kings are (euphemistic term for any form of human government), it is exceedingly difficult to find any wars? That is likely the subject of another post.
A notable exception to the mad rush to humans ruling humans was the nation Israel. Not that Israel had no societal hierarchy, or governing practices; indeed, the Law of Moses was intended to keep things in check. However, the Law of Moses was not human, either in nature or origin. And, as was written at the close of the book of Judges (Judges 21:25). Translation: all remained answerable to God, via their own conscience; external leadership was not the rule, per se.
Let me be clear: Israel always had leaders, beginning with Moses and Aaron who led them out of Egypt. However, compliance with God’s laws was different. First of all, it was voluntary; no police force and DA checked the people to enforce the 10 Commandments. Matters usually became issue for Law when those involved could not handle it on their own, and sought help. In other words, they would take their troubles to the priests; the priests did not go looking for the peoples’ troubles.
And so it went until the end of Samuel’s days, when Israel made its demand (1 Samuel 8:5), and Samuel described to them what that would mean (1 Samuel 8:11-18). These warnings made no difference, as the people showed Samuel just how much confidence they had lost in God (1 Samuel 8:19-21).
They would rather be as other nations, even having a man to fight their battles, though God had prevailed over men in battle on their behalf. And so the subjugation of man to man was complete, as God’s people abandoned the true King to pledge loyalty to one never intended to rule.
Again. Let me be clear: the problem with government is that it places those not designed for subjugation in the care of those never intended to rule. Consequently, human government will always create the problem the apostles faced in Jerusalem (Acts 5:27-29). Unfortunately, men often bend to the will of government, which lacks both patience and compassion, and seek a less stressful moment to bend their will to God. What is more, human government has no problem punishing those who will not put allegiance to them first, even if the only One above government, in the eyes of those the government would punish, is God (Hebrews 11:35-39).
I recognize the Romans 11 crowd will be out on this, citing that those in governmental authority are put there by God, and they are correct. However, in the same way God gave in to man’s insistence on getting a divorce when hearts were hardened against spousal reconciliation, He similarly acquiesced regarding human government. However, the same is true of human government as is true of divorce, “…but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:8)
Those things of which Samuel warned Israel are now upon us even more heavily than the seer would have imagined. It is the fact that we have strayed so far from what God intended, that some have great difficulty understanding, after receiving salvation, with whom their allegiance should lie.
Those who should never rule another have subjugated us all. Men were never intended to rule other men, and they fare quite poorly in the task. Though we are charged with following the laws of the land, we must never forget that this is not the land we were promised.