2011-05-09

Government and the Bible

In Could be Evil is NOT Evil I encourages Christians to participate in Politics and Business so as to have the right values and practices of the Bible adopted and preserved in them for the greater benefits of the people. Believers are not called to withdrawn from the society because of the sins and evil within. Rather, they are called to go in to shine the light and bring in the salt of the goodness of God. The seven major areas of society are easily summarized in the first seven alphabets - A for Arts, B for Business, C for Church or Religions, D for Media & Distribution, E for Education, F for Family and G for Government or Politics.  Believers should take the lead and be the thought leaders in all areas of life.

In this post, we discuss Government from the Biblical Point of View. The main text about government is given is Rom 13:1-7 and Ps 72. Nehemiah is a good book for the model governor. There are other texts that we shall refer to later as well.

1. Government is Established by God (Rom 13:1-7)
The highest authority is God. God installed or gave approval to the establishment of government for the good of the people.

The Bible does not dictate what is the right form of government. be it theocracy as in the time of the Judges, or autocratic with Kings, or democracy (after the NT period). God gives men the wisdom and the rights to manage their own affairs. He give guidance and hold all accountable at the day of judgment.

2. We are to Obey those in Authorities

The Bible only tells us to obey those in authorities(within this set of God's disclosed commandments) irrespective of how they got into power.  Jesus gave us the examples for paying taxes Mat 22:15-22, decisions of Pilate Joh 19 and the High Priests and Sanhedrin even calling for His crucification. 

3. No Endorsement for Any Particular Form of Government
There are some who think that God's preference is for theocracy with a appointed Prophet acting as Judge. That was just the starting system. It was not a fool proof system as the stories in the book of Judges shows us. When the Judge failed to seek God, the whole system collapsed.

Neither does the latest democratic system means it is the best. It should be seen as of the many systems to help develop and run a country for the benefits of the people. To me, democracy ensures the peaceful transfer of power from one the people dislike to one they like. It is a check and balance system that does not ensure good leadership. It is also the rule of majority and could neglect the interests of the minority (which could be as high as 49.9999%). It encourages short term popular thinking rather than long term. It could not prevent the present government to sacrifice the resources of the future generations (not represented) for the consumption of the present. Good leadership development come from the other systems (Education, Family, Church/Religions, Business .. the 7-mountain).

4. We are to Rule Nations One Day with Christ
Christ will one day be the eternal King (Is 9:6-7, Rev 17-20) and will appoint us to rule with Him. Rev 1:6, 2:26-27, 20:4. We will one day be the government even if we miss it in this world!

5. Principles of Governing from Moses & Jethro (Exo 18:19-22)

The model of government as shown in Exo 18:19-22 can be summarized as follows:

  1. Leadership that Seek God. Exo 18:19.
  2. Give the Laws and Statues of God. Exo 18:20
  3. Communicate and Train the Leaders of Groups
  4. Select and Appoint Leaders of Groups.
    1. Top down exo 18:21 using the following criteria:
      1. from all the people - independent of races and other relationships
      2. men who fear God
      3. who are trustworthy and
      4. hate a bribe 
    2. Bottom-up as in Act 6:3 pick out from among you
      1. men of good repute
      2. full of the spirit (correspond to fear God of Exodus)
      3. full of wisdom (c.f. trustworthy = honest + capability)
      4. to serve the table = management & allocation of resources
      5. the Twelve Apostles, the leaders, will seek God through prayers, ministry of the Words.
  5. In Groups of 10's, 50's, 100's, 1000's.
  6. Empower them to judge small matter i.e. set the power of their limits.
  7. Passing Upwards - Greater matter that are beyond them should be handed upwards for decisions.
6. Functions of Government - Create Peace, Prosperity and Long Life for All

The key functions of Government is to create peace, prosperity and long life for all the people under their charge. See Ps 72.
  1. Peace - Laws & Order with Righteousness. Ps 72:2,7, iTi 2:2.
    They are to rule justly, discern good and evil, punish evil doers, get rid of bullies, and violence. (Rom 13:4, 1Pe 2:14, Ps 72:4,14).
  2. Prosperity Ps 72:3, 6, 15-16 and care for the needy Ps 72:13, Jer 22:16) and minimize the taxes Neh 5:15.
  3. Long Life Ps 72:15. Health and Education (see wisdom below).
In order to do the above function well, the Government must have Wisdom and Knowledge. 2Chr 1:10-11 tells us Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge and God give him that and with it comes possessions, wealth, honor,  the life of those who hate you, and long life.

In Ancient Chinese Classics, we can find 8 functions/ministries of the Government: 《周书·洪范》三, 八政 8 Ministries:
  一曰食 food, agriculture, production and distribution of food
  二曰货 things or commodities or trades
  三曰祀 worship, ie. rules of conduct,  laws and order
  四曰司空 minister of works and of infrastructure
  五曰司徒 education
  六曰司寇 crimes control
  七曰宾 foreign affairs
  八曰师 army

7 Good Citizens DO:
  1. Respect & honor     Rom. 13:7
  2. Obey     - Rom 13:1; Titus 3:1; I Pet. 2:13
  3. Pay taxes     Lk. 20:25; Rom. 13:6,7
  4. Pray for government     - I Tim. 2:2
  5. Stand against evil.
  6. Set Righteous Standards - Thy will be done on earth as it is in heave
  7. Good to Serve in public office & in military
  8. Disobey Only if laws are contrary to the Bible
       1. Not mere personal disagreement with ideology or policies
       2. Biblical examples
            a. Daniel - prayer - Dan. 6
            b. Peter - preaching - Acts 5:27-30
            c. Paul - Acts 16:35-40; Acts 17:7
8 What is the Christians' Good Life?
  1. freedom to worship God and relationship with God
  2. in peace and righteousness - safety, harmony, family relationships
  3. abundance & long life - good health
  4. education - wisdom & knowledge to create wealth and promote harmony
  5. caring for the needy and defending their rights.

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