Most people have a deep-rooted distrust of government. They worry about the ever increasing power and potential tyranny of government. In fact, it is this fear that leads many citizens to leave their homelands or to begin rebellions.
People also complain about inequalities caused by politics. Many times we complain that the government allows the lazy to live off the fruits of those of us that work hard every day. We often think that if we could just turn back the clock, things would be better. When government was smaller and simpler, our society was better off.
Despite these common thoughts and feelings, the Bible says that government is generally good and was established by God. It is important that we understand the role of government as presented Biblically.
Established by God
God established government to be the framework for society. Perhaps a quick history lesson is required here. In the Bible, God originally created mankind with no wickedness. This failed because we disobeyed in the Garden of Eden. So, God gave mankind an opportunity to hold himself accountable. Man blew that as well.
Man’s attempt to monitor himself with only his conscience was a complete and utter disaster. He became so sinful that God then used the Great Flood to wipe out this wickedness. He hit the “reset” button with Noah and his family. God said that He would start over, but with some added restrictions for mankind. He created an institution through which mankind would govern the world on God’s behalf and impose civil penalties on wrongdoers.
As I said, the primary reason God established government is to restrain Man’s immorality. This is only one of the “good” functions of government. Another purpose is to protect its people. There are verses that even speak to establishing armies as an important extension of the government. An example is when God commands Israel to form an army to protect its people from Canaan.
Citizens don’t just need protection from outside forces, though. God also directed the government to protect its people from each other. It is to protect our possessions and our very lives against domestic threats just as it does against foreign ones. It is to ensure that stronger individuals don’t take advantage of the weaker ones.
The Scripture describes laws and a judicial system to help carry out this directive. There is even mention of rules of evidence and trial procedures in the book of Deuteronomy. The main point I’m trying to make is that government was not created to be a way to redistribute wealth, eradicate poverty, or impose social agendas. Its purpose is to protect its citizens from themselves, each other, and outside threats.
Government Behaving Badly
Even though the Bible clearly lays out the “good” that a government should do, we all know regimes can deteriorate very quickly. Governments become unstable, corrupt, ineffective – any number of things. One of the first examples recounted in the Bible of government’s failure is the Tower of Babel. They were a rather new civilization that quickly became drunk with power. They did anything and everything they could to increase their reach and authority. They eventually came to believe they could be just as powerful as God.
We only have to look at recent history to see that governments can overrun their citizens and commit great wrongs in their search for power. Hitler’s Germany, General Tojo’s Japan, and Communist Russia are only a few. Good or bad though, government as an institution from God. I can quote numerous passages from Romans, Proverbs, Daniel, and many other books of the Bible that tell us even bad governments and rulers exist only because God allows them to exist.
A Godly Nation?
Many people believe that there is no place for God and faith within government. This article has shown that this couldn’t be further from the truth. God himself was the one who created government to manage society on his behalf. It only makes sense, then, that the Bible also warns governments not to stray from God’s will.
The Lord promises to bless our nations as long as the administrations continue to do the just and moral thing. However, there is great punishment awaiting those governments that allow immorality to corrupt its society. If you doubt this, you need to study the history of Israel.
Many complain that it’s unfair for God to punish us the citizens for the government’s wayward actions. The truth is that if our government is tainting our society, it’s because we allowed it to get that way. How we vote, not standing up for our beliefs, tolerating in the name of political correctness, looking the other way – I could go on and on. We make or break our government. Therefore, the blessing or punishment is ours to bear.
God or Country
When the administration does begin to pull away from what we think is God’s way, we still have certain obligations to our government. Remember, God created it. It is our obligation to follow the laws of that creation. In fact, we are not only told to subject ourselves to those ruling over us, but we are also supposed to pray for them. God gives us specific directions to pray that our leaders and rulers are just and motivated by a godly purpose.
There are certain instances, though, when we are permitted to go against civil law. God’s law is the ultimate authority. Allegiance to God trumps allegiance to anything or anyone else. You can find various quotes from the Scripture where we are told God’s will comes first. If the government’s agenda conflicts with God’s, you are obligated to follow God despite what it may cost you.
So how should we view our government? It’s okay to be critical or distrustful. It’s okay to disagree and work toward change. Just know that government is generally good and was created by God for our protection. Yes, God is the ultimate authority. In those instances when government and faith conflict, you must choose to follow God. At all other times, you are to obey your government and subject yourself to the rule of Man.