[FT] Fw: On-line Bible Study: What About Government?
jewen at micronetsystems.net
Sun Jan 4 04:06:04 PST 2009
Joe Ginder wrote:
> However, while the demand of the Israelites for a king was unholy, as it
> grew out of a desire to be like the other nations along with the problem
> that Samuel's sons were dishonest judges, it is not true that scripture
> condemns monarchy as a form of government. On the contrary, Jesus came to
> announce the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God, of which he is the
> anointed king. His reign will never end. Isaiah 9:6-7 come to mind.
> What was evil about Israel's desire for a king was that they were rejected
> God as their king. The time of the judges is certainly not depicted as
> ideal in any way. Instead, it was a time in which "everyone did as he saw
> fit". The result was not pleasing.
> Having a good king is a good thing. There is really only one candidate
> the job, and he's got it. That's why early Christians would not say
There were (and are) monarchies and then there are monarchies!
The type of monarchy that prevailed in the ancient world was an absolute
headed by a god-on-earth king. Pharaoh was such a king. There were two
with the Pharaoh model of kingship from the Judaic viewpoint or scripture
(1) it was idolatrous--it made the government, the king, out to be god.
There are no gods
but God. Commandment number one. In wanting a king like the kings of the
Israel was signing on for idolatry and polytheism, and relegating God to
being one of many
gods. Such monarchies had particular gods that were there patrons or special
but they were invariably polytheist and therefore idolatrous.
(2)it was absolute--since the king was god, his every notion when spoken
held the force of law
over everybody and everything. There was no appeal from the king's spoken
not have to be consistent. They could contradict themselves at will. Deceit
and duplicity were
statecraft skills. The king's personal interest became the public interest
and everything and
everybody in the kingdom was at his disposal. To opppose him and or his
was to commit treason. There was no "loyal opposition".
This is not how God operates as king--even though he is able to. The concept
of limited government
comes from scripture. God institutes limited government by choosing to limit
himself. He does this
by issuing a Covenant. The Noadic Covenant for example limits God by God
promising never to
destroy the earth again because he is unhappy with the sins of humankind.
God honors his promises
in his covenant. He keeps his covenant promises. He lays out in prophecy and
law what he requires
of people. He is consistent, not capricious and deceitful.
The kings of Israel were also supposed to be limited governments. They, like
God, were to be limited
by the perameters of Covenant Law. Their authority came by being annointed
by the prophet.
If they failed to keep God's law, they lost their authority. The people
by tolerating bad government lost their moral authority to demand good
government, and having lost that,
they lost their country.
When our Constitution was written,the writers had in mind not just
post-Enlightenment "freedom" of the individual,
but this Covenant-grounded limited government idea. The king or government
is subject to a consistent law
that does not change. For us Americans it is the Constitution. For Israel it
is the Covenant. Only the Covenant maker gets
to alter the Covenant. So the king of Israel did not get to change the law.
He was charged with preserving it
and administering it. Our Constitution begins "We the People"..."we" are the
maker of our American "covenant" document.
The government is supposed to submit itself to this constitution, and only
its maker--the People--are supposed
to be able to rescind or change it.
>From my point of view the Bush administration arrogated to itself the right
to unilaterally change the Constitution,
usurping from the People authority and powers that were never intended to be
placed in Presidential hands.
This administration, unhappy in its role of limited government, has desired
to become "like the nations" with
unlimited power. The result has been no happier for our country than it was
for Israel when its kings began
acting as if they did not have to respect God's Covenant and the laws of
Moses that followed from it.
The trouble with monarchy is monarchs. The trouble with monarchs is they are
men who like power. The trouble
with power is that it is never "enough". One always wants more. One always
thinks that one needs more.
Any threat to one's own will is seen as a threat to the state. It becomes
less and less possible to correct corruption
the longer a corrupt "king" is in power. The more he exercises kingly power,
the less able he is to see its appropriate
limits and submit to them. The longer that people tolerate this sort of
kingship, the less able they become to do anything
The system becomes self-corrupting and self-perpetuating. Only outside help
can change it.
God, having been pushed outside the monarchal government system of
Israel-Judah, is the outside help that finally
intervenes. He does that by sweeping away the corrupt government. He uses
Assyria and Babylon as the agents
of that sweep. Then he brings back a remanant of people and re-establishes
the Covenant as the law--a law which
limits human power over other human beings. It is obedience to the
unenforceable. Limited government does not work
unless people give up the idea of having absolute power. Which kings never
Joe is right. There's only one king that does kingship the way it is
supposed to be done. His name isn't G W Bush. Nor is it
Barak Obama. Right now Barak Obama seems to be aware of that. I hope he
won't forget it as G W Bush seems to have.
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