Volume 13, Number 2, July-August 2009

To Whom Does God Give Authority for Civil Government Today? (part 2)

Part 1 showed us saw that the Bible contains little teaching about civil government before Moses, the outstanding exception is that God certainly did not approve the human “one world government” of Babylon. God gave Moses extensive information about civil government, which was to be largely local and consist of judges and officers appointed by the people. He said other nations would be impressed by His wise laws if Israel followed them (Deut 4:6). This government worked during the time of Joshua and the elders, but degenerated as the people disobeyed the Eternal during the time of the judges. Eventually, the people demanded a King (1Sam 8). God told them that they could have one, but that they would suffer for it. Yet, He still promised to work with the people and their king, and to teach them the right way through His prophets (1Sam 12).

This study continues with selected examples from the Old Testament that will help us understand answers to some of these big questions:

What civil government(s) should we submit to?

To any and every one that claims authority over us?

Only to ones that are clearly put in place by God?

How does one know which those are?

Is it ever all right to participate in a revolution against an evil government?

The situation is not simple—it is actually quite complex. By examining both Old and New Testament examples, we can learn how civil government has and does work. Every effort has been made to base this study on the teaching of the Scripture. We reprint the key verses and summarize the longer chapters, but encourage the reader who is interested to read all of the references for themselves.

We start this section with five important points

Five Principles of Biblical Civil Government

1) The Eternal Takes an Active Role in Human Leaders

God apparently leaves some things to our own free choice, or even time and chance (Eccl 9:11; Luke 13:1-5). But, He does promise to take an active role in leadership.

“…In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men” (Dan 4:17).

For exaltation comes neither from the east Nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, And exalts another (Pslm 75:6-7).

There are many times in the scripture where God specifically sets people up as leaders (1Sam 15:1, 28:17; 2Sam 2:4; 1Kngs 11:31; 19:15-16; 1Chr 28:5; Dan 5:28, etc.) There are places where He either commands or allows people to choose their own leaders (Deut 1:13; 16:18; Judges 11:6; Isa 3:6-7;Acts 6:3)

2) It is Good to Have a Righteous Ruler:

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan (Prov 29:2).

While the above principle may seem obvious and simple, it is frequently overlooked by people debating government. People argue that the best form of government is democratic, republican, socialist, communist or something else. Usually, they claim that if the world or their nation would just use that form of government that everything would be so much better. Whereas, the Bible teaches that it is not the system of government that matters as much as the righteousness of the people.

The books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles give God’s evaluation of many rulers. Generally righteous Old Testament leaders include: Moses, Joshua & the Elders, David, Amaziah, Azariah, Jotham, Hezekiah and, Josiah. None of these were perfect, but most of the others were a whole lot worse. Solomon and Jehoash were noted for righteous rule at the beginning, but going bad in the end. King Manasseh had the longest unrighteous rule, but repented in the end. The Bible always simply comments on the relative righteousness of the ruler, not the form of government whereby he governed.

The Bible has numerous other verses commanding righteous and just government. Here are a few:

To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice (Prov 21:3)

“But a beautiful palace does not make a great king! Why did your father, Josiah, reign so long? Because he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him” (Jer 22:15).

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).

3) God Frequently Allows Unrighteous Rulers

When Israel demanded a King, God told them exactly how a king would use, and abuse, his power. In our modern world, presidents and prime ministers operate much like kings: they are individuals who have been given large amounts of authority by the people of a nation. Before Israel had kings, they only had judges—people with authority to decide cases brought to them. A king or president, once empowered by the people, has proactive authority to draft soldiers, wage war and to selectively enforce a myriad of laws against whom he will. Here is that vital statement, with a few notes to help us clearly see that what God told them is what happened back then and is what is happening in the USA today.

And he [Samuel] said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take [military draft]  your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen [Department of Defense], and some will run before his chariots [Secret Service]. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties [endless Civil Service], will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest [huge state owned lands, Dept. of Agriculture], and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots [military-industrial complex]. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers [the Federal government employs millions of women as clerks]. 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. [Most land in the USA is owned by the government or big business with government contracts.] 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. [income tax rates are now higher than 10%] 16And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. [Nearly every business pays sales, income and other taxes.] 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. [We pay government fees to use public roads, build buildings, drill wells and many other things that were free years ago.]  18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day” (1Sam 8:11-18).

Some governments, such as David’s, Solomon’s and our own, start out largely righteous, but they tend to deteriorate over time as people stop taking responsibility to watch them. Since God had promised David that Solomon’s throne would be established forever (2Sam 7:8-16), the next king of Judah was always a descendant of the last. Most of them were unrighteous. Often, the king was so young that he was not able to rule by himself. He looked good and wore the royal robes at official functions, but the real question became, “Who controlled the king?”

This writer believes that the situation in the USA, today, is similar. We have leaders with charismatic personalities who are good at reading speeches and making TV appearances. Some of them become president with very little previous governing experience. Their policies and legislation are nearly always written by someone else—often, we do not even know who. As with the Kings of Judah, the important question is, “Who controls them?”

Since God made no promise of a continued line of Kings in Israel, it had many short dynasties. The next king of Israel was frequently the person who killed the previous king. This did not always work, however, sometimes the person who killed the last king was not popular with the people, so they killed him. Israel never had a king that the Bible calls righteous. But the kings of that time, as our leaders today, fought the nation’s “enemies”—both real and imagined—took the people’s money, gave some of it back, and continued to convince the people that kings were necessary.

If one asks why ancient Judah and Israel put up with so many unrighteous kings, the answer can probably be seen in our people today: It is easier to complain about, put up with, and maybe even profit from an unrighteous ruler, than it is to go to the effort to install a righteous leader.

4) Sometimes God Gives us a Choice of Leaders

Some Christians read the scriptures in Principle 1, above, and conclude that God sets up all leaders and that Christians would be working against God if they voted or got involved with choosing a leader. This is like reading the scriptures where God miraculously fed people and concluding that we should not do anything to feed the hungry because we would be infringing on God’s work. In this light, most people realize that God usually does not do for us what we can do for ourselves. We can grow food or work for money to buy it. There are scriptures that command us to do those things—for ourselves and for others. But if these methods fail, we would certainly pray for God to miraculously feed us. So there are biblical commands to choose good leaders when we have the opportunity, and to pray for leaders.

In this most fundamental verse God commands Israel to set up courts in their cities and tribes:

“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God is giving you (Deut 16:18-20).

This is the basis of local and tribal (state) government upon which much of the rest of the Old Testament depends. These were the judges that carried out the punishments for the many Scriptural laws. There is no doubt that the people addressed here are the common people. Only two verses prior (Deut 16:16), the same people are commanded to bring offerings three times a year. It is not the elders, priests, ministry or some other special class that should choose the judges of the land, but all of the heads of household.

There are other times when conflicting leaders arise and people must choose which leader they will follow based on their understanding of the situation.

The Israelites had to choose between Moses and a coalition of 250 elders of the people, headed by Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who properly pointed out that Moses had taken them out of Egypt, a place with plenty of food, and had yet to deliver the “land flowing with milk and honey” that he had promised. That was a true statement. They just left out the fact that they had been mistreated slaves in Egypt and that the Creator of the universe was taking them to a good land. The people who followed Moses, the established leader, lived. Those who chose to follow Korah and his new leadership group died in an earthquake (Num 16). While some people may have followed Moses simply because he was the “established leader”, the right reason to follow him was because he had been and still was representing God to Israel.

Many centuries later, an opposite sort of decision faced the people of Israel. They should have departed from their established leaders to listen to some new, traveling leaders. For many generations, Israel had not gone to Jerusalem to worship to keep the Feast days at the temple there (1Kngs 12:26-33). They believed it was not necessary. But King Hezekiah of Judah sent messengers inviting the people to come to Jerusalem to keep the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. Most people laughed the messengers to scorn, but some humbled themselves and rejected their established king, who was wrong, for the good king of Judah. Only a few years later, the nation of Israel was taken captive, but Judah remained. (2Chr 30).

First Kings 18 tells an interesting story. The evil king Ahab and queen Jezebel were ruling Israel, worshipping Baal and killing the Eternal’s prophets. Elijah was a faithful, true prophet, but was on the run from the government to escape arrest. Obadiah, a government employee at Ahab’s palace, chose to hide and feed 100 of the Eternal’s prophets in caves, rather than following his job description and betraying them. Later, Elijah appeared and challenged them to a bull-sacrificing contest—the rules being that each contestant’s God would be responsible for setting the bull on fire. Elijah’s God—the true God—won! The people chose to rebel against their government and obeyed Elijah, who told them to Kill the 450 prophets of Baal (as Deut 13 instructs). After such a powerful miracle, was choosing Elijah’s leadership over Ahab’s leadership a no-brainer? No, it was a choice. The next chapter describes Jezebel’s efforts to kill Elijah—even Elijah became depressed. What would she do to those people who killed her prophets of Baal?

When there is a lot of freedom in a land, we must all chose, on a daily basis, whether to serve the true God, or the false Gods in the land around us. Joshua was not a king and did not control what the people did. But he did set them the right example.

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh 24:15 ).

5) Sometimes The Eternal Does Not Give us a Choice

The story in Numbers 13 and 14 is an excellent example of how the Eternal’s instruction supercedes apparent physical circumstances. The story is not reproduced here for lack of space, but it is worth reading. The important points are:

    God told Israel to conquer the land of Canaan.

    He had them send 12 men on a 40-day preliminary reconnaissance mission.

    Two of the men reported the great resources here and were eager to conquer it. The other 10 were fearful of the people there and exaggerated their power.

    The 10 fearful men convinced the people that they should not go into the land and stirred them to look for a leader to lead them back to Egypt.

    The 10 men died by a plague from God.

    The people were told that they would die in the wilderness during 40 years, and that only the two faithful spies were to enter into the promised land.

    The people repented of their sin and decided that they wanted to go and conquer the land anyway.

    Moses told them not to go, that they would not succeed.

    They went anyway and were defeated.

The lesson is simple. The land of Canaan or its inhabitants had not changed. It was God who would have blessed the conquest of the land when he told them to do it. Once God decided not to bless it, choosing leaders who wanted to do the conquest anyway was of no use. God had now closed the door. The people who sinned were left with the only choice of wandering in the desert for 40 years until they died.

Judges, Kings and Chronicles contain many stories of when the nation of Israel would sin, be conquered by enemies, repent, and then be delivered by God through some courageous military operation. There were times, however, that God told Israel that they would not be delivered and that they must submit to the conquering kings. The King of Babylon is one example:

“Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Because you [Judah] have not heard My words, 9 ‘behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ says the LORD, ‘and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations. 10 ‘Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 ‘And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years (Jer 25:8-11).

“Therefore do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers, or your sorcerers, who speak to you, saying, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon.’ 10 For they prophesy a lie to you, to remove you far from your land; and I will drive you out, and you will perish. 11 But the nations that bring their necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let them remain in their own land,” says the LORD, “and they shall till it and dwell in it” (Jer 27:9-11).

Even with this warning, there were still people of Judah who refused to service the King of Babylon.  Jeremiah chapters 40 through 43 chronicle the story of how the Babylonian King appointed Gedaliah governor of Judah, and then how the king of the Ammonites sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to murder Gedaliah. The people of Judah were afraid that the King of Babylon would take vengeance against everyone for killing his appointed governor, so they wanted to flee to Egypt. In addition, food was becoming very scarce in Judah during the war. Even though God had previously told the people that they must serve the King of Babylon, they asked Jeremiah to petition God for them and promised to do whatever He said. When God told Jeremiah that they must remain under the King of Babylon, the people still insisted on going to Egypt. Jeremiah said:

“‘If you will still remain in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up. For I relent concerning the disaster that I have brought upon you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; do not be afraid of him,” says the LORD, “for I am with you, to save you and deliver you from his hand. 12 And I will show you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and cause you to return to your own land.” 13 But if you say, “We will not dwell in this land,” disobeying the voice of the LORD your God, 14 saying, “No, but we will go to the land of Egypt where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor be hungry for bread, and there we will dwell” — 15 Then hear now the word of the LORD, O remnant of Judah! Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “If you wholly set your faces to enter Egypt, and go to dwell there, 16 then it shall be that the sword which you feared shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; the famine of which you were afraid shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die” (Jer 42:10-16).

It was amazing that God had mercy on them and actually promised them protection in their own land, if they would simply trust him. But from their own human political and economic wisdom, Egypt looked better. So they called Jeremiah a false prophet, and they went to Egypt, forcing Jeremiah to go with them—maybe thinking that he would certainly no let disaster strike while he was there. But the King of Babylon conquered Egypt, Jeremiah escaped, and the people died as prophesied.

We Need to Know the Will of God for Each Situation

There are some times that God gives us a choice, and sometimes He does not. He may command us to serve a certain leader, even though the leader may be a foreigner and an unbeliever. The question often boils down to, “What is the will of God for a particular situation?” In all the situations above, the will of God was clearly known to the people, they simply chose to listen to their leaders, who were saying what they wanted to hear, rather than a known prophet of God.

The reader might rightfully ask, “How can I know the will of God in the messy political situation that we find ourselves in today?” One of the most important things a Christian should develop is the ability to know the will of God for their life on a regular basis. Some people do this through prayer. Some gain understanding by the Holy Spirit. Others have confidence in the council of their local congregation.

Knowing the will of God for a governmental—or a personal situation is another multi-faceted subject that exceeds the scope of this article. The article, “Does God Still Talk to People” on page 3 may provide some help.

One Individual can Make a Big Difference

But supposing that one does not have a clear revelation from the Eternal, but feels compelled to get involved in governmental affairs for good. Does God allow that? Certainly. An entire city was saved by the actions of an unnamed, but wise woman in the city of Abel of Beth Maachah. The Scripture says nothing about her being commanded or prompted of God to do this:

And there happened to be there a rebel, whose name was Sheba the son of Bichri, a Benjamite. And he blew a trumpet, and said: “We have no share in David, Nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; Every man to his tents, O Israel!” So every man of Israel deserted David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah, from the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, remained loyal to their king…. So Joab’s men [of Judah], with the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and all the mighty men, went out after him. And they went out of Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri (2Sam 20:1-2, 7).

Then they came and besieged him in Abel of Beth Maachah; and they cast up a siege mound against the city, and it stood by the rampart. And all the people who were with Joab battered the wall to throw it down. 16 Then a wise woman cried out from the city, “Hear, Hear! Please say to Joab, ‘Come nearby, that I may speak with you.’ “ 17 When he had come near to her, the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Hear the words of your maidservant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” 18 So she spoke, saying, “They used to talk in former times, saying, ‘They shall surely seek guidance at Abel,’ and so they would end disputes. 19 “I am among the peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?” 20 And Joab answered and said, “Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy! 21 “That is not so. But a man from the mountains of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has raised his hand against the king, against David. Deliver him only, and I will depart from the city.” So the woman said to Joab, “Watch, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.” 22 Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. Then he blew a trumpet, and they withdrew from the city, every man to his tent. So Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem (2Sam 20:15-22).

When Lot was captured and taken prisoner, this was the manner in which his brother Abraham showed individual initiative:

And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.  And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people (Gen 14:14-16).

The Scripture does not say that Abraham knew ahead of time how his rescue effort would turn out. Melchizedek told him after the fact that it was blessed by God (Gen 14:20). Abraham was doing a wonderful job of applying the golden rule. If we were taken prisoner unjustly, would we want our relatives to try to rescue us?

Probably one of the most charming individual effort stories is the one recorded in the book of Esther. Esther, a young Jewish woman, became queen by winning a beauty contest. Later, when the evil Haman extracted a law from the king calling for the death of all Jews in the empire, she realized that she might have to go before the king to plead for their safety. However, this was not a trivial matter: We enter the story at Esther’s message to her uncle Mordecai, who raised her:

“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days.” So they told Mordecai Esther’s words.  And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esth 4:11-14)

The story ends happily, with Esther saving her people and the evil Haman dying on the gallows that he built for Mordecai. But this was a marvelous example of two people taking action against a major government and saving many thousands of people.

Does God Ever Support Revolutions?

Some Bible students conclude that it is always wrong to oppose an existing authority because it is God that sets up leaders (Dan 4:17; Rom 13:1-2). But the plain history of the Bible is that many leaders are apparently deposed or appointed by other human leaders. While certainly nothing escapes the attention and control of God, it is obvious that he frequently uses other men to set up the leaders that he wants. When men attempt to overthrow good leaders, they run the risk of failure and God’s wrath. When men with righteous intent oppose evil leaders, they often meet with Gods approval and sometimes divine intervention.

While Ehud was a judge whom God raised to deliver Israel, the Bible does not say that God gave him the plan to break the yoke of the Moabites off of Israel (Jdgs 3:15-30). Ehud simply took his normal trip to Moab to pay the tribute money, asked for a private audience with the Moabite King, and pulled out a hidden dagger and killed him. In the confusion that followed, Israel was victorious in battle.

Probably the best Bible Story of good people overthrowing evil is the priest Jehoiada’s revolution against the evil queen Athaliah. 2 Kings chapters nine and ten tell of all the royal heirs of Israel and Judah that were killed by the treacherous Jehu—including the son of Athaliah. Did this mother weep and morn over this loss? No, she finished off the rest of the heirs to establish her own power. This wonderful story shows how a righteous conspiracy was made to work through the courageous efforts of a woman, a priest, and hundreds of soldiers. They confident enough that they were doing God’s will that they carried it out on the Sabbath, in the temple and using the weapons of the temple.

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs. 2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being murdered; and they hid him and his nurse in the bedroom, from Athaliah, so that he was not killed. 3So he was hidden with her in the house of the LORD for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land. 4 In the seventh year Jehoiada [the priest] sent and brought the captains of hundreds—of the bodyguards and the escorts—and brought them into the house of the LORD to him. And he made a covenant with them and took an oath from them in the house of the LORD, and showed them the king’s son. 5 Then he commanded them, saying, “This is what you shall do: One-third of you who come on duty on the Sabbath shall be keeping watch over the king’s house, 6 “one-third shall be at the gate of Sur, and one-third at the gate behind the escorts. You shall keep the watch of the house, lest it be broken down. 7“The two contingents of you who go off duty on the Sabbath shall keep the watch of the house of the LORD for the king. 8 “But you shall surround the king on all sides, every man with his weapons in his hand; and whoever comes within range, let him be put to death. You are to be with the king as he goes out and as he comes in.” 9 So the captains of the hundreds did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded. Each of them took his men who were to be on duty on the Sabbath, with those who were going off duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. 10 And the priest gave the captains of hundreds the spears and shields which had belonged to King David, that were in the temple of the LORD. 11 Then the escorts stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, all around the king, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the temple, by the altar and the house. 12 And he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony; they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!” 13 Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the escorts and the people, she came to the people in the temple of the LORD. 14 When she looked, there was the king standing by a pillar according to custom; and the leaders and the trumpeters were by the king. All the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. So Athaliah tore her clothes and cried out, “Treason! Treason!” 15 And Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the army, and said to them, “Take her outside under guard, and slay with the sword whoever follows her.” For the priest had said, “Do not let her be killed in the house of the LORD.” 16 So they seized her; and she went by way of the horses’ entrance into the king’s house, and there she was killed (2Kngs 11:1-16).

The story continues, showing that Jehoiada was not simply interested in power for himself, but real change to righteous government. He led the people in tearing down the temples of Baal, reinstituting worship of the true God, and providing justice in the land.

This is not to say that God is behind every revolution—or even every revolution against an evil government. As stated previously, sometimes He allows people to choose their leaders or choose among leaders, and sometimes He does not give people a choice. The apocryphal books of Maccabees and other secular history record Jewish efforts to rebel against other oppressors. Sometimes they were marvelously successful, other times they were not. God is not impressed, when people rise up to replace an evil government, with another evil government. Even within the last few centuries, the USA, as well as other nations, have revolted against oppressors to obtain freedom from centralized hierarchical civil government and religion. Much of the world has enjoyed a lot more prosperity and freedom of religion as a result.

The overwhelming teaching of the Bible is that God upholds righteous nations, and punishes evil ones (Lev 26; Deut 28; Jer 18:7-10). There are also many cases where righteous individuals or groups of people escaped the fate of evil nations. God would have spared Sodom if there had been 10 righteous people there, but there was only Lot’s family, so he brought them out and destroyed the rest (Gen 18-19). The Bible teaches us that God works in a great variety of ways. To know which civil governments to support and which to oppose, and how to do that, keep these four keys in mind:

    Study the Bible to know what righteousness is.

    Live it, by the Spirit of God.

    Evaluate civil governments by biblical standards of righteousness, judging them no more or less severely than you judge yourself. Do not give favor to your own governments or to ones that are economically beneficial to you at the moment. Do not believe what governments say about themselves, look at what they actually do.

    Seek God’s will in how to act.

One More Part in This Series

The final Part 3 will appear in the next issue. We will see what the New Testament says about civil government and how it relates to the believer. We will answer questions like..

How much should the believer participate in civil government?

Should he make suggestions to leaders?

Should he vote?

Should he run for office?

The answers may surprise you! &


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