God's Right To Govern
A Sermon Manuscript by Robert L. Cobb
Editor, NewsForChristians Dot Com
"And Pharaoh said, who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?"
When Moses and Aaron approached the Egyptian pharaoh to make the request of freeing the Israelites, there was set in motion a gigantic battle of authority between the most powerful man on the earth at the time, and the most powerful Being of the Universe. The Pharaoh was like many in our world today: He did not know or or respect the authority of the God of Israel. "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go." These are the words of a haughty authoritarian who knows no higher power than his own. Today we have people in the places of governmental authority who, like Pharaoh, believe all things rise and fall with their words.
This nation was birthed and crafted by men who believed in a Higher Power. Some of them may not have been practicing Bible Christians, but each of them had a regard for their own place in life. They knew the largeness of their actions, but also the smallness of their stature. They were born in --and raised with --- a classical education founded on Bible principles highlighted by the Reformation and taught in all churches, universities and households of the day. I am not saying every individual Founding Father was a Christian, but Bible Christianity prevailed in the culture they lived in. Though they had personal rivalries between each other and sought power as politicians today do, they lived in a time of reverence for the wisdom and truths of Christian doctrines.
Contrast with today the politicians who answer to no one. Our president sends out a doublespeak spokesman who answers questions so vaguely, you are not sure even what the question was. At this writing (June 2013) we are in the midst of scandals unlike what our country has ever seen. Government spying on its citizens, the IRS illegally targeting Conservative groups for extra scrutiny, our foreign policy in shambles all across the world because of mishandling situations in Libya, Syria, and the Middle East. The mind-set of our government today is, "Screw the country! I'll do what I want!"
We return to the example of the Egyptian pharaoh. He refused to believe there was an Unseen Higher Power that he must answer to. There was no 'higher law' for Egypt than himself. He would not pay homage to this animal herder who comes in from the wilderness the structure of his society. Pharaoh was rightly proud of his nation; no other people would dare challenge Egypt during this time. It was the most powerful domain on Earth. And Pharaoh ruled with an iron fist. No one challenged him!
But, unknown to the Pharaoh, there is a 'higher power' a 'supreme authority,' He is King of kings and Lord of lords. What does that mean ? King of kings. He is over the local and national legislative bodies, the courts, and yes, the Pharaohs and Presidents. He claims the right to dictate to them all , to legislate over them; and if they call in question that right, He will deal with their rebelliousness in due time.
We have local laws, state laws and federal laws, in ascending power. A state law overrules a local law; a federal law overrules a state and local law. But God's law sits atop all others. Some may say "I don't see the evidence of God's law. I don't see any authority there." But man's law sits astride the months and years, God's Law exists in Eternity. The Sovereign is not required to answer every challenge by a rebellious humanity every time some person shakes his fist at the heavens. Imagine the mighty Pharaoh descending from his throne to deal with an insignificant peasant who may speak ill of him to his friends? That peasant's doubtings and disputings do not affect the Pharaoh on his throne. He never even takes note of it! Those who doubt and question God's Authority today are likewise merely dust in a grave in just a few short years!
The story of humanity is a story of questioning God's authority. Satan openly questioned God's Word when he told Eve, "Has God said, you shall die if you eat of that forbidden fruit, or if you disobey him ? I would pay no regard to his authority. I would eat. I would manage my own affairs. Don't let God dictate to you, be independent, assert your own rights, have your own way!" Humanity's way is the way of the flesh and the way of sin. The battle Eve faced in the garden is the same battle we face today. Those elected to be our leaders bring us to ruin by ignoring the principles of a Sovereign God.
In considering this text, we shall endeavor to examine and establish God's right to sit at the head of the universe, and govern all humanity; and the corresponding duty of all men to acknowledge and submit to that authority.
What Is Government?
Webster defines government thus : 1. " Direction; regulation. 2. Control; restraint. 3. The exercise of authority; direction and restraint exercised over the actions of men in communities, societies, or states; the administration of public affairs." To 'direct' means to 'pilot,' in our 21st Century language, it means 'to drive.' A vehicle can have both passengers and a driver. The driver 'governs' the vehicle, he controls it. He applies the brakes and the accelerator at a time he determines. A parent governs his/her children. The parent is the leader, exercises authority, directs the child. The policeman governs the highways. He exercises authority and controls those who travel the roads. And lastly, our legislative bodies govern by enacting laws to mark out the duties of the citizenry; and enforce the authority of the state by suitable rewards and punishments, to restrain and to influence the populace. This is government. It is control or restraint exercised over the thing governed.
What Is To Be Governed?
First, there is the material universe. Under this heading we include all matter, both earthly and universal. All things proceed according to what we call Natural Law. Mankind can not control or govern these laws, he can only observe them and quantify them by scientific methods. We, as a society, are constantly learning more about these laws and using them to better our lives and enrich our nations. There was a time that most people acknowledged God as the One who controls the universe. Now we have put science itself on the throne, as if by identifying and observing the material universe somehow qualifies us to claim it as our domain. According to today's science, the material universe made itself and continues in its own power by itself. No one made it; it us 'is." If a Christian gives His God such a description, he is considered foolish and unlearned. But a scientist can speak on what global climate change will look like in 1000 years, or what the earth was like 200 million years ago, and he is given awards and accolades. God claims government over the universe, and though we can't see Him, we see the results of His work. "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." Colossians 1:16-17
Second, there is humanity, or mankind. In the garden, God Himself governed. After the fall, family patriarchs ruled their households and their progeny. Gradually, human governments developed and ruled over cities and later nations. A study of the history of the world's governments would show that man is not good at governing. Most governments have always benefited the few who exercise power over the rest. Many millions have died as a result of man's governments. There are many types of government---monarchy, dictatorship, plutocracy, democracy and tyranny. But all of them feature humans exerting power over other humans to some degree.
We all understand the need for human government. But we must also understand the inability and imperfection of such government. I believe the United States of America has the greatest form of government in the history of the world (outside of the future earthly reign of Jesus Christ Himself). We are a democratic republic. We are represented by others like ourselves who are supposed to put the interest of the whole before the interest of a few. The USA has prospered through the decades under this government. It hasn't been perfect, but it has been better than anything else. But we now are straining under new pressures. Liberalism and progressivism is tearing down, bit by bit, our traditions and our culture. The question is how long will we endure?
A Government Rules by Power.
The power exerted over the population of the USA is derived from the people. We allow ourselves to be ruled by our government. Supposedly we elect our leaders and they respect the citizenry from which they themselves come. But power corrupts----and absolute power corrupts absolutely, the saying goes. Many who attain office seek more power than warranted.
Power is defined as "The faculty of doing or performing anything. The faculty of moving or producing a change in something; ability or strength. 2. Force ; animal strength." Government exercises power to direct and control the populace. We in America do not think of our government in such a way because we are 'a free country.' But the fact is all governments rule by power. The powers of the U.S. government are being strained by a lack of restraint and an overreach of that power into aspects of the citizens lives that have always been off-limits.
There Are Two Types of Power.
If a government must use power to control its subjects, then what kinds of power are available for the task? There are but two: Physical Power and Moral Power.
Physical power is the power of force. This is applicable to move, control, and govern matter. The whole material universe is regulated and governed by the application of this kind of power. God and all other beings, when they wish to control matter, use this kind of power and no other. All the motions and changes of the heavenly bodies are produced by the application of the law of force. Every particle of matter is controlled by this law, and cannot be controlled by any other. Matter is inert ; it has no power in itself of acting or resisting action. If moved or controlled it must be by force. It is passive, perfectly so in its nature.
Moral power is the power of motive or inducement. This is the power used to control the mind, or the will of moral agents. Mind is the opposite of matter. To control the mind you must use another kind of power. Moral agents have power to act. They have power in themselves to resist power. To control them, you must gain consent of their wills.
Humans are moral agents, and have the power of choice. To control the will of people, you must use moral power, or the power of motive or inducement.
Moral Agents Must Be Governed By Moral Power.
The great misfortune of most ancient and modern governments is their attempt to rule by physical power rather than moral power. To rule by moral power necessitates a moral leader. When those without morals are in power, the government must resort to physical power to achieve the results that once came from a moral center.
All past governments which have depended on physical power have fallen. Look at the Germany of World Wars I and II. Look at the Soviet Union 0f the 20th Century. All the dictatorships of the present day have fatal flaws. Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam are among the most backward countries in the world. China has benefited from a change to a market economy over the past generation but still cannot overcome its repressive government. If it were possible to secure the holiness and happiness of all by physical power, it would be done. But it is not done, which settles the question that it could not be accomplished in that way. Physical power cannot force man to be holy.
Moral power creates free moral agents of its citizens and gives them power. There could be no moral government without a moral people to hold up as examples. For moral government to hold sway in a nation, there must be an Omnipotent Moral Power for those moral examples to point to. Thus the morality of this Omnipotent Power becomes larger than the individuals who possess and defend it. This morality lives from one generation to another and does its work in each succeeding generation.
This Omnipotent Power is larger than the borders of any country. It behooves the citizens of each nation to honor and reverence such Moral Power, but the lack of honor does not change the morality itself. However that lack of reverence does change the fiber of that nation. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Psalm 33:12) Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin [is] a reproach to any people. (Proverbs 14:34) The wicked shall be turned into hell, [and] all the nations that forget God. (Psalms 9:17)
To destroy a nation, the enemy must destroy the citizens' trust in the morality that binds them. George Washington warned in his Farewell Address of this very thing when he said:
"...Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness--these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."We see in our day a systematic destruction of morality and religion in America. The progressives describe it as improvement or betterment of society, but the results are disasterous. The liberal voice today is the voice of anti-morality and anti-God, and preparing the way for the anti-Christ.
What Is Our Responsiblity as Christians Toward Our Nation?
While the Bible does not teach that Christians are to bring about a theocracy, we do have certain responsibilities to our God and our nation. A theocracy can be defined as "a government led directly by God." God is not interested in coming down and taking possession of the Executive Office of the White House. That would be quite a step down for Him! We do not owe our God our vote, but we do owe Him our allegiance! We should be actively engaged in governmental affairs and see to it that our voices are heard in the halls of the legislative bodies. We should vote for godly candidates who represent godly principles and Biblical truth. If there are no candidates that represent godly morality, then we must pick the lesser of two evils. If the candidates are so corrupt and ungodly that it is impossible to make an informed choice, we must still articulate and lobby for our views in the public arena. We must not expect deference from others, or a place of honor on the dais. We must not think that somehow our views must be enacted because of our nation's founding or its history. We make our moral points because they can stand in their own power; because they are tested and true; because they are correct and right.
We must be able to step into the marketplace of ideas and be confident that we stand and speak alongside a long list of valiant and honorable patriots down through the generations who believed as we do! We must not slink to the back of the crowd or hush our voices in the face of ridicule and contempt. There will be those who sneer and deride, but Jesus suffered at the hands of evil men also. We are certainly not better than Our Lord!
We Will Not Usher In God's Kingdom On Earth, But It Will Come!
There are those in the church who teach that our godly morals and Christian principles will usher in the Millennial Reign of Christ, that He will return after the Church has prepared the way for Him! One only has to observe the world conditions to realize that Christians are not in a situation to bring such a thing to pass. If anything, we are getting farther and farther from such an opportunity. The world stage necessitates that the Pre-millennial position will be the accurate position. But whatever prophetic standard you hold, the Bible teaches that God Himself will one day hold the reins of government on this earth.
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it...And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isaiah 2:2,4God Himself is most qualified to govern this earth for a myriad of reasons. He is omniscient. He knows all hearts perfectly, and how to adapt His government to our needs. There will be no failed programs in the government of God; there will be no waste, fraud, and abuse! He will need no cabinet or czars to carry out His will. History tells us of the wisest leaders in times past; Cyrus the Great, Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, Charlemagne, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi....but the wisest is yet to come!
He is omnipresent. He is present in all worlds, and in every part of the universe at the same instant. This is true of him at all times, and not true of any other being. There will be no jealousies among the nations under His Reign, for He will be available to each. There will be no emergency situation that He will be unprepared for.
He is omnipotent. This power is within himself. It is not derived from others, and cannot be taken away by others. There are a few strong governments on the earth. But what makes them strong ? They combine military strength with economic strength. They have great minds in science and education. But the power of the Governing God outshines all strengths of past governments! There will be no greater king who will come along and defeat Him. His kingdom is assured!
He is unchangeable."But he is in one mind, and who can turn him?" (Job 23:13) A fickle government is always unsafe. It advocates one thing as right today, and condemns the same thing as wrong tomorrow. Such a government unsettles the confidence of its citizens. How true this is in America in the early 21st Century. But God being infinite in wisdom, can and does see the right. He takes his position for the right, and against the wrong, and remains there unchangeably for eternity.
He is holy. His moral character is perfection itself. While he is infinite in his natural attributes, he is equally in his moral. He is infinite in justice, mercy, truthfulness, goodness, and every other moral qualification which renders his character infinitely right and lovely. Is he all justice without mercy? No. Is he all mercy without justice? No. Mercy has its place in his government, and justice has its place, and everything else that goes to make up perfection
in character. He is infinite in his loveliness, holiness, and goodness. He is so perfect in his moral character, that he is infinitely above all temptation to wrongdoing. This is essential to sit at the head of such a vast and sublime kingdom. Government affords many temptations to wrongdoing, temptations to injustice, oppression, and self-aggrandizement. These temptations lead to the sacrifice of public interests to promote private ends. Men become intoxicated with power, haughty, and overbearing. There is not a government on earth that has not been led into oppressive and wickedness. Place any other being but God at the head of the universe, and his goodness might be overcome by temptation, and he might be led to wield his power for the destruction of public interests, instead of their promotion. But with him we are safe. He is infinitely above all temptation to wrong.
In this time of celebration of our national birthday, let us remember that our hearts are to be governed by the One and True God of the Universe, and that He will, one day, show this world how government is to be conducted! So let us pray with the words of the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come!"