Someone asked me to provide some support for the claim I made in my last blog on the subject of life, whereby I stated that, “God instituted the civil government whose principal task and regards is to protect, maintain and sustain the sanctity of human life.” I look to backup that claim in this blog and to bring the subject of ‘Government’ further in light of Scripture.
The Old Testament teaches that God established the Government after the flood (Gen. 9:6). Government by definition is a system of rule by which a state, community and so forth is governed. “Government–whether it is socialistic, communistic, oligarchy, plutarchy, democracy, monarchy, and so forth – is FORCE. Government is FORCE, and it exists under God as a force to restrain evil.” – R.C Sproul. God instituted the government whose principal task and regards is to restrain evil, and to maintain, uphold, sustain, and protect the sanctity of human life and of property. Romans 13 makes it clear that the primary task of government authorities is to protect its citizens. Civil governments act as God’s agents of justice, and are to act on behalf of the good of all people (Rom. 13:4).
Government as an organisation is based virtually entirely in the practice of law. As Christians, we are commanded to obey the laws because Government are God’s way of creating order instead of anarchy. We are to obey the laws, exercise good citizenship, and support good orders. As good law-abiding citizens, we are to be involved in the political process, we are to work hard to change bad laws by legal and respectful means. We are to exercise our privilege of voting. While we must vote for godly candidates, our hope must not be on politicians, our confidence must never be placed on them. While we must influence public policies to adopt godly and honest policies, we must never place our trust in these policies. If we take our eyes off Jesus and place it on anything or anyone, we are going to be disappointed, discouraged and disillusioned.
The question is often asked – is there a time for Christians to disobey the government?
At some point, we Christians would have to accept that our faith in Yahweh may put us in violation of the law, at which point we need to choose which law to follow – God or men’s? Christians in the first century went to the lions because they wouldn’t offer their pinch of incense in worship of the Roman Emperor. If the civil authority forbids us in doing something that God has commanded us to do, or commands us to do something God forbids, not only may we disobey, but we MUST disobey. We must always obey God rather than men. We obey the government, but God comes first. The Bible itself testifies:
- When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon issued an edict that all his subject should fall down and worship the golden image. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused and they declared that they will only bow to the One true living God (Daniel 3).
- When the Sanhedrin forbade the disciples (Peter and John) from preaching in the name of Jesus, they said, “We must obey God, not men.” – Acts 5:29.
- When Pharaoh decreed the Hebrew midwives to kill the new born boys, they refused to obey because they feared God (Exodus 1:17).
- When Moses was supposed to be killed as soon as he was born according to Pharaoh’s infanticide decree. By faith, his parent kept him after he was born and hid him for three months, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. (Hebrews 11:23).
In Matthew 22:15-22, when the Pharisees and the Herodians plotted together to trap Jesus in his words, they asked him a trick question while at the same time using flattery. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” They probably thought they trapped Jesus, because if He had said no, they would have accused him of being a traitor to Caesar and Rome, and they would have got the Romans against him. And if He had said Yes, they would accuse him of being a traitor to his own Jewish people, and they would get the Jewish crowd against him. But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said to their amazement, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them:
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”
With just that one single sentence, the Lord Jesus declared and established the validity of human government. But by the same token, He established the limitations of human government. As a Christian, I believe with all my heart that civil disobedience is appropriate whenever the government ask you to violate God’s commandment; or whenever you are asked to commit immorality, or when you are asked to go against your Christian conscience. Man’s law is not a moral compass. Man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. “No law can give me the right to do what is wrong” – Abraham Lincoln. People are quick to forget that everything Hitler did was well within the laws of his country. “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” – Thomas Jefferson. Obeying God is ALWAYS the right choice!
As we are seeing some local government refuse to protect their citizens, then you should know we are in deep trouble. “One of the saddest things that has happened to this great nation in the past is when government permits and encourages the execution of helpless innocent babies by individuals in white robes. We cannot possibly escape God’s judgement. The land cries out for the blood of the millions upon millions of massacred babies. Our responsibility is to tell all people who are involved in this industry of abortion that God loves them. We need to assure them that God is ready to forgive them. That God wants them to repent and turn to him.” – Dr. Michael Youssef.
Moses was a man chosen by God to free the Israelite out of slavery. Back in the book of Exodus, God called Moses to establish cities of refuge. In the book of Joshua, the Lord God said to Joshua too to designate six cities of refuge throughout the land of Israel (three on each side of the river Jordan). The law requires life for life – When somebody deliberately takes another person’s life, that life also must be forfeited. But, if a person unintentionally commit manslaughter, God’s law says that that person however should NOT die.
The city of refuge was a safe place whereby a person who had committed unintentional manslaughter could run into and find refuge. When a fugitive arrives at the city of refuge, he/she would present their case to the city elders (who formed the court of the city of refuge). The court will then make a provisional decision, a snap decision to give the fugitive an asylum until a proper trial time is set. And if the manslayer is acquitted of pre-meditated murder, then he/she must live inside the city of refuge until the high priest had died…
I think perhaps that the major reason why God stressed the importance of building these cities of refuge four times in the scripture (Exodus 21, Numbers 35, Deuteronomy 19, and Joshua 20) is because God wanted to stress the sanctity of human life; God wanted to impress upon them the value that they must place on every life; God wanted to emphasize the seriousness of taking another’s life even if it is by accident.