by Tom Brown
5. Mountain of
Government is the system by which the
state laws and policy are enforced. Plus it includes the manner in which
those laws and policies will be enacted. Government gets a bad rap.
Sometimes deservingly so; other times not. Government is good when it
does what God intended government to do, and that is to punish the evil
doers and commend the good people.
"Everyone must submit
himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except
that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been
established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is
rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will
bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do
right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of
the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For
he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for
he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of
wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." (Rom 13:1-4)
First truth about government is that "God
has established" it. It is God ordained. We need government for
protection against bad people. If everyone was good, there would be no
need for government. "We also know that law is made not for the
righteous but for lawbreakers" (1 Tim 1:9). Righteous people do not
fear the law, because they not only obey the law, but they go beyond
just the requirements of the law and do good.
History of Bad Government
The Bible gives us plenty of examples
of government forgetting its duty to protect the innocent. Government,
whether in the forms of Kings, Governors and Judges, have often
imprisoned good people. Joseph, though innocent, was thrown into prison.
Prophets who spoke the truth to Kings were often tortured, imprisoned
and killed by the Kings that did not like what the prophets said. Jesus,
Himself, was arrested and crucified under Pontius Pilate, who was
procurator for the Roman government. Later Nero, the head of the state,
arrested Christians, confiscated their property, imprisoned some of its
leaders, and put to death those he feared the most.
Can we say then that government that
acts like this is God's instrument? No. It's the same as a minster who
abuses his position and uses his power to hurt others. He is no more a
minister than a governmental official is.
And in many places we see those in
governmental power using their position to silence dissenting voices.
They care more about whether they stay in power than whether they use
their position to help those under them. Governmental leaders can be a
big blessing if they remember why God put them in power. But when they
care about staying in power more than helping others, they can be an
instrument of Satan.
For example, in my city of El Paso the
mayor overturned the election he did not like. Then when, we the people,
successfully petitioned to call for a recall, the mayor used the legal
system and spent a quarter of a million dollars to erase the signatures
of the petitioners. He needed of course the help of judges to accomplish
this, but he did it. You see, he cares more about staying in power then
in serving the people. Now, the District Attorney, is considering
indicting me and others for being involved in the recall. Right here in
the good ol' USA there might be pastors and good Christians arrested
because they wanted to hold the mayor accountable for throwing out their
votes. It's very clear to me that in El Paso there is a lot of political
corruption. People are using their office to line their pockets with
money, abusing the people, scaring them of their free speech, and
possibly arresting those who are political opponents of the them.
This abuse of power is nothing new. It
is part of the history of government. The abuse of government has given
government a bad name. It has discouraged people from trusting in
government. It has even discouraged good people from being involved in
government, but what we need is good people to get more involved in
government. The only way to change government is by good people leading
it. This is why God is calling many believers to be civically minded. We
can't abandoned the institution that "God has established."
During the time before kings were
established in Israel, the prophets and judges ruled the Holy Land. But
a time came when the people wanted a change in the system of government.
"But when they said, 'Give us a king to lead us,' this displeased
Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: 'Listen to all
that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but
they have rejected me as their king" (1 Sam 8:6-7).
God did not tell Samuel to reject the
voices of the people. Even though the people were wrong, God told Samuel
to consent to the will of the people. He told them to give them what
The important lesson for governmental
leaders is this: you cannot force your views on the majority. You have
to recognize your own limitations. Now, Samuel tried to convince them
that bringing in a monarchy was going to be harmful to the people, but
he could not convince them. So he gave them a king.
The same happened with Moses. Moses
knew that marriage was a lifetime covenant. Unless a spouse breaks that
covenant, divorce was not God's will. However, the people did not want
laws forcing them to stay married. They clamored for their rights to
divorce their wives for any and every reason. The Pharisees used Moses'
laws for divorced to try to prove that divorce for any and every reason
was proper. They did not like Jesus teaching that marriage is for a
lifetime. So they argued: "'Why then,' they asked, 'did Moses command
that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?'
Jesus replied, 'Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your
hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning" (Matt
Moses was a good leader. Yet, Moses knew
of his limitations. He could not make laws that the people did not want.
Governmental leaders must understand this principle as well.
The thing that most people care about
concerning government is taxes. Paul continues in Romans chapter 13, "This
is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who
give their full time to governing (v 6). Taxes are not a necessary
evil; it is payment that we the citizens make to have government. The
error of government is when they collect taxes, not to run the
government, but to take it from others and give it to private
citizens. They may do it for the right motives—but rarely can government
afford to do this. Ultimately government will go bankrupt if it views
itself as a charity. Charity is the job of the people; not of the
This is not the same as government
collecting taxes for the public good. Whether it is public
transportation, public education, public libraries, public health care
or anything that government thinks is in the welfare of the whole
public. So long as everyone can benefit from the taxes collected, then
there is nothing wrong with government programs and projects to help all
the people. But government should not collect taxes and use the money
for just "some" of the people.
There are also limitations on what the
people are willing to pay in taxes. King Rehoboam made a terrible
mistake in raising the taxes and burdens on the people (see 1 King
12:1-17). As a result he lost his influence with the people, and his
rule was a failure. Governmental officials have to be sensitive to how
the people feel about taxation. They must not burden the people too
much. It is wiser for the government to be frugal than to overtax.
Unless the government can show the advantages of the taxes, then
government will fail the people. People will ultimately revolt against
any government over reaching and picking the pockets of the tax payers.
God is raising up His people to become
more involved in government. God's people must become civic-minded. It
is their duty to be involved in government—through voting, educating
oneself, and running for office or supporting selfless candidates that
are willing to sacrifice themselves to serve the people. We cannot
abdicate our role in reclaiming government for God and the people.
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