Looking at Government

I know that everyone has their own thoughts about government, politics and such, but today I’d like to challenge you to take a look at what the Word of God says about how government should function. God lays down some directives for government, especially in the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible), and it is against His directives that we should measure our governmental systems.

Deuteronomy 1:9-18 is a significant passage in which Moses recaps the commands that he gave the people to appoint heads in their community, judges and commanders. It expands on Numbers 11 if you would like to have a look in more detail.

So what can we see in this passage for today? This passage shows that the character of a political leader is important and to be weighed by the people in their choices; they should be wise, far-seeing, and respected men of the community. It also shows that government gets its authority from the people and is to be elected by them. Furthermore, we see that a primary purpose of government is to provide a source of just resolutions to the disputes and conflicts, which arise amongst the people. Government is to serve the population of a nation by providing an objective, trustworthy source of arbitration and justice to the great and small, alike. We also see that the leaders were to be elected from each of the tribes of Israel, showing that Government is to be representative of all people.

Here are some suggestions as to what you can focus on when looking at Government in Scripture:

  • Legislative: power to make laws
  • Executive: putting into effects plans, policies or plans
  • Judicial: judgement
  • Military: war-craft and service
  • Rules of law
  • Community development: including what government’s role in community development is, versus what the role of individual households and the church should be.

Here is an example of pulling out principles from passages in Scripture for this area of society:

Responsibilities/ requirements given to the judges and the elders of Israel
(Deut 16:18-20; 17:2-7; 19:15; 21:1-9)

  • Judgments are to be righteous
  • No corruption was to enter into judgements
  • Not partiality; unfairly preferring one over another
  • No bribery
  • Multiple witnesses were required to ensure fair trial
  • Need truth and proof; they were required to do investigations to find evidence
  • Investigate thoroughly; inquire diligently into matters of the Law
  • Make sure it was a public trial/ punishment, not private
  • Judges were to enforce God’s Law, ensuring the people complied
  • Responsible for the spiritual well-being of the nation (walking in God’s statutes)
  • Purge evil from their midst
  • Take responsibility for corporate sin; congregational sin and guilt (when the guilty party was not found)
  • Life is valuable and they are to deal with unsolved murder; responsibility has to be taken for a life; seek to engage and not withdraw
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