Wrong Question, Wrong Answer

If we ask the wrong question, we will not get the right answer.

Most Christians ask how we can make the democratic system to work according to biblical principles. Their answer is to get more Christians elected, so they can pass Christian laws. Efforts in this direction have only had limited success and have often harmed God's cause. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit. The correct question is as follows. What is God's ideal form of government? This is a very important question that we have not seriously attempted to answer.

We put a lot of effort into getting the right political party elected. Television networks devote considerable time to debates about which political party will be best for the country. Businesses spend money supporting the party that they like the most. Even Christians get caught up in this scramble and try to work out which political party Jesus would support.

All this confusion misses the point. Every political party is in the business of law-making and they all make human law. We are arguing about the wrong decision. The really significant choice is between human law and God's law, and this is not a difficult choice. When we choose between two political parties, we are choosing between two bad options. Political Parties create human law, and human law comes a very poor second to God's law.

Having one leader is dangerous

God is an Expert on Government

Christians believe that God is the King of all Creation.

How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth (Ps 47:11)!

For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods (Ps 95:3).

The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all (Ps 103:19).

The fact that God is a King means that he is very interested in the principles of government. Governing is the main role of a king. God is the king above all kings, so he must be the world's top authority on good government.

If God is an expert on government, we would expect that he has shared his wisdom about government in the scriptures. The only place in the scriptures where he gives a full system of government is in Exodus and Deuteronomy. If we want God's wisdom about government, we have to go back there.

The essence of government is good law. Every culture recognises the need for good laws. If God is an expert on government, he must be an expert on law. He wants good government on earth, so we would expect him have revealed a good system of law to us. He is perfectly wise, so his laws will be the best laws available.

I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame (Ps 119:46).

The law of the LORD is perfect (Ps 19:7).

God's system of perfect law is revealed in Exodus and Deuteronomy, all ready for us to use.

Modern debates about government focus on the election of governments. The emphasis is on developing a good system for writing laws. If God has already provided the best laws available, this is a waste of effort. Human legislators will always produce sub-optimal laws, so arguments about how politicians should be appointed are irrelevant. God has already given us the perfect laws that are essential for good government.

Correct Question, Correct Answer

What is God's ideal form of government? The answer to this question is that God's ideal for human society is government by his law. God's Law is the only system that can provide peace on earth, but it must be supported by two human activities. The first is wise judges applying his law to resolve legal disputes and punish evildoers. The second human activity is temporary military leaders raised up in response to threats of invasion by an external enemy. The Old Testament polity consisted of military leaders and judges. Isaiah described these two roles in the same passage.

He will be a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate (Is 28:6).

These two civil roles are described in detail in the Old Testament. The first role is judges who settle legal disputes based on God's law. The second role is the military commander who calls soldiers together to defend the nation when it is attacked by an enemy. This is not a permanent position, but only comes about when the nation is attacked. Moses, Joshua and David took this role.

Politics is about forcing people to do things against their will. Generally, this should be unnecessary. God has made us free, so we should never rob another person's freedom by forcing them to do things they do not want to do. We should not even force people to be good, if they are not harming anyone. However, there are two situations where coercion is essential. When an enemy threatens to invade, force may be necessary to remove them. Force may also be needed to remedy a crime. If a thief steals my car, I want someone to force them to return it, or to compensate me for the loss. Military commanders and judges deal with these to situations. These are the only situations where force is legitimate. God's law ensures that coercion does not spread to other aspects of life.

Ideal Government

The Government of God is simple

For the LORD is our judge,
The LORD is our lawgiver,
The LORD is our king;
It is he who will save us (Isaiah 33:22).

These principles are expanded in full on Law and Government.

The Government of God is described more fully in the book called Government of God.