Does God Belong in Government? Installment 1
Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV says, “6For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and his government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end.”
As a re-born Christian, itinerant pastor and teacher of Bible truth, and evangelist for the gospel of Jesus, I take my daily marching orders from the Holy Spirit. This “Spirit of Truth” or Holy Spirit, as the doctrine of the Trinity labels him, is the Person of God promised to all believers by Jesus (John 14:15-26). Holy Spirit indwelling is the immediate gift given to ALL Christ believers upon their profession of Him as their Lord and Master, Forgiver, and Savior…their Salvation.
How’s that for an introduction? In my opinion, there are three main categories of response to my statement above.
Here I make a disclaimer: I don’t mean offense to anybody or any faith. I simply categorize for the sake of broad reference as I observe this faith body called “Christian,” and distinguish it from all other religions that are NOT Christian. After all, you aren’t here to learn about Buddhism or Humanism. Take it for its intention. Often times truth offends but it is, nonetheless, truth. We are here to understand truth and take it to all places in our life; even if it means changing ourselves!
The first category consists of those who profess Christianity as their faith and have studied the Bible to a point where they establish and stand on their own convictions of the faith they profess. To them, my statement above is a commonly known truth. This is an ABSOLUTE moral and spiritual truth by which they live each day…subject to the same temptation and frailties as all fallen humans.
They practice the same everyday obedience to the Spirit and they are ever advancing in their faith “…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” the Apostle Paul spoke of in Ephesians 4:13. To these, the Holy Spirit is familiar as their daily Counselor, Teacher, and Advocate. The Christian Bible, when we profess belief in Jesus as Savior, is our guidebook or “owner’s manual” for us; God’s creation. This “owner’s manual” will NEVER need revision because God based it upon unshakable principles and absolute truths which NEVER change. What comfort! No guessing how we should live day to day!
The second category consists of another grouping of Christians, to whom my introduction above may seem a cultish or weird statement of belief. Those who, like my former self, may have been raised in and taught in “traditional,” mainstream Christian churches or those churches where the message of Christ has been diluted and weakened, might bristle or cringe at the thought of taking orders from such a nebulous Spirit. To these folks, yes, it’s OK to recite the Apostle’s Creed, professing belief in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, but do they really understand what that profession means, and do they actually carry out that belief?
Again, this is not to knock traditional church denominations, but simply to illustrate a point about the teachings of all Western churches over the last 20 centuries.
In my “mainstream traditional denominational” upbringing I remember being taught of the existence of a “Holy Ghost.” Who He was and what He had to do with me, however, seems to have been lost to me. After all, he was a GHOST, for Pete’s sake…I was taught not to believe in ghosts! In my church, it was perfectly fine to profess belief in a Creator God, and, yes, I’ll even go so far as to know of the historical life of Jesus, but obedience to the Holy Spirit was simply a bridge too far!
Many folks in Category 2 live a Monday through Saturday life that is confusing and foreign to the absolute truths they are briefly shown by the pastor in a Sunday service. I call these folks *0.5% Christians. Yes, they believe in God, maybe Jesus, and perhaps the Holy Spirit, and are, potentially saved, but they spend only 0.5% of their time worshipping Creator God (*assumes 1-1/2 hours of church on Sunday divided by 280 hours in a week).
This may seem a harsh to some folks, but it’s all to illustrate a point that Sunday church only, and a faith walk that stops at personal salvation only is a weak witness to Jesus. He desires so much more for us and expects more participation from us!
A weak faith is not a new thing for us modern day converted Jews and Gentiles. James the Apostle warned of this tendency toward spiritual laziness in James 1:22-24, where he urges us, “22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. DO what it says.” He goes on further in verses 23-24 to say, “23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and IMMEDIATELY forgets what he looks like.”
In essence, when we receive Christ as our Savior, we are clothed with a new appearance and instructed in a new and different way to live. God identifies us as His own. That identity comes with the duty given to us to walk with the Holy Spirit each moment. When we do that, we have a “godly” appearance to others, but ONLY if we wear our new identity. When we put our Christian identity on the shelf Monday through Saturday, we forget our new identity with Christ. We do not show Him to others, and, therefore, forget what our new identity looks like.
This is perhaps the most populated category of Christians. It is also the most difficult and confusing (for both the believer and those who observe the believer’s life) place to dwell. Believers in this category know there is more that God wants them to understand, yet they cannot break free from the carnal self that holds their faith back from an explosion of revelation and truth (John 6:63).
James, however, offers a remedy to 0.5% Christianity. This remedy comes in James 1:25 in the form of a but: “25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but DOING it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James was addressing a common problem of Christian converts 2000 years ago who had the same distractions we have as Christ believers today. That distraction is the world. We believe in the words, but do we put those words into action? The world gets in the way.
There is good news! Verse 25 tells us of freedom we receive from God when we intently look into God’s law and do what it commands. Freedom comes in the form of peace and joy because the distractions of this world are shifted by the Holy Spirit into the background of everyday life. There is assurance God is sovereign and in total control. This freedom allows us to exhibit boldness to display and share Christ’s gospel, through the use of our spiritual gifts, in our everyday walk. This very thing is what Jesus assigns us to do when we believe…look intently into His perfect law.
A third category response to my introductory statement consists of those who choose simply not to believe in a Creator God and His triune nature (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Those included in this category would be athiests, agnostics, humanists, animists, etc.
These are very real religions. In fact, Secular Humanists and Trans Humanists practice the religion that dominates all our worldly institutions such as education, media, government, arts and entertainment, our family values, and yes, our churches in many cases.
This category of people execute and administer the doctrine of Satan that rules this corrupt, fallen world. Yes, Satan’s followers DO perpetuate Satan’s doctrine and it is directly opposed to God’s doctrine. Sadly, many of them believe they are carrying Creator God to the world, but instead, they are deceiving themselves and others, worshipping a “form of godliness” (2 Timothy 3:5) that actually opposes God in all ways. Timothy warns us to, “Have NOTHING to do with them.” These folks are, “lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God,” as verse 4 states.
These religions do not believe in absolute truth of God’s moral law and written commands that contain His principles. Instead, they worship words such as “inclusion,” “harmony,” “equality,” which stand for nothing. If all behavior is acceptable, then there is no standard of right and wrong. Truth is ever-changing. These words and teachings are systematically used to divide and conquer people for the sake of Satan’s manipulation of God’s truth.
Many satanic, pagan worshipping “churches” today hide behind banners that profess these words, yet hold no belief and effort to walk in the truths of God of the Christian Bible. These churches are in our community and every community in this country of ours.
These folks, since they do not believe, are, therefore not God’s redeemed people and, hence, DO NOT receive any of His promised blessing in this life or eternity.
Which category you and I fall in depends upon our actual faith belief and practice. In other words, are we only speakers of the word, or are we doers of the word? Do we believe any, some, or all of God’s Word?
The reason for introducing the idea of these categories is to illustrate the contrast between how we, as “Christians,” view our faith, and, as a result, carry our faith into our everyday lives. As patriots, we like to believe we understand the context in which this nation was formed, and we profess to follow in the footsteps of the founders who founded it, so we can “recapture God’s favor over this nation.” Yet, without a 24/7/365 life described in James 1:25, we have little hope of accomplishing this mission. Regeneration of our nation requires regeneration of us…individually.
The scripture reference of Isaiah 9:6-7 should be very familiar and comforting to those of us Christ-followers who ascribe to the first or second category I suggested in the INTRODUCTION. What may be startling to many Christians is that Isaiah recorded this prophecy more than 700 years before Jesus appeared to fulfill it!
Even the least-frequent practicing Christian, who attends church once each year at Christmas, must admit they have received a certain comfort by the birth of the baby Jesus who promises salvation to a wayward mankind and who will eventually right all wrong in the world forever! No believer will argue the prophesied “child” referred to Jesus the Christ (or Messiah if you’re a Jew). Proof of the truth of Isaiah’s prophecy was recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and substantiated in the remainder of the New Testament writings of the Apostles and Scribes. We all know Jesus came as Savior to the world.
Notice the word “government” appears twice in this two-sentence passage. The first alludes to the fact that this “son” (Jesus) will usher “his” government into humanity on his shoulders. This is not our government or the Founding Father’s government. No, this clearly states the prophecy that Jesus will usher in some government that is HIS!
The second reference alludes to the fact that this “government” will result in a “peace” that comes as a result of its installation or adoption. The passage also alludes to the promise that increase in this government will be never-ending. Even more amazing and difficult to grasp is that the peace that is promised will have no end!! How can a government increase infinitely? How can peace never end? What does all this mean?
The remainder of this segment will be for the purpose of helping us grasp an understanding of what the word “government” means in context of Isaiah’s writing, and how it differs from Western understanding; particularly to us living in this Constitutional Republic called “The United States of America.”
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the ancient language available to the scribes of the time. Therefore, to Hebrew we must go to unravel its meaning. In the referenced passage, the word “government” comes from the Hebrew word, “misra.” This word has a meaning of dominion, or rule. It isn’t simply a meaning as we understand government in this day and age. Today, we view government separate from our cultural or individual practices. They are two separate, distinct entities. We prefer the government stay out of our personal lives.
However, to the reader in Isaiah’s day, and to the Jew 700 years later, it had an entirely different meaning. In ancient Jewish culture, their “government” was that which resulted from the pervasive religious leaders’ beliefs and rules of the day; Pharisees, Saducees, Essenes, etc. In essence, the religious leaders dictated the Jewish governmental or cultural rules they lived under, based upon what we would call the Mosaic Law, or Torah, as well as the other writings of the ancient scholars.
The day-to-day government societal rules they lived under were the oppressive rules of whichever tyrannical conqueror had recently overtaken their land…the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Syrians, and, finally, the Romans. Since the Jews were a “captive” nation, they lived and breathed their religion and culture together…there was no distinction. They did this because they still believed they were God’s chosen nation and they lived for the day He would return to “save” them as a nation-people from all oppression and rule them as a physical nation on earth. So, by Jewish understanding, there was no separation between government, culture and religion. Jews who read and studied Isaiah would have understood dominion and rule to mean a way of life or culture of belief.
In other words, there was no separation between ruling authorities (Jewish religious leaders) and citizens under such rule. In ancient Israel, the religious leaders WERE the government. All others (Romans, for instance) were oppressors.
What does Biblical government described by Isaiah mean to us today? Jesus revealed Isaiah’s prophesied government when He taught His Gospel to the Disciples 2000 years ago. He called it by a different name…the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 4:17 is Jesus’s first, direct pronouncement of God’s “government” the “son” would usher in on his shoulders as foretold by God through Isaiah. In it Jesus says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17). There is no mistaking this Kingdom is the government of dominion and rule (misra) the Jews were waiting for. The Gospel of the kingdom or Gospel of God, or Eternal Life is the government Jesus ushered to earth for us to share. God spoke through Isaiah that this government would be infinitely peaceful and infinitely increasing. How exciting for us as believers!
GOD BELONGS IN GOVERNMENT
If you’ve indulged to this point, you begin to see the clarity and certainty with which God intends believers to understand their daily walk. Mark 16:15 is Jesus’s direct command to all who truly believe: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Can we read this scripture and doubt God wants us to bring Him into government? Is government not part of ALL THE WORLD? How can we possibly mistake the call to preach the gospel of the Kingdom to all creation does not include EVERY PERSON and EVERY THING which we encounter?
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus further commands us, “19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Does ALL NATIONS include governments and people involved in government?
GOD IN OUR GOVERNMENT
There is no mistaking which God of which religion our founders were talking about when they referred to the Creator God in the Declaration of Independence as well as the countless writings defending the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The religion is Christianity and the God is the Triune God of the Christian Bible.
Despite extreme efforts to redact references to the Christian faith and its Creator God out of history books offered by brainwashed educators, the original manuscripts and books have been preserved to show the deep Christian faith of nearly all the founders.
Contrary to what historical revisionists claim, the United States of America was founded on the Judeo-Christian faith, period.
Sitting through just about any Constitution training course will make this fact more than evident to even the most ardent skeptic. We need not be ashamed to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ into our governmental activities because our Constitution exists for the sole purpose of protecting our inalienable (God-given, not man-given) rights…one of which is to freely worship our own faith in private and in public.
To me it is crystal clear. How about you? Does God view government and our faith in Him separately? Does He plan to allow chaos and disorganization to rule the world for all time? Scripture tells us the answer is…no.
The preceding conversation may stir many questions in the heart of believers. It is meant to do so. Many of us are new to this revelation from scripture and the Holy Spirit may stir desire for new revelation and understanding. Welcome to the club!
What is the “church” Jesus proclaimed in Matthew 16:18? Is this the same “church” we know today? Is it separate from daily life? Is it relevant today? How do 21st century disciples operate this church? What is the church’s role in government? Should faith be taken into politics?
Stay tuned for the next installment: THE GOVERNMENT (CHURCH) JESUS IS BUILDING (Matthew 16:18-19)
Precinct Delegate, Fremont Township, Isabella County, Copyright 21 Mayl, 2023