Christianity and Government 5 – God Judges the Nations – Judges need Jurisdiction

The fourth part of a Biblical covenant, is a list if judgments that will be imposed by God, who blesses man for obedience and curses man for disobedience.

Judgment has been a component of God’s dealings with man, since Genesis 3. After Adam and Eve’s fall, He came into the garden, conducted a trial, cross-examined the witnesses, then gave His judgment. His procedure was the same with Cain (Genesis 4) and with Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19).

When Abraham interceded with God concerning Lot, Abraham referred to Him as “the judge of all the earth” (Gen.18:25). All nations are subject to His law, and His law is for all nations.

Christians have often in the modern era failed to understand the notion of collective responsibility. Interpreting the Bible personally, we have failed to apply God’s law to society, and to recognise that God blesses and curses nations. This has been a serious mistake, for God’s law is both for individuals and groups; families, communities and nations. The Bible says, “blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps.33:12).

This was continued in the New Testament era. Daniel prophesied about the destruction of  kingdoms hundreds of years before Christ, (Dan.2:25-45) but his prophecy was not fulfilled until three centuries after Christ, in the destruction of the Roman Empire.

The Bible teaches us, that “the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the  drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Ps.19:9-11).

Because we are made in the image of God, we are responsible to execute judgment. Paul instructed the Corinthians, saying “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? How much more matters of this life?” (I Cor.6:2-3).

Judgment applies to all facets of human endeavour, but especially to the Biblically ordained institutions of family, church and State. When Jehoshaphat initiated reforms in Judah, part of his task was to ensure that civil judgment was once again according to God’s law (II Chron.19: 4-11).

One of the first things we must consider in relation to judgment, is jurisdiction. The human heart has a great capacity for sin: “we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). Their failure to respect jurisdictions led to Miriam (Nu.12) and Uzziah (II Chron.26:16-21) being smitten by God with leprosy. They had assumed a role that was not theirs, and thus were judged.

The Bible establishes multiple covenantal jurisdictions: family, church and State. Each has a specific limited jurisdiction where a limited amount of authority and power operate. While the jurisdictions may differ, the same law is to be used for each. While the standard for each is the Bible, the application of Scripture differs as an individual moves from one jurisdiction to another. For example, a father has authority to discipline his own child for an infraction, but he cannot discipline another parent’s child. Parental authority and power operate within this specific family jurisdiction. This is the same in the context of the church, and the State (R. N., p.135).

The Bible portrays church and State as cooperating governments. Most people are aware that the Bible is the standard for the priests as they carry out their priestly duties, but the king too,  was subject to God’s law. God gave him specific directions in terms of how he was to discharge his duties (Deut.17:18-20). Thus we can see that the jurisdictions of church and State are separate, but religion is not. Both priests and kings are commanded to follow the same standard of government, even though not all laws apply to each in the same way. The jurisdictions were parallel, but separate (R. N., p.139).

This was common in the life of Israel. Moses was the chief judicial officer, assisted by numerous lesser magistrates, whilst Aaron served as the High Priest, assisted by numerous lesser priests (Lev.8). King David worked with the priest Abiathar, and Solomon with Zadok. After the exile, Nehemiah and Ezra continued this form of partnerhip.

Because of sin, the lack of self-restraint and the attractions of power, men are prone to jurisdictional usurpation. Political leaders have attempted to subvert the church for their own ends, such as when Jeroboam established an apostate religious base in Bethel and Dan, because of his political apprehensions (I Kings 12:26-33). King Saul killed Ahimelech out of fear that he was treacherously assisting Saul’s rival, David (I Sam.22:11-19). Knowing the power of the church in the community, political leaders in history have found various ways to manipulate, corrupt and silence the church.1

Conversely, there have been many times when the church has forgotten its ministry and gotten involved in political power struggles. Having lost faith in God, and in His transforming power from the inside out, the church can easily become seduced by trusting in human action, as though man’s salvation could come through political power (R. N., p.141).

Family, church and State must cooperate, not compete. Their responsibilities and jurisdictions of judgment are to run parallel in the community, but all must be Biblically informed and governed, if they wish to please God. The church is the protector of the family, and its weapons are the sacraments (baptism and communion), preaching and prayer (including the imprecatory prayers, such as Ps. 83:13-17; 109:6-20). The Bible establishes the jurisdictional limits for each institution, providing institutional harmony in every community and nation. In this way, “judgment will again be righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it” (Ps.94:15).

1. This conflict escalates when political leaders have refused to view themselves as being subject to God’s law. Examples frorn the twentieth century have been legion.

Comments Closed

Comments are closed.

Copyright © Christian Family Study Centre