“The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.’” (1 Sam. 8:7-8)
“And just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:29-30)
Disclaimer: This is not political commentary: I don’t vote, don’t believe Christians have any place in politics in our day, and other than as it may apply to eschatological concerns I no longer care about how the world governs itself. I say what I say to hopefully put current events into proper spiritual perspective for the preservation of the elect, and nothing more.
Two weeks ago, President Trump attempted [fully within the law and within his rights as President] to enact a temporary hiatus on travel in to the US from seven countries with well-known ties to terrorist activity, training, and support. Liberals applauded when a lone federal judge in Washington State overturned Trump’s executive order by declaring it unconstitutional. My focus here will not be to argue the legal or political aspects of this standoff between the judicial and legislative branches, for it is not new in these times that we find the pen of one judge, acting within or outside of the law, overturning the will of the American people and their elected representatives. No, my focus here will be why, biblically, this seemingly impossible scenario could occur in the first place.
Samuel is acknowledged as a prophet by most today, but of more interest to this work is he was the last judge of Israel. The office of judge was the way God ruled His people from the days of the Exodus up to the moment recorded above, and it was not God who instituted the change over to kings. What brought about this transference of power was while Samuel was a respected judge among the people, his sons did not fare so well. In 1st Samuel 8 we read his sons “took bribes and perverted justice.” So, the people came to Samuel and told him they were displeased with their conduct, as those who had inherited the office, and they cried out for a king to lead them. More important was their motivation for doing so. Verse 5 tells us they “wanted a king like all the nations” around them.
One of God’s regular warnings to Israel was to never look at the nations around them for answers, marry their women, worship their gods, or desire anything they had. Like today, His people were to be set apart, different from the world, and holy to Him. When, in disobedience to His commands to remain set apart, they rebelled and asked for governance by kings God became angry, responding to Samuel, “For they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.” The first point I wish to make here is the very form of elective governments mankind has used ever since this conversation, of which ours in America is part, is not God’s form of government. Though I believe America’s is the best example of representative forms of government, it is at best the least of evils. Proof of this is found following the conversation between Samuel and the Lord as it ensues.
In verses 10-17, Samuel passes on to the people a precise description of what God warns their “kings” would do to them. They would require their pound of flesh from everything, be overbearing, and become a burden rather than a blessing. Sound familiar? This description is just as precise today as it was then. What should give every Christian who has ever complained about what their governments are doing, or joined in to try to make them better, to pause and consider is what Samuel prophecies next: “Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
Two important messages here: 1) God wanted to make it crystal clear that His people had forsaken His chosen form of governing [God-appointed form of judges], and “chosen for themselves” the method of governing of unbelievers and enemies of God [elective form of kings]. 2) He does not hear His people, then or now, when they complain about politicians and politics, because it is the world’s system and not the kingdom’s system of governance. He moves governments around like pawns on the world’s chessboard and sees to it the people He wants to rule do rule, and there’s not a thing we accomplish by “crying out” or trying to change it (Rom. 13:1). Again, this is because there is the kingdom of man and the kingdom of heaven on earth at play on earth. The place God’s people are to make a difference is through being citizens of the latter, not the former. Citizens of the kingdom of heaven on earth are “freedmen” (1 Pet. 2:16), while those who govern the kingdom of man are slaves.
Back to the reason as to why one federal judge can strike down the will of one, hundreds, thousands, or millions of people as we are now witnessing, is found in the second verse in the caption above. The reason is simply this: from the days of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, God established judges as His form of governance. He commanded concerning them, “You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord your God is giving you…and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment” (Deut. 16:18). And these judges didn’t just judge. They led the people out to battle and delivered them from enemies, “both foreign and domestic.” They were the total package, because they were the ones God ordained to govern.
Jesus is referred to in the NT, in the future tense, as “Judge.” In Revelation 3:5 and 20:12 the book of life and death is mentioned, with Jesus judging who will be written in one and who in another. In John 5:22-23, we read, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” In the verse from Luke above, Jesus tells His disciples they will sit with Him judging the twelve tribes of Israel. When Christ returns to harvest the earth, bring the justice we all so long for, and set all things right for His reign, He will restore all things to the way God originally intended. One of those will be His original form of governance. That we sin and pervert all that God gives us, as has been the practice of sinful men since Adam, will not change ultimate truth or intent of God. As I stated in the last article in this series, truth “is”. What we try to do to it because of our sinful perspectives does not change truth in the slightest. God’s form of governance is judges, and all others are counterfeits taken from His sinful people watching sinful nations around them and rebelling against His commands.
This is why I believe we see the power of a single judge overwhelming the power of the vote, the will of the people, and the mandate of their appointed leaders. This is why the elections of presidents aren’t about presidents as much as the members of the Supreme Court they will appoint. God is reminding us, all of our “kings” together do not have the power of just one judge, because all of man’s attempts to wield power in their kingdom does not hold a candle to His ability to wield power in His. Truth “is”, and truth He will restore. When He comes back to force “every knee to bow and every tongue to give praise to God,” Jesus will restore His form of governance.
So, don’t be amazed [and more importantly don’t let it rob you of your peace] when one judge wields more power than the entire legislative branches of the US Government. It’s just God reminding us His ways are the best ways, and it will be His ways in the end that will rule.