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Part 8 - Does the Scripture show that God chooses all magistrates

In January through April of 2012 I led a Bible Study on the Bible and Civil Government. It lasted 13 weeks. These lessons are being posted on a website:

The Lessons are a bit long for people to read on facebook, so the lessons are being posted on facebook in shorter pieces.

God's Plan for Civil Government # 8

The first of the questions we will be looking at is:

Does the Scripture show that God chooses all magistrates and ordains their authority over us?

This is answered by God speaking through the prophet Hosea. Let’s look at Hosea 8:3-4

3  Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.
4  They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.

These verses seem to be very clear. “They have set up kings, but not by me” and “they have made princes, and I knew it not”. Not all magistrates, not all of those in authority are chosen by God.

These verses do not imply that God does not know what the people are doing. They mean that the people are not coming to the Lord, following his commandments and fulfilling his plan. The kings and princes being chosen are man’s choice not the Lords.

Moses instructed the Israelites to chose their own authorities and he would install them. They are to be: wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes. Other passages which we will study later expound on these requirements. In this and the passages in Exodus where Jethro gives Moses these instructions you will see one of the Biblical bases for a representative or republican form of government espoused by the Colonial period of our country.

Deuteronomy 1:13-15

13  Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.
14  And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.
15  So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes.

Yes God does at times does specify our authorities, for example Moses, Saul, David and Solomon to name a few. The above Scripture shows that in some cases the selection is left up to man, but we are held accountable for applying God’s requirements and held accountable if we fail to do so.

As we know the people of Israel wanted a “king” to be like other nations. Through the prophet Samuel they were warned. This warning is in 1 Samuel 8:5-17 and worth reading. Verse 18 tells us that we are accountable for our selections.

In 1 Samuel 8:18:

18  And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day

The Matthew Henry commentary on this verse follows:

These would be their grievances, and, (1.) They would have none but God to complain to. Once they complained to the prince himself, and were answered, according to the manner of the king, Your yoke is heavy, and I will add to it, 1 Kgs. 12:11. (2.) When they complained to God he would not hear them, 1 Sam. 8:18. Nor could they expect that he should, both because they had been deaf to his calls and admonitions, and this trouble, in particular, they had brought upon themselves by rejecting him, and would not believe when he told them what would come of it. Note, When we bring ourselves into distress by our own irregular desires and projects we justly forfeit the comfort of prayer and the benefit of divine aids, and, if God be not better to us than we deserve, must have our relief in our own hands, and then it is bad with us.

God has given man His Plan for mankind in all aspects of our life including civil government. Man was also given freewill to comply with God’s Plan or to be in rebellion to God’s Plan.

Conclusion: Not all magistrates or possibly many or most magistrates are not in their position of authority by meeting God’s plan for civil government. Sermons or commentaries that make this statement are incomplete as they do not specify the criteria for a magistrate to be pleasing to the Lord. Nor do these sermons or commentaries specify what God’s criteria are nor what our Christian duty is if the criteria are not followed. As the passages above indicate if the chosen magistrates do not meet the criteria then we are on our own and are corporately responsible for their actions. A better understanding is needed.

The second of the four questions will start in next part:

Did the apostles contradict their own words?


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