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Sermon No: 89390-Covenants - Part 8 - The Noahic Covenant



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SERMON TOPIC: Covenants - Part 8 - The Noahic Covenant

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 21 February 2021

Topic Groups: COVENANTS, GENESIS, NOAH

Sermon synopsis: This general covenant was made between God and Noah following the departure of Noah from the ark. Many see it as a royal grant because God promises never to destroy the earth again with water. This is an unconditional promise. However there are clear instructions as well so it better fits a conditional (Suzerain-Vassal) covenant. (Gen 9:4-6)

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COVENANTS

PART 8: THE NOAHIC COVENANT

DISPENSATION OF CONSCIENCE

Time Period: Expulsion from Eden until the Flood.

Human Responsibility: Choose good over evil and offer blood sacrifices (Gen 3:7, 22; 4:4)

Failure: Widespread violence and corruption, angelic rebellion (Gen 6:1–6, 11, 12)

Judgment: Flood (Gen 6:7, 13; 7:11–14)

Grace: Noah and his family are saved (Gen 6:8-9; 7:1; 8:1)

CONSCIENCE

After their banishment from the garden of Eden, God instituted conscience as a way humans could distinguish between good and evil. They were to choose good and have a relationship with God through blood sacrifice (Gen 4:4).

THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL

Man had wanted the knowledge of good and evil and now they have it – in the form of a conscience.

Almost immediately, people chose evil when Cain murdered Abel because his own sacrifice was rejected while Abel’s blood sacrifice had been accepted. Cain expected God to fall in line with his own ideas of how to have a relationship with him.

Cain had a choice which was clearly communicated by God to choose good and reject the dominance of sin – but he ignored the counsel of God. Genesis 4:6-7 clearly indicates how conscience would be the mechanism used to limit evil in this dispensation.

Cain had a choice which was clearly communicated by God to choose good and reject the dominance of sin – but he ignored the counsel of God. Genesis 4:6-7 clearly indicates how conscience would be the mechanism used to limit evil in this dispensation.

Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

THE END RESULT

Sadly the end result of man being governed by his conscience is widespread violence and corruption.

Gen 6:11-12 (NIV) Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.

REASON FOR JUDGMENT

This was one of the causes for the Flood judgment. *

Gen 6:5-7 (NIV) The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created…”

A JUST MAN

Because “Noah was a just man” (Gen 6:9), God used him to warn others while he built the ark for 120 years.

2 Pet 2:5 (NIV) if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others

GRACE

No one – but his immediate family - heeded and God righteously judged the sin of people. However Noah experienced God’s mercy and grace.

Gen 6:8 (NKJV) But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

God spared Noah and his family demonstrating that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment” (2 Pet 2:9, NIV).

NOAHIC COVENANT

Before God establishes his covenant with Noah, he gives him some preconditions in order to escape the coming judgment at the close of the second dispensation.

Gen 6:14-18 (NIV) “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood … I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens … But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark--you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you…”

THE SACRIFICE

After Noah had fulfilled these pre-conditions, and experienced the subsequent benefit of having his own life and the lives of his family spared during the flood, God establishes a blood covenant with Noah after he leaves the ark.

Gen 8:20 (NIV) Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.

BLOOD COVENANT

In all the dispensations there is the need for a blood sacrifice to atone for sin.

Dispensation of Innocence – animals skins used to cover man’s nakedness.

Dispensation of Conscience – Abel’s offering

Dispensation of Human government – Noah’s offering

Gen 8:21-22 (NIV) The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” *

DISPENSATION OF HUMAN GOVERNMENT

Time Period: The Flood to the confusion of languages at Babel.

Responsibility: Scatter and multiply (Genesis 9)

Failure: Unwillingness to scatter and the building of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–4)

Judgment: Confusion of languages (Genesis 11:5–9)

Grace: Abraham is chosen—the start of the Jewish race, through whom Messiah would come (Genesis 12:1–3)

THE COVENANT

2 parties

God and “all living creatures of every kind on the earth”

Type

Royal Grant / Suzerain Vassal

Dispensation

Human Government

Royal Grant (unconditional)

Never again would God destroy the earth by water

Reason for grant

Faithfulness of Noah

Reference to the “seed”

Preservation of the seed

Man’s responsibilities

Man must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it

Sanctity of human life

Blood covenant

Sacrifice of “clean” animals by Noah

Covenant sign

The rainbow

Terminating Judgment

The tower of Babel

ROYAL GRANT?

This general covenant was made between God and Noah following the departure of Noah from the ark. Many see it as a royal grant because God promises never to destroy the earth again with water. This is an unconditional promise.

Gen 9:8-11 (NIV) Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you … Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood …”

However there are clear instructions as well, so it better fits a conditional (Suzerain-Vassal) covenant. (Gen 9:4-6)

THE BLESSING

Noah receives a blessing.

Gen 9:1 (NIV) Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.”

The directive to “fill the earth” – once given to Adam and Eve (Gen 1:28) – is repeated.

THE COVENANT SIGN

The rainbow was the sign of the covenant with Noah.

Gen 9:12-13 (NIV) And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”

A NEW SIGN?

Some maintain that the rainbow was a new sign because it did not rain before the flood.

Gen 2:5-6 (NASB) Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.

But the context seems to indicate that was only the case until the appearance of man and cultivated plants.

THE CANOPY THEORY

Could this condition of no rain have lasted until the Flood?

This is the belief of those who hold to the canopy theory. * If so, this might explain why Noah was mocked when he tried convincing people about a judgment involving rain.

But the Bible is actually silent on this issue. It mentions Noah preaching (2 Pet 2:6), but not being mocked.

A FAMILIAR SIGN?

As the rainbow was the covenant sign with Noah, some assume that it must be something new after the Flood.

Yet it is a natural spectrum appearing in the sky after rain and there is no indication that God changed the laws of nature after the Flood.

So if there was rain before the Flood, surely Noah would have already been familiar with the rainbow. If so, this would not be the only time God used an existing thing as a sign of a covenant e.g. bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper – where God uses familiar items but attaches a new symbolism.

NO MORE VEGETARIAN DIET

Formerly – starting in Eden – mankind and animals were given a vegetarian diet. (Gen 1:29-30)

Now mankind’s diet is extended to include meat.

Gen 9:2-3 (NIV) “The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you, just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”

WHY A CHANGE IN DIET?

What changed after the Flood that this concession was made? According to some Jewish commentators:

Noah and his family came out of the ark to a barren world, with nothing to subsist on. They were allowed to eat meat in order to survive – and that became permissible for all time (Abarbanel). *

Man was weaker after the Flood (as reflected in his shorter lifespan). The world’s flora was also of inferior quality to that which existed before the Flood. The world would now have seasons, with long unproductive winters. Man was also destined to spread out further – to colder areas of the globe. As a result, he would require meat to survive (Malbim, R. Hirsch). *

NO MEAT WITH BLOOD

But there was a prohibition on eating “meat that has its lifeblood still in it” (Gen 9:4-6). * In fact it is repeated at the Council of Jerusalem as still being in force, despite the Gentile church being released from the requirement of circumcision.

Instead we should write to them [Gentiles], telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. [Acts 15:20, NIV]

A “BLOODY” STEAK?

What about a bloody steak? According to “The Daily Meal” website:

There's no such thing as a “bloody” steak. You can be forgiven if you think that the pinkish liquid that makes a rare steak “juicy” is blood... The “juice” in your steak looks and tastes nothing like actual blood, because it isn’t; it’s called myoglobin, and it’s a protein that's only found in muscle tissue. *

DISPENSATION OF HUMAN GOVERNMENT

THE PROBLEM WITH VIOLENCE AND MURDER

The second dispensation demonstrated that man­kind would not obey God on the basis of the human conscience alone.

The first recorded sin in the second dispensation was the murder of Abel by Cain.

Cain’s descendant Lamech also killed a man, claiming it was self-defence.

The dispensation ended with widespread violence in the earth. The world was judged because of the violence and murder which was largely unchecked and unpunished.

Noah and his family had practical knowledge of the failure under the dispensation of Conscience, and God made them responsible to protect the sanctity of human life. *

HUMAN GOVERNMENT

After the Flood judgment, God instituted a new dispen­sation.

The former dispensation was one of Conscience. While conscience is personal, the term “by humans” in the Noahic Covenant indicates that society should corporately restrain wickedness and protect man from the consequences of his own sinful nature.

So God stepped back from directly judging the earth until the Second Coming, opting instead to use a human agency - government - as a tool.

The NT affirms that God instituted human government.

Rom 13:1 (NIV) Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established

SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE

Government has a God-given mandate to uphold the sanctity of human life as indicated by the directive to enforce capital punishment.

Gen 9:5-6 (NIV) “And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.”

This directive to preserve human life includes preventing the slaughter of unborn children by abortion.

MAN’S UNIQUENESS

In the Edenic Covenant, mankind was given dominion over the earth and all living creatures (Gen 1:28) immediately after the statement that “God created mankind in his own image” (Gen 1:27).

In the Noahic Covenant, again man’s God-given uniqueness – “for in the image of God has God made mankind” - is stated as the reason for the sanctity of man’s life and the reason he is accountable to God.

Man was to be responsible for establishing social order and justice based on this underpinning reality that recognized and reflected man’s unique Godward substance, and hence his dignity and accountability to the God in whose image he had been formed. *

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

God commanded that the murderer’s blood be shed by mankind. Capital punishment necessitates all forms of legislation, organization and enforcement. It presupposes a human government agency to investigate the murder, to apprehend and try the murderer, and to administer the sentence of execution. Thus, when God ordained capital punishment, it is seen as the institution of human government as a further restraint against the wickedness of mankind.

THE EVERLASTING COVENANT

God’s command in Genesis 9:6 has not been revoked. Capital punishment predates the Mosaic Law and is part of “the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures.” (Gen 9:16). Later (in the end times) God rebukes the inhabitants of the earth for breaking it.

Isa 24:5 (NIV) “The earth is defiled by its people; they have … broken the everlasting covenant.”

He clearly indicates that the breach carries a penalty.

Isa 24:6 (NIV) “Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.”

WHICH EVERLASTING COVENANT?

Which “everlasting covenant” is being referred to by Isaiah?

Some point out that the Abrahamic (Gen 17:7, 13, 19), Davidic (2 Sam 23:5), New Covenant (Jer 32:40) and the covenant God made with Israel and the priesthood (Lev 24:8) are also called everlasting covenants so we cannot use the Isaiah passage to refer exclusively to the Noahic Covenant.

But the Abrahamic, Davidic and New covenants are all Royal Grants and hence unconditional – unlike the Noahic covenant. This excludes them as God couldn’t reprimand people for breaking those covenants.

God rebukes and judges the “earth’s inhabitants” so it cannot refer to the Mosaic Covenant which was with Israel, or the Davidic covenant (with David).

SEVEN LAWS OF NOAH

This is how the Genesis 9 passage was generally understood by Jews. According to the Talmud, the Seven Laws of Noah were given by God as a binding set of laws for the "children of Noah" – that is, all of humanity.

According to Jewish tradition, non-Jews who adhere to these laws are ... regarded as righteous gentiles ... The Seven Laws of Noah include prohibitions against ... murder ... as well as the obligation to establish courts of justice. *

The Talmud (the central text of Rabbinic Judaism) and Maimonides (one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages) interpreted the prohibition against homicide as including a prohibition against abortion. *

BEARING THE SWORD

Rom 13:3-4 (NIV) For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason …

Civil rulers are servants of God who “do not bear the sword for no reason.” These words denote capital punishment as the sword was an instrument of execution.

IS THE DEATH SENTENCE JUST?

Even the thief on the cross acknowledges the justness of his death sentence.

Luke 23:41 (NIV) “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve...”

IS THE DEATH SENTENCE JUST?

Likewise, Paul declares to Festus that if he has “committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death” (Acts 25:11, ESV). Clearly, Paul recognizes the appropriateness of capital punishment for certain offenses.

THE duties OF GOVERNMENTS

WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNMENT?

The primary function of government is to protect basic human rights:

English philosopher, John Locke, wrote that all individuals are equal in the sense that they are born with certain “inalienable” natural rights. That is, rights that are God-given and can never be taken or even given away. Among these fundamental natural rights, Locke said, are “life, liberty, and property.” *

JOHN LOCKE (1632-1704)

PROTECTION

Defend Against External Enemies

War between nations are a constant threat. The government has a responsibility to keep external aggressors at bay.

Defend Against Internal Enemies

Governments must also ensure security within its borders.

Ps 72:4 (NIV) May he [the king] defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.

PROTECTION

Civilizations need some form of restraint and rules to protect people from each other.

An example of this function is seen in Acts 21:27-37 where Roman soldiers intervene to prevent Paul from being murdered.

LAW ENFORCEMENT, LEGAL & PENAL SYSTEMS

Governments provide:

a law enforcement system to investigate and apprehend criminals

a legal system to convict wrongdoers

a penal system to punish lawbreakers

1 Pet 2:13-14 (NIV) Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

Rom 13:3-4 (NIV) For rulers … are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Courts also settle private disputes between citizens to maintain law and order.

Courts also settle private disputes between citizens to maintain law and order.

In Ephesus, when the rioting pagans seize Paul’s companions with the intent to do harm, it is the civil authorities (the town clerk) who instruct them not to resort to violence – but to follow the legal route if they have a legitimate complaint.

Men of Ephesus … you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash … If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another.” [Acts 19:35-38 ,ESV)

OTHER FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNMENT

Provide infrastructure for public services

Roads, hospitals, telecommunications, orphanages, water, sanitation, electricity, postal services, etc.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Note how the “discerning and wise” (Gen 41:39) ruler Joseph creates a long-term Agricultural Policy and infrastructure to prepare the country for famine.

Gen 41:46-49 (NIV) Joseph … entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph … travelled throughout Egypt … Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities … Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain …

PROMOTION & ECONOMICS

Promotion: Government is to promote the general welfare of the community.

1 Tim 2:1-2 (NASB) … I urge that entreaties and prayers … be made on behalf of … kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

Managing Economic Conditions: The modern government has a duty to fight poverty and improve the quality of life of its citizens. In order to achieve this, the government must create a conducive environment for material prosperity and economic growth. *

TYPES OF ECONOMIC SYSTEMS

There are different types of economic systems used by governments e.g.

Socialism: emphasizes equal distribution of wealth among the people.

Communism: an extreme form of socialism.

Capitalism: people work for their own wealth.

Factors Of Production: are the elements required to produce goods and services (e.g. land, labour and capital).

Capitalist economy: owned by individuals.

Communist economy: owned by the government.

CAPITALISM vs COMMUNISM

HOW THE VALUE OF GOODS ARE DETERMINED

Production Decisions & Price control:

Capitalist economy: Production and prices are determined by free market forces such as supply and demand, individual choice and competition.

Communist economy: Government control prices and determine which goods and services get produced.

CAPITALISM

COMMUNISM

CAPITALISM vs COMMUNISM

Political system:

Capitalism: associated with democracy - multiple political parties and free elections.

Communism: totalitarian (one-party state).

Personal liberties

Capitalism: Freedom of speech, free press, freedom of religion

Communism: Strong censorship, religious persecution

vs

VOTE

REVOLUTION

WELFARE

There should be state welfare and assistance for the poor (orphans, widows, disabled, aged) by pensions, grants, subsidizing food, housing, healthcare etc. This is not something that originates with socialists or communists. It was present in the Law of Moses which legislated assistance for the poor, e.g.

The eventual return of property lost due to financial difficulty. If someone became poor and sold their property, it could be redeemed at a later stage.

Lev 25:25-28 (NIV) But if they do not acquire the means to repay, what was sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back to their property.

FOOD ASSISTANCE

Gleaning – food assistance

Lev 23:22 (NIV) When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you…

WELFARE

Solomon – the son of David – requests God to enable him as king to assist the needy. This is prophetic also of the future reign of the quintessential “Son of David” in the Millennium.

Ps 72:12-14 (NIV) For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.

EDUCATION

In Biblical times, education (in particular religious education) was the parents' responsibility.

Deut 6:6-7 (ESV) And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Prov 1:8 (ESV) Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching

Eph 6:4 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

IS EDUCATION A GOVERNMENT ROLE?

Sons often followed the trade of the father, so they would often be taught by the parent. Some, like Paul though, were instructed by a teacher – in his case, Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). While modern parents may need to send their children to educators to acquire skills they themselves are not able to teach, nothing in the Bible can be used to indicate that this is solely the government’s responsibility.

While parents may pass responsibility on to others (like a school, Sunday School or university) they are not released from the accountability before God. They will have to give account to him for what they have done with the children committed to their trust. God will hold them responsible for their children receiving an education that leaves God out.

TYPES OF GOVERNMENT

WHO RULES?

DEMOCRACY vs AUTOCRACY

Autocracy: a system of government in which one person holds all political, economic, social, and military power. The autocrat’s rule is unlimited and absolute and is not subject to any legal or legislative limitation.

E.g. dictatorships, such as North Korea and Cuba

Democracy: refers to a form of government in which the people are given a direct role in choosing their leadership. Its primary goal is governance through fair representation, a system in which no single force or entity can exercise unchecked control or authority. Democracy is typified by fair and free elections, civic participation, protection of human rights, and the rule of law. **

According to Pew Research: As of the end of 2017, 96 out of 167 countries with populations of at least 500,000 (57%) were democracies of some kind, and only 21 (13%) were autocracies, 46 (28%) – exhibited elements of both democracy and autocracy.*

According to Pew Research: As of the end of 2017, 96 out of 167 countries with populations of at least 500,000 (57%) were democracies of some kind, and only 21 (13%) were autocracies, 46 (28%) – exhibited elements of both democracy and autocracy.*

OLIGARCHY

Oligarchy (meaning "rule of the few") is a catch-all phrase for any number of other forms of governance in which a specific set of qualities — wealth, heredity, race — are used to vest power in a small group of individuals. *

Plutocracy – rule by the rich.

Military junta – a government led by a committee of military leaders.

The apartheid government that ruled South Africa from 1948 to 1991 was a racially constructed oligarchy, one in which the minority white population exercised dominance and imposed segregation over the nation’s black population. *

Theocracy – rule by religious leaders.

THEOCRACY

Theocracy: a form of government in which a specific religious ideology informs the leadership, laws, and customs of a nation. In many instances, there will be little to no distinction between scriptural laws and legal codes. Likewise, religious clergy will typically occupy roles of leadership, and in some instances, the highest office in the nation. *

E.g.: Since the 1979 revolution toppled the Iranian monarchy, the ayatollahs have ruled the in Iran. The elected president is subservient to this supreme Islamic scholar.

AUTOCRATIC GOVERNMENT TYPES

Monarchy: a form of autocratic rule in which absolute power and authority are held by a single member of a royal bloodline. Until the 19th century, monarchy was the most common form of government in the world. In a constitutional monarchy the sovereign exercises authority in accordance with a constitution.

E.g. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Swaziland, and Brunei.

Some modern monarchies are merely symbolic (e.g. the UK).

Military Dictatorship: A nation ruled with absolute power by the head of the armed forces - who seize power in a coup d'état, not by a democratic election.

E.g. Sudan (2019), Mali (2020) and Myanmar (2021).

FEDERALISM

Federalism: is a form of democratic government that both combines and divides powers between a centralized federal authority and an array of regional and local authorities. This is typically a system in which a set of states, territories, or provinces are both self-governing and beholden to the authority of a broad, unifying government structure. * Example: USA

OLDER TYPES OF GOVERNMENT

Tribalism: a form of governance in which there is an absence of central authority and where, instead, various regional tribes lay claim to different territories.

This was particularly common in the premodern world ... e.g.: Afghanistan

Colonialism: is a form of governance in which a nation will seek to extend its sovereignty over other territories. This often entails occupation of indigenous populations and exploitation of resources to the benefit of the ruling nation. *

Colonialism is obsolete today. Just between 1945-1960, three dozen new states in Asia and Africa achieved independence from their European colonial rulers.

ANARCHY

Anarchy: the absence of government, a condition in which a nation or state operates without a central governing body. This denotes an absence of public utilities or services, a lack of regulatory control … and in most instances, a society divided into different, locally-ruled settlements. *

Now, some intellectuals in the West have openly espoused anarchy based on a utopian view of society and an overly optimistic view of human nature. “We can get along without government,” they say. Well, the problem is Romans 3:10-18 has already diagnosed the human heart. **

THE RESULT OF ANARCHY

If you remove government, people's sinful nature is unrestrained and loss of life, liberty and property would be even more widespread.

Rom 3:10-18 (NIV) There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless. There is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves, their tongues practice deceit, the poison of vipers is on their lips, their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood. Ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

WHAT ABOUT BAD GOVERNMENT?

Now, the government of Saddam Hussein's was a wicked government, evil. It's better that it's not there, but in the absence even of that evil government, look what happens. People's wickedness floats to the surface, people take advantage of the situation. *

We saw the same in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. You see pictures or reports of looters going all over the place, and then private citizens guarding their possessions with weapons and willing to gun down anybody who steps on their property. It's anarchy. *

So even bad government restrains evil and chaos. Without government, might makes right and anarchy rules. *

THE ETHICAL BEHAVIOUR OF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSIBILITY TO CITIZENS

God expects civil servants to be just, righteous and godly.

Prov 29:2 (NKJV) When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.

Ps 72:1-2 (NIV) Endow the king with your justice, O God … May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.

These civil servants should not engage in corruption.

Prov 29:4 (NIV) By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down.

NO CORRUPTION

Isaiah 1:23 (NIV) Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts…

Micah 7:2-3 (NIV) The faithful have been swept from the land … the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire…

NO EXTORTION

Likewise, the security forces must not be corrupt and extort money from the people they are supposed to protect.

Luke 3:14 (ESV) Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

JUSTICE FOR THE POOR & FOREIGNERS

The poor and foreigners (non-citizens) must not be deprived of justice.

Ex 12:49 (NIV) The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.

Ex 22:21-22 (NIV) Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.

Deut 24:17 (NIV) Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.

CONCERN FOR THE POOR & UNDERPRIVILEGED

God rebukes the leaders of Israel for lack of concern for the underprivileged.

Isa 1:23 (NIV) Your rulers … do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.

The Divine Council (angelic beings who work behind the scenes of rulers) are judged by God for failing to promote these actions.

Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV) Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

THE ATTITUDE AND BEHAVIOUR OF GOOD CHRISTIAN CITIZENS

OUR RESPONSIBILITIES TO GOVERNMENT

We are to recognize that the powers that be are ordained by God.

Rom 13:2 (NIV) The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Rom 13:6-7 (NIV) … the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

This truth applies even to ungodly human governments. In fact, when Paul wrote those words, the evil emperor Nero was on the throne.

SUBMISSION

Obey the laws of the land.

Titus 3:1 (NASB) Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed

Rom 13:5 (NIV) Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

1 Pet 2:13-14 (NASB) Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him …

EXCEPTIONS

We obey the law unless it conflicts with God’s law (e.g. prohibition on worship or evangelising). In that situation the believer must rather obey God.

Acts 4:18-20 (NIV) Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

TAXES

In order to pay for services (security forces, infrastructure, etc.) taxes need to be collected from the able-bodied workers. Christians should be good citizens and pay their taxes.

Rom 13:6-7 (NIV) This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue…

RENDER TO CAESAR

Matt 22:17-21 (ESV) “Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

RESPECT

We must respect our leaders.

Rom 13:6-7 (NIV) … the authorities are God’s servants… If you owe … respect, then [give] respect; if honour, then honour.

We must not slander our leaders.

Ex 22:28 (NIV) Do not … curse the ruler of your people. [cf. Acts 23:5]

King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defence … Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently. [Acts 26:2-3, NIV)

PRAYER

We must pray for our leaders.

1 Tim 2:1-3 (NASB) First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.

THE WATCHDOG

Do we never speak out against the evil committed by leaders?

The prophet Nathan publicly rebuked David for his sin (2 Samuel 12:7).

The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke out against evil leadership and God’s coming judgment.

John the Baptist publicly reprimanded Herod for his adulterous relationship.

Peter and John refused to obey the Sanhedrin’s direct command to refrain from preaching.

You are the man!

ELIJAH AND AHAB

After Queen Jezebel uses false witnesses to get Naboth killed in order for her husband, Ahab, to seize his land, King Ahab is confronted by the prophet Elijah.

This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property? … This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’ [1 Kings 21:19, NIV]

CRITICISM OF GOVERNMENT

Note the following though:

It was the spiritual leaders who acted as the watchdog for the government.

They spoke out publicly against the sinful practices.

It was only godly kings like David who accepted harsh criticism from God’s prophet and repented. Those who condemned the rulers often faced consequences e.g. Peter and John were flogged, Elijah had to flee to escape execution. Jeremiah was thrown into a pit. Jewish tradition says that Isaiah was sawn in two at the order of King Manasseh.

CONSEQUENCES

John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed for condemning Herod’s sin.

Matt 14:3-4 (ESV) For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”

THE ROLE OF CHRISTIANS IN GOVERNMENT

PROGRESSIVE REVELATION

God reveals more of himself progressively in the dispensations:

Thus, despite the end of the Dispensation of Innocence, the state of innocence still remains (for children).

Isa 7:16 (NKJV) For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good …

Conscience continues (for adults). Unbelievers are ruled by their conscience.

Rom 2:15 (NIV) They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.

CONTINUED ROLE OF GOVERNMENT

So too, human government remains today as a restraint on human evil. In fact, government will be the mechanism Christ uses to rule with his saints in the Millennium.

Isa 9:6 (NASB) For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders …

Daniel 7:27 (ESV) And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

CONTINUED ROLE OF GOVERNMENT

Even though some governments may be corrupt (just like people’s consciences) they are still a tool of God for limiting wickedness.

If you think government is bad, anarchy is worse. Consider that before the Flood only 8 people on the planet were spared God’s judgment.

Therefore while we do not hold to Postmillennialism – which says the world is totally converted (including government) before the coming of Christ, we believe Christians have a role to play in ensuring we have good governments.

SHOULD CHRISTIANS VOTE?

Christians fulfil this role by voting for righteous rulers and by participating in politics.

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” - John Quincy Adams (sixth president of the USA)

“If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools. ... The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” - Plato (Ancient Greek philosopher)

SHOULD CHRISTIANS PARTICIPATE IN GOVERNMENT?

Christians can participate in and influence even ungodly governments.

Nehemiah influenced a pagan government to support the rebuilding of the temple.

Esther used her influence with government to save her people from genocide.

DANIEL AND HIS 3 FRIENDS

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were righteous men who functioned as high-ranking administrators in pagan governments and repeatedly used their positions for good.

JOSEPH

As the second-in-command in a pagan Egyptian government, Joseph was able to save both his people and the Egyptians from starvation.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke (18th century Irish statesman and philosopher)

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Other Scripture quotations taken from:

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.




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