Over the past two weeks we have been exploring the premier ethical considerations that are put forward by the Holy Writ of the Scriptures, namely the Bible. We have already discussed two of the five creation ordinances that are outlined in Genesis chapters 1 and 2.
The first was the call for us to be fruitful and multiply. In this ordinance we see God’s desire for us to fill the Earth with those who would be His people and wherein He would be our God. The sole purpose would be to maximise His glory through a great multitude experiencing His presence.
Subdue the earth
Secondly, through Genesis 1 and 2 we were given the great task of earthly employment. In other words we were called to subdue the Earth. From the beginning God gave us the high privilege of cultivating His good Earth. This ordinance established the great importance of our labours giving us great purpose and meaning in our endeavours.
Further glory is extended to our God by way of expressing His creative image with which He endowed us. This is all for His glory and our good pleasure.
It is interesting to note that the Hebrew root for the word Eden from which we get the illustrious title “the Garden of Eden” simply means “pleasure”. In other words through God’s creation His main concern had been the exhibition of His majesty and glory while at the same time creating an environment for our good pleasure.
It turns out that God is not a killjoy but rather just the opposite is in view here. Theologian John Piper has expressed it this way: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” To the degree we are satisfied in God and with God’s good creation we bring Him the most glory in our lives.
Government as we have not seen
The third ordinance that is presented in Genesis chapter 1 verse 28 is God’s call to us to “rule” the Earth. In essence God granted the first couple the distinguished offices of King and Queen. Adam and Eve were assigned to be the first King and Queen of all creation as God called on them not just to fill the Earth or subdue the Earth, but they were called to rule over every living thing on it. From the very beginning God ordained the institution of government.
What? Wait a minute. How could this be? Governments all over the world are full of corruption and impropriety! Governments are the source of all sorts of evils and tyrannies all over our planet! You mean to tell me that God ordained the incredible mess and injustice of our unjust, unethical and often inhumane governments?
No, God did not ordain the governments that we see in power today even though He allows them to exist. By the way, we are told in several places in the Scriptures that the nations are but a drop in the bucket with respect to God and that He raises kings and leaders up, and He also takes them out.
No, in the beginning what God ordained was authority, government and rule that ultimately rested in the very nature of His person and was seated in His perfect and righteous authority, His just and autonomous government and His benevolent and sovereign rule. I don’t know about you but I want to sign up for this!
Therefore, Adam and Eve were to serve as co-vice-regents of the One, True and Living God as the first King and Queen over all the Earth. They in turn were to preside with the same essence of God’s good governance over every living thing including their children and their children’s children.
Where we went wrong
But what went wrong? In Genesis 3 man rebelled against God, and with the rebellion government has been full of corruption ever since. Ultimate authority has been usurped and undermined, justice has been maligned and overturned, rule has been sold and auctioned to the highest bidder.
Many a premier, president, dictator, king, tsar, kaiser, sultan or prime minister has taken advantage of his office for personal gain or the advancement of pet ideologies with no regard for true justice, authority, government or rule. This has been done to the extent that the only axiom that can be applied to our world is that “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
As we look at our world where can we find good government? Arguably, one might suggest that there are a few pockets where it seems that good government or a healthy sense of justice is upheld, but for the most part and in no small portion most would argue that our evaluations and comparisons of the governments that are found in this world are really a study of the lesser of certain and various evils.
Put another way
I find it very interesting that later in the 10 Commandments as God gives His law to His people the number one commandment is the re-establishment of God as the ultimate authority. In that we overthrew God’s good government in our rebellion against Him in the garden, He now through the 10 Commandments re-establishes His pre-eminence as the ultimate Sovereign over all creation. He says: “I am the LORD your God… you shall have no other gods before Me.”
Basically what God is saying is that He is the ultimate authority. There should be no other authority but Him and only such vice-regents of authority that are completely subjected to Him. He goes on to protect His ultimate authority through two additional commandments that reflect His ultimate sovereignty and rule.
The second and third commandments make certain that substitute gods (i.e. idols) have no authority and that His name is the ultimate name of authority and is not to be dishonoured or profaned among the nations. These first three commandments make certain that God is the ultimate authority for all mankind and therefore only those who are subject to Him will find the execution of government most ethical, most righteous, most benevolent and most just.
In the meantime
What an awesome world it would be if all the knees of our rulers and leaders were bent before the God of all creation who alone is the judge of the universe. In the meantime the Scriptures tell us that we are to be subject to our leaders as far as they are subject to God and His word. As far as taxes are concerned we are told to “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”.
And I will continue to wait for the return of the King. For the promise is that one day He will return. I look forward to when Jesus the one true King will reign here with complete rule, authority and vindication. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. For now, even though I am subject to the rulers of this world, I will yet be ruled by no one except the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is He who will sit in all His glory enthroned in splendour in the recesses of my heart.
– Rev. Bradley S. Belcher is the senior pastor with the International Baptist Church of Budapest www.ibcbudapest.info. Should you have a question or comment regarding this column e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org