Forms of government in the Bible

In today’s highly charged political atmosphere, I have read all kinds of posts by Christians. Some favor one kind of government and some another. A few were outright nasty, and some were looking for an argument. It’s their right, of course, to express opinions and to differ. I personally think many could use an infusion of kindness and grace. But, that’s not what this post is about.

What does the Bible say about governments?

Which forms of government are found in the Bible? When I started brainstorming, I was surprised. Maybe you will be, too.

Theocracy = God rules. Actually, God always rules. Since the beginning, God has ordered the world. He created both the world and man and set His rules in place. Man disobeyed, but God kept ruling. When Israel was in the wilderness, ultimately God ruled. In the New Testament also, God ruled. Today, God rules. One of the most comforting concepts in my life is that God is ultimately in control. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations (Psalm 145:13).

Strong leader = One leader rules. Throughout history, God ordained strong leaders for His people. Some did wrong, but they led Israel. Examples include: Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, and good and bad kings. In the New Testament, we don’t see a governmental structure like this until the millennium, when Jesus reigns (Revelation 20:1-6).

Monarchy = One family rules. The longest ruling monarchy in Israel was David’s, through sons and briefly, one mother, all the way up to the Babylonian captivity (993 BC-586 BC). Ultimately, Jesus, a descendant of David, will complete this monarchy’s rule as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).

Representative = Representatives of the people rule. Moses needed helpers, and his father-in-law wisely suggested representatives for groups of people. (Exodus 18:17-22). Later, God gave judges to the people.

Direct democracy = The people vote. We don’t see this much in Scripture. Joshua asked the people to choose whether to obey God or serve idols. Their answer: And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey (Joshua 24:24). Gideon had an army of 30,000 men to go against the Midianites. He told them that anyone who was afraid could leave. Twenty thousand left (Judges 7:3). In this case, God later whittled the minority down to three hundred men, and He got the glory for the miraculous victory.

Communism = Everything is shared equally. Communism was tried in Acts 2:44-45, due to great persecution and financial need in the church at Jerusalem. Christians pooled their money, food, and goods. This system didn’t work for very long because of greed. Remember Ananias and Saphira, who told the disciples they were giving everything, but they held money back for themselves? (Acts 5:1-10) Their deaths were the beginning of the end for this form of government in the Bible.

I don’t know where you live or what form of government you live under, but wherever it is, the Bible is true. Let’s read some encouraging verses about governments.

  • Hezekiah prayed, Thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth (2 Kings 19:15b).
  • The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will (Proverbs 21:1).
  • Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Romans 13:1-7).

What’s my take-away from this little study?

The Lord is in control. This doesn’t mean that we fold our arms and don’t vote or that we shouldn’t be active in political affairs. It means, rather, that God works in governments. There’s no need to panic. We can rest in His sovereignty.

God’s purposes will be done on the earth.

Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah (Psalm 68:32).

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever (Revelation 11:15).

Our Love Story

Just recently, I read a sappy romance, breaking away from my usual preferences. Oh my! It only reminded me how unrealistic they are and why I almost always steer clear. (If you enjoy the chills and thrills, that’s your choice. I am only stating my opinion. As I confessed, I actually read that one.)

My own story of romance should probably told in capital letters, but I’ll spare you.

I always had boyfriends. They were all Christians and gentlemen. From twelve years old on, I had friends who were boys. I began dating solo on my fifteenth birthday. My date was nice, but quickly I realized he wasn’t for me. Following him were a series of young men from my church. And then, I went to college.

I attended a Christian university, which only allowed very closely chaperoned dates. We could attend lunch, church, and some concerts and functions with young men. It was fun.

At the beginning of my second year of college, I was attending a soccer game with a married couple from my home church. I happened to notice a nice-looking guy in the pep band, who sometimes turned around and seemed to be looking at me. I asked the couple who he was, but they didn’t know his name.

A week later, my husband and I met in the weirdest of circumstances—and walked off into the sunset. Literally.

This happened almost forty-five years ago. We’ve been married more than forty-one of those, and our life has been an adventure. After we were married:

  • He earned a master’s degree.
  • We were on deputation for two years.
  • Our home has been in Spain for 35 years and counting.
  • We have two beautiful children, now grown and married to terrific spouses.
  • Four cute grandchildren were born.
  • We lived in three houses in the USA before coming to Spain, where we’ve lived in five different homes.
  • We’ve traveled in several European countries and seen the airports—doubtful privilege—of a few more.

As a couple, we’ve experienced many joys, devastating sorrows, and have done lots of growing and changing. In some ways, forty-plus years of marriage has caused us to switch places. Our personalities have mellowed and morphed. Now, we just enjoy each day the Lord gives us and appreciate His blessings.

On this Valentine’s Day, fourty-four years from the one when my cute date first mentioned love to me, I am extra thankful for our unique and wonderful story.

Wash them away

I recently watched a purification ceremony on TV. Men and women, dressed in white, dipped themselves in special tubs, while praying. The same kinds of ceremonies are common to many religions. Wash in the Ganges. Take an ice bath in Siberia.

What’s the point?

To purify, to wash sins away.

I’m reminded of the simple hymn, “What can wash away my sin?”

You may think Christian baptism washes away sins. It’s interesting that, in the Bible, only believers in Jesus were baptized. Their sins were forgiven before they were baptized.

  • Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:38, 41).
  • But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women (Acts 8:12).
  • Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done (Acts 8:13).
  • And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him (Acts 8:36-38).
  • Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? (Acts 10:47)

When I was a baby, my parents had me “baptized.” The minister wet his fingers and dampened my little head. That wasn’t biblical baptism. I hadn’t yet made any decision to believe anything. I probably didn’t even notice my head was wet. I was only a baby. The truth is, that little ceremony was more about my parents’ dedicating themselves to teach me about God—which they did.

Later, my dad trusted Christ. After him, I did.

A few years of growing later, both my parents and I decided to be baptized as believers. We knew our sins were taken care of.

“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” When we trust what Jesus has already done, we become new creatures in Christ. Later, we are baptized to signify what has happened in our hearts. In the New Testament, people were baptized immediately following their salvation.

Water can’t do anything but cleanse the outside. It gets us wet.

Only Jesus can cleanse our hearts and take away sins.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him (Romans 5:8-9).

Are you saved?

Have your sins been washed away because you believed in Jesus’ sacrifice for you and called out for Him for salvation?

He loves you and wants to save you. After salvation, you’ll want to give a testimony through baptism.

They that gladly received his word were baptized.

Fiction review: Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Heather Day Gilbert is another fun and scary adventure with exotic pet sitter, Belinda. This time, she’s working in a wolf preserve.

She hasn’t been on the job long when a man is found dead, his face mauled, and a wolf standing guard above him.

Belinda has a hard time believing anyone would want to kill this person, and she becomes curious. Were the wolves to blame or not?

Before long, another man emerges from a wolf enclosure with an injured hand. After that, another man is dead. This time, there isn’t a mark on him—and he was the wolves’ feeder.

What is happening? Why these deaths?

As Belinda gets closer to her co-workers, she also gets closer to the truth.

I was surprised. Author Heather Day Gilbert made me guess that several different people might be guilty, and she fooled me about the real culprit.

These books are very well written, and I liked this one even more than Snake in the Grass, which was fun, as well. (My review of Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass can be accessed here.) I look forward to reading the next one in the Belinda Blake series: Birds of a Feather.

While Mrs. Gilbert is a Christian writer, there are no overt Christian themes in this series. They are, though, perfectly clean reading, delightful, and without any objectionable elements beyond the fact that some of the characters drink alcohol.

Who am I?

I’m a woman from the Bible. Who am I?

One evening, I arrive at the well as is my custom, and an elderly man is sitting there. I can’t figure out why any man would be waiting in that place. Maybe he is unwell. I ask him if he wants some water. He gratefully takes a dipperful. The old man seems tired but also excited, as if he were anticipating something special. I’m not sure what to think.

I volunteer to give his camels water, and he accepts. I lift many pitchers full. The man is appreciative and emotional. He bows his head and worships the LORD. Blessed be the LORD God of my master, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.

He gives me beautiful jewelry, which I wear immediately. In turn, I offer hospitality to him and his animals.

My brother greets the stranger warmly. The man refuses to eat without first telling the story of his mission. Frankly, it’s a long one. He goes back to the history behind his master and that he’d been sent to the relatives to pick out a wife for his master’s son. He tells my family about his prayer and my appearing and giving the camels water.

It seems strange to me that he would pray that way, and I honestly think most young women would treat animals well. What do I know?

My brother and father listen. Indeed, all the household listens intently to the fascinating story. When the man asks my father and brother if I will go with him to be his master’s son’s wife, they reply yes.

The man bows himself to the ground and worships God. Then, he gives me even more jewels of silver and gold and beautiful clothing. He also gives gifts to my brother and mother.

Everyone is in party mode tonight, eating and drinking and rejoicing.

I go to bed wondering what kind of man I will find at the end of my journey. Is he tall, kind … dare I dream handsome? It takes me a while to come to terms with my fate. In one day, I am engaged to marry someone I have never seen. Will he think I am pretty? Too late now. The agreement has been made. My father and brother are all for this match and I have no say. But, if the Lord indeed led this servant to me, it will be okay. I rest in the will of God and my family.

The next morning, the man is in a hurry to whisk me away. My mother and brother protest, saying they want me to stay at home at least ten days. But the man insists that we leave today.

My family lets me decide. I tell them I am willing.

I’m soon on my way, tears brimming as I turn away from home and family, promising to return someday. My nurse and maids travel with me, riding on camels, like princesses.

I peep from behind my veil to meet my husband. He is beautiful, and I sing a little song of praise to God in my heart.

Soon, we are married. He actually loves me. I didn’t dare to hope for my husband’s heart. It is wonderful to be married to this man. God knew what He was doing when he directed my father-in-law’s servant to me.

God blesses us with two sons, twins. The Lord tells me clearly, The elder shall serve the younger.

I make a huge mistake and decide our younger son is my favorite. I make another mistake, putting our son and his inheritance before my husband in my affections. Two deceptions later, I lose him forever. For he must flee, and I will die before he returns.

God has mercy on my favorite son and makes him—and our elder son—fathers of nations.

Who am I?

Who is my husband?

What are the names of our sons?

Which nations did they found?

For bragging rights, can you name my father and brother?

For extra credit, what specific kinds of jewelry did the servant give me at the well?