By Daniel H. King
The system of government which we enjoy in the U.S. is a “constitutional” one, that is to say, those who govern us do not possess absolute power. Their ability to act is restricted by enforceable rules of law found in the document known as our consitution. Although our forefathers rejected the control of their land and individual lives by a foreign tyrant, still they recognized the basic need for a well-ordered and just society. However, none of the other alternatives available to them was attractive: dictatorship, totalitarianism or anarchy. The former two would have amounted to more of what they had endured under the English monarchy, total domination by a man or group of men who considered only their own selfish interests and gave little thought to the concerns of those governed. The latter would have meant chaos. No system could long endure without the aid of legal boundaries to check the lawless actions of people who have no care for the common good. It would shortly have been vanquished through its own endemic weaknesses and replaced by something different. A dictatorship or totalitarian system might persist, perhaps even for an extended period, but only by force of arms; and the hearts of the people would surely long for something better.
Undeniably, there are several lessons to be gained in the spiritual realm from these observations gleanded out of centuries of human experience with the science of government. We are aware of the fact that no analogy is perfect, and freely admit that this is no exception. Still the Master Teacher did not hesitate to make such imperfect comparisons, as his parables plainly show. It is therefore certain that we do so with excellent precedent.
First, let it be plainly said that the realm of the spirit is absolute monarchy. Though men impertinently long for, and betimes intrude a democratic mode into the place God’s government, yet it must be realized that He is a ruler without peer. In the time of God’s dealings with Israel he declared Himself their king: “I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King” (Isa. 43:15). The everpresent difficulty with human monarchs is that their judgments tend to be capricious, sometimes illconsidered, and often purely selfish. The frailties which characterize the state of man are inevitably at fault. Not so with the divine King: “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart . . . The ordinances of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether” (Psa. 19:8-9).
Under both systems one fact remains consistently true: since God is the ultimate author of this legal apparatus, it requires no conventions to update it and allows for no amendments to clarify, fortify or amplify it. Under Moses it was put in this way: “You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deut. 4:2). Similarly, the New Testament closes with the warning, “I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18, 19).
These texts stand like sentinels who keep their vigilant watch over the book that we today know as the Bible. But how much more it is than a mere book! Since we have between its covers the documents of God’s “consitutional monarchy” we are forced to investigate its pages to know about the divine government. It has its opponents on every hand: pretenders to the throne of Jesus; spiritual anarchists, who deny all divine law; democratizers, who would make the will of the masses the will of God; traditionalists who equate human practice and celestial decree; libertines, who raise their own thoughts to a rank above the thoughts of divinity; innovators, who replace the inventions of God with their own devices; critics, who offer words of negation but have nothing positive or fruitful to venture; and the list goes on.
From the systems that govern earthly societies we can learn one final thing: it does not go well with those who care little for law. They may evade its enforcers for a time but eventually they will be called to task. So might it also be said of God’s government: “And I saw a great white throne and him that sat upon it . . . And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11-15).
How much better it would be to obey God now than to travel life’s road impenitent and uncaring, forced at last to heed one final command: “Depart from me, ye cursed . . .” (Matt. 25:41).
Truth Magazine XXIII: 34, p. 546
August 31, 1979