December 2022

December 2022

Like Everybody Else

 

On Sunday mornings, from the first part of September, we have been looking at the governance of Old Testament Israel. Israel was a Theocracy – God was their King. Many Muslim nations today would be considered theocracies: Iran, Saudi Arabia, and many countries in northern Africa. We are not. We are a Democratic Republic, and Freedom or Religion is guaranteed in our Constitution.

 

In preparing for Adult Bible Class, it struck me how much the government established by God for Israel then looks a lot like our government now. The lands held by twelve individual “tribes” look a lot like our fifty states. Each of those tribes took care of themselves, and representatives from them took care of the nation’s business. Rule was from bottom up – the people ruled the people.

 

The land was divided up so that everybody started off with land, and you could live off the land and support yourself. Provision was made to take care of the poor and people who were without family. If there was a war to be fought, men volunteered to fight in the war, and if they didn’t want to, they didn’t have to. They lived as free people, which was rare in the Ancient World.

 

There was no King in Israel except God, but in times of crisis – they occurred regularly – God would appoint a “judge,” who did not wear a robe, but a sword. Judges were military leaders whose authority was great, but after the crises subsided – God helped them out – that judge no longer ruled. When they wanted Gideon’s son to take over after him, Gideon stopped them.

After about four hundred years of that, in about 1,000 B.C. (Before Christ), Israel demanded a King. Samuel the Prophet told them God was their King, and why wasn’t that good enough for them? They wanted a King, they said – wait for it – because everybody else had a King. That’s it? That’s it, and Samuel told them why you really don’t want a King, and God is your King.

 

If you get a King, he will conscript your sons to fight his wars. He will force others to work his land, to the detriment of theirs, and to make armaments for his army. He will take your daughters to be domestic help in the palace, and your sons to work the fields. He will heavily tax your crops, and your flocks, and in summary “you will be his slaves” (1 Sam. 8:17b.). You still want a king?

 

Yes, we do, because everybody else has a king.

 

You know how a child bugs a parent, and bugs you, and bugs you, and you finally just say, “okay, have your King, but “in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day” (v. 18). What happened next? Every last thing Samuel warned them would happen if they got a king, happened when they got a king.

 

You may have noticed that we are not like everybody else. Just because everybody else is jumping into the lake – or off the cliff – doesn’t mean that we are going to take that leap with them.

 

 

In Christian Service,

 

Pastor Anderson

 

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