Chapter 08 – Whose Right Is It to Govern the World? Who Has Governed It? – The Government of God

The Government of God by John TaylorHaving traced out in the preceding chapters the nature of man, his destiny and parentage, spiritual and temporal; what his object is in being here; what his relation to this earth is; his moral agency; and shown that God has never controlled his actions; we will next enquire a little about the earth; whose right it is to govern it; and who has governed it.

It will not be necessary to say a great deal here about the earth, and its organization, for we have touched on this subject before, and it is one about which there should be no dispute among believers in the Bible. I will briefly state, that Paul says, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him.” (Colos. i. 16.) This being the case, without further investigation, we will examine whose right it is to govern it. If the world be the Lord’s, he certainly has a right to govern it; for we have already stated that man has no authority, except that which is delegated to him. He possesses a moral power to govern his actions, subject at all times to the law of God; but never is authorized to act independent of God; much less is he authorized to rule on the earth without the call and direction of the Lord; therefore, any rule or dominion over the earth, which is not given by the Lord, is surreptitiously obtained, and never will be sanctioned by him. I am aware that kings and queens are anointed and set apart by their different ministers, according to the different forms and creeds of the several countries over which they reign. There are two things necessary, however, to make their authority legal, and to authorize them to act as God’s representatives on the earth. The first is, that they should be called of God; and the second, that the persons by whom they are anointed are duly authorized to anoint them. First, then, it may be necessary to observe, that, if kings and queens are of God’s selection, and are his representatives, they must themselves be appointed by him; for if not so, how can they be considered his representatives? The prophet Hosea complains, that “they have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not.” (viii. 4.) If they are sent by him, they must understand their office and calling, and the designs of the Lord concerning the people whom they govern, the same as a governor of a province, or a minister plenipotentiary, receives his credentials from the prince or court whom he serves. If, then, we examine the position of kings, and their relationship to their divine Sovereign, we shall find that there are only two ways for this calling to be legal. It must have been given, either by God, through revelation to the ancestors of the reigning kings, and handed down in an unbroken descent to the present time; or, otherwise, given by direct revelation, and they set apart by a prophet of the Lord God. But no nation, kingdom, or king in existence will acknowledge either of these ways. All the kingdoms that are now in existence were founded by the sword, without any respect to God. In relation to their anointing, the question would naturally arise, Who authorized the ministers to anoint those kings and queens? For if the persons officiating have not the authority thus to anoint, and set them apart, to execute God’s law and reign over the nations, their anointing will avail them little: it will be merely the anointing of man without the direction and sanction of God.

Authority to anoint kings and queens, in order that they may be the anointed of the Lord, must be given in one of three ways. It must first, have been given by revelation to the primitive Christian Church, authorizing them to administer in this ordinance, and empowering their successors to do it; secondly, by direct revelation; or, otherwise, it must have been transmitted from the ancient Jews, through a lineal descent. In regard to the first, we find no such record in the New Testament; neither Jesus, nor his Apostles, nor any of the seventies, nor elders, ever administered in this ordinance, or spoke of it as being associated with the powers of their ministry. Consequently, no power can come from there.[A]

[Footnote A: I am aware that the Roman Catholic ministry will tell us, that they have traditionary authority to anoint kings, and to perform many ordinances that are not contained in the Scriptures. Without, however, arguing the point of their authority here, I would briefly remark, that in order for the administration to be legal, it is necessary that the kings themselves be called of God; that this call is requisite, as well as the anointing; and that, if they possessed all the power they claim, they have no more right to anoint a man to be king, who is not called by God, in one of the two mentioned ways, than any officer of state would be authorized to confer an office of trust or honor on any individual, the gift of which was vested in the king alone, if the king had never appointed the individual. All intelligent persons must see that either appointment is illegal, and consequently null and void. The following from a French History, is interesting, and needs no comment: it shows clearly the design of its usage first in France:—

“La cérémonie du sacre était-elle connue en France avant l’inauguration de Pepin?

“R. Non; elle n’avait jamais été employée: mais Pepin se servit de cette cérémonie empruntée des Juifs, inconnue jusqu’ alors, pour imprimer à la royaute un caractére plus auguste; cette coutume s’est perpetuée depuis pour tous les Rois de France. II commença à régner, 752, A.D.

Nouvelle Histoire de France, par Louis Ardent, p. 47. Paris: chez Corbet, Libraire Quai des Augustins.]

In regard to the second position, all Christendom deny present revelation; and thus from their own confession they have not obtained their authority from that source; and in regard to the third, if there was authority associated with the Jews to ordain kings, the Christians certainly could not claim a Jewish rite; for the Jewish nation and authority were all destroyed: “they were broken off because of unbelief.” (Rom. xi. 17, 19, 20.) The Christians obtained all their authority to officiate from Jesus Christ, and not from the Jews. Whichever way you look at it, there is no foundation for any such authority, and consequently the anointing is all a farce, for it does not originate with God.

But here let us enquire a little further, Does God set up Christian kings to fight against Christian kings? and Christian subjects to destroy Christian subjects? I know they call upon God; but what to do? In their wars they ask him to destroy one another. This patchwork dominion, and mongrel Christianity, although they may be quite feasible in the dark, yet they present a curious spectacle when brought into the light of Truth.

It may be asked, Has not the Lord given authority to kings to reign? Yes; he has, to two kinds: to one, to accomplish certain purposes that he had in view relative to the nations; to the other, to rule over his people—these were legally called and anointed by him. Of the first kind, was Nebuchadnezzar; he had a kingdom and dominion given to him, so say the Scriptures, but certainly not to govern God’s people, for he made, and caused to be worshipped, a large golden Image; and put Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego into a furnace for not doing so. What, then, was his calling? First, it was to govern a wicked and idolatrous people; and secondly, to fulfil the will of God, in the punishment of his people. As the people over whom he ruled had given themselves up to idolatry, they had an idolatrous king given to them for their ruler, for the Lord, never having given up his right to govern the world, gives the people kings according to their deserts; and although he may not give them legal authority as His representatives, yet by his overruling Providence, he places wicked men in a position that they may have power over a wicked nation, both to trouble that nation and themselves. Such was the case with Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and also with Salmanaser, king of Assyria, when he defied the God of Israel. Such was the case with some of the kings of Israel, in the rebellions of that people; and with Belshazzar, king of Babylon, who was eating and drinking with his wives and concubines in the palace at Babylon, when the handwriting was seen on the walls, “God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting.” (Dan. v. 26, 27.) Babylon was destroyed; and so fully have the purposes of God been accomplished in relation to that magnificent city, that the place where it then stood is now a desert. And such also will be the case with the nations and kings of the earth, in the last day, as spoken of by Zechariah. “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh . . . . . For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle . . . . . then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” (xiv. 1-3): also read the 39th chapter of Ezekiel. Here, then, is a slaughter the most terrible that could be conceived: the armies actually cover the land, and so dreadful is the slaughter, that they cannot bury the dead, so that their stench shall stop the noses of the passers by. The fowls of the air are commanded also to assemble, that they may eat the flesh of kings, captains, and mighty men; and yet those kings, princes, and rulers will, by the providence of God, be given to the people as a chastisement, that the Lord may punish both kings and people on account of their iniquities. Daniel clearly exemplifies this subject in the following words, in speaking of the judgements that should come upon Nebuchadnezzar. He states, that these judgements were “to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” (iv. 17.) Another duty that wicked kings have to perform on the earth is, that of being used by the Almighty as a scourge or rod to punish nations that are corrupt. Hence when Israel had sinned against God, and the Lord determined to chastise them, he told them, through his prophets, that he would punish them by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Accordingly, Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem, and took the Children of Israel captive to Babylon, with the vessels of silver and gold belonging to the Temple. And God afterwards punished Babylon for its transgressions; Cyrus, king of Persia was raised up by the Lord to chastise it.

But did either of these kings govern God’s people? or were they ordained by the Lord? No, only as his sword to execute his judgements on the nations. Such, also, were Alexander, Cæsar, and others; and hence Paul tells the Christians in his day to submit themselves to kings and rulers. And why? These men were ordained for a certain purpose, and it was not for the Christians to set in order the affairs of God’s kingdom, nor to regulate the world. The Lord would do that in his own time and way; it was for them to wait for the time “of the restitution of all things.”

Another order of kings were those that were anointed to reign over God’s people, the children of Israel. Such was Saul, who was anointed by Samuel; such also were David and Solomon, and many of the kings of Israel. Those kings that were anointed and acknowledged of the Lord were not only kings but priests. Hence, Saul, when he had sinned against God, and the Spirit of the Lord was withdrawn, “enquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.” (1 Sam. xxviii. 6.) David also acted as a priest, and could obtain knowledge or revelation from God also, for when Saul was rejected, and sought David’s life, David called for the ephod, used by the priests: see Exodus xxviii. “And David said to Abiathar the priest, bring hither the ephod. Then said David, O Lord God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? Will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard, O Lord God of Israel? I beseech thee tell thy servant. And the Lord said, He will come down. Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men up into the hand of Saul? And the Lord said, They will deliver thee up.” (1 Sam. xxiii. 9-12.) Here we find David actually enquiring of God for direction, and obtaining information. The Lord had forsaken Saul, and would not answer him; but he would and did answer David: see also the xxiii. 2; and xxx. 8; and 2 Sam. ii. 1; v. 19-25; xxi. 1; 1 Chron. xiv. 10-14. From the whole of the above we learn, that David took no step without enquiring of the Lord. Solomon also, acted as a priest as well as a king; and it is said of him, that Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father. And the Lord gave him wisdom, and instructed him in the affairs of his kingdom. When he prayed unto the Lord, and asked of him wisdom, God granted him the desire of his heart, and gave him with wisdom, riches and honor. “And Judah and Israel dwelt in safety, every man under his vine and fig tree, from Dan to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon;” and when he had finished the temple, he offered his sacrifices, and acknowledged the God of Israel; and he prayed for the nation over which he ruled, not by proxy, but himself. “And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands towards heaven;” and then he uttered a prayer for himself, his people, and nation: see 1 Kings viii. 22. And we read that afterwards the Lord appeared to him, and said unto him, “I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgements: then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: and at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil.” (1 Kings ix. 3-9.)

Thus, then, these men, delegated and appointed of God, acted as his representatives on the earth. They received their kingdoms from him. They were anointed by prophets of God, who received the word of the Lord concerning them, as in the case of Saul and David; and if they departed from God, he chastised, or removed them, as in the case of Saul and David, and of which the history of the Kings of Israel is a striking example, and faithful commentary. Those that were faithful among them sought to know the mind of God, and to carry out his designs. The greatest, most powerful, and prosperous rule that ever existed among them, as a nation, was that of Solomon, who asked, and obtained wisdom from God; and that wisdom as a necessary consequence brought honour, happiness, security, riches, magnificence, and power. Thus those kings that were righteous, who received their kingdoms from the Lord, went to war, or proclaimed peace by his directions; they were his representatives on the earth, and governed his people as the Lord’s anointed. Yet even the monarchy of the House of Israel was not in strict accordance with the will of God; but originated in the rebellion and pride of the children of Israel, who, wishing to be like the nations around them, being dissatisfied with their judges, desired of the Lord a king. The following are their words, and the Lord’s answer: “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, Behold thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, this will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep; and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.” (1 Sam. viii. 4-22.)

We find that this thing was displeasing to the Lord; they resisted the counsel of God; but as they were the Lord’s people, he listened to their requests, and gave according to their desires; he felt bound to fulfil his engagements, and, if they would not walk fully by the rule that he required, to give a government of their own asking, which, if not so good as the one he proposed, was nevertheless sanctioned by him; and that order once established, those kings set apart, and anointed by him, had a perfect right to look to him for his guidance, which they did, and inasmuch as they performed his will, as his representatives, were blessed of him. For kings could not be blamed for the order that existed, they did not originate the government; it was the people, all they could do was to rule according to the direction of the Lord. But this was not a perfect government. The Lord had his eye on something yet more glorious, something in which the salvation, and happiness of the world were concerned; a rule of righteousness, when, not only one nation, but the kingdoms and dominions of the whole earth, should be given to the Son of God; and when all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues should serve and obey him; and as the earth belonged to him, and the people also, that he should govern them. Such will be the case as we shall hereafter show, and a system be introduced that will not only benefit one nation, but that will govern all nations, bless the whole of the human family, and exalt and happify the world. All these things that have existed, are merely temporary arrangements, adapted to the weakness, ignorance, and wickedness of the human family, in the times of darkness, and power of Satan. If the above is the case, in regard to the best of these governments, even that of the House of Israel, what is the situation of those who are governing, without even any pretensions to have received their government and authority from God! It may be asked, What is to be done in this state of things? how are they to be regulated? This is worthy of our attention, but as we shall devote some time to this hereafter, we will content ourselves with saying, this is God’s work, and not man’s. He has these things in his hands, and he must arrange them; confusion, revolt, rebellion, is not the way to bring these things about; for if the world is already evil, this will only make it worse. Besides, the kings and rulers of the present day are no more responsible than others; they did not make the nations as they are, they found them so; neither are they appointed to govern the world, nor do any of them profess it. According to their most extended calculation, their power would be confined to their own nations. Some of the kings and queens of the earth seem to be actuated by a desire to promote the happiness of the nations with which they are associated, and over which they rule. The Queen of England is almost universally beloved by her subjects, and that deservedly; she has been mild and pacific in her course, and her rule and dominion have been as near right as it is possible for a government to be under existing circumstances. If there are evils, she did not originate them, she found them so. She has kept her covenant that she made with the nation, and sought the welfare of her subjects, and they owe her fealty, and ought to render to her obedience. And as she, nor no monarch, is set to build up the kingdom of God, or establish universal rule, as a monarchy without authority from God, it is perhaps as good a form as could exist. The Emperor of Russia, with all his faults of government, nevertheless possesses many good traits; at any rate he seems to reverence the Lord. Some time ago, when the cholera broke out in St. Petersburgh, the inhabitants supposed that their wells had been poisoned; a large number of people assembled for the purpose, as they thought, of finding out, and punishing the aggressors. The excitement was very great. The Emperor, hearing of the tumult, rushed into their midst and said, “My children, you are mistaken in supposing that the wells have been poisoned, and this is the cause of our affliction, this is a judgement that has come from God, let us fall down before him, and ask him to remove his scourge from our midst;” whereupon he fell upon his knees in the midst of the people, and prayed to the Lord to remove the plague from among them. He has a strong impression that God has a work for him to do on the earth; and in this he may be right. Although he is not delegated to establish the kingdom of God, he may nevertheless be appointed as Caesar, Nebuchadnezzar, and others, as a scourge to the nations, and so fulfil his destiny, for as we are on the eve of great events, and a fearful doom awaits the nations, some powerful means must be made use of, in this as well as in other ages, to bring these things about.

Some may remark on the foregoing, Does not Paul say, that “the powers that be, are ordained of God?” Yes, and so say I; but all powers that are ordained of God, do not rule for his glory, nor are they all associated with his government and kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar were ordained of God, but they were both idolaters. Cyrus was ordained of God; but he was an heathen. God regulates his own affairs; and while the world is in a state of idolatry, apostacy, and rebellion, he, by his providence, overrules the affairs of the nation, as Daniel says, “to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” (Dan. iv. 17.) But others will say that Paul tells us “to be subject to the powers that be.” So say I. God will establish his own government: the cavillings, rebellions, and contentions of men will not do it; and it is proper for well disposed persons to wait the Lord’s time, to be peaceable and quiet, and to pray for kings, governors, and authorities. This was what Jeremiah taught the children of Israel to do, “And seek the peace of the city wherein I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it, for in the peace thereof shall you have peace.” (xxix. 7.) It is very evident, from what has been shown, that there is no proper government nor rule upon the face of the earth; that there are no kings who are anointed, or legally appointed of God; and that, however much disposed any of them may feel to benefit the world, it is out of their power, it exceeds the limits of their jurisdiction, it requires a power, spirit, and intelligence, which they do not possess. We see, moreover, that tumults, commotions, rebellions, and resistance are not the way to do it. It requires more wisdom than that which emperors, kings, princes, or the wisest of men possess, to bring out of the wild chaos, the misery, and desolation that have overspread the world, that beautiful order, peace, and happiness portrayed by the prophets as the reign of the kingdom of God.

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Source: Chapter 8 of the The Government of God, by John Taylor (1852)

Table of Contents: The Government of God: Chapters: One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten | Eleven | Twelve

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