The Plan for Government
By Laurie Mathers
I’ve heard it said that government exists because we live in a sinful and fallen world, and without authority we would have chaos. To this I say yes … and no.
No, because scripture does not teach that authority exists as a result of the fall. On the contrary, God has exercised it from all eternity, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever…” (Ps. 45.6). And God has been delegating authority at least since the day he gave man “dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over ever creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” All this before sin entered the world. Scripture also tells us that after Christ returns and sets up his kingdom, “kings of the earth will bring their glory into” the New Jerusalem. So even after the restoration of all things, there will be earthly government. (Rev 5.9-10, 21.24)
Government was always part of God’s plan. God governed man directly. Man and woman, made in his image, were created to both to carry out and submit to his authority as they govern the rest of creation. Man’s sin was a rebellion against God’s government as Adam and Eve submitted to the words of Satan and their own desires rather than those of God. And mankind, has been rejecting the authority and government of God ever since.
But, the saying is true that were it not for authority structures, we would have chaos. Mankind, for a brief time needed and enjoyed only minimal government. But once sin entered the world, the floodgates of evil were opened, along with the need for more extensive government to keep chaos at bay. It is a mercy of God that He did not leave us without government.
Even though rebels govern rebels, even though every human ruler is as fallen as the people he or she governs, God manages to reign supreme and accomplish all his purposes. Even in his rebellion, fallen man is directed and restrained by God, via the law he has written on their hearts, via his mysterious providence, and, as we’re discussing, via human government. All of these are means God uses to govern us, preventing us from being as evil as we can be. Each of these, though resisted at every turn, is a blessing to sinful humanity.
Today, as I see my own nation, built on principles of self-government, failing to regulate itself, and the latitude we once had being taken from us, I grieve. Yet I’m thankful that God has not toppled our government and left us to chaos. So, instead of complaining, I do my best (for what it’s worth) to respect government, be thankful for it, prayerful for it, and subject to it, insofar as it does not require me to disobey God, recognizing it as an institution established by God for our good.
(See: Job 42:2, Is. 46:10, Jer. 10:23, Ps. 33:10-11, Prov 16:9, 19:21, Dan 4:34-35, Lam 3:37-38, 1 Tim 2.1-2, Rom 1.18-21, 2: 12-15, 13:1-7 )