The concept of government is introduced in the very beginning of God’s Word in the book of Genesis when God told Noah and his sons that a government of law would be established to protect the lives of men.
And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man—Genesis 9:5-6
Scripture makes it clear that God has ordained all government.
For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.—Romans 13:1b
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.—Colossians 1:16
Government is not something Man invented, nor is there only one way for Mankind to be governed. The Bible says nothing specifically about government being created “by the people, of the people, and for the people.” Yet, God Himself established government as one of only three divinely created institutions:
Just as with the church and the home, when we speak about the government, we are speaking about an institution divinely ordained by God and recorded in God’s Book, the Bible. Whether good or bad, government must be respected as a God-created institution.
II. GOVERNMENTS ARE RAISED UP BY GOD.
Whether good or bad, there has never been, and never will be, any government that God does not raise up. God has total control in the affairs of all governments on this earth. ”
By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” (Proverbs 8:15-16)
Many examples exist in both the Old and New Testaments where God put into power rulers who loved and obeyed Him. (Psalm 2:6-7; Jeremiah 30:9; and Acts 13:21-22) We should always pray that only good men (or women) will be placed in positions of power in our nation so that all Americans can be blessed with God’s promise that ”
[w]hen the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2)
The Bible, however, contains just as many examples of God raising up wicked and unjust governments and using them to accomplish His eternal purposes. God turns the most wicked and vile ruler’s heart however He wills it. ”
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)
Sometimes God uses hostile powers to punish His people. (Jeremiah 51:11a) Other times He uses them to rescue His people. (Daniel 2:37, 38) At still other times, God uses wicked people to proclaim His salvation (John 19:10, 11) or to glorify His name. (Romans 9:17; Exodus 9:16) No ruler rises up in any nation unless and until God grants the power and authority to do so. Thus, when Americans stand before a court or a state legislature, or any governmental body, they are standing before an institution raised up by God, whether that arm of government is good or bad. Fortunately, in America, God has instituted a government in which all citizens, including Christians, can play an important and active role in ensuring good government.
III. GOVERNMENT IS SUSTAINED AND REMOVED AT GOD’S PLEASURE.
Governments succeed and fail according to God’s good pleasure. When God ceases to sustain a government, that government is finished governing. Many Old Testament passages show how it pleased God to remove certain rulers from power.
The Book of Daniel describes how God removed Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, from power. Nebuchadnezzar was a vile man, vaunted in his imagination and almost unsurpassed in his wickedness. After he dreamed a troubling dream, he called Daniel to interpret it. Daniel reluctantly told Nebuchadnezzar that, although God had raised him to great power and authority, He was going to remove him from his position as king. For seven years, Nebuchadnezzar would go insane and live like an animal and then would be restored to the throne when he recognized that God, not the king, was in control.
This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: 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.—Daniel 4:17
The dream was fulfilled according to God’s Word. Indeed, the king’s sanity was restored to him when he blessed and praised God for His everlasting dominion and kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar finally declared,
And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?—Daniel 4:35
IV. THOSE WHO WANT TO OBEY GOD MUST OBEY GOVERNMENT.
Obedience to government is obedience to God. Conversely, to disobey government is to disobey God, which is a sin. We are to obey government because God commands it, not merely because we are politically conservative or liberal or patriotic or good citizens. In fact, Scripture tells us that we are not to be obedient to government because we are good citizens; but instead, we are good citizens when we are obedient to God.
God does not tell us to obey only a just government because there will never be a truly just government until Jesus rules and reigns in eternity. That is the beauty of our Constitution’s separation of powers. Each power is required to keep other powers in check.
We Americans, and especially American Christians, should obey every part of the law that we possibly can without actually violating our faith. And that determination must be taken very seriously. Our credibility is destroyed when an opponent can demonstrate that our disobedience is not really based on our faith. Disobedience of any law for reasons unrelated to faith and conscience is disobedience to God Himself and should be considered only with much prayer and after unsuccessfully seeking every other remedy.
Fortunately, as Americans, we can still thank God for His blessing in raising up a good form of government for our nation. Our government is good primarily because our Founders based our foundational documents and laws on the laws of God. It is always a blessing to live under and to obey laws that are based on God’s law.
Excerpt from Understanding the Constitution – David Gibbs III