Biblical Theocracy, Democracy, Restoring Local Community, Freedom
19“Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, 20then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do. 21“Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. 22“Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23“If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace.” (Jethro speaking to Moses in Exodus 18:19-23.)
16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone. (Numbers 11:16-17)
Here we see that God did not choose the elders of Israel. The people did. Those who Moses brought to the Lord were those who were already elders of the communities. Moses also did not choose them. I have been thinking about this in relation to the growing awareness we have today that central powers are becoming too strong. Our modern democracies began with much more decentralised management of local life and local government. I have heard considerable discussion about this in America after the runaway corruption in the last presidential election, election corruption that has been growing in recent years. Many people are calling for a more decentralised form of government once again, that can’t be controlled by the “big state” of Washington, or the big business oligarchies. Many point to the local sheriffs as those who have local democratic authority and are the true representatives of law at the local level. They govern by listening to the interests of the people around them and not the interests of lobbyists or party powers in Washington. Many people claim these sheriffs have true constitutional power, and the people in Washington, who have departed significantly from the constitution in so many ways, are issuing laws ultra vires (without constitutional authority.)
Israel at its start was a theocracy. What does this mean? It means as Jethro said. Israel was to be judged locally by men “who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain.” Thus religion was to be an indispensable part of their lives. There is no “separation between church and state” here. The appeal to the American constitution about congress making no laws in regard to a religion, means congress is not to prohibit religious freedom. It does not mean that congress shall be free from religion itself. The characteristics Jethro pointed to for judges are indispensable today. Nations are to be governed in the fear of God, not without God. This would go for our children’s education as well, and for all the halls of justice. America (along with many nations) is in trouble today because this is no longer adhered to, in most cases not at all. This doesn’t mean Jethro’s statement limits us to men. It’s a term for “person.” Deborah judged Israel. Several women apostles served with Paul.
Some people point to the idea of Israel being a theocracy, as if it were an evil fundamentalistic nation, like radical religious nations may be seen today. This isn’t the case. These people may point to some of the severe judgments in the Pentateuch, like when there was insurrection, or to cultic laws that seem strange to us today. It’s too much to cover this matter here, but generally these events point more to the sacrificial forms of religion prevalent in the ancient world, rather than to God’s form of government. To cut the explanation here short, just go to Jesus and his teaching in the Gospels for clarification. He said he declared the true God, which was a challenge for those then hearing him. One basic principle Jesus was moving them away from in cultic religion was scapegoating (the concept that peace comes to a nation by sacrificing others), towards self-giving (peace comes by serving.) This was in the law of Moses, in the principles of sabbath and jubilee, which were the centre of the law: serving widows, orphans and strangers, to bring peace between neighbours in relationship. This was to displace war, as far as the Torah was concerned. But humanity can’t often hear this. It is costly, as Jesus showed us in his own life.
What about Moses and Aaron, who were appointed by the Lord? Do we have this kind of theocracy today? Can people claim to have divine appointment and take rule over nations? The kings of old claimed this. Modern oligarchies make a similar claim. They don’t say the Lord has appointed them, but they claim an elitism, a breeding or superiority that gives them a “divine” prerogative to rule the masses. They pay the advertising bills of the media, so the media is quick to back their claims and debunk “the ignorant.” The scriptures say Moses was appointed by God. He did not self-appoint “in God’s name.” He did not enforce his power on Israel in Egypt. The people followed him willingly because they knew God had chosen him. It is the same with Jesus. He took no power to himself. God gave him the kingdoms of this world and we choose whether we will follow him. Moses made no personal gain from leading Israel, unlike many “democratically elected leaders” today, who are appointed by corrupt systems and are enriched significantly while in office and afterwards.
Biblical theocracy is the opposite of what Israel experienced under Pharaoh in Egypt. Leaders are not self-appointed or appointed by corrupt interests within the community. In Israel there was no central power installed. The tribes camped around the tabernacle, with God’s presence at their centre. This presence represented God’s sabbath and jubilee rule. The sabbath means environmental and human restoration. It means the support of the widow, orphan, stranger and foreigner. It means that this kind of government displaces the government of Pharaoh, which is exploitation, slavery and warfare, to enforce his will. This is the global government we are seeing today with the oligarchs. Jubilee means that debtors are set free, and land is returned to its family of ownership. No oligarchy can take root in this system. No slavery can take hold because people have land and can meet their own needs. This jubilee has been completely overthrown by modern economies. Israel was a collection of local communities who self-governed and who supported each other across communities in brotherly love, without a centralised dominant power.
As Israel was governed locally, it was also to be governed by its sense of vocation and identity, to ensure these communities were communities of grace and not self-absorbed. Their identity was rooted in Adam and Eve’s calling, to nourish the world. This gave Israel an outward view, not to conquer others, but to support and heal. Abraham was also a major marker in Israel’s identity. They saw the Abrahamic covenant as a renewal of Adam and Eve’s vocation of stewarding the earth. Thus, through Abraham “all nations shall be blessed.” This isn’t a “spiritual other worldly gospel,” but a covenant about Israel’s priesthood in renewing this world. Israel was called to see their identity in terms of serving others.
This identity was strengthened by the Torah. Their calling as priests was to reflect God’s sabbath care and jubilee rule into the nations. They were God’s image bearers in this way. Every feast on the Hebrew annual calendar was a call to fellowship across communities and share, in remembrance that they were slaves and God rescued them. Literally, they were told to treat others the same way and not be proud: foreigners, the weak and broken people, whether broken by their own fault of by others. This reflected the way God governs the world, by forgiving and lifting the broken and thus healing our relationships and nations.
So God gave Israel local government, with outward-looking grace, with an identity and vocation to be a people who would restore others, as God had forgiven them. They were to be neither globalists nor nationalists, as we would use these terms today. Israel by and large failed to interpret their calling this way and this is the issue Jesus had with them when he cleansed the temple. So he destroyed that temple and initiated a new living temple. The church is the fulfilled Israel, the places on earth were Jesus dwells and rules locally and calls people to reach out to do the same for others: give people healing within their own local rule, without dominating them or using them for selfish gain or power. “Wherever two or three of you are gathered in my name, there I am (my kingdom rule) with you.”
When Israel wanted to make for themselves a king, Samuel warned them that the king would ruin their local communities. He would draw all resources to himself, to protect his dynasty: a raping of rural resilience. He would tax the communities, take their land, take their women as his wives and their sons would die in his wars. This is what centralised government has done for us today. Few own their own homes, hardly any outright. They are slaves of the workforce, including the women now also. Even with two wage earners, families cannot be free from debt. And our governments are at war almost perpetually, as the weapons industry profits immensely.
When Israel was in captivity in Babylon, they looked to a prophetic vision of their future under the Messiah. In Isaiah, their return from captivity was a return to local autonomy and flourishing because their hearts had been made new, set free from the covetousness that leads us to control and destroy others. This renewed heart translates into peace. This is the true “return from exile,” from our captivity within our own hearts. Israel’s Messiah would exercise a rule of restoration of local lives and communities, free from extractive colonialism. Isaiah saw the restoration of nature, of relationships and of our homes. Rulers would not incite us against one another, to weaken and control us.
In Ezekiel, it’s a vision of the old tabernacle government restored. The twelve tribes of Israel are camped around a new temple, with God’s grace flowing out through them to all the nations, bringing healing to their economy and health in all local regions, without a central dominant rule. The deadly raping of local regions by Gog and Magog ceased. Gog and Magog were the mercenaries of old, who plundered the local regions. Today, the oligarchs do just the same, taking away local resources by corrupt deals, enforced debt, offshore accounts, and by the destruction they bring through their products enforced upon communities through bribery, censorship and propaganda.
Ezekiel shows Israel’s identity fulfilled in Christ. It is a people taken out of slavery to our greed, out of Egypt, out of Babylon, to restore the local dwelling places, without the strong preying upon the weak. God’s rule focused on the temple (and today the church) is one of self-giving, the rule of the cross, where he comes not to be served, but to serve. It’s a rule where he is present among the weak, the lowest, the hungry, the outcast, protecting the child. This is the biblical vision of government, of theocracy, of the new heart and new creation. How do we get there? By strengthening local economic structures and local governing systems, thus taking back the power we have given to monopolies and to centralised rule, for rehabilitation at the grassroots.
Someone might ask, what has this to do with the gospel of Jesus coming to forgive and cleanse us from our sin? A lot. A world in which our sin is cleansed looks a lot like the world Isaiah and Ezekiel depicted. This is the way we live when we turn from our corruption and restore communities instead of taking from them, turning from imperial or economic colonialism to free and support the weak. This is the new heart and new world the Prophets of the Old Testament and Jesus envisioned.
When Jesus announced the good news in Luke 4:18-19 he said it is the acceptable year of the Lord, the release of captives from prison and the good news to the poor. Here, Jesus used themes of Exodus and jubilee, and of return from captivity in Babylon, to show that he has come to build a new kingdom in this world: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” This is a rule of justice from the heart, through a new community of care at a local level. This is the church we see active in the book of Acts, building one table for all people, to restore the lives that Rome and Jeruslem had eaten up. This was the new heart of love in the gospel. When he said, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” this was a reference to the Spirit hovering over the waters in creation, now resting on Christ for new creation, renewed local habitations, as we see in Isaiah and Ezekiel.
“Your people (the local church) will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. (Isaiah 58:12) These are all the local communities and lives that Babylonian hegemony laid waste.
There are competing theories of government and we want to look at scripture to see what it supports. One theory is that central government is put in place by God and is his will. We take this from some passages in the New Testament, like Romans 13, where Paul said all governments are from God and should be obeyed. Paul was speaking about the church’s role in being a light in “Babylon” (in the world). Paul drew on Jeremiah, who warned Israel not to rebel against Babylon in their exile. In no way does this mean that Babylon of old, nor Rome in Paul’s day, is God’s plan for our lives, but it was as the Prophets of the Old Testament said: God uses bad forms of government to bring the best order possible. Paul stated that government was to punish the evil doer. If this was done, then the corruption within government, and the evil that oligarchies do to the world, would be stopped, and local communities would be given back their power to restore.
Another theory is that we should take back this power by revolution. This is what we won’t find in the scripture, as followers of Christ. The problem with revolution, removing one bad government by violence, is that it often brings another dictator. The scriptures tell us that it is by prayer and doing good, that we silence the evil doer. This includes our own suffering. The early church, for the first 250 years at least, shunned all forms of violence and killing, reflecting both their Lord’s teaching and his example. They overcame the most brutal empire in history without the use of one sword. They brought the empire to its knees by reforming the public mind. They spoke against the evil, while also respecting their leaders. They ramped up apologetics to defend the church’s restoring role, and to defend the better forms of government found in the scriptures and in the rule of Christ. Their apologetics, their personal lives, their suffering and their prayer won the day.
The biblical vision is for government that protects local community, that we are to insist upon peacefully, by diligent involvement, in our advocacy for the weak. Our current predicament shows that we have been wrong to disengage from the public process, while expecting government and business to protect the weak. The church in recent years has had so little to say within its own meeting houses about issues of government and the protection of local community. In times past, the church was very active socially and politically, to hold men to account and to show a better way. They tamed the powers that have now risen to the top once again. People in the church have turned to their own lives, their own careers and ambitions for tomorrow, and left the government to the wicked, to those who take bribes, who sell the people for their own enrichment. If we want to take back power for the local community, to restore small businesses, to rebuild families, protect defenceless children, restore rural farming communities and their markets, then WE have to do it. We still have the law on our side, although it is currently trampled underfoot, and we have common (natural) law that is above today’s repressive statutes, but we must insist on what is right.
Restored local communities have the wherewithal to cope with Covid and other health and environmental challenges, far better without central dictatorship. The justice needed isn’t to enforce a centralised Covid rule, but to remove the global corruption that prevents local community from looking after itself in times of crisis. This is the solution to crises that global bodies aren’t willing to address. Local communities don’t need false charity or fake handouts, but an ethical autonomy over their own resources, so they are not robbed on the global market. Local communities then are much more likely to have far better farming ecosystems, which provide for healthier environments and families. They will then have the economic power to provide for environmentalism and health care. But the treachery of the global pharmaceutical companies will leave us bankrupt and bereft of health.
The agendas of the World Economic Forum, which seek to centralise both economic and political control into ever fewer hands, will destroy our local communities even further, along with any means of restoring health, farming communities or families. The elite power structures of the world use bad events, like the Cold War, terrorism, environmental issues, or viruses (some bad events they may plan or support) to put forward “solutions” that give them increased economic control and political power. From the International Monetary Fund to the biggest global corporate charitable foundations, to modern agricultural and transhumanist technologies, their “solutions” always enhance their own control and personal wealth and further destroy humanity at local levels. We have seen this happen to millions of lives.
When governments lie to their people, leave so many questions about official narratives without answers, hinder transparent reviews of their actions, public conspiracy theories will abound. Wikipedia was once an enjoyable source of information. One of my favourite podcasters is a leftist populist commentator (of Bernie Sanders ilk) who interviews investigative journalists and foremost writers in America. I have heard them discuss how the CIA sponsors Silicon Valley, for example, ensuring its editors censor and curate Wikipedia. They claim Google’s search algorithms are similarly managed, as well as much of the mainline tech industry and Hollywood’s content. John F Kennedy clashed with the CIA, dismissing its head after they launched the Bay of Pigs attack, beginning the Cuba Crisis. Kennedy was opposed to all forms of government and media censorship, he was against war, and spoke of an insidious global plot to take away personal freedoms, and he didn’t mean to limit these comments to Communism, but also included his own government, the Mafia and secret groups operating at home. The official explanation of his assassination has been disproven by all credible reports. If governments would allow files to be released, with the kind of transparency Kennedy urged, the welfare of all citizens would be far better served.
The theory of government the American constitution bears witness to is that human rights come from God, and it is the government’s duty to protect those rights. The government must not trespass upon these rights. This aligns with Paul in Romans 13. Government is God’s minister for this purpose, to punish the evil doer, to protect human welfare. The radical (in its time and radical again today) claim of the constitution was that these rights do not come from government. The government is not God’s go-between, or an elite sector, that knows what is good for mankind and determines what rights to give or not give to society. These rights are instead “inalienable” (cannot be taken away), or if a government does take these away it is acting without legitimacy. A government that takes any of these rights away has infringed upon the God given rights of each person.
This means that government has no right to take away the rights of citizens to move freely, speak freely, assemble freely and has no right to coerce people to take any medicine, vaccine, or opinion. Further, the government is to protect these rights within society, so no commercial power can become so strong that it infringes upon these inalienable rights. That is (and this used to be law in democracies that held powers in balance) no monopoly shall be allowed to grow. The government’s job isn’t to tell people what science is correct, or what they must do to protect themselves, but to instead protect the citizens from having such enforced upon them by others, for the profit of those who do so. That is, the citizens’ access to information is to be protected, so they and their local communities can decide, without information being censored.
Today super economic powers put billions of dollars into “information warfare” industries to monitor and regulate information the public can access on health and other policies these powers profit from. Microsoft has formed a coalition to censor “disinformation” online. Many corporate interests are working on ways of regulating our public discussions, along with government agencies. In pretending to be keeping the public safe from virus threats, climate dangers, or “domestic terrorist dangers” and associated “false information,” they are instead entangling the whole world in an elaborate propaganda industry, in exactly the same way Hitlers’ fascist Germany did. It is a criminal deception. It is treason. It is the very worst that could be said. The public is amazingly swallowing this, “asleep at the wheel.” Yes, the wheel is still in our hands, but won’t be for long unless we wake up.
Government is the servant of the society, to be replaced (according to the American Declaration of Independence) if it fails to do its job in protecting the rights of the weak against the strong and powerful. This is the ministry God appointed it to. Government is not to lord it over society. Government is God’s servant for the welfare of society. This works when government makes no law against religion, so that our faith can properly inform the public about the interests of society. Then we can appoint those governments who will do God’s will. This doesn’t mean we will always agree, but our freedom to debate lawfully, truthfully and peacefully will be protected. In Australia, the Victorian government passed legislation to silence the church in respect to family values. Today, the most vulnerable group is children, as global sex trafficking becomes a multibillion-dollar industry. People who peacefully demonstrate against being forced to take a vaccination so they can access public and commercial services are said by paid celebrities to be selfish and conspiracy theorists. People have become the commercial property of the globalists. This is just the beginning unless we stand by biblical definitions of government and the role God has given it.
As an Australian, I don’t agree with households being armed to the teeth with assault weapons, but I do understand this comment I saw recently: “The government said they would buy back our weapons (with our tax money). We ran a background check on the government and discovered they weren’t safe.” Many Americans believe the constitution goes like this: Government is to protect the weak. If congress becomes corrupted, then the courts step in. If the courts become corrupted, then the military steps in. If this fails, then the people protect themselves. It’s not enough to call people who appeal to their legal constitution “deplorables.” I think we are at a crossroads in American history. Powerful “charitable foundations” fund violent protest groups, support “security firms” and regime change around the world and in America. Though communities have the right of gun ownership and no government has the right to take that away, the best thing to do is to peacefully get rid of the corruption in government and corporate power.
From our experience in Nigeria over many years, guns are not the answer. They facilitate the proliferation of violence. They give no assurance of safety. It’s like “trusting in Egypt” and not in the Lord. Taking actions to bring down the divisions within society brings peace. This doesn’t mean we agree with others, but that we renounce divisive political views about who people are and the walls these views build between people and serve them as neighbours. We visit them in their time of distress and help them. We implement programs that help communities where the people have ongoing needs. We get to know them as community members and care for them as though they were our own families. This shows communities that neighbourly solutions provide more hope than “philanthropists” that come with money that has nefarious agendas attached. This is how the disunity in any nation can be overcome. We have seen this work in community after community.
In the teachings of Jesus and Paul service ultimately makes us free, not insisting on our own rights. The Sermon on the Mount (taken as it was spoken) is the church’s constitution. There is an individualism in the American constitution that is tempered by the real love of Christ, not by Communist collectivism, which is prevalent in today’s “virtue signalling” and Western politics. Maybe one reason we are so vulnerable to a totalitarian coup is that we haven’t built loving community in Christ, across racial and economic groups, as the first church purposefully did as its true expression of faith. This, according to the “dream” of Martin Luther King Jr, builds our social cohesion and secures our freedom from takeover by nefarious interests.
The Psalms and other passages of scripture speak of God coming on the clouds of heaven to defeat the plans of the proud. He “roars from Zion!” The first century Jews expected this roar against Rome, but it came from the cross. The roar of Zion is as Paul depicted in Romans 12: a renewed mind, the mind Christ exhibited in his sufferings and resurrection. It’s the roar of enemy love which is more deafening to demonic and human powers than any roar of guns. All who “live by the sword shall (still) die by the sword.” When we take the sword as the solution it releases within our communities a never-ending cycle of violence and felonies that eventually builds a military complex of immense proportions threatening the entire planet. The funds are better used serving our enemies than crushing them. This serving is God’s power that “crushes” the enmity within our own hearts. This is freedom. When we beat our swords into farming instruments, we learn to build local ecosystems and local relationships that give us a real hope and future. Maybe this is a part of what the scripture means about God’s power (his kingdom rule) coming on the clouds: Christ’s death and resurrection coming in our lives and witness.