How Kings Should Rule--Part 2
Dec 22, 2007
I want to expand on a few concepts mentioned in Part 1.
Deut. 17:17 says that the king was not to use his office to get rich. Keep in mind that this law applies not only to political rulers, but also to spiritual rulers. In fact, it is applicable in some way on every level of authority: civil, religious, business, and family.
We often hear of civil rulers putting large chunks of American foreign aid into their own Swiss bank accounts, as if they somehow "deserve" this because of their positions in government.
We see on religious television every day the idea that religious leaders "deserve" big mansions, expensive cars, marble toilets, gold faucets, and private jets. These things are not even hidden from the public, but in fact are used as "proof" of their spirituality and importance in the world. One of the chief reasons Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" on the Church door at Wittenberg on Oct. 31, 1517 was because of his objection to the Church's love of money. The television evangelists of today have far outstripped the Roman Church's love of money, and they did so in a far shorter period of time.
But as of last Oct. 31, we passed the 490-year mark, and on this day, Senator Grassley of Iowa began to investigate some of the more opulent ministries in America. Perhaps this signaled the beginning of the rooting up of the love of money. Certainly, the timing of this is significant. We have been watching for this day and discussing it for many years, wondering what the day might bring.
And, of course, corporate greed is legendary, and it is assumed that CEO's deserve hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bonuses and stock options, to say nothing of their salaries.
But God is training overcomers to rule in the Age to come. He has been doing this since Adam. He will raise all of these from the dead at the time of the first resurrection, so that they will be able to administer the divine Law to the people and to whole nations that declare Jesus Christ to be King and His law to be the law of their land. God is currently raising up "kings and priests" who will reign on the earth (Rev. 5:10). Not many of the chief rulers of the temple in Jesus' day qualified; neither will many of today's chief rulers of the airwaves qualify.
To the overcomers, the law in Deut. 17:17 is not so much a command, but a prophecy: "He shall not greatly increase silver and gold for himself." Under the Old Covenant, made for the imperfect, it is a command, for such people should strive to attain to this righteous standard. But under the New Covenant, made for those who are called as overcomers, it is a prophetic promise of the law that He is writing in their hearts. Thus, even today, the evidence of this ought to be seen in their daily lives--not in a perfect way, perhaps, but in a progressive manner.
Thus, when we see religious leaders flaunting their wealth, which many poor people sent to help them spread the Gospel, there is little evidence that such people are overcomers. Perhaps they are content with being "saved." Perhaps they are content with the financial blessings of Pentecost. But their view is short-sighted, and in the end, they will wish that they could trade all of these so-called blessings for the privilege of ruling with Christ in the more glorious Age to come.
Deut. 17:20 is closely related to verse 17. God intended for kings and rulers to be humble and not to consider themselves above their countrymen. There are too many horror stories to tell about religious leaders today, showing how so many think of themselves as better than their financial supporters. I will refrain from giving specific examples. God will judge them in due time according to their heart.
Verses 18-20 tell us that the king was to write a copy of "the second law" (Deuteronomy) for himself in order to study each word more carefully. Verse 20 tells us that God's intent was to keep the king humble, so that he would not elevate himself above his brethren. It is interesting to me that in the New Testament, the rabbis and chief priests THOUGHT they knew the law well. Men honored them for their supposedly great knowledge of the law. But the fact that the law made many of them prideful, rather than humble, showed that they really did not understand the law at all.
And so Moses told Israel in Deut. 8:2 that God had trained that nation forty years in the wilderness, not to make them proud of their righteousness, but to humble them by testing them, so that their hearts (i.e., carnal nature) would become manifested. When the people saw their hearts and how they continually failed to achieve God's righteous standard, they would be humble and not be so quick to judge the nations around them or to consider them to be sub-human or divinely cursed.
Studying the law of God brings humility. Studying the traditions of men bring pride. This is how we are able to see which set of laws a person has studied and absorbed. It makes no difference who we are talking about or what race or even what religion--the results are the same for all men. When the study of the law brings inequality to one's thinking, or brings partiality to the judicial process, it is not the fault of the divine law, but is the result of the leaven of the traditions of men.
This is why it is absolutely imperative that we study the law through the eyes of Christ and with a New Testament perspective. Jesus defined rulership this way in Matt. 20:25-28,
(25) . . . "You know that the rulers of the Nations lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. (26) It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, (27) and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; (28) just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
This is how the law of kings is fulfilled in us. For overcomers, authority is the power to serve, and its purpose is to empower them to serve in a greater capacity. For the world, authority is the opportunity to have servants, to have others serve them, and to enrich themselves as the result of those services done for them.
The Apostle Paul also came to understand the law after his conversion. In Romans 7:12 he acknowledged that "the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good." In verse 14, he said, "For we know that the law is spiritual." The law is not carnal. Man is carnal, Paul says in the same verse that this is why we fall short of the righteous standard of the law.
Paul tells us that when we study the law, we see reflected in it the righteous character of God, for it proceeded out of His mouth. When we compare it with human nature (the carnal mind), we have no reason to be proud of ourselves or unsympathetic to others who share the same carnal mind. Paul says that the law, which was given to bring life to us, actually brought death (Rom. 7:10). This is not because the law is bad, but because the law made sin sinful, and the wages of sin is death.
Without the law, sin would be righteousness. Some people discard the law, thinking that this is the path to life. We must cast aside the law in order to have life, they say. Such thinking shows a complete lack of understanding of the law's purpose. How can we "die daily," as Paul says, except the law kills us daily? (1 Cor. 15:31) Death is not an evil thing; it is part of the plan and purpose of God, for it is part of humility that God is writing in our hearts.
In my view, humility is the primary characteristic of an overcomer. Selah.
This is the final part of a series titled "How Kings Should Rule." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones