How Kings Should Rule
Dec 20, 2007
Political elections are in the news these days, and each candidate is setting forth his or her agenda. So it is appropriate that we study the contrasting way in which God views "the elect."
It begins with the Dominion Mandate first recorded in Gen. 1:28, where God gave man dominion over the earth and told him to "subdue it." This is expanded further in Psalm 8:6,
"Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet."
As the history of the Kingdom of God unfolded, this dominion mandate was given to Judah, the son of Jacob-Israel (Gen. 49:10). But Judah's children were not eligible to receive this dominion mandate for 10 generations (Deut. 23:2), because of the incident with Tamar (Gen. 38). David was the tenth generation from Judah.
Yet the people had wanted a king sooner, so God gave them Saul, who was of the tribe of Benjamin. Because he was not even of the tribe with the dominion mandate, he was set up to fail.
After David came to the throne, however, God promised that his descendants would rule forever (Ps. 89:29-37). This promise eventually was passed down to Jesus Christ, who was a direct descendant of David. The "Sons of God" are His children who share in the dominion mandate as kings under the King of kings. In Who is a Jew? and Who is an Israelite?, I show how one becomes a member of the tribe of Judah by following the King. But to qualify for rulership, the King trains His children and brings them to the maturity of Sonship. Thus, when they become Israelites, they are overcomers who are given the birthright. Only then do they have the character to rule with the dominion mandate.
David, for instance, was only one of the men of Judah. Why would God call him to rule Israel? Because he was a man after God's own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). Tribal genealogy was not the only requirement in the sight of God. He also had to have the proper character. And so it is with us to this day. Many claim to be of the tribe of Judah. Some claims are valid, while others are not. In the end, though, only Judahites with the character ("heart") of Christ will rule. These are the ones who fulfill the birthright requirements given to Joseph, son of Jacob.
Deuteronomy 17 gives us the law regarding the type of kings the kingdom of God ought to have.
(14) "When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,' (15) you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman."
This law is the basis of the American constitutional provision that only someone born here is eligible to be president. That application is alright, but it is not sufficient to prevent problems from arising. The intent of this law was to prevent a foreigner from changing the Israelite culture to something else. It was also to help ensure loyalty to the Israelite nation, as well as another line of defense against having a king who worshipped foreign gods.
In a New Testament context, the Kingdom of God applies this law to prohibit anyone from receiving the dominion mandate whom God had not chosen (Deut. 17:15). The chosen ones in the New Testament are "the elect." There is a "culture" of the Kingdom of God that must be preserved also. It is the way of life that God intended for mankind. It is based upon the mind of Christ.
(16) "Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, 'You shall never again return that way'."
Horses were used for battle in those days. They were the tanks of the day. Nowadays, the army calls its tanks "the cavalry." The intent of this law was to ensure that Israel depended upon God for their protection, rather than upon their great armaments--or as President Eisenhower called it, "the military-industrial complex." The military might of America has been the source of our strength for a long time, and the people no longer have any trust in God to protect us. "God helps those who help themselves," people say.
(17) "Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself."
The law is indefinite here and does not define how many wives a king may have. However, in the New Testament, Paul applies this law to the rulers of the Church, saying that they should have just one wife (1 Tim. 3:2). This has often been said to be a prohibition upon divorce and remarriage, but that is not a proper application of this law. Divorce ends marriage, as the law tells us clearly in Deut. 24:1-4. But in the development of Church theology, where Rome recognized a marriage as being valid only if one of its priests performed it, it was also said that once performed, that marriage could not end in divorce or annulment without a special dispensation from the Church.
However, those laws were based upon Church traditions of men, not the laws of God, and it was supported by some mistranslations of Jesus' words. For a full study of that topic, see my books, Old and New Covenant Marriage and The Bible Says: Divorce and Remarriage is NOT Adultery.
So the bottom line is that the law in Deut. 17 and 1 Tim. 3:2 has to do with polygamy, not with remarriage.
Verse 17 above also tells us that the king was not to use his office to get rich. Those in high office are in a position to have an unfair advantage over the rest of the people, because he receives knowledge of the markets before others do. It is interesting to me how virtually every president in America has left office far richer than he was when he was first elected. How many of these business transactions were "legal" and how many were biblically and morally "lawful" is a question for others to answer.
(18) "Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of Levitical priests. (19) And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes."
Kings must know the law, not only its words, but its intent--the spirit of the law. To my knowledge, there is no record that any king has ever slowly hand-written for himself a copy of the law. If they had, it would ensure that they knew the law well. After all, they were accountable to it before God. This particular mandate probably had reference to transcribing the Book of Deuteronomy itself, not all five books of Moses.
(20) "that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left; in order that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel."
Studying and understanding God's law leads one to humility. Those who study the laws of men tend to lift themselves up above the common people, thinking that they are better or more privileged than they. Hence, the Scribes and Pharisees, who did not understand the mind of Christ in the law, thought they were above the others (John 7:49). Being steeped in the traditions of men, their study of the law made them righteous in their own eyes. By contrast, God's law shows us our sin and humbles us.
This is the first part of a series titled "How Kings Should Rule." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones