God and government

King Jehoshaphat models to us how to point a nation to God. II Chronicles 17-19 shows us 2 things this king did to ensure his appointed leaders were accountable to God and led the people into righteousness.

Jehoshaphat established a national teaching ministry – he sent out leaders into all the land to teach the law of God. This strategy brought peace and rest to the land. Now this sounds good, but I know you are asking how this would work. How can a political king start an itinerant teaching ministry? And really should he? The key is to remember the context. You have to remember during this time God’s law was the law. The teaching of the law was spiritual in nature for sure, but was also practical and civil as well. Remember what Adam Clarke said, “We may presume that the princes instructed the people in the nature of the civil law and constitution of the kingdom.” We have a tendency to think the Bible is spiritual and not practical. If the princes or state officials did not teach civil law and the constitution, then who would do it? The whole idea is to take leaders and have them teach the nation. How much does the common person really know about our American Constitution and the process of law? Do you see what Jehoshaphat did here? It is a reformation of knowledge. Many people do not know what the Constitution actually says; nor do they realize when our laws are being abused by those in power. The abuse goes unnoticed because of the severe lack of knowledge. It is the responsibility of political leaders to teach and inform people about civil law and the Constitution. This may seem a little silly, but think about it. Many leaders are working the system, not teaching truth. What Jehoshaphat did was turn the tables; he educated the people, and made the leaders accountable. Yes, this is a radical idea, but one that works and honors God. When we know how our system of government is supposed to work, then we understand how far our leaders have taken us away from the original intent. Who among our political kings will make themselves and others accountable?

Jehoshaphat appoints judges and holds them to high standard. In America we have a system of judges, both in the lower and higher courts. But do we hold them to a high standard? Jehoshaphat insisted on upright behavior and judgment. Do we hold our judges and our other leaders to a high standard? A few months ago a congressman posted lewd photos of himself online. Surprisingly this leader of ours had several inappropriate relationships with women online. When you think there is no accountability, then you will do things that lack all restraint. Now, this does not mean all members of Congress act this way, but our society seems to be littered with this type of deplorable behavior. Let me quote from the Federalist papers. If you have forgotten what the Federalist papers are – they are a collection of 85 articles written to promote the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. These essays were written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay and were published in 1787 and 1788. From The Federalist No. 78, Hamilton writes:

According to the plan of the convention, all judges who may be appointed by the United States are to hold their offices during good behavior; which is conformable to the most approved of the State constitutions and among the rest, to that of this State. Its propriety having been drawn into question by the adversaries of that plan, is no light symptom of the rage for objection, which disorders their imaginations and judgments. The standard of good behavior for the continuance in office of the judicial magistracy, is certainly one of the most valuable of the modern improvements in the practice of government. In a monarchy it is an excellent barrier to the despotism of the prince; in a republic it is a no less excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body. And it is the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws.

I must ask what constitutes good behavior? I believe our founding fathers knew what that meant. But I do not think we do. Just as Hamilton says, if we are to have a steady, upright, and impartial administration of our laws, then we have to have leaders of good behavior. Not in a religious way, but by promoting righteousness and upright principles and behavior. We all know the behavior of some of our leaders is a disgrace and embarrassment to our country. And we will continue to suffer the consequences as a nation until someone decides to reform our political leaders. Jehoshaphat insisted on righteous behavior and judgment. I implore you, please stand up and take responsibility to reform our nation. Friends, God is not impressed. Just as Jehoshaphat held his leaders to a very high standard, so does God. He holds all of our political kings to a very high standard. We are failing. It is time for reformation.