The state, or government, is one of several societal realms God created, established and sustains. These other realms include the following: family, church, labor, community, and the relationship between God and man. All of these social realms are to revolve around and receive their purpose from the One, True God. In other words, the God of the Bible.
Take note of the following Scripture passages as they pertain to one of God’s created social realms: the state.
20 “Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. 21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; 22 he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.” (Daniel 2:20–22 (ESV)
9 “He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:9–11 (ESV)
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1 (ESV)
The state holds its power purely as delegates and representatives of the King of all kings. In other words, the God of Scripture. The Lord appointed and armed the state with the sword in order that it might 1) punish evil and 2) condone good (Romans 13:1-4). Those who forget these principles and become puffed up with a sense of their own importance are, like Ahab (1 Kings 21), Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:20-30), Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26), and Herod (Acts 12:21-23), liable to swift and severe judgment.
What happens when initially an individual in particular, or eventually a society at large, rejects the One, True God being the center of all existence and societal realms? When this occurs, the vacuum or vacancy must be filled. Society must find something, or someone, for which to derive their purpose for existence. Who, or what, will fill this position when God is rejected by society (Romans 1:18-23)? The answer is the state.
When the state occupies the positon God originally designed for Himself, the state then determines the purpose for the other societal realms God created. The state will begin to authoritatively rule over the family, church, labor, community, and the relationship between God and man. In effect, the state will establish itself as a replacement for God.
This pattern of the rejection of God, and the replacement of God by the state, has occurred many times throughout recorded history. What is initially entertained philosophically, becomes a reality politically and societally. When God is denied and rejected by mankind, the state fills the vacuum thereby becoming autonomous and accountable to no one. 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Hegel, and influencer to Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche, proposed the glorified state which is authoritarian.
How does this ominous reality pertain to the Journey of Joseph? Joseph and Pharaoh did not set out to establish an authoritative state replacing the LORD when Egypt provided food and sustenance for a starving world (Gen. 41).
However, the Pharaoh of the Exodus did. He not only refused to acknowledge the importance of Joseph in Egypt’s history, but by reasonable logic he also did not acknowledge the importance of the God of Joseph. Therefore, this resulted in the orchestrated mass infanticide of new born Hebrew boys ((Exodus 1).
Dr. Tel Tackett explains, “The Bible and history demonstrate, when human rulers overstep their bounds, deny the sovereignty of the various social spheres, and seek to establish state control over every other area of human life, tyranny, oppression, and violence are sure to follow. The godless expansion of the power of the state has reared its ugly head many times in the past, most notably in the 20th century regimes of rulers such as Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot. It is raising its head again in our own time. Without God, truth, or any higher moral standard, people are increasingly looking to the state as savior and supplier of every human need.”
How is the United States of America, Canada, or other countries evidencing a biblical perspective of God and the state? Or are they? Answers to these questions will be forthcoming in the next installment of His Word Today.
Soli deo Gloria!