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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

12 July 2008

God’s Gift of Government

Q: 1 Samuel 8 shows how the Israelites rejected the Lord and asked for a king to lead them. By voting for president and our other leaders are we similarly rejecting the Lord?

VoteA: God desires to be acclaimed as the King of all Creation — a position He holds by default, since He is our Creator. However, we can acknowledge and accept His royal rule regardless of the form of government under which we live. We can participate in democratic elections without rejecting God as King over us.

Still, this passage illustrates how human government differs from God’s rule. No matter how noble and high-minded our leaders, they still are damaged by their own sinful natures. Thus, the Psalmist reminds us, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. (146:3)” Instead, it is always “better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. (118:9)” At the same time, even dictatorial, pagan governments are established by God for the benefit of the governed and unless they command and compel us to sin, we obey, since “whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:2)”

Our form of government allows us to hope (and to plan and work) for the best. However, we shouldn’t expect miracles from anyone other than our heavenly Father. No earthly government will cure or prevent all worldly ills, let alone have lasting impact upon its citizens in matters eternal.

If a more in-depth look at government and the rule of law interests you, please see the 2006 posts Obeying Bad Governments and Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Newspaper column #546:2


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