I love this America of ours. I love the founding fathers, their tremendous awareness of history, the risk to form a new kind of government, and the courage to sacrifice everything to see the dream of freedom realized. I have been an incurable patriot, in love with the republic and the rule of law that it represents, grateful and bewildered over a group of men that would fashion strong guards against their own assumption of power. I, like so many others, revere the original documents residing in a vault in the National Archives Building that speak of the intent and establish the form of this government.
This dream, this structure built on the lessons of civilizations past, this sacrificial quest for liberty, this gift to future generations, grew to prominence with shocking celerity changing how most of the world views government. We now look through democratic glasses. No rising government is taken seriously without a system of representation. The vote, the franchise, is the unquestioned method and value. “We the people”, has been elevated to the world as our secret, the key that unlocks the doors of freedom, innovation, prosperity, and power.
Regrettably, all the gold our system produces does not glitter. 1973 was the year that our we-the-people democratic republic approved the killing of the unborn as a ‘right’; human sacrifice on the altar of convenience. Since then ‘we the people’ have killed over 54 million unborn babies and we march ahead at 3300 each day still wondering why we have a slow-growth economy and a shortage of skilled workers. As of January 2013, ’we the people’ in nine states legally recognize the marriage of 2 males or 2 females thrusting away God’s design of ‘male and female created He them’. In last years’ election (2012), ‘we the people’ of Colorado legalized marijuana to extend our freedom to mind altering, heart racing, cancer causing recreation. And if the hullabaloo of this election is correct, 47% of our population does not pay taxes and are, for the most part, wards of the state.
This is the moral and governmental deterioration so feared by the founding fathers that they set up three branches of the federal government with separate and competing powers and vested most of the power within the states. But human nature, it seems, cannot be stopped. We have refused to heed the lessons of history, the glory and grandeur of centuries gone by echo woeful warnings of collapse and ruin yet they fall on greedy, selfish, unheeding ears.
If this civilization, this America, could be righted, set back on a firm foundation, if God Himself would intervene, how would He set sail and turn rudder to a better destiny? The book of Daniel gives us a startling clue in the form of a grand human image that represents worldwide governments and their kings in a chronology that spans the millennia and, in fact, has yet to see its end. The head and shoulders are of gold, representing Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylonia, the chest and arms of silver are the Medo-Persian empire, the belly and thighs of copper are Alexander of Greece, and the legs and feet of iron and clay of a yet uncompleted world power. These consecutive kingdoms, in due time, fall to the greatest king, Jesus Christ, Who finally does right the ship and finally, after thousands of years, brings peace to mankind. He is King of kings and Lord of lords and will rule the Bible says, with an iron club.
All kings and kingdoms are set up by God but these are brought to our attention as powers of the widest dominion, powers that ruled the entire earth. What else links them together? They are ruled by despots, dictators all, down even to the last kingdom ruled by Christ Himself.
It is a curious thing to realize that God’s choice of worldwide governments and governors never once included the consent of the governed. All the great kingdoms rose to preeminence through brute conquering force. Is there a lesson in this for us? What then, is God’s common denominator of good government? Is it democracy or autocracy? Is it the American way we now impose on the world or the way of Alexander? Throughout history we have seen each type rise, prosper, and yet fall of its own weight.
It’s a blow to our revered beginnings and a wound in the side of any who feels pride in our flag but the stubborn truth is that God’s choice has always been autocracy. Yet even among the great despotic kingdoms of history, the image in Daniel depicts deterioration from gold to silver to copper to iron, each kingdom less glorious, less noble, less able to cause justice to reign and peace to flourish.
It gives rise to the question, “What is government for?” Our founding fathers sought liberty and equality under the law. They recognized mankind, through the mechanism of government, was the greatest enemy to that end. Men would, given any chance at all, use the power of government to steal the substance and liberty of their fellows. Thus they wished to “bind men down by the chains of the constitution”. God, I believe, blessed them for their objective view of sin and their reliance on Him.
When Christ reigns in the government on earth what is that government for? Peace on earth goodwill toward men. God tells us that people will no more learn war. They will turn weapons that mete out death into tools that bring in harvest. God’s government will bring justice to the orphan and help to the widow. God’s laws will be reinstituted and obeyed. And most importantly, the king will be sought after for wisdom, and worshipped as befits a sinless ruler. To accomplish this God recognizes that mankind is his own worst enemy and He will replace his heart of stone with a heart of flesh.
The real lesson of history is that mankind cannot rule himself. Our founders understood the dangers of the human heart but could only construct weak constraints. They could not issue new hearts. Given that frailty throughout humankind, our best common denominator of good government has been the rule of law. Governments deteriorate when lawlessness abounds. Not the lawlessness of the everyday criminal, though to be sure that too drags us down, but more importantly the lawlessness of the rulers themselves. When the rulers do not obey the laws of their own land, collapse is at the door.
What form of government can save us from ourselves if not one that demands an acknowledgment of, a reliance on, and an obedience toward God and His laws? Can we imagine any turnaround in our present circumstance without the intervention of a ‘good guy’ dictator?
God favors a dictatorship, a benevolent but strict dictatorship, as the only way to keep us from sliding down the moral slope into ruin. We need a central power when we the people seek the ‘rights’ to immorality and injustice. The worldwide dictatorships mentioned in Scripture are frail and increasingly corrupt, nevertheless, types of God’s government to come. We need a King that will not only maintain the laws on the outside but change our hearts on the inside. We need God and His Son.