Pastors Report - 06 Sep 2019
Divine Requirement Of Kings

The Divine Requirement of Kings:

"... The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. (II Samuel 23:3)

A Constitutional Crisis:

For weeks now, the daily news over here in the UK has been dominated by the Brexit debate, but in the last few days the disputes have intensified. Continually you will hear expressions from the presenters and those they interview such as "unprecedented", "uncharted waters","impasse" and "anyone's guess". At its heart is the referendum called by Mr Cameron when he was Prime Minister in 2016 that delivered a totally unexpected result – that the majority of the populace wanted to leave the EU. The problem is the majority in Parliament disagree with this decision – as do many others within the country, including most of the media – the 48%, the "Remainers". So for three years his successor Mrs May – in an attempt to please both sides – had her compromise agreement with the EU rejected by Parliament on three separate occasions. Finally her successor Mr Johnson became Prime Minister just a few weeks ago with a straightforward goal of leaving the EU – with or without a deal – by the end of October. "No ifs, no buts". He formed a government that would specifically help him in this task – with a cabinet fully prepared to achieve this goal – "deal or no deal".

Needless to say, Parliament was livid and normally divergent factions have come together to thwart the PM's plans by wresting control from the government – which no longer has a majority in the House of Commons – to force him to go cap in hand to the EU to ask for yet another extension. Whether Mr Johnson will in fact do this is unlikely, but the clear effect is continuing confusion and uncertainty both in Westminster and throughout the country, and could well result in a snap general election.

More than anything, this unholy mess illustrates a major problem with democracy. When democratic decisions are made on highly polarised subjects – such as whether a country should remain with the EU or not – unless the result is overwhelmingly in one direction or the other, you end up with almost half the population actively disgruntled and totally disagreeing with the outcome.

The Divine Right of Kings:

The present chaos and governmental contention is being described as the greatest constitutional crisis for almost 400 years. Even the Queen herself has been drawn into the debate, as only a monarch can prorogue (definition: to discontinue the meetings [of a legislative body] without dissolving it) or suspend Parliament. This she has recently done at the behest of the PM, Mr Johnson, ostensibly to put forward the aims of his new government in a new Queen's speech. However, his opponents maintain that the entire process is nothing more than a devious attempt to minimise debate over the Brexit issue and thereby to compress the time needed for Parliament to bring legislation that would force Her Majesty's government to reject "No Deal" as an option within EU negotiations.

Even those with a mere cursory knowledge of English history have probably heard of the clashes between the long-haired Cavaliers supporting the King and the close-shaven Roundheads supporting Oliver Cromwell. But what in fact led up to that bloody English Civil War of the 17th century, around the time the Pilgrim Fathers set sail to the New World on the Mayflower in 1620? It was a similar "constitutional crisis" which involved Charles I suspending Parliament in 1628 because it wouldn't support, for one thing, his request for a new tax for more military action overseas. But much of Charles' high-handed, authoritarian thinking came from his father, James I of England (James VI of Scotland). James had presumed his eldest son Henry would inherit the throne and when Henry was merely 4 years old, James wrote a book of instruction for him entitled "The True Law of Free Monarchies". But Henry died at 18, leaving his younger brother Charles to inherit the throne – along with the advice in that book – which basically advises a king to have as little to do with politicians and parliaments as possible. In effect, James bequeathed Charles a fatal belief in the divine right of kings – explaining that kings are "higher beings than other men" and are "not subject to the will of his people – that only God can judge an unjust king and that any attempt to depose, dethrone or restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act" .

Charles's lifestyle and heavy-handed dealings with his government and his insistence on "the divine right of kings" left such a bad taste in people's mouths that it sparked the English Civil War after which Charles I was beheaded in 1649. All these years later – the memory of the 1630's and 40's as a time when a tyrannical ruler rode roughshod over parliament, split the country and triggered a civil war clearly lives on within the Brexit debate in many people's minds.

Coronations and the Bible:

One notable, positive thing that King James I did was to instigate a major translation of the Bible – known as the King James version of 1611, which is still very much in use today and for centuries has been a foundation for the coronation of British kings and queens. Note this except from: The Great Solemnity of the Coronation of a King and Queen – which formed part of the coronation of James' son Charles I in 1626. Ignoring the archaic language, just notice how many individual scriptural references are being used:

Our Lord Jesus Christ may open to thee the dore, who saith of himself, I am the dore, by me if any man enter, he shall be safe; And let him be thy helper, who is the Key of David, and ye Scepter of ye house of Israel, who openeth and no man shutteth, who shutteth and no man openeth, who bringeth ye captive out of prison where he sate in darknesse, and in ye shadow of death, yl in all things thou maist follow him, of whom ye Prophet David saith, the scepter of thy king-dome is a right Scepter, thou hast loved righteousnesse and hated iniquity, wherefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with ye oile of gladnesse above thy fellows, even Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. ( page 353)

A similar focus on the scriptures can also been seen in the most recent coronation. During the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and immediately following the coronation oath, another ceremony took place – the presentation of the Bible:

When the Queen is again seated, the Archbishop shall go to her Chair; and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, receiving the Bible from the Dean of Westminster, shall bring it to the Queen and present it to her, the Archbishop saying these words:

Our gracious Queen:

to keep your Majesty ever mindful of the law and the Gospel of God

as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes,

we present you with this Book,

the most valuable thing that this world affords.

And the Moderator shall continue:

Here is Wisdom;

This is the royal Law;

These are the lively Oracles of God. ( The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II)

You would think that if God and the Bible featured so prominently in the latest coronation ceremony, there would be some mention in the present constitutional chaos as a benchmark to use – but not once have I heard either God or the Bible referred to, let alone looked to for any kind of guidance. And as a result:

  • The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
  • Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
  • We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. (Isaiah 59:8-10)
God's Requirement:

That's not to say a form of religion is not still used in the British Houses of Parliament. Although moves have been put forward to stop the custom, so far they still begin the day with a short prayer. The question is, does have it any bearing on decision making today? Is there any real fear of a Higher Authority? Unfortunately it seems the answer has got to be "No", as it appears to be nothing more than a tradition from a previous God-fearing age.

Yet without a genuine fear of the Eternal the wisdom of all decision making has got to be suspect. The book of Proverbs has much to tell us of this subject — pointing out that the fear of the Eternal lies as THE foundation of all wisdom. All the other qualities of a productive, truly successful life, for all of us — young and old — begin with a healthy respect and fear towards the One who is over us... something brought out continually by God within His word:

  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. ( Proverbs 1:7)
  • The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. ( Proverbs 8:13)
  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. ( Proverbs 9:10)
  • In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. ( Proverbs 14:26)
  • The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. ( Proverbs 14:27)
  • The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility. ( Proverbs 15:33)
Joshua:

One key individual that certainly needed such wisdom was Joshua – the first leader after Moses, and chosen by God to take His people Israel into the Promised Land – a massive undertaking and responsibility. For any chance of success, God knew Joshua needed divine help and guidance every step of the way, and so strongly encouraged him to steep his mind in the Word of God:

  • Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
  • Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
  • This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
  • Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:6-9)

And it could well have been this section of scripture that Samuel later referred to for his addendum (I Samuel 10:25) – placed within Deuteronomy 17 – discussing the responsibility and obligation of kings that would be set up in the future. Far from being the divine RIGHT of kings, it is very much the divine REQUIREMENT – and at its core is daily Bible study and a genuine fear of the Eternal:

  • And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
  • And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
  • That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)

As future king-priests – brethren of the High Priest and King of kings, Jesus Christ – it would be to our advantage to take careful notice of what God deems important in those that are to bear rule over His people – as that is our calling as the Firstfruits (James 1:18). In that light, having stressed the key requirement of fearing the Eternal, note these additional vital points:

To DO what God says:
  • " to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:" (Deuteronomy 17:19)

The main reason for Bible study isn't just to improve our historical or even prophetical understanding, but to allow God to speak to us – personally. And by attentively listening to what He is saying to us – individually – and putting that into action, we become more and more like Him. It's very much part of being a living sacrifice, as Paul points out: ,

  • I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
  • And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1,2)

The Greek for "prove" in the above scripture carries with it action, not merely thinking things through. It comes from the root "dokimos" which was the name given to moneychangers of integrity who would accept no counterfeit money – i.e. coins that had been shaved. They put only genuine, full-weighted money into circulation. The word therefore carries the additional meaning of putting that good, acceptable and perfect will of God to the test by living it. Something that is also emphasised within the book of James:

  • You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves.
  • Those who hear but don't do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror.
  • They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like.
  • But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don't listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do. (James 1:22-25 CEB)
Humility:
  • That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren,(Deuteronomy 17:20)

It's a shame that King James I did not bring this instruction to mind when he wrote to his son, " kings are higher beings than other men" – in Charles' case he might have kept his head! It's hard to remain self-satisfied if we're studying the Bible to see how we match up against our Elder Brother (I Corinthians 10:12). This principle of humility is part of God's requirement for all human beings – whatever their physical station in life – just as Jesus Christ Himself, "being found in fashion as a man he humbled himself" (Philippians 2:8)

  • He hath shewed thee, O man, [including kings and potential kings] what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

Even in the few hours before He died, Christ took the opportunity to point out to the apostles, who He'd appointed to be rulers over the 12 tribes of Israel, that even kings must conduct themselves with humility and the attitude of a servant:

  • And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
  • But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
  • For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
  • Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.
  • And I appoint unto you a kingdom , as my Father hath appointed unto me;
  • That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:25-30)
Avoid Heresy:
  • and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: (Deuteronomy 17:20)

The righteous king would be able to mull over the words of scripture he would read each day of his life, carrying them with him in his mind throughout his daily activities, pointing the way through the maze of decisions a king must make. This is also true of us today as potential kings – as it was with Timothy to whom Paul wrote the following words of wisdom:

  • All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
  • That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
  • I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
  • Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
  • For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
  • And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (II Timothy 3:16 - 4:4)

But to have the correct answer in every circumstance requires not merely the application of the rigid verses of scripture but the spirit-led principle in every case. This is even implied within verse 16 above, where in many translations "all scripture is given by inspiration of God" is translated, probably more accurately, as "all scripture is God-breathed". It is the very Mind of God, from the spiritual breath of God, that is required within His sons as potential kings. Faithfully applying the principle – possible only through Bible study with spirit-led meditation – is the only way God's word can be correctly applied in every circumstance, as Mr. Armstrong brings out:

THERE IS ONE great difference between the law of God and the laws made by human government. God has given us His law in form of general principles to be applied in various cases, whereas in national laws, state laws and city ordinances, MAN tries to make multiple thousands of laws, “spelling out” every little detail in a separate law.

It is made clear for us in the third chapter of II Corinthians. ”[God] also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit” (verse 6).

God’s law is given in one single word – LOVE. God is love, His law is love – that word sums up God’s CHARACTER. The law then is amplified into the two Great Laws, love toward God, and love toward neighbor. God amplifies it a little further in the Ten Commandments – the first four giving the broad principles of how to love God and the last six how to love neighbor. But God intended us to understand the PRINCIPLE involved and apply it honestly.

Now it comes to my attention that many are finding gray areas in the D & R law. I will try to spell out a little further in a general way, and those who seek the WAY OF GOD instead of their own way will have, I hope, no difficulty in applying God’s law properly according to its intended spirit. Otherwise, those who try to reason around God’s law to have their own way will stand condemned in the sight of God. ( Spelling out the official doctrine on D & R – GN October/November 1979)

The Effect:
  • to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:20)

On leaving Egypt – clearly recognised within scripture as a type of sin – the Israelites were sustained physically each morning by gathering manna. More important is the spiritual lesson for us – clearly brought out in both Old and New Testaments – that manna was given very much to teach us to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4) . This equates to the spiritual sustenance of regular daily Bible study and is amplified even more by Jesus Christ as the Logos – or Living Word of God – in John 6:

  • I am that bread of life.
  • Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
  • This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die....
  • ... As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
  • This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever...
  • ...It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life (John 6:48-50,57,58,63)

As each day passes, the Brexit crisis brings more and more instability, division and chaos to the country. No one can say for certain what the immediate future will hold. No one is looking to scripture for advice – at least not in any kind of public way, unlike the call to prayer during World War II. The principles found in the Bible are designed amongst other things, to solve personal relationships – and that would also include issues with other nations. We are experiencing "aversion therapy " as we see the stumbling efforts of man's feeble and misguided, Godless efforts to rule himself.

Far from grasping at a "divine right of kings", we need to internalise what God requires of any king; a major lesson being that no government – whether human or even angelic, is from any king down, but from God down. And as potential kings it is probably the greatest lesson we need to learn – a genuine fear and respect for the Eternal, coupled with active listening to what He has to say. If applied in its full spiritual intent, this approach would sort out the current problems in Westminster, and our solid hope and understanding is that it will indeed change the whole fabric of society in the near future, when the Kingdom of God is set up and the spirit of God is made freely available to all mankind. Chaos and confusion will be a thing of the past, as the effect will be LIFE (John 10:10) and abiding peace for eternity:

  • The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.
  • And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure. (Isaiah 33:5,6)