Can we see God in government? As usual, the answer is – it depends. Many non-Christians probably either don’t care or hope the answer is no. But Christians probably think the answer is yes. That Christian assumption, while valid, is very tricky. Why is the question of God being seen in government so problematic? Because we make assumptions about God’s involvement in our government, what He’s trying to accomplish, that may not be valid. Worse yet, because we look at what we want God to do for us, rather than what God’s trying to tell us. Of course, there are also those non-Christians whose objective to make sure there’s no trace of God in the government.
If we look, what will see of God in government?
So what we see of God in government, even if we see nothing, is probably a reflection of what we want to see. We often do not see the reality of what God does, or doesn’t do, via the government.
To make matters more difficult, there are religions like Judaism and Islam that advocate a theocracy – where the religions and the government are essentially one, with the religious leaders also being governmental leaders. This was the case in Israel, in Biblical times. It’s also the case in a number of Islamic countries today.
With all this going on, it’s guaranteed that most, if not all, observers will be wrong about God’s involvement in the government! It’s a given. These disparate views cannot all be realistic in any one government at the same time.
So this site, as a whole, will examine various views. Certainly, Christianity, since that’s what I am. However, that requires a look at Judaism. Especially what we call the New Testament, since it’s actually Israelite / Hebrew / Jewish Scriptures. It’s theirs – not ours. And so we much view it the way they did at the time, and to some extent how they view it today.
And since so much of how Jewish people view their scripture is based on their culture and their language, we must examine that as well. To not do all these things is to ignore the roots of our own Scripture – the New Testament. After all, when He walked the earth, Jesus was Jewish, as was the majority of His audience. How can we ignore that and even try to claim we understand our own religion?
How did Old Testament Israelites see God in government?
If you don’t remember, the concept of God as the leader of His people didn’t show up right away. Yes, it was implied in the Garden of Eden, but we are told so little about life in the Garden that it’s really impossible to say much about that period. However, the first time we read about God as the leader of His people comes up later in Genesis.
The first time God said, “I will be their God“
Check this out:
Ge 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. 2 I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
Ge 17:3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
Ge 17:9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
Ge 17:15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
Ge 17:17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
Ge 17:19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
Ge 17:23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen; 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that same day. 27 And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.
Not officially, in title, a King. And yet, clearly God promises to be the leader of His people.
However, there was a caveat to that. One the chosen people never quite seemed to learn. When the people turned away from God, God would also, for a time, essentially turn away from them. In other words, actions have consequences. A lack of action can also have consequences. This came to be often repeated in the Old Testament as “They will be my people and I will be their God”. God never deserted His people. And never will. But when we desert God, well, we kind of get what we asked for. And then, when we call out to God for His help, He will also return to us.
An Old Testament instance of trying to remove God from government
There came a time when God’s people decided they didn’t want Him as their king anymore. They wanted a human king, just like all the pagans had. God warned them what would happen.
1Sa 8:1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
1Sa 8:4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
1Sa 8:6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”
1Sa 8:10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day. ”
1Sa 8:19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
1Sa 8:21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go back to his town.”
Yeah – in spite of what was warned, God’s chosen people rejected Him as their king. But here’s the thing. What was foretold did in fact happen. It still happens today!
But even more shocking, to me at least, is that in spite of God’s promise to turn back to us when we turn back to Him, we don’t! Sure, some individuals do. But as a nation? There have been brief times. And nations did flourish. But it’s so rare. And it just doesn’t last. Israel being reinstated as a country is one example. The early United States is probably another. But we couldn’t hold onto it very long either.
How do anti-God people view God in government?
Of course, they do everything they can to keep God out of government. But some questions always have to remain. Even if they’re not asked.
- Would things be better if we truly followed God? As good as we think things are, I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t think they can be better.
- Is God really not involved? Is God trying to speak to us, who do want to follow Him, by way of the things that happen? Or, better stated, through the things He allows to happen, as opposed to preventing them?
I know – there’s a fine line to walk here. Some people claim God is involved in every tiny little thing that happens. I, for one, cannot believe that. If true, it makes God the author of evil. Rather, I think He intervenes at certain times – and allows things to go the way we make them go at others. If you want to learn more about that, I have a series on Predestiny versus Free Will that goes through God as an observer – God actively causing literally everything – and God being somewhere in between.
I’m sure there are other questions as well, but these should serve to make someone wonder. No matter how hard we try to remove God from our governments, and even if we pretend we don’t see God in government at all – is He really out of the picture? I have to believe, the answer is no. That is, after all, the ultimate evil. I just cannot see God, our creator, totally deserting us – even if we want Him to. It’s just not His nature. It may be ours – but not His.
Conclusion – Is it possible to see God in government?
Ultimately, I guess the best answer is – yes, we can see God in government – if we want to. Although, we also won’t see Him if we don’t want to – no matter how obvious His presence is. At least we won’t acknowledge Him. It may surprise you to find out that God already told us that will happen as well.
The passage below is from Revelation. There’s a lot of symbolism. I almost didn’t include it for that reason. But here it is. I’m not going to explain the symbolism here. I only ask you to notice the times when people were aware that judgment was coming from God – and they refused to do anything but curse Him.
Rev 16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”
Rev 16:2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.
Rev 16:3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.
Rev 16:4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:
“You are just in these judgments,
you who are and who were, the Holy One,
because you have so judged;
Rev 16:6 for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.” 7 And I heard the altar respond:
“Yes, Lord God Almighty,
true and just are your judgments.”
Rev 16:8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
Rev 16:10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.
Rev 16:12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. 13 Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
Rev 16:15 “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
Rev 16:16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
Rev 16:17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
Now – back to those questions. At this time, few if any people at all were left that still followed God. Surely, God was as much out of the government as humanly possible. And yet – God was very involved in what happened in the world. Isn’t there a lesson to learn here?
So on this site, we’ll look at God and government. Seen or unseen. Noticed or unnoticed. More importantly, acknowledged or not. We will, of course, look at the U.S. and other western nations. On the flip side, also at countries like China that are actively implementing and enforcing laws to remove God not only from government but from the minds of the people.
We’ll see examples where it really looks like success is inevitable. And as the passage from Revelation shows – it is, to an extent. And yet, this is still God’s creation and He will have the last word. And His word will be His success. And we do ignore that at our own peril.