With election day bearing down on us, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss how Christians should vote. I’m not talking about which party or candidate to vote for, but about the qualities that God requires in those who will govern over us. Yes, the Bible really does set forth criteria for civil leaders and those of us who seek to honor God would do well to observe it. It is found in Exodus 18:21.
“Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:”
We have a bad habit of glossing over things that we’ve heard before and just saying “yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that before, it’s in the Bible” and moving on to the next topic without pondering the depth of the meaning and its application in our lives. So let’s take a closer look at each of the four criteria contained in that verse and get a clearer picture of exactly what kind of civil leaders God is instructing us to choose.
This is more than just someone with a degree behind their name, or someone who has climbed the political ladder, has experience in government and “knows the system.” It’s more than just having made some money, knowing how to smile for the camera and being called “electable.” A man can have all that and still be called a fool in God’s book.
This is talking about selecting leaders who have proven themselves in making right, wise and honorable decisions in life that have tended toward success and who have produced the kind of fruit in their own life and house that we should want in our corporate house of a community, state or the nation. We can see this same principle at work in 1 Tim 3:4-5 with regard to the selection of leaders within the church. What a man produces by being the head over his marriage, family, business or whatever other affairs of life he has had responsibility in, is the same fruit that he will produce if we make him the head over our corporate household.
This is someone who, if need be, you would entrust your business affairs to, or give guardianship over your children knowing that they would raise them to be Godly, respectable and successful members of society like themselves. In reality, this is exactly what we do every time we cast our ballot, we turn over a portion of the authority to govern our own life, household, business and that of our neighbor as well, to someone who hopefully will be “able” in governing our affairs in a manner that will tend toward our corporate success.
Such as Fear God
Fearing God is not to be confused with mere church attendance or someone saying of a candidate “I hear they’re a Christian,” or some equally inane idea that the church in America appears to have substituted for “The Fear of The LORD.”
According to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words, the word translated “fear” (Hebrew – yare’) means “standing in awe….reverence, whereby an individual recognizes the power and position of the individual revered and renders him proper respect. In this sense, the word may imply submission to a proper ethical relationship to God.”
So a person who “fears God” would stand in awe of his Creator, recognizing His position of authority as the God of Heaven and Earth – the sovereign to whom both men and nations owe their allegiance.
Like America’s founders, a civil leader who posses, and is possessed by, the fear of God, would understand that God is the sovereign; that all civil law must comport with His revealed will; that any law that does not comply with the law of the sovereign is no law at all. A candidate for public office who does not demonstrate nor articulate this understanding, either lacks the fear of God or has grown forgetful that the sovereignty of the Creator extends to His creation and have had their understanding so darkened as to believe the satanic lie that the laws of the Creator have no place in governing his creation.
Men of Truth
Truth is much more than the absence of a lie. The Hebrew word translated “truth” in this passage carries the ideas of firmness, faithfulness, sureness, stability, continuance and reliableness. Adam Clark’s commentary on this passage describes men of truth as “Honest and true in their own hearts and lives; speaking the truth, and judging according to the truth.”
This has much more to do with character, integrity and honor than it does with simply making factual statements. This is what a previous generation referred to as “a man of his word” and sometimes described such a man by saying “his word is his bond.” This is a man whose word and a handshake are a much greater surety than any legal contract executed by a dozen lawyers. This is the man spoken of in Psalm 15:4 that “sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.”
A man of truth is a statesman who represents himself to be exactly what he is and who, while in office, does exactly what he said he would do. In this, I can have more respect for a lot of liberals who represent themselves to be the liberals that they are than what I can for many who run as conservatives, then once elected, raise taxes, increase the national debt and bailout Wall Street.
Some translations render this as hating “unjust gain.” Now we all know that covetousness, greed, avarice, lusting for money, position or power is wrong, but notice, this verse is not merely saying that civil leaders ought not have covetousness in themselves, it says they are to “Hate” it both in themselves and others.
We obviously ought not give our vote to greedy grabbers who are just looking to climb the political ladder. However, this passage would actually instruct us not to give our vote to anyone who tolerates covetousness in those around them or who has anything less than utter contempt for every manner of exploitative unjust gain.
I am by no means talking about implementing so called “social justice” where government tries to “make” everyone equal. I’m talking about Godly justice where government “treats” everyone equal and protects the weak from exploitation by the rich, the powerful, the mega corporations and the Wall Street banksters. Believe it or not, the Bible actually has a lot to say about justice. We would do well to read it sometime.
The U.S. Constitution
Now I realize that the U.S. Constitution isn’t actually mentioned in the passage that we’re studying, or anywhere in the Bible for that matter. However, those who we elect to public office will swear an oath to uphold the Constitution – the supreme law of our land. So how can one be called a “man of truth” if he does not fulfill his oath by strictly adhering to the highest law of the land?
To be a man of truth and exercise true fidelity to our nation’s founding documents (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights), a person is going to have to comprehend the actual meaning of the documents and the original intent of their framers. To do this, they are going to have to study the documents themselves, then study those who drafted and/or signed them, then study the philosophies and principles upon which those documents were established. Only after this will a person be capable of implementing the actual intent of the documents and of administering Constitutional governance and protecting the God given rights to life, liberty and property as America’s founders intended.
While the qualities described in Exodus 18:21 are more spiritual in nature and are matters of character that can be harder to assess, especially without personal acquaintance with the candidate, adherence to the principles of the U.S. Constitution can be easier to detect. It will require that we, the Christian voter, study our nation’s Constitution and be acquainted with the founding principles. However, it shouldn’t take long before you find yourself able to detect statements, actions, votes in Congress and policies proposed by candidates that conflict with the clear text of the document or the rights to life, liberty and property.
Choose the Blessing
Choosing to be blessed is as simple as obeying God and walking in His ways.
- ….Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. (Psalm 112:1)
- Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. (Plasm 128:1)
- Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly….But his delight is in the law of the LORD. (Psalm 1:1-2)
This isn’t about earning blessing by being good enough. This is about keeping ourselves in the safe place, the blessed place that God has provided for us, by following all of His instructions – instructions that have been given for our benefit to lead us and guide us to the place where the blessing is.
God wants America blessed – He wants all the nations of the earth to be blessed. He has given us plain and simple instructions as to what kind of civil leaders to select in order to be blessed. So why would we be so foolish as to depart from His loving counsels designed for our protection and venture outside of the safe place, outside of the blessed place?
Let’s choose to bless ourselves and our land by choosing God’s way – the blessed way.