July 11, 2010

The Devine Right of Kings – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

The Devine Right of Kings is a doctrine that goes back many centuries and reached its height, or should I say its low point, in 15th century England. Briefly, this doctrine stated that a king derived his authority to rule from God. Therefore, a king was not subject to the will of the people, any other appointed body put in place by the king to do his bidding, or any religious body claiming to be the agents of God. This doctrine was finally abandoned in the 18th century during times of high taxes, wars, and luxurious life styles of the monarchs. Revolutions in France, England and Spain were necessary to make the change. In the American revolution, we determined that we would have no king over us, but that we would have a president who would have powers limited by the other two branches of government.

The idea of God ordained rulers certainly has its basis in the Bible. Paul wrote, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13:1-2) Jesus standing before Pilate said, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” (John 19:11)

 We can turn to the history of Israel to see exactly how God felt about earthly rulers over his people. Before Israel had its first king, they were led by men such as Moses and Joshua. After the death of Joshua, Israel was a loosely bound together by their common faith, but had no strong central government. They were involved in civil wars and surrounded by heathen nations who were trying their best to enslave or destroy the tribes, collectively or one at a time. During this time there were a series of judges that “ruled” for about 400 years. Some were good, some were bad, and others were very bad. For about 100 years of that time, Israel was oppressed and in subjugation to the notorious Mesopotamians, Moabites, Ammonites, Amalekites, Philistines, and Canaanites. There was a cycle of prosperity, sin, subjugation, pleas to God, and deliverance. When Israel forgot their true “King,” the foreign powers took over. When Israel turned once again to their God, they were delivered.

However, Israel became weary of the judges in the time of Samuel and demanded that they should have a king like the other nations around them. (1 Samuel 8:1-5). Samuel was displeased and prayed unto the Lord. The Lord’s reply to his prayer was, “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7) God foretold what kind of kings there would be and it would not be good. “This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them unto him, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and they shall run before his chariots; and he will appoint them unto him for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and he will set some to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be perfumers, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king whom ye shall have chosen you; and Jehovah will not answer you in that day.” (1 Samuel 10-18) Nevertheless, the people demanded a king and they got what they asked for and all that God had spoken came to pass.

After the death of Solomon, Rehoboam became king. When the Israelites assembled in Shechem, they petitioned Rehoboam to reduce the heavy burden that Solomon had placed on them. Rehoboam sought the council of the older men and they said if he would serve the people and speak good words to them, the people would serve him forever. He then sought the council of the younger men who advised him to increase the burden even more. He followed the advice of the younger men. As a result, the ten northern tribes rebelled against Rehoboam and made Jeroboam their king. (1 Kings 12:1-20)

The Bible and history have taught us that when men and governments turn away from God, the lives of the people become hard and the governments soon wither and fall. That was seen in the time of the judges, the early kings of Israel, and during the time of the Devine Right of Kings doctrine.

Even though Paul said that everyone should be subject to the higher powers, there are exceptions to that. When Peter and John were admonished by certain Jews not to teach or preach in the name of Jesus, they replied, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto
God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20) When once again they all were admonished not to preach in the name of Jesus, Peter and the other apostles replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

We Christians need to keep clearly in mind that God is control of everything and Jesus is our only King. In hard times and when the way ahead seems dim, listen to the words of Paul, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) – Amen

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