This week we will look at Biblical support for significant Christian influence in secular government. The Bible shows several examples of believers in God who influenced secular government.
- The Jewish prophet Daniel exercised a strong influence on the secular government in Babylon. Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar : “Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity” [Dan. 4:27]. His approach was bold and clear. A modern, politically correct version might read : ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, I am a Jewish prophet, but I would not presume to impose my Jewish moral standards on your Babylonian kingdom. Ask your astronomers and your soothsayers! They will guide you in your own traditions. Then follow your heart! It would not be my place to speak to you about right and wrong.’ No, Daniel spoke boldly about sins and iniquities. He did not hesitate to tell the world’s most powerful ruler how the God of the entire universe wanted him to act as king. At that time Daniel was a high official in the king’s court. He was ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. [Dan.2:48]. He was regularly at the kings’s court. [Dan. 2:49]. He had a significant advisory role to the king. It would be a reasonable assumption that Daniel’s summary statement about ‘sins’ and ‘iniquities’ and ‘showing mercy to the oppressed’, was probably followed by a longer conversation where specific policies and actions of the king that were either good or evil in the eyes of God were discussed. He is an example of a believer exercising ‘significant influence’ on a civil government and one ruled by a pagan king at that.
- The counsel that Jeremiah proclaimed to the Jewish exiles in Babylon also supports the idea of believers having influence on laws and government. Jeremiah told these exiles ,”Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare”. [Jer. 29:7]. In a pagan society believers must include seeking to bring good to its government. The ‘true’ welfare of such a city will be advanced through governmental laws and policies that are consistent with God’s teaching in the Bible, not by those that are contrary to the Bible’s teaching.
- Joseph was the highest official after Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and had great influence in the decisions of Pharaoh. [Gen. 41:37-45; 42:6; 45:8-9, 26].
- Moses boldly stood before the Pharaoh and demanded freedom for the people of Israel, saying,”Thus says the Lord, ‘Let my people go'”. [Exod.8:1].
- Nehemiah was ‘cupbearer’ to the king, a position of high responsibility before King Artaxerxes of Persia. [Neh. 1:11].
- Mordecai was second in rank to King Ahasuerus of Persia. [Esth. 10:3; 9:4].
- Queen Esther also had significant influence on the decisions of Ahasuerus. [Esth. 5:1-8; 7:1-6; 8:3-13; 9:12-15, 29-32].
- Additionally, several other Old Testament prophets addressed the sins of foreign nations around Israel: Isaiah 13-23; Jeremiah 46-51; Ezekiel 25-32; Amos 1-2; Obadiah in an address to Edom; Jonah in his mission to Nineveh; Nahum in his address to Nineveh; Habakkuk 2; Zephaniah 2. They could speak to people of nations outside Israel because the God who is revealed in the Bible is the God of all peoples and all nations of the earth.
The moral standards of God as revealed in the Bible are the moral standards to which God will hold all people accountable. This includes more than the way people conduct themselves in their marriages and families, in their neighborhoods and schools, and in their jobs and businesses. It also concerns the way people conduct themselves in government offices. Believers have the responsibility to bear witness to the moral standards of the Bible by which God will hold all people accountable, including those people in public office. You can be assured that God will not worry about political correctness or offending someone. Like it or not, the truth will come out. Did this call for public service in government end with the conclusion of the Old Testament? Not at all. Next week we will look at the furthering of the call in the New Testament.
– Bob Munsey