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Electing Godly Leaders:  Qualifications for Government Officials

This coming Tuesday, January 29, 2008 is the Florida Republican primary to elect the Republican nominee.  There are two sections in the Mosaic Law given to evaluate leadership eligibility for civil magistrates.

For a Judge - Judicial Branch
"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:  And let them judge the people at all seasons:  and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge:  so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee" (Ex. 18:21-22).

"So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes" (Dt. 1:15).

For a King - Executive Branch
"When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;  Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose:  one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee:  thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.  But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses:  forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away:  neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.  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" (Dt. 17:14-20).

Israel's legislative branch of government was governed by the Levites who also had to be holy in all conduct.  "This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified" (Lev. 10:3).  This branch of government was not open to elections because it followed the Levitical and Aaronic bloodlines.  No new law could be written because each statute was given by God.

As of the time of this writing, the 2008 Republican line up of candidates is still broad because no single candidate offers a complete package.  One is loved for economic skill, another for military strength, one for crisis-proven leadership, another for strict constitutionalism, and finally one for biblical social convictions.  Like many of you, I wish that I could pick and choose their qualities and bundle them into one superman. 

Regrettably, few of our governmental leaders are men who possess sound, godly wisdom.  Most will not dare offend the Christian voting block by openly mocking our faith, but they are not among us "[h]olding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" (1Ti. 3:9).  They give lip-service to appease the religious-right, just as people did to Jesus when His precious feet graced our sin-cursed ground.  "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me" (Mt. 15:8).

Beyond the practical prerequisite of being "able men," the above verses from Exodus and Deuteronomy required the men of Israel to elect governmental leaders who

  • feared God,

  • were men of truth,

  • who hated covetousness,

  • possessed godly wisdom, and

  • were willing to read God's Word all of their days.

Some believers today will read that list and wonder if it applies to us in America today.  Others saints will relegate these faith-related character qualities and spiritual attributes to the status of being beneficial and desirable, but nonessential.  Let me respond to such doubts with a question.  Can a Christian arrogantly assume that he has the ability to edit this divinely given list to compose a wiser set of requirements that are superior to what was given by "the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God" (1Ti. 1:17)?  Absurd!  God alone knows the human heart and the nature of power and which men are most qualified to hold office.   

God's evaluation of civil magistrates is quite different than what most people prize.  People focus on physical stature, as was true of King Saul.  Does he "look presidential?"  However, "the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" (1Sa. 16:7).  Our Savior teaches us to consider questions of character first.

If a man does not receive nor fear God's holy Word, the politician may be worldly wise (as were the "wise men of" Persia, Egypt, Tyrus, Babylonia, Edom, etc. [Est. 1:13; Isa. 19:12; Eze. 27:8; Da. 2:12; Ob. 8]), but is a fool in the eyes of God.  "The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken:  lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?" (Jer. 8:9).  

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice:  but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn" (Pr. 29:2).  We must not forget the lesson repeated time and again in Scripture (for Israel and other nations):  God blesses a nation or curses a nation based upon the righteousness or wickedness of their national leadership.  

I pray the LORD will have mercy upon our nation by providentially directing our hearts towards the best choice for each elected office, especially the presidency. 

Related article:  Electing Godly Leaders:  Judging Candidates for Public Office.

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