The traditional divine mandates consist of those that pertain to family, government, labor, and the church. These serve as means to structure life in accord with God’s benevolent purpose. When misappropriated, chaos surfaces as a result.
Consequently, it becomes necessary to distinguish among the several roles played by these mandates. With this in mind, I recently inquired of a government official what she thought was the prime objective of government. Without a moment’s hesitation, she replied: "Security." At which, I heartily agreed with her. This is sometimes extended to include the promotion of justice.
Whether or not one is supportive of the policies of President Trump, he has accented the critical role of government in providing security. When kept in mind, this acts as a faithful guiding principle. Whereas good intentions can readily be misleading.
Some issues are difficult to resolve. For instance, it is legitimate for government to require that we pay taxes for services thought necessary. However, excessive taxation amounts to corporate theft. While extensive government tends to be self-serving.
The entitlement mind set can also prove to be counterproductive. Recalling the admonition, "Don’t expect others to do for you what you are unwilling to do for yourself." Otherwise, government overreaches into the realm of the labor mandate.
In greater detail, there follows select quotations from my most recently authored book: The Divine Mandates. "In brief, government involves the administration of government policy. As a divine mandate, it is validated in principle. Which obviously does not condone all that which is carried on by those in authority. Bringing to mind the sage caution, ‘Power breeds corruption, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’" (p. 98).
"What might be described as incipient government dates from when humans began to proliferate. A more actualized government awaited the rise of regional authority structures. This was subsequently modified to allow for emerging empires embracing diverse people groups."
"This transition brings to mind the patriarchs, and Abraham in particular. God enjoined him, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you’ (Gen. 12:1). As one raised in a village culture, I can in some measure identify with him. I left familiar surroundings the day after my eighteenth birthday to serve in the military during World War II. I was only vaguely aware of what this would entail."
"However, God assured the patriarch: "I will make you a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all people on earth will be blessed through you.’ Thus gratuitously fulfilling the government mandate."
"Once settled in the promised land, there unfolded the turbulent times of the Judges. ‘In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit’ (Judg. 17:6). Subsequently repeated by way of emphasis (cf. 18:1, 19:1, 21:25)" (p. 100).
"With the arrival of the monarchy, greater stability proved to be no guarantee of righteous behavior. The Northern Kingdom succumbed quickly to the influence of its pagan neighbors. While the Southern Kingdom struggled to maintain its covenant commitment, only to fall prey to the invading Babylonians."
"‘Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established’ (Rom. 13:1). A balance is called for, since ‘Paul makes clear that government is ordained by God—and that the Christian must recognize and respond to this fact with an attitude of ‘submission.’ But we should also refuse to give to government any absolute rights and should evaluate all its demands in the light of the gospel’" (p. 101; cf. Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, pp. 809-10).
In conclusion, "Even one person can make a decided difference. It not at once, then with the passing of time. If not by him or herself, then in league with others. The persisting problem is that there are far too many watching from the stands, while too few are on the playing field" (p. 107).