Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Joshua 22: 5

 

This is the way that Joshua charged the people who were to dwell beyond the Jordan with their primary tasks in governing the lands that God had provided for them. Please note what is included and what is left out of these instructions. There is no mention of loyalty to the nation as their primary concern, and there is also no mandate to set up a strong civil government as a first task. This might seem odd in that these people would be living far away from the center of their civil and national leadership. This was the remote portion of the nation where the former inhabitants had been both hostile to the Israelites and had also been very different in manners, customs, and especially in religious beliefs. Yet, the key point that Joshua makes to them is related to their observance of their own faith in God and the way that they would conduct themselves in their daily lives as a result of that relationship to the Lord.

 

It doesn’t seem to me to be an impossible stretch of application to consider these same directions as something to apply to our own place and times. I think that God is still instructing His people to dwell in the lands that He has given to us in a manner like that of the Israelites in Joshua’s day. Our primary objective is still to love God, to walk in His ways, keep His commandments while clinging to Him with all of our being, and to serve the Lord with the totality of our beings and resources. This charge or calling is very inclusive and truly comprehensive in its scope, for there is little left out. There is no room left over for service to a national agenda or a political objective if they deviate from God’s will. There is no mention of seeking after personal gain, glory, or power if that seeking takes us outside of God’s mission of redemption and reconciliation of all of creation to Him. In these instructions regarding life in this land of God’s choosing, the Lord’s people are given the primary task of bringing His presence to light in each and every thing that they do and say.

 

As followers of Christ, we are to be the same sort of emissaries of God’s love, grace, mercy, justice, and peace in the foreign places where we are granted the opportunity to dwell. We do that by following the instructions that Joshua gave to these people. We make love of God primary in all of life. He is to be the foremost and the most significant object for all of our love and devotion in this world. His will is to be our primary guide when we consider what to do in every aspect of life. There can be no deviation from this if we truly desire to be Christ’s disciples. This generally means that we will need to change some important priorities in life. We will be required to set aside some of the things that we may have held as very important and to reevaluate the way that we make decisions regarding the uses of our time, money, and resources. Christ demands all of our loyalty and every ounce of our commitment to enter into serving His kingdom come into this world. Yet, this is the sort of devotion and service to God that brings the light of His presence into our neighborhoods, communities, nations, and world.

Many seek the face of a ruler,

but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.

Proverbs 29: 26

 

It may seem like this is the season of seeking. We gather in rallies to show support and to shout out our opposition to political parties and to candidates for office. We cast votes that are intended to inform the process of selection, or we gather as communities to seek our corporate mind. Yet, the rulers that we choose will all fall short of our expectations and even fail to bring about most of what they promise. This is the nature of human governance as it seeks to wield power and to gain popularity instead of seeking after the mind and the heart of God as its approach to that process of governance.

 

So, if it is justice that you desire, it is best to look elsewhere. If you want truth and fair play to set the tone for your national leaders, you are likely to be disappointed, for we don’t tend to elect honest people to office. In our world today there is little reverence or even respect in our public discourse, and I am afraid that our leaders are doing nothing more than following the lead of their constituencies in the manner of their speech. We get what we truly want as we set the tone for those who lead us. We also establish our own priorities as we turn to the people who we have elected as our source for what constitutes our highest values and our moral tone.

 

All of this is completely backwards. God has given to us a different view of this world and of its governance. He is the only source for what is right, just, and worthy. The Lord is the one true and authorized ruler of this world. There are only two camps to align with in this process of setting out the direction for a nation, one is submitted to God and the other is ruled by the world itself. So, if the attitude and the action of a government are not in conformity with those of God, that government and the people who are setting out its approach to ruling are committed to and submitted to the powers of this world. Thus, we should not expect to find justice in that government’s halls, and we would be foolish to expect to encounter peace as the product of its rule.

The horse is made ready for the day of battle,

But the victory belongs to the Lord.

Proverbs 21: 31

 

People were designed and created by God to be interested and engaged in the process of governing our world. The Lord granted us this as a right and as a responsibility. This aspect of humanity’s calling has very deep roots as it goes back to our time in the garden, existed before our exile, and was also a part of God’s commentary on our new life on the outside. Then, as it continues to be now, it is our sin that turns this process of governance into a battle. Evil in all of its manifestations desires to be in control. It will do anything and promise everything in order to win. So, people who know God are required to be vigilant and to remain prepared for the fight.

 

This preparation is founded in our knowledge of God. Our minds are made ready through the study and contemplation of His Word, and our hearts are strengthened by the presence of Christ’s Spirit. This state of preparedness is constant and unrelenting. There are no times of vacation, for Satan does not take a leave of absence from his war on righteousness. So, Christ warns His people to remain ever vigilant and to continually maintain our spiritual weapons. Yet, our hard work and all of our efforts are doomed to failure if they are done for us. They are futile if Christ is not leading our way. We do not possess the wisdom or have the understanding of God’s true purpose and plan that would be required to devise a holy and just battle plan. Our role is to be well-prepared rank and file soldiers in service to our King.

 

As we do not know God’s strategy or have a clear picture of His tactics, we are called upon by Him to follow. We are to stay true to the Word in our thoughts, actions, and expression. This means that we are to stay engaged in the processes of governance even when God’s objectives are unclear and when it seems that our voice is not being heard. God continues to implore His people to be the ones who bring respect to the discourse and love to the debate. Although we do know the outcome of it all in that Christ does reign supreme over all of Creation, God will not give us total understanding of His daily plans. We are to remain loyal and committed to serving the gospel of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life, and we are to trust our Lord and have unyielding faith in the fact that the victory is His.