A Rejection of God
By Bill Petri
The Mosaic Law recorded in the Old Testament governed the nation of Israel and it did not, in any aspect, resemble the human-run governments of the modern world. The scriptures describe this system of laws as one directly dictated by God to Moses. Repeatedly throughout the Old Testament, the Israeli people reject God and His laws in order to worship other idols. One striking example of this rejection of God is the following passage from the book of 1 Samuel:
“Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, 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. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, 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 menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.”
God wanted Israel as a "peculiar people unto himself" (Deut.14:2) but instead Israel wanted to be like all the other nations. Two chapters later Samuel would again scold the Israeli people for their decision.
“And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands.”
The Israelis who rejected God by asking for a king would soon admit their error.
“And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.”
From these passages we can see that the request for a human government like all the other nations is seen as a rejection of God and is equated with serving other gods. Why was the request for a king a rejection of God? To find the answer, we turn to the Garden of Eden. Adam eats the fruit, although it is forbidden, so that he can gain knowledge of good and evil, and consequently become capable of declaring what is good, and what is evil. According to the scriptures, however, it is God who declares what is good and evil. Rather than relying on God and putting full faith and trust in Him, Adam decided to place his faith and trust somewhere else. Israel, by asking for a king, is guilty of this same crime. They asked for a king, someone who would have the authority to make laws, judge what is right and wrong, and in short, declare good and evil. Rather than putting full trust in the laws God had handed down to Moses and other chosen leaders, the Israelis wanted to be like all the other nations, with a king to lead them. Rather than putting full trust in God for protection, the Israelis wanted a king to go out before them and fight their battles. Israel, by asking for a human government, rejected God’s governance.
Some may ask, “If human government is against God what about Genesis 9:6?” Genesis 9:6 records the following:
“Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”
Many mistake this passage for a passage that supports human government. But does it? The key to understanding the verse is actually just taking the words for what they say. The verse does not command anyone to take a murderer’s life, but rather it is communicating the idea that a violent person will meet a violent end. Jesus will give validity to this interpretation in Matthew 26:52:
“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
Why do violent people often meet a violent end? Violent people often meet a violent end because they have little regard for the image of God, and this leads to violent lives. Violent choices more often than not lead to violent consequences. This is exactly what Matthew 26:52 teaches, and what Genesis 9:6 alludes to. In fact, there is a lot of assumption made in Genesis nine to try to make the passage fit human government. When God communicated Genesis 9: 6 to Noah only eight people were alive. Do we really think Noah took this command as instruction about government? The sense of Genesis 9:6 is also seen in Psalms where we read:
“But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.”
“He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.”