The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
NOTE 8. PAGE 603. The question has been raised, and is now much
agitated, if a theocracy was good in the time of Israel, why would not
a theocratical form of government be equally good for this time? The
answer is easy:
A theocracy is a government which derives its power immediately
from God. The government of Israel was a true theocracy. That
was really a government of God. At the burning bush, God commissioned
Moses to lead his people out of Egypt. By signs and wonders
and mighty miracles multiplied, God delivered Israel from Egypt and [p. 762]
led them through the wilderness and finally into the promised land.
There He ruled them by judges "until Samuel the prophet," to whom,
when he was a child, God spoke, and by whom He made known His
will. In the days of Samuel the people asked that they might have a
king. This was allowed, and God chose Saul, and Samuel anointed
him king of Israel. Saul failed to do the will of God; and as he
rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord rejected him from being king
and sent Samuel to anoint David king of Israel; and David's throne
God established forevermore. When Solomon succeeded to the kingdom
in the place of David his father, the record is: "Then Solomon sat
on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father."
1 Chronicles 29:23. David's throne was the throne of the Lord, and Solomon
sat on the throne of the Lord as king over the earthly kingdom of God.
The succession to the throne descended in David's line to Zedekiah,
who was made subject to the king of Babylon, and who entered into a
solemn covenant before God that he would loyally render allegiance to
the king of Babylon. But Zedekiah broke his covenant, and then God
said to him:
"Thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when
iniquity shall have an end, thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem,
and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that
is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn,
it: and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will
give it Him." Ezekiel 21:25-27. See also chapter 17:1-21.
The kingdom was then subject to Babylon. When Babylon fell,
and Medo-Persia succeeded, it was overturned the first time. When
Medo-Persia fell and was succeeded by Greece, it was overturned the
second time. When the Greek Empire gave way to Rome, it was
overturned the third time. And then says the word, "It shall be no
more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him." Who
is He whose right it is? "Thou . . . shalt call His name Jesus. He
shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the
Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and
He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom
there shall be no end." Luke 1:31-33. And while He was here as "that
prophet," a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, the night in
which He was betrayed He himself declared, "My kingdom is not of
this world." Thus the throne of the Lord has been removed from this
world and will "be no more, until He come whose right it is," and then
it will be given Him. And that time is the end of this world, and the
beginning of "the world to come."
To the twelve apostles the Saviour said, "I appoint unto you a kingdom,
as My Father hath appointed unto Me; that ye may eat and
drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the
twelve tribes of Israel." Luke 22:29, 30. from Matthew's account of [p. 763]
Christ's promise to the twelve we learn when it will be fulfilled; "In
the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His
glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of
Israel." Matthew 19:28. In the parable of the talents, Christ represents
Himself under the figure of a nobleman who "went into a far
country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return." LUKE 19:12.
And He Himself has told us when He will sit upon the throne of His
glory: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy
angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and
before Him shall be gathered all nations." Matthew 25:31, 32.
To this time the Revelator looks forward when he says, "The kingdoms
of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His
Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever." Revelation 11:15. The
context clearly shows when this will take place: "The nations were
angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they
should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy
servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name,
small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth."
verse 18. It is at the time of the final judgment, the reward of the
righteous, and the punishment of the wicked that the kingdom of
Christ will be set up. When all who oppose the sovereignty of Christ
have been destroyed, the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms
of our Lord and of His Christ.
Then Christ will reign, "King of kings, and Lord of lords."
Revelation 19:16. "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the
kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the
saints of the Most High." And "the saints of the Most High shall take
the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever."
Daniel 7:27, 18.
Until that time the kingdom of Christ cannot be established on the
earth. His kingdom is not of this world. His followers are to account
themselves "strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Paul says, "Our
citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for a Saviour, the
Lord Jesus Christ." Hebrews 11:13; Philippians 3:20, R.V.
Since the kingdom of Israel passed away, God has never delegated
authority to any man or body of men to execute his laws as such. "Vengeance
is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Romans 12:19. Civil
governments have to do with the relations of man with man; but they
have nothing whatever to do with the duties that grow out of man's
relation to God.
Except the kingdom of Israel, no government has ever existed on
the earth in which God by inspired men directed the affairs of state.
Whenever men have endeavored to form such a government as that of
Israel, they have, of necessity, taken it upon themselves to interpret
and enforce the law of God. They have assumed the right to [p. 764]
control the conscience, and thus have usurped the prerogative of God.
In the former dispensation, while sins against God were visited with
temporal penalties, the judgments executed were not only by divine
sanction, but under His direct control, and by His command. Sorcerers
were to be put to death. Idolaters were to be slain. Profanity and
sacrilege were punished with death. Whole nations of idolaters were to
be exterminated. But the infliction of these penalties was directed by
Him who reads the hearts of men, who knows the measure of their
guilt, and who deals with His creatures in wisdom and mercy. When
men, with human frailties and passions, undertake to do this work, it
needs no argument to show that the door is opened to unrestrained
injustice and cruelty. The most inhuman crimes will be perpetrated,
and all in the sacred name of Christ.
From the laws of Israel, which punished offenses against God,
arguments have been drawn to prove the duty of punishing similar sins
in this age. All persecutors have employed them to justify their deeds.
The principle that God has delegated to human authority the right to
control the conscience is the very foundation of religious tyranny and
persecution. But all who reason thus lose sight of the fact that we are
now living in a different dispensation, under conditions wholly different
from those of Israel; that the kingdom of Israel was a type of the
kingdom of Christ, which will not be set up until his second coming;
and that the duties which pertain to man's relation to God are not to be
regulated or enforced by human authority.