“Dancing” at the Wrong Wedding? An Israeli’s Perspective on Kings and Politics

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Over the years at political rallies, Netanyahu’s supporters have at times chanted “Bibi, King of Israel.”

“6 So […Israel] asked for a king to lead them. Samuel thought this was a bad idea, so he prayed to the Lord. The Lord told Samuel, ‘Do what the people tell you. They have not rejected you. They have rejected me. They don’t want me to be their king… So listen to the people and do what they say. But give them a warning. Tell the people what a king will do to them. Tell them how a king rules people.’ ” (I Samuel 8 ERV emphasis added)

Throughout history, people have suffered at the hands of those who rule over them. Whether it be unfair taxes, their land being taken or even their children sold into slavery; the point is that the rulers were not there to serve the people.

Lately, in view of our current unstable political situation in Israel, as well as the United States and other nations; I found myself wondering what life might have looked like under Roman rule during the disastrous time of Titus (the Roman leader who destroyed the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.). What were the people of that time thinking and feeling? What was their reaction to the situation and leadership?

Is it possible that they understood that Israel’s situation was exactly as foretold in 1 Samuel 8:1-22 when Israel asked for a king? On the one hand we fear these strong rulers, but on the other hand we want them to rule over us. This same dichotomy exists today. And on the “third hand” God also commands us to respect governmental authority.

The State of Israel is a democratic country; yet we are still looking for a king, which may explain the how a strong prime minister can remain in power for decades. The government which is meant to serve and help the people, all too often has become a burden on the people; inflicting a rod of suffering in some cases. The point is we can never be truly satisfied with this (political) kingdom.

Looking at the time of the 1st century congregation of New Covenant believers, I wonder how they responded to their political rulers as compared to how we respond today to our political rulers. What is our role as believers regarding the leadership of our governments? Are our present leadership options so different from any of the past earthly kingdom rulers?

It’s the system of this world. We try to perfect it, but it is still worldly. Where are the leaders like Moses, Samuel, David – chosen by God? They heard and were led by His Spirit. They were anointed by Him to do His will. They did not run to gain a position, title or power.

The Babylonian system exists throughout governments to this day. Looking again at God’s words through the prophet Samuel in I Samuel 8, we see that the words Samuel spoke back then are still true today. Why is it that the system tends to gradually corrupt even well-meaning leaders through the power given to them? Is it that we are the problem? Is it the sin in us?  Can we say like Paul, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24  It is not our place to take over the government, but it is our place to pray for the government. We need to mainly focus on exerting influence in the spiritual not the physical realm.

As “seers” we know that eventually all those kingdoms will fall apart when the great city of Babylon is “fallen.” Our eyes are on the mountain of God where Yeshua will return to establish His Kingdom here on earth. Even today we are firstly citizens of that Kingdom; this is where our core identity lies.

If we know where our citizenship is and our eyes are on the mountain of the Lord, why then are we “dancing” at the wrong wedding?

This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, December 13, 2020, and reposted with permission.