And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.  2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.  And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. 1Samuel  8:1-3

In this passage of Scripture, we see that the writing was already on the wall, and the future of Israel was in the balance. Rather than walking in the ways of God, Samuel’s sons were worldly and profane, and wickedness punctuated their leadership. They had the outward show of religion and perhaps even the outward testimony of their father, but their own testimony was void of legitimacy. They were covetous men who were perverse and lacked judgment.

The magisterial rule of Samuel’s sons was a direct violation of the commandment David the King articulated in 2 Samuel 23, 

“He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.”
It seems likely that by the spirit of God, David was reflecting on the sons of Samuel, as well as the wickedness of Saul, when he penned these words. Nevertheless, Samuel, to his discredit, made his reprobate sons judges. Perhaps he hoped they would receive the office with sobriety and sense.  But he failed to realize that a leopard is unable to change his spots even when thrust into a situation which requires Godly sobriety and holy obedience to the Law of God.

Herein is the first transgression. It was prototypical of what was to follow.

Like Eli’s sons, Samuel’s sons were reprobate men. Nothing could change that.
We might view Eli’s Sons as representing the apostasy of the priests, while Samuel’s sons as representing the apostasy of the civil rulers.
Both of these apostate groups were setting the stage for a great judgment upon Israel. It is a fact of Scripture that the judgment of God must come upon every nation that refuses to follow His Lawful precepts, especially when it concerns leadership, statesmanship, and government. If God judged His own people Israel, how much more will He judge other nations that rebel against His Holy Law?

Perhaps Samuel’s offense cannot be laid upon Samuel alone. Surely he misjudged his sons. Perhaps he was too tenderhearted as a father, and thus his eyes were blinded and his heart hopeful that his seed would be great in the earth God-ward.  Although he was wrong, Samuel needn’t bear the guilt alone. The people were equally to blame, and perhaps more so.
On the one hand, the elders acknowledged that Samuel’s sons were apostate, and could not rule as judges representing God in matters of government. But on the other hand, they asked for an equally sinful solution. They asked for a king patterned after the nations around them.

They asked for a governor patterned after the pagan nations around them.

1Sa 8:4-5 ¶ 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.

This request defied logic as well as knowledge . It was a complete rejection of God and His Laws, and God would not suffer His chosen covenantally-bound people to reject Him without some retribution.

Notice the elders wanted to be JUDGED like the other nations were judged.

This desire led to all sorts of problems. Since the other nations were structured tyrannically, (and mostly still are), with totalitarian depots acting like God, legislating and judging according to personal whims and lusts, Israel was asking to become slaves of wicked men. They were asking to return to the vomit of Egyptian slavery.

It was common knowledge that the nations outside of the Covenant were despotic. Nevertheless, the people desired to be like the other nations.  Make no mistake about it. This request was not a request out of ignorance, but rather of defiance. What was transpiring was a complete repudiation of the covenant oath that Israel had made with God in the wilderness. It was a blatant violation of a promise sworn before God and to God.

In verse 7, God confirms this fact:  
“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.”
Israel would have God’s covenant of redemption to call their own, but they refused to have His Covenant of political precept and expression. They would rather be patterned after the nations and ideologies of the heathen. They wanted God’s salvation but not His Lordship. They wanted a Savior but not a King.

This is impossible. Divine salvation is predicated upon God’s sovereign rule. There is no redemption without Lordship. There is no redemption without submission to Christ’s Crown and His Covenant.
Israel thought that salvation was a ticket to escape lawful obedience to the precepts of God. Today, this idea prevails in many churches, both Arminian and Reformed alike. Statements such as ”We are under Grace and not under law” is typical of those wanting God’s redemption but not His Lordship. Salvation is not an escape from obedience, but rather it emphasizes obedience, as well as sacrificial devotion and service.
This idea of salvation without obedience was born out of pagan rebellion. The pagan idea of salvation was one of safety and prosperity, not obedience to an ethical standard of holiness.  Pagan redemption had little to do with an obedient lifestyle since salvation was based upon ritual and ceremony, relegated to the individual alone. (A “me and my Savior” relationship without any infringement upon personal needs, desires, and actions)

Israel wanted the impossible: salvation while remaining rebellious and unlawful. They wanted liberation FROM God and not liberation TO God. They wanted heaven without fulfilling their covenant oath of obedience.

RJ Rushdoony puts it this way: 
”There can only be divine salvation where there is a sovereign and omnipotent God.”

Israel had rejected God as Lord. God was now going to reject them. But why was God so interested in Israel upholding His political Covenant Structure? In his book ‘Covenant and Polity in Biblical Israel’, Daniel Elazar observes:

 “Covenant can be studied in three dimensions: 1. As a form of political conceptualization and mode of politic expression; 2. as a source of political ideology; and 3. as a factor shaping culture, institutions and behavior.”

What Israel was embarking upon was a complete rejection of God’s Political expression, which included:

1. Divine Law, justice, and equity

2. God’s political ideology of righteousness, which has at root ethical purity
3. God’s commanded political structure, which was to shape the culture, its institutions, and regulate the behavior of the people

Israel rejected all of this. Their desire was to overthrow these principles and to come under the rulership of an earthly king with a system of government diametrically opposed to the divine civil and legal order of Jehovah.
Israel had broken their solemn oath and would face the ramifications of their rebellion.

What Israel had actually rejected was God’s declaration of His holiness, His covenant oath to them, and their oath to Him. God’s covenant agreement was an informed agreement – a pact or contract – with Israel, based upon their voluntary consent. God, a higher Authority, established this agreement, which made it a covenant with certain stipulations of Divine Law attached to it. These stipulations were sanctions of two kinds: curses blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience . It was also generational in scope. If obeyed, the blessings would continue throughout their generations, but if disobeyed, the nation would be destroyed with little trace left, if any.

Elazar defines covenant in this manner: 

“A covenant is a morally informed agreement or pact, based upon voluntary consent, established by mutual oaths or promises, involving or witnessed by some transcendent higher authority, between peoples or parties having independent status, equal in contribution with the purposes of the pact, that provides for joint action or obligation to achieve defined ends (limited or comprehensive) under conditions of mutual respect, which protect the individual integrities of all the parties to it.”
A covenant is a seal, or symbol of guarantee, between two parties sworn before a Divine Authority. Elazar notes that during the 16th and 17th centuries, the Swiss, Dutch, Scots and the English puritans conceived civil society in covenantal terms and actually wrote out national covenants to which all must subscribe. (Scotland’s Solemn League and Covenant is one of the most famous of these documents.) 

The American system is no stranger to covenantal oath  taking. The original American colonies were also structured along covenantal lines. In fact, covenantal thinking  and national covenanting  was commonplace when structuring political policy, and it continued throughout the period of the American War for Independence against the tyranny of King George III.

American Independence, according to some colonial thinkers, was to be liberation from tyranny so as to be servants of the living God in covenant. It was not to be independent from GOD, but from tyranny, dependent upon the Living God

William Penn noted that ”Men must choose to be governed by God or condemn themselves to be governed by tyrants.” 

Penn’s statement was clearly made in the context of the charter of Pennsylvania:
“Whereas the glory of Almighty God, and ye good of mankind, is the reason and end of government, and therefore government itself is a venerable ordinance of God; forasmuch as it is principally desired and intended by the proprietary and governor, and the freedom of the province of Pennsylvania, and territories thereunto belonging, to make and establish such laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil liberty, in opposition to any unchristian, licentious and unjust practices whereby God may have His due, Caesar his due, and the people their due, and insolvency and licentiousness on the other, so that the best and firmest foundation may be laid for the present and future happiness both of the governor and people of this province and territories aforesaid and their posterity.”

This statement must be classified as both theonomic and theocratic, thereby forbidding any sanctioning of anti-biblical laws and behavior, including any attempt of tyranny or immoral practices among the citizenry. Note also the generational focus of Penn’s statement. This was a covenantal statement.

Divine covenants are important, because they shape the worldview and perspectives of the parties involved, and because they sustain those Divine ends whereby they cannot be altered without Divine sanctions.

Elazar confirms this:

“As a source of political ideology, covenant shapes the world views…of whole societies, defining their civil character and political relationships, and serving as a touchstone for testing the legitimacy and often even the efficiency of their political institutions and those who must make them work.”

Covenanting is a security measure, especially when it comes to political ideology, structure, and expression. As a result of the sinful rejection of God and His Laws, Israel’s culture would now be structured according to the apostate system of government under a king who was like the pagan kings of totalitarian rule.

Covenants are expressions of relationships. By violating their covenant with God, Israel severed the relationship between themselves and God, their Savior [not old English spelling, unless you want all your words to be consistent to old English spelling], Lord and Protector. [same paragraph] Once they rejected God, they were on their own, under the frowning providence and active judgment of the Almighty.

Elazar again notes that God’s original covenant with Israel actually established the Hebrew people and founded them as a body politic, while at the same time created a religious framework that gave that policy its reason, norm, and constitution.  It also gave them particular guidelines, or Laws, for the development of a political order based upon justice and equity, all of which were based upon a covenantal relationship.

God’s covenant made Israel’s moral commitment to one another and to God. It was a binding Law. All these covenantal blessings Israel rejected. Even after they had been warned time and time again, they continued to reject the counsel of God.

Observe the warning:

De 29:10 ¶ Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel,

 11 Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water:
 12 That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day: {enter: Heb. pass}
 13 That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
 14 Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath;
 15 But with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:
 16 (For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by;
 17 And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:)
 18 Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;

This was a specific warning for Israel, and for us, not to be yoked to a nation that holds to a political policy that is not structured after the WORD of GOD.

The result: tyrannical rule under a totalitarian statist government, which God through direct intervention brings to pass, according to His declared sanction of retribution for rebellion. Israel was seeking a political platform that would free them from the covenantal obligations of God’s Law. They wanted desperately to decide for themselves right and wrong according to arbitrary human standards and thus sought independence apart from God’s LAW and from God’s BLESSINGS.

What they said in effect was “We the people of Israel will decide how we will be governed.” And they did this by seeking a legislator-king outside of the parameters God gave. They traded God for Saul, which was a terrible mistake. Israel’s rebellious cunning would quickly backfire, and they would become slaves once again, like in the days of Egypt.

 Notice what Samuel declares will happen if such a rejection is precipitated:

1Sa 8:11 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.

 12 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.
 13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
 14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
 15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
 16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
 17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
 18 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.
Even with this warning, the people were seared in their conscience, and they desired to live as slaves under the yoke of a tyrant statist system. As long as they could be like every other nation, as long as they could compete in the global area, and as long as they could do it the way they saw fit, they would be satisfied. Or so it seemed.

The parallels are astounding.

Like Israel, America  desires a president or a political party structured after the nations of the world to save them. When pagan rulers are placed into power, they have their ethical standards, their epistemological starting point, their economic ideologies, and their entire worldviews structured according to humanistic ideas. They refuse to follow God’s ethical standards of a community, state, or nation.

As Author Buddy Hanson rightly and boldly states:

”Any other view of civil government other than [God’s] view, will result in the citizens [including lawmakers who are elected from the citizenry] becoming a law unto themselves.”
During the Reformation, the idea of national covenanting was rejuvenated. It was the Reformation that sparked the Puritans, Covenanters, and early American colonists, to consider returning to the God of their fathers, so as to construct a body politic obedient to the law Structure of God and His infallible Word.  As a result, Biblical covenanting re-emerged as a central theme in political theology, political philosophy, and political polity.

Men like Theodore Beza and the German Born Calvinist Johannes Althusius were among the finest of juridical scholars. Althusius systematized Calvinistic teachings and stated the following:

“…a republic is formed by a covenant between the rulers and the people before God, that the foundation of this covenant is the Law of God…that the Decalogue is the best expression of this higher law, that the church and state are separate in form, but joined in function, that families, churches, and states alike, must protect the rights and liberties of the people, and that violations of these rights and liberties, or of the divine and natural rights that inform and empower them, are instances of tyranny that must trigger organized constitutional resistance.”

The Reformation was calling men to both an outer and an inner reformation, where men would be conformed outwardly as well as inwardly to the Word of God. This reformation concerned every area and institution of life, especially in the realm of government, since tyranny would be violently oppressive to the preaching of the Gospel and the health of the Christian cause.
Beza insisted that tyrants were rulers who violated the terms of the political covenant. ] John Witte in his book “The Reformation of Rights” notes,
“For Beza, tyrants were rulers who violated the terms of the political covenant – particularly its foundational requirements, that all must honor the rights of God to be worshipped, and the rights of God’s people to discharge their duties of the faith, in conformity with God’s Law.”

It was Beza, more than Calvin, who advanced the doctrine of interposition whereby the lesser magistrates could resist and overthrow the tyrant, if necessary. According to Beza, if the ruler exceeded his authority in violation of the political covenant, the people through their representatives  had both the right and the duty to resist him as a tyrant. During the late 1700s, the American Puritan colonists resorted to this doctrine of interposition (or the doctrine of the lesser magistrates), sparking the American War of Independence.

During the years of the Reformation, John Calvin admonished the people of Geneva in a stern warning, 
“And ye, O peoples to whom God gave the liberty to choose your own magistrates, see to it that ye do not forfeit this favor by electing to the positions of highest honor, rascals and enemies of God.”

This warning could have easily been given to the 21st century Evangelical Christian community. Sadly, however, warning has mostly fallen upon deaf ears. Today, we see very little real outcry from any quarter of Christendom today, and almost no outrage, concerning the apostasy of our civil majesty.
WHY? Why is the community of the church so complacent? Because the visible church has lost the vision of what it means to be at LIBERTY UNDER GOD.

Not only has the church lost the vision, she has become like Israel desiring a king (or a political party) to rule over them like the other nations have. Rather than rebuking and abstaining from the workers of iniquity, many Christians run to them for safety and the hope of prosperity. But America’s hope is neither in any king nor in any political party. Moreover, it is not in politics per se.

Christendom boasts of so many individuals and churches verbally stating that they want to reform the nation and bring it back to the morality of Scripture – but they only say, and don’t do. Many words are spoken, but little real action is implemented. If and when action is implemented, it is with the hope that Christ will emerge and rapture the church from the evils of the world. This two-kingdom heresy has stifled the church even when she is doing the work of the dominion mandate.

There are far too many professing Christians still eating at Jezebel’s statist table, wiping their mouth and saying that they have done no evil. Too may saints have bought into the lie that the government is here to help and to provide for cradle to grave assurances. American Christians have yoked themselves with the beast of Statism.

Like Israel, they desire Saul.

Without even knowing it (or wanting to know it,) the community of Christendom has forged an unholy alliance with God’s enemies, thinking that appeasing the oppressor will insure their survival, not realizing that appeasement of the beast only stirs its wrath. Too many American Christians seem to think that if they act according to the liking of the beast, believing its lies, getting involved in their programs, and refraining from antagonizing it, the beast will spare them. It will not. In the end, it will destroy them all the same.

Consider the story of the Turtle and the Scorpion.

The scorpion stands upon the bank of the stream desiring to cross to the other side. He spies a turtle and seeks to gain access upon the turtle’s back so as to cross. The turtle naturally refuses, saying that the scorpion will sting him, and he will die. The scorpion assures him that he will not sting him, because if he does, they both will drown.
For a moment the turtle ponders the logic, then agrees. Halfway across, the scorpion stings the turtle.

The turtle exclaims “But you said you wouldn’t kill me. Now we will both drown. Why did you do that?”

The scorpion explains: “I can’t help it – it is my nature.”

It is the nature of man, especially when given any kind of political power, to enslave, impoverish, humiliate, and eventually kill the very people it has sworn to protect. In doing so, it kills itself along with the people of its charge.

So what is American Christendom’s problem? To answer this, Buddy Hanson gives a wonderful illustration:
“It is said that it’s hard to read the label from the inside of the jar, but that is exactly where we are in the early years of the 21st century. The cultural jar into which we have allowed ourselves to be placed, and confined, is a result of a century and a half of preferring the world’s ways to God’s. This has so influenced the way we look at life, that when we decide to ‘do something’ about our culture, we act according to non-Christian tactics – and don’t even realize that we are doing so.”
In other words, reestablishing the position of godless rulers and acting according to the dictates of the culture avails no change to the culture. Rather, it exacerbates the problem, bringing the wrath of God down upon us more ferociously.
He continues:
”What is not understood is that by acting naturally, we are guaranteeing that the non Christian agenda will continue to influence the culture.”

The answer to our political, economic, militaristic, and cultural problems is not whether the Republicans or the Democrats gain control over the several branches of Government. Our problems will only be remedied when God’s people stop making excuses for their acquiescence to wickedness and tyranny, devoting themselves to an expressly Christian world and life view that seeks to advance the crown rights of Christ and not the kingdom of man.

The Honorable Howard Phillips coined the statement:

”Liberals are going over the cliff at 100 mph and conservatives are going over the cliff at 50 mph. Both are going to crash.”

As long as our approach is godless, we will continue to loose ground. As long as we continue to think like the world, the world will snare and enslave us. As long as we continue to forge alliances with the wicked of the world, we will loose God’s support, and His holy justice will fall upon us as individuals, our families, and possibly our nation as well.

Perhaps patriotism is defined best by Abigail Adams when she clearly stated:

”A patriot without religion in my estimation is as great a paradox as an honest man without the fear of God. Is it possible that he whom has not moral obligations bind, can have any real Good Will Toward men? Can he be a patriot who, by an openly vicious conduct, is undermining the very bonds of Society? The Scriptures tell us “Righteousness Exalteth a nation”.

Rev. Stephan Perks of the Kuyper institute warns:

 ”The Created order of God’s Sovereignty is vested totally in Christ. Nowhere else in the created order is such total sovereignty exercised. All other persons and spheres of authority are restricted. This means that all reductionist theories of mankind and human society are idolatrous. Totalitarianism, which reduces man to one function of human society namely the State, for which it claims total sovereignty, is idolatrous.
Patriarchalism, in which the whole of human society is subsumed under the family and all other spheres of subordinated to it, is idolatrous. Ecclesio-centrism, in which the whole of life of man and society is subordinated to the church, is equally idolatrous, as is libertarianism, in which the whole of human life is subordinated to the individual.

Christianity teaches, rather than any of these, including Ecclesio-centricism, that Christ is the center of creation, that only He is sovereign over the whole creation, and that all institutions and spheres, legitimate in their own right and independent of each other’s devolved authority structures, must subordinate themselves in all things to Him and to His Word.

Solomon’s profound truth rings true: “There is nothing new under the Sun.”

Christians must once again decide between Christ or Caesar, between God and Baal, between the table of the Lord or the table of idols, and between being bond servants under God’s Law or being salves of sin, the lusts of the flesh, serving corrupters and the promoters of wickedness.

We stand at a crossroads. Will Christians continue to be led like sheep to the slaughter, or will we be men of faith and resolve, relying upon GOD ALONE for our every blessing?

The future of our heritage depends upon our answer. While we may not avoid the destruction of our culture, we still may avoid the comprehensive totality of God’s wrath upon ourselves. May God have mercy upon our godless nation.