How the 5th Commandment Reminds Us of a Basic Political Truth
Fathers, Husbands, Presidents, Leaders of all stripes should be holy men, who seek the spiritual and physical well-being of their people and those to whom God in His wisdom has granted them oversight. Failure to be men of valor, of truth, and of righteousness is sin, not only personally in that all human beings regardless of position or title are to be holy, but it is a transgression with malice in that those given the charge of headship are to be examples in how they walk in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Our Larger Catechism queries for today detail for us myriads of ways that the kings of old and the politicians (as well as ministers and patriarchs) of today are failing to keep their covenantal responsibilities to God and man.
Here are the Q/A’s:
Q. 129: What is required of superiors towards their inferiors?
A. It is required of superiors, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love, pray for, and bless their inferiors; to instruct, counsel, and admonish them; countenancing, commending, and rewarding such as do well; and discountenancing, reproving, and chastising such as do ill; protecting, and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God, honour to themselves, and so to preserve that authority which God hath put upon them.
Q. 130: What are the sins of superiors?
A. The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them, an inordinate seeking of themselves, their own glory, ease, profit, or pleasure; commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; counselling, encouraging, or favouring them in that which is evil; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good; correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath; or any way dishonouring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behaviour.
In a subtle reminder of the nature of the wickedness to which we will be speaking today we hear at the introduction of every evil king of Israel this familiar phrase, “And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin.” (1 Kings 15:26). There is a both/and that needs explained further. In this case, Nadab, is convicted by the writer of two crimes. His own individual sin and the sin he committed against God by making Israel to sin. This kind of sin by proxy is quite foreign to our libertarian ears. Yet, we see a similar judgment upon Judah because both their people sinned and the king led them astray. (Jeremiah 4:14-18). There is a comparable warning given to kings in the New Testament both in narrative and prophetic form in Revelation, plus the general commands found in Romans 13. Leaders by their failure to lead in holiness cause their people to sin by their wastrel disobedience. They will be held to account for how they led by the way their people live.
At the end of the day you can only hope to have a nation turning itself back to the Lord if the said principal of such nation is seeking that repentance in his own heart. (2 Chron. 7:12-14). It is required of superiors that they “. . . love, pray for, and bless their inferiors”. In that before cited section from Solomon’s prayer we see David’s son testify in public before God and his people that not only has Jehovah kept His promise, but the people are thereby witnessing to Solomon’s own obedience to the LORD in his constructing the temple in accordance with the law given to Moses. That type of open conversation is a vital part of the blessing superiors give to inferiors by their own personal piety. A family whose father refuses to pray with them or for them is guaranteed to receive a covenantal curse. A church where the elders and/or minister live not out the basic obedience of the Christian life is itself not going to produce fruit of faith. A nation whose President, King, or Prime Minister is a moral scoundrel is itself going to be an abomination before the Creator. We’ll talk later about the inferiors responsibility to ensure the superior is doing their duty (and in a Republic that we choose those men capable of moral shame to lead us), yet here in the Catechism we see that when those qualities are not found in those granted the place of honor there are many ways trouble is certain to follow. Any who would seek those offices it must not be said of them that they engage in sinful actions that result in, “. . . dishonouring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behaviour”.
It’s not okay to be in charge of a nation, a family, or a church if you cannot be in charge of yourself. If you are not faithful in little, how can you be faithful in much?
It is in the sins particularly set out that you see how this can be so. We see the warning found in, “. . . careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong . . .” born out in the failure of superiors to ensure that not only that inferiors are attending worship, Sabbath School, prayer meetings and the like, but that in their own decisions and priorities they are thereby keeping their children, their wives, or citizens in the case of a political leader, from gaining from the blessing of the means of grace.
If we are going to maintain the castle doctrine in regard to intruders in the name of protecting the lives of those near to us (and rightly so) then we best be doing everything that we can to guard their souls when it comes to the principalities and works of darkness which tempt them to damnation. It does no good to shield the body when the soul is under assault. Superiors must be wise and considerate of the spiritual needs of inferiors, regardless of the situation and station of life.
In closing, whether you are a Superior by choice (Father/Mother/Politician) or by call (Minister/Elder/Deacon) there is a seriousness to the responsibility you take on by answering the bell. There are no accidents in God’s kingdom. Acting as one in charge means you are in charge. As Hebrews 13:17 reminds us our King of Kings will hold us to account to how we used our place of authority. The question for Superiors is straight-forward and laid out succinctly in our Catechism for today. Do you understand what it takes to be liable for those under your care? If not, then danger for not only you, but all others, will be the result, both in this day and in the time to come on the day of judgment.
Here is one last word:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church