Kingdom and Government
There is a great need for the body of Messiah to understand the relationship between the governments of this world and the kingdom of God. Governments are in transition and will ultimately be "taken over" by Yeshua's kingdom. This is the message of the seventh trumpet.
The total transfer of governing authority on this planet happens at the second coming of Yeshua (Jesus). By that time, we must be made ready (Revelation 19:7). We also are in a process of transition, being prepared to govern with Yeshua (Romans 5:17; Revelation 20:4, 6).
Since the final transfer of authority occurs at the Second Coming, the revelation of that transfer is the last revelation of God's secret plan. (Revelation 10:7 – At the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the secret of the plan of God will be made complete.)
During this time period of 2,000 years from the first to second coming of Yeshua, the kingdom of God is growing and changing. It proceeds forward in a number of stages. The parables of the kingdom describing this changing process could be summarized simply as:
The Difference between Kingdom/Reigning and Government/Ruling
At the present time there is a gap between the spiritual authority of God's kingdom and the practical authority of this world's governments. We may see the difference between these two realms in the Hebrew roots MaLaCh (from which we derive the words "kingdom" and "reigning"), and MaShaL (from which we derive the words "government" and "ruling"). [Although these two words in the original text do not always show this distinction, I will use them this way for clarity's sake.]
God's spiritual kingdom reigns (malach) over all, eternally from the heavens. He oversees the governments which rule (mashal) over the human race, changing from year to year. The problem is that human beings are unwilling to cooperate with God's authority. He is limited to the "raw material" of the humans He has available to work with. The fact that governments are evil is not God's fault. It is difficult for Him to find people who will exercise governing authority with integrity (II Kings 18:23, I Samuel 13:14, II Chronicles 16:9, Ezekiel 22:30).
There is profound revelation on spiritual authority in Ephesians chapter one:
Let's focus on two significant concepts in this passage:
[By "church" we mean the community of true believers living in the world, "ecclesia" in Greek and "kehila" in Hebrew. We are not referring to a religious institution of any denomination, but a spiritually identified group of people, known to God and to one another, but not necessarily to the world. I will use the term "kehila" here.]
There are three levels of authority described in this passage:
This structure of spiritual authority is not readily seen to the human eye; and in fact is not functioning correctly. Why not? The problem is not with the first level (Yeshua), but with the next two levels (kehilah and government). Because of sin and unbelief, the levels of authority are not "lined up" as they should be. The process of bringing them into right order is part of establishing the kingdom of God on earth. ("Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." – Matthew 6:10-11).
God's spiritual authority is already established in heaven. It is flowing down to earth through the hearts of obedient and faithful people. Eventually it will be established in the governments on earth (Luke 19:12, 14; Revelation 11:15; 20:4, 6; Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3).
[Note: There is a parallel structure of angels and demons (of various levels of power), surrounding both the kehila and the governments, battling over the hearts of men, either for or against the kingdom of God (Daniel 9, 10; Ephesians 6:12). This is the essence of spiritual warfare.]
God 's Role in Government
God is very involved in determining the governments of this world, and takes responsibility for setting people into positions of authority (Romans 13:1-5), as well as removing them.
God told Nebuchadnezzar that he would have to "eat grass" until he understood this principle (Daniel 4:25, 32). The same decree holds true for us. Let us ask ourselves, "Do we understand this principle? Are we eating grass? How long are we going to keep living on a low level of authority until we understand that God determines who rules in the governments of men?"
This principle can be violated in one of two ways. First, those in government can refuse to submit to God's spiritual authority. Secondly, those of us who are believers can refuse to accept God's role in government, thus missing our role of influencing those governments. While politicians often abuse their governing authority, we "prophetic" types often abdicate ours. Both the abuse and abdication of authority miss the purpose of God.
The problem can be remedied in one of two ways: either bring the people in government closer to spiritual matters; or bring the people in the kehila closer to governing matters. We can influence those in government by praying for them, sharing the Gospel with them, proclaiming biblically-based moral values, and so on.
We prepare ourselves for governing authority as we learn principles of leadership, servanthood, stewardship, integrity, responsibility, justice, diligence (Proverbs 12:24; Romans 12:8), etc. Part of biblical discipleship is to understand the right relationship between heavenly authority and earthly authority.
Did you miss the connection between Yeshua's two-fold authority in verse 18 and His command to make disciples in verse 19? Yeshua has authority both in heaven (among angels) and on earth (among men). He wants to train people on earth in righteousness so He can delegate and transfer authority to them. If we are discipled correctly, we will rule and reign with Him, both now (Romans 5:17) and in the world to come (Revelation 20:4, 6).
This challenge comes down to such practical matters as training "spiritual" people to be responsible for basic administrative duties. Our staff and disciples spend two to three hours every morning in prophetic praise and biblical instruction. Then they are given administrative tasks to do. That tension between the administrative and the prophetic is symptomatic of the greater spiritual challenge to establish God's kingdom on earth.
Right government should be seen as a "charisma" of the Holy Spirit (I Kings 3:9, Isaiah 11:1-5, Romans 12:8, I Corinthians 12:28). How can we train people with administrative gifts to be sensitive to the prophetic anointing? And how can we train those with prophetic gifts to be responsible in administrative duties? The combination of the two advances the kingdom of God.
Praying for those in Government
The "first" step in bringing the kingdom and the government together is to pray for those in authority.
Notice the word "for" in this passage. Often I hear saints praying against those in authority and think they are being "prophetic." You don't need that much discernment to see what is wrong with the government. Most of the time, we need the prophetic discernment to understand just what God is trying to do through the authorities.
It is not easy to see that God has set in place those who are in authority (Romans 13:1-7; I Peter 2:13). We have to "give unto Caesar" what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's (Matthew 22:21). Yeshua saw both spiritual matters and government matters under the same sovereignty of God. However the religious authorities and the government authorities were acting in rebellion (Psalm 2, Acts 4:24-28). The most important demand we can make of any government today is freedom of religious expression (Acts 4:19-20, Acts 5:28-29, Revelation 13:4-16).
Pilate was the head of Caesar's government in ancient Judea. Yeshua recognized his authority but challenged him to realize that he needed to submit to God or he would be held in judgment himself "You could have no power over me at all unless it was given to you from above." - John 19:11
The Pharisee religious leaders opposed paying taxes to Caesar because they did not believe in God's working through the government. For this they were rebuked: "Yeshua perceived their wickedness, and said, 'Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?'" – Matthew 22:18. We need to be careful that what we consider to be spirituality is not seen as hypocrisy in the eyes of the Lord.
We are to pray for government leaders to give us a "quiet and peaceable life" (I Timothy 2:2). The job of the government is to create a stable and safe society. Our salvation does not come through government leaders; they cannot bring about the kingdom of God. However, they can bring about law and order, freedom of religious expression, and basic social institutions.
It is said, "No news is good news." Unfortunately, a peaceful, stable society does not sell newspapers. Therefore the news media has a vested interest in inflating problems and increasing disturbances. That tendency often sets modern news reporting in a direction contrary to the will of God. We must not let international news networks bias our understanding of current events.
Shaul (Paul) also said we are to "give thanks" for those in government (I Timothy 2:1). That can be difficult. We are more adept at criticizing than at giving thanks. The children of Israel in the wilderness constantly complained against Moses, and God took that as an attack against His own authority. Sometimes we even try to label our complaining as "prophetic discernment."
When we pray for government leaders, we should try to imagine ourselves in their position. What would you do in their situation? What are the realistic alternatives available for them? If there aren't any options, it is our job to bring them into existence through prayer.
We have the supernatural power to change any situation (Matthew 18:18). The heart of the government leaders is in the hand of the Lord (Proverbs 21:1). The job of the government is to create a safe and stable society. Our job is to be a godly influence, like light and salt, within that society (Matthew 5:13-16). We are looking toward a perfect society that has been planned and architected by God (Hebrews 11:10).