(1) Israel—The Only Theocracy Ordained by God

If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.

A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry

Previous Series of Lessons:
Civil Government

Next Lesson:
(2) Israel’s Performance, God’s Judgement, and a New Economy—God’s Grace

Click here to go to links to all lessons on Israel.

Click here to go to links to all written lessons.

Click here to go to the 5 to 8 minute video lectures.

Click here to go to much more thorough essay on this subject by clicking here.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 27, 2017

Originally, all civil governments were under the same guidelines. Although Gentile nations proceeded under the original plan as ordained by God in the covenant He made with Noah, God called out Israel, a nation for Himself. First, Abraham was called out and obtained a promise of God.[1] Since man had failed to obey God on the basis of human conscience, the restraint by the Holy Spirit, and human government, God instituted a new economy, a new way of dealing with man. He made promises to Abraham and his seed, Jesus Christ, which were four hundred years before the law. The inheritance was not of the law which was added because of transgressions, “until the seed should come” who was Jesus Christ.[2] God “sware” this promise “by himself.[3]

God promised Abraham that He would bless him, make his name great, give him many physical descendants, make him the father of many nations, give him the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, and bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him.[4]

God promised Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their seed everlasting possession of a physical land on the earth with prescribed boundaries. Israel’s government, working in conjunction with the Jewish religious leaders, was given the responsibility to enforce all ten of the Ten Commandments, as well as all of God’s moral law. The Gentile nations proceeded under the original plan laid down by God and their highest function was the judicial taking of life, from which all other governmental powers may be implied.

Israel was called by God for specific purposes: “Israel was called to be a witness to the unity of God in the midst of universal idolatry;[5] to illustrate the blessedness of serving the true God;[6]) to receive and preserve the divine revelations;[7] and to produce the Messiah.[8]

The Jewish patriarchs (heads of families) failed in the responsibilities God gave them, and judgment followed. Their responsibility was only to believe and serve God who provided all material and spiritual resources requisite to inspire them to do this. God gave them the Promised Land, and blessings were guaranteed while they remained in the land. In spite of this, their future was predominated by failure. Jacob eventually led his children to Egypt where they were enslaved. God delivered them and crushed their taskmasters.

After God delivered Israel from their Egyptian oppressors, He gave them the Mosaic Law. This was, of course, before they entered the Promised Land. He dealt with them now on the basis of that law in addition to conscience, the restraint of the Holy Spirit, civil government, and promise. God’s new economy for Israel was based on law. Promise and law are sharply distinguished in Galatians 3 even though the law did not annul the promise.[9]

The law was written in stone and “was a totally external way of God’s administering His rule over Israel.”[10] It was an external moral restrainer, a “schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.”[11]

When God delivered Israel out of Egyptian bondage, their faith failed and God caused them to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Before God allowed Israel to enter the Promised Land, she operated under a covenant directed solely to the nation Israel. All other nations, the Gentile nations, continued under the covenant God made with Noah. Israel was given covenant declared in Deuteronomy 30.1-10 which gives God’s conditions under which Israel entered the land. Israel has never as yet taken the land under the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant, nor has it ever possessed the whole land.[12] The seven parts to the covenant given in Deuteronomy 30 are:

  1. Dispersion for disobedience, v. 1 (De. 28.63-68. See Ge. 15.18, note).
  2. The future repentance of Israel while in the dispersion, v.2.
  3. The return of the Lord, v.3 (Amos 9.9-14; Ac. 15.14-17).
  4. Restoration to the land, v. 5 (Is. 11.11, 12; Je. 23.3-8; Ez. 37.21-25).
  5. National conversion, v.6 (Ro. 11.26, 27; Hos. 2.14-16).
  6. The judgment of Israel’s oppressors, v. 7 (Is. 14.1,2; Joel 3.1-8; Mt. 25.31-46).
  7. National prosperity, v. 9 (Amos 9.11-14).

Israel in the land was originally a theocracy directly under God. God spoke directly to Moses and Joshua, and then chosen judges in Israel. God does not and never has spoken directly to Gentile nations as He did with Israel.

Israel was a theocracy. The word “theocracy” comes from two Greek words, theos meaning God and kratos meaning ruler. “Theocracy” means “Government of a state by the immediate direction of God; or the state thus governed. Of this species the Israelites furnish an illustrious example. The theocracy lasted till the time of Saul.”[13]

The church, which God instructed to be directly under God and His principles only, is not a state, and therefore not a theocracy. Nor can a church take the place of God over a state; such an arrangement is not a theocracy.

Next, we will take a look at how Israel performed in the theocracy in the land, God’s judgments of Israel, and God’s grace.

Go to the following webpage for links to more in-depth Bible studies on Israel: The Bible Doctrine of Government.


[1] He. 6.15; 11.9

[2] Ga. 3.15-22.

[3] He. 6.13-15.

[4] Ge. 12.2-3; Ge. 13.14-17; Ge. 22.16-18. See also, Ge. 15 and 17.1-22.

[5] De. 6.4; Is. 43.10-12.

[6] De. 33.26-29.

[7] Ro. 3.1, 2; De. 4.5-8.

[8] Ge. 3.15; 21.3; 28.10, 14; 49.10; 2 S. 7.16, 17; Is. 4.3, 4; Mt. 1.1.

[9] Ga. 3.10-18.

[10] Showers, p. 42.

[11] Ga. 3.23-25.

[12] Cf. Ge. 15.18, with Nu. 34.1-12.


(1) The Ordination and Purpose of Civil Government

If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.

A publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry

Previous Lesson:
Family Government and Conscience

Next Lesson:
(2) The Purpose of Gentile Civil Government

Click here to go to links to all lessons on Civil Government.

Click here to go to links to all written lessons.

Click here to go to the 5 to 8 minute video lectures.

Click here to go to Youtube lecture for this lesson.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 27, 2017


In spite of conscience and the restraint of the Holy Spirit, what happened without civil government? Very soon after the fall, God was grieved and repented that he had made man because the imagination of the thoughts of the heart were “only evil continually.” “All flesh had corrupted his way on the earth.” The earth was filled with violence. Remember that God had told men not to take vengeance; and that, if he did so, He would take vengeance on man sevenfold. So God told Noah He would destroy them.[1] The total corruption of mankind, except for Noah and his family, had occurred in a relatively short period of time after the fall of man and his expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The only remedy was God’s judgment and the initiation of an additional direct control over men.

Even man’s God-given common sense will tell a man the need for civil government. For example, “Alexander Hamilton asked and answered his own question: ‘Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.'”[2]

At the flood, for the first time, God made a new covenant with man giving man the responsibility for ruling over man for Him; God ordained human or civil government. “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” [3] God gave man the responsibility of taking the life of one who “sheddeth man’s blood,” “for in the image of God made he man.” [4] God gave man the right to take the life of a man, which in the very nature of the case gave man the authority to govern others. Unless [civil] government has the right to the highest form of punishment, its basic authority is questionable and insufficient to protect properly those it governs. He ordained civil government for the earthly benefit of man—to control evil.

NoahFoundGraceCivil government was established within the covenant God made with Noah. The elements of that covenant are:

  1. The relation of man to the earth under the Adamic Covenant is confirmed (Gen. 8.21).
  2. The order of nature is confirmed (Gen. 8.22).
  3. Human government is established (Gen. 9.1-6).
  4. Earth is secured against another universal judgment by water (Gen. 8.21; 9.11).
  5. A prophetic declaration is made that from Ham will descend an inferior and servile posterity (Gen. 9.24, 25).
  6. A prophetic declaration is made that Shem will have a peculiar relation to Jehovah (Gen. 9.26, 27). All divine revelation is through Semitic men, and Christ, after the flesh, descends from Shem.
  7. A prophetic declaration is made that from Japheth will descend the ‘enlarged’ races (Gen. 9.27). Government, science, and art, speaking broadly, are and have been Japhetic, so that history is the indisputable record of the exact fulfillment of these declarations.

God then ordered man to multiply and populate the earth: “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”[5]

The covenant God made with Noah was to continue: It was to be an “everlasting covenant” [6] for “perpetual generations.”[7] Thus, the covenant is in effect today.

Would man obey God on the basis of conscience, the restraint of the Holy Spirit, and human government? I will answer that question in the next study.


[1] Ge. 6.5-7, 12-13; 8.21.

[2] M. Stanton Evans, The Theme Is Freedom (Washington, D.C.: Regency Publishing, 1994), p. 193 cited in William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought? (Knoxville, TN: Grady Publications, Inc. 1999), p. 72.

[3] Ro. 13.1b,c.

[4] Ge. 9.5-6.

[5] Ge. 9.1.

[6] Ge. 9.12.

[7] Ge. 9.16.

Family government and conscience


If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.

A publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry

Previous Lesson:

Next Series of Lessons:
Civil Government

Click here to go to links to all written lessons.

Click here to go to all lessons on the Bible Doctrine of Government.

Click here to go to the 5 to 8 minute video lectures.

Click here to go to video lecture on this lesson.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 27, 2017

submission-umbrellasAfter the fall, God established family government. He said to the woman: “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”[1] The Bible teaches that the husband is to be the head of the wife,[2] and children are to be instructed and led by the parents.[3] Parents, not the state, are to care for their children: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”[4] Even an infidel has a love for his children placed there by God.[5] God desires that man satisfy his sexual desire only in marriage. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”[6] “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”[7]

God desires parents, not civil government, to provide a God-centered education for their children:

  • “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”[8]

ConscienceAfter the fall, God gave mankind a chance to be directed by his conscience (an awareness of doing wrong), still to be individually controlled only by self-government. God had told man, prior to the fall, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof [of the forbidden fruit], then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”[9]  After man ate the forbidden fruit, God told them, “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.”[10]  Some[11] refer to this economy, this method God uses to deal with individuals, as Conscience, the title being taken from these verses: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another[.]”[12] The Holy Spirit also strove with man during the days before the upcoming flood: “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”[13]

Even though God later ordained civil government and church government, every person since the fall is born with a God-given self-conscience (knowledge of who he is) as well as with a God-consciousness[14], a knowledge of who God is.

God gave mankind certain responsibilities:

  • “During this stewardship man was responsible to respond to God through the promptings of his conscience, and part of a proper response was to bring an acceptable blood sacrifice as God had taught him to do (Gen. 3.21; 4.4). We have a record of only a few responding, and Abel, Enoch, and Noah are especially cited as heroes of faith. We also have the record of those who did not respond and who by their evil deeds brought judgment on the world. Cain refused to acknowledge himself a sinner even when God continued to admonish him (Gen. 4.3, 7). So murder came on the scene of human history.”[15]

In the story of Cain and Abel, we see that God still did not allow civil government. After Cain killed Abel, the Lord told Cain, “And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.”[16] Since Cain feared that “every one that findeth me shall slay me,”[17] God said, “… Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.”[18]  The Supreme Ruler of the universe was telling man that he had no authority to rule over man and that God would take vengeance on him sevenfold if he did.

Click here to go to more thorough written lesson.


[1] Ge. 4.16.

[2] 1 Co. 11.3; Ep. 5.22-26; 1 Pe. 3.1, 5-7; 1 Ti. 2.11-15.

[3] Ex. 20.12; De. 6.6-7; 11.18-21; Pr. 4.1, 2, 10, 11; Ep. 6.1, 4; Col. 3.20.

[4] 1 Ti. 5.8.

[5] Mt. 7.9-11.

[6] Ex. 20.14.

[7] 1 Co. 7.2.

[8] De. 6.4-7; see also, Pr. 4.1, 2, 10, 11; 5.1, 2; 22.6; Ep. 6.4.

[9] Ge. 3.5.

[10] Ge. 3.22a.

[11] 3c will deal specifically with the two main methods of Bible understanding, belief versus allegory. “Allegory” means “interpreting the Bible in such a way as to reveal a hidden meaning, a meaning which cannot be seen by believing what the Bible says.” Classic Catholic and covenant theology allegorize or spiritualize much of the Bible. The warfare between those who believe the Bible and those who allegorize it had already started when the New Testament was written (See, e.g., Colossians). As a result, as will be seen by the student who follows these studies, Augustine and his progency (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox et al) used this method to develop the theology which combined church and state and resulted in the persecution (imprisonment, torture, hanging, burning at the stake, drowning, confiscation of property, and the destruction or confiscation of the writings of the martyrs) of fifty million plus “heretics.” That theology still operates in America even though the proponents do not, at this time, have the power to persecute.

[12] Ro. 2.14-15.

[13] Ge. 6.3.

[14] See Ro. 1.18-32.

[15] Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), pp. 52-53.

[16] Ge. 4.11-12.

[17] Ge. 4.14.

[18] Ge. 4.15.