Give Us Our King, Presidents, Chairmen and Pastors - The Leadership Crisis Around Us - The thoughts Ted Haggard caused me to ponder

A lot of Bible verses today. This was also something that I felt I needed to research. I think I will be putting the things that I research on my blog more often so expect more of this. The recent crisis with the leader of the National Evangelical Association made me wonder about this. Why do we appoint leaders that we put on a pedestal? We do this not just on a national scale but in our local churches and our denomenations.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20
14 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us," 15 be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, "You are not to go back that way again." 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. 18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.
Just because the law contains what to do when his people have a king doesn't mean that God desired for his people to have a king. We'll read more about that later. There are many laws that deal with things that are wrong. God knew the human tendency to have a king over them, so he made some regulations that the people and the king were to follow.

1. Be sure to appoint the king God chooses for you.

2. Make sure the king is one of your brothers.

3. The king was to not acquire a large military might. That is what the horses represented.

4. He must not take many wives.

5. He must not accumulate wealth.

6. He was supposed to make his own copy of the law, read it all the days of his life, and follow carefully all the laws and the decrees.

7. He is to revere the Lord.

8. He is not to consider himself better than others. The laws that apply to others should also apply to him.

As with most of the commandments of God, this one ends with a blessing. If the king would do this, then he and his descendants would reign a long time over the kingdom of Israel.

These principles of leadership seem to be very wise. All of them seem applicable today.

Judges 17:6
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Judges 18:1
In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the people of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance to dwell in, for until then no inheritance among the tribes of Israel had fallen to them.

Judges 19:1
In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite was sojourning in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, who took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.

Judges 21:25
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
The people of Israel had "no king", but the problem was that they had the best king yet refused to acknowledge and obey Him. In practice they had no king. But the unseen reality was that God was their king. The rejection of him caused all sorts of strife. We see a cycle throughout the book of Judges. Israel serves the Lord --> Israel falls into sin and idolatry --> Israel is enslaved --> Israel cries out to the Lord --> God raises up a judge --> Israel is delivered --> and the cycle starts all over again.

If only the people of Israel had remained faithful in serving the Lord, they would've avoided their desire to have an earthly king. Too often we make our major decisions when we are in the wrong place on the cycle. Many of our decisions, as was the nation of Israel's, are made when we are in sin and idolatry. The key to making wise decisions is to get out of this terrible cycle and keep God the king of our lives and make our major decision when we are faithfully serving the Lord.

1 Samuel 18
1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them. 10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day. 19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles. 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, Obey their voice and make them a king. Samuel then said to the men of Israel, Go every man to his city.
Here we see that God did not desire a king for Israel. Despite the regulations in Deuteronomy, setting apart an earthly king was not God's will. God points out to Samuel that the desire for a king was not a rejection of Samuel but a rejection of Himself. God was their king, yet they were blind to seeing it. They were living outside of His kingship. The people had become the people of themselves rather than the people of God.

Israel desired a king for what appears like three reasons. The judges that followed Samuel were corrupt and they wanted someone to rule over them rightly, all the other nations had one, and they wanted someone to fight their battles.

I think those are some of the same reasons we want formal leadership in our religious organizations. We get sick of the wrong decisions being made and feel that if we appoint a leader, then right decisions will be made. We feel that we need to look like all of the other organizations in our culture that are respected. And we don't want to struggle and do things on our own. We want our leaders to make our role as Christians easier to carry.

The thing is that God is willing to do those things for us already. God is at work in our midst without formal leaders. History has shown that having formal leaders brings about just as many -maybe even more - problems than not having them brought. Our structure will not be what gains us respect by those around us. It is faithfulness to God that should do that. If that doesn't gain respect, then respect really isn't something that we should care about. And God is willing to make our burden just what we can carry. He is there to take care of that burden when it becomes too much.

God submitted his actions to the will of his people despite that will being wrong. That is an amazing and disturbing thing about God. When His people will something, He will let them attain what they will. I think it is because He hopes that through attaining their wrong desires people's hearts will be transformed into desiring that which God really wants for them.

The people wanted a king. God did not want the people to have any other king besides Himself. In the end, God gave the people the king they wanted. I think the same has happened with the church in America. God has given us all of the wrong things we have desired in the hope that in the end we will desire what God wants us to desire. We are to be God's people under His leadership. We need no middlemen. We need no mammoth organizations that requires us to have the leadership structures necessary to run them. We need to be a collection of people fully committed to being the people of God, bringing His will into our reality, and shedding His redeeming light to everyone around us. When we are the people of God all other things will line up into proper perspective.

1 Samuel 12:11-25
11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barakand Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety. 12 And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, No, but a king shall reign over us,when the Lord your God was your king. 13 And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. 15 But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king.

16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king. 18 So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. 19 And all the people said to Samuel, Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king. 20 And Samuel said to the people, Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.
Verse 14 contains the scariest scenario about setting up leaders above us: "If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well."

Once we have placed leadership over us, our wellness is not just dependent upon our serving the Lord. It is now also dependent upon our leader serving the Lord. It is only when we are faithful serving the Lord and when our leader is also faithful in serving the Lord that all will be well. When we place ourselves under formal leadership, our blessings and curses seem to be linked to those that the leadership will receive.

Asking for a king was a great wickedness. But even in the people of Israel committing this great wickedness, God was still going to use them to bring about His will for His name's sake. God was still linked to His people despite their great wickedness. People's image of God would be based upon the actions of His people. God commands them to do not be afraid of this evil act they have committed, continue to serve the Lord with all of their heart, and to not chase after empty things.

I think we find ourselves in the same situation. We have made "kings" all around us. We might call them presidents, chairmen, pastors, or ministers. These people are any that we place in a position between us and Him. But we need not lose hope. Just as Samuel vowed to continue to pray for those who had made the great wicked mistake of choosing a king, we should continue to pray for our brothers and sisters. And all the while we need to focus on fearing the Lord and serving Him faithfully with all of our heart.

Watch out for the potholes.