Numbers 13:1-3, 26-33
Winston Churchill once remarked that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others which have been tried. Literally democracy is “rule by the people,” and I would tend to agree with Churchill. Monarchies, dictatorships, oligarchies (rule by a few) and other variations tend to be a lot more oppressive and brutal.
We touched upon this subject on January 15th when discussing the Tower of Babel, but I’d like to look at democracy from a biblical perspective. What would be the problem with just finding the right person and putting them in charge? One word—sin. All of us are sinners and are prone to selfishness and corruption. As C. S. Lewis once said, I believe in democracy not because men are all angels but because I don’t trust anyone with absolute power. The Founding Fathers of this nation distrusted human nature as well, and which is why they instituted checks and balances and heavy restrictions on government in their system. And on top of that, even if a person was theoretically sinless (which no one is), no one is wise enough and intuitive enough to know how to run everything correctly. Of course, there’s a huge exception in my book—the Lord Jesus. He is the only One I would trust with absolute power. Unfortunately, he’s usually not on the ballot. Of course, someday he’s going to return and fully establish his Kingdom (not democracy) whether I like it or not.
Since I give (qualified) support to democracy, then is everything to be decided by “majority rules”? Absolutely not! As today’s reading teaches, the majority can be dead wrong. The vote here was ten versus two: Ten wanted to turn back home, while two were willing and eager to take God at his word and claim what he'd promised them. Sometimes standing with the Lord can seem awfully lonely.
Regrettably, way too often the church in America has listened to this voice of “majority rules.” In churches which once faithfully preached God’s word, there are actually votes being taken on whether homosexuality is a sin. All too often Christians who claim to believe the Bible are squeamish about abortion or even support it. Pre-marital sex and divorce are becoming more and more common among people who ought to know better. The clear biblical teaching on hell is ignored or even repudiated. All this is because the church wanted to be popular more than it wanted to be faithful.
Unfortunately, it all starts with me. Am I swayed by what’s popular, or am I sticking to what my Lord has plainly told me? When it comes to government, I believe in some form of “rule by the people,” but as far as what’s true and right, we don’t need to start taking votes. God’s is the only vote that counts.
Lord Jesus, please forgive me when I just go along with the crowd. Help me to speak the truth in love.