As I read this chapter, I couldn’t help but think about God’s government versus man-made governments. Specifically, three things were mentioned that brought this comparison to mind: citizen burden, corruption and greed, and treatment of the weakest in society. First, citizen burden: "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?" (vs 12-13)
When you think about it, what does God really ask of us? Yes, He wants us to obey Him, to serve Him, and to love Him... but this is for our best good, our happiness, and our benefit. He doesn’t ask us to obey for His sake. Everything He does and asks us to do is for us. Man-made governments rarely achieve a sustained program of good for their citizens. Somewhere along the way, government just seems to suck up much more than it gives. As Ronald Reagan once quipped, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'" Compared to man-made governments, God’s requirements for His people seem like nothing. His requirements bless us, not burden us. Perhaps that’s why Jesus said, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt 11:30)
Something else that has plagued every government known to man is corruption and greed. God addresses this specifically in Deuteronomy 10: "For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes." (vs 17) We could all wish for this kind of politician, couldn’t we? One that would accept no bribes or show no favoritism.
The fact is, every man-made government is prone to corruption in this way. Every "ism," no matter if it’s capitalism, socialism, fascism, communism, or totalitarianism seems to highlight, exploit, and expand the greed that is lying in the sinful human heart. Some may have more disastrous consequences for society as a whole than others, but all are prone to this type of corruption. Not God’s government, however. In contrast to governments set up by man, God is perfectly fair and perfectly just.
Finally, God does not despise nor marginalize the weak ones in society. "He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing." (vs 18) God Himself takes care of "the least of these." Jesus asked us to join Him in this endeavor. This kind of care can never truly stem from a man-made government (plagued as they are by greed and corruption). Instead, loving individuals must take up the burden of caring for the orphans, the widows, and those who are in need.
And that brings us to the kicker: "He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky." (vs 21-22)
In 1980, an anonymous "group of Americans who seek the Age of Reason" erected the Georgia Guidestones, which have sometimes been referred to as an American Stonehenge. On the stones are ten guidelines — principles, if you will, for how we should live in the future. Number one states "Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature." That involves a reduction in the Earth’s population of over ninety percent! The stones don’t offer suggestions on how to accomplish such a reduction. But there are many in our world today who believe that, for the Earth’s continued survival, the population of the planet must be severely decreased.
Is that true? I don’t know. But what I do know was that when God was in charge of Israel’s government, He fostered a population explosion. The principles of His government are bounty, not restriction. Unlike any government we have known or will know on this Earth, God’s government is truly for the people.
No burdensome requirements. No favoritism. No bribes. No restrictions. That’s how God does government.