Friday, November 11, 2011

How to vote

We are having a general election in New Zealand in two weeks time.  As I've been wondering how to vote I've started to wonder about how God would want (does want?) me to vote.  This has led me to wonder about what the Bible has to say about governance.

There is a lot in the 'history' sections of the Old Testament about the various kings of Israel, but they are kings in what is essentially a theocracy.  In that context it is natural that the main criterion for judging them to be good or bad kings is whether or not they themselves followed God and whether they did things that helped their people follow God.  However, I do not live in a theocracy and, while whether or not a politician follows God is not unimportant, I don't think it should be the number one factor.

In the New Testament there is, again, a lot on leadership.  However, again it doesn't seem all that relevant to my question, as it's all about religious leadership: either that of the pharisees over the Jews or that of the leaders of the fledgling church.

However, there's one other set of texts that I hope will have some answers for me: the prophets!  In these books Israel is often berated for going against God's ways (including going against them by the way they treat people, not just in things that we might see as strictly religious).  The prophets also pronounce judgement against other countries for acting in ways that God can't stand.  I'm hoping that this section of the Bible will allow me to see what are God's key concerns in the way a country is run.

I've put together a list of the sections in each of the prophetic books that seem to contain actual statements of judgement or affirmation, and intend to go through these Biblical passages to look for the major themes.  In case anyone else would like to join me in this endeavour, this is my list:

Isaiah
Judgment against Israel (9:8—10:4)
Judgment against the Nations (chs. 13–23)
Universal Judgments for Universal Sin (ch. 24)

Jeremiah
Condemnation of Kings, Prophets and People (chs. 21–24)
Judgment against the Nations (chs. 46–51)

Ezekiel
Oracles of Judgment against the Nations (chs. 25–32)

Hosea
The Lord’s case against Israel (4:1-6:3)
The Lord’s case against Israel enlarged (6:4-11:11)

Amos
The Eight Judgments of Amos (1:3-2:16)
The Depravity of Israel (4:1-13 )
The reprimand of the entire nation (6:1-14)

Obadiah
The Basis for the Judgment on Edom (10-14)

Jonah
The Content of Jonah’s Preaching (3:4)

Micah
Judgment on the nation’s leaders (chap. 3)
Characteristics of the kingdom (4:1-8)
The Ruler of the kingdom (5:2-15)
An indictment by the Lord (6:1-5)

Nahum
The Cause for God’s Judgment on Nineveh (chap. 3)

Zephaniah
The Judgment of the Day of Yahweh (1:2-3:8)

Malachi
The Pollution of Israel (1:6-3:15)

(with thanks to several online resources giving outlines of Biblical books!)


Also, if you do decide to work through these texts, could you let me know?  I've given myself a week to go through this process, as I want to leave the other remaining week to read through the material from the political parties and see how their concerns match up with the Biblical ones.  There's no way I can really do justice to the project in that time, so if someone else is interested then maybe we could divide up the work between us and do a better job!

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