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CHAPTER VII

THE THEOCRACY

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"The Lord is King, forever and ever."

HEN God called Moses and charged him with the task of bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt, He gave him the distinct promise of

divine help; and added this specific token, "This shall be a token unto thee that I have sent thee: when thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God on this mountain."

When the people had made their escape from their oppressors, and, by God's help, had crossed the Red Sea; had survived the perils of the wilderness, and were gathered safe in their tents at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the Exodus was an accomplished fact, and the token was realized.

The particular task which God had assigned to Moses was performed. He had brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, even as the Lord had spoken.

But the Exodus was only the first stage of their progress toward national independence and universal priesthood.

Moses was obliged to undertake a task so difficult that even the Exodus itself must have seemed a small thing in compari

son.

Here was a great multitude of not less than 2,500,000 people in whose veins ran the blood of Abraham, heirs of the promises made to their fathers, having a great destiny but very little present fitness for the work they were destined to perform.

In addition to these children of Israel there was a “mixed multitude" of low caste Egyptians who had joined themselves

to the Exodus in the hope of bettering their condition. These had to be taken care of and governed somehow; and this added not a little to the difficulty of the task already very heavy. This great multitude were not a nation, but only the raw material out of which a nation was to be formed. They had no doubt some knowledge of the promises made to their fathers, and some common aspirations toward the national life that the traditions of their race set before them. But their ideals were very imperfect, and they had but vague conceptions of the calling to which they were called; nor had they in adequate degree the qualities essential to the realization of that high calling.

They were for the most part ignorant and inexperienced in all the virtues needed to plan or guide their own affairs, totally unqualified to form for themselves a government or social order by which the general welfare might be promoted.

To Moses almost alone fell the task of devising and constituting such laws and offices as were necessary to bind them together as a nation, to provide for their common defense, establish justice and promote the general welfare.

On the other hand, it was an opportunity to institute a new order, to establish an ideal commonwealth, to frame a government according to the eternal principles of righteousness. It was a situation remarkably free from the embarrassment of tradition, of vested interests, of caste and social distinctions, all of which make reform so difficult in long established nations.

It was an opportunity, such as the world has never seen before or since, to build the structure of society from the very bottom, to make a new departure in the course of human history.

A great host of human souls, segregated from the world and alone with God, gathered by God's special providence before the sublime cliffs of old Mt. Sinai to be consecrated to the holy office of the priesthood of the world. It is a great oc

casion.

The distinction which we commonly make between secular and sacred duties is wholly artificial. The separation which is usually made between the functions assigned to the civil government and those assigned to religious organization has no basis except in convenience. An ideal government would include the regulation of all activities that have any influence or concern with the general welfare, and while the varied duties of government may conveniently be assigned to different institutions, such as church and state, the important fact to be kept in view is that the eternal principles of all righteousness are eternal; they have their source not in the will nor in the acuteness of human wisdom, but in the will of God as that is expressed and embodied in the constitution of the world.

No legislation can in any manner or degree affect the laws which are in the very nature of the universe. Justice and Mercy can no more be changed by royal decree or statutes than the laws of chemistry or physics.

In the ideal government conceived by Moses this is the fundamental article God is King.

God is King, not because the people elected him, not because Moses instituted a form of government that recognized God's absolute authority and sovereign power, but because He is King.

“The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof

The world and they that dwell therein.”

God is from all eternity the source and author of all law, He is the only judge of right, He is the sole and sovereign ruler of all men.

The essential purpose of all government is to define and secure to every man the fruit of his own labor and the exercise of all his rights; to promote the common welfare and rightly

distribute the inheritance of the race. The particular offices and methods by which these purposes are accomplished is a matter of secondary importance. The great matter is to secure harmony, to have the attitude of mind brought to accord with the laws which are in and through the whole constitution of the universe.

That is to say, the ultimate purpose of all government is moral. It has to do with character, for from character springs conduct. Only when “every thought is brought into subjection to the obedience of God” is the divine order of human society realized.

This conception is the very core and corner stone of the Mosaic scheme of government. The Theocracy was framed and constituted on this foundation God is King, the one and only supreme and absolute sovereign.

The whole system and scheme of social order is constructed around this central thought. It is given the place of prominence in every revelation of the law. It is embodied in the first commandment of the decalogue. It is reiterated in the book of the covenant. It is the essential thought in the great summary of the law which our Lord called the “first and great commandment"-"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."

The wisdom of Moses is nowhere more manifest than in the restraint he exercised in not attempting to formulate a complete and final code of laws; and this is the more remarkable in view of the fact that no one ever saw so clearly or affirmed so confidently the fact that the principles of justice are immutable. A smaller mind, almost certainly, would have attempted to put these principles into legislation for all time. But Moses also perceived that statutes are nothing more than applications of eternal principles to conditions, and that conditions changing makes necessary changes in the statute laws,

He chose, therefore, to put the emphasis of all his legislation and his exhortations on the great underlying principles, and trusted the conscience of the people to dictate from time to time the regulations necessary for the maintenance of justice and the promotion of the general welfare of the people.

The Theocracy was probably the simplest and yet the most complete system of government ever devised. The sovereignty of God and the equality of all men in their rights before Him, were practically the only articles in their constitution. The statutes and ordinances are comparatively few and simple, and for the most part deal with violations of the great principles of their constitution. The thought seems to be that when men recognize the sovereignty of God, and the brotherhood of man no laws will be needed; that is to say, perfect liberty is possible when all men seek to conform their lives to the divine order of the universe, which is no other than the will of God.

The revelation of this system of government, the formal organization of the nation was made as they were encamped at the foot of Mt. Sinai and it was one of the greatest events of the world's history, and its most important feature was the giving of the Ten Commandments.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS—THE DECALOGUE

The work of Creation, as we have already remarked, consisted not merely in the act of bringing the heavens and the earth into existence, but included also the endowment of every created thing with certain specific qualities, powers and modes of action.

From the beginning, every element of matter has acted in certain definite ways, and its ways of action are called its laws. For example, all matter attracts all other matter in proportion to its mass and inversely as the square of its distance. This we call the law of gravitation; which simply means that mat

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