Here we make a bold claim. Temporal nations ought to be the legitimate originating authority for temporal kingdoms, or states, and both nation and kingdom ought to be a shadow of the eternal nation of spiritual Israel and the eternal kingdom of the Kingdom of God. History may indeed show that this ideal of nations and kingdoms being related to one another was predicted in Scripture and is in fact the outcome desired by God. However it is important to understand two things: that the temporal is not the same as the eternal in nature (and theretore in structure and behavior) and that nations and kingdoms are not synonymous.
The old rationalism of the Puritans spoke of “relates” and “universals”, with relates being things tied to or dependent upon other things and universals existing independently of other things. The nation as a people with its own culture and homeland comes before the kingdom, therefore the nation is a universal and the kingdom is a relate. But in the eternal, the government of God existed first and then spiritual Israel as a commonwealth of people. Therefore the Kingdom is a universal and the Nation (spiritual Israel) is a relate.
So then while the temporal is a shadow of the eternal, it is no mirror of the eternal. The temporal nations are a universal on this earth, but they come after the government of God and are as much a relate to the Kingdom of God as is spiritual Israel. Everything is a relate to the Kingdom of God. But not equally. Spiritual Israel is not on par with any nation and every nation that is of Christ (and an heir of Abraham, the father of MANY temporal nations) is a relate to the Commonwealth of Israel. It follows logically then that the relate derives itself from its universal. The Christian nation derives itself from spiritual Israel which derives itself from the Kingdom of God and yet temporal kingdoms derive themselves, or should, from temporal nations, which came before any kingdom was created among men.
Spiritual Israel exists: it does not have be created or established. At most it, Christians need to become aware of the existence of this nation, and their shared identity, which is under the rule of the Kingdom of God.
The authority of men to form associations may best exist if it comes from consent, but it does not come from that consent.
Because the consent of men is a relate to the Kingdom of God! Men do not have inherent authority outside of the eternal boundaries of the Kingdom of God, although God suffers them to exercise freewill by which they choose to stray and is patient and loving in the hope of their redemption. The tolerance of God for our disobedience to His Government is not proof that men own the right to exercise that disobedience, it is only proof that God is love. God gave us freewill to serve Him and pursue and be His best for us all to His Glory but we own no right to use our freewill for any other ends even though He patiently tolerates our disobedience out of love and grace.
The prescribed, though rarely actual, end of government is always righteousness which produces peace and justice. Freewill or free association are merited only in relation to those ends, though the question of what authority must correct the disobedient is a different matter. We want to establish here that freewill is not a right to do evil, according to God’s righteous standard.
Systems which are set up upon the principle of free association, as if this is the ideal and purpose of nations or kingdoms on this earth, miss the mark. Nowhere in Scripture does it say free association or freedom exalts a nation but, rather, righteousness. Nowhere are kings praised for having won approval or consent but only for being righteous.
Note here that both nation and kingdom, eternal and temporal, aim toward the same goal of righteousness if they adhere to a Biblical worldview.
So we all as Christians are to seek first His Kingdom (the government of God) and His Righteousness. So also righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people. So also when the righteous are in power the people rejoice and when the wicked rule the people mourn. Righteousness is always the standard of judgment and with Scripture we have a guide that is clear and objective.
Difference of approach and style are natural and normal and seem to be ordained by God but the righteous standard is discernable to all who honestly look for it and that is then proper object of nations and kingdoms on this earth. To deny this is to deny what the Scripture says so plainly. And we basically Christians either adhere to Scripture or we do not. We must agree with the Scripture when it speaks of the righteous being in rule as a cause of people rejoicing and the wicked being in rule as a cause of mourning and we must acknowledge that nowhere is the basis of that rule consent!
The aim here is not to justify monarchies or tyranny. The aim is to plainly state that righteousness is the objective and standard for nations and kingdoms on this earth and that legitimacy is rooted in righteousness and not merely consent.
We may propose systems of consensual decision making and checks and balances but the merit of those systems is measured not by the consent but by the fruits of righteousness. We may propose that a participatory governance among nations and kingdoms can be more conducive to obtaining such fruits, but we cannot argue that our objective and standard of justice is purely whether or not there was consent. Without consent we create conflict, this is why we prefer consensual arrangements and freewill covenant associations over coercive arrangements, but we do not elevate consent to the level of righteousness. It is at best a means of effectively achieving that goal but it is not in and of itself the standard of merit.
So then nations on this earth are relates of the Kingdom of God and kingdoms are relates of nations. But nations of people whose God is the Lord are relates of the Commonwealth of Israel which is a relate of the Kingdom of God. Earthly nations of people are blessed if they follow God collectively and they are not blessed if this is not true. To the degree they adhere to God’s righteous standard for nations, they are blessed, and only to that degree. Kingdoms that are ruled by the righteous are blessed and those which are ruled by the wicked mourn. Notice then that nations are exalted by righteousness while kingdoms are blessed when ruled by the righteous. Nations can be righteous (which is not perfection) but kingdoms can only be ruled by the righteous. Kingdoms then appear to be neither righteous nor unrighteous, the standard is whether their rulers, and therefore their rules or laws, are righteous. Nations are sovereign bodies of people while kingdoms are things which are ruled over. So it says in Scripture we are spiritual Israel but that we are in the Kingdom of God. Nations relate to bodies of people who have the same identity while kingdoms exist as places. For instance, the Kingdom of God is within us and among us but it is in heaven and will one day be the earth and then the new heavens and the new Earth. But we are the People of God, we are Spiritual a Israel, the Ecclesia is the nation of people whose God is the Lord. It is not the Kingdom but is a relate of the Kingdom. So then if we speak of the once Christian American nation we are speaking of its people and not of the kingdoms of America, it’s political states bound in a union. The kingdoms (states) derived their existence from the nation, therefore we declared “We the People, in order to form a more perfect union…” Of course one looks in vain for an exclusively Christian American nation today and what defines one as an American is not belief or culture but citizenship in the political state! This is turning things on their head. Indeed, it is denied on many quarters that an exclusively Christian American nation ever existed or should ever have existed.
Turning from the debate of what was, we argue that if the American nation is to be blessed it must make the Lord its God. What is more, we boldly proclaim with Scripture, when the righteous rule the kingdoms derived from that nation, the people will rejoice but, because the wicked now rule, the people mourn. Whatever the American nation of people was, its hope lies in making the Lord its God and, as to the government, in making the righteous its rulers and righteousness its basis of law. This is righteousness only as it applies to earthly kingdoms, now mind you, not as it applies to Believers. We are talking about the public sphere of man’s relation to man and nature not man’s relation to God and to his own kin.
For the Christian who is a witness for Jesus, sent to make disciples of the nations, there are two approaches, and these approaches are not mutually exclusive. First, there is the approach of being what we preach and that can happen on two levels- through activation and realization of our nationhood on Christ with fellow Believers and through the intentional creation of alternative national peoples as temporal Christian nations within the eternal Christian nation.One we actualize this, we are witnesses through reaching out to and influencing existing nations in their various institutions and structures to urge them, as individuals and a body of people, to follow Christ.
We propose that being a witness follows the first approach, of being what we preach. Further, we propose that establishing a temporal nationhood with fellow Christians precedes reaching out to wake up fellow Christians to our shared eternal nationhood. Moreover we would propose that establishing our own diverse Christian nations as societies among ourselves is an historical necessity, will lead to the spread of our awareness as an eternal national people, and will both shelter Christians from hostile nations and kingdoms and equip Christians to be a witness to the people and nations around them. We propose that the arc of history and the destiny of humanity is for nations of people to be the basis of temporal kingdoms and for those nations to make God their Lord while the righteous are made rulers of those kingdoms.
This does not mean that nation and kingdom are meant to be synonymous. Even if a kingdom is derived from a Christian nation of people, who certainly have a right to protect their liberty and security as a people, the kingdom itself could never perfectly and solely serve that one nation of people as people who are aliens and strangers of that nation would necessarily and inevitably reside in its borders.
What is more, multiple nations may form single kingdoms for their common protection and benefit while one nation may be so dispersed that its people form or reside in many kingdoms. The ideal is not that each nation has its own kingdom. The ideal is that kingdoms ought to serve, benefit, and derive their being from the nations in their borders and that they ought to choose righteous people to rule them, which rulers in turn choose righteous standards for earthly kingdoms as the basis of their laws.
Our concern is with righteous nations derived from the eternal nation of spiritual Israel and with the relationship of those nations to temporal kingdoms. Our aim is to see all the nations of this world and all the people follow Christ and therefore to see all the kingdoms of this world derive their authority and being from those nations and that those people in their kingdoms might choose the righteous as their rulers and righteousness as their rule.
This is an impossible aim, therefore our work as witnesses for Christ to the nations is never done. This is not a political aim, despite its potential political impact. Conversion of sinners is the chief aim and the chief means. Converting sinners and then making them disciples requires a holistic approach which includes their relationship to the nations and kingdoms of this earth and God’s righteous standard for those God-ordained institutions.