America, like ancient Israel, used to achieve prosperity through local government
The new American government of 1788 served God’s kingship proxy within His creation to maintain the liberty of His people. But, as fallen beings, we can never govern at any level remotely on par to God’s kingship.
The ancient Hebrews, God’s chosen people, were not able to perform in this regard either. James Madison acknowledged this in Federalist 51: “God’s rule of the universe may be monarchical,” explains Dr. Edward Erler, “but from the point of view of the Declaration of Independence it is impious to believe that God’s omnipotence can be translated into merely human hands.” Hence the necessity for the separation of powers.
These ideas have an even older basis, however. The ancient historian Josephus wrote of Moses:
“He also set down in writing the form of their government, and those laws that by obeying they would lead their lives so as to please God, and so as to have no quarrels one among another. However, the laws he ordained were such as God suggested to him.”
Our Forefathers and Founding Fathers, using Moses and the Ancient Israelites as their foundation, forged a compact under God in order to create a civil government which would provide liberty, freedom, and prosperity to replicate that of Ancient Israel. Josephus lists the attributes of such a form of republican government, stating “to their happiness,” “of freedom,” “for we are indeed a prosperous state,” “to preserve our religion without any prohibition,” and “devoted to the preservation of justice.”
Ancient Hebrews in the Sinai desert had a legislative function which drove decision-making down to the lower levels within the tribes, directly to the people involved in the need or issue. Exodus 18:25 explains, “[Moses] chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.” The colonies followed this practice, driving decisions and laws into individual townships, with the lowest level of the people reigning superior and supreme – working laws locally under the previous level of governance. Alexis de Tocqueville observed this, writing, “In America, on the other hand, it may be said that the township was organized before the county, the county before the State, the State before the Union.” It was clearly acknowledged that “The independence of the township was the nucleus round which local interests, passions, rights, and duties collected and clung."
Essentially this is what Colonial America did, and what the newly formed Union of 1776 would maintain, as per Scripture.
“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes; and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality; and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God give you.”
Their land was America; their Red Sea had been the Atlantic; and their Pharaoh had been King George.
Though this exceptional government was new, its concepts had been gathered by the Founding Fathers through the course of history, all the way back to the Garden of Eden. The idea of dual citizenship had been even further extended: now Americans held three forms of citizenship. They were the citizens of their state, of their country, and under God. When God bestows freedom upon His children they become citizens of God, not subjects.
Colonial Pastor John Wise wrote in 1717, that a man is “a Free-Born Subject under the Crown of Heaven, and owing Homage to none but God himself,”…and…”God has Established the Law of Nature, as the General Rule of Government…[and] to enter into a Civil State by the Law of Nature.” This statement coming from Wise’s Vindication of the Government of New England Churches, which renowned colonial historian Clinton Rossiter called [Wise’s] “most brilliant literary performance." He added that Wise “championed the social contract as the logical extension of the church covenant. The spectacle of a Puritan minister examining 'the Light of Nature’ to discover that democracy was the form of government most favored by the precepts of natural law.”
In other words, the American clergy, and in turn the traditions of ancient Israel, gave Americans their love of liberty, and the basis for their compactual government under God.
Jim Huntzinger is the President and Founder of Lean Frontiers, Inc., which develops knowledge and learning communities on the Lean Enterprise for business and industry. With a background and experience in manufacturing and operations, he has also extensively researched the history and development of American manufacturing and also published several books on the lean business model, manufacturing history, and economics.