Separation of Church and State. This principle has become a fundamental tenet of public life in the modern era. Few would question it, and when they do, tales of tyranny are drawn from the annuls of history, rightly demonstrating the disasters that have resulted from Popes controlling emperors or the church taking up arms.

But there is a right and a wrong form of separation. The idea of separation is not modern. It existed in ancient Israel. Moses and Aaron had separate jurisdictions as head of state and chief priest. But while separate in authority and responsibility, they were brothers. And through Israel’s history the healthy separation continued. The priest’s sphere was in the temple, and the king ruled in the palace. The separation was divinely enforced, though interestingly the more common form of the problem was when kings interfered in the temple rather than when priests interfered in the palace. Saul (1Sam 13:13,14) and Uzziah (2Chron 26:16) were two kings who paid a high price for ignoring the separation and engaging in priestly functions.

But while the institution of the church, like the priesthood in ancient Israel, may not control the state, the state is still accountable to God. So while priests could not hold civic office, every departure from the word of God was likely to bring a fearless prophet knocking on the door of the palace. The theory of the separation of church and state could not keep the Word of God out!
Many stories demonstrate the tragic reality that when a king ruled without reference to, or in violation of the Word of God, God stepped in. The State was, and is, intended to be a law enforcing agency (a minister executing God’s law), not a law enacting agency (a ruler creating man’s law).

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Or, you can listen to chapter 12 as audio files: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

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