Can a Government Be Free from Corruption?
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.”—Prov. 29:2, AV.
HOW do you feel about government? People in various countries have manifested a high level of discontent and distrust toward rulers. Many are abandoning the major political parties. Others become independent or turn to some new party, while some withdraw from politics completely. A number feel that picketing and demonstrating will accomplish some reform.
It is not that people are turning away from government per se. They are merely distrustful of those in governmental positions. This attitude is manifested to a great extent by people all over the world, particularly in lands in which the people have a voice in governmental matters.
Corruption on the part of rulers has led Arnold A. Hutschnecker, a medical doctor and a writer, to recommend that “candidates, before being allowed to enter a political race, ought to be cleared by a board of physicians and psychiatrists to make certain that they are healthy in mind and body.”
Almost everyone agrees that government of some kind is essential. The undesirable alternative is mobocracy, anarchy. But the happiness of the people depends in large measure on the integrity and ability of those in ruling positions. And, of themselves, no man or body of men has the ability to govern in a fully righteous way. All men are imperfect and therefore subject to pressures and influences that they cannot in their own strength resist when given power over their fellowman. A man who was himself a king and a sharp observer of governments spoke of the calamities that had taken place “during the time that man has dominated man to his injury.”—Eccl. 8:9.
Consequently, rulership has to come from a source higher than man. Only the Creator can make laws that operate equally and fairly for the benefit of all, and can then enforce them in a fully fair and impartial manner. Only he knows man’s makeup and what he needs for happiness. But, then, is the Creator willing to provide such a government? Does he purpose to do so?
Yes, he wants to. He has purposed it and has made his selection of an incorrupt ruler. Can we be sure his choice is correct? Can we believe and trust in his appointment, that this ruler will keep his government free from corruption? It is to our interest to investigate carefully, for our own assurance and guidance.
A COVENANT FOR INCORRUPT GOVERNMENT
God has already made a royal covenant, a decree, for such a government. This he did a long time ago with a king of his own choosing. Why was this covenant made so long ago, yet mankind has by no means experienced perfect rulership?
God made this covenant at such an early time for our good. He thereby allowed time for developments to occur that would enable us to see the failure of man-made governments and to choose intelligently what kind of government we want to serve. We can have confidence that we may put our trust in the government God purposes. Let us consider what this important covenant provides and promises.
At the time that God made this covenant for a government over earth, he had formed the nation of Israel as his name people. He established his earthly kingdom over that nation, not because of partiality, but in order to reveal to all mankind his way of dealing and the kind of government he purposes. That kingdom was only typical. By means of God’s dealing with it, we can have a basis for faith in God’s coming government for all the earth.—Deut. 4:5-8; Ps. 67:1-7.
Jehovah God made the kingdom covenant with a man named David, king of Israel at that time. This was because David was a wholehearted worshiper of Jehovah. He exerted his whole soul in promoting true worship throughout his realm. If you read the Psalms or lyrical poems written by David, you will see how he felt toward divine government. For example, in Psalm 40, David said: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts.”—Ps. 40:8.
David desired to honor God’s name and worship by building a temple. In appreciation Jehovah made a covenant or a solemn promise to build a house for David, not a literal residence, but a house of a line of kings in David’s family. He said to David: “Your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast to time indefinite before you; your very throne will become one firmly established to time indefinite.”—2 Sam. 7:11-16.
Although the throne of David in the hands of his royal lineage was overthrown by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E., never again to be reestablished on earth, God did not forget or abandon that covenant. How was this?—Ezek. 21:25-27; Isa. 9:6, 7; Acts 13:34.
THE INCORRUPTIBLE RULER PROVIDED
This was because God never meant for the throne to be established on earth forever. The permanent king was to be of David’s line. Jehovah kept that line intact, both through King Solomon, David’s son and successor, and through Nathan, another son. In about the year 2 B.C.E. God selected a virgin girl named Mary, of Nathan’s line, and by holy spirit caused her to become pregnant. Actually, God transferred the life of his heavenly Son, his first-created one, to an egg cell in Mary’s womb. So the child born was the Son of God. There was nothing unholy in this. (Luke 1:26-33) God, through his angel, explained the matter to Joseph, the young man to whom Mary was engaged. This righteous man faithfully and obediently took Mary as his wife, and when the child was born and named Jesus by divine direction, Joseph adopted Jesus as his son. After this Joseph and Mary had other children.—Matt. 1:18-25; 13:53-56.
So Jesus was the natural heir of David through his mother, a descendant of David’s son Nathan. But what about the kingly right, which belonged to the line of Solomon? Jesus legally had this right also, because his foster-father Joseph was a descendant of King Solomon. Therefore, it was as a rightful heir of King David that Jesus, when about thirty years of age, presented himself to God’s representative, John the Baptist, for baptism. Jesus was here embarking on a course that would test him and prove him to be a fully trustworthy and incorrupt ruler on the throne of David forever.—Heb. 10:5-10; 5:8-10.
However, this rulership was not to be exercised from an earthly throne. At his baptism Jesus became the Messiah, the Christ, God’s Anointed One. Other kings of David’s line had been anointed with oil, but Jesus was anointed with holy spirit and begotten as a spiritual Son of God. (Matt. 3:13-17; Acts 10:38) He was eventually to die and be resurrected to heaven, where he had previously been with his Father, even before the world was founded.—John 1:1-3, 18; 8:58; Col. 1:13-17.
A TESTED, PROVED RULER
How can we be sure that Messiah’s government will be incorruptible? God foretold and prepared for his rulership for centuries. Even before his Son came to earth God used him, as the invisible caretaker of the nation of Israel. (Ex. 33:1, 2; 23:20-23) In this office the Son of God had much experience in applying God’s laws and in God’s way of dealing with mankind. Moreover, long before that, this Son, who came to be Jesus Christ, was a “master worker” during the very creation of all things under Jehovah’s supervision. He therefore had great interest in humankind.—Prov. 8:22, 30, 31.
As to his incorruptibleness, his life course on earth proved that he was beyond being bribed, pressured or forced to do wrong, to deviate one iota from strictly right, honest principles. He fulfilled God’s stated qualifications for a ruler. To those who would be appointed judges and officers in his typical, pictorial government of Israel, God commanded: “You must not pervert judgment. You must not be partial or accept a bribe, for the bribe blinds the eyes of wise ones and distorts the words of righteous ones. Justice—justice you should pursue, in order that you may keep alive.”—Deut. 16:19, 20.
Take, for example, a master attempt at bribery with which Jesus was faced early in his earthly ministry. Satan the Devil, who the Scriptures say is “the god of this system of things” and who actually runs the man-made kingdoms of this world, made Jesus an offer that no human ruler today would resist. (2 Cor. 4:4) Jesus was shown, in panoramic view, all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus was offered these on the stipulation that he merely perform one act of worship toward the Devil. Think of it—world rulership offered by one who could give it immediately! Whether a ruler thought he could do the world good or was entirely selfish—either way, what politically oriented man could resist such an offer?
But Jesus knew that one act of unfaithfulness meant denial of Jehovah’s sovereignty. He knew that only Jehovah is the Good One, and that from this Source only could government come that would bring peace and righteousness to earth. (Mark 10:18) He also knew that, while he might rule for a long time as such a world ruler over political kingdoms, Jehovah would eventually destroy his government. (Dan. 2:44) Without meditating on or considering the offer for even a moment—not at all—he instantly replied: “Go away, Satan!”—Matt. 4:1-11.
Jesus did not even try to make himself an earthly king over the house of David or over the house of Jacob, the father of his nation. He repulsed a popular effort to make him king. (John 6:14, 15) He looked to Jehovah’s covenant with the line of David to bring him kingship in God’s due time. He proved himself the trustworthy and uncorruptible choice for king of God’s heavenly government. He bore witness to his kingship before Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, but at the same time he explained: “My kingdom is no part of this world. . . . my kingdom is not from this source.”—John 18:33-37.
The greatest of pressures came against Jesus—hatred from his own people, slander, official persecution. Finally he was put to death on a stake under the worst of charges, falsely made—charges of blasphemy and sedition. He could have avoided this kind of death by compromise, by ‘watering down’ the truth to please the religious and political leaders. But he stood by the truth in the face of ridicule, hatred, suffering and even death.—John 8:31, 32; 1 Tim. 6:13.
Moreover, Jesus could not be blackmailed to pervert justice, as many politicians have been. No one could find any wrongdoing that could be used to pressure or embarrass him, not even the “small” sins common to people in general. His religious enemies would certainly have seized upon even the most minute deviation from God’s perfect law. But Jesus could openly say to them: “Because I . . . tell the truth, you do not believe me. Who of you convicts me of sin?” (John 8:45, 46) Before his death he could say: “The ruler of the world [the Devil] is coming [to have Jesus put to death]. And he has no hold on me.”—John 14:30.
As to his love for the people whom he will rule, Jesus gave his life so that they could have their sins and imperfections removed. He bought the human race—all of them, from the greatest to the least. (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) As King of God’s righteous government he will have a legal basis on which he can exercise his power to heal them spiritually and physically to the point of human perfection, with everlasting life in view.—Heb. 9:28.
Who, then, in heaven or on earth, can find fault with the earthly life of the Messiah, the Christ, the One anointed to rule as king over all mankind? No one can. Pointing to the faultless life of Jesus Christ on earth, the apostle Peter said to the Roman centurion Cornelius and his Gentile friends: “You know the subject that was talked about throughout the whole of Judea, starting from Galilee after the baptism that John preached, namely, Jesus who was from Nazareth, how God anointed him with holy spirit and power, and he went through the land doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil; because God was with him. And we are witnesses of all the things he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.”—Acts 10:37-39.
The deteriorating state of governments today points to the end of man-rule under Satan’s influence. Its nearness makes it urgent for all to look to God’s government of justice and uncorruptness. All who want life must support that government by learning about it and by bearing witness to others about it. Jehovah’s witnesses, who devote much energy and time to bearing witness concerning it, will be glad to help you to become an active supporter of God’s incorruptible government under Jesus Christ.