The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Bible and Exodus 18:21, should be an honest and rational being’s “ab initio,” which is a beginning or starting point when it comes to electing those who’ll represent us, at all levels of government. I say it should be looked at as a first principle, which is an axiom, in other words, something that’s factual or true.
Before I break Exodus 18:21 down and give my thoughts, let me allow you to read the verse in its entirety.
Exodus 18:21-“Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of the fifties and of tens.”
In many ways, we’re not living up to this, whether you’re a Christian or not, or whether you’re religious or not, this piece of scripture is something we should strive to have our government officials live up to, whether they are elected, appointed or career officials.
I would like to break this down and give some criticism of where we find ourselves today, along with a few thoughts on how we can and why we must do better.
“A Republic if you Can Keep it”
There are many who believe the United States is a democracy, but thankfully, we’re not. In a democracy, the people exercise the lawmaking power through voting on everything, and a simple majority of those who vote to create law. In any nation, this is simply implausible, also what would the process look like when it comes to deciding on what the people should vote on!? That’s one simple reason why I’m glad we live in this great Constitutional Republic.
A democracy would be unpredictable, it would allow for passions to prevail, instead of facts, logic, and reason. In other words, it would be mob rule, just like the mob that demanded and allowed for Jesus’ crucifixion. In Exodus 18:21, God directed the Israelites to form a representative form of government. In our form of government, our elected representatives aren’t sovereign and are subject to a higher authority than the Constitution. Our great Constitution lays out the rules in which our elected representatives must abide, but when we ignore Exodus 18:21 the types of people who we elect to make our laws do so with the belief they’re the sovereign power.
“you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God” “men of truth”
I’ll not pretend to know what’s in the heart of those we elect, but as René Descartes said, “To know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than what they say.” When we only pay attention to what our elected officials say, we are foolish and powerless to hold them to account, but when we pay attention to what they say and do and if we’re willing to hold them to account then we hold all the cards.
Sadly, we find that many of our elected officials do their level best to come off as truthful, to come off as honest but alas in far too many cases the records speak to the contrary. It’s clear that far too many Americans refuse to participate in politics based on the number of people who don’t vote. But as Plato said: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” This is something that only an engaged public can remedy.
“those who hate dishonest gain”
As Karl Kraus so colorfully put it, “Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter endangers the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.”
While W. Clement Stone put it a different way, he said “Truth will always be the truth, regardless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance.”
An engaged public won’t remain long an ignorant public, being engaged and knowledgeable on the issues and what our elected officials are up to will go a long way to hold dishonest politicians to account
“you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of the fifties and of tens.”
Given we have a Republic, this is one thing we follow to some degree, albeit the best and brightest aren’t always on the ballot. We also do this in the various institutions of government, but one thing we should guard against is cronyism, which sadly is rampant at all levels of government.
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