Characteristics of the Left Hand Kingdom

Every Christian belongs to two kingdoms: one is spiritual and the other is earthly.  Lutheran theologians call these the kingdoms of the right hand (the Church) and the left hand (the State).  Here are three characteristics of the left hand kingdom. First, the state is established by God. Daniel 2:21 says, “He (God) changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” Similarly, Romans 13:1-2 states, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

Second, God establishes government for order in society. Specifically, the state is to commend what is right and punish what is wrong. Romans 13:3-4 says, “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.  Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?  Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason.  They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” Likewise, 1 Peter 2:13-14 states, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”

Third, the kingdom of the left hand is owed respect and taxes. When asked about paying taxes, Jesus told religious leaders in Matthew 22:21, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Paul reiterates this in Romans 13:5-7. It says, “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.  This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.  Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

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