God had said of Israel, "Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations" (Num. 25:9).
But, contrary to His expressed will, and against His solemn protest, Israel set up a kingdom and established a State.
They did this, they plainly said, that they might be "like all the nations." Contrary to all the Lord's wishes, the people would "be reckoned among the nations."
But Israel was the church, while all the nations were States. Israel, therefore, could not be like the nations without forming themselves into a State.
But Israel, being the church, could not possibly form themselves into a State without at the same time, and in the very doing of it, forming a union of Church and State.
They did form themselves into a State, and did thus unite Church and State. But as this was contrary to the Lord's plain Word, and against His solemn protest, it certainly stands as the truth that any union of Church and State is against the plain Word and the solemn protest of God.
Israel as "the church," which is "the pillar and ground of the truth," was the depository and the representative of the true religion in the world. Then when Israel formed themselves into a State, this was nothing else than a union of religion and the State. And as their forming of a State was contrary to the expressed will and the solemn protest of the Lord, it is clearly the truth that any connection between religion -- and above all the true religion -- and the State is positively against the expressed will and the solemn protest of God.
And as Israel, the depository and representative of the true religion, in order to form a union of religion and the State, had to reject God, it is certainly true that every other people, in forming a union of religion and the State, do, in the very doing of it, reject God.
Nothing can be plainer, therefore, than that the God of heaven and earth, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is eternally opposed to a union of religion and the State. He will never be a party to any such transaction.
This is why He desired that "the people should dwell alone." This is why He would have it that they should "not be reckoned among the nations." He desired that they should abide with Him, and have Him their only God, their only King, their only Ruler, their only Lawgiver -- their "all in all."
God wanted not only that Israel, but that all people on the earth, should know that He is better than all other gods, that He is a better King than all other kings, that He is a better Ruler than all other rulers, that He is a better Lawgiver than all other lawgivers, that His law is better than all other laws, and that His government is better than all other governments.
For this reason He would station Israel in Palestine, at the pivot of the highways of the nations; with the God of heaven as their only King, Ruler, and Lawgiver; with His law their only law, and His government their only government; the people dwelling alone and not reckoned among the nations -- a holy, happy people; a glorious church.
Dwelling thus in the sight of all the nations that had forgotten God, those nations would be constantly taught the goodness of God and would be once more drawn to Him. Accordingly He told them: "Behold I have taught you statutes and judgments, . . . that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people" (Deut. 4:5, 6).
But Israel would not have it so. Israel would "be reckoned among the nations." Israel would be "like all the nations." And so it has been, from that day to this. God has never been allowed by His professed people to reveal Himself to the world as He really is. His church has always been too willing to "be reckoned among the nations," too willing to be "like all the nations." She has always been too willing to be joined to the State, to be a part of the State, to have religion a matter of State and government, "like all the nations." And so it is with the church in all the world today.
"'Like all the nations.' The Israelites did not realize that to be in this respect unlike other nations was a special privilege and blessing. God had separated the Israelites from every other people, to make them His own peculiar treasure. But they, disregarding this high honor, eagerly desired to imitate the example of the heathen.
"And still the longing to conform to wordily customs and practices exists among the professed people of God. As they depart from the Lord they become ambitious for the gains and honors of the world. Christians are constantly seeking to imitate the practices of those who worship the god of this world. Many urge that by uniting with worldlings and conforming to their customs, they might exert a stronger influence over the ungodly.
"But all who pursue this course thereby separate from the Source of their strength. Becoming the friends of the world, they are the enemies of God. For the sake of earthly distinction they sacrifice the unspeakable honor to which God has called them, of showing forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
"The days of Israel's greatest prosperity were those in which they acknowledged Jehovah as their King -- when the laws and government which He established were regarded as superior to those of all other nations" (Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 59, par. 8-13). And such will be the days of any people's greatest prosperity.
God's laws, just as they stand, without any re-enactment, without any adding to or diminishing from, are superior to all other laws. His government, administered by Himself through the operation of His own eternal Spirit in each individual heart, is superior to every other government.
But how shall the people know this, who know not God, so long as His own people will not have it so? How shall the nations know this, when His own professed church will not recognize it nor have it so?
Instead of holding fast God's laws and government as superior to those of all States and nations, the professed people of God consider that they must enter the politics and shape the policies, that they must tinker the laws and manipulate the governments, of the States and nations of the world.
Instead of magnifying God's laws and government before all the world, as superior to the laws and governments of all the nations, and showing unswerving allegiance to them as such, the people of the professed churches of God seek to mingle heavenly citizenship with earthly citizenship; and to bring down from their superior place the laws and government of God, and mix them up with the laws and government of all the nations in an unseemly and ungodly union of religion and the State.
And thus the people of the professed churches of God, of the young people's societies and leagues professing Christianity -- of all the combined church elements of the land -- are following directly in the track of the church of ancient Israel; they will not dwell alone; they will be reckoned among the nations; they will be like all the nations; they will join themselves to the State; they will form a union of religion and the State; they will reject God, that He should not reign over them.