All the latest views from the Lighthouse Law Club
Most anytime you want to hold government minions accountable for damages which they incur, they hide behind the cloak of ‘Sovereign Immunity’. In other words, ‘You can’t sue the government!’.
With that in mind, let me share with you an interesting treatment of that subject as offered by Pastor John Weaver in his book: THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD AND CIVIL GOVERNMENT. Try and find it. It's powerful!
From Kings 21:2 - And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, give me thy vineyard that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money”
There is no such thing as “the divine right of kings.” Machiavelli’s theory that “might makes right” is totally unbiblical. There is no human government that possesses all authority, power, or jurisdiction. God alone is sovereign; therefore, he alone possesses all power and authority. Since God ordained and instituted government, He is the one that proscribes its limits.
Ahab the kind desired Naboth’s vineyard. Why? Because it was close to the palace and he desired it for a garden of herbs. He offered Naboth a good deal. He presented an offer to Naboth that would seemingly be impossible to refuse. Either he would give Naboth a better vineyard or the worth of his vineyard in money. The convenience and closeness of Naboth’s vineyard made it extremely desirable to attractive to Ahab.
Naboth blatantly refused the king’s offer. He did so on biblical grounds: “...The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee” (1 Kings 21:3). Naboth was not trying to drive a hard bargain. Neither was he endeavoring to hold out for more money. He was simply stating a biblical principle. He could not lawfully or biblically sell the vineyard to Ahab. God had divided the land among the tribes and God forbade the selling of the land outside the extended family except in cases of emergency. Even in times of emergency, the land must be redeemed and brought back into the family or returned to the family in the year of jubilee. Naboth was simply obeying God by refusing the king’s offer.
“The land shall not be sold forever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. If they brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to who he sold it; that he may return unto his possession. But if he is not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubilee: and in the jubilee it should go out, and he shall return unto his possession.” - Leviticus 25:23-28
The inheritances of the families were not to be alienated to another family or tribe, nor even to be sold (leased) unless the family was in extreme poverty, and then it was to be redeemed or returned in the year of jubilee. Therefore, both out of regard for God and His law, and the good of his family, Naboth would not part with the land at any price.
Ahab, as king did not have the “right of eminent domain.” Eminent domain is often used by government to confiscate an individual’s property for what it deems “the public good.”
“The power to take private property for public use by the state, municipalities, and private persons or corporations authorized to exercise functions of public character...The right of eminent domain is the right of the state, through its regular organization, ro reassert, either temporarily or permanently, its dominion over any portion of the soil of the state on account of public exigency and for the public good. Thus in time of war or insurrection, the proper authorities may possess and hold any part of the territory of the state for the common safety; and in time of peace the legislature may authorized the appropriation of the same to public purposes, such as the opening of roads, construction of defenses, or providing channels for trade or travel...” - Black’s Law Dictionary
The Word of God forbade the king to exercise eminent domain. In Ezekiel 46:16-18 God says:
“Thus saith the Lord God; if the prince give a gift unto any of his sons , the inheritance thereof shall be his sons; it shall be their possession by inheritance. But if he give a gift or his inheritance to one of his servants, then in shall be his to the year of liberty; after it shall return to the prince: but his inheritance shall be his sons’ for them. Moreover, the prince shall not take of the peoples’ inheritance by oppression, to throw them out of their possession; but he shall give his sons inheritance out of his own possession: that my people be not scattered every man from his possession.”
When Ahab made the offer to Naboth, he had gone as far as he could go legally and biblically. He did not have authority to go any further. He was limited by the law of God. The same God that ordained civil government is the same God that placed restructions upon it. Government is to be bound by the Word of God.
(editors note: and when government is not bound by the Word of God, one must choose, do we serve God? Or do we serve man?)
There is tremendous difference between authority and power. Authority is the right to do something or perform some act. Power is the ‘might’ to do something. A thief may not have the authority to take your money, but if he places a gun between your eyes, he has the power to take your money. Likewise, there is a difference between governmental authority and governmental power. Simply because a government has the power to make and enforce laws or regulations, doesn’t mean that it has the authority to do so. Ahab may have had the power to take Naboth’s vineyard, but he did not have the authority to do so.