Afraid of the 2008 Election Results?
The election is over. The people have spoken. And in January we will have a president who promises change.
Some are hopeful that the change will be good. Others are frightened that the change will be very bad for the nation and for evangelical Christians. Still others, who did not vote for the president-elect, are completely at peace.
Because I have heard from far more people who are frightened for their future than those who are hopeful, I wanted to address the issue from a biblical perspective.
What do the Scriptures say -- does a believer ever have cause for fear because of the one who rules their land?
1. The Bible tells us that it is not within the power of humans to determine the leaders of their nations. It is God who sets up rulers and deposes them.
Dan 2:20 and said: "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.
2. The Bible tells us that God has sovereign control over all earthy kingdoms and gives them to whomever he sees fit. He does this to accomplish His own purposes and plans. If you recall, Israel was fleshly in their values and worldview, so God gave them King Saul who epitomized their shortsighted and shallow values -- (1 Samuel 8). And when Israel needed to be humbled, God did so by choosing a woman to lead them to victory (Judg 4:4,9). When God wanted to discipline Israel, He raised up Babylon to chastise them (Jer 25:9-12; 27:5-8). God has His purposes for choosing specific men or women for leadership, whether we understand his reasons or not. He may even put in power a pagan king like Nebuchadnezzar, whom the Bible describes as one granted authority by God to kill whomever he wanted (Dan 5:19):
Dan 4:17 "'The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.'
Dan 4:32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes."
Dan 5:18 "O king,
the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and
greatness and glory and splendor. 19 Because of the high
position he gave him, all the peoples and nations and men of every
language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to
death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those
he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he
humbled. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with
pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his
glory. 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an
animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle;
and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he
acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the
kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes.
3. The Bible tells us that God is the one who exalts people to positions of power. No man can credit himself for his rise to power -- he must acknowledge God’s hand. The story of King Nebuchadnezzar in the fourth chapter of Daniel illustrates this perfectly.
1 Sam 2:7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. 8 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. "For the foundations of the earth are the Lord's; upon them he has set the world.
Psa 75:5 Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak with outstretched neck.'" 6 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. 7 But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.
Jer 27:5 With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please.
Rom 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
4. The Bible tells us that it is by God’s permission and wisdom, earthly rulers govern. In fact, God directs the hearts and minds of kings whenever he so chooses.
Prov 8:15 By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just; 16 by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth.
Prov 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.
5. The Bible tells us that God is so powerful that nations and those who rule them are nothing next to Him. They are like a drop in the bucket, and He does with them whatever He wants. Earthly leaders are no threat to the Kingdom of God. None can stop Him or thwart His plans.
Isa 40:15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust... 17 Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.
Isa 40:21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. 24 No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
Dan 4:35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?"
Job 9:12 If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, 'What are you doing?'
Job 23:13 "But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases.
Job 42:2 "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
Prov 19:21 Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
Eccl 3:14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.
Isa 14:27 For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?
So, to answer the question -- should we be afraid when an opponent to the Church rises to power?
The answer is NO -- we need not be afraid. Those in power do not get there without the permission or planning of our sovereign God. Even when governments persecute believers they do not thwart God’s Kingdom. Persecution has always increased ministry opportunities and fueled the life of the Church.
Luke 21:12 But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. (Also Matt 10:18 & Mark 13:9)
If you have never read the book “The Heavenly Man” you should. It is the story of Brother Yun, a leader in the house church movement in Communist China. It tells the story of how revival thrives under a regime that persecutes believers. Brother Yun suffered imprisonment and extreme torture for years, yet listen to how he views their situation:
“Once I spoke in the West and a Christian told me, “I’ve been praying for years that the Communist government in China will collapse, so Christians can live in freedom.” This is not how we pray! We never pray against our government or call down curses on them. Instead we have learned that God is in control of our own lives and the government we live under. Isaiah prophesied about Jesus, “The government will be on his shoulders.” Isaiah 9:6.
God has used China’s government for His own purposes, molding and shaping his children as he sees fit. Instead of focusing our prayers against the political system, we pray that regardless of what happens to us, we will be pleasing to God.
Don’t pray for the persecution to stop! We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure! Then the world will see that God is with us, empowering us to live in a way that reflects his love and power.
This is true freedom!”
We must always remember that we live for the Kingdom of Heaven -- not for earthly kingdoms.
But is it wrong to be afraid?
We only become afraid when that which gave us security is no longer reliable. If we only rest because we trust those who lead us, then our trust is in them and not God.
Ps 118:8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. 9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.
Ps 146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. 4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Ps 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
Our security and comfort must be in God who keeps us safe – not our nation’s strength or our preferred leaders, whether they are Democrats, Republicans, or Communists. It was because Jesus understood the sovereign rule of his Father that he did not fear the power of man. He knew that men only have power to do what God grants them to do.
John 19:11 Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above…”
We can rest that every danger sent our way, whether it be a persecutor or a suicidal terrorist, God will use for His good and the advancement of His Kingdom.
Gen 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Rom 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Job 1:21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
2 Tim 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Brothers and sisters -- let us not forget that we are citizens of Heaven before we are citizens of Earth. Let us rejoice that God is on the throne, working out His plans, despite the evil conduct of human leaders. Let us submit ourselves to His purposes so that under whatever government we find ourselves, we live lives pleasing to Him, motivated and empowered by His love.