Does God Ordain Leaders?
God has ordained worldly leaders, but not every leader is ordained of God!
Is God Raising up a Cyrus–or a Nebuchadnezzar?
Before we embrace the fanciful idea that Donald Trump is the new Cyrus, chosen of the Lord to lead His people in America to victory and security, there are a few more things about the Israelite analogy we need to consider.
First, it was the FALSE prophets who insisted that God would save unrepentant Israel from its due punishment. It was the TRUE prophets, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, who brought the evil tidings that God was going to so thoroughly devastate them, they would devour their own children. For his loving warnings, Jeremiah was considered a traitor to his country; and it is said that Isaiah was sawn in half. Nevertheless their warnings all came true. Jerusalem fell to Babylon in 606 BC, and the righteous man Daniel was one of the first to be deported in the exile of his people.
Interestingly, God told the Israelites who were about to be punished, that if they would SUBMIT to their heathen captors and obey them, God would be merciful to them. But if they resisted capture, they would surely be killed (2 Kings 25:24, Jer. 27:12-19). How many American Christians are prepared to submit to the overtake of their country by “heathen” in acknowledgment that we deserve it? Remember that God called Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon “His servant” too (Jer. 27:6-7), to whom He gave authority over many nations for a set period of time. Yet most American Christians insist on being idolaters to the end, worshiping their nation before God and His Word, resisting well-deserved punishment, and listening to those who falsely promise a way around it.
Cyrus didn’t come on the scene until AFTER the 70 years of exile were fulfilled and the remnant of Israel was sufficiently humbled unto repentance. God had promised beforehand, in the event that His people brought punishment on themselves, that if they would yet humble themselves and OBEY HIS VOICE, He would again be merciful to them even in the place of their exile (Deut. 30:1-5). The appearance of Cyrus on the scene indicates that this humbled remnant had again become OBEDIENT to God’s voice; therefore God raised up a man to show them mercy after a full 70 years of severe punishment.
Look around you. Look at the news headlines. Are we a humbled people, obedient to God’s voice? Even among Christians, one can scarcely find a humbled and repentant attitude. What does a humbled and repentant attitude look like?
The best example I know of is revealed in Daniel 9, where Daniel prays for his exiled people. Scripture has nothing bad to say of Daniel; he seems to have suffered the punishment of his nation through no fault of his own. Yet he isn’t found calling down judgment on the heathen Babylonians who took him away from everything he’s ever known, but instead acknowledging his people deserved what happened to them. He acknowledged, “WE have sinned” and “WE have not obeyed,” rather than pointing his finger at certain factions of his countrymen in blame. He acknowledged also that God had only fulfilled His Word to them, and that any mercy God might henceforth have on them would be completely undeserved.
I think that’s a very different spirit than what we’re seeing in America’s “Christian Conservatives,” don’t you?
Unfortunately most Americans are not humbled or repentant at all, whether they are conservative or liberal. We’re just looking for a way out of the disaster we all sense is looming. We’re worried about the economy and the safety of our families. We sense that the relative ease to which most of us are accustomed is now under threat. We’re afraid we’ll lose our freedoms (exactly what God took from the Israelites when they became captives of Babylon.) Well, what if we do lose our precious freedoms? Could that lead to the repentance of an American remnant and the saving of some from idolatry and eternal damnation? Could that be God’s plan? Is this not in the realm of possibility? God’s value system is much different than our own.
The political arguing is filled with pride and fingerpointing, blaming other parties and people for what’s happening, putting hope in a fleshly man or woman to bring about a stop to our destruction. We see it in public debates, and we see it among ourselves. It’s Obama’s fault, it’s Hillary/Trump’s fault, it’s the democrats, it’s the republicans, it’s the people who don’t vote, it’s the people who vote third party, it’s the liberals, and on and on it goes.
Certainly there are faults all around, and God will punish them all. Certainly there are some groups that condone particular sins (such as homosexuality or abortion) more than other groups, but even so, plenty of other sins are ignored entirely by the whole. None of the political rhetoric will ever root out our real problem–the problem that we are a nation of rebels against God, a people who insist on following our own hearts to certain destruction. The blood of innocents continually saturates the ground, and sexual immorality has increased without a pause no matter who has controlled the White House.
So returning to my original question, has God raised up a Cyrus to help us in this day we are living in? Is Trump like Cyrus?
God can use any person, born again or heathen, to fulfill His desires. But what is His desire at this moment in our history? Is it to give us prosperity and ease despite the lack of repentance of our people? Does He wish to save or destroy our nation? What stage are we in? Are we–like Daniel–acknowledging our sins and the justness of our punishment, and living in careful obedience? Are we humbled? Or are we more like the Israelites BEFORE the captivity happened, in denial of our massive guilt, in denial that God will keep His Word, and calling upon Egypt to help us avoid reaping what we’ve sown?
America has not fully reaped what she has sown, and we can be sure that our due harvest WILL come in. Just as God’s Word to Israel was fulfilled and God used the Babylonians to punish them, God’s Word to America will also come to pass–The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God (Psa. 9:17).
Now please don’t tell me we haven’t forgotten God because “In God we trust” is still on our money, and we still have lots of churches and religious events. Lipservice to God has gone on from the beginning, but it is mostly empty religion void of any truthful worship and obedience to God’s Word. God is not impressed that we meet in churches rather than mosques; He is looking to see if we obey His Word.
We have enjoyed our prosperity with very little regard for the poor. We have not loved our enemies or turned the other cheek, but instead created a society so violent our children are being locked up as murderers. We have tried to serve many masters, including mammon. We have not taken our marriage vows or the responsibility to teach our children seriously. We have heaped up teachers who tell us what we want to hear, and have not diligently studied the Bible for ourselves. We have perhaps spoken against abortion but rarely offered the aborting mother help. We have despised the heathen but rarely reached out to help him understand his way. Instead of welcoming the stranger, we fear that he will threaten our own personal lives. We have cloistered in churches but rarely entered the highways and biways with an invitation from the King. We have kept busy at church functions but pretended not to notice that the widows in our neighborhood can’t cut their grass anymore. Let’s not increase our guilt by denying the truth and building clever excuses upon twisted Scriptures.
Many Christians imagine themselves to be the remnant of the faithful, but if you inquire whether they actually live a life obedient to God’s Word, you are likely to be cut in two like Isaiah. And if you speak the truth–that God is going to punish this nation, and nothing is going to stop it–you will be considered a traitor (America hater) like Jeremiah.
Perhaps it is time to study the Scriptures like never before, and examine our ways to see if they are really and truly what we think they are. Do we live the way the early Church lived? And if we don’t, does that mean we are in apostasy? Do we need to repent? It’s easy to point out the apostasy of the Catholic church, but much harder to honestly appraise how we live as compared to how Jesus, Paul, and the early Christians lived–a people completely obsessed with calling people from all the doomed kingdoms of men into the everlasting Kingdom of God.
My conclusion, after considering Israel’s history and the timing of Cyrus being raised up to help a pitifully humbled remnant, is that we are FAR from the raising of a Cyrus in our midst. We are still in the days of open rebellion and persecution of the truth tellers. We are still in the days of factions and the civil battles that arise from a people that hates God and almost everyone else. Men are lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power (2 Tim. 3:2-5).
We are in the days that probably call for a Babylonian king to devastate and humble us.
God may raise up Trump–just like He may raise up Hillary–to destroy this people. He allows the false prophets to speak their nonsense and tickle the ears of those who don’t love Truth. He allows pretended religion to go on until the end comes, but He searches the hearts of men and looks for someone like Daniel–someone who will start acknowledging our massive offenses against God as the reason we are in this mess. Someone who will go humbly into captivity, denouncing the sins that brought it all to pass rather than railing self-righteously against the captors. Someone He can bring before governors and kings with a testimony, because his life is hid with Christ in God, and he’s no longer fighting for his bank account or his personal freedom.
May we find that kind of true repentance and faith, so that a Cyrus can be raised up in the future to have mercy on our children.
When Daniel was explaining a dream to king Nebuchadnezzar, a very important truth was stated in Daniel 4:17:
“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”
Later, Daniel was confronting king Beshazzar and he repeated what had happened to his father Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 5:21 we read:
“And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild *; they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the Most High God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that He appointeth over it whomsoever he will.”
What must be understood in these verses is that God was speaking about a particular king whom he had chosen to bring to pass the words spoken by His prophets concerning the fall of Judah. These verses do no say that God sets up EVERY leader. They simply say that God DID set up or appoint Nebuchadnezzar even though he was a base man. Furthermore, as a matter of principle, God is able and does on occasion appoint people to positions of leadership in the world.
Having said this, it must be understood that nowhere does it say God appoints EVERY leader, ruler or magistrate who has ever lived. This is plainly apparent in Hosea 8:4 where in speaking about Israel the Bible says:
“They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not; of their silver and gold have they made them idols that they may be cut off.”
What this verse is saying is that the people set up kings, but the kings they set up were not who God wanted and therefore did not receive God’s blessing. The people made and removed princes at their will without consulting God. Obviously there have been occasions when the people chose rulers and leaders which were NOT ordained by God nor was God even consulted.
The blanket statement made by many theologians that every government along with every governmental official, ruler and magistrate is ordained by God is simply not true. People in a Democracy or Republic choose who they want to rule over them. Elections are held with the person getting the most votes winning. In these types of situations, it can hardly be said that every winner of every election was ordained by God.
Those kingdoms, nations and other empires which God knew would have a direct impact on bringing His spoken Word to pass ARE ORDAINED by Him. That is the point of the record in Daniel dealing with Nebuchadnezzar. Almighty God selected him to carry out His Word by bringing to pass prophecies given by various prophets at different times.
God has the ability and right to set up over the kingdom of man whoever He wills. Although God has this ability and right, He does not always do so. Many times the people simply choose someone to rule over them and God would have nothing to do with the decision.
Daniel’s prophecies concerning the various kingdoms which would rise up and last for a season were examples of kingdoms of man ordained by God because He specifically mentions them in His Word. But, it cannot be said that every kingdom was ordained by God and every ruler was put there by God to carry out some aspect of His Word.
God ordains and establishes the kingdoms and governments which fulfill prophecy and serve His divine purposes. It is not fair to pull one verse out of Romans 13 and build an entire theological belief system upon it, especially if it is not translated correctly. In the next installment of this series we will look at Romans 13:1-7 and examine where the problem lies in translation. But before we do, it must be established from the Old Testament that when it comes to God’s role in the setting up of man’s kingdoms:
1. God has the ability and right to ordain them and their leaders
2. Man has the ability and right to set up leaders without even consulting God
3. To fulfill His Word, God will indeed appoint or ordain a nation or leader for His purposes
4. Every nation or leader is NOT ordained by God for they are not involved with His purposes
God can and does ordain governments as well as rulers of those governments. It is His privilege as Almighty God to do so. He can ordain whomever He wants for He is a sovereign God. But it cannot be accurately said that EVERY government in the history of this world was ordained by God. It cannot be said that EVERY president, governor, mayor and local policeman is ordained by God just because of a few verses incorrectly translated or understood in Romans 13.
I challenge anyone who holds to the belief that EVERY governmental official is ordained of God to explain the atrocities done by such people. I challenge anyone who believes that every police officer has the authority to beat the daylights out of any believer just for the heck of it because they are ordained of God to justify such behavior. I challenge anyone to honestly explain where the profit lies in teaching people that EVERY official of EVERY government in the history of man was placed there by God.
Of course God ordains governments, but God does not ordain every one of them. Of course God ordains rulers and officials, but He does not ordain every one of them. Teaching Christians to blindly obey every governmental official because they are “ordained” of God and thus represent His will is not only dangerous but totally irrational. With study, it is plainly apparent that as believers we are to obey those in governmental positions as long as they do not require disobedience to God’s Word.