“HE changes times and seasons, HE removes kings, HE sets up kings.”
Far too often, church leaders exhort us to work diligently to elect politicians and pass laws of which they approve, claiming it is God’s will and warning of the dire consequences that will befall us if we fail to do so. Believers must fight tooth and nail for their chosen candidates and programs! But chosen by whom?
How do these men and women know which politician or political party represents God’s will, or which proposed policy will advance His cause and righteousness on the earth? Can they see “the end from the beginning”? Do they know what is in the heart of every candidate for high office? Are they able to foresee all the possible consequences of any government action?
The book of Daniel begins by declaring that Yahweh GAVE the king of Judah, Jerusalem, and the “vessels of the house of God” into the “HAND of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon,” the same pagan ruler who would story the kingdom of Judah, the city of Jerusalem, the Temple, and exiled a great many Jews to Mesopotamia.
What patriotic Israelite in his right mind would have elected that idol-worshipping despot to the Babylonian throne? Nevertheless, with that very king in mind, Daniel praised Yahweh as the one who “removes kings and sets up kings,” and later, he announced to Nebuchadnezzar himself:
“You are the king of kings, for the God of Heavens has GIVEN YOU the kingship, the might, the power, and the dignity; and wherever the sons of men dwell, the wild beasts of the field and the birds of the air has HE GIVEN into your hand and made you ruler over them all.”
On one evening, after he attributed his might and majesty to his own power, an angel pronounced punishment on the great king so that he would learn that the “Most-High has dominion over the kingdom of men, and to whomever he pleases, he gives it, and sets up over it even the basest of men.” Nebuchadnezzar was removed from the throne for “seven seasons” until God restored him to office. Humbled, the mightiest king on the earth declared:
- “I rendered praise and honor to the God of Heaven, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation, before whom and all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and according to his own pleasure he deals with the army of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth, and none there is who can smite upon his hand, or say to him – What have you done?”
The Chaldean emperor discovered that Yahweh alone has dominion over the political powers of this age, and He gives the right to rule to whomsoever he pleases to accomplish His purposes, whatever they might be.
Centuries later, writing to Christians residing in the center of the World-Power, the Apostle Paul exhorted them to respect governors, magistrates, and the king, for “there is no authority except by God, and the existing ones have been arranged by Him, therefore, he who opposes the authority, OPPOSES the arrangement of God” – (Romans 13:1-7).
This was written when Christians had few if any civil “rights.” They most certainly had no “right” or ability to elect their political rulers or influence governmental policies. If anything, Christianity was an “illegal” religion, and Caesar certainly was no champion of democracy, religious or individual liberty. He was an absolute ruler whose word was law. Yet Paul warned that to oppose his government was to oppose the “arrangement” of God.
At the time Paul wrote those words, the empire was ruled by Nero, one of the most despotic rulers in Roman history, a man who had his own mother murdered, kicked his pregnant wife to death, and became the first emperor to persecute the Church; and very likely, Paul himself was executed during the so-called ‘Neronian Persecution’.
God’s hand is not limited. He can save by many or few, and He is well able to employ evil, good, and just plain incompetent politicians to achieve His plans, and all without missing a heartbeat. Neither the form of government nor any nefarious plan by world rulers is any impediment to His purposes. And regardless of its economic or military might, whenever He may so choose, He can dropkick even the mightiest empire on the planet onto the Ash Heap of History.
When Satan offered Jesus all the political powers of this age, he refused them, and instead, he submitted to an unjust death at the hands of the Almighty Empire. And he taught his disciples to walk the same path – To deny themselves, take up the cross each day, and become servants to all who are in need.
And ever since his elevation to the messianic throne, he has been calling his church to proclaim HIS gospel to all nations, NOT to seize political power and thereby impose his reign on the rest of the world. After all, in the end, only one power will be left standing, the kingdom of God. So, why are we so determined to work for the “meat that perishes,” including the political institutions of this age that already “are passing away”?
He did not call us to passivity or to disengage from the world, but instead, summoned us to engage it in the same way that he did, though faithful witness, prayer, enduring unjust suffering, and when necessary, martyrdom. God alone sees the end from the beginning, and only He knows what is in the heart of every man. And He alone determines who will rule over the political powers of this age.
Having arrogated to themselves the right to decide who should govern, according to their own likes and dislikes, even this very day, far too many church “leaders” have presumed upon what is the prerogative of God alone.