28 March 2022

Whomever HE Pleases


According to Daniel, the God of Israel changes times and seasons, removes kings, and sets up kings

Too often, church leaders exhort us to work diligently for the election of politicians of whom they approve, claiming it is God’s will. And they warn of the dire consequences that will befall the church if we fail to immerse ourselves in partisan politics.

Apparently, followers of Jesus must fight tooth and nail for THEIR CHOSEN candidates, even using the less than admirable means of this world to do so! But chosen by whom?

How do these men of God know which politician or political party represents God’s will, or which proposed policy will advance His cause on earth? Can our Christian leaders see “the end from the beginning”?

GOD GRANTS SOVEREIGNTY


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.” He was the same pagan ruler who went on to destroy the kingdom of Judah, the city of Jerusalem, and 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 imperial throne? Nevertheless, with that very king in mind, Daniel praised Yahweh as the one who “removes kings and sets up kings,” and later, he pronounced 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 mighty ruler of the World Empire 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?

He 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.

GOD’S ARRANGEMENT


Centuries later, writing to churches in the center of the World Empire, the Apostle Paul exhorts believers to respect governors, magistrates, and the king. It seems “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).

He wrote this when Christian residents of the Empire had few if any civil “rights.” They most certainly had no 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 or religious or individual liberty. He was an absolute ruler whose word was law. Yet Paul warns us that to oppose the existing government is to rebel against the “arrangement” of God.

At the time Paul wrote this, the Empire was ruled by Nero, one of the most despotic rulers in Roman history, a man who murdered his own mother, kicked his pregnant wife to death, and became the first emperor to persecute the Church. And very likely, Paul himself was executed during the ‘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 on the earth, and all without missing a heartbeat.

Neither the form of government nor any nefarious plan by its rulers is an impediment to His purposes. And regardless of its economic or military might, whenever He may choose, He can dropkick even the mightiest empires on the planet into the Abyss.

When Satan offered Jesus all the political powers of this age, he refused them. Instead, he submitted to an unjust death at the hands of the World Empire. And he taught his disciples to walk that same path – To deny themselves, take up the cross, and become servants of all men who are in need.

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 impose his reign on the rest of humanity. And in the end, only one political power will be left standing, namely, the kingdom of God.

His is NOT a call to passivity or for disengagement from the world, but a summons for his disciples to engage it in the same way that he did, through faithful witness, prayer, enduring unjust suffering, and when necessary, martyrdom. God alone sees the end from the beginning, and what is in the heart of every man. And He alone determines who will rule over the nations of this age.

Having arrogated to themselves the right to decide who should govern, according to their own likes and dislikes, far too many church “leaders” have presumed upon what is the prerogative of God alone.


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