God and the President

By Fredric A. Carlson

God exercises His sovereign rule and providential care over all things, including influencing free people and their events such as governmental elections, in such a way as to assure that His agenda is advanced and His name ultimately is vindicated and exalted.

In Romans 13, the apostle Paul applies to their Roman church's relationships with government officials to the principle that Christian believers are to submit to the will of God (Romans 12:1-3). Here, Paul declares that God has established these authorities (Romans 12:1), and that no authority exists but what God has established; that the authorities are God's servants (Romans 13:4); that they are to be obeyed (Romans 12:5); and that they are to be supported by taxes (Romans 13:6-7). Paul repeated this theme in his letter to Titus (Titus 3:1), and Peter wrote the same thing in different words (1 Peter 2:13-17). The Romans 13 passage does not say that God necessarily selects every named official who occupies such an office, but nothing in the passage distinguishes between the office and the person who occupies it. So even more specifically, the Bible records how God appointed named kings and rulers, both the generally good ones and the characteristically bad ones (not one of them is perfect), always for His reasons and purposes.

I'll give you a few examples:

• God appointed King Saul, and later rejected him: 1 Samuel 9:15-17; 10:1; 15:26-28; Acts 13:22. God appointed David: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; 2 Samuel 7:13-16; 1 Chronicles 28:4-7; Psalm 89:19-37; Acts 13:22. Other examples include: 1 Kings 14:14-16; 16:1-4; 1 Chronicles 29:25; Psalm 75:6-7; Proverbs 8:15, 16; Ezekiel 21:24-27; Daniel 2:20, 21, 37; Daniel 4; 5:18-28.

• Jesus acknowledged to Pilate that it was only by the plan of His Father that He was at that moment under the Roman ruler's power to crucify Him (John 19:10-11).

• God explained that He sometimes put ungodly pagans such as Nebuchadnezzar in power in order to discipline His people (Jeremiah 25:1-11; 27:1-27). God later judged and removed that same ruler because he used excessive cruelty in unconsciously administering that discipline (Jeremiah 25:12-33).

We conclude that God decides who is president of the United States at any given time. In the case of a republic like ours, evidently He does so through His supervision of the election process (Proverbs 21:1; Acts 1:15-26; 2:6-6; Titus 1:5-9). He may choose a generally good person when He intends to give the nation prosperity. Or He may choose a characteristically evil person when He intends to bring a nation into discipline and judgement. Again, no ruler is perfect; all are sinners. Those who truly know and love God in Christ Jesus will make mistakes. Those who don't know Him will make worse mistakes. God maintains ultimate control of all.

This article does not attempt to discover the line between God's intentional will and His permissive will in appointing rulers. As you reflect on the passages and events mentioned above, you will notice that at times God accomplishes His eternal purposes by deliberately setting in motion certain events. At other times, He allows man to act, seemingly on his own, but actually following the influences that God arranged, and always with His own long-range consequences in view. Respecting man's freedom, God sometimes permits leaders to do evil things. When He does, He keeps in mind His promise: "In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

So, whether God breaks through a cloud in a loud voice, commanding a people to elect one candidate or another, or only arranges events and issues that convince enough voters to vote one way or the other, He still exercises His sovereignty. "The king's heart is in the hand of God" either directly, or indirectly (Proverbs 21:1). In a republic such as ours, He does so through those voters who elect him/her to office. Those influences will converge to bring about the kind of government that conforms to God's plans to bring about peace and prosperity, or that leads the nation further into such a moral morass as to bring about His judgment. In either case, God will deserve humble praise from every one of His creatures. The last chapter of His story in relation to human history on earth, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, will be completed as He is exalted as righteous and just Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, Judge, and Self-sacrificing Restorer of His originally perfect system. Certainly, in His process of appointing and directing leaders God wants to use such a mystery as believing prayer. See 1 Timothy 1:1-4. Our role, then, is two-fold: to thank God for giving us leaders such as He wants to use for His righteous purposes, petitioning Him to and bless and guide them into His will, and then to respect their right leadership, refusing their rule only when they require behavior that is specifically contrary to the clear command of God.

Image Credit: PublicDomianPictures; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Controversial-Issues  | Current-Issues  | God-Father  | Political-Issues

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Published 3-6-17