Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Does God Appoint Government Authorities?

God has established three institutions: the home (Gen. 2:18-25), the government (Gen. 9:1-17), and the church (Acts 2). Paul was writing to believers at the very heart of the Roman Empire. As yet, the great persecutions had not yet started, but were on the way. Christianity was still considered a Jewish sect, and the Jewish Religion was approved by Rome. But the day would come when it would become very difficult if not impossible, for a Christian to be loyal to the emperor. He could not drop incense on the alter and affirm, "Caesar is god!"

It is God who established the governments of the world (Acts 17:24-28, Rom. 13:1). This does not mean that He is responsible for the sins of tyrants, but only that the authority to rule comes originally from God. No matter what form it takes, no human government at any time in history, at any place on the earth, among any people on the earth, at any level of society, has ever existed or will exist apart from the sovereign authority of God, because all "power belongs to God" (Ps. 62:11). The entire world, everything in heaven and earth, including Satan and his hosts. Are subject to their creator. God sovereignty created and absolutely controls the universe, with no exceptions or limitations. Also without any exception the power that any person, group, or society may possess is divinely delegated and circumscribed. How well or how poorly that power is used is another matter. The point is that this power has only one source, God! All the world's thrones are occupied by rulers under God's authority. This was the lesson that Nebuchadnezzar had to learn the hard way . It is God, the Most High that rules in the kingdom of men and gives those kingdoms to whomever He wills, setting over those kingdoms even the lowest of men to accomplish His purpose (Daniel 4:17, 25 and 32).

God established human government because man is a sinner and must have some kind of authority over him. In every ordered society there must be authority and submission to that authority. Otherwise you have a state of anarchy, an you cannot survive indefinitely under anarchy. Even though we cannot always respect the man in office, we must respect the office, for government was ordained by God. Whether the rulers realize that they are God's representatives is not the point. How wisely and fairly they exercise the authority invested in them is not the point either. There is no power but what originates with God and is appointed by Him. Again this does not mean that God is ultimately responsible for the excesses of any ruling body. Those who rule unwisely will answer to Him and be subject to His governmental ways. We are to "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" and are to be subject to those over us (Mark 12:17, 1 Peter 2:13-14). If there is ever a time where we have to choose to obey God rather than man then that is addressed in scripture as well ( Acts 4:19, 5:29). Examples of this would can be seen in Daniel 3 and 6.

And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding (Dan. 2:21). At the present time there are around 200 nations in the world (193 member states in the United Nations). Each has a leader. Whether that leader is a dictator or monarch for life, or is elected to a limited term of a few years, "kings" (leaders) of these 200 nations are constantly ascending and descending their "thrones." Without reason to think otherwise, the appointment of kings seems to be a purely human activity -- whether based on heredity or election.

But the Bible gives us a reason to think otherwise. The prophet Daniel, after receiving a vision about the transfer of power from one kingdom to another in Mesopotamia, said it is God who "removes kings and raises up kings." Some may do campaigning and voting, but in the end it is God who moves key players on and off the stage of world history. When the sacrilegious king of Babylon did not repent of his pride, God sent a message through handwriting on the wall that his days as king were over. That very night, the Medes and the Persians captured Babylon and killed the king (Daniel 5:5-31 ). We may not always agree with the changing of our leaders, but we can be confident that God has His reasons.

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