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 (boy I wish he had a shorter name). 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. More later.