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:
God has the ability and right to ordain them and their leaders
Man has the ability and right to set up leaders without even consulting God
To fulfill His Word, God will indeed appoint or ordain a nation or leader for His purposes
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.
I believe what this discussion ultimately leads to is the whole predestination election and foreknowledge argument. We have many differing beliefs here on CB in regards to this and it simply leads to disputes. We can all argue until we are blue in the face over our interpretation of Scripture and I know that I am compelled to seek the Lord in this, for I feel strong in my belief, but, I do not think I am absolutely right. I need the Lord's wisdom to shine His light on my understanding. We can suffice it to say that we can obey the law, if it does not contradict the law of God. Driving 55 miles an hour, OK. Slaughtering human life, no. Paying taxes (although i do not like it) OK, denying my faith in Christ, no. This is what so many of our brother and sisters in Christ in our past and in other countries today are asked to do, deny their faith or perish, be jailed, tortured, the like. We simply cannot obey a government, ordained by God or not, that asks us to go against our faith. As Queen Esther says "if I perish, I perish." Esther 4:16
I agree that the danger in this whole discussion lies in opening the "pandora's box" regarding the whole predestination issue. I beg of anyone and everyone not to take this discussion into that abyss. There is no way to ever settle that raging argument that has been splintering and dividing Christians for centuries.
Yes, the simplicity of the issue is obey when in alignment with God's Word and not obey when not. But, that is not what is being propounded in some of the newer versions of Romans 13 as we will see next time. Blind and total obedience to each and every government and law enforcement official under the mistaken notion they are God's ministers leads only to major problems in our faith.
Ok, I might be just ignorant or something but this is the question that came to my mind while reading this...
If God is in control of everything that happens, then by what you are saying, God is not in control? Aren't we supposed to trust that what God is doing in the world is the working of His plan that we cannot understand. As Isaiah says in Isaiah 55 : "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways, your ways, says the Lord."
The way I see it is that we need to trust that God is doing something great with everything that is happening in the World because God is in control. His precious plan is unfolding to the day when Christ comes again. We need to keep being faithful to Him and doing His work and not worrying about "is this governmental leader is ordained by God or not." In Romans and 1 Peter, it tells us to submit to our governmental leaders unless they tell us to go against God's Word. So there should be no question.
Just my thoughts.
OK, as I took a shower I was contemplating Queen Esther and our situation today. I think, many of us, Christians, just throw our hands up in the air, and say, "Well, whatever President God wills will win." And we don't do anything. The Jews were going to be annihilated and Queen Esther had knowledge of that and risked her life and went against the law for righteousness to be done. Did any protest Hitler and try to stop him from being put into power? What about Winston Churchill? If we see a great evil coming forth that could not only harm Christians but the unsaved as well, are we not required to warn the people and do what we are able to stop it? Many prophets in the OT cried out and tried to warn the people and they turned a blind eye and God allowed that very evil to happen, because they did not listen. So perhaps, the ability for evil leaders to be put into power stems from our own disobedience and instead of going against that very evil we embrace it and do nothing. God has put it very heavy on my heart not to be silent, but to warn others of the evil I see coming. Many dismiss me, Christians and non-Christians alike, but I cannot control them, I simply must do as I feel as been laid on my heart. Are either of our Presidential candidates ordained by God? I don't know, I do know we are an ungodly nation that turns it back on God and chooses to be blinded by the "messiah" of this world and not embrace the True Messiah. IS this supposed to happen? God's Word does warn of it, but I feel as Esther that I must speak or rather walk in disobedience to my Lord and Savior. Esther 4:13-16.
I couldn't help but think about the example of King Saul. The people demanded a king. Finally God granted their request and gave them exactly the kind of king they wanted; tall, handsome and strong. He looked the part of a king. They got exactly what they asked for. Of course, God warned them of the consequences but they didn't care. 1 Samuel 8:4-9. They chose the kind of king they wanted and that's exactly who God gave to them. On the other hand, God chose David. What a difference! We need to be careful what we ask for and ask for God's will above our own.
Please, lest this turn into a political commentary let me simply quote Romans 13:1-7 from the popular "New Living Bible":
Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God.
So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.
For the authorities do not frighten people who are doing right, but they frighten those who do wrong. So do what they say, and you will get along well.
The authorities are set by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong.
So you must obey the government for two reasons: to keep from being punished and to keep a clear conscience.
Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid so they can keep on doing the work God intended them to do.
Give to everyone what you owe them; Pay your taxes and import duties, and give respect and honor to all to whom it is due."
This is the prevailing opinion among many Christians and I personally find this very disturbing. This kind of blind faith in and obedience to civil authorities under the pretense they are all ministers of God doing His work is pure insanity. Even if this was true in some countries, to say it is true in all countries at all times in history makes no sense.
There, I have let the cat out of the bag concerning what this was all about. Please, do not take this post to be anything but a commentary on a very dangerous viewpoint that has taken root in many Christian congregations that the government is God's minister and knows what is best for us as Christians.
I'm sorry, I don't mean to stir up anything, but docjake, your response says
[quote] If God was in control of everything that happened then Jesus mislead the disciples. [/quote]
which seems to say that God is [i]not[/i] in control of everything. I'm sure that's not what you meant to say, but in case there are new believers or baby Christians out here, I just don't want that kind of blasphemy to sit unchallenged or unchanged.
Probably you mean that God IS in control of absolutely everything, but He chooses to allow us to have free will. Okay?
I am so sorry, and i do apologize, I was not name-calling when I used the word blasphemy. And we are probably talking semantics.
When I say that God is always in control, all the time, heaven and earth, I agree that certainly God does not will that we act as you describe. BUT I remain steadfast in my stance that He is in control, because where he has allowed the prince of the air (satan) to run rampant over the earth, it is only for a time that is preknown to God. God in in control because He can and will stop it at any given moment when in His infinite wisdom He deems the time is right.
In other words, God allowed Satan to torment Job -- but Satan only was able to BECAUSE GOD ALLOWED IT. When God's purposes were accomplished, God controlled the situation and ended it.
At any moment, God will step in and exercise His control over the earth by putting an end to satan's time in it.
I mean no offense when I use the word blasphemous, but to me it is blasphemy to consider God incapable of anything or not in control of anything. God is in control. Always. Of everything. Otherwise, He would not be Omnipotent, would He? Think of all the attributes of God that testify to His control over everything: He is ALMIGHTY (not sometimes mighty) He is ALL POWERFUL, not limited power.
I think it can be safely said that some things are better left undebated. I believe this is one of them. God is God and He knows all for that is part of His nature. The question cannot be one of whether God is in control, for if He is not, we are all up quite the creek without any paddle.
God knows what is going on and He allows and disallows things to happen based upon what is legal and what is not. God cannot allow the devil to break any of His laws such as freedom of will. Satan had to ask God's permission to afflict Job. He could not just step in and destroy a righteous man's life. God allows certain leaders to do what they do because He cannot overstep freedom of will. In due time, even the most horrible of all leaders will have to answer for their cruelty.
Once again, I go back to the purpose of these posts which revolve around the teaching that every government and every government official and dictate are ordained of God and must be obeyed. Again, I ask anyone reading this to look at the above quoted verses from the "New Living Bible" to see what is commonly taught in certain Christian circles. Again, I ask is there any way this could be right? I say no.