By Brad Hicks
Just before the 2020 American presidential election, I posted this short message on my Facebook newsfeed. The content started a good discussion. I’d like to discuss it in more detail in this blog. I wrote:
Something to think about … If we believe that God raises up and deposes presidents, kings, and governors, then we’ve also got to give Him credit for these guys — Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Herod, Pilate, Nero, Caligula, Attila, Genghis Kahn, Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Napoleon, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Al-Assad … Here’s my take — Whether or not “your guy” wins next week, the winner is “God’s guy,” and He will use that guy for His purposes, not yours or mine.
The weeks and months leading up to the election saw voters screaming that “evil” Donald Trump was so morally bankrupt that if he were elected president for another four years America’s democracy would be in shambles. At the same time, Americans who voted the other direction were loudly trumpeting the downfall of the same if the “wicked” Biden-Harris ticket won.
It’s clear in scripture that God raises up and deposes government leaders. That means that every leader of every human government has only come to power because God allowed it to happen. It also means that God cares deeply for the human beings who are being led and governed, and in the big picture of human affairs, God has one endgame, an ultimate plan, for both leaders and the governed.
The apostle Paul’s letters to a few first-century house churches — writings that comprise about half of the “books,” and roughly 30% of the words, of the New Testament — are the only place in all the world’s literature where God’s big-picture endgame is revealed. Paul unfolds it in one sentence in his letter to a little church in Ephesus, which is located in present-day Turkey. He wrote: “His (God’s) intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:10-11)
In other words, I think Paul is saying, God has called out of all earthly nations a people set apart — the church — whose common allegiance is to Jesus, and whose common purpose and most important function is this: To make known on earth “the manifold wisdom of God” to celestial powers, meaning rebellious angelic beings who’ve been given authority to rule over all earthly beings who haven’t submitted themselves to the rule and reign of Christ (Ephesians 2:2, 5:6). And what is the manifold wisdom of God but the gospel plan of salvation for all mankind … God’s endgame!
If we we choose to participate in this cosmic struggle, this ongoing divine battle, then Paul also provides marching instructions in the same letter. In the famous Armor of God section in chapter 6, he outlines how Christians win at God’s endgame: 1. Acknowledge that our strength comes from the Lord, 2. Protect our thoughts and affections from smut, garbage, and evil, 3. Stand and hold our ground against evil, 4. Love and defend truth, 5. Do what we know is right at all costs, 6. Remain at peace, being assured that the gospel has saved us, 7. Use our faith as protection against the devil’s lies, 8. Actively bring to mind and even speak aloud God’s word and His promises to us, and 9. Pray, pray, pray.
Believer, this is why we were chosen and called by God. If our energies for the last few weeks or months leading up to Election Day were spent on lauding the virtues of one political platform and denigrating the other, while paying little more than lip service to prayer and our higher call, then we were committed to a false and fruitless purpose.
Do we honestly believe that wicked, evil, and godless earthly leaders can thwart the holy and glorious endgame of the Almighty? God will gain His glory by demonstrating both mercy and judgment through human leaders. They are pawns in His hand whether they acknowledge Him or not. He uses them all for His redemptive purpose on earth, which is to draw all men unto Himself. Nothing and no one in all of creation can deny God the glory due His Name.
Just as God spoke in his glory to an ungodly Pharaoh, so he speaks to every leader, governor, and president — whether wicked or good, reprobate or righteous — whom He has ever permitted to have authority over men and women. He says: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Romans 9:17) God used Pharaoh in the deliverance of the children of Israel; Nebuchadnezzar exalted God’s prophet Daniel; the Assyrian and Babylonian kings served both to judge and restore God’s people; Herod, Caiaphas, and Pilate each played roles in perpetrating the greatest injustice in all of history, an act that paradoxically served man’s greatest good — the crucifixion of our Lord. The Roman caesars’ persecution of the early Christians resulted in the more rapid global spread of Christian faith; and redemptive history is still being determined about the fascist regimes of twentieth-century Europe, but they too will, no doubt, eventually prove to have worked out in God’s favor.
Let’s circle back to 2020, to our recent American election. In the past 232 years, Americans have had the right and the privilege to vote in (and at the same time, vote out) our government leaders. That’s 59 presidential elections, the first being the 1788-89 election in which George Washington won by a unanimous decision. In each of these elections, Americans have been blessed with the opportunity to elect officials that we believe will promote the most peaceful union and greatest good in our society, environment, workplaces, churches, and families. And that is how each of us should vote, according to our consciences, and be grateful for the blessing to do so.
But the United States will take its place in a truer history, God’s redemptive reality, and His big-picture endgame. Where America fits into this divine reality, for now, we can only speculate. But the Bible indicates that mankind will eventually get much worse (2 Timothy 3:1-5) and so will our leaders, to the degree that the worst and most wicked leader known to man will be elevated to rule the entire world. The end of the Book (Revelation 13:1-8) foretells of this leader’s cruelty, evil, and blasphemy, and yet (spoiler alert!), the King of kings and Lord of lords will be exalted once again through the destruction of the most satanic of all world leaders.