On November 8th, 2016, Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. Many people did not think that Trump would reach the presidency, and once he did, most, including myself, felt that it would quickly result in catastrophe. As President Trump settled into the office, I gradually calmed. Still, when one looks at the political situation and escalating tensions created of late by Trump’s policies, there is only one way to describe it, volatile. America is not the only country facing an unstable political climate. All around the world, nations are experiencing turmoil, the Coronavirus pandemic has left us scrambling for a new normal, Brexit has shaken the United Kingdom, Venezuela is in shambles, and Australia has seen more leadership spills in the last ten years than any other time in history.
The actions of these leaders beg the question, has God put these unstable situations in motion? Does He install seemingly incompetent and dangerous world leaders into powerful positions?
Early in the Bible, it is evident that God appoints leaders. God anoints prophets to spread the word. In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, years before the Kings of Israel are mentioned, God set rules in motion for the kings. God knows that his people will not see his leadership as enough- they will want to appear like the surrounding nations and have a king. God makes provisions for the mistakes of humanity before they are even made. In Deuteronomy 17:14-20 God outlines that their King should be a fellow Israelite, that they must not acquire a high number of horses or take many wives (to avoid foreign influence), he is not to gather vast riches, and he must adhere to the law. I am sure as you were reading that you thought about some of the kings you know of from the Old Testament and how they most definitely did not measure up to these standards. Many kings had multiple wives, and some kings flaunted their kingdom’s wealth. God is shown to be heavily involved in this monarchy; he even sends his Prophet Samuel to anoint the first Kings of Israel- Saul and David. God has an investment in who is leading and wishes to do the best for the people.
In Exodus, the reader repeatedly is told that Pharaoh’s heart has hardened, and intriguingly it is implied in modern translations that it was actually God who did this. God brings the plagues on Egypt, weakening the kingdom and leading to the release of God’s people. God is willing to act in the business of non-Israelite countries and can use them for his plan. Samuel is even called sometimes to anoint kings from other nations. Foreign politics appear to be inside of God’s domain.
There is no question that rulers have done terrible things. Just in the last hundred years, there have been innumerable crimes against humanity overseen by various world leaders. The actions of dictators are still fresh in the global conscience, and today, as the political climate remains turbulent, it appears that humanity’s future existence lies in the hands of just a few individuals.
In Romans 13:1 it says “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (NIV). The verse is clear, God appoints kings and is meant to be perfect in all of His ways, but the political system certainly is not. Romans 13 goes onto equate rebellion against a government with rebellion against God. Therefore, if one has fallen under corrupt leadership, there is nothing that they can do.
However, in Hosea 8:4, God laments that:
“They set up kings without my consent;
they choose princes without my approval.
With their silver and gold
they make idols for themselves
to their own destruction.”
This verse indicates that some kings are not ordained. God does his best with a bad situation. He cannot stop the natural consequences of sin from touching a leader and therefore, their people. The dream of King Nebuchadnezzar outlined in Daniel 2, shows the rise and fall of the world’s significant empires with pinpoint accuracy. It appears that God already knows the direction that the leadership will take and allows kingdoms to rise and fall. Daniel 2:21 says “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.”
It would be wrong to allow atrocities to happen without speaking a word. There are some situations where one must act. In Acts 5:29 it says “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘we must obey God rather than men’” when speaking about rebelling against the Jewish leader’s mandate to not talk about Jesus. In Daniel 3, when challenged to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s statue as an act of worship, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse and God is with them through the fire. When the laws of God and the requirements of men clash, the laws of God emerge victorious.
Ellen White, a prolific Christian author, wrote just before the eradication of slavery in America. In her book Testimonies for the Church, White wrote “When the laws of men conflict with the word and law of God, we are to obey the latter, whatever the consequences may be. The law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey; and he must abide the consequences of violating this law.”
Humanity must feel the consequences of their rebellion against God, and so at times, the brunt of a corrupt leader must be felt. We may individually choose to make God the King of our lives, but that will only happen for nations at his second coming. In the meantime, we are to help those around us in whatever way we can, as we are told in Matthew 22:39 to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
Kings and leaders rise and fall, but God remains constant. Ultimately, God is in control. No matter what earthly authorities say, it is Him and only Him who is in control. In this increasingly worrisome political situation, I challenge you to cling firmly to God and to make him the leader of your life, as unlike this earth, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
 Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 201, 202
By Kira-leigh Josey