I know I’m not the only one frustrated by politics, particularly by some of the most recent news. Well, at least I was extremely frustrated when I began to see the direction it was likely to go. Although I can’t understand how we ended up where we are, here we are. If I dwell on it, I will become agitated again, but I have found something else, or rather, Someone else on whom I can dwell, one who brings me peace instead of unrest. Of course, I’m talking about God and His hand throughout history. Several stories come to mind when I think about government, stories that make clear God’s complete control over it.
The first is one I read to my kids this morning. In I Samuel 8, the people of Israel reject God as their king and want a human king. Samuel the prophet tries to dissuade them, but they won’t listen. God responds. The feel of the chapter is: really warn the people about the disadvantages of a king, and if they still want one, let them have one. They’ll learn their lesson the hard way. Then God makes it very clear that He is in control of who will be king by choosing Saul in chapter 9 and later rejecting him and choosing David in his place. We should pray and vote the way we feel God is leading us, but no matter how we vote, God is ultimately the one who chooses who will lead us.
Do you remember the story of Nebuchadnezzar? God used him to bring chastening to the unfaithful people of Israel. We tend to focus on his part in the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego when he makes everybody bow to his golden statue or be thrown into a fire. But do you remember the end of that story? When he sees the miracle of the fire survival with the fourth man, he says, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego…Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb…” (Dan. 3:28-29). Yes, he’s still extremely violent and harsh, but this ungodly selfish man gives praise to God. What’s more, do you remember the end of his story in Daniel? Because he won’t leave his sins and pride to do righteousness and show mercy, God makes him lose his mind to the point of him eating grass in the fields with nails and hair growing wild for a long time. Then, in a very unlikely turn of events (without God), he not only regains his sanity, his kingdom, and his greatness, but more is added (Dan. 4). He uses the rest of his time to “praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven” (Dan. 4:37). WHAAAT? A power-hungry, proud, self-aggrandizing dictator completely changed and bowing before God? This should be no surprise, though. The Bible says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1).
The next I think about is the succession of judgments on mighty kings in the book of Isaiah. In these chapters, it is communicated that God uses one wicked nation to bring punishment on another wicked nation. Afterwards, He uses yet another nation to punish the first. Although none of these nations submit themselves to Him, He brings them to power, He uses them, and then He judges them. However, it’s not all judgment. He wants all to come to repentance. In Isaiah 19, after these words about Egypt are given: “The princes of Memphis are deluded…The LORD has mixed within her a spirit of distortion; They have led Egypt astray in all that it does” (Isa. 19:13-14), these amazing words follow: “The LORD will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the LORD, and He will respond to them and will heal them” (Isa. 19:22). He uses these evil nations to bring each other to Him.
God is in control. He is the one who chooses our leaders, even when they don’t seem to us to be good choices. He can and does change leaders’ hearts to worship Him. And in the upside-down way (to us) He often works, He uses evil men to ultimately bring healing and restoration. I am not saying that any of the presidential candidates are necessarily evil–I don’t know them well enough to say that. I am saying, however, that we have nothing to fear with God in charge. We may see hard times, but if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (Jas. 4:8) and help us through those times. Most importantly, He uses hard times for good.
Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer. Please join me in praying for our nation, that no matter who God chooses as our next president, that He will use him or her to bring healing to our nation, and that He will also draw the heart of that leader to praise and exalt Him in the end.