Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | November 4, 2020


(4 Minute Read. 4Nov2020)

Last week’s blog Fear Not! prompted an important question submitted as a comment by a reader. Here is what reader Michael asked:

If He [God] appoints the leaders of men, why would He appoint Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il and on and on back through time? Does “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” apply in such instances? As a believer I find this extremely vexing.

Here are my thoughts on this insightful question.

First, I affirm that the Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the universe is completely sovereign over the universe. He certainly did appoint Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il, et al to rule and govern. This is clear from multiple Scripture passages, as God Himself tells us He is sovereign over leaders and their power.

Based on his vision from God, Daniel spoke these words to Nebuchadnezzar, an arrogant, profane, and tyrannical king of Babylon who was highly oppressive and problematic for God’s people.
May the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
It is He who changes the times and the periods;
He removes kings and appoints kings.
(Daniel 2:20-21)

Nebuchadnezzar himself heard a voice from heaven say,
The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will. (Daniel 4:32)

God did not hesitate to say the same thing about the Egyptian king of Moses’ time. Pharaoh was a cruel oppressor who repeatedly flouted Yahweh’s direct commands to let Israel leave Egypt. God said to Pharaoh,
But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. (Exodus 9:16 ESV)

The Apostle Paul repeated this when explaining God’s sovereign decisions:
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very reason I raised you up, in order to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. (Romans 9:17-18)

Again the Apostle Paul emphasized that all authorities and powers are created by and subject to Jesus Christ.
For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1 ESV)

Second, asking “Why?” God sometimes chooses wicked rulers is a question that humans often cannot fully answer. The Lord does as He pleases, including using the wicked for His own purposes.
The LORD does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. (Psalm 135:6)
The LORD works out everything to its proper end — even the wicked for a day of disaster. (Proverbs 16:4).
Who works all things according to the counsel of His will. (Ephesians 1:11)
I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

Third, how should Christians respond to wicked rulers?

Again, the Apostle Paul gives the answer:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1 ESV)

Paul’s instruction was given when Christians were under the thumb of cruel and wicked Roman caesars. Paul’s epistle to the Romans was written from Corinth about 58 A.D. when Nero was the Roman emperor. Nero reigned 54-68 A.D. and is remembered as a cruel and debauched tyrant. Yet Paul ordered obedience to his authority.

Though difficult, this is a consistent truth of Scripture, echoed often. We are given repeated instructions about how to trust the Lord when under problematic leaders. Yes, it is often vexing. For example, Hebrews 11 acknowledges multiple agonizing outcomes that have occurred for faithful disciples; some have even been “sawn in two.” (See especialy verses 35-38.) That takes a strong confidence in Yahweh’s eternal wisdom and inscrutable hand on a believer’s life for good, especially when you can’t figure it out in human terms.

1 Peter 2:12-23 has extensive insights about this demanding and distressing situation. When we acquit ourselves righteously under difficult authority, we inspire others to glorify God. We literally do it “for the Lord’s sake.” Furthermore, by some remarkable divine dynamic, it will “silence the ignorance of foolish men.“ We are directly following Jesus who submitted to excruciating injustice and mistreatment by unworthy rulers.
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God, that by doing right you silence the ignorance of foolish people. (1 Peter 2:13-15)

The only Biblical exception seems to be when a governing edict is in clear contradiction to God’s Word. In the time of Moses, the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah defied Pharaoh‘s command to kill all newborn Hebrew males, and God approved and rewarded them for it (Exodus 1:15-21). The Apostles Peter and John illustrated this in response to Jewish orders to stop teaching about Jesus.
But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20 ESV)

It is instructive that Moses respected Pharaoh’s authority throughout their conflict. Moses did not lead Israel out of Egypt until Pharaoh granted permission. (Exodus 12:31-32)

No matter who governs America, the Great Creator reigns supreme. And I will continue to contend earnestly for the faith and for the defense of the gospel, destroying speculations against the knowledge of God because that is Biblical (Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16).

Fear not” is Yahweh’s everlasting word to His people. Place your trust in Him.

Question Mark Cufflinks

Questions to Ponder

1. What other Bible examples show the Great Creator working His amazing plan through unjust authority?
2. When have you seen God’s glory unfold through an oppressive leader?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

For Christ and His Kingdom. Soli Deo Gloria. Alere Flammam Veritatis.

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday November 4, 2020 A.D.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18 ESV)

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  1. Very good and enlightening article.
    Thank You. Keeps everything in perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a hard teaching. But one we desperately need. Thank you so much! It comes at a fortuitous time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Special Creation Woman and commented:
    This is especially encouraging to me. I hope you will enjoy it, too. I was amazed to realize that Moses never led Israel out until Pharaoh granted permission. Please, if you enjoy this article, be sure to thank the one who wrote it. Blessings on you, dear readers!

    Liked by 1 person

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