With the election of a new president in the United States in the next year, many people are wondering how God allows or chooses someone to become the leader of a nation. Since the church is actually referred to as a nation (1 Peter 2:9; Matthew 21:43) that is called to manifest God’s kingdom and disciple all the other nations of the world (Luke 11:2; Matthew 28:19), it behooves us to understand the theology behind geopolitical movements on the earth.
There is not a simple explanation for geopolitical movements. Some are confused and think that because someone is elected president that this means it was God’s perfect will for this to happen. But, as we explore this topic, it is not that simple. Sometimes a person is placed in a high leadership position as part of the judgment of God over that nation! We will now examine what Scripture teaches.
I. God is sovereign over all nations and places whom He wants over them
1. Daniel 2:37 says that God gave Nebuchadnezzar a kingdom, power, strength, and glory. This is interesting since in this instance God put a person into power who was a pagan and utilized sorcery as part of the Babylonian culture. Of course, later on Nebuchadnezzar was converted to the faith of the one and only true God and proclaimed that His greatness and His kingdom ruled over all the earth. (Daniel 4:34-35 illustrate how Nebuchadnezzar came back to his senses after losing his mind for seven years, only after he admitted that God is the Most High whose kingdom reigns from generation to generation.)
Daniel 4:17 also clearly teaches that God would allow Nebuchadnezzar to be insane so those living in those days would realize that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives them to whomsoever He will, and sets up over them the lowliest of men.”
2. The visions of Daniel in 2:31-45; 4:19-27; 7:1-28; 8:1-28 all teach that God already has plans regarding which kingdoms and/or kings will rule throughout human history. (The visions of chapters 2 and 7 predict the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, and then, finally, the Kingdom of God being made manifest on the earth by the saints of the Most High God.)
II. Oftentimes God chooses non-believers to be kings over nations
1. Because of God’s common grace even unbelieving civil leaders are called deacons in His kingdom. (Read Romans 13:4, in which an unsaved Roman ruler is called a “minister of God,” which in the original Greek is the same word that is translated “deacon.”)
2. In Isaiah 45:1 Cyrus, the non-believing Persian king, is called the anointed of God to subdue nations under Him.
3. In Nehemiah 2 God uses a pagan king named Artaxerxes to help Nehemiah rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.
4. In Romans 13:1-7 God tells the church to submit to those He has placed in governing authority. There is no mention of submitting to these authorities only if they are believers.
5. In regards to the presidential elections, we must understand that just because a person is elected president does not mean they are walking with God or have the blessing of God in every decision or policy they enact.
III. Sometimes God personally chooses kings because of their covenant with Him
1. God chose David as king because he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 16:1-13; Acts 13:22).
2. God’s perfect will is to pick rulers who rule in righteousness (Proverbs 8:15-16). Sometimes the church does not give God much of a choice in regards to picking the presidential candidates. The last presidential election was one of the weakest in recent memory regarding the available options to elect a godly leader who has biblical standards for their political platform. The church needs to go beyond just praying for the elections; we need to train leaders who will be the future presidents!
3. The books of Samuel and Kings also teach how, even though God personally chose Solomon, Jehu, Saul, and others to be kings to rule for Him, they eventually turned back from following the Lord. For example, 1 Samuel 15:10-11, 16:14 show how God was eventually grieved that He chose Saul as king of Israel.
IV. Sometimes leaders are given power over a nation because of the judgment of God
1. If indeed the United States elects a candidate that will perpetuate the murder of the innocent unborn and policies detrimental to our economy, then God is giving our nation what’s called a “judgment leader.” That is to say, a leader we deserve because of our sinfulness, in the same way that Israel cried out for a king even though God warned them that a king that would appeal to them would also oppress them (1 Samuel 8:4-20). This also is similar to when God finally grants individual people the full desires of their sinful hearts as a judgment to them (Romans 1:24-32).
2. The Bible teaches that Pharaoh was raised up by God so that He could demonstrate His power over all the earth in His judgments against Egypt by delivering Israel from slavery (Romans 9:17).
3. Habakkuk 1:6 shows how God raised up the king of Babylon for the purpose of coming into the land of Israel to judge them for turning away from the law of God, even though the Babylonians did not know this because they were heathen.
4. Second Samuel 24:13 says that one of the choices God gave to David regarding His judgment of Israel was for enemy nations to come and chase him for three months and ravage the land.
My prayer is that our next president, irrespective of their present walk with the Lord, will turn with all his heart to the Lord Jesus Christ for His divine guidance and help so that he will enact policies that will continue the greatness of this country and not diminish the greatness and influence of this nation.