Know Your Bible

VOL. 8                           December 6, 2009                           NO. 48

How Could Our Present Administration Be "Ordained Of God" (Rom. 13:1)?

      It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that our national leaders are increasingly becoming out of touch and in many cases at odds with principles on which our country was founded. The "Judeo-Christian Values" which seemed to be the core of much or our government's policy for years, are being traded for humanism, Marxism  socialism, and government sanctioned and promoted immorality.

      Some hope to sweep against this tide through elections, but their hopes are often crushed by election defeats. Then, some candidates who promise certain things in campaigns turn out to be no better and sometimes even worse than their predecessors when in the office elected to.

      Yet, Paul said, "there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained by God" (Rom. 13:1).  Some ask the question forming the title of our article and see a "disconnect." It could be reworded this way: "How could so many of the anti-God, anti-Christian, immoral politicians we have in Congress who seem bent on belittling Scriptural values be what the Scriptures call "God's minister"?

      For a proper perspective, our present age is not the first to struggle with this question. Every generation since the first century has faced this including the first Christians who lived under the political thumb of one of the more immoral and oppressive governments toward disciples ever, the Roman Empire. However, it was to saints living in the very capital of that ancient society that Paul wrote, "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are ordained by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works but to evil...For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain: for his is God's minister, and avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Rom. 13:1-4). Obviously, the above words constitute God's design for civil government. "The fact that governments sometimes turn out bad, and do unjust things, does not prove Paul's statement to be untrue. The devil sometimes controls the actions of governments, but that does not prove that all governments belong to the devil" (R.L. Whiteside, A New Commentary on Paul's Letter To The Saints At Rome, pg. 258). Whenever government demanded Christians to do anything contrary to God's Will, Christians were taught, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). The same is true now.

      How then could evil regimes, cruel dictators, or even our present administration be "ordained by God"?

      The answer is not that these people are seeking to serve God and do His revealed will necessarily, any more than Assyria sought to serve God when they took Israel captive (Isa. 10:5-10). Rather, they were serving God's overall or bigger purposes; His overall providential will as He rules in the affairs of men.

      For example, during the days leading to the destruction of Samaria and captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel, there were some good people in Israel. However, as a whole or nation overall, they rebelled against Jehovah (Isa. 1:2-17). God used the character, circumstances, and power of Assyria to chastise Israel as a nation by taking them captive. Good and righteous people in Israel were not held responsible for the sins of their brethren, yet they suffered the consequences of captivity. Those good people must have wondered, "How could these anti-Jehovah, anti-Law, immoral, idolatrous Assyrians be "servants of God"? The answer -- God said, "Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hand is My indignation. I will send him (Assyria) against an ungodly nation (Israel), and against the people of my wrath I will give him charge, to seize the spoil, to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Yet he does not mean so, nor does his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy, and cut off not a few nations" (Isa. 10:5-7).

      Assyria did not desire to do God's will and be the "rod of" His anger. Their desire was to stroke their egos and satisfy their desire for uninterrupted conquest of surrounding nations. However, God used such to accomplish His overall will in chastening Israel for their sins.

      How though was Israel's captivity a part of God's overall providential will? During the days of Moses God warned, "But if thy heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away; and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess" (Deut. 30:15-17). Therefore, while God desired their faithfulness, He promised their expulsion from the land if they were unfaithful. How did He do that?  The Assyrians answered His call! They fulfilled a promise made over seven hundred years previous to the fact.

    God did the same to the southern kingdom of Judah using the Babylonians (Hab. 1:5-11). Isaiah predicted that a man would arise by the name of Cyrus. The Lord called this Persian king His "anointed" who would carry out His will, allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem following seventy years in captivity (Isa. 44:26-45:5). Yet, Cyrus did not know Jehovah (Isa. 45:4,5). This Old Testament teaching indicates that God is in control and can use the character of people, whether good or bad, circumstances, nations, and events to bring about His overall will. This non-miraculous power of God bringing together what seems coincidental, is called "providence."

---Phillip Owens
(To Be Continued)

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Don't Stay Away From Church Because...
* You are a poor...There is no admission charge.
* It rains...Most of us go to work when it rains, the building doesn’t leak.
* It is hot...The building has air conditioning.
* No one invited you...We go to other places we’re not invited.
* You have little children...We have classes for all ages.
* You don’t like the preacher...He’s human just as you are. You might not like another either.
* There are hypocrites in the church...You associate with hypocrites everyday.
* You have guests in your home...They will admire you for your  loyalty if you go anyway.
* You need a weekend vacation...No one can escape from God.
* Your clothes are not expensive...You aren’t coming to a fashion show. Consider John the Immerser.
* Church standards are too high...Are they any higher than the Biblical standards for the church?

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