The Most High Rules - Whoever Wins in November
The Founders of our country were often at odds about what kind of nation they were forming. In the summer of 1787, as the Constitutional Convention wore on and contention grew, Benjamin Franklin rose and said this to his colleagues: “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”
As the campaign season begins in earnest, it is well we remember Franklin’s wise words. While God holds Christian citizens accountable for participating wisely and responsibly in the political life of our nation, we need to consider some essential truths of His Word as we consider the upcoming election.
First, God is sovereign. The One Who spoke the universe into being is unshaken by the transient ups-and-downs of primaries and politicians. The Book of Daniel reminds us that even as “He changes times and seasons,” so “He removes kings and sets up kings.” Later, Daniel writes that “the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men” (Daniel 2:21, 4:17).
We do not serve a God Who looks down on human affairs in anguish, hoping that His plan won’t be thwarted. Instead, the psalmist tells us that as “the kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed,” “He Who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” and will “break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2).
Those who know this same God and His Anointed, the Lord Jesus Christ, can take comfort that whatever befalls, He is allowing what He wills and will achieve His purposes. Indeed, “All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless” (Isaiah 40:17). This does not mean He is unconcerned with human affairs or does not care deeply for the well-being of those He has made in His image. Rather, this is an indictment of pretense, of those political leaders who strut arrogantly on the world stage and believe their military or economic power make God irrelevant.
Moreover, no political regime can deter the spread of the gospel. In a vision of the heavenly state to come, John the Apostle wrote that he saw “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10). Around the world today, millions of our fellow believers are suffering for Jesus’s sake. Some might be in a North Korean prison camp. Others might live under threat from Islamist terrorists in Nigeria or are imprisoned in Chinese jails. And yet more live under the tension of knowing that simply saying, “Jesus is Lord” could result in firing or demotion or professional humiliation.
It is in this context that God is redeeming “those who are being saved” (Acts 2:47). He reaches and saves who He wills. Neither death nor imprisonment nor anything else in all creation can stop the redeeming work of God’s Spirit in the hearts and minds of people around the globe.
Finally, at a time of massive government overreach here at home, those who know the Lord need to bear in mind how His Word has defined and limited government’s role. The religion of statism — the idea that government can both meet all human needs and deserves deference from those living under it — is a subtle disease in the American body politic. It must be challenged, respectfully but consistently, by those who understand the state’s appropriate jurisdiction and duties.
Romans 13:1-7 and I Peter 2:13-17 make clear that government is, in God’s design, intended to punish those who violate just laws and protect those who abide by them. Government requires taxes of us, and we’re to pay them, in part to pay for those who “bear the sword” on our behalf (Romans 13:4). And the fact that the Lord calls on government to defend us implies that human life is supremely valued by God. This includes, of course, those little ones living in the womb.
There’s much more to say, but let’s not forget that the Lord Christ “will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). The purposes of the Most High are being, as they always have been, intricately woven into every political decision that is made. We who know Him can rest in this eternal truth, even as we take our part in honoring Him as citizens of our beloved country.
Rob Schwarzwalder, Ph.D., is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.