For the Lord of Hosts has purposed, and who can annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?
Isaiah 14:27 (ESV)
God has ordained the time and place of our dwelling. “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Ultimately, we did not choose the country in which we would live. God did. There are different types of governments in the world, and we read in Scripture that all of these governmental authorities have been given by God (Romans 13:1).
The Scriptures makes clear that Christians, no matter which country they inhabit, have certain responsibilities to the nation in which they live. First of all, believers, like other citizens, are to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:15-22). Paul told the Roman believers that they were to pay taxes because the governing authorities were ministers of God on their behalf. They were to pay what was owed them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, etc. (Romans 13:6-7)
Secondly, believers are to submit to governing authorities. We read this in Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 3:5-6, and Titus 3:1. Paul is writing in regards to the Roman Empire! Of course, when man’s laws contradict God’s Word, we must obey the Word (Acts 5:29). But in the general course of our lives, we must obey and submit to those over us. Just as an example, believers should respect and obey the speed limit on our roads. We should respect and obey other driving laws that are designed to keep the public safe. In America, driving in the left-hand lane will cause accidents and death. In Britain, driving in the right-hand lane will cause accidents and death. Each nation’s rules should be respected and obeyed.
Thirdly, believers are called to pray for those in authority over us. Paul told Timothy to urge the believers in Ephesus that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we might lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). How do I pray for our leaders? First of all, I pray that God would grant them a humble spirit and that they would seek the wisdom that comes from God. I pray that they would acknowledge God as the sovereign King and recognize that they are accountable to Him. I pray that they would seek wisdom from God’s Word, which is truth, and which speaks to every issue of life. I pray that they would fear God and not man or other nations, and would seek to please God. I pray that God would protect their marriages and families. I pray that they would pursue righteousness and forsake the spirit of our relativistic age. “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will” (Proverbs 21:1). I pray that God would use these leaders for His own sovereign purposes. There are many others areas where prayer is needed for our leaders, but these are just a few.
Fourthly, as mentioned in the verse above and in Romans 12:18, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” No question that believers must speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves (such as the unborn and the weak), and believers should stand up for what is right in other areas (such as God’s design for marriage as one man, and one woman, for life). But we should be respectful. Yes, we must be bold and courageous, but we should never be arrogant. We should strive to live at peace and to be an example of godliness. Yes, we must contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), but we must not be contentious! We won’t go around looking for a fight, but we won’t back down from one either!
I take great comfort today in the fact God is working His sovereign plan and He can be totally trusted. Our lives, as children of God, are absolutely secure! The only way I can truly rest and press on is to know that God is doing something that is so much bigger than what my feeble eyes can see and what my ignorant mind can comprehend. This morning in my devotions and prayer time, a hymn that we sometimes sing at RBC came to mind and I found that it eased my anxiety over our troubled land and helped me to rest in God’s sovereignty. The hymn was written by Margaret Clarkson and is entitled “O Father You Are Sovereign.” The second verse says this:
O Father you are sovereign in all affairs of man;
No powers of death and darkness can thwart your perfect plan.
All chance and change transcending, supreme in time and space,
You hold your trusting children secure in your embrace.
O what a great and mighty God we serve! There is none like Him! One day Nebuchadnezzar stood on his roof and looked over Babylon and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” But a voice came from heaven, “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdoms of men and gives it to whom he will.” Then, after his humiliation, Nebuchadnezzar, this pagan king, blessed God and declared, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the hosts of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
Praise be to God! He rules! So RBC, let us trust Him. Let us love Him. Let us submit to Him as our King!
I love you all!