To prevent chaos in society God has put authorities in place to govern us. We are to obey them, not because they are perfect, but because of Who has given them the privilege and responsibility attached to their position. We are commended by God for doing so. We are to be governed by any rules that do not violate those given to us by our ultimate Authority—God. When His instructions put us into conflict with the perversities of the authorities that govern us, they may condemn us, but He will commend our obedience to Him whatever the cost to us.
It’s fascinating to read how some pagan kings came to understand God’s sovereignty over the nations, including their own. As we have seen, Nebuchadnezzar was one of these. The king is quoted as saying: “The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people”[i] Later, when he allowed pride to cause him to attribute his position to his own ability, God reminded him verbally, and then physically, of just who had given Him the privilege of ruling: “Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, ‘This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and give them to anyone he wishes.’ Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled…”[ii]
Nebuchadnezzar’s experience certainly fulfilled what is said in Psalm 76:10-12, “Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained. Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfil them; let all the neighbouring lands brings gifts to the One to be feared. He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth.”
The magnificence of the rule of God is eloquently described in verses such as those we find in Isaiah 40:22-24, “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heaven like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.”
Those of us who live in democratic societies vote based on the best information and understanding we have. But even those votes, and the result coming from them, are subject to the will of God. Proverbs 16:33 tells us, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Our candidate may not win, and though we disagree and are disappointed, we must understand our limitations. We do not see the “big picture” of what God is doing when He allows those to rule who might not be our choice, or when we live to regret our choice when our candidate fails to live up to our expectations.