Let me say this at the onset that no good government is perfect. I mentioned the word good as opposed to a wicked government wherein leaders govern as dictators and tyrannical rulers suppressing human freedom without love, respect, and compassion for her constituents.
The apostle Paul, under the setting of a Roman government who colonized Jerusalem, fully yielded himself to the authority of the emperor as long as his faith is not under attack. This is what he wrote in his letter to the saints in Rome,
“Every person should obey the government in power. No government would exist if it hadn’t been established by God. The governments which exist have been put in place by God. Therefore, whoever resists the government opposes what God has established. Those who resist will bring punishment on themselves. People who do what is right don’t have to be afraid of the government. But people who do what is wrong should be afraid of it. Would you like to live without being afraid of the government? Do what is right, and it will praise you. The government is God’s servant working for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid. The government has the right to carry out the death sentence. It is God’s servant, an avenger to execute God’s anger on anyone who does what is wrong. Therefore, it is necessary for you to obey, not only because you’re afraid of God’s anger but also because of your own conscience. That is also why you pay your taxes. People in the government are God’s servants while they do the work he has given them.” – Rom. 13:1-6
When the letter to the saints in Rome was written by Paul, the date was AD 58 while he was in Corinth. It was in AD 49 that the Jewish believers were expelled by the Roman authorities but the edict was repealed in AD 54 giving them the chance to return. However, when Paul wrote that passage, he referred to authorities in general whether believer or unbeliever is in the position of power. As Dr. Adam Clarke comments,
“As God is the origin of power and the Supreme Governor of the universe, he delegates authority to whomsoever he will; and though in many cases the governor himself may not be of God, yet civil government is of him; for without this there could be no society, no security, no private property; all would be confusion and anarchy, and the habitable world would soon be depopulated.”
If what the leader does contradicts the very principle and values of God’s word, then we must take our stand to speak in freedom, but without maligning and rebelling against our leaders. After all, he can remove presidents, kings, and leaders in their place of position if He wants to. As the prophet, Daniel writes,
“He changes times and periods of history. He removes kings and establishes them. He gives wisdom to those who are wise and knowledge to those who have insight.” Dan. 2:21
This is why we always need to pray for our leaders, especially in this very difficult time. Let us ask the Lord for His wisdom to guide them because they cannot do it alone. And the people should be truly thankful when they have leaders who fear the Lord.
“First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people, for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way. This is good and pleases God our Savior.” – 1 Tim. 2:1-3
Now, there is a difference between submitting to a president’s leadership and speaking out from your conviction the things that you don’t agree with, in terms of how he runs things. I can submit to his leadership by becoming a good citizen of this nation and abide by what he passes as new laws of the land, which don’t harm humanity by trusting that the president knows what he is doing.
On the other hand, I am also free to speak out what I believe is in accord with God’s Holy Word, the Bible, without maligning and destroying the reputation of all the government leaders while abiding by their directives. At the end of the day, they are still the leaders of the land. If the president says one needs to be inside their own home during a coronavirus plague, then let’s heed the advice for this is the right thing to do according to the law of the land to protect more lives. Let the Lord use the president’s human and practical wisdom to fulfill His divine plan and destiny for our nation.
I remember one president said to this effect that if the people will fight against the government, then they will only find themselves on the losing end. Assuming the government is good and was established by God Himself, then he is right. If the people do not like how the president runs the country, then they cannot just go out always toppling the government every time they disagree with the legislation. They may not understand everything the government is doing, but this is where they need to trust God to guide their government leaders because He sees everything. Dr. Ravi Zacharias’ wisdom is in place when he wrote,
“But alas! Let us not lose heart. I always bank on the heartfelt prayers of God’s people. Ultimately, He will overrule and bring about what He deems we need the most for this hour. Whether it be in blessing or judgment, time will tell.”
Using an airplane pilot and his co-pilot as an illustration, the respected Christian apologist also said,
“Communicate with the controller
“Comply with the instructions
“That’s the code I’m following. I am speaking my heart out to the Lord and am at peace that He will do His will. I will put my head down on the pillow that night and wake up with the promise that He is in charge. He can change the heart of a king. My life is in my Lord’s hands, however daunting the glimpse of what lies ahead.”
Dr. Zacharias said it well. Let’s trust God. After all, He can overrule anyone no matter how powerful that person is. Remember, every president and government leader needs the prayers of the people at this moment of crisis!
Picture Courtesy: History.com