Of God and Kings

“The most serious problems afflicting our society today are manifestly moral, behavioral, and spiritual, and therefore are remarkably resistant to government cures.” William Bennet – American Enterprise Magazine

I was only 8 years old when John F. Kennedy died, but I can still remember being let out of school early that day, and walking home alone and deeply saddened by this tragedy. I also remember reading a handful of biographies about our earliest presidents in those elementary school years. All of that to say, I have fairly closely followed presidential politics since I was a child. And many years later my sense is not much has changed. We Americans still place way too much hope in our elected leaders. And way too little hope in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

President Dwight Eisenhower was on to something when he declared, “Without God, there could be no American form of Government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic, expression of Americanism.” While I’m thankful for American Presidents that have made similar statements (until recent times), mere “recognition” will not deliver us from this widespread malady of misplaced hope.

Rather I would like to contend that we need fresh revelation of this Supreme Being that the Bible calls “the living God” (Deut. 5:26), “the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth;” (Jer. 9:23,24), and the Most High God (Daniel 4:2), etc. By the way, do you know who spoke of God as “the Most High God”in Daniel 4:2? It wasn’t a prophet or priest. Rather it was an earthly king and for a time an evil one called Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was called to serve under this man of tremendous ego, and he very passionately and compassionately exhorted him to turn from his sin based on the dream Daniel interpreted for him (Daniel 4:19-27). King Neb chose not to, and “the Most High God” put this most powerful earthly king on all fours out in the pasture until he was ready to fully repent (which according to Daniel 4:36,37 – he eventually did).

Lest we think that was an isolated event, some years later, God this time takes the life (via an assassin) of King Belshazzar for his blatant godlessness (see Daniel ch. 5).

None of this should surprise us. God so wants to be known as the God who exercises “justice and righteousness on earth” even with the most powerful governmental leaders on the planet that He chose to devote the second Psalm to this reality, wherein He reveals the triune God as One who “sits in the heavens and laughs” (vs. 4) at the schemes and plans and blasphemies of earthly kings and presidents and premiers (vs. 1-3). He has always had and will always have the last word.

Lest we think “well that was the Old Testament”, might I remind you of the worm devoured King Herod in Acts chapter 12, whom God struck because “he did not give God the glory…” (vs. 23).

Now I’m not encouraging us to hope for worms or assassins to take out our most evil government leaders. Our heart needs to be God’s heart (for all government leaders), who said through the prophet Ezekiel once, “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live….” (Ezekiel 33:11)

Rather I’m pleading for disciples of Jesus Christ today to devote ourselves anew to knowing our God, so that while we may and should (in my view) be involved in the political process to some degree, never will our hope be in those we vote for, nor will our hopes be dashed by those whom God allows for a time to rule in wickedness. May the living God open the eyes of our hearts today to see Him in all of His glory and majesty, and may we with Him smile at the future regardless of the temporary reigns He sometimes allows of wicked men and women.

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