The following five points are fundamental when we correlate God and government:
1. God rules over every government on the face of the earth
2 Chronicles 20:6 confirms this fact when it asks a very pertinent question to God: “Do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?“. Equally interesting in this verse is the word “nation”. The word refers to the heathen, Gentiles, or foreign nations (i.e. non-Jewish nations). This indicates that God sovereignly rules over every nation and people on the face of the earth ultimately. There is no government on the face of the earth that can withstand or resist Him or His will.
2. God leads & directs the decisions of presidents & rulers of nations
Proverbs 21:1 is profound. It states that “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; like the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wishes.” This means that no president nor ruler of any nation is outside of God’s influence and control. Whether that ruler makes good or bad decisions, he does so by the sovereign hand of Almighty God.
3. Every government is sovereignly appointed by God Himself
Romans 13:1 is clear about this when it states that “there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God”. When the Bible refers to governors it speaks of them as “those who are sent by Him” (for example,1 Peter 2:14). Jesus Himself recognised that the Father alone bestows authority on political rulers when He told Pilate: “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). The reality is that even wicked governments are appointed by God to do His will, and His will sometimes includes the judgement of a nation or chastening of the saints. The fact that governments are appointed by the Lord has powerful repercussions. The outcome of a national election, for instance, becomes the prerogative of the Lord.
4. Sons of God must reject & resist the ungodly laws of their government
Some Christians may have a problem with this, but it is biblical nonetheless. Let’s look at an incident from the Book of Daniel. “There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up…But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated” (Daniel 3:12, 18-19).
Nebuchadnezzer was the king of Babylon. He represents the government or regime of the day. In this incident Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to comply with Nebuchadnezzar’s ungodly laws & national prescriptions. Their defiance infuriated the king. We need to emulate their example. We should be confronting our government when righteousness is at stake.
Many Christians believe that they should not confront governments. They quote Romans 13:1 which calls Christians to be “subject to governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). However to submit to a government does not mean we blindly consent to their ungodly laws. God will hold us responsible if we do. So, while we obey Romans 13:1 by recognising & respecting the authority of the current government, we also obey the Book of Daniel which calls to confront, resist and protest against their ungodly laws.
5. The role of government is to be a terror to evil
This was an accepted fact in the New Testament church. The apostle Peter described governors as “those who are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers” (1 Peter 2:14). Likewise the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 13:3 that “rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.” According to Paul the government of the day is “God’s minister to you for good”. Government bears the sword to strike terror in the hearts of those who practice evil. The role of government in the nations of the world is to “execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:4).
Citizens pay taxes to government to be a terror and dread to evil doers. This is made clear in Romans 13:6. Our taxes are supposed to ensure our safety and security as citizens. Even Paul enjoyed protection because of his Roman citizenship. Unfortunately today many governments across the nations have abdicated this responsibility. Criminals have been given excessive rights and privileges and nations are becoming more and more lawless.