Saturday, November 5, 2016

What Does the Bible Say about Electing Leaders?

Photo by Martin Falbisoner

This may seem like a strange question with a very short answer, because in Bible times, there were no nations governed by democratic choice. God Himself was the only authority over Adam and Eve; later He appointed Noah to repopulate the earth (Genesis 8:15-17) and Moses to lead His people (Exodus 3:10-22). The book of Judges describes how God designated various judges to govern His nations of Judah and Israel (Judges 2:16-23).

Rather than following the righteous example of these judges, the people rebelled against their authority and against God Himself, worshiping false gods (Judges 2:16-23), for “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). Throughout the book, we see the repetitive cycle of man rebelling, followed by God judging His people. Then the people obeyed for a time, and God blessed the nation.

When a nation and its people prosper, and there is relative peace, citizens tend to believe they deserve their good fortune based on their own merits and want no part of God, just as the self-righteous sinner thinks he deserves heaven because of his own good works (Isaiah 64:6), and turns away from God’s Son.

But no man can be saved without trusting Jesus Christ Who died and was buried as the perfect sacrifice to pay for all our sins (John 1:29), and Who rose again (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), proving that He is God and giving eternal life (John 3:16) to all who trust Him as Lord and Savior. Similarly, no nation can be blessed without seeking God’s will, obeying and honoring Him.

Samuel was not only a prophet, but also the last judge appointed by God. Thereafter, the people rebelled completely against God’s plan and demanded that they, like the other nations of the day, have a king. In effect, they were saying that they trusted an earthly king more than they trusted God, and that they rejected God’s reign over them. Through Samuel, God warned Israel of the dangers of having a king rather than judges, for a king would be tempted to use his power for his own self-interest and for that of his family, even if it meant oppressing God’s people (1 Samuel 8:4-22).

But the rebellious people did not listen, so God allowed them to have a series of kings. Thereafter, we again see the cycle of man rebelling, usually under the rule of a king who dishonored God, followed by God’s judgment. Then the people realized their need for God, at least for a while, encouraged to do so by the example of a king who honored and obeyed Him, and the nation prospered by His grace.

At times, God’s judgment on Israel was so severe that He allowed her to be brought into captivity, as in Egypt and Babylon. During New Testament times, Israel was occupied by Roman officials who ruled over cities and nations, ultimately answering to Caesar, a type of emperor. Bible history seems to indicate that God gives nations what they deserve – good rulers when the people obey him, and bad rulers when they rebel. No power can take the throne unless God ordains it (Romans 13:1), “for the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations” (Psalm 22:28).

None of these rulers, even the good kings of Israel and Judah, were elected – they took power via inheriting, capturing, or overthrowing the throne. So based on Scripture, how is a Christian living in a democracy supposed to know how to vote?

First we can look at how God Himself distinguished good kings, like David and Solomon, from bad kings like Saul. David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), and repented earnestly when he fell into sin (Psalm 51). Solomon’s chief desire was for wisdom to know and serve God (1 Kings 3:7-9), even though he was later led astray by alliances with pagan women (1 Kings 11:1-13).

Saul, on the other hand, was driven by greed, pride, and ruthless ambition (1 Samuel 8 - 31; 1 Chronicles 10).  God departed from Saul and deposed him because of his disobedience (1 Samuel 28: 15-19) allowing the nation to be defeated by the Philistines and Saul to die in disgrace (1 Samuel 31)

King Asa was a good king, for he “did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 14:2), including destroying places of pagan worship, and commanding Judah to seek God and follow His laws. God rewarded his faithfulness by blessing the nation with peace, which Asa used productively to build fenced cities (2 Chronicles 14:3-7). Asa cried out to God in prayer to defend Judah against the invading Ethiopians, and God honored that prayer (2 Chronicles 14:11-12)

If we as Christians wish to honor God in our civic duty, first we will humble ourselves before Him in earnest prayer for revival that we and our nation would turn from all wicked ways, knowing that He will hear and forgive us and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). And we must ask Him to give us wisdom as we vote, by choosing leaders who most closely align with His laws. No earthly leader obeys God perfectly, for all are men and women subject to the curse of sin (Romans 3:23).

With voting, as with any decision we face, Christians should seek God’s will, wisdom, and discernment. If we trust Him with all our heart, rather than our own understanding of personalities, political parties or economic issues, and if we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will guide our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Political issues about which Scripture illuminates God’s will include sanctity of life, support of Israel, and sanctity of marriage. God condemned infant sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21); He knew us from even before we were conceived (Psalm 139:16); He guided every step of our development in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-15); and His Spirit indwelled John the Baptist even before he was born, allowing him to recognize and rejoice over Jesus His Savior (Luke 1:41-44).

God has promised to bless the nation that blesses Israel and to curse the nation that curses her (Genesis 12:2-3). Scriptural views on God-ordained marriage as being between one man and one woman begin with the creation of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:21-24) and are reiterated by Jesus (Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12) and Paul (1 Corinthians 6: 15-20; Hebrews 13:4) in the New Testament.

If we are unsure of where candidates stand on these issues, we can check their voting record online and glean their views from their websites or other media. May we continue faithful in prayer for our nation’s spiritual health, and may we give thanks that no matter who wins the election, God is still on His throne!

© 2016 Laurie Collett


Linda said...

Hi Laurie, lots of wisdom here and I love your final comment, God is still on His throne! Amen!

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Linda, for your encouragement. Praise God that He reigns forever and never changes!
Love in Christ,

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
To be honest with you, I feel a sense of unease about having someone like Donald Trump for President, and I can't help feeling a sense of relief that we live in the UK - across 3,000 miles of Atlantic Ocean!
Having said that, however, over here as a nation we seem to have one deity which comes up frequently on television, as well at taught to our children daily at all schools: Evolution, and its messiah: Charles Darwin. And Darwin, of all nationalities, was an Englishman.
This is of great significance here in the UK. Because acceptance of Evolution as scientific fact destroys the credibility of the Gospel. As a result, we have become one of the most unbelieving nations in the western world, leaving us tending to be proud, conceited, arrogant, optimistic, and confident in our self-effort to reach into the heavens without the need for God or his saving grace. I can't help but recall reading a very similar situation about the early post-deluge population attempting this very same feat by building a city and a tower to reach into the heavens, with Nimrod as their messiah back then!
Fortunately, our present Queen is a committed Christian, and I believe that our country has been spared from many woes because of this. Also her longevity and her refusal to abdicate, I think, is an act of God's grace.
An excellent blog about Israel's past kings, from which we can learn a lot. God bless.

Connie Arnold said...

Lovely and well thought out post, Laurie. The Bible doesn't tell us how to vote other than things like you have mentioned. The important thing is to pray and be open to God's guidance. And to remember always, as you say, that God is still on His throne!

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Like you, I feel an increasing sense of being uneasy -- and even queasy -- about current events, in the US and worldwide! It's a small world, and I suspect the election results will have global repercussions, just as the Brexit vote did. Praise God that Queen Elizabeth is a Christian, but sadly, she is in the minority among world leaders. Thank you as always for sharing your Biblical and historical insights.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus! God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Connie -- may we pray and follow His perfect guidance! Praise God that nothing happens that He does not allow, working all things together for good for those who love Him,
Love in Christ,

Marielle said...

Thanks for the thoughtful post. I appreciate that you discussed Biblical principles and leave it up to individuals to decide how that influences their vote, rather than trying to outwardly support or put down a specific candidate. Voting is a blessing and responsibility. How important it is to seek the Lord's guidance!

Laurie Collett said...

You're very welcome, Marielle, and thanks so much for your visit and comment. We are indeed blessed to have the privilege of voting -- may we use it responsibly by seeking His guidance.
God bless you,

Shelly @ The Queen in Between said...

Really great read. Thanks for sharing.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much for your visit -- I'm blessed to hear you enjoyed the post! God bless,

Donald Fishgrab said...

Perhaps the most relevant passage to choosing a leader is found in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, when God told Israel how they should choose a king. He was to be man God had chosen, one from their own nation adn religion, who studied and practiced God's word. and was not caught up in building his own reputation or wealth. He was not to be someone who considered himself better than his subjects.

Laurie Collett said...

Great point, Donald! Thanks for these verses summarizing God's criteria for a good ruler.
God bless,

a joyful noise said...

It is true that God desires to be King and Him alone, but human kind like to have a leader they can see with their natural eyes. Your post caused me to think of the 11 disciples and their weird method of selecting the 12th person to take the place of Judas. We are guilty at times of shaking the dice to discover God's will, when it would be better to pray and wait (and wait some more). Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

Laurie Collett said...

Very true, Hazel -- it is natural for humans to trust what or whom they can see. What a blessing it must have been to walk with Jesus in the flesh! And yet, as He said to Thomas, blessed are those who believe without seeing.
Thanks for your comment and for hosting, & God bless,