Does God Pick National Leaders?
The Bible records that Nebuchadnezzar, a powerful ruler over the Babylonian Empire 600 years before Christ, received a vision from God. The prophet Daniel interpreted this dream. Daniel explained that God gave Nebuchadnezzar this vision “in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17).
Few developed countries have experienced such a violent ruler in recent times. Yet, the Bible clearly shows that at times God will place terrible leaders in positions of great power for the explicit purpose of fulfilling His plans. As implied in Daniel’s words, Nebuchadnezzar was not a nice man. He threw people alive into hot furnaces if they didn’t bow to his idol. He threatened all of his advisors with mass murder if they didn’t interpret his dream.
This was certainly true of the pharaoh of the Exodus, whose heart God hardened time after time until Egypt was humbled for its evil treatment of God’s people, Israel. God sent Moses to tell Pharaoh, “Indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).
God at times has been directly involved in elevating individuals to very prominent positions. He inspired the prophet Isaiah to announce far in advance the rise to power of Cyrus the Great to fulfill His purpose (Isaiah 45:1)
. It was a century and half later when God gave Cyrus power over the Persian Empire.
At another time, Daniel stated, “Praise the name of God forever and ever … He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings” (Daniel 2:20-21)
. The apostle Paul, writing to Christians living in the capital city of the Roman Empire, wrote, “All authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” (Romans 13:1)(see also Psalms 75:6-7; John 19:10-11)
So does this mean that God somehow “endorses”
America’s new president or any other leader with all of his or her flaws and foibles? No. What it does mean is that God has a purpose for humanity, a purpose for current events, and He will accomplish that purpose through the leadership that He either puts in place or allows.
The Scriptures show that while God sometimes does indeed decide who will be the leading official of a nation, He also allows people to pick national leaders whose values are not those taught in the Holy Scriptures, even to their detriment. He once criticized His own anciently chosen people with these words: “Israel has rejected the good … They set up kings, but not by Me” (Hosea 8:4)
. The lesson is plain: God only approves of those rulers who have not “rejected the good”
as He defines it.
The apostle Paul gives this superb advice for Christians who wonder what to think of the governments they find themselves living under: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-2
Praying that God will provide leaders who will work to make it possible for believers to live “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence”
is commendable and proper in God’s eyes. But first it is critical to learn and practice His will before expecting Him to hear those prayers (see 1 John 3:22)
. Even Jesus, having complete faith in God’s decisions, prayed, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42)
. And it is in God’s Word, the Bible, where we can find His will revealed. https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/bible-questions-and-answers/does-god-pick-national-leaders