Of Kings and Presidents, God and His People

Responding Right to Rulers

Throughout world history, civilizations and styles of government, men and women have governed nations. From nefarious Nero to noble King Alfred the Great (a personal favorite of mine), from insidious Cleopatra to stately Elizabeth I, here we are today. Regardless of who exercises executive power for any nation, kingdom or empire, one important factor remains. Our God reigns. Knowing this, a God-fearing Christian should neither exult in a ruler whom he appreciates nor complain about a ruler whom he deplores.

A God-fearing Christian should neither exult in a ruler whom he appreciates nor complain about a ruler whom he deplores.

As we respond to the election of our 45th president, we must rest in the sovereign hand of God moving among the nations, including our own. Daniel was a God-fearing man who conscientiously and confidently served some very ungodly men. His political career spanned the rise and fall of rulers and empires. Through it all, he firmly believed that God “changes the times and the seasons” and “removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:21). God is still doing that today, even in America.

President Barack Obama is our president. God raised him up. President-elect Donald Trump will become our next president. God has raised him up. Whatever I think about either of these men – their morals, their agendas, their worldviews or their reputations – I recognize that God has raised them up. Knowing this, I can be worried, anxious, nervous and concerned about nothing (Philippians 4:6). Do you agree? Is this your experience? If not, then your mind is focused on the wrong things. So here’s something good to think about.

Be worried, anxious, nervous and concerned about nothing.

Consider one example of how God reigns and accomplishes his purposes among the nations, regardless of who holds executive power. This man was Ahasuerus, or Xerxes, and we learn about him in the Old Testament book of Esther. He was a powerful king of the ascending world empire of Persia. His father was Darius the Great, and his mother was daughter to Cyrus, who conquered the Babylonian empire and permitted Israel to rebuild Jerusalem (Isaiah 44:28).

The Character of Ahasuerus

By reading Esther 1, you will learn the following things about this king.

He was a powerful man.

He ruled 127 provinces, nearly three times more than our fifty states. He inherited this vast empire from his father.

He was a materialistic man.

He hosted a large feast for his government officials and allies. It lasted six months! During this time, he showed off all of his opulent wealth and abundant resources.

He was a generous man.

He added seven days to the end of his feast. During this time, invited all of the people surrounding the palace complex to participate, from every social class and status, small to great. Furthermore, he relaxed the social custom that required people to drink or eat what the king provided to them. He permitted the guests to drink or not drink according to their preference.

He was an immoral man.

He drank to the point of drunkenness. Then he ordered his wife to parade around for everyone to admire, which she refused to do. In anger, he divorced her. To find a new queen, he organized an empire-wide beauty pageant.

He was an unbelieving man.

Historical commentary indicates that Ahasuerus did not believe in the true God, Jehovah. Instead, he practiced a form of the pagan religion called Zoroastrianism.

Drawing Some Comparisons

Though you find some admirable qualities in this man, and recognize that he enjoyed tremendous success (both inherited and earned), you also understand that you cannot say, “That’s a good person. I endorse him.” Some very problematic qualities and behavior marked his reputation.

Let’s also remember that President Ronald Reagan was another Ahasuerus sort of man whom God used.

Perhaps we can draw some similar comparisons between Ahasuerus and our President-elect? And let’s also remember that President Ronald Reagan was another Ahasuerus sort of man whom God used. We glamorize his successes and thank God for them. But we easily forget that he was a former Hollywood actor, a known womanizer and was the first U.S. president with a divorce on his record. Does God use ungodly people to rule nations and accomplish his purposes? Yes he does.

Ahasuerus and God’s Purposes

Let’s consider what did Ahasuerus do, how God used him to accomplish some significant things. In particular, this man rescued the Jewish people, God’s people, from annihilation. Here is a summary of what happened:

  1. Political operatives, led by a man named Haman, the king’s chief adviser, were plotting to eradicate the Jewish nation through a full-scale holocaust.
  2. At the same time, God was placing faithful Jewish people in strategic places.
  3. Esther, a Jewish woman, became the new queen.
  4. Mordecai, her uncle, embraced his obligation to be a respectful citizen. In fact, he preserved the king’s life by reporting on an assassination attempt. Would you have done the same thing?
  5. One night, God gave Ahasuerus an unexpected dream, which motivated the king to promote Mordecai.
  6. He also showed favor to Esther, offering her whatever she desired.
  7. Together, against all odds and cultural norms, Esther and Mordecai persuaded the king to support the Jewish nation against attack.
  8. Thanks to God’s sovereign work in the heart of Ahasuerus, despite his many flaws, and the respectful, God-fearing obedience of Esther and Mordecai, God fulfilled his purpose.

Learning from This Example

God is active, even when he not being named.

The book of Esther is unique from every other book in the Bible. Why? Because it never clearly names or mentions God. Yet, God is clearly in control of the entire story, from beginning to end. He is using pagan people in the affairs of a secular world and a pagan government to provide for and protect his people, enabling them to fulfill their God-given destiny.

God is doing something great. So stand back and be astonished. It’s going to be good.

Can we not expect the same today? Whether you can see the fingerprints of God or not, know this, that God is doing something great. So stand back and be astonished. It’s going to be good. It’s going to be absolutely unbelievable, I promise (Habakkuk 1:5).

God places good people in strategic places to influence ungodly men in good ways.

God is not obligated to work things out in the interest of our freedom as Christians. But know this – He can. And when he does, we must be respectful citizens and faithful to God. As Joseph served the Egyptian Pharaoh and Daniel served the Babylonian and Syrian kings, Esther and Mordecai did what was right. In difficult, awkward and less-than-ideal political scenarios, they obeyed God and served their king, even though he was a pagan man.

Be assured of one thing: God is not absent. He is very active, working out his plan.

God uses good people, placing them in contact with ungodly government officials, to be testimonies and to give good advice. We must pray to this end, and live as Mordecai and Esther. Again, when God seems most absent and invisible in the affairs of this world – especially in the world of politics and government – be assured of one thing: he is not absent. He is very active, working out his plan.

God calls on you and me to keep on living by faith. Is that what you’re doing today?

We move forward by continuing to live by faith, believing that God is who he says he is, and is doing what he says he does (Habakkuk 2:4). How can we do this? Determine to make personal Christian growth and gospel outreach your top priorities, and halt your pursuit of financial prosperity and the so-called American Dream.

You’re going to hear a lot of things about making America great again. You won’t hear me speaking against that.

In the days ahead, you’re going to hear a lot of things about making America great again. You won’t hear me speaking against that. It’s a nice thing. A desirable thing, from a patriotic point of view. But making America great again is not my personal mission.

Your Christian Mission and Mine

So what is my personal mission and yours? Let’s make the gospel great again, because it is great. It is the great news and priority that our nation is needing, and we still have the freedom to give it. That is the purpose for our freedom anyway, is it not? To live quiet, peaceful, godly, holy lives and to circulate the gospel (1 Timothy 2:2).

Pray for our government officials, those who are current and those who are pending. Pray that they will make the right choices, choices that will grant continued tolerance of a godly lifestyle and freedom for the gospel message. This freedom is not something God guarantees. Many believers have lived in adverse situations (Hebrews 11:35-38). But it is something that God encourages. It is a good thing to desire this freedom and to pray for it.

This freedom is not something God guarantees. But it is something that God encourages. It is a good thing to desire this freedom and to pray for it.

In closing, consider the words of Esther 4:14-16.

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer: Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day; I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

The More Significant Thought

The more significant thought right now is not who is our President or President-elect. It is who you are and why you are here. Like Daniel and Joseph, Esther and Mordecai, what is your Christian mission? If you withdraw from your Christian duty, then God will get his work done some other way. In this scenario, you will lose out for yourself, not only on finding satisfaction in the so-called American Dream, but also on future generations in your family line going on for God.

The more significant thought right now is not who is our President or President-elect. It is who you are and why you are here.

God places believers, like you, in the world for times like this, when ungodly people rule the world. And what should we do? Esther 4:14-16 encourages us to consider a renewed emphasis on prayer and fasting, in addition to obedient Christian living.

And do you see the right heart attitude exhibited by Esther? “If I perish, I perish.” Too many born-again Christians today relax in the armchair of their American freedoms, enjoying the luxuriant life at the expense of Christian duty. And Christian duty does not include rowdy riots or Facebook rants. It demands, instead, the kind of loving, peaceful kindness, in word in deed, that our world so desperately needs. It requires that we talk to people in clear, compassionate and certain terms about the gospel of Jesus Christ, who alone can deliver them from sins of every kind.

Embrace Christian duty at the expense of the American Dream. And let us thank God for our President and President-elect.

So let us embrace Christian duty at the expense of the American Dream. And let us thank God for our President and President-elect. If government smiles upon us and grants us freedom and protection as God-fearing Christians, then I will be grateful. But if not, then I am prepared for my American Dream to perish, but my conscience and future generations be preserved.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *