"The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men." (Daniel 4:17 NIV)
As the 2004 Presidential election draws near and the political posturing and rhetoric intensifies, we do well to ask if the Bible has anything to say about the process.
There is one very clear principle relative to the selection of a leader for any nation that has great influence on world affairs. The prophet Daniel tells us that God chooses whoever He wants to be in these positions of power. "The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes..."
GOD'S PLAN AND PURPOSE FOR THIS EARTH
God has a very well defined purpose for this earth and its people. He intends to fill this earth with glory and peace. (See Numbers 14:21) He will therefore use His power to influence the affairs of men as needed, so that His purpose will be completed in His own predetermined time.
Many of the details of God's purpose have been revealed in the Bible. The Hebrew prophets were inspired to write about events that would come to pass even in these last days. God's purpose is very focused on the Middle East and on the Land of Promise. The Nation of Israel has been miraculously restored to this land and their destiny is linked forever to God's plan.
Knowing God's purpose for this earth, we understand that both political and natural events must be arranged to prepare the way for the return of Jesus Christ. For example, Zechariah tells us that a great earthquake will prepare the land around Jerusalem for the temple and throne of the Lord. (See Zechariah 14)
"Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all:" (Ezekiel 37:21-22)
The fortunes of the Nation of Israel are one of the key elements in the plan of God. Many years ago God told Abraham, the father of this people, "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." This promise was verified a number of times throughout the Holy Scriptures. It is still in effect and the nations will soon be blessed through Abraham's seed, which is Christ. (See Galatians 3:16, 26-29)
The leaders of this world will be selected on the basis of their disposition towards God's chosen people. When God needs to punish his people for their sins, he raises up a cruel leader, such as Hitler, who will carry out the judgments of God. When God chooses to bless and restore Israel, He raises up a benevolent leader, such as Cyrus, king of Persia, who released the Jews from the Babylonian captivity and allowed them to return to their land.
The time for Israel to be dispersed and punished is over. The Psalmist spoke prophetically of the conditions that would exist in the latter days. Consider these words carefully; they provide many clues about God's purpose with Israel. "Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory." (Psalms 102:13-16)
Knowing these things about the purpose of God should make it easy to pick the best candidate. All we have to do is look at his position on Israel and allow that to guide us. Unfortunately, it is not that easy. We do not know the heart of any man. We cannot predict what a man will do in these perilous times, when men's hearts are failing them for fear over the events that are coming on the earth. (See 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and Luke 21:25-36)
Only God knows the hearts of all men and which leader will serve His needs. There is a simple choice; men can exercise their freedom in supporting a candidate that appeals to their fleshly needs - or they can refrain from making a choice that may well be in direct opposition to the will of God.
Jesus left an example of willing submission to the evil intentions of the rulers of his day. In obedience to his Father's will he did not resist or fight back; he was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, into wicked hands and was crucified. (See Acts 2:23) It was only through this act of willing sacrifice that redemption would be possible for all who believe. Natural men seek their solutions through political power and military strength. We seek our guidance from God and trust in Him for our future peace and security.
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
The faithful servants of old, who are featured in Hebrews 11, were strangers and pilgrims on this earth. They were not seeking any permanent dwelling in this world. They lived in tents, separate from the social, religious and political activities of the citizens of this world.
Being a sojourner in the world, while waiting for the Kingdom to come, was not a "world view" that was exclusive to the Old testament period. Many of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles support this same principle for the servants of God today. Consider the following references:
"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6: 31-34)
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." ( 2 Corinthians 6: 14-18)
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." (1 John 2:15-17)
"My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." (John 18:36)
Jesus made it clear that his servants were not to take part in the politics or the battles of this present world. He also indicated that when the time comes for his Kingdom to be established, his servants will fight. (See John 18:36) There were times in the Old testament period when the armies of Israel were under instruction to fight for God. When the time comes for the Kingdom, God's servants will again be called on in this way, as stated in the Psalms. "Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD." (Psalms 149: 6-9)
Our instruction for the present course is to wait patiently for orders from Jesus, our Commander in Chief. While we wait for his return, we are not to take the sword in either a political or military role. We must remain separate from the affairs of this world, not putting our trust in presidents or princes to solve our problems on a local or national level. (Psalms 146:3-4)
We are instructed to maintain respect for all in authority and be in submission to the laws established by the governments of men, who have been given their power by God. (Romans 13:1-8) We pray for God's blessing on our temporal rulers during this present evil world, that we will be allowed to lead a quiet and peaceable life. (1 Timothy 2: 1-3 ) We pay our taxes and any other tribute or due, rendering unto Caesar the mammon of unrighteousness that is his. (See Matthew 22:17-21)
Jesus prayed for us with these comforting words: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." (John 17:15)