The title of this article may alarm you, but it shouldn’t. The Lord is absolutely sovereign. He doesn’t just appoint good leaders. He appoints all leaders; even those leaders who are evil and perform wicked deeds. Daniel 2:21 says, “he removes kings and sets up kings.” This is an absolute statement. You can read it this way: “God removes all kings and he sets up all kings.”
So, if God does appoint all rulers, even wicked ones, does this make God the author or cause of sin? Absolutely not! God does not sin. In fact, the Lord is incapable of sinning. God’s appointment of wicked rulers is for His glory and for the purpose of accomplishing His good, eternal decrees. Let me take you to the Bible to show you what I mean.
“For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Romans 9:17). This particular Pharaoh was Egypt’s King in the days of Moses, and he was not a good man. Pharaoh was a wicked ruler; yet, Scripture is clear that God “raised him up” (that is, he put Pharaoh in power) because God had purpose for him that would bring God glory and blessings for the Lord’s people.
The same was true for Cyrus. Cyrus was the King over Persia during the days of Israel’s captivity, and he was responsible for releasing the Jews to return to the land of Israel. Cyrus was not only appointed by God. He did God’s will, and, the amazing part is, Cyrus didn’t even realize he was serving God. “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him…I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me” (Isaiah 45:1, 4). The preceding passage makes it clear that Cyrus was appointed by God and did His will despite the fact that he didn’t know God; which means, not only was he an unbeliever but Cyrus wasn’t even aware he was doing the will of God. So, God not only appoints all rulers. He causes them to do His will without their knowledge.
These truths are most clearly portrayed in the death of Jesus. Consider this prayer by the early disciples of our Lord. “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:27-28). Though Herod wasn’t directly involved with killing Jesus, he did kill John the Baptist and most likely would have done the same with our Lord. Pontius Pilate, his soldiers and the Jewish religious leaders, however, were directly responsible for Jesus’ death. The Sanhedrin (Israel’s Supreme Court) hated Jesus and wanted to be rid of Him. Pilate (Rome’s Governor over southern Israel) didn’t necessarily want to kill Jesus, but due to political expediency did so anyways. I think it’s fair to say that these men were wicked rulers. Yet, what’s even clearer from the text of Scripture is that these leaders did exactly what God had planned “to take place”, even the death of Jesus, which accomplished our redemption. What they meant for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:20).
So, what does this mean for us today? It means this: don’t worry, dear Christian, about who your leaders are. Sure, you can pray for and strive to elect leaders who will honor God and bring flourishing the man, but don’t worry when a bad leader takes office; whether here or abroad. Trust that the Lord our God has appointed all leaders for His good purposes. They can do nothing apart from His will, because “the king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).
Thanks for reading!
Brandon Sutton (Pastor2334@gmail.com) is the Lead Pastor of Blue Ridge CU Church and New Life Church. Check out both at Blueridgecuchurch.com and Newlifeshelbyville.org.