He Removes Kings and Sets Them Up
We tend to be a little too full of ourselves in America. We are a people who are free. Our public officials serve with the consent of those who are governed. No doubt most Americans would say, “We install people in places of power and we remove them.” Interesting bit of hubris, that. Of course, to make this observation is not a claim that we have no voice, that we do not exercise our will, in the process of selecting our leaders. Most certainly we do. We are not automatons. At the same time, we are not the sovereigns of history, or even of this moment in history or even of the little details of our own lives at this moment in history.
Daniel in utterly pagan, violent, arrogant Babylon prayed this way (Dan. 2:20-22):
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.”
So where am I going with this? Some may think that I am setting up an argument for a sort of pietistic withdrawal from our political process. I am not. It does not follow from the fact of God’s sovereignty in setting up and removing kings – and presidents – that we should become, in effect, fatalists. On the contrary, we will be held accountable by the righteous Judge for our action – or inaction – with respect to the stewardship of our influence, to whatever small degree we may have it, at this moment in our political history.
Rather, I am seeking to remind us of just this: We are so small and so unknowing. The world is so big and complex. And in our smallness and relative ignorance we can easily become frustrated at political outcomes, with the result that we do and say things that betray a state of heart and mind that, at bottom, is nothing more nor less than fundamental distrust in the God who is actually Lord of it all.
I am not writing this for Republicans in this election or for Democrats or “never-Trumpers” in the last one. I am writing it simply for Christians. If we believe – if we know – that it is God who removes kings and sets them up, and all the more if we have exercised our stewardship according to the dictates of Scripture and of conscience, there is no need for fear or frustration or anger – and certainly not for lawlessness. It is enough to know that history is in our God’s good, kind, righteous and just hands. We would do well to rest our hearts and minds in this happy verity.