DOES GOD CONTROL GOVERNMENTS
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
FEBRUARY 3, 2011
…HE WILL REIGN…AND OF HIS
KINGDOM THERE WILL BE NO END
LUKE 1:33 NRSV
“His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:14b)
Perhaps it’s the riotous protests in Egypt, Lebanon, and Yemen, or the recent toppling of the government in Tunisia, not to mention a shake up in Jordan’s government, that has prompted me to think about the function of government in our lives. Who really has control and how? The governmental structure in the United States was a new concept, a brave, revolutionary idea which took form when our colonies managed to break their bondage to the Crown of England. Here’s the Preamble to our Constitution which expressed the founding fathers vision:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” From 1776 until today, people have used the Constitution as a rallying cry for their political ideology. The new Congress which convened after the 2010 elections actually read the constitution aloud before beginning their duties. I heard some of that reading which seemed like an exercise in ninth grade civics to me, because the people reading it seemed so bored by what they read that it was amazing they stayed awake. Hopefully, since some of them got elected on the promise to “protect and uphold the Constitution,” perhaps it’s a good thing they read it at least once in their lives.
What really troubles me, I have to say, is the presumption that the government rests on the will or consent of the people, the governed. That’s a grand idea, romantic even, in an eighteenth century sort of way. This concept that people have rights that the government must adhere to was the impetus behind the American and French Revolutions, and it appears to be the fuel stoking the fires of change in the Middle East today. Watching the protesters in Egypt, who seemed more hysterical than ideological, made me wonder if they know what it means to govern. I do sympathize with their anger at, and need to be out of, a dictatorial system where human rights are ignored and all laws and policies reflect the power and desires of the dictator.
Of course, Hosni Mubarak’s title is President of Egypt, not dictator some would say, but titles don’t tell the whole story. If he walks like a dictator and talks like a dictator, then for all intents and purposes, he is a dictator. The people are angry and fed up and they want change, starting at the top. Who can blame them, but watching their hysterical ranting and chanting makes me wonder what kind of change would suit them and are they capable of accomplishing it?
The Middle East has been ruled by strong men for thousands of years now, with the result that people who break out of the mold often seem too immature, too inexperienced and too angry to establish a stable government. Iraq is the prime example of that. They got rid of the cruel and sadistic Saddam Hussein, thanks to the blood, sweat, and capital of American military might, but is that all it takes to be happy? Get rid of the dictator and successful governance will follow? Again Iraq is the horrible example of that not being the entire answer.
So, again I ask, who is in control? Ultimately, it is not the King, nor the Prime Minister, the President, the Congress, the Dictator nor even the people. It is God who rules. When the prophet Daniel was explaining the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to him, he declared, “…the God of heaven will set up a KINGDOM THAT WILL NEVER BE DESTROYED, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but IT WILL ITSELF ENDURE FOREVER. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands, a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.” (Dan. 2:44)
Possibly a majority of Christians think that this kingdom will not come until Christ returns and sits on the Throne of David in Jerusalem. They fervently believe in a literal interpretation of the prophecies. No one died and made me “Popess,” but I no longer believe that, though I did at one time. When Christ left the disciples, He said He would return in the same way He left. It seems clear to me that He returned in POWER on the Day of Pentecost and has never left. He rules and reigns today, not from a literal throne in a physical location, but in the hearts and minds of His followers, which is all of us.
There are those who think that the disasters which we see everywhere around us an instant after they happen, thanks to “Twitter” and “Facebook,” are the portents that this is the end of the age. I remind us all that after detailing all the horrors which would accompany the end of the age, Christ told His followers, “I tell you the truth, THIS GENERATION will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matt. 24:34-35) That generation has long since passed away, but some were still alive to witness the horrific events in AD 70, which He said would mark the end of the age.
They lived to see the age of the Law dealt a final blow by the Roman General Titus. He destroyed the temple and burned the remains, fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy that not one stone would be left on another. There was no temple where the people were to offer sacrifices, and the records showing the lineage of the priestly tribe of Levi were destroyed. The age of Judaism was over. The New Age had begun as Christ said it would, in fire, famine, and horrific cruelty.
For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the kingdom of heaven is here on earth today, right now, and Christ is come in the hearts of His people. He will be manifested in glory to all the earth and “all flesh shall see it together.” (Isa. 40:5) Whether that will be one cumulative event or a gradual unfolding, no one knows. However it happens, it is clear that the people cannot vote God into office. If they could, they would share in the glory, which is His alone. I suspect that if they could elect God President, some still would not be satisfied.
John gave us the kingdom promise: “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “THE KINGDOM OF THE WORLD HAS BECOME THE KINGDOM OF OUR LORD AND OF HIS CHRIST, AND HE SHALL REIGN FOR EVER AND EVER.” (Rev. 11:15) The kingdoms of this world are crumbling before our very eyes, and thanks to CNN and the Internet, we get to watch it unfold as it happens.
Isaiah’s magnificent prophecy leaves us with hope: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE ON HIS SHOULDERS. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. THE ZEAL OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS.” (Isa. 9:6-7)
Since the government is upon His shoulders, not upon ours, nor upon our elected officials, we have no need to fret or fear the message given by the “doomsday sayers.” I rejoice to hear that the “zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish it,” because it takes away our responsibility for bringing it to pass.
Father, we thank You that You are responsible for and sovereign over all things, all people and all governments. Because You know the end from the beginning we rest in Your Word which will not return unto You void, but will accomplish all Your pleasure and shall prosper in the thing which you sent it to do. We rejoice in Your unconditional love which casts out our fears. May we be light bearers and joy bringers to this troubled, terrified world, as we continue to abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen