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Life lesson #3: God and Governments 

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(11/7) Every two years in America, we have elections for Presidents, Governors, Senators, Congressmen and more. Every two years, we stress. If our candidates win perhaps we will feel more secure, and maybe our country will accomplish what we feel to be important. If our candidates lose we feel as if our goals are lost or set back even further. This is true no matter what your political party affiliation is. In two days, we will have that election.

We are stressed. The news is reporting an unusual increase in the stress level of Americans over the election to take place on Tuesday. Most Americans just want it over and done. Most are saying that they are tired of the attack ads on the TV and internet. Perhaps more than ever in our history, we have two of the most unpopular candidates squaring off. An abnormal number of people are saying they arenít voting for a candidate they want, but are voting against a candidate they donít want. Many will vote for a third party, or not vote at all.

The people of my generation and that of many of you, have seen America go from one that cried out to God and boasted that in God We Trust and spoke of God in our schools to a nation that refuses to acknowledge God except when it seems appropriate to conclude a speech with, "Öand May God bless America."

Our America seems to parallel Judah of Jeremiahís day or Paulís day. We have forsaken God and refused to know Him, Jeremiah 9 says. Paul says in Romans 1, that we are under the wrath of God because we suppress the truth and do not like to retain God in our knowledge. What would happen if a candidate would say to America, "I am un-ashamedly a follower of Jesus Christ and I will govern after the principles, precepts, and patterns of the Bible, because it alone is absolute truth. I will seek Godly counsel and Godís will in every decision I make. I will pray every day for Godís wisdom and the direction He wants America to go in." One Vice-Presidential candidate came close to saying those words.

Yet, that was the leadership of many of our first Presidents like George Washington, John Adams, and Abraham Lincoln. Even men like Franklin Roosevelt led America in a public prayer. Truman told the FBI that our laws are necessarily based on the Bible. But we know that the leadership of one generation does not define the leadership of subsequent generations. Hezekiah was for the most part a good King but when he died, his son Manasseh assumed the throne and he was terribly wicked. Jehoshaphat was a good king but when he died, Jehoram his son reigned and was a wicked man who modeled his leadership after the wicked king Ahab of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

In our own time we have seen America flip-flop from men who had a reverence for God to men who had no reverence for God. As Christians in the true sense of the word. We are greatly concerned for our country and the welfare of our children and grand-children. Many of us are saying those exact words, "Itís not about me, I have lived my life, but I am concerned for the world my children and grandchildren have to live in." And, many of us are frightened by whoever wins the election for President this year.

So, allow me to share some life lessons with you about God and Governments. These are lessons I have shared with you several times over the years. They are simple lessons, yet some that are hard to grasp because they hard to understand and yet I say again, they are simple lessons. Ready?

I. God is in Control. Do you believe this? Say those words out loud. Even if

you are just reading this in front of your computer, "God is in Control." This election has not taken God by surprise. He has never said, "Oh my, I did not see that one coming. What should we do now?" Daniel 4:17, "This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of menÖ,

Letís remind ourselves of this by looking at Isaiah 46:9-11. "Remember this, and show yourselves men; Recall to mind, O you transgressors. 9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying ĎMy counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,í 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed, I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass.

I have purposed it; I will also do it."

Here is another, Proverbs 21:1, The kingís heart is in the hand of the Lord,

Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Here is another.

II. It is God who allows or places leaders in their position of authority.

It doesnít matter if it is a President, Dictator, King, or Governor. It doesnít matter if it is an election, a coup, a succession, or appointment. Listen to these scriptures.

Nebuchadnezzar is telling Daniel of a dream he had, so the king not the prophet is the speaker here. Daniel 4:17, "This decision is by the decree of the watchers,

And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know

That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will,

And sets over it the lowest of men.í Israelís first kings were farmers and shepherds.

John 19:11, Pilate reminds Jesus our Lord that Jesusí fate was in his hands. He had the power to execute Him or set Him free. Our Lord said, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. One more,

Romans 13:1-2, Paul is speaking to Roman Christians living under the Caesars when he said this, "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

This is mind blowing, I know. This means that the cruel Caesars like Nero and Caligula were appointed by God, as were the Herods, the Pharoahs, the evil kings like Ahab, or of recent history, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and other evil men. This also includes the winner of this yearís election. Do you understand this truth? That is, that God appoints our leaders. This begs the question, Why? Why, would God appoint evil people to positions of leadership? Why does He appear to allow Satan the upper hand?

III. God has a plan even if we donít understand!

He appointed Nebuchadnezzar to bring Judgment on Judah, and then He appointed Cyrus the king of the Medes and Persians to Judge Babylon. Letís consider a few things here.

A. The ultimate purpose for Government, which is a God ordained institution, is for the protection and order of a society. It is to punish evil-doers and look out for the welfare of its citizens, (Cp. Genesis 9 with Romans 13). Governments represent the presence of God and under the best conditions are supposed to be His co-regents.

B. Sometimes God appoints Leaders for the Judgment of a country. Again, I mention Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus.

C. Sometimes, it is to discipline or correct a country. To Judah, our Lord said in Jeremiah 2:19, "Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the Lord your God, And the fear of Me is not in you," Says the Lord God of hosts."

D. Sometimes it is to delay Judgment and allow a time of revival in a country. Look at 2 Chronicles 34:26-28 and Godís words to young King Josiah who set his heart to follow God. "But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, in this manner you shall speak to him, ĎThus says the Lord God of Israel: "Concerning the words which you have heardó 27 because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you," says the Lord. 28 "Surely I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants." It takes backbone but Godly leaders can have a tremendous influence on a countryís spiritual life.

E. Ultimately, God is preparing the world for the end. That is, He is moving people and nations toward the place and time when our Lord Jesus is coming again. He is allowing the world to do as it wishes and it is moving to the place where it will want a world leader to unify it and solve its problems and there will be such a man, and we know him as the man of sin or the anti-Christ. God is setting the stage for that time, and then Jesus will return and will rule the world in righteousness and peace. "Thy Kingdom Come."

Now, I donít have all the answers and I cannot say what God is doing exactly in this election but I know He has a plan.

IV. Do Not Trust in Politicians. (Psalm 146)

Notice that the Psalmist says, "Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man in whom there is no helpÖ" (v.3). Let me give you at least 3 reasons why you should not rest in, or have complete faith in those who are in leadership positions regardless of their political party or even their faith. Thatís what the word trust is talking about. Your resting confidence and hopeful faith should not rest with people, not even leaders, not even with presumed Godly leaders. (3 Reasons)

A. Men or women are Fallible.

1. That is, they have sinful or fallen natures and they will make some decisions for personal reasons, personal gain, or popularity (cp. 1 Samuel 8:10-20). Abraham. Isaac, Jacob, Samson, Jephthah, and King Saul all made a lot of dumb decisions (1 Sam. 13ff); David made several wrong decisions that cost a lot of lives Not only his adultery, murder and cover-up, but his census for his military; Solomon, the wisest man ever lived did some dumb stuff like having 1000 women and building temples for the false gods of the foreign women that he married, and then worshiping those gods, and going to Egypt for horses, and the gathering of gold for personal wealth. Hezekiah invited the Babylonians to look at his treasury, which they came back and looted a few years later. Uzziah was a brilliant warrior that went into the temple and did what only priests were supposed to do. Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Ahab, and every other good king made dumb decisions because they were all men with sinful natures.

2. They will sometimes surround themselves with poor counselors as Solomon's son, Rehoboam did (cp. 1 Kings 12:6ff). These counselors will advise them to make decisions that are just not the best for the people.

3. They will make some honest but wrong decisions. They will trust in other nations or in the Military as in Psalm 20:7 "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God" or Psalm 33:16-17, "No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. (Cp. Asa in 1 Chr. 16).

B. They are Temporal. Ps. 146:3-4, says, "Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. 4 His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish." 43 men have held the 44 presidencies of our country. How can that be? Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and the 24th President. Eight of these men died in office. Four were unfortunately, assassinated (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and John Kennedy), and four died of natural causes (W. Harrison, Z. Taylor, Harding, and F. Roosevelt). Being temporal, they are limited in what they can do. Every new leader or congress has their own agenda and sometimes they change what the leader before them had established or was building towards.

C. They are Mortal. Ps. 146:5ff, 5" Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God, 6 Who made heaven and earth, The sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever,

7 Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners. 8 The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow; But the way of the wicked He turns upside down. 10. The Lord shall reign foreveróYour God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!"

They are not God. There are things that leaders cannot do. They cannot stop the storms, change the leaderís hearts of other nations. They cannot stop injustice, nor legislate morality. They cannot eliminate poverty, nor stop hatred and prejudice. These are things that only God can do.

II. Trust God. The Psalmist tells us that we need to rely on the God of Jacob for help and to hope in the Lord God (v.5). Look at Psalm 118:8-9, "It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes." So, let me tell you what the response of the People of God must be towards our President and other elected officials.

A. Trust in Godís Plan (Jeremiah 17:5-8) Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD. 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited.7 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

B. We Must Obey God in at least 4 things.

1. We have an obligation as followers of the Lord Jesus to Submit to the leadership of the President and all our elected officials. Rom. 13:1-5 says, "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is Godís minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is Godís minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscienceí sake.

Peter also tells us in 1 Peter 2:13-17, "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lordís sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bond-servants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." The only times when we are not submit is when they tell us to disobey or dishonor our Lord as when Daniel continued to pray or the early church continued to preach Jesus after they were told not to. We will not perform same sex marriages. We will not let the Government tell us what to preach.

2. We are to Honor the ones who holds the leadership offices whether we like them or not. (1 Peter 2:17) That means that we are to speak respectfully of them in public and private and hold them in high esteem. While it is our right to freedom of speech and protest, it is my opinion that it is wrong to mock them with our forwarded emails. Remember the words of our Lord in Luke 6:27-28? "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you." In Acts 23:1-5, Luke records this about Paul, "Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?" And those who stood by said, "Do you revile Godís high priest?" Then Paul said, "I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ĎYou shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.í' (Ex. 22:28)

3. We are to Pray for all our elected officials. Paul tells us in 1 Tim. 2:1-5, "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." We are to pray for their salvation and for their wisdom and for their decisions. Look at these verses we must not be agitators but peace seekers and peace makers, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life.

4. We must pay the taxes that they require. That is the verdict of our Lord in Matthew 22:21 and Paulís counsel in Romans 13:6-8. It doesn't matter if we agree with them or not or how our government uses them. I am sure that Pilate and the soldiers were paid with the Tax money the Jews were forced to pay. Our Lord's word is clear on the issue. We must trust our God to take care of us as we honor Him and pay our taxes. Remember it is His money anyway and this is what He requires as we trust Him to take care of us.

C. We Must Live By Faith. This means we must do what we know God wants us to do, no matter who is elected. To live by faith or to walk by faith means that we recognize that although we are Americans and proud of it, we are also citizens of another Kingdom. Our citizenship is in Heaven as Paul reminds us in Phil. 3:20. We the people of God have a divine purpose in this America. That is, to be Salt and Light as our Lord reminds us in Matt. 5:13-16 (Cp. Paul in Phil. 2:14-16, and 2 Cor. 4:4-6). We Trust God and rest in the fact that He is at work in our nation and the world. We obey God knowing that our obedience is honoring to Him and is the best thing to do. And, we make it our primary focus to make disciples for Jesus! Listen, the only way to change America is by changing Americans, not by legislation. One life at a time. Our President was right when he said several years ago, that we are not a Christian nation. We have less than a third of our nation are followers of Jesus Christ. Only 18% of our nation will be in church this weekend. 2/3's of our nation is lost and blinded by the prince of this world who is the author of lies and a murderer and a deceiver. If we are going to change America, it will not be with an election. It will be by making disciples for Jesus.

We do that by Show and Tell. We show America what followers of Jesus look like. We demonstrate His love, like now at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and to the hurricane victims along the east coast, and then we tell them about the Good News of Jesus, and then we mentor those who want to follow Him so they can grow to become like Jesus.

D. We must set our Focus on a better country than our own. Look at Colossians 3:1-3, "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

Look also, at Abrahamís testimony in Hebrews 11:8-10 and 13-16. Keep your eyes on the prize. While we love America, it is not our home. Like Korea, Vietnam, Germany, Iraq or Afghanistan, we are just passing through on our way home.

Now, you have the right under our constitution to protest and speak or write whatever you want in disagreement with our government. But before you do, ask yourself how your response lines up with 3 things.

ē Godís will for our country

ē Godís will for you as a Christian citizen in America

ē Your commission from Jesus to make disciples not only in America but throughout the world.

As Christ-Followers, must be the best citizens, in America and in the world.

Even as I say this, I believe that there are some who need to repent of their actions and words towards our leaders and therefore towards our God who appointed these leaders and set up the people He has chosen.

We need to renew our commitment to God and to the leaders of our country regardless of whether they are Republican or Democrat.

We must renew our commitment to demonstrate our relationship with our Lord in our effort to make disciples here and throughout the world.

Do you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord? Why not trust Him today and become a new citizen of Heaven?

Letís pray about it

 If any of these messages have encouraged you, or if you have any questions please let me know. You can email me at pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you. And I promise, I will never ask you for money, nor place you on any mailing list.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman