This topic is adapted from the PursueGOD Video YouTube channel.
The world can be a scary place, especially when the governing authorities aren’t going the same direction we are. How do we understand God’s sovereignty over everything when so many leaders today and throughout history have been rotten or even evil?
- When it comes to human government, the Bible portrays God as actively involved in order to accomplish his purposes. Romans 13 teaches that God established governmental authority. This is an astonishing statement, for Paul wrote it when the evil Roman Emperor Nero, who persecuted Christians, ruled. 1 Peter 2:13-17 is also important for understanding this.
- God has the power to install and depose kings. Daniel 2:20-21 teaches that God, as ultimate king, is not standing by wishing and hoping his will comes about. He can use good as well as bad people to accomplish his will in the world so that his highest good will ultimately take place.
- God has raised up wicked leaders in the past. Habakkuk 1:6 teaches that God raised up Babylon in order to discipline Israel for their sin. God allowed Pilate, who sanctioned the execution of Jesus, to accomplish his will of having Jesus die for the sin of the world (John 19:11).
- Every ruler is accountable to God for how he or she uses their authority. Isaiah 13:17-19 teaches that the Medo-Persian Empire would be raised up to destroy Babylon. Babylon was still held accountable for their excesses of violence – even though God granted them the power to exercise their strength over others in the first place.
- We can’t always know God’s purposes for leaders. Pilate and the leaders of the Jews who crucified Jesus were allowed to come into authority in Jerusalem, and it was they, in their evil behavior, who caused Jesus’s earthly death. We can’t understand God’s will without having a divine perspective (Romans 11:33-34). But we can trust that ultimately, everything will align with God’s purpose and plans in the world – and they are plans for ultimate good.
The world can be a scary place, but the Bible shows us that God is in control no matter what. This should encourage us to trust in him even when we don’t like the people in charge, or even if we are suffering persecution for our faith.
Written content for this topic by Daniel Martin.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Read Romans 13:1-5. Does anything bother you about this passage? Explain.
- Do you think Romans 13:1-5 is 100% true all the time? Explain why or why not.
- Read Romans 12:14-21 and 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. How do you think these passages inform how we should understand Romans 13:1-5? (See also 1 Peter 2:13-15.)
- What are some examples of people in the Bible who have disobeyed the governing authorities and been blessed by God? Why were these people blessed rather than “bringing judgment on themselves” as in Rom 13:2?
- Do you think there is a difference between God “allowing” a leader to come into power and God “causing” a leader to come into power? Explain.
- If God knows a leader will commit evil acts with their power, does that make God responsible for the evil acts they commit? Explain.
- In Job 9:24, Job says of God, “The whole earth is in the hands of the wicked, and God blinds the eyes of the judges. If he’s not the one who does it, who is?” Job thinks God is responsible for allowing wicked people to go on oppressing others. Is Job correct? Explain.
- Job’s three friends spend the whole book defending God by saying that Job must have done something evil in order to suffer so much. But at the end of the book, God says to these friends: “I am angry with you…for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.” What does this teach us about God and his rule of the world?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.