‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’ Jn 18:36 NASB
We have just witnessed the inauguration of a president in the US who is likely to be far less pro-Israel, pro-life or pro-freedom than the last. Many intercessors, who have believed the consensus of prophetic voices, are disappointed and confused. Israel is heading for its fourth election in two years as opinions left and right refuse to cooperate for the good of the country. In Victoria, it may soon be a crime to pray for, counsel or preach against homosexuality—even if a person seeks help.
In similar days, Habakkuk cried out to the Lord,
‘ADONAI, how long must I cry without your hearing? ‘Violence!’ I cry to you, but you don’t save… Therefore Torah is not followed; justice never gets rendered, because the wicked fence in the righteous. This is why justice comes out perverted.’ Hab 1:2,4 CJB
God’s surprising answer was not what the prophet wanted to hear.
‘I am raising up the Kasdim, that bitter and impetuous nation, who march far and wide over the earth to seize homes that are not their own. Fearsome and dreadful they are; their rules and strength come from themselves.’ v 6-7 CJB
When a righteous prophet asks for mercy and justice, how can God send the Babylonians, a people even more wicked, to execute His judgement? Yet in the midst of the storm God gave Habakkuk a mighty revelation of who He is. God is more concerned about our hearts than fixing the political mess that occupies our attention. What should our attitude be to those in authority when we often see that ungodliness and unrighteousness rule?
David was anointed to be king at an early age, but he never tried to grab power from his jealous predecessor.
‘So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the LORD that I would do this thing to my lord, the LORD’S anointed, to reach out with my hand against him, since he is the LORD’S anointed.” I Sam 24:6
David still saw Saul as God’s anointed even when he had fallen into disobedience and was pursuing David for his life (Rom 11:29). He also refused to exert his authority to stop his ambitious son from seizing the kingdom from him.
God is more concerned about our hearts than fixing the political mess that occupies our attention.
Israel had more bad kings than good, especially in the northern kingdom. How can we be sure that the leaders we think are bad are not sent by God? Gene Edwards asks the question in A Tale of Three Kings —a poetic study of King David’s attitudes as he lived under the rule of King Saul and Absalom.
‘Sauls are often the Lord’s anointed…No man can really know which of the two [order of King Saul or King David] is correct…God knows. But He won’t tell.’ P 43-44 (brackets added).
Life under Roman Rule
The Roman government in Jesus’ lifetime and the early church was brutal—murders, uprisings, crucifixions. Jesus, John the Baptist, James, Paul and Peter were all killed. None of them suggested raising up a rebellion (2 Cor 11:25).
In the face of injustice, Jesus did nothing to defend himself against false accusations.
‘He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.’ Is 53:7, Acts 8:32
He forgave his executioners and chose to suffer (Lk 23:34). When the disciples wanted to use violence, Jesus stopped them (Matt 26:52, Lk 9:53-55). Even after the resurrection, the disciples wanted Jesus to be a political leader, but instead He gave them anointing of power from the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses in a violent world and to lay down their lives for others as He had for them (Acts 1:6-8). How should we respond?
His ways are not our ways and He is in control (Is 55:8-9). Just maybe we need a bit of the same treatment as in the days of Habakkuk to wake us up. In the midst of the difficulties, Habakkuk received a mighty revelation of who God is. Perhaps this should be our focus, rather than telling God how to run His universe! He is well able to change the political scene if He chooses.
It is He who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
‘Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, but He merely blows on them, and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble.’ Is 40:23-24
In the meantime, we need to remain faithful to God (James 1:2-4), respect and honour the authorities whether we agree with them or not (Rom 13:1-5), render our service as to the Lord with excellent behaviour, remembering that God is the One who will reward us (Eph 6:5-8, I Pet 2:12), keep witnessing with boldness (Acts 4:15-20, 29-30), and standing for truth against the tide of unrighteousness that is crashing towards us and pray for our leaders rather than criticising them (I Tim 2:1-2). Gene Edwards, offers some wise words, speaking as King David.
‘No man knows his own heart. I certainly do not know mine. Only God does. Shall I defend my little realm in the name of God? Shall I throw spears and plot and divide…and kill men’s spirits if not their bodies… to protect my empire? I did not lift a finger to be made king. Nor to preserve a kingdom. Even the Kingdom of God! God put me here. It is not my responsibility to take, or keep authority. Do you not realise it may be His will for these things to take place? I suspect that, if He chose, God could protect and keep the kingdom even now. After all, it is His kingdom.’ (Ibid. P 77)
His kingdom is not of this world. Jesus is and will be King. We rule with Him in His way of servanthood. God’s purposes cannot be thwarted (Is 55:10-11).