Does God Select Kings?
Dr. Randy White | Pastor
First Baptist Church, Katy, TX
**This article was previously posted by Dr. Randy White HERE and is used by permission.
We love to “blame God” for some things that God did not order, and perhaps nowhere do we do so more consistently than when it comes to national leaders. But I want to question the assumptions on the commonly held belief that God selects kings, presidents, and other world leaders.
Of course, we can find many verses from the Hebrew Scriptures that display this activity of God. Here is an example of two such verses–
- “Howbeit the LORD God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father; and among the sons of my father he liked me to make me king over all Israel:” (1 Chronicles 28:4)
- “And he changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings: He giveth wisdom unto the wise, And knowledge to them that know understanding:” (Daniel 2:21)
Strangely, however, when we get into the New Testament, we do not see any such activity on God’s part. Dispensationally thinking, this is not a surprise. When God was dealing directly with the nation of Israel, we would expect that He would select her King, and even put Kings on the thrones of surrounding nations that would interact with His chosen nation. But in this dispensation in which there is “neither Jew nor Greek,” it doesn’t make much theological sense for God to be directing the affairs of nations. Rather, God has given an age of free-will, in which His Grace is offered to any who may come, and the wisdom of the Scripture is offered as freely. A society that builds on the wisdom of God found in the Holy Bible will make good and God-honoring decisions. A society that rejects Biblical wisdom will make materialistic, humanistic, or paganistic decisions. Every society, in this age, will both make its own bed and sleep in it.
Americans don’t have anyone to blame for their president, governor, senator and sheriff other than the voting populace. We have no one to blame for the Supreme Court justices other than the president and congress who appointed them. God hasn’t put these men and women in office, we have.
But God has appointed authority structures in society, including government, and these structures are ordained by God, in all ages. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Note that it is the powers, that is, the office that God has ordained, not the person in the office.
There are three words in Romans 13 that are each surprisingly related, and are collectively instructional about God’s appointment of authority. These three words are ordinance, resist authority, and be in subjection. Each of these words or phrases is built on the same Greek word, tasso.
Tasso means, “to appoint.” It is seen in Acts 22:10, speaking of the work that Paul was appointed to do. In Acts 15:2 it is translated “determine,” when “the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas should go up to Jerusalem.” It is clearly a decision making word. While the actual word tasso is not included in Romans 13, there are three words built upon this root.
- Antitasso – since the prefix anti means “against,” the word antitasso (a verb, in v. 2) is literally to be “against the appointment.” In verse 2 it is translated as “resists” in the NASB.
- Diatasso – the prefix dia is almost as familiar in the English language as anti. Literally, it means “through.” However, when used as a prefix, its effect is an intensifier, and can be literally rendered as thoroughly. Words like diagnose mean to have thorough knowledge (dia-gnosis). Therefore, diatasso is thoroughly appointed, and is rendered by our English word ordained or ordinance. So Romans 13:2 speaks of one who antitasso the diatasso, or one who resists the ordinance of God.
- Hupotasso – The hupo prefix is also common in the English language, almost always being rendered hypo. The prefix means under, as in hypodermic (under the skin) or hypothermia (“under” the temperature – a very low temperature). The Greek word hupotasso, therefore, is literally under appointment. The word is rendered subject to (KJV) or in subjection (NASB) in Romans 13:5.
Each of these words is in relation to the “higher power” that God has established for the created order. In the context of Romans 13, the power in view is the power of government, especially its unique (and almost sole Biblical power) to bear the sword (v. 4).
Romans 13 is clear that God has ordained the power of Government. Dispensationalists believe that this began soon after the flood, with the institution of capital punishment. The role of Government is one that is a spiritual role. Romans 13:1 literally says, every soul that resists authority is resisting the ordinance of God. NASB, ESV, HCSB, NLT, TEV, and NIV (along with almost every other modern translation) changes soul to person (or similar), leaving the spiritual aspect of the relationship out of the translation.
But while God has ordained governmental authority, and we should be in subjection to that authority, He has not ordained the President, the Congress (nor its vote), nor the members of the Supreme Court. In fact, He has not even ordained the Constitution of the United States (or any other country). As fallen human beings who need a Savior and the guidance of the Bible in the Spirit of God, these are all man-made offices and man-appointed positions. As fallen humanity, we are prone to make the wrong decisions, and we should not claim that our decisions were the decree of God.
If God ordained persons to government positions, the Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776, would have been “resisting authority.” The signers declared,
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
This declaration did resist the King, but it also recognized that there was a God-ordained authority which was from the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, and that the political bands which have connected them were only incidental to those higher laws.
God does ordain government, in its role. When Government oversteps that role, or when the person holding a government position oversteps a God-ordained role, it is not in the least a Biblical sin to resist that personal rule, ruler, or authority, though such resistance may have consequences (as did the resistance in 1776).