The Sovereignty of God in the Affairs of Men

At the time of this writing (7 January 2021), Joe Biden has finally been certified by the Congress of the United States to be the 46th President of the United States. Pontificators, podcasters, and arm chair quarterbacks on both sides of the political aisle are already busy telling us what happened and how it happened, and I expect they will undoubtedly be gracing us with their opinions for some time to come. Regardless of the outcome, however, we as Christians have another aspect to consider – the role God plays in this, or for that matter, any other election, at any level of civil government.

Who was responsible for the final outcome? The Christians among us will wonder about God’s role in the whole affair. Did God just sit back and watch, or did he have a more decisive role in the drama that was the 2020 election? While it’s safe to assume that almost all Christians will say they believe in the sovereignty of God, but what exactly do we mean? More importantly, what does the Bible tells about God’s sovereignty? Let’s take a closer look.

At a high level, we are told in the Psalms that God does whatever He pleases:

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all.” (Psalm 103:19).

“But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” (Psalm 115:3).

“For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps (Psalm 135:5-6).

But does God become involved in the specific affairs of men? Let’s peer into the pages of scripture.

In the Old Testament we have the prophet Daniel, after God revealed to him Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the interpretation, offering praise to God:

“Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Daniel 2:19-21; 23)

Not only did God use the proud and arrogant Nebuchadnezzar to chasten the Israelites, He also brought the pagan King to his knees, turning him into a grass eating ‘beast’ for seven years, until he would acknowledge God as sovereign.

“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”” (Daniel 4:34,35)

There are many other examples of God’s sovereignty in the OT. Throughout the history of the nation of Israel, God controlled the fate of His chosen people, using pagan nations to accomplish His purposes. God used Egypt to for the preservation and growth of the nation Israel for 400 years before they inherited the promised land. God displayed his power and greatness through the hard-hearted Pharaoh. He used surrounding nations to chastise Israel when the nation fell into sin and disobedience. Then he used other pagan nations to destroy the chastisers of His people.

God used Assyria and Babylon to lead the Jews into captivity. The King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, was even called God’s “servant” (Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6; 43:10). The sacking of Judah and Jerusalem was no accident of history; it was no mere fate. It was the outworking of the plan and purpose of the sovereign God of Israel to achieve His purposes, to fulfill His promises and prophecies

If we peek into the New Testament, we have this startling declaration by the Apostle Peter that speaks to God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility concerning the crucifixion of Christ:

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. (Acts 2:22-23)

Fast forward 2,000 years to the world of the 20th and 21st centuries. Ours is a time of chaos and change. The USSR completely dissolved before our eyes. The Berlin Wall has been torn down. Civil war rages across the globe, and thousands of innocent lives are being sacrificed as we look on, helplessly it would seem. Christians seem to be shaken when a certain political party goes to unimaginable lengths to try and get elected to the highest office in the land. In this time of the coronavirus pandemic, some so-called ‘experts’ seem to be running the show as government officials worldwide, at all levels, take control of businesses and citizens to degrees hitherto unheard-of except where socialism/communism rules. IS God sovereign in this mess?

If the answer to that question is “yes”, it must mean that God is sovereign over the decisions of the President of the United States, over the laws passed by Congress, and even over the decisions reached by the Supreme Court. God is even sovereign over the Internal Revenue Service.

God is sovereign over kings and kingdoms. If this is true, then we need to believe that every king, every person in a position of political power, is there by divine appointment (see Romans 13:1-2). This means that we owe such authorities our respect, our obedience, and our taxes, unless any of these specifically require us to disobey God (Romans 13:1-7). It means that the laws, decisions, and decrees they make—even those which punish or persecute the saints—have a divine purpose. We may be required to disobey government, like Daniel and his three friends, but only when obeying that government would require us to disobey God. In the chaos and wickedness of our day, let us not lose sight of the fact that God is sovereign in history, sovereign even over pagan powers, and yes, even sovereign over the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.

Regardless of the outcome, however, we as Christians have another aspect to consider – the role God plays in this, or for that matter, any other election, at any level of civil government.

“I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘Except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. We shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves become a reproach and byword down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate circumstance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest. “ – Benjamin Franklin

Full quote is on the Christian Military Fellowship website at:

https://www.cmfhq.org/Info/Articles#135327-crisis-at-the-constitutional

_________________

Portions of the above were adapted from Let Me See Thy Glory – A Study in the Attributes of God by Bob Deffinbaugh,

9 responses to “The Sovereignty of God in the Affairs of Men

  1. Sincer I am not in the reform world, I believe that God INTERVENES in the affairs of man BASED ON FERVENT PRAYER…otherwise, God sits back and watches man destroy themselves. Benjamin Franklin acknowledges that God can INTERVENE in the affairs of man, which is WHY he wanted a chaplain in government to lead prayer, but there was no money to pay a chaplain, so it didn’t happen. We, by free will elect a president, and it is up to the president to remain faithful to God. The bible states that God sets up kings…not presidents elected by WE THE PEOPLE. I still do, and always will, believe in FREE WILL of the people. There are several verses to debunk reform thinking in this…the one word called PRAYER being just one of many. Prayer is a conversation with God. One verse states in the KJV language, YE HAVE NOT BECAUSE YE ASK NOT. But believe this…our founding fathers would be ANGRY at the way our godless left runs the government that they set up. Now we have a guy who prayed to “The monolistic god that many believe in…amen and awomen”. That was a disgrace to an institution that is supposed to be sacred, which was once dedicated to God by our founders. I’m angry right now. Extremely angry.

    Ed Chapman

    Like

    • PS…there needs to be more context in your Ben Franklin story, which I added, in that in reality, he was requesting a chaplain for the government, and gave that speech to support the request, but in the end, it was denied due to lack of money to pay a chaplain. Just a little history lesson.

      Like

      • It could, but not really necessary. Irrespective of the context (The Constitutional Convention of 1787), Franklin’s words ring true as much today as then. God governs in the affairs of men. Therefore he proposed the following:

        “I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service.”

        Not exactly a “chaplain for the government”.

        A little history lesson.

        Like

        • I disagree, because we have one today. $$$$$ was the reason that it was disapproved. Clergy/Chaplain, tomato, tomoto. Same/Same. But notice, “ASSISTANCE” of Heaven…Prayer for assistance? AKA Prayer for “HELP”. Not exactly a reformed doctrine regarding “sovereignty” doctrine.

          Like

          • According to my limited research, prayer before sessions was initially determined unnecessary by all but four individuals at the Convention proper, but Franklin’s proposal was adopted nine days after the first Constitutional Congress convened with a quorum (April 9, 1789), they implemented Franklin’s recommendation. Two Chaplains were appointed.

            Not arguing here, but had the occasion to do a little research. Once again, my friend, methinks you have successfully scurried down a rabbit hole that distracts from the thought and meaning of the original post. I think you just like to argue about things.

            Like

    • Respectfully, if you do not believe in God’s sovereignty in the affairs of men, I don’t think you believe is crystal clear in scripture. This has nothing do to with any “camp”, reformed or otherwise.

      Like

Leave a Reply to SLIMJIM Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s