AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH: God appointed a “bad president,” Christians must submit
Christians must submit to rulers and authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 13:2-5). However, if your King or President tells you to dishonor God, the Bible has caveats to dissent (Romans 13:1; Mark 12:17). We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
We must obey God rather than men.
5 Examples from the Bible why we should submit to government authorities, even if they are bad leaders
1. The Jews submitted to their evil captors
The Assyrians, Egyptians, Romans, and Jewish religious leaders of “God’s chosen people” were abusive. In WW2, the Jews submitted to Hitler’s evil reign to the point of death.
Some may call it weakness, but perhaps, their ability to submit to authority or inability to rebel is one reason they were chosen as God’s people.
2. Nehemiah led a rally but submitted to the crown
Nehemiah led the “great protest” in the Bible. He defended his people from bad leaders who exploited them. Others use this to justify government resistance. Well, it is not.
Nehemiah was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, which meant he had to be submissive and respectful to be trusted. He reasoned and fought for the people being abused by their own Jewish brothers, not the King. [Nehemiah Commentary]
3. The Hebrews submitted to slavery and waited on God
Moses’ family hid him when he was a baby. When he grew up, God appointed Moses to tell the Pharoah to release His people, who had been enslaved for 430 years.
God’s people could have mounted an earlier revolution, but they waited on God. “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord. Although their deliverance took a long time, God’s glory was revealed according to His timeline.
4. Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego’s attitude towards a pagan king
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow to the pagan gods. God alone deserves our worship! They expressed their position gently and respectfully before King Nebuchadnezzar. Not affront and without insulting his gods. [Daniel 3:16; Gill’s Exposition]
In the end, God’s glory was revealed after they submitted to the cruel order. The King’s attitude changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by issuing a decree to protect and promote them.
5. The apostles urge us to be at peace with leaders, good or bad
Even if the pagan Roman authority was evil, the Apostles urged Christians to pray, intercede, & be thankful. Why? So that they may have a peaceful quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
1 Timothy 2:1-2
“I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, obey, be ready for every good work, slander no one, avoid fighting, and be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.”
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
And Paul said…, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ (Exodus 22:28; Ecc 10:20)
God chooses who sits on an earthly throne
Pilate asked Jesus, “Do You not know that I have authority to release You and authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11)
God has raised up wicked rulers in the past to judge a nation
God raised the Chaldeans to judge and punish His people. Habakkuk cries out, “Lord, You appointed them to execute judgment; my Rock, You destined them to punish us…” (Hab 1:6; 12-13).
Many more rulers abused the Jews, but God also raised an unbeliever like King Cyrus to save His people (Isaiah 45:1-25). We have to trust God for the kind of leaders he gives us.
The apostles didn’t bother to change the government, why should you?
Why would God allow a bad leader to rule?
Evil rulers have NO authority unless God allows them to continue in their seats of power (John 19:11). We do not know the mind of God as to why He would allow bad leaders to rule. In the past, God placed “bad leaders” for these reasons:
- To judge a nation. (2 Kings 20:17-18)
- Test their faithfulness. (Isaiah 13:19)
- Expose sin that brought judgment. (Isaiah 10:5-19)
- Set in motion the birth of the Messiah. (Psalm 18:50)
Submission to authority in the Bible is clear, don’t twist the Bible
- God establishes all government, good or evil, and removes them as He pleases. (Romans 13:1; Daniel 2:20-22)
- The apostles didn’t bother to change the government; why should you? They were citizens of heaven, and knew their priority, which is to make disciples. (Philippians 3:20; Matt 28:16-20)
- They left the political battle to unbelievers because they fought the real enemy.
- Early Christians mobilized prayers and fasting to make the impossible happen. (Ephesians 6:12)
- Jesus knew the abuses of the Roman government. His appeal was to the hearts of men, not their political freedom. (Matthew 22:21)
Is it sin to criticize a bad person?
Our response as Christians
The apostles never encouraged political activism, but there is social justice. However, social justice in the Bible is about helping the brethren, not telling what the government should do, or debating ideologies.
social justice in the Bible is about helping the brethren, not arguing with authority.