“Elections and the Sovereignty of God”

Categories: M. W. Bassford, Meditations

Now that the 2020 presidential election is coming to dominate the news cycle more and more, I find my thoughts turning to what the Bible teaches us about who is in control of such things.  Romans 13:1-2 tells us that God appoints all human authorities.  Daniel 2:20-21 reveals that He removes and sets up kings.  According to Proverbs 20:5, the heart of the king is a stream of water in the hands of the Lord.  In short, it clearly is God who decides who will lead any nation.

This does not mean that God will only send wise and benevolent rulers.  Exodus 9:16 reports that God raised up Pharaoh, even though he was arrogant and foolish, in order that God’s power might be displayed through his downfall.  This is true even for God’s own people.  In Jeremiah 13:13, God warns that He will fill the kings of Judah with drunkenness as part of His judgment of their nation.  Similarly, Isaiah 3:4 promises that God will send capricious children to be the rulers of His wicked people.  Though He leaves us our free will, it is nonetheless His will that is done.

We still should remember this, even though we live in a nation with a system of government that allows us the illusion of control.  “Your vote counts!” says every high-school civics class.  Well, yes, it is true that we can go to the polls and cast our ballots, but we should not imagine that we or any other human beings are dictating the outcome. 

God has not ceased to be the King of kings, nor the Lord of lords.  Our leaders, just as the leaders of every other nation, will be the leaders He chooses.  Perhaps He will be merciful and send us rulers who will help us on to prosperity and peace.  Perhaps He will be just and send us those who will bring us to ruin as part of His judgment on our national sins.  In either case, our votes cannot and will not override His purpose.  Prayer might.  Voting won’t.

Though my children are past it now, I still remember that parents whose kids are in car seats can buy steering wheels for those car seats.  Often, little Johnny is enthusiastic about his steering wheel.  He’ll spin that thing wildly, honk the horn, and be utterly convinced that he is the one who is driving the car.  However, it’s really Dad in the driver’s seat who is determining where the vehicle is headed.

We ought to remember that the same thing is true of our political participation.  If you want to study the issues, pick a candidate, and even advocate for that candidate, great!  There’s no sin in that, though there is sin in acrimonious political debate on Facebook. 

However, we must not forget whose steering wheel is connected and whose isn’t.