Keep in mind that Satan is called the “god of this world”.
2Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
And that he claimed to be able to offer all the kingdoms of the world, as if they were his personal property, to Christ when he tried to tempt the Lord.
Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
The rulers of this world are basically ignorant, no matter what their intellectual accomplishments.
1 Corinthians 2:6 ¶ Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
In truth, the world system may be awesome in its power and majesty and nations are terrifying in their ability to project power and in their artistic and intellectual accomplishments and in philosophy and religion but, in the end, as it says in the old Scofield notes, they are only held together by force. With regard to America itself, some historians tell us that as of 1865 the United States ceased to be a voluntary experiment in personal freedom and became a nation itself held together only by force.
But, in spite of the fact that our governmental leaders and, in fact, all the governments of the world are under Satan’s operative control we are still commanded to pray for our leaders.
1 Timothy 1 ¶ I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Let me tell you that when this was written there were no Christian kings or rulers. So, we have no excuse not to pray for our leaders, even if they are godless reprobates.
But, what kind of man would seek a position of secular power over other men?
In Daniel we find this;
Daniel 4:17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
So, secular rulers are not highly esteemed by God but we are told to pray for them.
Notice the fact that not many of them think highly of God, either, regardless of what they say on the campaign trail to get votes.
1Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
So, Satan is the god of this world and he is the operative head of all human government. His rulers, or very few of them rather, will be saved. And yet we are told to pray for them. Pray for your leaders.
There were no Christian countries at the time the Bible was written or at least none that considered themselves Christian. Some historians say that Armenia was the first country whose government considered itself Christian and others say it was Ethiopia.
But, can a country be called Christian? Here’s who were called Christian in the Bible.
Acts 11:26 says……..”And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
Who were the disciples? Let’s look in Luke for that answer.
Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
So, Christians were disciples of Christ and disciples, to be called that by Christ, must have given up everything to follow Him. Nations are not Christians. People are Christians.
Much has been said that the USA is or was a Christian nation. But, our early leaders in treaty document with the petty state of Tripoli on the North Coast of Africa said in 1797;
Article 11. "As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."
200 years later in an interview with David Frost, America’s most famous evangelist celebrity, Billy Graham, said something interesting.
David Frost: So is this still a Christian Country?
Billy Graham: No! We're not a Christian Country. We've never been a Christian Country. We're a secular Country, by our constitution. In which Christians live and which many Christians have a voice. But we're not a Christian Country.
Can there be a Christian country on earth before the return of our King to take possession of the kingdoms of the earth?
Note what Jesus says in John 18:36.
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
And then see what is said about Him when He physically returns to rule the earth.
Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
Note that when asked to get involved in a civil dispute about a physical inheritance between two brothers Jesus refused to intervene.
Luke 12:13 ¶ And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. 14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
So, as yet there isn’t a Christian nation but this nation has more Christians in it than any other nation. But, we have a secular government so that no one religion can dominate us and tell us what to believe.
Most people have interpreted the first amendment to our Constitution which states;
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
..as meaning that the government needs to stay out of religion completely and even abstain from shows of religious faith.
In fact, the state run public schools teach a type of atheism, forcing students to hear that we all evolved from slime and apes, that the universe is an accident, and that being a homosexual is just another way of looking at things.
Our military has court-martialed chaplains for using Jesus Christ’s name in public prayer as Gordon James Klingenschmidt of the US Navy experienced.
We even, in our early years, delivered the mail on Sunday, a practice which wasn’t abolished until 1912, I believe, and there were debates about the wisdom of enforcing what are called Sabbatarian laws called “Blue Laws” prohibiting businesses to operate on Sunday were, at first, a part of the Puritan doctrine of welding state and church as one unit which was against our constitutional principles and were basically an attack on non-traditional religions like Seventh Day Adventists and religions in opposition to Christianity like that of the Jews. Today, most Blue Laws have been repealed or are ignored except for the sale of liquor on Sundays in some places.
But, in spite of all that, God has commanded us to pray for our leaders.
We are also told to honour our leaders in 1 Peter 2:17. To honour someone is to respect them. We’re told to offer the same respect to our parents. But, are our leaders honorable? Does it matter that they aren’t? We are still told to honor them and this was written in a time when there was no Christian king and rulers like Caligula, who was an insane demon possessed pervert who had his horse nominated to the Senate of Rome, had power. It was a time when Nero, who had his own mother executed and killed himself by stabbing himself in the throat ruled. He also had Christians soaked in pitch and had them burnt like torches having fun while he heard them scream in agony.
But, we are told to honour them. It’s what God wants so that we can lead a peaceful and honorable life and take our time spreading His gospel message rather than fighting.
On Christmas Day, 2004, Bill Hekman of the Calvary Life Fellowship reports the 400 members of one Christian group in Aceh, Indonesia were denied the right by their Muslim rulers to celebrate Christmas in town. They were ordered to go to a nearby hilltop to worship. They obeyed their godless rulers. Then the great earthquake and Tsunami struck. Aceh was destroyed but the 400 Christians who had humbly obeyed their wicked rulers were spared by God from this awful judgment.
Regardless of who our political leaders are, we are told to honour them. We have had Presidents in this country who have lied to us repeatedly. FDR, who was president when WWII began is known now to have done everything in his power to goad Japan and Germany into attacking us so that he could convince peace loving Americans that we had to fight. He had plenty of notice warning of the “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor but did nothing to warn the local commanders.
President Wilson got re-elected in 1916 with the slogan, “He kept us out of the war”, and then he sent our troops into the mess of World War One the next year. In other words, he lied. But, when these leaders lie to get us into a war, we are still to honour them.
It’s frustrating. It’s infuriating. But, we are told to pray for our leaders and to honour them.
We must obey the laws.
Romans 13:1 ¶ 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. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 ¶ Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Remember, there were no countries when this was written that honored Christ as Lord and no governments but pagan ones.
1 Peter 2:13 ¶ Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
Of course, there is one glaring exception to this rule. Notice what Peter says when commanded to stop preaching Jesus.
Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
For instance, in opposing abortion many Christians have pointed out the example of the Egyptian midwives in Exodus who spared the Hebrew male children and were rewarded by God even though this was in violation of the Pharaoh’s commands.
We are to pay our taxes. Jesus paid his supernaturally to make this point clear.
Matthew 17:24 ¶ And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
We recognize what is of the world and what is of God with regard to the state’s money.
Matthew 22:16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.
A governmental think tank, called the Brookings Institute, once stated that all money in America truthfully belongs to the government. Jesus affirms this in regard to the physical, material coinage, and by extrapolation, we would include paper money. Our founders believed that it was land and labor that were inviolably private property and that paper money was a tool of tyranny anyway. In fact, it has little to back it up but empty promises.
Truthfully, if you live a life pleasing to God and you obey the Lord Jesus Christ you aren’t likely to easily run afoul of the law.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
But, even if the powers that be are set against you, being a Christian, remember…
1 Peter 3:16 ¶ Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
So, God commands us to pray for our political leaders, to honour them, and to obey them inasmuch as their laws don’t violate God’s commands to us to preach the word and it doesn’t matter if their last name is Bush or Obama, it is God who wills it.
Early Christian groups and those who opposed the Roman Catholic State Church throughout the Middle Ages didn’t participate in government or believe it was consistent with a Christian witness to do so.
However, in our country, we the people are supposed to be in charge, and we elect leaders to manage our political affairs. Nevertheless, we still live in a country where the vast majority of people don’t think like we do or acknowledge the sovereignty and authority of Jesus Christ as we do.
Being Americans we have a natural distrust of authority and find it easy to be rebellious and insubordinate to elected leaders. But, remember, our founders derived a lot of things about our government from the Bible in spite of the fact that they didn’t tie its operation to the Bible.
We get the three branches of government, for instance, from Isaiah 33:22;
For the LORD is our judge (judicial), the LORD is our lawgiver (legislative), the LORD is our king (executive); he will save us.
And to further explain the need for this separation of powers, Jeremiah 17:9 was used.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
And the basis for tax exempt status was;
Ezra 7:24 Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.
Freedom of religion under the safety of a secular government was the passion of the founders of this country. James Madison, our fourth president, who is called the Father of the Constitution, said before the General Assembly of Virginia;
“Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, “that Religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.” He goes on to say a couple of paragraphs later that Religion is exempt from all government interference.
And yet, next year we may have a President elected who might do whatever he or she can do to interfere with that conviction of conscience by a person of faith.
Still, God’s word has not changed, whether in dealing with an Emperor Nero or a President Whoseiemugsit, we are to pray for them, honour them, and obey the law inasmuch as that law does not contradict God’s command to spread the gospel.