As the children of God, brought into God’s divine plan by faith in Jesus Christ, we have the great honour and privilege of glorifying Christ, regardless of the situation in which we find ourselves. As we surrender ourselves to Him in the workplace, our extended family, at school, and as citizens of nations where God has placed us, the great Master Planner is able to use us, even in places of persecution. One molecule of water on its own has no effect. However, divinely guided waters, with innumerable molecules working in unison, can save the Lord’s people, and then drown their enemies, as in the crossing of the Red Sea. Christ’s voice, like that of ‘many waters’, Rev. 1. 15, typifies what God can do with countless helpless and dependent servants obeying His voice through the Holy Spirit. We seem unimportant, and maybe unnecessary, when we are harshly rejected, and despised by evil persons who hold sway in our lives. But it may be that a small act of obedience, in the midst of persecution, that displays God’s love will be rewarded in a coming day, to our surprise, Matt. 25. 34-45.
From the beginning, man has sought to rule himself. First, Adam rejected Jehovah’s fellowship, and rule in his life, Gen. 3. 8. With the history of the flood still fresh in their minds, God’s name is again rejected. In Genesis chapter 11 verse 4, man sought for the knowledge of the stars, instead of the stars’ Creator. They sought to make their own name, or rule, instead of calling on the name of the Lord. Again, during the times of the judges in Israel, we read twice that every man did that which ‘was right in his own eyes’, Judg. 17. 6; 21. 25.
A significant turn of events occurred during the time of Samuel. Israel refused to acknowledge Jehovah as their King, and they desired to have their own king; thus, God said, ‘They have rejected me, that I should not reign over them’, 1 Sam. 8. 7. The evil of man’s rule was rehearsed by Samuel to the people. The king would take advantage of his authority. He would take their sons and force them to become his servants. He would take their daughters, and he would take their lands. He would tax the people, by taking a tenth of their money, and then give money to his servants. Finally, the people themselves would become his servants. The people of Israel chose man’s rule, with its covetousness, arrogance, injustices, and inequities over the truthful, humble, and just reign of Jehovah, Ps. 45. 4. Jehovah’s final statement was, ‘And ye have this day rejected your God’, 1 Sam. 10. 19.
God allows evil men to rule because of man’s choice to reject the authority of God. God in his mercy thereafter looks for godly men to help guide His people. Even King David, ‘a man after his own heart’, 1 Sam. 13. 14, succumbed to man’s innate frailty towards evil.1 The dismal conclusion of Jehovah’s search is relayed to Ezekiel in chapter 22 and verse 30, ‘And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none’. This continues in Romans chapter 3 verse 23, ‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’. By rejecting God’s rule, mankind has assumed a responsibility for itself that it cannot handle. God placed government into the hands of men after the flood despite their failings. Man was originally made to govern the earth; in man’s broken state of sin, he still brings some semblance of order to humanity.
Despite the fact that mankind in general rejects God’s rule, they can never eliminate God’s ultimate authority over man’s final destiny. The scarlet thread of God’s grace and righteousness, placed on the finger of Zarah and in the window of Rahab, is woven throughout history. Mercy, grace and truth is humbly, but resplendently, displayed at the cross, and in His glorious resurrection. Regardless of the evil, a glorious future now awaits mankind. Christ in His grace and mercy will ultimately rule supreme during His millennial reign. Man’s evil, even to the extreme of Armageddon, cannot thwart God’s just, kind, and humble rule that He will bestow on this earth in a coming day.2
Therefore, God allows evil men to rule, since it is the desire of their will. Without man’s self-governance, there would be a worse situation of anarchy. Man’s government will not change God’s final outcome of peace and justice during His millennial reign.
Throughout history, God’s will is woven through tribulation in at least six ways:
An arrogant Pharaoh challenges God’s power, ‘And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go’, Exod. 5. 2. God’s answer is, ‘For this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth’, Exod. 9. 16; Rom. 9. 17. God´s overwhelming victory for His people at the Red Sea is still declared the world over, even today.
Another arrogant and evil ruler is found in the New Testament. King Herod Agrippa I, in Acts chapter 12 verse 21, makes an oration, and accepts the people’s adulation as they praise him as a god. He did not give God the glory, and was then eaten of worms. His successor, King Herod Agrippa II, delivers Paul to Rome, and after King Agrippa II there are no further successors to the Idumean throne. The glory of the sons of Esau is lost, and neither they, nor their glory, are ever mentioned again in scripture, or in secular history. The glory of Christ, however, is still proclaimed, and the evangelization of the world as preached by the apostle Paul is still evident today.
There are other scriptural examples that can be used, but one of the greatest is the case of Pilate. He delivered Christ to be crucified. The startling result is Christ’s glorious resurrection, which still resounds throughout history today. History tells us that Pilate afterwards lost his position and died in ignominy.3
A notable example in Biblical history is Nebuchadnezzar. He is used by God in various ways. He is used by God to chastise the southern tribes, and will be mentioned later as a testimony of salvation. God uses Nebuchadnezzar independently of his evil, and his pagan beliefs in divination through livers and images, Ezek. 21. 21. Nebuchadnezzar’s pagan beliefs, and his earthly power and influence, have all passed away. However, the resulting corrective influence on God’s people is most impressive, and long lasting, ‘For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation’, Hab. 1. 6; ‘O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction’, v. 12; 2 Kgs. 20. 17, 18. Judah’s expectation of a rebuilt temple, their prayers, their devotion to the reading of God’s word under Ezra, and the earnest rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel will result in the glorification of Christ. The ‘desire of all nations’, a messianic reference to Jesus Christ, will fill the temple with His glory, Hag. 2. 7. This same temple is later embellished by Herod. The Light of the world would hold discussions with the learned men of that day at the age of twelve. It is there that He teaches about the widow’s mite. It is later the place of Christian worship in Solomon’s Porch. Our Lord later prophesies its destruction as a result of His people’s rejection of Him.
Later, after Babylon fulfils its purpose, it, likewise, comes under God’s judgement for its own evil, Isa. 13. 19; 14. 4. In a similar fashion, Assyria is raised up by God for judgement on the northern tribes of Israel, and then is judged by God, 10. 5-19.
Man’s evil rule does not rule God, or limit God’s possibilities. God can act in righteousness, in spite of man’s evil actions. One of history’s most ruthless despots, who governed the largest conquered part of the world that was ever known until that time, was Cyrus. Cyrus was raised up to fulfil the exercise of God’s righteousness, not because of any righteousness of Cyrus, but because of God’s sovereignty. This wonderful prophecy of Isaiah chapter 45 verse 13 gives hope to the people of Israel 150 years before the birth of Cyrus. This would give the Lord’s people confidence when dealing with him. They would not be intimidated, nor frightened by his cruelty, since they already know that God will effect His righteousness through Cyrus, even in spite of his wicked character.
Nebuchadnezzar is lifted up; his mind is hardened in pride for having a kingdom whose military might surpassed that of king David. His wealth surpassed that of king Solomon. The rich treasures of Israel were now his. God then deposed him from his throne, and took away his glory. He was driven from men, and his heart became like that of an animal, Dan. 5. 21. After Nebuchadnezzar is humiliated by God for seven years, he lifts up his eyes to heaven, and his understanding returns. Nebuchadnezzar recognizes God’s authority. He praises, extols and honours Him. Nebuchadnezzar then makes a proclamation, according to the custom of that day. That proclamation is heralded throughout his entire kingdom. In those days, the king’s word was considered final and true. Many would have heard the message and believed in God.
Another example is the ‘king of Nineveh’, Jon. 3. 6-7. The king ‘laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles’. In verse 5, ‘the greatest of them even to the least of them’ fasted and put on sackcloth. When a leader humbles himself publicly, the spiritual effects are salutatory for the people of his nation.
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