Praying for the Government 1: The Biblical Exhortation (Part 2)

  1. God needs righteous leaders that exemplify His character

God is holy, just and right. In his own capacity, righteousness and holiness adorns his house (Psalm 93:5) and those whom he appoints as leaders over nations should exhibit this godly attribute. However, no human can manufacture righteousness. It has to be imputed, that is, given by the righteous God to unrighteous people. Because God wants leaders to exemplify God in righteousness, He demands that rulers of the earth should exercise righteousness in judgment (Proverbs 21:3), leading and execution of all kinds of governmental duties. Godly leaders are not to take bribes or show favoritism (Exodus 23:8). Moses wrote, “For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.”  This is in accord with God’s character and holiness. God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11; Acts 10:34). He is not unjust or unrighteous and He renders to every man accordingly.

This kind of God thus expects leaders of the peoples to exemplify him and represent him in matters of judgment. The Bible says, “Now then let the fear of the LORD be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the LORD our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) Leaders should be known for being merciful, compassionate and gracious. This does not mean however, that leaders should tolerate wrong doings and give people excess freedom without law. God is a lawgiver and leaders should also give laws to the people, for, true freedom only exists when people are at liberty to respect and live in accordance to the given laws. The laws should not be repressive neither should they suppress people. God does not want lawbreakers; neither does he appreciate unjust laws.

God is so serious in His word concerning righteous judgments. He even went as far as pronouncing curses to those who accept bribes and twist judgment. We are informed, ‘Cursed is he who accepts a bribe to strike down an innocent person.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deuteronomy 27:25) This shows us how God looks with great disdain on the workers and doers of evil in the high places. “For the company of the godless is barren, And fire consumes the tents of the corrupt” (Job 15:34). Today, corruption is very rife and many world leaders can only be described as corrupt. A look at the media or internet unravels a lot of wicked and corrupt leaders who have been corrupted by the love of money, greedy, power and sex. These leaders stand in our countries and lead the nations to their ruin. The word of God further informs us, “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan (Proverbs 29:2 see also 28:12).

The call to pray for the government and earthly rulers is a serious call. The world groans and travails when leaders are godless and wicked. They implement policies and certain laws that suppress peoples. God is not in the habit of oppressing people. Jesus came to set the captives free and when he liberates people, he makes them free indeed. Any governmental system that oppresses its people is misrepresenting God’s kingdom and rule in the hearts of man. The book of Proverbs hinted on this when it records, “Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people” (Proverbs 28:15). God is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and all earthly rulers should look to Him and learn from Him who rules the world with righteousness (cf. Isaiah 33:1-2 and Jeremiah 23:5-6). We should pray to God “so that godless men would not rule nor be snares of the people” (Job 34:30).

Understanding the importance of exemplifying God’s rule on earth, the Psalmist prayed, “Give the king your judgments, O God, and your righteousness to the king’s son…” (Psalm 72:1-7). Earthly rulers are set and appointed by God. No matter what systems we may use in our respective countries, at the end of the day, God’s sovereign choices in appointing earthly rulers stands. However, because earthly governments are placed there by God, this does not entail right leadership or good governance. Unless the governmental leaders are not prepared to subject themselves to God’s rule first in their personal lives, they cannot by any means exemplify God’s reign to mankind. Thus, we should pray for them so that God can save them and bring righteousness to the world.

5. God cares for His people

Now, why does God provides earthly leadership? Why not just reign from the heavens above and let the peoples do their own biddings without earthly leadership? Would the world have been a better place if there were no earthly governments? We may be tempted to think that if such was the case, then the world would have been a much better place with no rules, laws and punishments for breaking the laws. But sadly, the Bible’s grand narrative informs us that it is not possible for humans to live peacefully and in harmony with one another when there is no government. I am reminded of the situation that existed in ancient Israel in the early chapters of the book of Judges. Israel had enjoyed the privilege of settling in the Promised Land of Canaan after disposing the Gentile nations that God had given them the permission to uproot from the land because if their abominations. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25 see also 17:6; 18:1; 19:1).

The situation in the book of Judges tells us of a very dark time among the children of Israel because there was no leadership. Everyone did what seemed best in his eyes and there was no standard of judgment and a gross disregard of moral principles that are characteristic of good governance went missing in a nation that had the written laws of God. Was the problem with the laws? Absolutely not! Then what was wrong? There was no enforcer of the law and people felt at liberty to do absolutely anything with no problems affecting their consciences. They were right in their own eyes. When people have no leader, they can reach astounding heights of spiritual, civil and moral degradation.

Yet, this should not be the case. God cares for His people and because he doesn’t want us to go astray, everyone in his own ways, He has provided us with earthly leaders to lead and influence us in godly living. In the book of Amos, we find strong condemnation of the people’s leaders who had turned aside judgment and compassion for the people. “For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate [from their right].” (Amos 5:12) A similar situation happened in the days of Isaiah the prophet, “Thy princes [are] rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them” (Isaiah 1:23). Isaiah further denounced the uncompassionate leaders of his day as those “Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” (Isaiah 5:23)

The true Church is the light of the world; a city set on high! We are the salt of the earth! (Matthew 5:14-16). As the Church, do we see God’s compassion on the multitudes that are suffering as the result of unjust governments and desire His compassion to be shown to all peoples? According to the book of Psalms, “The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation” (Psalm 145:9). In Jeremiah 33:11, the prophet declared, “Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, For the LORD is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” If the Church does not feel or see God’s compassion for His people, then it will not fall down on its knees to seek the compassionate Christ who cares for His people to intervene into the affairs of mankind. God can work sovereignly and intervene miraculously in the affairs of men, but, even though He can do that, He has chosen on several occasions not to do that without our invitation.

To the prophet Ezekiel, God said,  (Ezekiel 22:30 see also Isaiah 64:7). Why did God sought for a man instead of simply intervening and acting on His own accord? Is he limited without man’s help? No! On the contrary, God wants His saints to participate and partake of His kingdom reign, in this world and in the ages to come. It was because of His compassion that He sought at least a man to stand on the gap for the people. Thus, believers have a unique call from God to participate in His decisions that affects the destinies of the nations. He seeks partnership with man in His dealings in the earthly spheres and believers participate by praying and inviting God to come into their spheres. It is only when we understand this as the Church that we will be able to change the destinies of the world through our prayers, supplications and intercessions as did the great intercessor Abraham (Genesis 18).

6. Because of the nature of spiritual warfare

The Bible tells us in no unmistakable terms, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one(1 John 5:19). It is abundantly clear from biblical evidence that Satan claims ownership to this world, its systems and structures. When tempting Jesus, Satan boasted of this supposed ownership of the world. The Gospel writers have noted it well, “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;  And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 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” (Matthew 4:8-10). The great commentator, Matthew Henry describes the kingdoms and glories of the world in these apt and fitting words,

It is probable that that which he showed him, was but a landscape, an airy representation in a cloud, such as that great deceiver could easily frame and put together; setting forth, in proper and lively colours, the glories and the splendid appearances of princes; their robes and crowns, their retinue, equipage, and lifeguards; the pomp of thrones, and courts, and stately palaces, the sumptuous buildings in cities, the gardens and fields about the country-seats, with the various instances of their wealth, pleasure, and gaiety; so as might be most likely to strike the fancy, and excite the admiration and affection.[1]

Satan claims ownership of the world, its peoples and the souls of all those that dwell in it. Some bible scholars believe that Satan’s power to rule the world was given him by Adam when he fell at the Fall through disobedience to God’s direct command of not eating the forbidden tree. It is assumed, from that moment, Satan had legal right to the territory that the Lord had given to the sons of men to rule. “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men (Psalm 115:16). Thus, God in His own plan, he designed the earth for man’s habitation (Isaiah 45:18) but now, it has been invaded and occupied by strange, foreign diabolic powers that usurps their authority and causes men to do all forms of evils in the face of their creator.

The bible tells us that Satan is now the present god of this age who has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). As the god of this age and sole ruler of this world in his own right, Satan like the True God, also wants to appoint his own leaders. Remember his words to Jesus, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” One writer has expressed it this way,

Furthermore, Satan, whose name means “adversary,” is the god of this age in that he is the supreme exemplar of evil. In the words of Jesus, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Indeed, all the sin of the world is patterned after Satan: “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). It is he “who leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9). Finally, Satan is the de facto ruler of all who willingly subject themselves to his masterful deceit (2 Corinthians 4:4; 11:3). If we do not belong to the God of the ages, then we are of Satan—the god of this age.[2]

It is important for us as Christians to understand that we are in the midst of a great crisis. We have been caught in the midst of a great angelic conflict, a battle that has been raging on for thousands of years between God and Satan. Satan because of his own pride, he wants to sit in God’s place and be called ‘god’ so that the nations of the earth can worship him.  As a fallen angel, he seeks to be worshipped and receive the glory that only is due God. He thus deceives nations and leads them to commit abominations that spits in God’s face and becomes a stench in his nostrils. The prophets have spoken of this and gave an idea of Satan’s rebellion in these passages,

 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. – Isaiah 14:12-14

Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.  All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more. – Ezekiel 28:11-19

Satan wants the supreme control of the earth, the world and everything in it. God has given the earth to the sons of men and, the earth and its fullness thereof is the Lord’s. This brings a whole new understanding to the subject of prayer. God’s call to prayer is a call to battle. It is a call to war and those that respond should be able to pray and fight against spiritual wickedness in high places that seeks to control, influence and dominates the nations (Ephesians 6:12). This is not a new phenomenon. The Bible depicts a picture of this in Daniel chapter 10 as the prophet Daniel is praying for Israel and anticipating his answers to prayer. Meanwhile, in the spiritual arena, some demonic dark forces who have been assigned by Satan over the physical territories have launched an attack against an angel that has been sent by God to deliver an answer to Daniel’s prayers.

It is amazing and yet astounding how these demonic forces that exercise spiritual influence over nations are pictured as powerful forces. This is beyond human comprehension, but there it is in the Scriptures. The angel confesses to Daniel, “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia” (Daniel 12:13). The angel in question was withstood fro twenty one days and yet Daniel did not despair. He stood on his watch on the gap, praying until God had to send reinforcements by the arch angel Michael to allow this angelic being to pierce through to the earthly realms in the land of Persia. Some scholars have coined up the term “territorial spirits” to refer to these demonic hordes that rules and governs nations. But we should never lose sight of the fact that God is still the rightful owner of the world and blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.

According to Dr. John Piper, the passage of Daniel 10 suggests the demonic of several demonic spirits that sought the control of earthly nations in the spiritual territories. He says,

But this spirit is not the only one mentioned. Look at verses 20–21: “Then [the messenger from God] said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I am through with him, lo, the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.'” So the messenger is going back to fight against the prince of the kingdom of Persia and defeat him. And then there will appear on the scene another great enemy spirit, the prince of Greece. In other words, as different kingdoms rise and fall, different demonic spirits hold sway and have to be dealt with by God’s messengers in accomplishing his purposes. So it appears that there was a spirit over Persia and a spirit over Greece. But it also seems that Michael, the good angel, has some special assignment for Israel. Because it says at the end of verse 21: “Michael, your prince.” And the “your” there is plural in Hebrew. This is not a reference to Daniel’s guardian angel, but to Israel’s guardian angel.[3]

Therefore, we are summoned to battle; we are called to prayer. When as believers we understand that God’s call to prayer is a spiritual call to battle, we take God’s command seriously to fight on behalf of the nations. We pray and supplicate on behalf of our families, our cities and nations and pray that God’s will be done and that His kingdom should come. The kingdom of God should come and take over the dominions of all demonic and earthly rulers. But, if we chose to neglect the command to pray daily for the governments, we will suffer the same fate with the rest of unbelievers. There is an ongoing spiritual war that is raging in the spiritual and earthly spheres. God has equipped believers with the spiritual armor to do battle with the enemy (Ephesians 6:12-18).

The late S.D. Gordon is quoted by Dr. John Piper as once saying “Intercession is winning the victory over the chief, and service is taking the field after the chief is driven off.” As believers, we should not cease to pray for our governments especially now that we know of Satan’s plans to take control of our leaders, families, children and every area of human life. He claims ownership, but we know he is the father of all lies and our lands have been given to us by God. We should pray for our governments so that the schemes and wiles of Satan should be put to naughty. We should defeat Satan in prayer and expect to see physical change in our physical environment. Our nations will never be changed by wishful thinking and desires for better living alone. Neither can they be changed by complaints, war, strikes or any other human actions. Our nations need God, the Almighty to come to our side and help us!

Daily, we see in our world many evil things that are happening. Surprisingly, many governments have given a green light for many diabolic practices to take place in our countries. In some countries, murder in the form of all kinds of abortions has been sanctioned. People can now freely kill unborn babies for whatever reasons that seem best to them. Man who was created in God’s image is being slaughtered like sheep and oxen in some Islamic states in the mad name of holy wars. Prostitution has been legalized and adultery is no longer shunned but now stands as the daily practice of whole societies. The evils that were once evil have now been legalized and accepted to provide humanity with all kinds of pleasures and sensual lusts. In the physical, we will not win this war no matter who comes into power and ascends to the presidency. The only way we are ever going to win is by engaging in spiritual warfare. When we begin to lift the Lord on high and invite Him into our nations to intervene and change the complexion of events, then and only then, will our nations be spared from calamities. Otherwise, we have already trodden the paths of Sodom and Gomorrah, the paths of destruction.

__________________________________________

[1]  Matthew Henry. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. The Word Software.

[2] Hank Hanegraaff, The Covering: God’s Plan to Protect You from Evil (Nashville: W Publishing, 2002).

[3] John Piper. “Angels and Prayers: Daniel’s Experience and Ours” retrieved from http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/angels-and-prayer

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