A good 700 years before God became flesh and dwelt among us, there was a Jewish man named Isaiah who told us some very significant, detailed things concerning this Messiah, the Savior of the world. These are things that were revealed to him by God Almighty Himself, which have been preserved in writing for over 2,700 years, that all of us may see and marvel at the God who revealed Himself to (and through) Isaiah.
Among the most peace-giving truths that we read in Isaiah’s writings are these words, as he spoke of the promised Messiah: “The government will rest on His shoulders.” (Is. 9:6).
This prophecy doesn’t give us any answers as to who will be the President of the United States during the next few years, or who will have the majority in the Senate or House. These things matter to all of us a lot right now, as we are (at the time of writing this) three full days after arguably the most anticipated and feared election day in the history of this Country. It doesn’t tell us whether or not it has been or will be a free and fair election for the American people. This verse says nothing about whether or not the results of the election are going to end up strengthening or even destroying the Country. It doesn’t say anything at all about a lot of things. But it does say a lot about one Thing, and that one Thing has everything to do with all other things. “The government WILL rest on His shoulders.”
These last few days, as I have been praying and considering what God has spoken to us in His unwavering Word, the Lord has been so good to give me such an immense amount of peace, that it almost no longer matters to me who wins the election. To be clear, like of the rest of us, I have my strong personal preference of one candidate over the other, but in light of what I’ve been reminded of by my great God of all grace, through the Scriptures, in a much broader sense, the outcome really no longer matters to me. I really am serious about that, regardless of how crazy it may sound. For sure, the outcome is by no means inconsequential. Certainly, the Country will head in one direction if Donald Trump gets reelected, and a very different direction if Joe Biden becomes President. What I’m saying… no, what God has assured us in His Word… is that neither of those guys, nor anyone else, is the ultimate determining factor of what has ever taken place in government, or will ever take place in government. The faith that I can rest in, as a Christian, even in tumultuous times such as these, is that ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to the Savior that Isaiah prophetically revealed to us (Mat. 28:18). This means that the government has absolutely no authority over God, and that God and His will can never, ever be swayed or thwarted in even the slighted bit by any government. For God does not rest on the shoulders (or laws) of the government, but rather, the glorious and peace-giving truth is that the government rests solely on the shoulders of the Lord, “who is the blessed and ONLY sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light.” (1 Tim. 6:15, contextually speaking specifically of Jesus Christ, who is the Savior that Isaiah wrote about, as he longed for His appearing). The coming of Christ the Messiah, and specifically His victorious death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, fulfilled all prophecy, which means that now the government DOES rest on His shoulders. He has absolute authority over ALL of the elected and appointed officials (past, present and future), whether any of them honor His authority or not. His authority over them does not hinge on their degree of submission to Him, or upon their alignment of their moral standard with His. No, His authority is infinite and eternal, as it has been secured by both the promise and fulfillment of His sovereign Word, in Christ.
The only sovereign God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, the Judge and Ruler of all, Jesus Christ, the One in whom is found redemption for our souls and forgiveness for our sins, is the One who created thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities (Col. 1:16). This means that governing rulers and systems are not ultimately put in place by us, the voters, but by Him, the One who has authority over the casting and counting of our votes. The wisdom of the Proverbs comforts the believer in telling us that “the lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Prov. 16:33). Again, this assures us that this election will be ultimately determined by the all-wise God, not by any individual or organization. This, by definition, is what it means, in part, when it says that God is the “only sovereign, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (1 Tim. 6:15).
But what if “the bad guy,” “the evil guy” makes it into office (whichever of the candidates this makes you think of)? Am I saying here that if the more evil person ends up being America’s President for the next few years, that it is by God’s will that it happens? Emphatically, I say yes, without a shadow of a doubt. And not only would I go so far as to say that it would be His will, but I would also stress that it would be in keeping with His good, wise, perfect and loving will. How is it that I could say such a thing?! Wouldn’t that mean that God delights in evil? God forbid! No! What I am saying is that God is totally sovereign over all evil, and in His infinite wisdom He ultimately brings all evil and evildoers into full submission to His unchallenged authority. History is FILLED with undeniable examples of this, where He intends for wicked rulers to be established on earth for a time, so that God would put them and their evil plots to shame by using every detail of their wicked schemes to be the very means through which His people are blessed beyond measure, and the magnificence of His glory is displayed in awe-inspiring splendor, that all of us may see and know and bow down before Him in humble and repentant worship, as He sits enthroned forever upon His glorious throne. From Genesis through Revelation we see His good and sovereign ruling wisdom working for our good and His glory, through the hands and plans of people and systems that are purely evil. He ALWAYS proves to triumph over them. Always!
We see Jacob’s jealous sons plot against their brother Joseph, where they sold him to people from a foreign land, and then returned to their father to tell him that a wild beast had killed Joseph. Then the people that bought Joseph from his brothers took him and sold him into slavery in Egypt, to a member of the powerful, wicked government that reigned there at the time. Eventually (skipping lots of details, to keep a long story short) we see that God intended for Joseph to be where he was, so that Pharaoh would see so much value in Joseph, that Pharaoh appointed him to be in charge over all of Egypt. Yes, this means that by means of the evil of men, God, in His gracious wisdom, intentionally placed Joseph in slavery and prison, so that he would eventually be exalted to the second highest position in the land, under only Pharaoh himself!
But look at why the Lord did this… He put Joseph there, so that ultimately, when an extreme famine came across the land, not only would God work through Joseph to provide for Egypt, but also for all of Israel, God’s chosen people! By the means of evil schemes being executed, through the slavery and unjust imprisonment of Joseph, God provided the best of everything for all of His people for 400 years! Joseph saw every detail of what took place, all the good and all the evil, as being subject to the wise and loving sovereign God of the universe, and therefore he was able to look his brothers in the face and say, “You meant evil against me, God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” (Gen 37-50). Notice, God didn’t just USE evil that somehow took place outside of His will. No, at no point did God ever lose control of any detail of the situation. His will was being accomplished through every step of the way, which is why Joseph had the wisdom, courage and faith to say that God MEANT for the evil to take place, in order that He might prove to the world that He always triumphs over all evil. This is one example of the government resting on the shoulders of the Lord.
Elsewhere in Scripture we see the Apostle Paul tell us, “There is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” (Rom. 13:1). Paul wrote to the believers in Colossae that “He is the head over all rule and authority.” (Col. 2:10). The truly amazing thing about the writing of these words, to both the Roman and Colossian believers, is that Paul wrote them while he was in prison simply because of his faith in Christ, under the infamous, evil, unjust rulership of the Emperor Nero! Paul is telling us today, through these ancient letters, to trust God to always work His good, no matter who ever does or does not become our President, regardless of how good or evil he may be. If God could choose to accomplish His good will through Nero, then He could surely work His goodness with either Trump or Biden as President, without any hindrance at all.
In 1 Samuel we see Israel rejecting the rulership of God Himself over them, as they instead were wanting to have a king rule over them, like the rest of the world had. God gave them their wish, even though their wish (their vote) wasn’t wise, and Saul became Israel’s first king. This was what the people voted for in their folly, but look what it says: “Do you see him who the Lord has chosen?” (1 Sam. 10:24). Not “the people,” but “the Lord.” It was God’s choice to work His wise grace through the folly of men. And God intended for this folly to run it’s course, ultimately so that the prophetic promises regarding the Savior, would be fulfilled! The government fully rests on the shoulders of God!
And we have Daniel who, under the evil reign of King Nebuchadnezzar (who sentenced God’s people to death by fire simply because they would not bow down to the king’s god), said to his God in prayer, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him… He removes kings and establishes kings.” (Dan. 2:20-21). Then Daniel said to the next king, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, “O king, the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory, and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father.” (Dan. 5:17). And as the story makes clear (you should read it for yourself), God established this evil man as king to bring about what was ultimately best for His children. To us this seems like folly. But we are the foolish ones who are lacking in understanding. To God, who is all-wise, this is His always-triumphant wisdom. And it always results in infinite grace to His children, and a just judgement upon His enemies. Only a sovereign God could accomplish this.
Bear with me through one more story, as this is the most important of them all…
It is true that the greatest gift of God to mankind is the gift of His Son Jesus, who bought our forgiveness with His own blood being shed on a criminal’s cross. He took our sin upon Himself, along with all of God’s just wrath that our sin had earned, so that whoever would receive this gift of grace would not only be forgiven, but also washed clean, made new, and clothed in Christ’s righteousness. He “who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21). This is absolutely the greatest blessing that the Creator of the universe has ever granted to mankind, and what is amazing is that the gift will be freely bestowed, at Christ’s gracious expense, upon all who would just humbly receive it and turn to Him in the worship that true gratitude always produces.
So that’s the story of the cross of Christ, the story of God’s love for His people. But how did that story come about? How did God choose for it to happen? Well, you can read the details in the Bible yourself, but in short, God used the betrayal of a so-called friend, and a combination of corrupt, racist, sexist, greedy, scandalous religious and government systems to beat Jesus, the Savior of the world, nearly to death, and then nail Him on a cross to die. He was whipped countless times with a cat of nine tails. He was crowned with a crown of thorns, and then beaten in the head with a wooden reed. They pulled His beard out. They punched Him and spit in His face. They put a robe on Him and bowed down to Him in laughter and mockery, because He called Himself the King of the Jews. And they eventually nailed Him to a cross, where they shamefully stripped Him of His clothing, and cast lots for it. They mocked Him until He breathed His last, when one of Jesus’ murderers, who “saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God.’ ” (Mark 15:39). Jesus died so that men like him, folks like us, would see the glory of His grace, and receive it and be saved, forgiven and made new in Him.
Before all of these things happened, though, we read an absolutely amazing passage in the book of John. Before being handed over to the people, to be crucified, Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of the day. Pilate questioned Jesus, but Jesus stood silently before him. Puzzled by His silence, Pilate said to Jesus, “Do you not know that I have authority to release you, and I have authority to crucify you?” (John 19:10). At that point Jesus finally opened His mouth to say these striking words: “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above.” Wow! Wow! Wow! Do any of us have any clue as to how much Jesus said in that statement?! Among many other things, He is saying that He was there to be crucified, not because the masses were crying out (voting) for it, but because His Father in heaven willed it to be so, so that His people’s sins would be paid for and forgiven through His victorious atoning death on the cross. And Jesus is saying, “Pilate, I don’t rest on your shoulders. You rest on Mine, for I am the blessed and only sovereign One.”
Beloved ones, the Lord has always only done good for His children. And as we have seen throughout history, He has often ordained that His wise and loving will would be accomplished by the means of the most crooked and evil governments and schemes. He truly does always cause “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28). This means that the government does indeed rest on His shoulders. It always has, and it always will.
So what does this mean as it pertains to this presidential election? It means that we have casted our votes, and whether it be through justice or injustice, and whether it be the “better” or “worse” candidate that comes out on top, the Lord will most certainly be in complete decisive control over every detail of the matter, and He will definitely bring about the result of the election for the purpose of blessing all of His children with every grace that is to be had in Him, which would have never come about if the election results ended up differently. This is true whether the person that you voted for makes it into office or not. That is why, regardless of what the results show themselves to be, our only right response before God and our neighbor is that we “see that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:15-18). Elsewhere it says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Phil. 4:4-9).
May God have mercy on us all.
Smiles Welch; 11/6-7/2020; Athens, Ohio