This week much of the world has watched the presidential elections in the United States. People understand that the leadership of this nation will influence the course of events for the entire planet.
History is in many ways a chronicle of leaders: emperors, kings and queens, presidents, premiers, popes, priests, ayatollahs, chancellors, governors, generals, mayors–these and many, many more have shaped this world.
Entire generations have hung their hopes–indeed their very lives–on the promises or the commands of someone who holds a powerful or influential office. A new leader can electrify the hopeful with grandiose promises, but, as history has so often shown, the old leader once stood for these same unanswered dreams.
Bad leadership is the rule–it is certainly not the exception! There is a reason for this, and that reason falls on the shoulders of Satan the devil and his angels, the demons. They are the spiritual rulers of this age (Compare 2 Corinthians 4:4; 11:14-15). Consider what Satan boasted to Jesus Christ: “‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I WISH'” (Luke 4:6).
Jesus recognized that, for the time being, Satan was “‘the ruler of this world'” (John 16:11). However, Jesus also made this remarkable statement about Himself: “‘…be of good cheer, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD'” (John 16:33). When asked by Pilate if He was the King of the Jews, Jesus answered: “‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world…'” (John 18:37). At the same time, He mentioned to Pilate that he “could have no power at all” against Him, “unless it had been given to [him] from above” (John 19:11). God is in overall control, and although He has not yet replaced Satan as the ruler of this world, He will intervene in human affairs, to appoint, at critical times, over the kingdom of men whomever He chooses (Daniel 5:21; 4:17, 32) — to see to it that prophecy is being fulfilled. You might want to listen, in this regard, to our sermon of July 3, 2004, titled,
“Who is in Control?”
Jesus pointedly told His disciples that “‘I WILL COME AGAIN…'” (John 14:3). Two of God’s faithful angels proclaimed the same message to the stunned disciples following Christ’s resurrection and at the time of His ascension to the Father: “‘This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven'” (Acts 1:11).
This good news is the only true hope for this world! As “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), we proclaim this hope in the continuing work of the Church which Jesus Christ now leads (Compare Matthew 24:14). As representatives of Jesus, we also follow His lead–we no longer follow the lead of Satan and those to whom he gives authority and who practice his deeds.
As Christians we are to pray for the humans who now rule and to submit ourselves to their laws (Compare 1 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 13:1-7). Foremost, this kind of approach is how God requires us to act if He is ruling in our lives. The only exception is if man’s laws are against God’s laws (Compare Acts 4:19; 5:29).
Who leads the nations of this world at this time is not the most important issue facing Christians. God has preserved a warning for those who are called to His way of life: “‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins and lest you receive of her plagues'” (Revelation 18:4). This is a message for all of the people of God throughout the ages and leading up to the promised return of Jesus Christ.
Until then, it might be good to regularly check up on where we each stand, and to ask ourselves, “who leads us?”