The absolute authority of the Lord over the affairs of human beings is best observed by His placement of leaders in the governments of men. We might imagine that these authorities exist by their own will, or the will of a majority–we would be wrong. All authority comes from God alone. It is according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will that leaders of every government on the earth–for all time, exist. This principle is graphically illustrated throughout the Bible–by the lives of both good and evil men. God has chosen those who will rule, for His own purposes. Those who come against or even speak against any government which exists–do so in direct opposition to God Himself. Our place as followers of Jesus is to submit to the authorities which exist and do what the laws of men command us to do. Only in such cases where government commands us to not worship the True God of the Bible, are we to disobey.
Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
The most stunning example of this principle is observed in the Book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar is the king of Babylon, the most powerful kingdom in the world at that time. Daniel has been taken captive from Jerusalem by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, along with the best and brightest of Israel. God desires that this pagan king understand His sovereignty and the fact that He alone appoints men to the positions of leadership in the governments and kingdoms of the world.
Beginning in chapter 2 in the book of Daniel, we begin to see this principle established. Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that troubles him. He sees a statue with a head of Gold, chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Then a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.
Daniel is found as one who is able to interpret the king’s dream. He informs Nebuchadnezzar that this dream has been given to the king—for the express purpose of teaching him the sovereignty of God.
Daniel 2:20 Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings.
God alone is responsible for those who rule in the kingdoms of men. He raises up and removes leaders as He determines. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that God has chosen him as the king—over a vast empire that has great power. This is signified in the kings dream by the head of gold.
Daniel 2:37-39 You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 38 and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. 39 But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.
After a period of time, God will remove Nebuchadnezzar and place another in authority; the chest and arms of silver—Cyrus of the Medes and Persians.
It is interesting in both cases, these men are pagan kings who do not know God. It will be through the process of being raised up as kings, and later, replaced by others, that these men will come to know the One True God. After Daniel reveals the interpretation of the king’s dream, Nebuchadnezzar understands that this God is the One true God.
Daniel 2:47 The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.”
Not long after the king’s expression of amazement at seeing the sovereignty of God, he reconsiders his conclusions and believes that he might be able to countermand God’s authority. Nebuchadnezzar erects an entire statue of Gold to signify that his kingdom will not end. In the dream that God had formerly given to Nebuchadnezzar, only the head of the statue was Gold. This signified that the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar had a limited period of authority—before God would raise up another to rule.
It is interesting that Nebuchadnezzar thought that he could challenge this premise and seek to extend his rule—by making an entire statue of Gold.
Daniel 3:1-6 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 4 Then a herald cried aloud: “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; 6 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”
The patience of God in trying to teach this pagan king—who is really in control over all things, is extraordinary. Even after Nebuchadnezzar exalts himself and defies God’s command—by erecting a 90 foot tall gold statue of himself, God continues to patiently instruct him. Nebuchadnezzar is given a second dream by God:
Daniel 4:4-5 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace. 5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
Daniel is brought once again, back to the king, to interpret this latest dream.
Daniel 4:9-10-18 “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation. 10 “These were the visions of my head while on my bed: I was looking, and behold, A tree in the midst of the earth, And its height was great. 11 The tree grew and became strong; Its height reached to the heavens, And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth…13 “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14 He cried aloud and said thus: “Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, And the birds from its branches…16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast, And let seven times (seven years) pass over him. 17 “This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’ 18 “This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation…
Nebuchadnezzar is the tree that will be chopped down. This kings will be humbled by God, and led out into the fields—where he will lose his mental capacity for seven years. He will eat the grass of the field like a cow and remain in this helpless condition until he is ready to acknowledge that God alone is sovereign over all governments and authorities of men.
Daniel 4:20 “The tree that you saw… 22 it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth….25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.
After seven years, Nebuchadnezzar is ready to declare that God is God and He alone rules over all the earth.
Daniel 4:34-35 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?”
There are many examples in the Old Testament where pagan kings and ungodly men are placed into positions of leadership by God—for His own good purpose.
Romans 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
These places in the scriptures are given to us as points for our learning. The principle that we should pay attention to is observed by the attitudes of those who come against spiritual leadership. Even under conditions where a man is not properly serving the people—to come against this leader—brings judgment upon those who commit such rebellion.
David as an example of submission
When David was in the Wilderness of En Gedi—hiding in a cave, king Saul came to relieve himself. The men who were hiding in the darkness with David, encouraged him to kill Saul and thereby eliminate the constant threats which Saul had made against David’s life. Is it particularly interesting to me that these men incorrectly saw this as an opportunity that came from God. David determined that he would not kill the king—because he viewed Saul as one who was placed into his position of authority—by God.
1 Samuel 24:6-7 And David said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7 So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way.
For this reason, and many others, David is viewed by God as a man after His own heart. The Lord despises those who seek to come against any man whom God has placed into authority. Further, all authority comes from God. No government, king, president, spiritual leader, or power—exists apart from God’s sovereign will. This includes both good and evil leaders. We learn, by the profound lesson of Nebuchadnezzar’s rulership, that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, (and) Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’
The Lord is able to remove those who are improperly conducting their leadership. God takes it as a great personal offense when men seek to subvert the authority of those who are in positions of spiritual authority in Jesus church. Whether they exist as good servants or bad—they all exist by the sovereign will of God.
Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
James 3:1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment (from God).
Sometimes, God permits ungodly leadership, or the presence of an evil ruler—because this is what the people secretly desire in their hearts. By the placement of these ungodly men, into positions of leadership, God is able to bring judgement against those who do not want God to rule over them.
What is our response as followers of Jesus?
Prayer. Unending and serious petitions for our government leaders. They need help. The kind of assistance and wisdom that mortal men cannot apprehend themselves. Ask the Lord to bless our leaders–though they often conduct themselves contrary to the righteousness of God. In their stead, we seek God on their behalf. Praying these men and women will humble themselves under the Lord and seek Him as they acknowledge His rightful place in all the affairs of men. It is by this personal humility and sincere submission to God–ourselves, in all things, that we are able to lead quiet and peaceable lives.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
 Daniel 2:32-34
 Daniel 2:38
 1 Samuel 24:1-4 Now it happened, when Saul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, “Take note! David is in the Wilderness of En Gedi.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats. 3 So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.) 4 Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’
 Acts 13:22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’
 Romans 13:1-2
 Daniel 4:17