This is a great question- Is God working in and/or through government? I realize that this is an emotionally charged issue in our time. I would suppose that each of us would take different positions on this point. I would like to look at one instance of many in the Bible that could point us in the right direction on God’s involvement in secular government.
This past week I have been spending time studying the Gospel account of Jesus’ birth. I mentioned this past Sunday that this is something that I have done as a teaching pastor at least 29 years in a row. The majority of those years, there were a few exceptions, my studies have been in the Gospel and also looking at other areas like the fulfilled prophecies concerning Christ’s birth. I am not sharing this to communicate that I am an expert on this area, but to emphasize that I learn something with each series and God impresses upon my heart something new each year about his working. Yes, there are times that he needs to remind me of something that I have forgotten!
This week as I have been focusing on the birth of Jesus as revealed in Luke 2:1-7, my attention has been on verse 1. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.” (Luke 2:1) This road sign from Luke the historian gives us a point of reference for the birth of the Messiah. The accounting in Matthew gives us insights into Jesus’ birth from Joseph’s perspective, the visit of the Wisemen and of Herod’s assassination attempt. The account from Luke on the other hand provides us with insights on John the Baptist, the announcement to Mary, the angel’s birth announcement to the shepherds and also the specifics of the birth. What prompted me to write this article however was the inclusion of the Roman Emperor’s edict as the catalyst to the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy concerning the place of Messiah’s birth.
What stands out to me, God is working through government to accomplish his plans and maintain civil society. We are reminded in Proverbs, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1) We are called to trust the Lord while we wait for the perfect government, Jesus’ reign. Until that day we must balance our submission to secular authority as ministers of God with our calling of obedience to the Lord.
My point is this, God is working in and through government. Christmas reminds us that we can live with confidence in uncertain and difficult times because God is in control. Just as Joseph, Mary and others had to trust God, so must we. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
-Pastor Joe Parkinson