Although I was born again at least by my sophomore year in high school, I never really read the Bible much until I moved to San Jose, CA on my own a few months before my 20th birthday. One day in those early months in San Jose, I was sitting in the kitchen of my apartment, reading the book of Jeremiah, and this verse hit me like a lightning bolt, “Thus says the Lord, Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23, 24.
Up until then, I attended church and participated in church activities, but never knew how much God longed and intended for me to know Him. In the pursuit of knowing God, I’ve learned He wants us to know His person, His will, His works and His ways. Often my wife and I cry out to Him to know His heart and His mind concerning the issues and challenges we are facing. Nothing in this life will ever center and satisfy us like knowing God!
Now when it comes to how disciples of Jesus should respond to obvious and known wickedness among our government officials, I’ve had some hard lessons to learn about knowing His heart and mind and His ways concerning this. Some questions I’ve had to wrestle with are: Do we need to know all these things? Can we handle the knowledge of all these things? How did we disciples of Christ, who are called to an ever increasing preoccupation with God, get to the place where we give so much daily time and energy to the details of all of our government leaders’ sins (especially our Presidents’ sins)?
Well there are many reasons for this practice, but one I’ve discovered is that some of us grew up in homes where our parents (especially our fathers) daily read the newspaper, daily listened to the nightly news (and perhaps the morning news before they went to work). And their example has had more influence on us than we realize. Jeremiah often spoke of the things that war against our intimate knowledge of God and one of them is the influence of our fathers, “They (Israel and Judah in that day) have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors (lit. former fathers) who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers.” Jeremiah 11:10 (I do not blame my parents for my sins. But it is helpful when trying to get free from them, to realize all the things that led to my sinful practices).
Is it a sin to read the daily newspaper and watch the nightly news? Not necessarily. But Jeremiah says it is evil to forsake God; and if our parents spent an hour every day acquiring news (much of it about our governing officials), and spent hardly a minute daily pursuing the knowledge of God, I think God would say that was an evil practice. Listen to God’s own words through Jeremiah, “For My people have committed two evils; They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13 “….Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter For you to forsake the Lord your God, And the dread of Me is not in you, declares the Lord God of hosts.” Jeremiah 2:19
One thing that has made all of this more difficult in our day than it already was is ministries or organizations whose focal leader feels it is their responsibility to inform the whole body of Christ in America of how evil and wicked our government officials are (often on a daily basis). Years ago I used to read a monthly 3-4 page letter about such things. Then later I began to receive a daily email from another organization, which I have sense unsubscribed from.
Was the information in these letters true? Yes! Was there often gross wickedness and corruption among our highest government officials? Yes! Does God hate it and thus should we? Yes! But what we disciples most need to know as long as we live under fallen governing leaders, is two things: First what God promises, “You shall be My people, And I will be Your God.” (Jer. 30:22). This promise was made specifically to Israel, but He repeats it throughout scripture, and in II Cor. 6:16 it applies also to the church. God is going to revive His church and return us to our first love. And second, we need to know what Jeremiah proclaims in the next verses, “Behold, the tempest of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, A sweeping tempest; It will burst on the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back Until He has performed and until He has accomplished The intent of His heart; In the latter days you will understand this.” (Jer. 30:23,24). God will not be mocked. Every “hidden” thought of every human gov’t leader is known and assessed by God. He will mete out justice both in this life, and in the one to come. Best to leave this with Him.
God is the ultimate judge, but He always prefers mercy. And one of His merciful ways re: gov’t leaders is He often sends a Joseph, or Esther or Daniel or Ebed-melech to help them turn from wickedness to righteousness. I believe He would send them more often if we spent less time watching or reading detailed news reports, and spent more time praying for this work and way of God to increase.
Who in the world is Ebed-melech? Well he was a eunuch who only appears in scripture in Jeremiah chps. 38, 39, but he was no small person in God’s eyes. The context in ch. 38 is the godless and unrighteous advisors of King Zedekiah went to him and influenced him to get rid of the prophet Jeremiah. Sadly most gov’t officials are surrounded by such people. So he gave into their evil intent, and sentenced Jeremiah to be thrown into a deep cistern where he was sure to die. But God had a hidden weapon, and He sent along Ebed-melech who courageously went to the King and said, “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet whom they have cast into the cistern; and he will die right where he is because of the famine, for there is no more bread in the city.” (Jer. 38:9). The King granted his request, and God later honored him and promised to protect him for his trust in the Lord, which was what enabled him to act courageously (see 39:16-18).
One of the reasons God commands the church in I Tim. 2:1,2 to pray for our gov’t leaders is because God wants to do this in and among the government of every nation. It is His way. Always has been. Always will be. But if the church spends so much time gobbling up the latest info on our government’s every move, thus wasting away our opportunity to pray (especially with others in our corporate gatherings, which is the context of this command in I Tim. 2:1,2), we will get what we ask for, (or what we don’t ask for) which is sometimes unrestrained evil.
OK. One more lesson from Jeremiah, Baruch and King David that I sorely wish I had learned earlier is this: Unless we have a clear and confirmed (by others) call to minister to or among our national or state government leaders, we probably do not have the anointing and grace from God to handle daily detailed information about their wickedness or ineptness. God said once to Baruch through Jeremiah these very helpful words, “But you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I am going to bring disaster on all flesh,’ declares the Lord, ‘but I will give your life to you as booty in all the places where you may go.’” (Jeremiah 45:5). King David made a vow once in line with this, where he said, “O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.” Psalm 131:1
Friends, most of us do not have the emotional or spiritual bandwidth to handle the kind of daily news we are taking in! We are very finite creatures, even though we are complete in Christ (Col. 2:10). And we would be much better off (and so would those around us) if we in greater humility and dependence upon the Holy Spirit, and subjection to whatever spiritual leadership God has placed us under – determine our sphere or lane – and do our best to stay in it – trusting God with everything going on outside of it.
The Holy Spirit is on a glorious mission right now helping those of us who have ears to hear to “run in such a way that you may win”! May He give you great grace to find your lane and run in it and stay in it. God bless you and keep you!