The Sovereignty of God In Every Season
Perhaps the most important thing we can remind our students and ourselves in this charged moment of American history is that God is not surprised by the events of 2020. He is not taken aback by the controversy of this election season, and it does not threaten His good and beautiful plan for the world He so loves.
The God Who Appoints Kings
The biblical storyline tells us of God’s sovereignty—His ultimate care and control—over all that He has made. To say that God is sovereign is to say that He is King.
From the very beginning of the human story in Genesis 1, we see that God is the ruler of creation. But just as His royal representatives, Adam and Eve, rejected His rule and reign in the Garden of Eden, so human beings continue to reject the God of Israel as their ultimate King.
Despite the fact that God has rescued Israel from Pharaoh’s hand in Egypt, the elders beg Samuel the priest for a king like the nations (1 Sam. 8:5). So God gives them over to their desire to have a human leader rule over them, warning that they will get more than they’ve bargained for (1 Sam. 8:10-18). A succession of God-allowed, yet fallible,human rulers leads Israel into rebellion and idolatry for generations, finally resulting in exile at the hand of Assyria and Babylon.
But God is not finished with His sovereign plans. Through the prophets over many long years, God continues to invite the people to return to Him. Even in their exile, He continues to speak. He gives His young exiled servant Daniel visions of His power over the rulers of human kingdoms:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning” (Dan. 2:21)
Like Daniel, we need eyes to see the sovereignty of our God over our present circumstances. Our students need to know that God is the one who both appoints human leaders and removes them. There is nothing on the political scene of our nation or the world that happens without His permission.
We might wonder with the prophets why God allows certain rulers or regimes to oppress people made in His image. Like the psalmists, we ought to cry out, “How long?” But we must never imagine that these things happen outside the sway of the God who has given Himself in Christ for this broken world, and who has good plans to redeem it all.
The True King and His Forever Kingdom
In the midst of Daniel’s exile in Babylon comes a pronouncement of good news—from the mouth of a pagan king, no less! Following Daniel’s overnight stay in the lions’ den, Darius the Medo-Persian king marvels at the sovereign power of Daniel’s God. He issues a decree that all of his kingdom must fear the God of Israel, “for he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end” (Dan. 6:26).
Through Darius, God proclaims the reality that the kings of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome will fall. But there is a coming kingdom that will never be destroyed.
Darius’ words are echoed in the Good News the Angel Gabriel brings to Mary. She will have a son, and he will be the promised King: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (Lk. 1:32-33).
In a time of great political unrest in our nation, Christians can have peace knowing that no matter who is president, Jesus is King. This doesn’t mean that we withdraw from our culture or dismiss the difficulties of our present reality. We can encourage students to lament over the fractured relationships and systems of our government, to use their voices and their votes as we pray together, Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. But our hope is not in a leader on Capitol Hill; it’s in the One who will rule from David’s throne.
There is a day coming when we will rejoice with the loud voices in heaven, proclaiming,
“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
Until that day, may we rest in the sovereign authority of King Jesus over all creation, and may we lead our students to put their trust in him alone.
Starting the Conversation with Teenagers:
The story of Scripture tells us again and again that Jesus is the King who will reign forever (Dan. 6:26, Lk. 1:32-33, Rev. 11:15), and that in his kingdom, all that is broken in the world will finally be made right (Is. 25:6-8, Rev. 21:1-5). How can this help you to have hope in anxious times?
In the meantime, we must recognize that things in our world are not as they should be. What are some things you observe in the world that cause you to lament (i.e. to express deep grief or sorrow)?
As you lament the broken and sad things in the world, can you think of any verses in Scripture that can comfort us? How can we know that God is concerned about these things as well?