Where is God when new kings rule the nations? Where is God when, despite all the pomp of progress and “moving forward,” the nations of the world seem to be dragging us backward into chaos? Could God possibly be in Cuba with the seemingly immortal Castro? Could He possibly be in Russia, or has Putin shoved Him out? Could God possibly reign in America?
Where is God when the election results don’t turn out how we might like?
Is God here? Is God there? Is God everywhere? Of course, if we believe in omnipresence, we believe that God is ever present, but we are asking a different question here, one many American Christians are asking right now. We are asking, among other things, how could God let this happen? Is He truly in control?
These are questions I have been asking myself. I feel, as do many, like the world is careening towards chaos and no amount of democracy can stop it. I feel like more and more the decisions of the few are affecting the many in disastrous ways. I feel like our future as a nation, and as the Church, is uncertain, and that we are at the mercy of the whims of the powers that be, and, if I’m being completely honest, I’m a little scared of the difficulty that lies ahead.
We are not the first of God’s people to feel this kind of fear and uncertainty. We are not the first to be angry at our leaders or scared for our well-being.
Isaiah was one such man, living in the midst of a people terrified of empires that weighed in to crush them. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, had already been demolished by the Assyrians, and the Southern Kingdom, Judah, was looking at the same looming threat on the horizon. It was a year of political unrest (the year the king had died) and national uncertainty, and in this year, God spoke to Isaiah.
“It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!’
Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke” (Isaiah 6:1-4).
Another prophet of God found himself in a similar situation, albeit under a different ruler, a different oppressor. The apostle John was writing to believers who were undergoing severe persecution. It is likely that Peter and Paul have been executed already, and that the terrible names of Nero and Domitian were very near to the lips of Jesus followers. The Church was being pressed, beaten, hunted, and systematically slaughtered, and it was likely to get worse. In the midst of such fear and actualized brutality, God reveals Himself to John.
The vision in Revelation 4 depicts God sitting on the throne in heaven, and lightning and thunder break forth from the throne. He is surrounded by crowned elders who continuously call out that He is worthy to receive all glory, honor, and power, and cast their crowns down at His feet. Around the throne are “living creatures,” calling out day and night, without ceasing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” He is always on the throne, ever glorified, ever worshiped.
These visions share much in common. The prophets receive visions during times of national stress, fearing the threat of tyrants abounding around them, afraid for their lives, their friends, and their terrified people. The prophets see God as glorious, majestic, all-powerful, ever worshiped, and displayed in all beauty and splendor. And where is God?
He is on His throne.
And now, the Church in America finds itself in a stressful time of political unrest, uncertain future, and, for some, fear. A new ruler has risen to power over the land, and a large part of our future depends on his decisions. And where is God? The biblical answer is resoundingly clear: He is on His throne.
The Church is called in times like this to remember the sovereignty of her God and King. We must remember that our God has not been caught off guard. In fact, “there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Romans 13:1). Furthermore, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord;
He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1).
It is not his skill, his celebrity presence, or his
powerful personality brought Donald to where he is today. The Lord has raised him up and set him on a pedestal so that he could be used according to the purposes of God. We cannot see the purposes of God, but He does, and He will move the heart of Donald Trump like channels of water in His hand, in order to bring about His will, as he did with the pagan nations of our ancient past.
The Church has no new call. We worship the Risen King, the God who rules the universe, who created everything, and directs all things as He desires. As shocked as many were, God is not surprised by the outcome of the election. He is not worried, and to Him, the future is certain. And He is not afraid. He knows what He is doing, and in this, we can have peace, hope, and courage.
Above all, we are called to remember that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). The Church will endure any persecution and thrive under any national threat or domestic upheaval. After all, if the gates of hell will not prevail against it, what have we to worry?
The people of God have endured Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and the Caesars. No matter what happens, the Church can survive, and thrive, under Donald Trump. After all, our Father and King is on the throne, where He has always been.