The governing authorities



The submission to the governing authorities


It is written: “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. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves ….” (Romans 13:1-2 – NKJV).

Brothers, the governing authorities which exist in this country (as well as in the other countries) are appointed by God, and we must be subject to them; no matter what political party they belong to, we must honour them and show all good fidelity and respect them. Peter says: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men ….” (1 Peter 2:13 – NIV), which means that he who loves the Lord must be subject to the governing authorities, lest the name of the Lord (which he loves) be blasphemed because of him.

Paul said: “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:7 – NKJV). So every governing authority must be honored and feared, in that it is appointed by God. As far as we are concerned, as citizenship of this country, we must honour the President, the Prime Minister, the deputies, the senators, the ministers of the Government, the policemen, the Carabineers, the Revenue Guard Corps, the judges, the public prosecutors, the mayors, town councillors, district councillors, and any other authority appointed by God.

The governing authorities command to pay taxes and they must be paid to the authority because it is written that we must render “taxes to whom taxes are due” (Romans 13:7) and because Jesus said: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Luke 20:25 – NKJV). We must also render customs to whom customs are due (customs are the duties levied by a government on imported goods).

When Jesus began His ministry, the people of Israel was under the rule of Rome: the emperor of the Roman empire was Tiberius Caesar, the governor of Judea was Pontius Pilate, and the tetrarch of Galilee was Herod (who had married his brother Philip’s wife), yet Jesus (who was a Jew according to the flesh) did not incite the crowds to rebel against the Roman governing authorities, He never forbade to pay taxes to Caesar (even though He knew that part of the taxes would be used to maintain the roman army), He did not head any revolt against the roman authorities which ruled at that time, and when He was before Pontius Pilate and Herod He did not dare to insult them, nor was He disrespectful toward them, but rather He respected them; Jesus Christ left us an example in everything, that we should follow His steps, therefore we will do well to be subject to the governing authorities, to honour them and to pray for them so that God may save them, help them to rule over men in righteousness, and protect them, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:2 – NKJV).

Brothers, I want you to know that no one of us has the right to make fun of the governing authorities; he who thinks that he has this right is devoid of understanding. Why do I say this? Because in the midst of the people of God there are some who take delight in making fun of the governing authorities, by telling jokes about them! Some so called pastors tell these jokes to the children of the Sunday School; yes, even this abominable thing happens in the midst of the saints. Whereas Jesus took up the children in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them; these men of corrupt minds take up the children in their arms and tell them jokes against the governing authorities. These people, as ungodly mockers at feasts, open their mouth to vomit the rubbish they have put in their heart. They like ‘the newspaper cartoons making fun of politicians’, they say this openly and they are not ashamed to say such a thing; they take delight in speaking evil of the governing authorities as the children of this age do, and the people like them because they entertain them with funny jokes. In hearing these people, we mourn because these men lead astray the people of God.

I want to tell you this also: you must not take part in politics. In other words, you must not vote this or that political party. Taking part in politics is not fitting for the saints: politics lies under the sway of the wicked one and anyone who takes part in it becomes corrupted. Today in many places of worship, during the election campaign, one can witness real electoral meetings because the pastors of these churches are not ashamed to urge believers to vote for a particular political party or a particular candidate; and when they don’t say it openly they make believers understand it. Why does this disgraceful thing happen among the saints? Because these pastors, instead of praying for those who are in authority and urging the flock to do the same, seek their favor endorsing their candidacy in order to obtain important privileges from them. And thus they are involved in politics. No wonder, therefore, that today during the electoral campaign we hear from some pulpits the same ‘election slogans’ we hear in the streets and in the market places.

But there is something else that these pastors do in order to obtain important privileges from the governing authorities: they bribe them. Let me give you an example. We know that the word and the signature of the local authorities are necessary in order to build a place of worship; now, there is no harm in asking the local authority for the permission to build a place of worship, but the fact is that in some cases this permission is not granted because at that particular time certain laws do not allow believers to build a place of worship in that place. What happens then? It happens that those pastors who fear God accept the decision of the local authority, while those who do not fear God make all efforts to obtain the planning permission anyway. So they go to the local authority which is appointed to grant the planning permission, but they don’t go to it empty-handed but with ‘their donkeys and camels loaded with gold and silver’ and thus they obtain the long-desired planning permission. Have you understood how they got the planning permission? They got it by bribing the local authority.

What does God say about those who act in this way? God says: “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help …..and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt” (Isaiah 31:1; 30:2-3 – NKJV).

Brothers, know this, that God punishes all those who carry out plans that are not His, forming an alliance but not by His Spirit. Therefore, those who bribe the governing authorities in order to obtain what it is not lawful for them to obtain will be punished and put to shame by the Lord at His appointed time. However, there is something else which must be said: when the place of worship is dedicated to God, those who have acted in this perverse way make moving speeches and they say: ‘Let us thank God for giving us this place of worship!’ But it was not God who gave them that place of worship, but Mammon, because they obtained the planning permission by relying on money (in that they paid a backhander) and not on God (that is, not on His holy ways). However, who knows how things went? Of course those believers who stay with that church on that day as well as many believers who belong to that church do not know anything about the backhander paid for the release of the planning permission. Does God like this way of acting? No, He doesn’t, for paying a backhander is a crime even when the backhander is paid in order to build a place of worship or to obtain a permission for the spread of the Gospel. I say this so that no one may deceive you by saying: ‘Brother, the end justifies the means!’. Know that God does not justify the unlawful means some believers use to spread the Gospel of Christ. Do you know why? Because He loves righteousness.



When Christians must disobey the governing authorities


Now let us see when we must disobey the governing authorities, which are appointed by God, in order to please God. If the governing authority commands us to do things which we as believers are not allowed to do, then we must not obey that command, even though we will be persecuted by the governing authority.

In the Scriptures are recorded some incidents which show clearly how those who fear God must behave when the governing authorities issue a wicked order.

● Here is what happened in Egypt when the children of Israel were still slaves of the Egyptians: “And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive” (Exodus 1:15-17). As you can see, those midwives disobeyed Pharaoh in order to obey God, and God blessed them, as it is written that “God dealt well with the midwives …. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them” (Exodus 1:20-21 – NKJV).

● During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the following incident happened: “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellers, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellers, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellers, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellers, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, in the province of Babylon” (Daniel 3:1-30).

Brothers, as you can see, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego disobeyed the order of Nebuchadnezzar, for according to that order they would have to disobey the Word of God, which states that we must not worship idols. So they refused to worship that statue made by king Nebuchadnezzar and because of their refusal they brought the judgement of the king on them, but God gained glory and praise through king Nebuchadnezzar.

● When the apostles Peter and John were brought before the High Priest, the rulers, elders and teachers of the law, they were commanded “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:18-20 – NIV). Some time later, Peter and the other apostles appeared before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name’, he said. ‘Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood’. But Peter and the other apostles replied: We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:27-29 – NIV).

Now, before Jesus was taken up into heaven, He gave the apostles the following order: “Go and make disciples of all nations …. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19,20 – NIV), but the members of the Sanhedrin gave them an order which opposed the order of Christ, for they warned the apostles not to teach the Word of God, but the apostles preferred to obey God rather than men, even though because of their refusal they were persecuted by the Sanhedrin. That’s how we must behave when the governing authorities command us to do something which is contrary to the will of the Lord.



Rulers are God’s ministers


The apostle Paul says: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing” (Romans 13:3-6 – NKJV).

It is clearly written that rulers are God’s ministers, who serve God by punishing those who practice evil, and that’s exactly what we see for both the judges and the magistrates (the Weymouth New Testament reads Romans 13:3 as follows: “For judges and magistrates are to be feared not by right-doers but by wrong-doers. You desire--do you not? --to have no reason to fear your ruler. Well, do the thing that is right, and then he will commend you”), who are among the rulers Paul speaks of, defend the cause of those who are offended and damaged and grant them justice against their adversaries. According to the law of Moses, the children of Israel had to appoint judges and officers whose task was to acquit the innocent and to condemn the guilty, as it is written: “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgement” (Deuteronomy 16:18 – NKJV), therefore God wants judges and magistrates to be appointed in every nation and He wants them to judge people fairly.

If we do evil, we will be punished by the authority, but if we do what is good we will have praise from the same, we will live safely and quietly and our conscience will not rebuke us. For we believers must submit to the governing authorities not only because of possible punishment but also for conscience’ sake (that is to say, in order not to defile our conscience). Now, we believers must strive to have a conscience without offence toward God and men, that we may please God; therefore, lest we defile our conscience we must obey the governing authorities. Some do not want to have a clean conscience, I am not surprised, for I know that even in the days of the apostles there were some people who rejected a good conscience. But do you know what happened to them? They shipwrecked their faith.

Luke wrote the following incident which happened at Philippi, while he, Paul, Silas and Timothy were in that city to preach the Gospel: “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks” (Acts 16:16-24). On that occasion, the magistrates acted with precipitation and unjustly toward Paul and Silas because the apostles did not deserve to be punished. However, this does not mean that those magistrates were not God’s ministers, nor does it mean that from that day on Paul ceased to consider the magistrates God’s ministers, for some time later the apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Rome that the magistrate “is God’s minister to you for good” (Romans 13:4 – NKJV). What happened to Paul, therefore, teaches us that even if a magistrate acts unjustly toward us, we must still consider him a servant of God for our good. Let us see that we do not curse him because if we curse him, we also will be found guilty, for it is written. “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14 – NKJV).

However, it must be said that after the great earthquake which shook the foundations of the prison, and after the keeper of the prison and his household believed in the Lord, when the magistrates (the same magistrates who had torn off the clothes of Paul and Silas and had commanded them to be beaten with rods) heard that Paul and Silas were Romans, they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. Furthermore, I remind you that God turned the harm that the magistrates had done to the apostles into good, for while they were in prison the keeper of the prison believed in the Lord Jesus with all his household. Paul himself said: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God …..” (Romans 8:28 - NKJV); is it not true that even that imprisonment suffered unjustly worked for good to Paul and Silas and worked for the salvation of a whole household?

Brothers, know this, that no matter what injustice or violence or persecution those who love God suffer from the governing authorities, God will turn it into good. The Scripture cannot be broken; if the persecution against the Church did not work for good to those who love God, that would mean that God is no longer able to turn evil into good and that He has lied. However our God is sitting on His throne and He reigns and He controls every circumstance of our life and at His appointed time He turns evil into good. God cannot lie, He is not a man like us; in His great faithfulness He will turn our mourning to joy and many in seeing this will fear the name of God and will acknowledge that the Word of God is truth.



God judges the governing authorities who rebel against Him


On the Day of judgement God will judge the governing authorities according to their deeds because it is written: “God will bring to judgement both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed” (Ecclesiastes 3:17 – NIV), so on that day they will receive the punishment of their evil deeds.

However, let no one think that only in the Day of Judgement will God punish the governing authorities for their evil deeds, and thus before that day the rod of the wrath of God will not strike them, for it is also written: “If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner” (Proverbs 11:31 – NKJV).

Therefore, brothers, let no one deceive you with empty words, for God judges the governing authorities on the earth. He inflicts His punishments on those governing authorities who practice evil, for He is no respecter of persons.

● Saul was appointed king of Israel by God, but because of his rebellion God put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David, as it is written: “So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the Lord; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14 - NKJV). God “breaks in pieces mighty men without inquiry, and sets others in their place. Therefore He knows their works; He overthrows them in the night, and they are crushed. He strikes them as wicked men in the open sight of others, because they turned back from Him, and would not consider any of His ways” (Job 34:24-27 – NKJV). That’s what the Judge of all the earth does.

● The prophet Daniel said to Belshazzar the following things about Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon: “O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will” (Daniel 5:18-21).

Daniel recognized that God had made Nebuchadnezzar king over Babylon, but he said that when the heart of Nebuchadnezzar was lifted up, God punished him because of the haughtiness of his heart. Is it not written: “God resists the proud” (James 4:6 – NKJV. Proverbs 3:34)?

● In the days of the apostles it came to pass that “Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3 – NKJV) and he arrested Peter and put him in prison. But God delivered Peter through one of His angels. After these things, the following incident happened: “Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country. So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:20-23 – NKJV).

That king was punished by God for he had not given glory to God; and we have to recognize once again that God shows no partiality, not even toward the kings He sets over the kingdoms of the world.




God uses the governing authorities to accomplish His purpose on the earth


Let us see now how some roman authorities helped Paul when he was seized by the Jews in Jerusalem and also afterward while he was in prison. Paul, a few days after he had returned to Jerusalem from his missionary journey in Asia, Macedonia and Greece, was seized by the Jews in the temple of Jerusalem, who began to beat Paul in order to kill him, but when Claudius Lysias, the commander of the garrison, heard that all Jerusalem was in an uproar, he took soldiers and centurions and went to rescue Paul from the hands of the Jews. Afterward, while Paul was in prison, the commander of the garrison was informed of a plot to be carried out against Paul, and thus he sent Paul to Felix the governor. The commander of the garrison sent also a letter to Felix. Here is the letter he wrote to Felix: “Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell” (Acts 23:26-30). Is it not true that Claudius Lysias in those circumstances showed firmness and came to Paul’s defense vindicating Paul’s rights, who was a Roman? Was it not Claudius Lysias who rescued Paul from the hands of the Jews and prevented them from killing Paul? Was it not Claudius Lysias who, when he heard that the Jews lay in wait for Paul, sent Paul to the governor in Caesarea? Brothers, let us not forget that God uses also the authorities in order to accomplish His purpose on the earth. God had determined to send Paul to Rome to preach the Gospel, and He used the roman authorities to send Paul to Rome. God, through the roman authorities, rescued Paul from the hands of the Jews first, and afterwards, while Paul was on the ship, He, through the centurion, prevented the soldiers from killing Paul (Acts 27:42-43).


The hearts of kings are in God’s hand


Wisdom says: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1 – NKJV).

Let us see now how God in ancient times turned the hearts of some powerful kings so that it might be fulfilled what He had said through His prophets.

In order to punish the kingdom of Judah and the city of Jerusalem for their wickedness, God called the army of the Chaldeans which destroyed the cities of Judah and Jerusalem and carried the inhabitants of those cities away captive to Babylon. But God, in His faithfulness and goodness, through Isaiah and Jeremiah, promised that He would not leave the Jews in Babylon but He would cause them to return to the land of Israel.

Here is what God said through the prophet Isaiah: “That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; …I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1,13). The prophet Isaiah spoke in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (at the time the kingdom of Assyria ruled over the nations).

Here is what God said through the prophet Jeremiah: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; … after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:4,10). Jeremiah spoke in the days of Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah, kings of Judah (at the time it was the kingdom of Babylon which ruled over the nations).

Therefore, to sum up, God foretold the length of the Babylonian captivity, and predicted which king would let His exiles go free and rebuild Jerusalem and its temple.

At the set time of which God had spoken, was fulfilled what God had foretold through His prophets a long time before, for it is written in the book of Ezra: “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:1-3). The exiles that Cyrus let go returned to Jerusalem, and they built the altar of the God of Israel first, to offer burnt offerings on it; then, in the second month of the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, they laid the foundations of the temple of the Lord. However, in the days of Artaxerses king of Persia the work of the house of God ceased and it was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia, when God spoke through the prophet Haggai and the prophet Zechariah commanding the people of Israel to rebuild the temple. The Jews began to build the house of God and even though the enemies of Judah (among whom there were Tattenai governor of the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai and their companions) opposed the rebuilding of the house of God and discouraged the people of Judah, the building of the house of God went on because king Darius issued a decree according to which the house had to be built (not only this, for King Darius commanded that the cost had to be paid at the king’s expense from taxes on the region beyond the River). So the Jews built the house of God and the temple was finished in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. Do you know what the Scripture says about this, after the Jews had finished the temple and they had celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy? It says: “And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel” (Ezra 6:22 – NKJV). As you can see, God turned the heart of Cyrus as well as the heart of Darius toward the Jews, so that His words might be fulfilled.

However, in ancient times there was a king whose heart was hardened by God so that he might oppose the order of God to let His people go free, I refer to Pharaoh king of Egypt. In the Psalms it is written: “Israel also came into Egypt, and Jacob dwelt in the land of Ham. He increased His people greatly, and made them stronger than their enemies. He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants” (Psalm 105:23-25 – NKJV). So the Egyptians mistreated the children of Israel. The Scripture says that “the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites, and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly” (Exodus 1:12-14 – NIV), and also that the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives: “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live” (Exodus 1:16 – NIV). Someone will ask then: ‘Why did all those things happen? They happened because God turned the hearts of the Egyptians against the Israelites. I admit that it is hard to accept all this, however we cannot do otherwise. Then God sent Moses and Aaron to deliver His people out of the hand of the Egyptians, and He said to Moses: “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 7:3 - NKJV). Pharaoh also had been made king by God, but, unlike Cyrus king of Persia, he refused to let the Israelites go out of Egypt. Only after God struck Egypt with terrible judgements, Pharaoh let the Israelites go. However, all this happened because God had determined to act in that way with Pharaoh, and nobody could prevent God from fulfilling His purpose. “The Scripture says to the Pharaoh: For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth” (Romans 9:17 – NKJV. Exodus 9:16). Now, I ask you the following questions: ‘Don’t you think that God could have caused the Israelites to come out of Egypt without hardening the heart of Pharaoh? Don’t you think that God could have stirred up the spirit of Pharaoh, as He did several centuries later with Cyrus king of Persia, so that Pharaoh might issue a decree according to which the Israelites had to go out of Egypt to go to the land which God had promised to them? Of course, God could have acted in that way, however it is clear that He did not want to act in that way because He does according to His will among the inhabitants of the earth. Paul says that God “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11 – NKJV). Therefore, what, if God wanted to act in that way with Pharaoh and all his servants? Should God have taken counsel with someone, perhaps, before hardening the heart of Pharaoh? Let us not quarrel with God, for it is written: “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground” (Isaiah 45:9 – NIV). Let us not judge the ways of God unjustly, as the wicked do, otherwise God will bring His judgements upon us, and let us remember more often that “He does not answer for any of his actions” (Job 33:13 – NIV. That is to say, God does not account for any of His actions)

I have written these things so that you may understand that the authorities which exist are appointed by God, and God uses them in order to perform His wonderful purposes. To the Most High God, who is sovereign over the kingdoms of men, be the glory forever. Amen.