An Open Letter to All Who Are Called to Leadership by God
10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
God sets the tone for these passages with a warning to all leaders. God specifically mentions kings, then more generally mentions rulers. All authority comes from God. There is no authority that exists that is not expressly instituted by God, for God is Sovereign over all creation. Anyone who is wise will take heed of and allow their heart to ponder His warning to them.
The Lord God Almighty asserts His Sovereignty and commands those who have been placed in leadership over others to serve Him with (reverential) fear. God has stated that He is ruler over all. Just as those who are in leadership over men expect them to heed what they decree, so also does the Lord God Almighty. Every ruler should celebrate that they are just a link in the chain of leadership over us, rather than the head, for who can rule alone wisely that is not omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent?
As leaders consider their role and position in the chain of leadership, they should do so with trembling. We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. In the same way, leaders should carefully consider their actions as they are accountable to the One and Only God who is in authority over them and requires them to be obedient to Him.
Leaders are to “kiss the son”. Matthew Henry points out that we should kiss the son not in way that betrays Him like Judas, but rather with a kiss of adoration and religious worship. All are to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. Every knee show bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord. We can choose to bow the knee now in praise, adoration, and obedience, or we can bend it later in front of the white throne seat of judgement. The choice is ours.
Those that choose it ignore their place in leadership and go on to be a “Lone Ranger” will suffer the consequences of their actions. Just as we expect our children to obey us, God expects us to obey Him. And when we are disobedient, especially with regards to the usurpation of power and authority by leaders from that which God grants to them over His people, there are grave consequences.
Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall. Leaders that refuse to accept God’s authority and leading in their lives face eventual destruction. This will manifest itself in their removal from office by the hand of God through people, circumstances, disability, or even death. Their destruction is foretold by the one who placed them in leadership to being with. They rebel against God at their own peril.
Those who rebel will be held accountable by God. We should pay attention to the past, for God has warned us of what He does to the disobedient:
15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.
In times past, it was kings like Nebuchadnezzar that were used as tools of God’s wrath. Now, it is the fundamentalist adherents to Islam that God is using as tools to implement His wrath.
Finally, God pronounces a blessing upon all who take refuge in Him. When leaders take refuge in God, they will be protected and blessed by the One is able to save and protect them. Some trust in weapons, and some trust in armies, but wise leaders trust in the Name of the Lord God Almighty. When leaders of a nation yield themselves to the God of Creation, and celebrate His sovereign authority, they are protected and blessed:
Let us read about the confession of a leader that was humbled by God and then blessed:
33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”
36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
A Qualifying Question
So, let’s ask ourselves a question. Are we taking God’s warning to leaders to heart, given that all of God’s people are called to be priests of a royal priesthood, and are therefore leaders?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You provide us with the opportunity to be leaders in every aspect of life. We lead not only our families, but are often called to greater responsibility in our jobs and in government. Watch over us and help us to fulfill all that You have planned for us in the roles that You have placed us. Father, keep me humble that I may not rebel against You. Help me to have a heart that greatly desires and seeks to know You and Your will for every aspect of my life. Empower me and strengthen me as I seek to honor You and bring glory to Your name. May all praise, honor, glory, strength, power and dominion be Yours forever and ever, Amen.