The month of November this year 2016 has been a crucial month for the people of the United States of America (U.S.A.) as they voted for their new president and other officials. Through the ever-watchful eyes of the multi-media, the whole world had been witness to the colorful proceedings of the campaign by the two political parties for their presidential and other bets. Now the election is over. Many are happy about the result, but many also are not happy.
Nations that follow America’s form of election and government (as does the U.S.A.’s former colony the Philippines, where this website is based) have taken for granted that the democratic procedure of electing public officials, from the topmost to the lowest seats of authority, is the best — even the only — way to go. Compared with other nations which are under some autocratic or dictatorial rule, people living in the democratic sphere generally feel that they have it better than these other nations. These people consider themselves to be living in a “free world,” whereas other people live in a not-so-free world.
The “perks” of democracy
The basic freedoms (of speech, the press, religion, and assembly) enjoyed by all in the “free world” have made it a desirable place for people to live in. People in the more restrictive world often try to get out of where they are in order to breathe more freely in places where these freedoms exist. (Remember the “boat people” of Vietnam and those from East Germany who risked their lives trying to get to West Germany through the “Berlin Wall” before it came down?)
While those freedoms are beneficial, they also make it easier for people to make wrong choices. The “free world” has its share of troubles as a result. But most people there would have it no other way.
The most significant “perk” of democracy is perhaps the freedom that the Church of God enjoys in publishing worldwide the authentic gospel which Jesus Christ preached, before the end of this present age as He prophesied (Matthew 24:14).
Thanks to advances in modern technology, the end-time preaching of that gospel worldwide will become possible through God’s “two witnesses” (Revelation 11:3-13). The fulfillment of this prophecy may come sooner than most people think!
The most treasured distinctive in a democracy is the people’s right to vote for the officials of their choice. Many even speak about the “sanctity of the ballot.” [The premise of the democratic process is expressed in the famous Latin maxim “Vox populi, vox Dei” (“The voice of the people is the voice of God”).] The candidates who get the vote of the majority of the electorate thus get to hold office. Of course, there has also been the problem, in many places, with distorting the people’s vote through bribery, violence and/or cheating with the election results. As we have seen often, as of late, it is unsettling whenever those who lose the election contest the result or won’t accept it.
The people’s vote (or power) can also be used to oust erring (or perceived to be erring) public officials from their positions through impeachment and other means. This was shown in the much hailed “EDSA Revolution” of 1986, which ousted former and late Philippine president Ferdinand E. Marcos. A similar thing happened when concerned public officials used their vote in the impeachment of former Philippine president Joseph “Erap” Estrada in 2000, and the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, Renato Corona, recently.
Is the system of putting public officials in their places or removing them through the democratic process really God’s way?
Few ever stop to think about what is God’s way of putting people in seats of authority, as well as removing them from power. The Bible, after all, talks a lot about “election” and “appointment,” as we shall see.
Just what, from the Bible’s perspective, are election and appointment by God? To understand this well, we need to go back to the true roots of our human history — especially human politics.
In the beginning, God…
The testimony of both the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Holy Bible about the origin of everything is that “In the beginning, God…” (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1). Everything — both material, physical things in our universe and the non-material (or spiritual, “unseen”) things — has their origin in God. Regardless of what evolutionists and atheists think, God is the Creator and Maker of all that there is. And that includes authority — the power to rule or “manage” everything in our planet and the universe.
Before God created Adam and Eve in His image and likeness, His purpose for mankind had been for them to rule or manage God’s creation: “…have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). As many Bible students have rightly observed, God did not here give man the authority to rule over other human beings.
So, how did it happen that men have been ruling over other men?
Back to the Garden of Eden
In the beginning God dealt with just Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Before they had brought about any children, it was just between them and God. And God, as Creator of man, had direct rule over Adam and Eve. God showed His sovereignty over them by giving them their first “rules” in their relationship with Him.
God told them: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). And “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). God also meant for man to “tend and keep” the garden where He had placed Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:15).
Genesis 3 goes on to tell the story about a “third party” — Satan the devil, in the guise of a serpent — who convinced Adam and Eve to disobey that initial one prohibition He gave them. Just as, eons before, Satan and his angels had disobeyed God! [See: Where Did the Devil Come From?] In a word, Adam and Eve rejected God’s rule over them. They instead followed Satan the devil.
As a result, they were driven out of the Garden, and they and their descendants brought themselves under Satan’s sway (1 John 5:19; Revelation 12:9). Interestingly, one of the “curses” or sorrows God pronounced on Eve was that her husband Adam “shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). Since then we have had what some people call “the war between the sexes.” [See: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”]
Genesis 4 through 7 gives an account of the horrible consequence of mankind’s rejection of God’s rule. Now under Satan’s influence, mankind had become extremely evil and violent. What was the basic motive of people so that they used violence toward other people — they engaged in war against each other?
James 4:1-3 shows why people go to war with others. This may sound simplistic to some, but it’s how God views the motive of people in going to war: covetousness or the lust to have something one does not have — and to get it from others “by hook or by crook.” The apostle John describes this human streak as the love “to have the preeminence” among men (3 John 9) — to want to boss it over others. This is nothing but a reflection of mankind’s present “boss,” Satan the devil, who — long before man was created — wanted to have the preeminence, even over God Himself! As then Lucifer, Satan wanted to be God, and he staged a failed “coup” to try to unseat God (Isaiah 14:12-15). [See: Where Did the Devil Come From?]
A few millennia after Adam and Eve, wars between and among human beings and groups had become so rife that the whole human race could well have become extinct (Genesis 6:5, 11-13), but for God’s grace upon one family — Noah and his children (Verse 8; 7:1, 13; 9:1-19). All of us human beings who have ever lived on this planet since that Flood of Noah’s day trace back our origins to that family. [See: The Flaming Sword East of Eden and The Great Wall.]
As earth’s human population began to multiply again after the Flood, mankind would have had a fresh new start — and to do it right this time. But it didn’t happen. No sooner had mankind begun to multiply as God intended men to again “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1) than a “mighty hunter before [or as some translate it, ‘in place of’] the LORD,” Nimrod, became a king who led the people into disobeying God’s command for them to spread around the earth and repopulate every corner of it. As many Bible students understand it, it was Nimrod — the king of Babel (Verse 10) — who led the people into building the city and the infamous “tower of Babel.” What for? “…lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the earth” (Genesis 11:4).
Men and nations have since followed their own ways of governance as each thought to be “right.” And, as these past millennia of human history have shown, nothing but warfare and suffering has been the lot of all nations because of human misrule (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). Things are now coming to a head, where once again the survival of the human race is at stake (Matthew 24:21-22; Luke 17:26). [See: “The Next Chapter of History.”]
“Might is right?”
When we come right down to it, the way people (individual persons, groups, communities and nations or bloc of nations) gain their positions of authority over others is through the exertion of their might. This is through the use of their brute force and/or their material and intellectual wealth and influence to subjugate others. The history of mankind throughout the ages has been marked by wars and conquests. “To the victor, the spoils” — including wealth and power over others — has been the hallmark of human history thus far. To mankind, he who has the might — no matter how good or bad his motives and conduct — gets the right to rule. [The “Golden Rule” (“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”) has now been translated to: “He who has the gold rules!”]
The prophetic Book of Daniel pictures the succession of major world empires that have taken place since Daniel’s day: The Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire, and the Roman Empire. Each successive empire toppled the previous empire through conquest and war. Today we see but remnants of those empires. However, the Bible describes in prophetic language the resurgence (or “resurrection”/revival) of the “Roman Empire” which has absorbed much of the territory and influence of the previous empires.
Revelation 13 describes in symbolic language the end-time revival of that ancient power, to be manifested as a super-powerful religious-political bloc in the near future. Perhaps it is nearer than we think! It will be a confederation of 10 kingdoms in Europe which will give their power to a military dictator called the “beast.”
In tandem with this beast will be another “beast” — a “false prophet” who will proclaim religious lies. By his “lying wonders” and miracles this prophet will persuade a whole swath of humanity to believe those lies. The apostle Paul described that end-time religious leader as “a man of sin,” the “son of perdition,” “the lawless one” whom Christ will destroy with the fire of His |second coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). [See: The Comings of Christ.]
Paul reveals that that struggle to hold sway over all of mankind will center in Jerusalem, where three major world religions have their “sacred” places — the Jews, the Muslims, and the Christians. Zechariah 14 describes that time (called “the day of the LORD”) when all nations will gather around Jerusalem for war to try to take it. These religions understand from Old Testament prophecy that Jerusalem will be the center of the rule of the Messiah (Jesus Christ) when He comes. [See: The Children of Abraham.]
Revelation 17 further describes the Europe-based religious-political bloc in terms of “Babylon the Great” — a flashback into Babylon of old as led by Nimrod and the Babylonian Empire as led by King Nebuchadnezzar. This end-time “Babylon” will suffer its rightful punishment by God. First, Babylon will be assailed by the “kings of the east” (Revelation 16:12) — “God’s army” to execute divine vengeance on Babylon. Jeremiah 51 details this coming punishment in the hands of Asiatic armies. Then, finally, God’s “seven last plagues” (described in Revelation 16:17-21; chapters 18 and 19) will finish this Babylon-like power.
Right is might!
The happy ending of “The Next Chapter of History” will be the return of Jesus Christ to take power and rule from all of mankind. “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). [The present perfect tense used here simply demonstrates what Paul declared about God: “…Who calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17).]
This is the “gospel” — the good news — of the coming kingdom of God on this earth! Jesus Christ alone is the righteous King, the righteous Judge who can — and will — rule the whole earth with equity and justice, but also with abounding mercy (Psalm 9:8; 67:4; 72:4; 96:13; 98:9; Isaiah 1:3; Psalm 89:14; 101:1). Mankind has proven, over the last almost 6,000 years of history, that — based purely on human intellect and human power alone — man is incapable of ruling himself, let alone the world! Only God has the power to rule perfectly! [See: World Peace — At Last!]
Is God, then, going it alone?
As we mentioned at the outset it is apparent that in His original scheme of things God had intended for mankind to have dominion over the rest of creation, but not over fellow human beings (Genesis 1:26). However, that was before God had tested man, to see whether he would obey God or not. As the Bible story reveals, man failed that test, and all of mankind has since followed in the steps of our father Adam (Romans 5:12). Result: human misrule for the past almost 6,000 years — and death in its path.
The “gospel” or good news which Jesus proclaimed was about “the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14; Luke 4:43, etc.) — the soon-coming rule of God on this earth. That message also carried with it the call to repentance (Mark 1:15) — for people to turn away from sin (the transgression of God’s law, 1 John 3:4, KJV). It is also a message of good news of forgiveness of sin made possible through Christ’s shed blood and resurrection, for those people who thus repent [see: Two Goats Together].
Acts 11:18 shows that repentance is something that God grants — and that, to His “elect.” That’s where “election” (to salvation) is a matter of divine prerogative — something that God alone decides as to who He will save, and when. [See: The Divine Prerogatives, Predestination, This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation, and Why Is the “Unpardonable Sin” Unpardonable?]
It is the “elect” — the saints or “holy ones” whom God has been perfecting since Abel — who will help Jesus Christ rule this world in righteousness when He returns. After they will have been resurrected or changed to immortality (1 Corinthians 15:50-54, 20-24), they will reign on earth with Christ as “kings and priests” (Revelation 1:5-6; 5:10; 20:4; see also 1 Corinthians 6:2 and Daniel 7:18, 27). As a result, humanity will finally see the peace and prosperity that it has always longed for but has failed to achieve by its own efforts these past millennia [see: World Peace — At Last!].
God’s word amply testifies that election and appointment are ultimately God’s right (see, for example, Matthew 24:24, 31; Mark 13:27; Luke 18:7; Romans 8:33; 9:11; 11:5, 7, 28; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 1 Timothy 5:21; Titus 1:1; Hebrews 1:2; 3:2; 1 Peter 1:2; 2:26; 2 Peter 1:10; Numbers 4:27; Ezra 6:9; etc.).
Source of all authority
Inspired by God’s Spirit, the apostle Paul wrote: “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” (Romans 13:1). This is in harmony with what Jesus told the Roman governor Pilate: “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above…” (John 19:11).
The apostle Peter also wrote: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by Him [God] for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good” (1 Peter 2:13-14).
Thus Paul says: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior…” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
When we understand The Whole Counsel of God, we will realize that this world’s imperfect rulers sit in their seats of power and authority only by God’s permission. God is in full control! He allows whoever rules, whenever and however men get into power — in order to fulfill His often inscrutable purpose and judgments (Romans 11:33).
As human history shows, men get into power by these means: through hereditary succession as in dynasties, by violence through assassination or banishment of those in power (as by coup d’etat staged by those in opposition), or by the democratic process (by the people using their vote to elect or depose public officials).
Election versus appointment?
In this world’s politics a distinction is made between “election” and “appointment.” Election is putting someone or a group of people into public or private office through a majority of votes by the group’s constituents. Appointment, on the other hand, is the act by a higher power or body of designating someone or a group/team for a position or task, without consideration of the majority’s choice.
In the divine economy, however, it is God alone who both elects and appoints people and groups to where He wants them to be and when (for example: Matthew 24:22, 24, 31;2 Timothy 1:11). He also appoints times and seasons for events to take place (for example: Hebrews 9:27).
Whichever way people get into power in this present age, it is by God’s permission, although it may not be the expression of God’s perfect desire. Thus Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar realized “…that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses [or allows]” (Daniel 4:25, 31). Nebuchadnezzar also realized “That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Verse 17). Daniel 2:21 as well affirms of God: “…He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings…” (See also Psalm 75:7.)
Despite his flaws, Nebuchadnezzar was used by God as His instrument to punish His sinful people, the Jews. Thus God even called Nebuchadnezzar “My servant” (Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6; 43:10).
It has been said that, in the democratic process of elections, people deserve the kind of people — good or bad — whom they vote into, or remove from, seats of power and authority.
In this present evil age, God allows even the lowest and vilest of men to rule, if only to rub into humanity’s nose the truth that imperfect man cannot properly rule other men and the whole of creation. Human misrule will only lead mankind to nothing but near-annihilation (Matthew 24:21-22)! [See: A Law-abiding Universe — But Man!]
It has to be of God in order that perfect rule can — and will — come about. Hopefully mankind will come to realize that only the kingdom of God can bring about perfect peace and order on this our beloved planet earth. As Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). [See: “The Next Chapter of History“ and World Peace — At Last!]
When God elects
Have you ever wondered why people often get to elect public or private officials who turn out to be corrupt and look out mainly for their own good and not that of the public or community they propose to serve? It is because, in general, people do not see what is truly inside of a man — and it is a heart that is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)! [See: Is There Ever Any Good in Man?]
Only God truly knows mankind in and out! John 2:24-25 tells us about Jesus Christ, the God of the Old Testament who took on the form of a human person [see: The True Christ and Peter Knew “the Holy One]: “He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” [See: “I Never Knew You!“]
God knew perfectly what was inside of King David’s heart. He called David “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22; 1 Samuel 16:1, 13). God knew David so thoroughly that He has elected or appointed him to be king over all of Israel in God’s kingdom — forever (Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:21-25; Jeremiah 30:8-9).
In the same way, Jesus knew whom He chose to become a part of His earthly ministry as His disciples and, later, apostles. He even knowingly chose Judas Iscariot as one of His twelve disciples. He knew that Judas had in himself some kind of bitterness that would result in his betraying Jesus later, and thus fulfilling certain Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah (John 13:18, 21-26, etc.; Psalm 41:90).
After Jesus had ascended to His Father in heaven (Acts 1:1-9), the manner in which His disciples chose a replacement for Judas among the 12 apostles is instructive of God’s way of election or appointment. The account is recorded in Acts 1:15-26.
Here we see that the disciples held as a criterion for choosing Judas’ replacement being one of those “who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us…one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection” (Verse 21). Following this, they “nominated” two individuals: Joseph called Barnabas, and Matthias (Verse 22).
Did the disciples then hold an “election?” Did they come to a vote to see which of the two had the “majority” of votes? Not so!
The disciples prayed and said: “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his place” (Verse 24). And Verse 26 continues: “And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered among the eleven apostles.”
Traditionally, the casting of “lots” was a solemn appeal to God to choose what or whom God alone can rightly and perfectly choose. The lot was a matter of confirming what God had already chosen.
Another example of the use of lots is regarding the choice between the two goats commanded to be brought to the high priest on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:8-10). One goat was to be for God, as a sacrifice for sin, and the other to be for the “azazel” that was to be released or let escape alive into the wilderness (Verses 20-22). [See: Two Goats Together, especially #10 in the section “Another angle.”]
“Seven chosen to serve”
Acts 6:1-6 records an episode in the early history of the New Testament Church of God that some have used to justify the democratic electoral process as practiced in much of the “free world.” In this episode, some Christians of the “Hellenist” sector (Greek converts or Jews who had lived in a Greek culture or environment and had converted to the Christian faith) complained to the apostles about the inequitable distribution of daily aid to their widows. They perceived that their widows were not getting their fair share, whereas the Hebrew (or purely Jewish) widows were taking the “lion’s share.”
To take care of this problem and not cause them to be distracted from their main ministry of preaching God’s word and prayer, the apostles asked the Church members to “‘seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom you may appoint over this business‘…and they chose Stephen…[and others]” (Verses 3-5).
How did the multitude of the disciples choose these seven men to “serve tables” — to attend to the needs of the widows? Did they draw up a list of “candidates” and cast their votes in order to choose or select these men? Did they select the men on the basis of some “majority” vote?
While the New Testament record does not specify how the disciples came up with their selection of the seven men, we have a clue: they chose according to the “good reputation” (Verse 3) of the men considered for the work. These men had shown some track record of accomplishment that qualified them for the work. As explained below, the spiritual gifts or the grace which God bestows on people He wants to use will become evident to those who see the proof, and they will “choose” the persons God Himself has chosen. The choice does not come from some majority vote, but by a consensus inspired by the Holy Spirit.
In all likelihood, this was the same manner in which the early leaders of each of the 12 tribes of Israel were chosen (Numbers 1:4-16). They had been “each one the head of his father’s house” (Verse 4) — proven natural leaders. And they “were chosen from the congregation” (Verse 16). It was the LORD who chose and named them as head of each tribe (Verses 1, 5, 16).
The apostle Paul was chosen by Christ to be a special “vessel” or servant to the Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15). The chief apostles of Jesus — James, Cephas (Peter) and John — gave Paul and Barnabas “the right hand of fellowship” [accepted them as fellow apostles] after they had seen “the grace that had been given” especially to Paul (Galatians 2:9).
In all cases, it is God who chooses whom He will use, and He supplies His grace and gifts that will give evident signs of His choice or appointment.
This is especially vital in the choosing of God’s “two witnesses” in these end-times (Revelation 11:3-10). Many have volunteered to become these two! Some have perhaps attempted to appoint or “assign” some pair of people to the office or work. But it is God alone who will choose His two human witnesses. Besides giving these witnesses extraordinary powers (Verses 5-6), God will also give them extraordinary wisdom to preach God’s truth in such a way that the whole world will be tormented by their message (Verse 10). As a result, these witnesses will be killed for their testimony (Verses 7-9).
God’s election or appointment is also at work in the apportioning of “spiritual gifts” and in choosing who are to serve as God’s ministers. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 12.
In Old Testament times, God appointed Aaron and his descendants to the office of priests in God’s tabernacle (later, temple), and the rest of the Levites (other descendants of Levi) as their assistants in the various functions of tabernacle or temple worship (Exodus 28: 4; Numbers 1:50, etc.).
So serious was God about His appointment of Aaron and his descendants to the priesthood that those who challenged His decision were taken to task and punished horribly (Numbers 16; see also Hebrews 5:1-4).
God’s election or appointment, however, does not mean that a person then loses his free will or freedom to choose. While God determines who gets the opportunity (or “calling”) to be saved, He does not remove from those whom He calls and chooses, their freedom to choose to remain obedient to Him or not. [See: Why Is the “Unpardonable Sin” Unpardonable?]
Perfection the goal
When God chooses those whom He wants to serve Him and eventually the whole of humanity in God’s own time, He will help them to become perfect. God is in the work of perfecting the spirits — the attitude, mind and heart — of those He has chosen to be saved at this time. [See: Predestination and This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.]
Hebrews 12:23 intimates that God is now assembling, in “the heavenly Jerusalem,” the “spirits of just men made perfect” among His “church of the firstborn who are registered [in God’s ‘Book of Life’] in heaven.” [See: What Happens to Man After Death? and The Book of Life.]
It behooves all who profess to know Christ — are are known by Him as a part of God’s “elect” — to examine themselves as to whether or not they are truly in the faith of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5). The apostle Peter exhorts Christians to “be even more diligent to make your call and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10), by doing the things he lists in Verses 5-9.
It is those who “overcome” (their sinful selves, sinful society, and Satan’s urging to sin) who will get to rule in God’s kingdom (Revelation 2:26-27, etc.). [See: The Higher Law of the Spirit, God’s Spirit and Obedience, Breaking Down our “Walls of Jericho,” and The Flaming Sword East of Eden.]
Since God, after all, wants His elect people to rule over others as kings and priests in His coming kingdom, they are to heed what God told King David in his “valedictory address”: “He who rules over men must be just [righteous — obeying God’s commandments, Psalm 119:172], ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3-4). [See: Can We Fear and Love God at the Same Time?]
Only then will there be Peace on Earth — At Last!
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.