Praying for our Country

In 1 Kings 20-21, we find the continuation of the account of King Ahab of Israel. Earlier, in chapter 16, Ahab is described as the most evil king yet to rule over Israel. He did more to provoke the Lord to anger than all the kings before him. And yet in 1 Kings 20, we find that God gives Israel a great victory over the king of Syria and 32 other kings who had much larger and better equipped armies.
This account reminds me of a point I made in a sermon a few weeks ago:
When things go my way, that does not necessarily mean that God is on my side.
The fact that God gave Israel a victory over their enemies was strictly for His glory and did not in any way mean that He was pleased with either Ahab or the people of Israel. But apparently Ahab wrongly assumed that the victory over Israel’s enemies meant he could keep on rebelling against God and get away with it. But eventually God puts an end to his reign when he is killed in battle.
A couple of thoughts come to mind:
Just because we are prospering as a nation does not mean that God is pleased with either our leaders or with us as a nation. And if we, and our leaders, continue to rebel against God, there will be a time, known only to God, when He will bring the judgment we deserve. Knowing that should drive us to our knees every day, seeking God’s forgiveness and asking Him to draw our nation back to Him.
We need to be really careful about making claims about whether or not God is “for” certain political leaders based on their apparent “successes”. While it is true that God is the one who “removes kings and sets up kings” (Daniel 2:21) and that He turns the king’s heart wherever He will (Proverbs 21:1), and that there is no authority except from God (Romans 13:1), Biblical history makes it clear that those political leaders can be an instrument of God’s judgment as well as an instrument of blessing. And most of the time, those who are living under their rule are unable to discern which is the case.
That is probably why Paul, who lived during the reign of vicious Roman rulers who were persecuting Christians, commanded his fellow believers to pray for their government officials (1 Timothy 2:1-2), even though they despised them.
So I guess the bottom line is that we all need to be spending a lot more time praying.

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