God Sets Up Kings

I must admit that I don’t go out of my way to either listen to or read the writings of John Piper. As the founder of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, he carries great influence in the Church today. But as someone whose Calvinistic and Covenant perspectives on salvation and Christian living and even prophecy differ markedly from my own, I typically don’t gravitate to his teaching.

That said, on those occasions when I see his name appear in the headlines of otherwise daily news, I will most often take the time to read his perspective on the world around us.

But I frequently do not agree.

And today might just be another one of those times.

Looking back to the day of President Trump’s inauguration, John Piper writes:

“Today we will inaugurate a man to the presidency of the United States who is morally unqualified to be there.” (the article can be read here)

Now unless we have been living with our heads buried in the ground, we should have a pretty good idea what Dr. Piper is talking about. The headlines, launched early in the campaign were flooded with President Trump’s head shaking behavior, providing Dr. Piper with more than enough ammunition to bury the President under a bulleted list of ugly accusations.

There can be no denying that the President’s behavior and street tainted language is strikingly off-color compared to what we would expect to hear from someone standing in the White House. Despite that, my issue is not with the President and his laundry list of personal failings, but with Dr. Piper himself.

I think it is important that we remember that when Dr. Piper speaks, he is not speaking as any other man, but he does so with the weight of his own office and position as a leader in the Church. Like it or not, by virtue of who he is, his judgment on the President comes with one hand gripping the pulpit and the other holding his Bible.

And yet…

I am making no attempt to deny or condone any of the President’s sinful misdeeds.

But I have to wonder if Dr. Piper’s list was shortened by one or two items, would he find the President morally acceptable? Or perhaps if three of Trump’s failings were to be erased from the charges—would he be able to slip under the Piper limbo pole of acceptability.

Or perhaps it isn’t the number of accusations per se, but the items themselves which Dr. Piper finds morally reprehensible and thus disqualifying to the office of the Presidency. And if that is the case, which ones are the really bad ones?—the deplorable disqualifiers?

And I wonder, with all of the lying, pandering, fornication, political subterfuge, greed and corruption which has walked the halls in wingtips and high heels of every political edifice in our land for decades, how many other Dr. Piper sermons and how many other articles have singled out others as morally unfit for whatever political office they held. For they have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

When reading the article, I wondered what standard Dr. Piper used in leveling his judgment?

Now before anyone tries to hit me over the head saying, “the Bible, you idiot!”, let me rephrase the statement. What exactly in the Bible is Dr. Piper using as a litmus test to declaring whether this man or this woman is or is not acceptable for the office of the Presidency. Is he somehow trying to pull ideas from the pages of the pastoral epistles, and the requirements for pastors and elders? Or is he moralistically bloviating an opinion which really has no basis in Scripture other than clearly identifying President Trump as a sinner like the rest of us.

I would like to remind Dr. Piper, he being the Calvinist that he is, of the sovereignty of God. And God’s sovereignty with regards to Kings and Presidents is clear in Daniel 2:21 where the Scripture says that it is God who sets up kings and removes kings.

He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. Daniel 2:21

It is important to understand that not every king that God sets up or removes is what we might consider a good king. In fact the Old Testament is filled with the names of wicked kings such as king Ahab or Agag. But the Bible also has names like Solomon and David who ruled Israel and yet had serious flaws in their character, particularly when it came to women.

So when I look at our President, do I see Ahab or do I see Solomon?

Well, I stand with Scripture and the sovereignty of God. For whatever purpose, God has placed Trump in the White House. Our President is a flawed man. There is no denying that. But is he unfit for his office, morally or on any other basis? I cringe at the idea of essentially accusing God of making a mistake. For God chose him, and therefore our President is fit for the task God intends.

Now what that task is, I have no idea. The Bible says that God chose Samson as a Nazarite (before his birth) who would deliver his people Israel from the hands of the Philistines. God chose Samson and therefore saw him fit to accomplish that task. And he did so knowing full well the failures which would pockmark Samson’s life as he turned from the laws of his people and embraced a Philistine women, a worshiper of idols as his own wife.

The Scripture is clear that our Sovereign God works all things together for good and the accomplishing of his will and purpose. It is true in our day as it was true in Samson’s day. For though Samson failed, God accomplished his purpose in Samson’s life as he collapsed the pillars and brought down the house on the Philistines through the renewing of his strength by God’s grace.

Can we say that Samson, David, Solomon and President Trump were all sinners and morally flawed?

That being said…

Was Samson fit for the office of Judge?

Was David and Solomon fit for the office of King?

God thought so.

Is Trump fit for the office of President?

God thinks so.


The Days of Rebellion

The climate of human thought in the days leading up to the “Day of the Lord” is described in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2:3) as a falling away in the old King James version. People will be falling away from something or many things perhaps. The word here is apostasia, from where we get our word apostasy, which we most often associated with a departure from biblical truth once known and understood, but now rejected and repudiated.

Comparing this text with others such as 2 Timothy 4:3 where Paul described a future time in which people will not endure sound doctrine and Revelation 3:14-19 where John records from his vision on Patmos the end of the Church age, where salt has lost its savor, and the people have gone about their business of “Churching” with no real need of the Lord who is standing outside of their closed-door (Revelation 3:20), knocking and desiring to enter and commune with them we get a clear picture of Christian apostasy.

But the full weight of the word apostasia should be considered beyond the departure from biblical truth, which is bearing out now in a world best described by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 5:20) where the world is abandoning every long-held and established standard and thought in a radical transformation of light into darkness and yet calling the darkness light. We are living in the midst of a time of abject rebellion, which is what apostasia means, with an angry world ripping things out by its roots and turning them upside down.

It is rebellion which marks the day, impacting every aspect of our societies. There is rebellion in the Church against biblical truth. There is rebellion in our political systems. There is rebellion in our social climate. Rebellion is everywhere, rising out of the early stages of national distress with perplexity as Luke describes it (Luke 21:25).

And out of this perplexity has arisen political leaders offering change, cutting across the grain of long-held beliefs and methodology, catching people by surprise. In the United States alone, both Obama and Trump have arisen seemingly out of nowhere on a platform of change and they have been gobbled up by perplexed people, clamoring for just that. There has been a loss of comfortability with people in the United States as well as the rest of the world as they watch this great unraveling of economic stability, sovereignty and security and they seem willing to try anything or anyone.

Brexit mentality has taken hold—a foothold has been established and more leaders will arise offering the hope of change and more referendums will occur on the ballot to consider breaking away from the globalist march. This is the climate which is ripe for the ultimate deception and is truly setting the stage for the arrival of the final world leader before our Lord returns to establish his kingdom.

And how ripe is the time? Consider these words of the first president of the United Nations General Assembly, Paul-Henri Spaak:

“We do not want another committee, we have too many already. What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all the people and to lift us up out of the economic morass into which we are sinking. Send us such a man, and whether he be God or devil, we will receive him.”