August 2006

God's work in history - Biblical Principles

This month's Political Page doesn't have a historical and political theme, but has a historical and theological theme. This politically ‘quiet' month helps me to point to God's mighty deeds in history. He does not shape the history of people and the world in an arbitrary manner, but shapes it in a very precise way. The Bible is full of obvious principles, and God is even today working according to these.

Only our God, reigns

No – God has not grown old, he is the Lord of all time, and doesn‘t work just in Israel, he is also the Lord of all peoples. Therefore, our politics is not about ‘dirty business' for God, but the place where God reveals himself to the world today!?

We talk about the God of whom the prophet says (Dan. 2 v.21): “God changes times and seasons: he sets up kings and deposes them.” We talk about the one who is allowed to say about himself (Mt. 28 v.18): “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto me.”

God is not Allah

The God of the Bible is not a despotic ruler who randomly determines the destinies of individuals or people from behind an eternal curtain, where and to whom people are compelled to submit and dedicate themselves (Islam).

The God of the Bible is different; He acts according to obvious principles, which He has clearly communicated. Therefore, He can always be addressed through forms of repentance, pleas, petitions, and adoration. His basic attitude toward the world is love, He wants to forgive, and if He judges and punishes, He does it only to correct us.

Who does God work through in history?

God works through individuals.

Be it through kings from dynasties or through democratically elected heads of state and government – God acts sovereignly through every kind of leader.

God rejoices over godly heads of states, and He blesses them - we can be sure of this.

But God is not bound to the faith of a recognized Godly leader; He even works through unbelievers.

Like, for example, through Cyrus the king of Persia. In the year 538 B.C. he conquered Babylon and allowed the deportees through the Babylonians, to return to their own countries.

This was a political course of action. Isaiah the prophet noticed the way in which the living God was about to fulfil His promise, to bring His people back into their own country.

He interprets political actions for his people through great prophecies (44 v.28; 45 v.1): “I am the Lord who says to Cyrus: He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please! This is what the Lord says to Cyrus his anointed: for the sake of Jacob my servant, and of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honour, though you do not acknowledge me , so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know, ‘there is no one besides me!'

A shift to today's world. These words could have been spoken in 1990: „…so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know, ‘there is no one besides me!” How well did Michail Gorbatschow know God? But God used him when he made an end to the 40-year separation within Germany. Apparently without talking to his team, in negotiations with the German negotiator - the state secretary Teltschik - he said: ”It is the right of the German people to live united in one state… It is the Germans' own business to determine their time and direction.”

The newspapers couldn't believe what they had heard, but it was true - a miracle came to pass. Miracles cannot however, be grasped - the only thing we can do, is talk about what God did, and give him thanks.

God installs Institutions

Just as God in the beginning created the world out of chaos, a world in which everything was in “very good“ order – Greek ‘cosmos‘ meaning ‘order, beauty' – God also brings the chaos of living together as humans into order. Through what? God installs leadership . Through leadership structure, God puts every community in order, beginning with families, right up to the State. HE installs them, leadership is the will of God. Regarding stately order, Paul says (Rom 13v.1): “Everyone must submit themselves to the governning authority. For there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God .” Every ‘holder of responsibility' therefore, has a godly mandate and deserves to be respected (compare 2. Pet. 2 v.17).

This mandate is set by God – completely independent from the quality of the ‘mandate holder‘. If they are not good, they will have to answer to the people and especially to God (see Slobodan Milosevici).

A mandate is a ‘lent‘ authority for a certain period of time in a certain area; therefore, everybody is answerable to the one who has charged them. And what about the higher authorities? If they don't realise that they are also answerable to somebody above them, there is the danger of authority abuse and of suppression of rights. Therefore – happy are the German people, who say that God is the supreme authority above every authority, and that everybody is answerable to Him.

God acts according to clear principles (a selection)

1. Humility.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble“ (2. Peter 5v.5). ”He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down the rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” (Luke. 1 vs. 51-52)

Gerhard Schröder (2001): “This ‘upward trend‘ is the result of my actions”. From this moment on, his decline as a leader started.

Angela Merkel (2005): “I want to serve Germany.“ Regarding her chancellorship - her attitude was an attitude of ‘humility‘ (SPIEGEL – Interview). In her first 100 days she received so much grace from God, like no leader before her.

2. Repentance

Repentance before God brings forgiveness and healing – for individuals as well as for the nation.

”If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2. Chron. 7v.14)

On 9th November at the 50th anniversary of the Reichsprogromnight (Night of Broken Glas) prayers of repentance were made in all churches across the country. One year later on that same day, the Berlin Wall fell; even today it is not clear who spread the news about the fall of the wall on TV. After 40 years, the divine judgement of God over Germany was annuled, and the land has now been healed through reunification.

3. Representation

Maybe this is the most important principle of God when dealing with people. The repentance of a whole people is very rare (Ninevah - Jonah 3v.5; Israel - Neh 8v.9); God even considers a single representative for many people (10 righteous for Sodom). This basic spiritual prinicple is the background of the One person, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the whole world” (John 1v.19). God wants us to ‘stand in the gap‘ for our people – and how often He has answered our prayers when we have obeyed Him. Under these circumstances we are encouraged to pray boldly as priests for our country.

4. God's wheels…

turn slowly, slowly but precisely. Some answers need time, yes sometimes the opposite of what we have asked for in prayer first happens; patience is needed here, God has plenty of time at His disposal!

In this context we had the feeling that all our prayers and effort regarding the ‘reference to God' in the European Constitution was in vain. The Constitution was decided in June 2004 without the ‘reference to God', and sent on its way for ratification. One year later at the end of May, and respectively at the beginning of June, the people in France and in The Netherlands voted against the Constitution. Of course, this didn't happen because of the missing ‘reference to God'; nevertheless, God intervened – surprisingly, because the intervention which stopped the Community's work didn't come from England (which is against the European Union), but from original member countries like France and The Netherlands. Their Governments were as though paralysed, and even today they are dealing with the shock of these results. ”Yes, God's wheels…”

5. Israel

God made a promise to Abraham and his decendants for ever: “I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse. And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen. 12v. 3 etc.)

Like no other country in the whole world, Germany has come to know the realilty of divine judgement, and respectively, the blessing of God. Beginning with the curse of the Nazi-era and the division of Germany; then with the new policy of Adenauer, right up to the beginning of things with Angela Merkel, through to the economic ‘miracle', and the ‘miracle' of reunification. In addition to all these incidents, many, many prayers of repentance, the actions of many Christians, and their blessing of Israel, have had an effect.

The Iranian president Ahmadinedschad has requested the ‘extinguishment‘ of Israel, and has thus cursed Israel. Pay attention to the way that God will deal with him, I wouldn't want to be in his shoes!

6. Social Justice

“Away with the noise of your songs…but let justice roll on like a river…“ Amos (5v.23) scourges those sanctimonious hypocrites who merciless harm the weak in business. And Isaiah (58v.9) has the same theme: ”If you do away with the yoke of oppression and spend yourself on behalf of the hungry…”

In the election campaign, the ‘Christian Democratic Union' has been hyped-up to appear like a cold, iron lady; and together with Westerwelle, its friend - they could mercilessly reform Germany in a negative way.

However, God protects the weak. This is the point at which Angela Merkel failed badly and was humiliated on the infamous ‘election evening‘. However, she understood what happened and changed her position, although the economy of the country was at fault: “reforms were stopped half way through their implementation.". God protected our country from a Government that had no heart for the poor; the Government now is still very hard-hearted, but no longer merciless.

7. Confession

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before God my Father and His angels” (Matt. 10v. 32).

Horst Köhler concluded his first official talk in front of the parliament which had elected him (May 2004): “God bless our country!” A thing common in America, but in Germany this was the breaking of a tabboo - to mention God in policy. In an interview with BILD he underlined this sentence with a personal testimony about his beliefs. Of course he is a president with a strong personality, who would prefer to rule instead of representing people. But God is very much on his side, even today he is still favoured by the people because he addresses things which are on the peoples‘ hearts.

The country is blessed by God through Kohler, Lammert the president of the Bundestag, Merkel the Chancelloress, and Christians in the highest positions of State, who confess the name of God - with wisdom.

8. Arrogance

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled (Matt. 23v.12). History is full of examples of usurpers, who have often been humbled.

9. Distortion

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5v.20).

Schröder‘s statement: “Putin is a perfect democrat.“

Volker Beck of the Green Party, with the help of the Lobby, deceitfully forced through the long-term relationship law for ‘homosexual marriage'.

Schröder as a person, and the Greens as a Party, lost their office. God is very precise in judgement.

10. Faithfulness

”Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Cor. 4v.2). “Well done righteous and faithful servant, I will put you in charge of many things” (Mt. 25v. 21).

Christian Wulff is a man who can be considered to be like this; who after only one year as Prime Minister of Lower Saxony has gained more favour than he had before his election, and also has been in first place in the politicians' popularity charts for a long time. His popularity is based on his reliability, which is based on his living faith.

‘Political prayers‘ make sense

Not every Christian can be a politician and not every politician will be a Christian, but every Christian can pray ‘politically‘.

Prayer cannot replace action, but prayer is a deed which cannot be replaced by anything else. (H. Köhler).

People who pray politically are often normal citizens - so called ‘poor souls‘. However they know the ruler of the Universe, and if they pray before the throne of God, something is put into action – first in the invisible, and then in the visible realm.

Very often God takes the prayers of His children more seriously then they do. God wants our prayers, He looks for our faith in order to be able to fullfil what is on His heart on earth. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.“

Ortwin Schweitzer