Did God enthrone Pharaoh? Did God place Pharaoh in leadership over Egypt?
Pharaoh was undoubtedly a wicked leader. He claimed divinity. He ordered the slavery and harsh treatment of the Israelites. Yet God said of him, “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you My power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16). God does claim credit for Pharaoh’s position of leadership.
This raises another question: Did God, then, approve of Pharaoh’s sins? Absolutely not. But, I think we have to look at these things through two lenses. One lens focuses upon the temporal actions and consequences of leadership. Pharaoh’s actions were sinful and wicked. No doubt about it. He had to be held accountable. The other lens is a wide-angle lens that takes a panoramic view of history. God raised Pharaoh up for a purpose that was larger than this generation of Israelites. Pharaoh played a major part in the story of redemption for all mankind. God used wicked Pharaoh to tell His own great story.
Really? Does God really work like that? Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. Wicked act. Joseph said that while his brothers meant it for evil, God meant it for good. One act. Two opposing intentions. God ordained Joseph’s time in Egypt, though through a wicked act, to save Joseph’s family and give Israel a place to grow in numbers and wealth.
The climax of all of history is the cross. Obviously Judas’ act of betrayal was sinful. Certainly the Sanhedrin’s kangaroo court trials were wicked. There is no doubt that the Romans’ execution of Jesus upon the cross was evil. Yet, the cross was God’s plan all along. It was not a reactionary measure. It is what everything in history was leading to. The cross was God’s design for Jesus.
So, how are we to view our own government? There is accountability and disagreement and peaceful dissent. The apostles were ordered by authorities to cease preaching Jesus, but they kept preaching Jesus. The authorities flogged them and jailed them. The apostles never raised a hand in retaliation, but they did honor God as the highest authority over all authorities.
There must also be the recognition that our leadership is part of the story God is telling in space and time. We must respect their roles. We render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and to God that which is God’s. God is sovereign. We honor this truth by honoring those who lead us. It is a greater testimony of the greatness of our God to honor those with whom we disagree than to honor those with whom we agree. Anyone can honor people they agree with. There is no supernatural ability revealed in that kind of honor.
Debate. Disagree. Vote. Honor. Respect.