To the shock of the majority of Americans, Donald Trump gave a presidential acceptance speech a few hours after midnight on November 9th. Millions of Republicans and Evangelical Christians celebrated as Hillary Clinton was defeated, and the man who was hailed as a new Cyrus the Great claimed the throne.
Interestingly, Trump, who was reported to have converted to Christianity this year, neither thanked nor mentioned God in his acceptance speech. He thanked countless humans, but not God. He took the time to credit numerous individuals for his victory, yet the thought of honoring God or his supposed Savior evidently didn’t make the cut.
Scripture says that God took Cyrus by the hand and anointed him as a shepherd to rebuild Jerusalem. But did God specifically choose Donald Trump to rebuild America? Just because Trump won the election, does that mean that God handpicked him to be the President?
To answer this question, many people turn to Romans 13.
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. … for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. – Romans 13:1, 4
This is an interesting passage. Does it mean that every ruler that rules has been handpicked by God? Or, is Paul simply saying that God puts all positions of authority in place? Let’s turn to a respected early Christian authority, Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyon.
God imposed upon mankind the fear of man, for mankind did not acknowledge the fear of God. So He did this in order that, being subjected to the authority of men, and kept under restraint by their law, mankind might obtain some degree of justice. They might exercise mutual forbearance through dread of the sword. … Earthly rule, therefore, has been appointed by God for the benefit of nations. … Considered from this point of view, those who exact tribute from us are God’s ministers, serving for this very purpose. – Irenaeus 180CE, Volume 1, p. 552
According to Irenaeus, Romans 13 says that God puts all positions of authority in place. The offices of judge, policeman, president, king, governor, emperor, principal and parent have all been put in place by God. However, just because those positions have been established by God to promote good and constrain evil, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every person in authority has been handpicked by God.
King David was very clearly chosen and anointed by God to be the King of Israel as long as he lived. David had several sons, one of them being Absalom. Eventually, Absalom organized and led a successful coup, removing his father from the throne in Jerusalem for a period of time. Both men are called king at the same time period in 2 Samuel.
So, which authority was established by God? David or Absalom? Which one was supposed to be in submission when Absalom was on the throne? Which one was God’s choice at that time?
It seems pretty clear that seeking to have your father killed is never in God’s will. It also seems pretty clear that dethroning someone God says is a man after His own heart is not something that God desires. But God gives us free will. And just like He dealt with Absalom, He will deal with us according to our choices, and yet still bring about His sovereign plan.
So, is Donald Trump God’s handpicked choice for America? I guess it’s possible. It’s also possible that Trump was simply our choice, just like the people voted for Barabbas in Jesus’ day. Whatever the case, let me close by asking you to consider a few questions.