Shortly after being elected to his first term as president, Mr. Obama addressed the Muslim nations at Cairo and spoke the title words. Such a proclamation would lead most to think that the president’s operating manual would be his Bible.
Many politicians from both sides of the aisle consider the presidency to be the most powerful single position in the world. President Obama’s Bible, which has much to say about political leaders and power, might not be in full agreement with that supposition.
This column will address the Biblical aspect of power dating from a millennium before the birth of Christ to the time of His initial earthly ministry, and the future.
“Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth…The LORD makes poor and makes rich…The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth.” 1 Samuel 2:3a, 7, 10a
Hannah, the mother of Samuel, spoke the above words to warn Penniah about pride and to expound on the sovereignty of God.
Approximately five centuries later the Prophet Daniel spoke of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom and the Babylonian monarch’s perception of power. Recall Nebuchadnezzar had stated, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built…?”
Daniel enlightened Nebuchadnezzar about the source of his assumed power.
“ the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.” Daniel 4:17b
The term ‘kingdom’ in Hebrew translates into sovereign power, reign, empire, and/or dominion. The term ‘lowest’ translates into vile and/or humble.
Shortly thereafter Daniel himself had a dream about the future sovereign ruler of the nations.
“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man…to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14
With these words in approximately 600 BC, Daniel spoke of the future King of Kings that would rule all nations.
In the gospel records the topic of power was discussed and confirmed many times, mostly by Jesus Himself.
Jesus spoke of the power of both Himself and His Father. Speaking of His future death and resurrection, Jesus said:
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again…” John 10:17-18
So much for the argument of whether the Jews or the Romans killed Jesus.
Shortly thereafter when Pilate was interrogating Jesus, he asked Jesus where He was from. Jesus held his peace and gave no answer.
“Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power (authority) to crucify You, and power to release You?’ Jesus answered, ‘You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above…’” John 10:10-11
Jesus confirmed succinctly that any power displayed by any world leader must be ‘given’ from above. The term ‘power’ from the Greek also means dominion and/or rule.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection and just prior to His ascension, Jesus stated the extent of His power.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them (the eleven disciples), saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’” Matthew 28:18
Note the extent of His power and note also that His power/authority was given to Him by His Father.
The Greek base for ‘all’ in the above Scripture passage can be translated to the greatest, utmost, supreme, all possible, absolute authority.
Next week we’ll consult the Epistles and the final book in the Bible to see the ultimate exercise of Christ’s power. We’ll also examine the granting of power to God’s enemies in order to accomplish His purpose.
We’ll conclude by seeing if our President is applying his Bible’s teaching on power.