The Church and God’s Law (30)

You shall not curse God, nor curse a ruler of your people (Ex.22:28).

God has created and redeemed us, so that we are “…fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps.139:14). God said to Jeremiah, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer.1:5).

True, the Christian may not always understand the challenges of life that God graciously permits to come his way. Job certainly didn’t. But we are obliged to trust Him in the midst of every circumstance, and to believe that He “causes all things to work together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Ro.8:28). As Anselm of Canterbury noted a millennium ago, we believe, in order that we may understand. Augustine added that understanding is the reward for obedience.

Because of God’s creation of us as individuals, and His redemption of each of us through Christ, it is thus an act of blasphemy and hostility to God, to curse Him. As Paul warns, “Does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honourable use, and another for common use?” (Ro.9:21)

This same principle applies to our attitude towards rulers. Office-holders may adorn their office, winning the respect and appreciation of those governed, or they may be a blight upon it. Regardless of whether we appreciate them or not, they are to be respected as office-holders, and not to be cursed.

Nations do get the governments they deserve. If we are unhappy with the government of the day, we only have to ask ourselves, “Who put them there in the first place?” In democratic nations we have the opportunity to change governments, and Christians have the opportunities to participate in public debate in these matters, like anyone else.

Furthermore, Christians may pray the prayers of imprecation found in scripture (such as Psalms 79, 83, 94 and 109) asking God to remove evil-doers in high office and to judge the wicked. The scripture promises that “the sceptre of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the righteous, so that the righteous will not put forth their hands to do wrong” (Ps.125:3).