Have you ever wondered why God allows bad leaders to come to power? As Christians, we believe that God is sovereign over all things. Yet we see corrupt and wicked leaders rising to positions of authority throughout history and even today. Why would a good and all-powerful God permit this?
As believers, it’s important that we seek understanding on this issue from God’s word. The Bible provides us insight into God’s purposes and ways, even when they are difficult to grasp. By examining Scripture, we can gain a biblical perspective on why God allows bad leaders.
God’s Sovereignty Over Human Authorities
The first key truth to recognize is that all authority comes from God. The apostle Paul writes, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1). Even wicked rulers have no power except that granted by God. The Lord declared to Pilate, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11).
This means that no leader – good or bad – takes power apart from God’s sovereign plan. The Lord Himself raises up and removes kings based on His divine purposes (Daniel 2:21). So we can have confidence that even corrupt authorities cannot thwart God’s ultimate designs. He remains in control over earthly kingdoms.
God Uses Imperfect Leaders To Accomplish His Will
A second key truth is that God frequently uses spiritually flawed leaders to accomplish His perfect will. Throughout Scripture, we see God sovereignly appointing and using imperfect, even pagan, rulers to fulfill His plans.
For example, God raised up Pharaoh for a season in order to display His glory and power through the plagues on Egypt and deliverance of the Israelites (Exodus 9:16). Years later, He ordained pagan kings like Nebuchadnezzar to discipline His rebellious people (Jeremiah 27:6-8).
And in the New Testament, Jesus affirmed that all governing authorities – even those opposed to God’s ways – are established by God (Luke 20:25). The apostle Paul wrote that God institutes governing authorities as “ministers of God” to commend good works and punish evil, even if they themselves do not practice what is good (Romans 13:1-4).
So we see that God routinely uses morally compromised leaders to carry out His sovereign purposes on earth. Though they themselves may be unrighteous, God is able to use them to accomplish His righteous plans.
God Judges Wicked Rulers According To His Timing
A third key understanding is that while God installs both righteous and unrighteous leaders, He will judge wicked ones according to His perfect timing. Human rulers may abuse their God-given power for a season, but they will ultimately answer to Him.
The Bible is filled with examples of God directly judging corrupt leaders. He destroyed Pharaoh and his army for their defiance of Him (Exodus 14:27-28). After giving wicked kings like Ahab and Jezebel time to repent, He then harshly judged them for their unrighteousness (1 Kings 21:17-24, 2 Kings 9:30-37). Nebuchadnezzar’s pride caused God to humble him through a season of madness (Daniel 4:28-33).
And Christ Himself gave stern warnings to the hypocritical religious leaders of His day that they would face condemnation for their spiritual blindness and abuse of authority (Matthew 23:13-36).
While God may wait patiently to execute justice, His judgments against ungodly leaders are inescapable. Their power is temporary, but God’s righteous judgment is eternal. He will fully deal with all corruption and wickedness in His perfect timing (Ecclesiastes 3:17).
So as followers of Christ, we can have confidence that God will not indefinitely tolerate abusive rulers. He may use them to accomplish His purposes for a time. But their judgment is sure and their end will come.
God Often Shows Mercy To Nations Through Good Leaders
Fourth, it’s important to remember that God regularly demonstrates His mercy and goodness to nations by raising up wise, righteous and compassionate leaders. While there are times He allows ungodly rulers, in His kindness He also grants seasons of benevolent leadership.
Throughout Israel’s history, God appointed judges, priests and kings who led the nation to repentance and revival. Leaders like Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Josiah and Hezekiah turned the people back to the Lord and enacted righteous laws and reforms (Exodus 18:13-26, Joshua 24:31, Judges 4:4-5, 2 Kings 22:1-2, 2 Chronicles 29:1-11). God mercifully healed their land when they humbled themselves and sought Him.
Even today, God often graciously gives nations seasons of just and upright leadership – leaders who reflect His heart for justice and care for all people. These are leaders who work to protect the vulnerable and provide opportunity for their citizens. Their policies result in greater peace, prosperity and human flourishing. Their example inspires goodness in others.
So while distressing seasons of corrupt leadership do occur, we must not forget that our compassionate God also grants times of wise leadership as an act of grace. He responds when people seek Him and cry out for righteous leaders. God’s heart is to show mercy to nations and bless all people.
How Should Christians Respond To Wicked Leaders?
In light of these biblical truths, how should Christians respond when immoral or tyrannical leaders come to power? Here are a few key ways to react in a manner that honors God:
1. Pray for their hearts to be changed. We should intercede for leaders who do not know the Lord, asking God to soften their hearts and open their eyes to His truth (1 Timothy 2:1-3). We can pray for God to grant them humility, wisdom and courage to govern justly. Hearts are in the Lord’s hands, so we must look to Him to orchestrate repentance and reform.
2. Ask God for mercy on your nation. When leaders institute policies and laws that dishonor God, pray for the Lord to show mercy. God hears the earnest pleas of His people and can move in mighty ways when we wholeheartedly cry out to Him (2 Chronicles 7:14).
3. Follow their lawful instructions. The Bible tells us to submit to governing authorities even when they misuse power and act unjustly, as long as obeying them does not require us to actively sin (Romans 13:1-5, 1 Peter 2:13-17). We are called to model good citizenship even under unrighteous authority.
4. Speak the truth boldly yet graciously. Followers of Christ must refrain from personal attacks or insults when addressing leaders. But we have a duty to confront immoral policies and laws that contravene God’s ways. We can engage unrighteous leaders with conviction, courage and love for the sake of what is right and just (Proverbs 31:8-9, Acts 24:25).
5. Trust God’s greater purposes. No leader can thwart God’s sovereign plans and purposes for humanity. The Lord uses both good and evil to bring about His ultimate will mysteriously and powerfully (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28). So we can have confidence that no ruler reigns outside of God’s wise providence and will ultimately bend to God’s redemptive designs.
These biblical principles enable us as believers to respond to both good and bad leaders in faith, humility, wisdom and courage. We submit to human authority while standing for truth. We respect positions of leadership while boldly addressing unrighteous policies. Above all, we trust that our sovereign God remains in complete control over human governments and will work all things – even through ungodly rulers – for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Key Takeaways on Why God Allows Bad Leaders
- All human authorities are established by God and under His sovereign control, even when they disobey and rebel against Him.
- God often allows spiritually flawed, morally compromised leaders to rise to power. He uses them to accomplish His perfect plans and purposes.
- Wicked leaders will face God’s righteous judgment in His timing. He will not allow injustice and wickedness to go unpunished forever.
- In His mercy, God also grants seasons of wise, righteous and compassionate leadership as an act of grace when people seek Him.
- Christians must respond to immoral leaders through prayer, faith and bold truth-telling while trusting God’s greater purposes.
Looking Forward in Hope
The sobering truth is that God does indeed allow bad leaders to govern for a variety of divine purposes that we cannot fully grasp. But this hard reality should drive us closer to the Lord. It should cause us to wrestle with Him in prayer and place our faith completely in His unfailing sovereignty, justice and mercy.
We can look forward in hope to the day when our King Jesus will return to establish His perfect reign over all the earth (Isaiah 11:1-5). He alone is the leader who will rule in perfect righteousness, justice and love. His kingdom will never end and He will wipe away every tear and make all things new (Revelation 21:1-4).
Until that glorious day, we prayerfully submit to governing authorities as unto the Lord. We stand courageously for what is right and just while loving even our enemies. And we trust our lives completely into the hands of our wise and merciful God who redeems all things powerfully for our good and His glory. May He give us His grace to live as faithful citizens of His unshakeable kingdom every day.