(Recommended reading: 2 Chronicles chapters 28-32)
(I originally wrote this article July 2, 2019. When I reread it this morning, I realized that it may be even more important today than it was then, so I felt compelled to share it with you today.)
I believe that we probably all understand the importance of strong leadership – leadership that truly desires to do what is right for all of the people that they are appointed or elected to govern. There are guidelines and laws to be followed that some leaders will distort or even ignore. Avoidance and distortion of guidelines and laws that are set out for the good of the many can cause mayhem and destruction.
The scriptures show us that in Israel and Judah over and over again. There was David and his son Solomon that sought to do all that they had been commanded to do. Then we read about many kings that chose to go down different paths bringing corruption and destruction to their people. You can see time and time again how one king would follow another that were obviously “cut from the same cloth” – evil following evil. Every now and then there would be a king that would attempt to change things for the better, but never seemed to fully take the reins and set all right again. It was like a see-saw of rulers – from good to evil to even worse evil over and over. One of the very corrupt kings was Ahaz. (In 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28 you can read about his reign.)
Then to me, one of the most fascinating stories in the Old Testament is the story of Hezekiah – the son of Ahaz. After living with this father that was so very evil and corrupt, leading Judah down a path of destruction, Hezekiah showed that he was amazingly cut from a different cloth. When he followed his father as the king of Judah, he immediately stepped up to do things right. In 2 Chronicles 29:3 (NLT) we are told: “In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them.” He apparently had no fear whatsoever of all the men that had been followers of his evil father. He did not worry about pushback or personal repercussions. He just jumped in with both feet and moved forward to do what was right for his nation and the citizens he was to lead. From there he corrected the evil and corruption of the many years before him. (I would really encourage you to read the whole story of his reign in 2 Chronicles chapters 29-32. This will help you to fully appreciate his abilities, honor, dedication and leadership.)
We are told in 2 Kings 18:5 (NLT): “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time.” That is an amazing statement to me, and makes me wonder why we do not hear more teachings about this phenomenal man.
It is so very important that nations have good and strong leaders that want to do what is right for the people. There will always be those that for many reasons want to move down the wrong path. They may feel envy toward the leader currently in authority, or it may involve personal greed and/or desire for power, or potential revelations of their own corruption, etc. They cannot see past their own noses to see how their desires and actions will bring so much harm to so many in the long run.
When I read this story of Hezekiah, I was so struck by it that I have since prayed daily that all of our nation’s leadership – elected or appointed – from Washington DC down through our states, counties and cities will have the character and strength of this man that stepped up and just did what was right.
Regardless of our political standings or beliefs, it is critical that we pray for our leadership. Desiring or wishing for failure of any of our leaders because of differences, is like praying that your airline pilot will fail at getting you to your destination safely. Personally, I do not want to “go down with the ship”; I want to see our nation flourish and succeed.
Importantly, we are instructed in God’s Word to pray for our leaders. Paul wrote a letter to Timothy instructing him: “Here are my directions: Pray much for others; plead for God’s mercy upon them; give thanks for all he is going to do for them. Pray in this way for kings and all others who are in authority over us, or are in places of high responsibility, so that we can live in peace and quietness, spending our time in godly living and thinking much about the Lord.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 TLB)
Our leaders are set in place by God for a purpose. Through the prophet Isaiah, God speaks to the children of Israel speaking of His love for them and telling them that He will rescue them. Then, you can read in Isaiah 45 a perfect example of how God can use anyone to accomplish His purpose – even someone that is not a follower of Him. “This is what the Lord says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never to shut again. This is what the Lord says: ‘I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other.’” (Isaiah 45:1-6 NLT) Then following that in verses 11-13 “This is what the Lord says—the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: ‘Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands? I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command. I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people—without seeking a reward! I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!’”
Let us not be a nation of followers – going along with the crowd just to feel good about ourselves for standing up for something – even if it is obviously wrong. Let us clear our minds and think about things logically, trying to be realistic about what is best for the masses. If you have to become someone that is cut from a different cloth, then so be it!
I will continue to pray daily for all of our leaders, that they would be strong, realistic and faithful to the laws of our nation and to the Word of God – the healing of our nation from the wounds that have been inflicted upon it depends on us. I would ask that you do the same.
Remember this: “Then one night the Lord appeared … and said, ‘… At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.’” (12 Chronicles 7:12a, 13-14 NLT)
*All emphasis is mine
Written by Karran Martin – July 2, 2019, Edited/Revised August 30, 2020