God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the ‘gods’: "How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." [Ps 82:1-4].
Although repentance is something that must take place daily in our lives all throughout the year, a special season has been set aside in the Catholic faith in order that we may focus on penitential living more than we usually do. During the holy season of Lent, we are expected to examine our lives and, through the practice of prayer, fasting, and works of charity, we are to seek to conform our lives to Christ. Simply put, the season of Lent is a call to conversion and to genuine repentance.
This call to repentance, however, is not just for those who sit in church pews; it’s for every nation of men, for God is Lord over all His creation.
As I was meditating on Psalm 82 earlier this week, I could hear the cry of God calling for the repentance of a specific group of people, namely, those who serve in positions of national leadership.
In Psalm 82, a scene is portrayed for us by the psalmist in which we see the Lord Himself sitting on His throne in order to judge what the psalmist calls ‘the gods.’ Who, exactly, are these ‘gods?’ Is this referring to the many false gods who are worshiped throughout this world? It is not. Rather, it is referring to those men and women who serve in positions of national leadership. The reason they are referred to as ‘gods’ is because they are divinely called to judge and lead on God’s behalf, as His representatives. They have been entrusted with leadership for the express purpose of carrying out God’s justice and maintaining His standards of righteousness in whatever towns, cities, or nations they may rule.
In this particular psalm, we see that the Judge of the earth is sorely displeased with the leaders, for they have not acted on His behalf at all. Instead, they have become corrupt, choosing to be in public office for themselves rather than for the purpose of meting out God’s justice and maintaining His standards of righteousness wherever they serve. In anger, He poses the following question to them: "How long will you [magistrates, judges, and other national leaders] defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?" [Ps 82:2].
The Judge of the earth then commands them to turn from their corrupt practices of leadership in order to serve in the holy capacity for which He instituted national leadership in the first place. They are to repent by defending the cause of the weak, fatherless, and poor once more. They are to wake up from their corrupt stupor in order to mete out God’s justice and to maintain the rights of the people over which they have been called to serve.
Because the national leaders in Psalm 82 had forgotten God in their personal lives, they completely abandoned their call to serve His purpose in their public positions of leadership as well. In verse 5, the Judge of the earth hands down His opinion, just as a human judge would do in a court of law: "They [the magistrates, judges, and other national leaders] know nothing, and they understand nothing. They walk about in [spiritual] darkness...."].
The Lord then reveals the tragic consequences that are suffered by nations as a whole when national leaders go astray from the divine mandate they have been given: "All the foundations of the land are shaken." [Ps 82:5]. Every nation has fundamental principles which it relies upon in order to function properly. It is for this reason that many nations establish a Constitution, that they may have a set of guiding principles to go by. But when you have leaders who tamper with God’s justice and standards of righteousness, the very foundation of the nation they serve becomes shaken and eventually will be destroyed.
Citizens of any nation are often quick to worry about terrorism, nuclear war, invasion, or other forms of attack that would destroy their countries. They focus so much on these outward forms of potential destruction that they become blinded to the destructive forces that are already taking place within their nations, a destruction which often finds its roots in corrupt leadership.
A nation whose leaders are corrupt, who have gone astray from the divine mandate handed down to them, and who no longer serve as instruments of God’s justice and righteousness in their official capacities, is already in the process of being destroyed. We look up at the skies in fear of bombs and missiles. We stretch our necks in order to keep watchful, distrusting eyes on other nations around us. We look up and all around us, and all the while the foundations which support our very nation are being shaken and destroyed because the enemy we should fear the most is within us. Corrupt leadership is the quickest way to national destruction.
If repentance is to take place in our nation, it must be understood that this must include our national leaders as well. God cannot, and will not, bless a nation when its leaders are not carrying out His justice and maintaining His standards of righteousness.
I do not think that there is anything that makes my blood run cold faster than a national leader who professes to be a Christian, yet enacts or supports legislation that is contrary to the principles contained in God’s Word. Without naming names, I’m sure several faces come to your mind as well as to mine as we consider this contradiction. I do not believe that it is possible to separate what you believe from how you lead unless you are not a true believer in the first place, and I am convinced that this is the case with many who are currently serving in positions of leadership.
Within our nation, there is a growing element of people who are now being referred to as ‘secular progressives.’ Satan’s goal, through them, is to oust God, His justice, and His standards of righteousness completely from all spheres of national life, and this they do in the name of separation of church and state. The devil and his angels know that in order for a nation to be destroyed, it must first turn away from God. In order for that nation to turn away from God, the legions of hell must get to the leadership first, for it is much easier to carry out destructive acts when operating in and through human agencies of government.
People who disagree with this simply do not understand the nature of spiritual warfare and how the powers of darkness work among the nations of men. St. Paul instructed us as follows, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the invisible spiritual rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world. It is against the invisible spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." [Eph 6:12].
It also must be understood that the devil isn’t just after the Church; his goal is the destruction of all mankind, not just those who sit in church pews. He hates God and all those who have been made in God’s image. He does not want God to be worshiped, obeyed, or even acknowledged on the earth.
We clearly see in the book of Daniel that demonic spirits are connected with human governments. In order for them to set about the business of destroying nations that are dedicated to being ‘under God,’ these demonic spirits must operate in and through human agents who have no idea that they are being manipulated and deceived by these unseen powers. I expect an atheist sitting in our national seats of power to be ignorant of this sobering truth. But shame on any national leader who professes to be a worshiper of God and is completely ignorant of this truth.
In conclusion, the psalmist cries out as follows: "Arise, O God, judge the earth! For to You belong all the nations." [Ps 82:8]. There is coming a day when all nations will be judged by the Creator of this world, whether they acknowledge Him or not. The Scriptures make it very clear that God is the God of all nations, and not just a few select nations. Whether He is worshiped or ignored in certain lands does not make Him any less God or Judge over that land. At the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, He is going to enter into judgment against all nations, and we can be certain that the first group of people to be dealt with will be those individuals who were called to serve as leaders.
Psalm 82 is a warning to those men and women who serve as government leaders, whether they serve in a tiny village, small town, or large city. It is also a warning to those men and women who serve in the higher seats of power, such as governors, congressmen, senators, presidents, prime ministers, parliament members, or kings.
Hear the clarion call of God, you who lead over men! Fulfill the divine purpose for which you have been entrusted with leadership and for which you surely by Him will be judged. Carry out the King’s justice! Maintain His standards of righteousness! Have nothing to do with the feeble and corrupt standards of men who have no fear of God and do not be an instrument in the hand of Satan to carry those miserable principles out.
Remember King Solomon of long ago and repent! Follow his example and be blessed. For while he slept at Gibeon, the Lord appeared to him in a dream. "Ask for whatever you want Me to give you, and I will give it," said the Lord. Was Solomon carnal minded? Did he have in mind the things of men? Did he see himself as being in a position of leadership for his own glory or for God’s? Surely, it was for God’s, for his request was as follows: "Lord, You have made me king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties....Give Your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" [1 Ki 3:5-9].
Here was a national leader who knew his purpose and saw clearly as he ought, and with Him the Judge of the earth was exceedingly pleased! First, Solomon acknowledged that the Lord was the one who entrusted leadership to Him. Second, by asking for wisdom, he acknowledged why he was placed in that exalted position of leadership: to govern the Lord’s people, to carry out His justice, and to see that God’s standards of righteousness were maintained among men! Not surprisingly, when Solomon ruled Israel, the nation was at the height of her national glory, wealth, blessing, and overall prosperity.
Repentance is not just for those who sit in church pews. It is for every nation of men, especially those who are called to lead among men.
During this holy season of Lent, let us remember to fast and pray for national leaders everywhere, that they, like Solomon, may come to see the divine purpose for which they were entrusted with leadership and not be afraid to carry out that purpose.
To the extent that leaders are willing to carry out that purpose is to the extent the nations over which they rule will be blessed.
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