It is often difficult for us who love God and have placed our faith in His Son, to grasp why He leaves certain wicked rulers in place. This is even more difficult to understand when we see our brothers and sisters in Christ suffering because of their faith. Yet, there are examples in Scripture that give us insight into God’s purpose behind allowing evil rulers to vent their schemes against God’s people. Let’s look at one particular example.
Over a period of four hundred years, Israelites suffered one setback after another. Put into forced labor by Pharaoh, they made bricks to build his empire. During this time, God said to Pharaoh, “Let my son go that he may serve me. If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son” (Exodus 4:23). God considered Israel His son and desired him free from bondage so they could worship freely. The punishment for mistreating His people was severe – killing Egypt’s firstborn. At the same time, it was God who said eight times, “I will harden his (Pharaoh’s) heart” (4:21; 7:3; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 17). Why would God do this when He wanted His people set free.
It would have been a simple thing for God to place His hand in judgment on Pharaoh much earlier, but God waited and allowed this ruler to remain in power. “For this purpose I have raised you up, to show you My power, so that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).
It is very important for us to grasp the larger picture of what God is doing. We see evil rulers inflicting suffering on Christians, and naturally we want God or some other government to step in and stop the injustice. As God said to Pharaoh, His purpose behind leaving the evil ruler in place was so the name of God be “proclaimed in all the earth!” Let us ask the Spirit to give us His expanded understanding of God’s ways that will increase His glory. In places of rising persecution, the gospel is spreading faster than anywhere else in the world. This is God’s purpose.
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