Was Hitler chosen by God?

According to Romans 13:1, yes, Hitler was chosen by God. And so is every arrogant, ruthless, uncaring, immoral and awful leader like him, because the “authorities that exist have been established by God.” And the reason God puts them in power is “to do you good” (verse 4).

It explains why Peter told Christians to “Honour the king” in 1 Peter 2:17, because anyone in power is an instrument of God for our benefit. And that would have included Nero, the Roman Emperor at the time of Peter’s writing, who not only had his mother and first wife killed, he also blamed Christians for the fire that gutted Rome’s city centre.

How, then, can putting such a despicable man in power do any good?

We have an answer from a despicable man just like Nero (and Hitler). His name was Nebuchadnezzar, a tyrant of a man who killed 100,000 Jews and deported the rest to slavery in Babylon. But God had good reason for putting such a man in power, to punish the Jews for their consistent unfaithfulness, idolatry and disobedience (Jeremiah 25:9).

But God had an even greater reason for choosing Nebuchadnezzar. He chose him as a lesson to all budding or residing leaders, that they’re only in their position of power by God’s permission and for God’s use and purpose, and he can rip them out of power any time he likes, or reduce them, as he did Nebuchadnezzar, to a crawling animal eating grass. And God made sure Nebuchadnezzar got that point for the sake of all leaders of all nations after him. And here is that point from Nebuchadnezzar’s own mouth in Daniel 4:27, that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he will, and sets over it the lowliest of men.”

Nebuchadnezzar recognized three things, that God is the ruling government on this planet, God is the one who puts people into power and removes them, and God has perfectly good reasons for the people he puts in power, even the most despicable or “lowliest” ones.

Nebuchadnezzar, therefore, was used by God to establish the rules of the game for leaders who are in power or seek power. For all Nebuchadnezzar’s tyranny God used him to expose the ultimate good for all aspiring and sitting leaders, and that is to recognize the supremacy of God. Most leaders probably won’t take Nebuchadnezzar’s experience or advice seriously, which God knows, but he chooses them anyway to show what happens when leaders don’t recognize God’s supremacy.

As Christians, meanwhile, we can relax and trust that God knows exactly what he’s doing, no matter how bad things get.

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Does God approve of war to destroy evil?

Or, to phrase it another way, “Does a political leader have the ‘divine right’ to declare war on another nation that he believes is evil?” God gave his divine right and approval to the leaders of Israel in the Old Testament to wipe out entire tribes and nations that were evil – so why not today as well?

Two clear differences exist, however, between leaders today and the leaders of ancient Israel declaring war on other nations. The first difference is that with Israel God was the one defining evil, not the leaders. So the evil truly was evil. There was no confusion like today, where the leaders decide who is good and who is evil. And they’re never going to think their own country is evil, are they, so we end up with the tragic and ridiculous situation of two countries going to war, both of whom believe the other country and its leaders are evil, and therefore they both have the divine right to wipe the other country out.

A second difference is that in Israel it was God who ordered the killing of people, not the leaders. And he certainly had the ‘divine right’ to make such an order since he has the power to restore life to the dead. So even if God uses what we might call ‘evil means’ to kill people, like war and genocide, that’s not the end of those people’s lives forever. He can bring them back to life again. But no human leader has that power. And yet human leaders feel they have the right to snuff out other people’s lives, even if it means the death of innocent people too.

To ask the question above, then, “Does God approve of war to destroy evil?” the answer is, yes, but only if he approves it, because only he can truly determine who is evil, and only he can restore life to the dead, including those he orders to be killed. When a human leader takes such ‘divine rights’ and powers to himself, therefore, he’s assuming he’s on the same level as God – which is a really stupid thing to do, because in God’s eyes that IS evil.

It would meet far more with God’s approval if leaders concentrated on the welfare of their own people and left the threats coming from other countries up to him. God got that point across to Israel many times, and when they got the point God did amazing things in their defence without them lifting a finger or losing a life. But when they took things into their own hands, that’s when their troubles began.

Should Christians always do what their governments tell them to do?

Christians on both sides of World War 2 did what their governments told them to do and they went to war – the result being that millions of Christians killed and maimed each other. But what were those Christians supposed to do instead when Romans 13:1 says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities (because) the authorities that exist have been established by God,” and in verse 2, that  rebelling against one’s government is “rebelling against God,” and in verse 8, that “it is necessary (therefore) to submit to the authorities”?

But what is the context of Romans 13? Is it about international warfare and giving a government leader the divine right to declare war against another nation, and his people must support him? Is it giving a national leader the authority to decide who is right and who is wrong on the world stage, and to use whatever means he deems necessary to stop what he believes to be evil? But doesn’t Romans 13 also give the leader of the other nation those rights as well, since he too has been “established by God”? So, which of the two leaders should people now obey?

If that is the context of Romans 13 it’s very confusing. But what if the context of Romans 13 is simply about Christians being responsible citizens in their own home countries? If so, then Romans 13 is very comforting, that so long as one’s government is not pushing anything against God, Christians have nothing to fear, “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right,” verse 3. And God has rulers in place who really do try to make their countries a good place to live in, and where that is the case a Christian can happily obey his or her government and live in peace.

“That’s also why you pay taxes,” as The Message continues in verses 6-7 – “so that an orderly way of life can be maintained. Fulfill your obligation as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders.” The context of these first few verses in Romans 13 are clear, then, that God works through government to keep order in a country for the benefit of its citizens, and where such a country exists a Christian should definitely and absolutely do what his government tells him to do.

The only exception to that is when a government (or religious leader) is pushing something that God would clearly not approve of, in which case a Christian could not go along with it, because obedience to God has priority over obedience to man (Acts 4:19). Perhaps if more Christians had believed that, they would have resisted killing their fellow Christians in World War 2 as well.