To Christian Trump Supporters Who Say He's Like Nebuchadnezzar

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures after addressing The Faith and Freedom Coalition's 'Road To Majority' conference in Washington, U.S., June 10, 2016.
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures after addressing The Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road To Majority" conference in Washington, U.S., June 10, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

Many evangelical Trump supporters keep using analogies about how Trump is like Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar and since God used these flawed leaders to accomplish His will, then we should elect Trump.

But that argument is a serious misuse of scripture.

Gerald 'Jerry' Bowyer is an American economist, author, and columnist.
Gerald "Jerry" Bowyer is an American economist, author, and columnist.

First of all, it's a red herring. The debate is not whether God could use such a person to accomplish His will. Followers of the Bible already know the answer to that. God can, and has, used awful people for His purposes. He's used tyrants, apostates, mass murders even the devil himself to accomplish His purposes. He used strong pagan leaders like Pharaoh and Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar to accomplish His goals, to discipline His people, to destroy Israel's enemies, to make the point that His people can trust Him to take care of them even under the worst of circumstances.

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But He certainly never told His people to vote for anyone like this. Those passages are simply not about elections. They're about periods in the history of Israel when they were in captivity and deprived of their right to elections. They're not saying, "when you choose a leader, choose someone like Nebuchadnezzar or Cyrus, because I can even use them to accomplish my will."

Nebuchadnezzar was a self-worshiping megalomaniac (Daniel 4), does that mean when we are given a choice, we should vote for self-worshiping megalomaniacs? No, those passages are written in the context of unelected tyrants to give comfort to God's people that God is greater even than the tyrant.

But there really is advice in the Bible about how to choose rulers when that is an option. If we want advice from the Bible about elections, then we should read the parts of the Bible which are, you know, about elections. For example in Exodus (also the parallel passage in Deuteronomy) when God gave to Moses, and Moses gave to Israel instructions on how to choose civic leaders. "Men who fear God and hate dishonest gain."

Negative examples about the nature of King's are given in the controversy in Samuel about "choosing a king like the other nations." Israel, as Samuel Rutherford pointed out in his influential book, Lex Rex, actually chose its kings, so these were indeed election situations. The Torah tells us that kings should not be people who multiply gold, horses and wives.

There is a whole book of the Bible giving us instructions about what we should be looking for in a prospective king. It's called the book of Proverbs. It is written by a king, Solomon, to his son, who is a prince in waiting. The very title of the book, Mishlei, is closely linguistically related to Mishal, which means "to rule." It contains repeated instruction which forbids bragging, adultery, speaking too much, speaking without restraint, secret dealings, pride and strife as being the exact opposite of proper preparation for a ruler.

As history shows, Solomon's son, Rehoboam, did not heed the advice, and became a terrible executive. He chose advisers based predominately on loyalty. Just turn to "One" Kings 12:8, and see if for yourself (8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.), who talked him into talking tough ("One" Kings 12:10), even to the point of perhaps bragging about the size of his genitalia (12:10), and explicitly threatening torture (12:11), and ended up splitting the nation of Israel forever.

In the New Testament, we have instructions for electing governors of the Church not state, since there were no opportunities to elect civil officials. What are the instructions here? Specifically, overseers are not to be given to wrath. They are to be humble and have attitudes of service. They are to be the husbands of one wife. They are to be of sober character, of good reputation. Divisive people are not to be selected as leaders, indeed, they are not supposed to even be part of the community.

I understand that this is a bad year for good ballot choices, and I'm not going to tell anyone who to vote for. If you want to vote for Trump, that's your decision. But let's make decisions with our eyes, and our Bibles open. And let's not force fit our own particular personal political preferences, deals, alliances, anxieties or compromises into passages of the Bible in which they simply do not appear.

Yeah, maybe Trump will be used by God like Nebuchadnezzar, but that doesn't mean we should vote for him anymore than it meant that the people of Israel should have voted for someone like Nebuchadnezzar back before the Babylonian Captivity when they actually had the ability to vote.

Neb became king of Israel through military conquest, and come to think of it, that happened largely because, over and over again, God's people had made so many compromises with paganism for the sake of this crisis or that crisis that their kings had become indistinguishable from the surrounding nations. Before Israel was forcibly merged militarily into the rest of Middle Eastern empires, it voluntarily had merged itself with the surrounding middle eastern culture.

Israel had gotten caught up in nostalgia and hostility to foreigners, a desire to go back to its former glory by taking a hardline military stance, to make Israel great again through its armies, rather than through faithfulness to God and dependence on his armies. Tough talking nationalism was the political ideology of the day and Jeremiah's refusal to go along with it is what got him thrown in the sewer.

So come to think of it, maybe the story of Nebuchadnezzar actually is relevant to this election after all.

Jerry Bowyer is the President of Bowyer Research, editor of, host of the video series Principled Reasoning: An Economic Worldview , and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership

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