Day 202: Can a King Be Crowned Without God’s Consent? (Hosea 8:3-7)

To me they cry,
“My God, we—Israel—know you.”
3 Israel has spurned the good;
the enemy shall pursue him.

4 They made kings, but not through me.
They set up princes, but I knew it not.
With their silver and gold they made idols
for their own destruction.

Hosea 8:3-4

Through the Bible reading: Hosea 8-14

Are we to submit to a king the Lord didn’t appoint?

Paul was clear in Romans 13 that Christians are to submit to the governing authorities, because “there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1).

The prophet Daniel is the poster child for submitting to a pagan king. He was one of the exiles from Jerusalem that was deported to Babylon, and over the course of his seventy years in captivity, he served four different kings. When he was called on to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2, he provided the standard Old Testament rationale for why we are to submit to a king’s authority, even if he is a pagan:

May the name of God
be praised forever and ever,
for wisdom and power belong to him.

21 He changes the times and seasons;
he removes kings and establishes kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those
who have understanding.

Daniel 2:20-21

Both Daniel and Paul argue that no king has ever ruled apart from God’s sovereign purpose. Jesus Himself said the same thing to Pilate. Pilate was amazed that Jesus didn’t try to defend Himself before Pilate, so he said, “Don’t you realize I have authority to release you or to crucify you?” Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:9-11).

So with all that, what are we to do with Hosea? In Hosea 8, God Himself; speaking through Hosea, says that the people “made kings, but not through me. They set up princes, but I knew it not” (Hosea 8:4, emphasis mine).

Hold up: the people set up a prince, and God didn’t know about it? They established a king, but they did it out from under God’s sovereignty? Doesn’t this contradict Daniel, Paul, and Jesus Himself?

It does not. Just because the people did not consult God or seek Him, that does not mean God wasn’t in absolute control over who was on the throne. If we have learned anything through our chronological journey through the Bible, it is that God is constantly working through the actions of ungodly kings, and even the rulers of other nations, in order to accomplish His divine purposes. Look back to how God was glorified through the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (see Day 032: Who Hardens the Heart?). Look forward to Jesus’ crucifixion at the hands of the Romans.

The irony of Hosea is that the people were still claiming to know God, even as they refused to seek His face when it came time to crown a king. Look again at verses 2-3:

2 To me they cry,
    “My God, we—Israel—know you.”
3 Israel has spurned the good;
    the enemy shall pursue him.
Hosea 8:2-3

Interestingly, questions about submitting to the ruling authorities only seem to come up when we are talking about rulers we don’t choose for ourselves. Daniel prayed his prayer at the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. Jesus spoke before the Roman governor.Paul wrote to Jewish Christians living in the Roman Empire.

This was not the case for the people to whom Hosea was writing. We typically don’t have any problem submitting to the authorities we choose for ourselves. Even today, Romans 13 is most often quoted whenever a Christian claims that whoever is in the Oval Office at the time is “not my President, because I didn’t vote for him.”

So the question in Hosea isn’t really about whether or not we will submit to whomever is on the throne. The question is whether those who claim to know God will seek Him before putting a king on the throne in the first place.

Because when we don’t, we reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7).

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