Ukraine Relief Fund

Reflecting on Her Majesty's Passing

September has become a month in which Americans remember the horrors of 9/11; we grieve the unnecessary loss, we celebrate the courageous first responders who rescued as many as they could, and we honour the heroes on United flight 93 who revolted against the terrorists and forced the plane down before it could do worse damage.  Our national psyche retains the imprint of that fateful day, long to be remembered, never to be repeated.

The 8th of September is now a date indelibly written into the British national psyche. The passing of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II marks the end of an era. Within two days the UK welcomed a new prime minister and a new king. Though she looked frail in the photos on the 6th when she appointed the new prime minister, her death on Thursday the 8th caught the nation off guard.

The Queen is Dead; Long Live the King
It has been seventy years since this formula, noting the passing of one sovereign and the ascension of another, has been used. The national tone is one of honour, respect, grief, mourning, and uncertainty. As a dual citizen, I can also say 'we' mourn her passing. As one who became a citizen, not by birth, but by choice, I had to personally affirm an oath of allegiance to her: I swear by Almighty God that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors, according to law. In that sense, her passing is quite personal. Like all British citizens, she was my queen.

As the longest reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth was a unifying presence on the national stage, a rock of stability through times of transition, a voice of reassurance through turbulence and change . As the only monarch most Brits have every known, transcending party politics and reigning while 15 prime ministers served under her, it is a huge understatement to say that she will be missed.

It is reported that following a message by a royal chaplain on the second return of Christ, Queen Elizabeth commented that she hoped Christ would return in her lifetime. When asked why she held this fervent desire, the queen responded, ‘I should so love to lay my crown at His feet’. Though sovereign over what has become a multi-faith nation, her faith in Christ seems much richer than a mere ‘belief in God’.

And now there is a new king. Parallel with the grief of the Queen’s passing, the follow-up question is, ‘What sort of king will Charles III be?’ And this brings us to why this type of reflection makes its way onto a church website. What attitude does the Bible instruct us to have to those who are in authority?

Our Attitude To Kings and Prime Ministers
First, the Bible calls us to recognise God’s sovereignty in placing people in positions of power. This is particularly difficult for those who acknowledge constitutional government as of, by, and for the people. We are hard-wired to exalt the human will as supreme, but notice what Daniel says about God’s sovereignty:

Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever,
    to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
    he removes kings and sets up kings;
    he gives wisdom to the wise and
    knowledge to those who have understanding.

Daniel 2.20-21

It is God who changes times and seasons; it is God who removes kings and sets up kings. In democratic republics, he may do this through the means of the election process, but make no mistake: God himself claims the prerogative to install and remove kings. God’s judgment is experienced when he gives us kings – or presidents – that we deserve. His grace and mercy are when he gives us kings and presidents and prime ministers and governors better than we deserve. And such was the case with Queen Elizabeth.

So our first heart attitude towards government is to recognize that God is sovereign above the sovereign. If we have a good king, rejoice at God’s grace. If we have an evil king, repent and cry out for God’s mercy. According to this passage, one manifestation of God’s mercy is to grant leaders wisdom. Remember: The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will (Proverbs 21.1).  

The second attitude we scripture invites us to adopt is to pray for those in authority. Notice what Paul instructed Timothy to instruct the churches:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2.1-4

The instruction is clear: we should offer supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for kings and those in high positions [of authority]. Remember that when Paul wrote this, he lived under an autocratic regime, ruled by a tyrant at whose hands he would die just a few years later. Paul doesn’t ask us to pray for monarchs or government leaders because we like them, because ‘our team won the election’, or because they are good people. All of that would be easy. Actually, the more wicked a government is, the more they need our prayer!

But notice why the Lord invites us to pray for national and political leaders. It is so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way … because God desires all people to be saved. More than political victories, God is interested in kingdom advance. We pray for leaders so that we can retain freedom to be faithful stewards of the gospel.

One day the true King, the high King will return. Daniel describes the King like this:

And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Daniel 7.14

The kingdom of the true king is permanent; it will last forever. The kings and presidents and prime ministers and governors of this earth come and go; but the true King is eternal; his kingdom will not be destroyed. Our job is to faithfully steward the gospel so that as many people as possible can enjoy the benefits of kingdom citizenship.

Thank you, Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth, we thank you for your faithful years of service and your model of faith, virtue, and resilient fortitude through times both good and bad. May God bless the reign of your son, His Majesty King Charles III. May we live quiet peaceful lives and faithfully steward the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in a nation that so desperately needs to know his love, his grace, his forgiveness, and his presence.

Photo: Unknown / Library and Archives Canada, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons




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