August 23, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Isaiah 21:9 (NIV)
Look, here comes a man in a chariot with a team of horses. And he gives back the answer: “Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!”
Though God chose Israel as his special people, God is truly the Lord of all nations. All human institutions exist under the sovereignty of God. The fall of Babylon, predicted in Isaiah 21, reminds us of the global reign of God. It also encourages us to pray for the nations; not just our nations, but all nations.
We tend to think of Isaiah as the prophet of Israel who brought God’s word to the Israelites. Indeed, this is true. But, through Isaiah, the Lord often addressed other nations as well. In Isaiah 21, for example, the Lord spoke to Babylon, Edom, and various peoples in the region of Arabia. With respect to Babylon, verse 19 proclaims the destruction of this great but evil kingdom. Isaiah 21 makes clear the fact that God is the Lord of all nations.
That’s not to say that the nations acknowledge God’s sovereignty or are guided by his truth. In his providence, God has allowed the nations of the earth to reject his kingdom, even as he has allowed us to do the same in our own lives. But God remains supreme. In time, his kingdom will come in all fullness. On that day, Jesus Christ will be acknowledged as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (see Revelation 19:16).
In the meanwhile, God can choose to exercise his sovereignty over the nations in his way and his time. This truth matters, not just for our thinking, but also for our praying. Because God is Lord of all, we pray, not just for ourselves, our families, our businesses, our churches, and our own nations, but also for the whole world, including all other nations. Though it might seem strange to believe that our prayers can impact such things, we nevertheless pray in faith, trusting the Lord to hear us. When we do, we follow the advice of Paul to Timothy:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Do you ever pray for the nations? Why or why not?
When you pray, what do you ask the Lord to do?
Do you pray for other institutions? Do you pray for the company or organization for which you work? How about other human institutions?
Set aside time this week to pray specifically for the nations of the world.
King of Kings and Lord of Lords, you are not just my King and Lord. Nor are you just the sovereign of those who acknowledge you. You are the Lord of heaven and earth. All nations exist under your authority. And in your inscrutable wisdom, you are working in and through the affairs of nations.
Though it sometimes seems audacious, even silly, to pray for nations, we do so in faith. And so we pray today, for the United States, for Mexico and Canada, for Israel and Syria, for Brazil and Venezuela, for North Korea and South Korea, for Russia and Ukraine, for Libya and the Central African Republic, and for the other nations of the earth. May your justice come to the nations. May you raise up leaders for the nations who seek you and your ways. As we wait for the fullness of your kingdom, may we catch glimpses of your reign even in our time.
Beautiful Savior! Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.*
*Final verse of “Fairest Lord Jesus” or “Beautiful Savior.” Translated from German by Joseph A. Seiss, 1873.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Babylon and the New Jerusalem: A Tale of Two Cities (Revelation 17-22)
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.