Some of us may never have even heard of the Republic of Belarus until recently. The name seems to mean “White Russia” and it is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe which declared independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Alexander Lukashenko is the President and has been since 1994. Some have titled it “Europe’s last dictatorship” due to the President’s authoritarian style of leadership.
The first I heard of this country was at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic when the President considered it unnecessary to impose restrictions and allowed life to go on as normal with cafes and bars, etc. remaining open and the football league playing when most others in Europe had ceased. He is infamous for saying “”‘People should not only wash their hands with vodka but also poison the virus with it.” As a result, it was reported that Belarus had one of the highest per capita infection rates in Europe.
These days he is in the news again. This time after an election he won (again) that some, including the EU, considers to have been fraudulent. Over recent weeks the population has been out on the streets demonstrating against the results and calling for the President to step down. Something he is not likely to do without a fight.
Considering the present situation in Belarus (and a few other nations), Psalm 75 is relevant. It is a poem concerning, in the words of the prophet Daniel, the truth that God, “the Most High, is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” (Daniel 4:32) It is about God’s promotions and demotions in the world of leadership.
Asaph writes that God says:
2 … “I choose the appointed time;
it is I who judge with equity.
And then Asaph continues:
6 No one from the east or the west
or from the desert can exalt themselves.
7 It is God who judges:
He brings one down, he exalts another…
10 who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked,
but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”
The use of the word “horn” here is as a symbol of power.
Kidner terms these events, “God’s great reversals”. (# 29)
History has been full of some arrogant leaders who made (and are still making) a similar mistake to King Nebuchadnezzar when he proclaimed, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30) Soon after, due to his arrogance and pride, he fell on his face as God demoted him until he later came to his senses.
1 We praise you, God,
we praise you, for your Name is near;
people tell of your wonderful deeds…
2 You say, “I choose the appointed time;
it is I who judge with equity.3 When the earth and all its people quake,
it is I who hold its pillars firm.
4 To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.
5 Do not lift your horns against heaven;
do not speak so defiantly.’”
Or as the Passion Translation puts it:
4 God warns the proud, “Stop your arrogant boasting!”
And he warns the wicked,
“Don’t think for a moment you can resist me!
5 Why would you speak with such stubborn pride?
Don’t you dare raise your fist against me!”
Below are some other relevant Scriptures:
For our political leaders:
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. (Psalm 2:10-11)
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. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1)
Father, we do pray for leaders in our world today that they would be wise in all their decisions, and in the light of your justice, putting the needs of the people above their own greed or desire for power. Amen.