He Has Brought Down Rulers

Day 80

Prayer for the day

My mouth shall recount your mighty acts and saving deeds all day long; though I cannot know the number of them.

Scripture for the day

Joshua 10-12, Luke 1:39-56

Everyone knows that religion and politics don’t always mix very well. We’ve seen some pretty awful consequences when religious people have taken power.

There is a big difference, however, between politico-religious discussions nowadays and the song of Mary, called the Magnificat. Mary’s song not only extolls God’s action in politics, but states that God’s actions are good and just. There must be something here that is different than what we’ve seen in the past (or present).

Mary touches on the difference when she explains in her song that it is YHWH who has done all these things, for his purposes and in his timing and power. Mary extolls the work of God not because God has set up a “Christian” government, but because God has done what God has done for God’s own purpose.

Joshua encountered the same God when he was fighting the inhabitants of the promised land. In almost every case, the scriptures are clear that the kingdom Joshua is winning is not a kingdom Joshua has established, nor is the plan Joshua is following a product of his own mind.

The battles, say the scriptures, are the Lord’s. The plan, say the scriptures, is the Lord’s. Nothing about the story in Joshua has to do with Joshua’s aspirations to lead the people of Israel or to rule them in any way. The battles and the political maneuvering and the eventual conquest are God’s and God’s alone.

Mary’s Magnificat doesn’t stop with rulers. She proclaims not only that God is in control and that God does what God will does, but that God is merciful, forgiving, caring, loving, and helping. The one who is in control is not a vicious despot or a megalomaniac. The one who is in control is the only one who can adequately be in control, the only one worthy to bring down rulers and raise up the lowly. He is the one who we serve.

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