Does Human Leadership Deserve Your Confidence?
DURING the past calendar year dramatic governmental changes took place in a number of lands throughout the earth. News commentator Howard K. Smith, of the American Broadcasting Company, remarked that a “unique feature” of 1974 “was the epidemic . . . of fallen leaders.”
Among countries affected were Argentina, Ethiopia, France, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Japan, Portugal, West Germany and the United States of America. A well-known newsmagazine observed: “At least some of the changes in national leadership reflected a restive search for figures capable of guiding the world into a future that looked like a darker, more dangerous business than it had in some years.”—Time, January 6, 1975.
In times past, it has not been uncommon for leaders to remain in power for years. Yet, in one year—1974—many leaders toppled from their positions of power. So, one might well ask, Does human leadership deserve my confidence?
WHAT OF HUMAN MOTIVATION?
Doubtless many men entering political life have had noble intentions. Often, however, human leaders have had ulterior motives. For instance, Adolf Hitler swindled German workers out of huge sums of money, according to William L. Shirer, who wrote in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:
“Every German, or at least every German workman, he said, should own an automobile, just as in the United States. . . . Hitler decreed that a car should be built for him to sell for only 990 marks—$396 at the official rate of exchange. . . .
“Since private industry could not turn out an automobile for $396, Hitler ordered the State to build it and placed the Labor Front in charge of the project. . . . The Labor Front advanced fifty million marks in capital. But that was not the main financing. Dr. [Robert] Ley’s ingenious plan was that the workers themselves should furnish the capital by means of what became known as a ‘pay-before-you-get-it’ installment plan—five marks a week, or if a worker thought he could afford it, ten or fifteen marks a week. When 750 marks had been paid in, the buyer received an order number entitling him to a car as soon as it could be turned out. Alas for the worker, not a single car was ever turned out for any customer during the Third Reich. Tens of millions of marks were paid in by the German wage earners, not a pfennig of which was ever to be refunded.” When World War II began, this newly constructed automobile plant “turned to the manufacture of goods more useful to the Army.”
A human leader may also turn against political associates and he may cause the people in general to suffer greatly. For instance, consider Joseph Stalin, dictator of the Soviet Union from 1929 to 1953. Says The World Book Encyclopedia: “Stalin ruled by terror during most of his years as dictator. He allowed no one to oppose his decisions. Stalin executed or jailed most of those who had helped him rise to power because he feared they might threaten his rule. He also was responsible for the deaths of millions of Soviet peasants who opposed his program of collective agriculture (government control of farms).” When Stalin transferred control of farms, agricultural equipment and livestock to the State, farmers tried to resist by destroying about half of the country’s livestock and a great deal of produce. “As punishment,” says this reference work, “Stalin sent about a million families into exile. The destruction of livestock and grain caused widespread starvation. The economy moved forward, but at the cost of millions of lives.”
Very truthfully, the Holy Scriptures state: “When the righteous are in power the people rejoice, but they groan when the wicked hold office.” (Prov. 29:2, The New English Bible) Indeed, a leader’s actions eventually may prove that he did not deserve the confidence of the people.
AN EVENTUALITY THAT FURTHER UNDERMINES CONFIDENCE
Some human leaders apparently have felt invincible. To illustrate: King Esarhaddon of ancient Assyria declared in an inscription: “I am powerful, I am all powerful. I am a hero, I am gigantic, I am colossal.” Nevertheless, that monarch was unable to escape one thing, death. “There is an eventuality as respects the sons of mankind and an eventuality as respects the beast, and they have the same eventuality,” say the Scriptures. “As the one dies, so the other dies . . . They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust.”—Eccl. 3:19, 20.
Unquestionably, all human leaders are dying creatures. None are able to save themselves, or anyone else, from the eventuality of death. Accordingly, the Bible soundly advises: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit [life-force] goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.” (Ps. 146:3, 4) No human leader is immortal. His dead body ultimately disintegrates and returns to the ground, from which man originally was taken. (Gen. 2:7; 3:19) The eventuality of death undermines confidence in human leadership, if nothing else does.
WHY HUMAN LEADERSHIP MUST FAIL
There are basic reasons why human leadership must fail. For one thing, mankind’s Creator says: “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jer. 10:23) But human leaders have been trying to direct their steps while ignoring God and his Word, the Bible. World conditions, however, testify to the truthfulness of what the Creator said. Only the man whose “delight is in the law of Jehovah” has the Scriptural assurance that “everything he does will succeed.”—Ps. 1:1-3.
Jehovah God, who can see what is happening, not only on earth but also in the invisible realm, tells us why human rulers cannot succeed. His Word, the Bible, associates wicked spirit forces with world powers. For example, it says that “the prince of the royal realm of Persia” once stood in opposition to a righteous angel for twenty-one days. (Dan. 10:12-14, 20, 21) Not a puny human leader, but only a wicked spirit “prince,” a demon, could do such a thing. Under whose authority? That of Satan the Devil, “the ruler of the demons” and “the god of this system of things.”—Matt. 9:34; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:11, 12.
Interestingly, the Bible book of Revelation mentions a symbolic “wild beast” and says that the “dragon,” who is Satan the Devil, “gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority.” (Rev. 12:7-9; 13:1, 2) In Daniel’s prophecy, various animals, including very ferocious beasts, are used to signify political entities. (Dan. 7:1-28; 8:3-8, 20-22) Therefore, the symbolic “wild beast” to which the Dragon gave power, throne and authority is the Devil’s visible earthly political organization. No wonder that people find human governments unsatisfying.
WHERE TO PLACE YOUR CONFIDENCE
Does this leave us without hope? No, for the Holy Bible, which says, “Do not put your trust in nobles,” shows where to place our confidence. It declares: “Happy is the one who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Jehovah his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, of the sea, and of all that is in them.” (Ps. 146:3-6) Yes, Jehovah is the One in whom to put confidence.
Millions have suffered because of the shortcomings of human leadership. Many have been victims of deceit, injustice, fraud. Orphans, widows, the hungry, and many others, need true hope. Well, Jehovah is “the God who gives hope.” The Bible identifies him as “the One keeping trueness to time indefinite, the One executing judgment for the defrauded ones, the One giving bread to the hungry ones. Jehovah is releasing those who are bound. Jehovah is opening the eyes of the blind ones; Jehovah is raising up the ones bowed down; Jehovah is loving the righteous ones. Jehovah is guarding the alien residents; the fatherless boy and the widow he relieves, but the way of the wicked ones he makes crooked. Jehovah will be king to time indefinite.”—Ps. 146:6-10; Rom. 15:13.
Can there be any doubt that Jehovah God is capable of accomplishing such good things? Consider: Whereas human leaders die, Jehovah is eternal. The Hebrew prophet Habakkuk stated: “O my God, my Holy One, you do not die.” (Hab. 1:12) Has God the power to do good? Well, who is responsible for the force of terrestrial gravitation? Who controls the sea, as demonstrated by the way the coastlines keep it within set limits? (Job 38:8-11; Jer. 5:22) Who created the sun, a gigantic furnace with an internal temperature of about 35,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit? Who concentrated tremendous energy in minute atoms? Surely no human leader. The incomparable Source of such dynamic power is Jehovah God. Moreover, as the Bible shows, he is “the One speaking in righteousness, the One abounding in power to save.”—Isa. 63:1.
You can expect only failure from human leaders. But Jehovah God’s power is irresistible and his works are righteous. His purposes do not fail, and they are for the good of humanity. Already Jehovah has taken decisive action for man’s benefit by establishing in heaven the kingdom of his immortal, glorified Son, Jesus Christ. Soon that kingdom will replace human leaders and governments. (Dan. 2:44; 1 Cor. 2:6; Rev. 11:15-18) Then mankind will know true freedom and happiness.
Confidence in divine rulership is not misplaced. Abundant blessings soon will flow from heaven to those who live under the beneficent rule of the King Jesus Christ. Act now as an advocate of divine rulership and you may be numbered among the happy subjects of this one whom Jehovah God has provided “as a leader and commander to the national groups.”—Isa. 55:1-4.