Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.Taken in a literal and dogmatic way these verses pose a problem for Americans because our nation was founded by people who rebelled against British governing authorities. The verses also are troubling when one considers those who are rebelling in countries like Iran, Egypt and Libya. Is Paul telling these people to simply submit to tyrants who kill and oppress their neighbors? I think not.
I submit to you that Paul's words can be helpful when they are considered in the light of history. Ancient events record the rise and fall of nations - even Israel fell at the hands of pagan nations indicating that God allows such events. So, I believe that Paul is not saying that governing authorities are not to be challenged. My take is that Paul is simply saying to obey the law and stay out of jail. Tax evaders do well to heed his words. :)
But to the issue of the nations, I think that the prophet Isaiah said it clearly when he declared that God "brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness". In truth God's sovereignty over the earth is not about raising up or bringing down nations but about raising up and bringing down leaders. To that issue we would all do well to understand that, especially for leaders, God opposes the proud but empowers the humble.
Pride and humility? Something that people in New Hampshire should consider today when they cast their ballots.