by John Petley

Providence is the term used to describe God’s gifts to all mankind, saint or sinner. It is important to note that in a fallen world, these gifts do come from God, but are blessings with blemishes. Take sunshine and rain (Matthew 5:45) and note that Jesus says “His sun”. Without sunshine and rain there wold be no life on earth, but sunshine can cause skin cancer and rain can cause floods.

Government is part of providence. It is a gift from God as Romans 13 makes clear. The reason why we need it is because we are fallen human beings and need to be restrained (Think of Jeremiah’s diagnosis of the human heart in Jeremiah 17:9). The Dutch Pastor Abraham Kuyper who became Prime Minister of the Netherlands in 1901 said that in Heaven we will not need government in the sense of the usual functions the State exercises (maintaining law and order, for example) because we will be free from the effects of the Fall.

We see the wisdom of God in giving us government when we consider how awful anarchy is – take Libya in recent times or Somalia where was no effective government for years.

But we must go further. Although God’s action at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:6-9) was an act of Judgement, there was a blessing tucked away. While we need the State to restrain evil, those who govern us are fallen sinful beings (take Nero who was on the throne in Rome when Paul wrote Romans) and therefore in need of restraint themselves. The creation of the nations makes it harder, although obviously not impossible, for aspiring tyrants to build up large empires as Nimrod had done in Genesis 10:8. He is called a “mighty one” and commentators suggest that the Hebrew implies he was a cruel and vicious man.

Multi-ethnic, multi-lingual empires, whether ancient or modern, require massive bureaucracies to function. Esther 3:12 and 8:9 indicate just how many civil servants the Persian empire required merely to translate documents. What a contrast to 1 Samuel 8:15-17 where the prophet defines “big government” as demanding a mere 10% of GDP!

Multi-ethnic empires are also rarely very free societies. Although democracy originated in pagan Athens, it has proved a ready companion for countries in which the Bible has been influential. The Israelites elected their leaders and the Greek word Cheirotoneo in Acts 14:23, used to describe the appointment of elders in the Galatian churches is the same word as that used to describe the voting (by show of hands, which is the root of the word) of the ancient Athenian democracy.

This is the heart of the biblical case against the EU. Firstly, its democracy is very limited. The Commission is not chosen but appointed, and having seen the European Parliament in action, there is no real debate as with our Westminster Parliament. It is the only directly-elected institution in the EU and does not have a lot of power. Secondly, although nations come and go (I haven’t met too many Hittites recently!) and there are obvious dangers of identifying a nation rigidly with ethnicity, as we are aware from the Nazi era in Germany, the basic concept of a nation as a group of people with their own language, culture and government living in a particular spot on the earth is a good one and God-given.

Normally the subjection of one nation to another is seen as a judgment on that nation (see Judges 3:8, 6:1, etc). Therefore, the EU project, which seeks to hollow out the democratic institutions of the nation state and hand over power to a foreign institution, cannot be regarded as anything other than rebellion against God’s revealed will.

There is much debate about the resemblance of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg to Pieter Brueghel’s painting of the Tower of Babel, but there is no doubt that the EU project was designed to eradicate nationhood. In the European Parliament’s Visitors Centre these words are inscribed: “National sovereignty is the root cause of the most crying evils of our times… The only final remedy for this supreme and catastrophic evil of our time is a federal union of the peoples.”

Note also God’s special providences to us as a country. The legacy of Alfred’s Common Law, Magna Carta and the Protestant Reformation was a form of government widely admired for its emphasis on freedom and the effective brake on tyranny. Compared with the top-down legal systems on much of the Continent, we have been very blessed. Yet these very freedoms, given by God, are under threat because of the EU project.

There is also much dishonesty in the whole way the EU project has advanced. It was always a political project disguised as an economic project and the public has frequently been told lies.

For instance, regarding the Lisbon Treaty, the former French President Valery Giscard D’Estang said, “Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals we dare not present to them directly. All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised.”

Many years earlier, Edward Heath lied to the British people when he said, “There is no question of Britain losing essential national sovereignty.”

No Christian can or should support a project which has been built on lies. There was much exaggeration and spin on both sides of the 2016 referendum campaign, it has to be admitted, but our membership of the EU and indeed the whole EU project itself is built on a violation of the 9th Commandment (Exodus 20:16).

Further reading

Read about the ‘Maygate’ tapes at

‘A German Brexit’ by John Petley can be read at

Operation Breakthrough’s prayer strategy for Britain can be read at Operation Breakthrough – prayer strategy for Britain – from May 2019

For a fuller look at Brexit, read the Brexit supplement from our Feb/Mar 2019 issue:

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