Are you worried about the election? Were you worried about the last one? Does thinking about the future of your country make you uneasy? Does it make you depressed? Argumentative? Sad? Or does it make you happy, at ease, glad, or even vindictive? If so, this message is for you.
Two Sides to the Election Coin
There are two perspectives that I’m going to explore, which all of us fall under somehow in our attitudes towards elections, and their results. And these perspectives were shared by many people in the Bible as well. The best thing to do, then, is to look at the solution to each, because they represent the moral problems we have and encounter.
1. “God’s Candidate” – Our societal issues can be solved if a particular person is in power
We often put a lot of faith in people, so much so that their perceived positive impact seems like a thing from God himself, that this person is directly from God himself. “If this one person comes to lead us, our problems will be solved!” But let’s look at the facts in scripture:
When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” – 1 Samuel 8:1-5
Sounds fine, right? Samuel’s children failed as Israel’s leaders. They took bribes from foreign influence, they didn’t take care of their country, and they were perverting justice. Do you have this mentality on much of government? Do you believe government is corrupt, given to foreign influence, bribes, and injustice? So did the elders of Israel. What was their solution? A king. “If we just have a king, all these problems will go away.” The corruption, the bribes, the injustice, and the evil will all be gone if this certain person comes to power. Is this right? What’s Samuel’s response?
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. – 1 Samuel 8:6
This is clearly not a good thing. Thinking that someone is the solution to the moral dilemma of Israel was not a positive mentality. If you found yourself relating to this section, here’s the part you might not like: the reason for this mentality. The word of the Lord, after Samuel’s prayer:
And the Lord told Samuel: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. – 1 Samuel 8:7
The people weren’t rejecting Samuel’s leadership, they weren’t even rejecting his sons leadership! They were rejecting God.
2. “The Anti-Christ Candidate” – Our leaders are wicked and must be defeated
This one is especially difficult to deal with because it’s been so powerfully felt throughout the history of humanity. We’re so often ruled by oppressors, that it certainly would be nice if they were removed and replaced by something better, wouldn’t it? It would certainly be great if there was a rebellion of some kind. How, then, must we reckon with the following scripture, in the midst of our oppressors?
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. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. – Romans 12:1-2
These verses are used time and time again to say that we must not rebel. Why shouldn’t we rebel? How are rebellions described in the Bible?
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the Lord.
He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear allegiance by God. But he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord God of Israel. – 2 Chronicles 36:11-13
Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his master, and worthless men gathered about him, scoundrels, who proved too strong for Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, when he was young and timid and could not hold his own against them. – 2 Chronicles 13:6-7
The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. – Mark 15:7
I could continue, but there’s a clear pattern that these are not righteous people. But you may be wondering, what about “righteous rebellion” when Christianity itself is threatened? Moses’ exodus is a frequent example used in this argument. Moses, the great insurrectionist! The great Jewish rebellion against Egypt! Right? Wrong.
Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’” – Exodus 5:1
God makes it clear to request that Pharaoh let the Jews worship a god other than the Egyptian gods. There’s no deception, no rebellion. If there’s an oppressive ruler, denying religious practices, what shall we do?
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” – Exodus 6:1
God is the one who causes deliverance from oppressors. A rebellion was never necessary, because it was Pharaoh who rebelled against God.
During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.” – Exodus 12:31
Even in the midst of impending doom and religious persecution and oppression, remember these proverbs:
Evil people are eager for rebellion, but they will be severely punished. – Proverbs 17:11
Rebellion hardens your heart:
Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” – Hebrews 3:15
Rebellion is you saying that God doesn’t care:
You have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?” – Malachi 2:17
Why is this so important to not rebel against authority? Why is respecting the oppressive authority placed over you by God so vital?
“Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.
Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.
But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” – Exodus 23:20-22
In the midst of oppression, God is bringing you to a place he has prepared.
The elections are in his hands. The rulers and authorities are his. There is no man but Jesus who is in absolute control for our good:
In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him. – Proverbs 21:1
So what do we do? What’s the solution to the “God’s Candidate” and “the Anti-Christ Candidate” when we start falling into these perspectives? The solution to the first, is to realize that your master is God. And the only solution to society’s problems is the gift of salvation, not an election candidate. And salvation isn’t something you can vote for. It doesn’t come from democracies, or monarchies, or capitalism. It didn’t come from Moses, or King David, or anyone today. It comes from one man alone:
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” – John 6:30
And the solution to the second perspective? Submission without apostatizing:
Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him. – Mark 12:17
You’re probably familiar with that passage, and its simplicity is incredible. God draws a fine line between what we owe authority and what we owe Him in the New Testament. The Old Testament has a very relatable example of this being practiced. There’s no need for rebellion, no need for insurrection, only obedience to God and respect of the authorities placed over you, by him:
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3: 16-18
Christ is in control
This is all complicated, isn’t it? The intricacies of how far Christians are to obey authorities is widely disputed. But know this: Christ is intricately in control of the details, and your prayers concerning these things that may trouble you do not go unheard. God wants to meet you wherever you are in life, he doesn’t need a revolution in your country to do it. No ruler can get in the way of God reaching out to you, no troubles, no wars, nothing.
I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” – Luke 4:25-27
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, in a land not his own. You and I are the widow in Zarephath, we’re Naaman the Syrian. We’re on the outskirts of mere human history, often our voices don’t seem like they’re heard and it’s like we’re not that important. But Jesus was sent to us.
Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. – Deuteronomy 10:14-18