“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Ps 20:7, ESV)
Trust In God not in Presidents
I want to talk to you about a brutal dictator. He was an idolater who worshipped many gods believing them to be superior over everyone else’s. He wasn’t exactly anti-semitic but that’s only because he not only hated, murdered, and brutalized the people of Israel; but that he hated, murdered and brutalized everyone. He was a king with unrivalled power – a power not balanced in any way by parliaments or advisers. His command was met with either instant obedience or instant death – there was no other option. It’s fair to say that he ruled over his vast empire with an iron fist soaked in blood.
One historian described the full reign of this brutal and tyrannical king in terms of truly absolute power:
“…all the peoples, nations and men of every language feared and trembled before him; whomever he wished he killed and whomever he wished he spared alive; and whomever he wished he elevated and whomever he wished he humbled…” (Daniel 5:18-19)
The past and the present parade past us a stream of leaders, Stalin, Gorbachev, Kennedy, Clinton, Bush, Nero, Domitian. Whether we deem them good, evil or somewhere in between, how do these people obtain power? How did George Washington become the first president of the United States or Hitler control Germany? How indeed did Kim Jong Ill become North Korea’s so called “beloved leader” and Saddam Hussein lose power in Iraq?
From a raw human perspective we see military might or political prowess. But the truth of the matter is that they gain power and lose it in the precise same manner as our aforementioned despot – King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Speaking of that tyrant, Daniel unequivocally said, “ the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar…” (Da 5:18, NASB95)
In fact one of the primary themes which form the backbone to the book of Daniel is that God is in charge of every people, nation and ruler. Listen to this constant theme in the book of Daniel.
“It is [God] who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings…” (Da 2:21, NASB95)
“…the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes And sets over it the lowliest of men.” (Da 4:17, NASB95)
“…seven [years] will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.” (Da 4:25,32, NASB95)
“…at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Da 4:34-35, NASB95)
Seeing the absolute, unbridled sovereignty of God like this can undoubtedly create some questions especially as you consider some of the truly horrible national leaders both historically as well as today around the world. But above all things it should bring peace to those who love Him. It should also widen our perspective, taking our eyes off of that which is innately temporary and onto that which is specifically eternal.
In every single presidential election the constant tension and refrain for those who follow politics at all has been, “This is the most vital election our country will ever hold.” But it is not, nor will it ever be more than a pathway to accomplishing the purposes of God – which must by necessity be focused on spreading the good news of forgiveness and redemption through the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
After too much hand wringing for which I’ve already repented – I’ve been reminded by the Lord that the most important election America will ever hold is the one that every person around the globe must make individually. Namely, “Will Jesus Christ be the Redeeming Lord of my life or not?” My precious family of God, if we are missing that question in this election not only in our own lives but in the lives of those around us than our perspective is wrong no matter who we vote for on Tuesday.
I’m not talking about a kind of religious fatalism that says, “God’s going to do what God’s going to do so don’t bother getting involved…” That’s wrong, for God throughout all of history from the beginning has used people to accomplish his work. I’m not talking about fatalism I’m talking about faith. I believe that we must do what we can do, but that we also must both believe and pray that God’s will will be done.
Vote with your Bible as a guide.
In 1843 Noah Webster published a book intended to demonstrate the value of the Bible. In that work he states the following precept under the title “Political Evils”:
“… a perfect government has not yet been found. In the best form … defects have been discovered, which have frustrated the hopes of the founders. And what is the reason? Why, the reason is comprised in a few words: Men have not obeyed God’s precepts. …”1
In a recent article Del Tackett from Focus on the Family‘s "Truth Project" observes that,
“Once we lose the understanding of what God’s precepts are, it doesn’t take long for a citizenry to think they are selecting good men to rule over them, when, in fact, they are only electing men who share their views of how the power of government can be used to satisfy their own selfish desires.”2
Personal preferences and goals are not the proper guideline for selecting a candidate for any office. I propose to you this morning that the only proper motivation is nothing less than the glory of God. Therefore the only way that we who have the right to vote can properly and righteously employ that right is to vote based upon the defined standard of God’s word. The principles located in the Bible are sufficient to guide you through the rocky terrain of any election cycle. Psalm 111:7 says, “The works of His hands are truth and justice; All His precepts are sure.” How then can we do less than to seek Truth and justice in our elected officials? Every person who ever has or ever will run for an office in this country will fall short of the excellent perfection of God. Both of the candidates running for President all the way down to state governors even to township superintendents every one of them are sinners before the Lord. That should not drive us away from voting as if throwing our hands up in exasperation. But it should help to correct our perspective.
Morality- even impeccable morality will not save this nation. By the same token the most immoral man in office will not be able to tear down the work of God. No election is going to ruin the gospel. The Bible urges us to obey first God and after that to yield to and serve the king or government of the land. Those commands are written to individuals living under a Roman government growing more and more anti-Christian, embedded in a thoroughly pagan society. Those Christians were called to one task, the task to which we also are singularly called. Take the gospel where God puts you.
Live the Gospel
Why do you suppose God put Daniel in the courts of a tyrant king? From the prophetic perspective found in Habakkuk, it was clear that God used Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army to serve as a punishment for Israel because of their idolatry. When Habakkuk expressed dismay, the Lord’s response was that judgement was necessary but that God himself would see to it that the Babylonians were also judged in turn. But even in judgement, God remembered mercy. It is no mistake that as you read through the first several chapters of Daniel you get the very distinct impression that God put Daniel where he put him in order to bring Nebuchadnezzar to Him by whatever means necessary. God put Daniel in a situation where merely being faithful meant he was doing what he could do. Like Daniel, faithfulness to our God is our single task.
Like queen Esther we have been placed in our life stations for such a time as this. Whatever happens on the national and international stage your task, your orders from on high is to speak and live the message of Jesus Christ with the single minded goal that sinners will turn to Jesus Christ.
Vote with a prophetic perspective.
Above all we must keep an eternal perspective. God is in control. The Almighty sets up kings and he takes them down. He sets up presidents and he takes them down.
In a recent interview, John Piper commented on we as Christians having a desperate need for a prophetic perspective concerning this election. Listen to what he says:
“[the church needs a prophetic perspective on the election] … Let those who vote or do politics do it as though they were not doing it [1 Cor 7] which means there’s a kind of engagement that is not all consuming. There is a kind of voting, a kind of doing politics a kind of advocacy which is not investing out whole selves in it because we are not here fully. We have a foot in heaven and a foot on the earth, we are citizens of two kingdoms, this is not our main home. This world is passing away…We need the gospel, we need to say that the reason we are on planet earth is not to advocate for any particular political party, we are here to advocate for Christ and him crucified…”3
As for me, I will no longer allow myself to put my trust in politics.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Ps 20:7, ESV)
In closing there is but one more task for us and it is this: we must vote with an intent to pray for the victor.
Vote with an intent to pray for the victor.
1 Timothy 2:1-3 is abundantly clear as the first order of business of the church: praying with the gospel in mind.
“First of all I urge then the Entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority so that we lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity, this is good and acceptable in the sight of God who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
I urge you to commit yourselves to praying for our next president. Whether he’s the guy you and I voted for or not, he will be God’s servant to this nation and indeed to the world. We must pray that all of our government will serve in righteousness for the greater glory of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Quoted by Tackett, Del. Political Wisdom from Dr. Noah Webster: Political Evils : Truth Observed. http://deltackett.com/2008/10/21/political-wisdom-from-dr-noah-webster-political-evils/ Emphasis added.
2source: Tackett, Del. Political Wisdom from Dr. Noah Webster: Political Evils : Truth Observed. http://deltackett.com/2008/10/21/political-wisdom-from-dr-noah-webster-political-evils/