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Monday, November 5, 2012

No Earthly King

Tomorrow is the long-awaited official election day in the US, where the nation will decide who will be president for the next 4 years, as well as settling the same question concerning the balance of power in quite a few Senate and House of Representative races.  This is a big event, and it is pivotal in the history of the world, however it goes.

I say it is big, but that doesn't mean it's the end of the world.  I want to remind everyone that we aren't electing a Christ, but rather, an earthly king of sorts.  Whoever gets into office will be imperfect, and prone to sin.  That person, no matter how qualified, is capable of leading the entire nation farther astray if he moves in his own power and doesn't follow the urging of God. 

I say farther astray because I believe the nation has already strayed far from the principles of godliness outlined in the Bible.  I believe this is even reflected in the reputations and beliefs of the candidates we have to choose from.  That's why we should be prayerful about who we vote for, and keep praying for whoever wins (even if we didn't vote for that person) after election day is over.  However it goes, God is still in control, and that's what I want to talk about today.

An Earthly King: What It Means

The ancient Israelites once lived without a visible, central government and single leader, in the period of the Judges. During this time, they were held together loosely by their tribal affiliation and more tightly by the religious customs and laws God had established through the Law of Moses.  In fact, God ruled them as their King, occasionally sending Judges to do His will among them through all of those years.

However, their hearts strayed from God, and they ceased to acknowledge Him as their high King and ruler. They wanted a visible government, complete with a king and officials, which they saw as preferable to the leadership of an invisible God. They were looking for someone who looked "kingly," (1 Samuel 9:2) and they put great stock in the strength of their warriors and in the cleverness of this individual, who would lead them all to victory.  This pride in their warriors and faith in their king would make them just like everybody else (1 Samuel 8: 10-22).

This decision to follow an earthly king reflected a lack of faith in God. They didn't want Him to lead them and direct them any more, though He had proven Himself many times. They would rather trust in human strength, cleverness, and foresight, rather than trust in God's power. It was rebellion.

A Greater King

I have seen people in despair over this election.  Some seem to follow candidates with an almost religious devotion and fear the worst if their votes do not prevail.  I've heard multiple reports of voting fraud already, due to the new early voting option.  I've even heard reports of people threatening to riot if they don't get their way (which is unheard of in the US, for those who don't live here).  I can't say that the worst won't happen.  I will admit that it looks pretty grim.
However, I'm not ready to despair.  I follow a greater King, who I believe is going to take care of me if everything else falls apart.  He will not be dethroned in any election.  He wasn't dethroned in the ancient "election" that chose the first king for Israel.  Even though they had an earthly king, he and all of his court were still answerable to God.

In fact, God is in control of this election, though many strive to control it.  God already knows the outcome, and can do as He pleases about it.  As Isaiah described God:
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.  He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.  He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.  No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. (Isaiah 40: 22-24)
If we have been foolish, as the ancient Israelites were, and have put all our hope in the strength of an earthly king, we may get what we asked for, as they did.  That was its own punishment, as Samuel warned them (1 Samuel 8: 11-18), outlining a loss of property and personal freedom, leading to oppression.  Their earthly kings began by taking their sons to war and ultimately led the whole nation into shame and exile.

We can learn from their hard lesson, and not hang all of our hopes on people.  It is better to trust in God, and do our best as Christians to support a government that submits to God and maintains law and order (Romans 13: 1-5),  "not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience" as Paul explained.  All those in authority are put there by God, and answerable to His authority, so take heart!

See you at the polls! Don't forget to pray.