God Voted Obama
As I lay down to go to sleep last night I thought to myself, “What is the best way to respond to those I lead this week regarding the electoral decisions of our nation in this 2012 campaign.” A couple of hours earlier a member of the church had texted me asking, “Well, any words of encouragement, pastor?” My immediate thought and response was, “Jesus is the King of kings!” So as I faded into unconsciousness a reoccurring thought swirled in my mind, “God Voted Obama.”
I received an email this evening with the subject, “THE SADDEST DAY IN THE HISTORY OF THE U.S.” The email happens to be from someone I do not know who somehow had placed me on their distribution list many months ago and instead of actually unsubscribing I’ve consistently just delete his messages, but this one caught my attention. After reading the opening sentence (that’s as much as I could handle), I once again began thinking “God Voted Obama.” The failure of the author to recognize God’s active involvement in the affairs of men is startling to me, but gives me some further insight into his theology.
I realize that what I’m about to say will not be popular with the largely evangelical, center-right crowd that will likely read this post, but I’m convinced it’s scripturally supported and worthy of consideration.
In the 6th century B.C. the Nation of Judah was led into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. There are a number of contributing reasons for Judah’s captivity, but one of the major ones was Israel’s unwillingness to obey God’s command for sabbath rest. Every seven years the land was to lay fallow, but in Israel’s greedy desire for ever increasing yields, they disobeyed the sabbath rest for 490 years. Thus God required 70 years of rest for His land, which translated into 70 years of captivity for disobedient Israel, as they worked as slaves under the taskmasters of Babylon. This is just one of several such instances in the Old Testament. God is very serious about righteousness and justice. He does not take lightly disobedience. The blessings and curses of the commands still apply and are, I believe, generally applicable to all humanity.
For many years our nation has greedily pursued ever increasing yields. We’ve selfishly sought for extravagant abundance and idolized the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Our bent toward instant gratification has, in recent times, pushed us to do so with little thought for the long-term costs and consequences. After more than a generation and a half of such pursuit we’ve seduced ourselves into believing that “tomorrow will be as today and much more abundant” (Isaiah 56:12).
Furthermore, as of December 23, 2011, a staggering 78% of Americans self-identify as Christians (Gallup). Obviously there are a number of cultural guilt factors that play into people identifying as Christians when asked. Be that as it may, there is good reason to believe that the 78% have at least some connection to Christianity in their past. Yet the scriptural exhortations to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31), do justly, love mercy and walk in humility (Micah 6:8) have done little to stir our social engagement and curb our indolent pride.
With these things in mind I wonder; is it not possible that we’ve been given the government that will reprove and correct — even if it be by taxation — our unroghteous behavior? Is it possible that the church’s abdication of social responsibility has created a vacuum that someone or something must fill? The government being the logical “something?”
Don’t misunderstand, I don’t like taxes per se. Nor am I a fan of individual mandates or social safety-nets hung upon deficits and debt. I’m a firm believer in personal responsibility and think loving charity is far more noble than begrudging taxation any day of the week. But if we indeed believe that promotion comes from The Lord (Psalm 75:6-7) and that there is no authority except that which God has established (Romans 13:1), then perhaps we should consider why God has given us the leaders we’ve elected? Before we tune in to Foxnews and Glenn Beck, maybe we should hearken the Prayer of Daniel…
1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
4 And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
7 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
9 To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
10 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
12 And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
14 Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
Let me end by affirming my heartfelt prayer for President Obama; for the president he defeated a mere 24 hours ago has left him with one heck of an economic mess.
Great piece Miles, it gives one much to meditate upon. We often say in too trite tones, “God is soveriegn”, all the while believing He must surly see things as I do. How terribly arrogant and prideful. Father forgive me my foolish pride. I know I am guilty of greed and self-serving ways, while neglecting the poor in our midst.
I do think you are right in your thesis. I must admit as I watched the election results last night amazed and personally disappointed, I did sense in my own Spirit, that God is in control and it won’t do a bit of good to be bitter. I decided right then, Lord, help me to truly and humbly pray for President Obama, for he truly will need Your wisdom to rule.
Actually, I believe this election is the judgement of God on this nation. As a country we will definitely get what we deserve. There is no going back to the old USA. God’s will be done. I do weep for where this country is going. I have been an extreme patriot for as long as I can remember. The “Star Spangled Banner” is in my top ten. I literally will be driving down the road singing it.
I feel Jeremiah’s pain, though we have never been God’s people as Israel was, There is some application.
I’ve read your post about 3 times now and honestly all I can say is “poor loser”? Because a right minded Republican was not voted into the presidency does that truly mean all is lost? That “now” somehow God is trying to teach us a lesson when last week God was supported Mitt Romney?
It seems that our society, our Christianity has gotten all tangled beyond straightening out. We detest a candidate who is in favor of gay marriage and abortion. I get that. But as I’ve stated in posts if we hate sin so much (gay marriage) why aren’t we signing petitions against murder, against child abuse against those of our congregation who have all Apple products and 55 inch TV’s but don’t think to send $39 a month to help a child in Africa? I really do get being against abortion but again when abortion was illegal…people still did it. Isn’t it time for we Christian to stop pointing fingers and just lead by example. In every congregation there is enough sin and error to keep us all occupied for quite a long time. That’s not even getting into the ego and lack of compassion and charity for anything beyond “Our Church”. People should be able to look to us and not see a body that is condemning them but welcoming them. I don’t believe in either abortion or gay marriage. Both leave a disgusting scent on my mind when I think about it. But so does what the other candidate was offering.
In the same breath, we listen to a candidate that supports our Christian “Rightness” but seem to look away as he lies through his teeth. We simply let it go when he switches his stances to get elected. We overlook what we just two years ago may have called a cult. We applaud is blatant greed and ego with his overwhelming wealth. The man could actually stop children in Malawi from dying of hunger single handed and he would still have money left over for a couple huge houses. The type of man that wants to stop any kind of welfare system that many Americans rely upon including our congregation. Not only rich people are “Good Christians”. I vaguely remember Jesus saying something about looking after the poor. Or do we just ignore that during election year when we’re all worried about taxes that for most of us…honestly just won’t make that huge of a difference once you do the math…but people sure howl over that extra 750-1000 in taxes a year. Is this man worse than the abortion, gay marriage candidate? If I’m not mistaken to God sin is sin…anyway you look at it. Whether living a life of utter greed, except where it serves your own pursuits or whether you are gay, or if you have an abortion.
So when Pastor Miles says (paraphrasing) that perhaps we’re learning a lesson….I say perhaps we are. But not for the reasons that Pastor Miles has stated. Perhaps it’s because we were wrong long before this last elections night.
Two into one, but you must choose which…
I too have been fascinated by the broad array of responses to the election this week. In thinking about them, I have come to realize that with me I have had two different reactions to the one event. (And I don’t’ think that makes me schizophrenic) This may be an obvious no brainer for some, but for me it helped to segment my feelings and with that establish what would be an appropriate response to each.
As an older person who has experienced years of gradual (and at times not so gradual) change, I can’t help but look back and see how society in this country has migrated over the past 50 or 60 years. From the days of my innocence and naivety to today, I can only look back and mourn the losses. It wasn’t even 911, although truly significant, that had the greatest impact on me, but it was when I looked back and realized the many little losses that have occurred over time and along the way. I can’t help to think of the frog in the beaker, who doesn’t feel the heat rising, one degree at a time. To me, this is the secular view of things and one that is invariably a part of who I am as a person in this brief segment of our (my) history.
The second view or feeling I have is more of a Kingdom view. Recognizing that we are in a spiritual battle for the minds and souls of humanity, this election (and many other current worldly events) provided me a wakeup call, and I suspect others who have been called to the work of sharing the Gospel. There is no doubt that the trend in this country is clearly away from our once Judeo-Christian ethics and values, to a more secular and humanistic view of the world. This is nothing new to many thought leaders, who have been following these trends for years. What is does do, I believe, is to provide an opportunity for our church leaders to creatively instill a sense of urgency for missions and the sharing of ones faith in the minds and hearts of their congregants. Many more folks than our pastors must recognize and act on the fact that each generation slips farther and farther away from our founding principles, thus making more challenging to reach them with the Good News. Ah, but I digress…
The bottom line for me, and I suspect for many others, is both a sense of loss and a sense of urgency. What we do with each will ultimately be determined by where we put our focus, on the loss or on the urgency.
I always appreciate your perspectives! Thanks!
I have been thinking about our country for days, wondering about the direction we have been traveling. According to the election results our country is mostly “red” except for the hugely populated inner cities. It appears that the government has taken over the responsiblities that God intended for the husbands, the wives, the dad’ and mom’s, the family and of course the church. So when a young lady who is needing assistance because she has a child to care for, she is nowing turning to the government for help. The family unit is broken, the churches have left the inner city for the safety of the suburbs, and we wonder why people look to our government for answers.
My wife and I are rethinking how we can make God’s love real to our fellow citizens, there are good out reaches already in place. We can love people, while holding out the Word of Truth to those in our community. I believe we are being equipped here at CrossConnection through our Pastors teachings and examples. We cannot change the entire world, but we can change our world!
Past Miles is correct in his understanding of this election, we know that God is in control, now God is providing us with more opportunites to share His love. Perhaps we can win some to Christ, and then watch as God brings life to our entire country!
I so appreciate this response to the election! Your observation of the move of Christian influence to the “safety” (which I would rather classify as the comfort of) of suburbia has left a void in urban environments. The church needs to reengage with the gospel in such places!
I think comfort is a major influence. Reengagement is the answer. I been sharing with our group bible study for the past several months that government and politics cannot and will not solve the “problems” of our society. Only the applied Gospel can work.
Ps 42:11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God!
The political process is used for good or evil, we should not abandon it as Christians, but our hope is in God, not man or its institutions! Thank you for thinking through these issues, God will bless us as we try to engage.
When I saw the title of this post in my email inbox I immediately thought of Habakkuk; which I’ve been reading in preparation to teach soon. Habakkuk sees all the unrighteousness in his country and leaders and calls out to God asking Him to do something about it (like all the chain mails, FB posts, blogs, and Tweets). And based on the complete context of the book it’s clear that what Habakkuk expected was for God to raise up some righteous leaders to replace the current ones. So God tells Habakkuk that He will, indeed, do something about it; something that neither Habakkuk or anybody else would ever believe! (I can feel Habakkuk’s chest swell with emotion and excitement as God is about to pronounce His soon-coming “fix” for the problem). Then God tells Habakkuk what the “fix” is: He’s going to raise up the bitter, hasty, greedy, dreaded, fearsome, self-righteous, proud, fierce, powerful, violent, guilty, idolatrous Babylonians to “fix” the problem. (I am in NO WAY comparing Barak Obama to the Babylonians. God alone is Judge).
AS A PEOPLE we have long since gone astray from a path of thankfulness, humility, and sacrificial love and service to our families, neighbours, and communities. Notice I said, “as a people”, because in the unique case of our constitutional republic the government is not the people, the people are the government. This is very different from the theocratic monarchy of Israel. And so as a people we are very much culpable for what we blame on the government . It is “the people” who are in need of a “fix”. Like Habakkuk, a minority cry out for a “fix”. And like Habakkuk we are initially shocked when God moves sovereignly through our system of self-chosen leaders in order to bring the “fix” through men who are no more righteous than the ones we want replaced… than the people.
I obviously find myself in agreement with your post. I can only pray that if there’s a further correlation between our present state and that of Israel’s story it is this: that, like Israel’s physical return to the land, there will be a repatriation of righteousness to ours.
John, I’m with you bro. I detoured from 1 John and preached Habakkuk this last Sunday: http://podcastyoursermons.com/media_player_7.0/listen.php?id=6277
Nice. I’ll give it a listen when I get a chance.
I was stunned by the election results. Some thoughts on this:
1. If we lived under a totalitarian regime like those in the Bible, our input would be non-existent. The paradox for us as American Christians is having a responsibility to our families, country and countrymen to be good citizens and to work towards electing good leaders but still being at peace when things don’t work out as we wish. I think that we should do all we can but then be thankful for the freedoms we have and for the fact that our leaders are not even more crooked or mendacious than they are.
2. Our preferences are not always the best. I think of how pleased I was when GW Bush was elected, only to find that he was unable to right the ship and even made many grievous mistakes that we are still paying for.
3. I don’t think our greed and not caring for the poor are off the charts. Our poor are not really poor by global or historical standards. The levels of private generosity and the redistribution of wealth done by our governments are unprecedented in history.
4. I do see two huge issues as morally and spiritually devastating for the health our nation. The first is our nation’s practice of living beyond its means by creating unbearable debt for our children and grandchildren. I don’t see any way that the debt issue can play out that does not result in a national economic and/or political disaster. The second is the breakdown of the family and all the damage that results from that. I don’t think either of these problems will be solved by politicians.
5. Our passion should be spiritual revival. If this comes, the benefits will be eternal and the politics will take care of themselves.
I fail to see how 6th century Jewish prophets has any relevance to 2012.
I fail to see that our country is red. The USSR crashed and burned in 1993
Obama is our democratically elected President. It is our Christian reap. to pray for our leaders.