Recently, as I was paying my bill at a local auto repair shop, the man behind the counter voluntarily expressed his deep concern over the coming elections. He was enamored with none of the candidates and was feeling pretty powerless to do much about the conditions of this country. To him, the future was quite bleak.
In my contacts with believers, and even with some unbelievers, the view of the auto repair guy is becoming pretty common. Along with a growing frustration with leaders and events, there is a sense of foreboding in the hearts of many as they peer into the future. And I too have not been immune from all of this. As those who are believers, we know the truthfulness of Proverbs 14:34 which powerfully declares that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” But righteousness is not doing well and seems to be in freefall, while on the other hand sin is flourishing everywhere.
The Apostle Peter, as he wrote his second letter, told his readers that he simply wanted to “stir you up by way of reminder.” Every now and then we need to have known truths repeated. It freshens those truths up and it helps us to finely focus the lens of life. The purpose of this short article is to help do that. Periodically we need to go through our “theological exercises” where we rehearse God’s truths. And there are four truths which should be part of our “exercises” as we live in the current political and moral climate and as we anticipate our future and the future of our country.
TRUTH #1. God’s people have very often lived in a moral and political climate where the true God is not taken seriously. We have many examples of devoted followers of the Lord who were living in times and cultures not of their liking: Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon and the Apostles living under Roman rule. None of these settings were ones that lifted up the Lord God and His Word. So what we face is not new, even though it may be new in our own personal experiences. It strengthens us some to remember that these kinds of conditions have been experienced by many of God’s people over the centuries, and that they lived well for God in them. In looking at the above-mentioned people, I am reminded of three other truths found in the story of Daniel in Babylon (which was hardly a conservative, evangelical nation!).
TRUTH #2. Daniel’s main focus was on the sovereignty of the God of Israel and not on the deplorable situation Israel was in. What we really believe affects the way we live. And as Daniel was faced with physical death and the rantings of an arrogant king, he firmly believed that God is not handcuffed by people or circumstances. God has a sovereign plan which He is going to execute and it will be executed at the precise time that He decrees. Daniel 2:20-21 must not be forgotten as we face the coming elections. These verses read as follows:
“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.”
According to Daniel, God’s sovereign power is seen in the fact that He controls “the times and the epochs”; by which we understand that He is the one who structures all history generally as well as all of the sequences of events. It is the Lord God who controls the events on this planet and this country. It is not men, angels, circumstances and not even the democrats or republicans. This sovereign power is further evidenced by the fact that God alone decides who will rule and when they will rule and when their rule will end. This is something that Daniel fully appreciated and that truth brought great calm and clear perspective to him. Believers today need to rehearse this truth and remember that God, for His own purposes, sets up rulers and takes them down. We are too easily influenced by the media and life around us, causing us to forget that the Lord God really is in charge of and the director of all things. No power or person can change the course of God’s plan.
TRUTH #3. Daniel had a clear understanding of the long term “end game.” In the second chapter of Daniel is recorded the great statue vision of King Nebuchadnezzar. You will recall that in this dream the broad perspective of human history is seen; a history culminating in the establishing of God’s future, forever kingdom. Daniel came to understand that various kings and kingdoms will have their “15 minutes of fame” but they will disappear. And so, while they might huff and puff, rant and rave, they and theirs are short lived. The “end game” is God’s final kingdom which will never be replaced by any kingdom of men or angels or demons. There is no doubt at all where God’s sovereign plan and working will end up. But only God knows the necessary steps in arriving at that great final destination. He will bring about a complete and final restoration (and enrichment) of everything that had been lost that fateful day in the Garden of Eden. His glorious, righteous kingdom will come. Daniel 2:44 reads:
“And in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.”
There comes to us both calm and strength when we remember that God is very clear in the direction all of this is going. The arrogant and wicked might be experiencing temporary successes, but even those things fit into the sovereign plan of God to bring about His future, forever reign. And as believers in Jesus Christ, we hold citizenship in that coming kingdom which will never be conquered or fade away.
TRUTH #4. During this time, Daniel’s priority was on faithfully serving His God. As we read through the book of Daniel, it is impossible to miss the wonderful faithfulness of the man Daniel to the Lord his God. It was observed from the very beginning when it is said that “Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself…” (Daniel 1:8). It is seen at the end of his life when he continued to faithfully pray to the Lord three times daily in spite of a decree expressly forbidding such actions. (Daniel 6:5-10). There were many things in the kingdom of Babylon that Daniel could not change or get rid of. But what he could do was to faithfully serve the Lord on a day to day basis.
And that simply is our task. Day by day we are to abide in Christ and to faithfully obey Him. We may not occupy positions of authority or wield great influence, but we have much to do. We are to love the brethren, share the gospel with lost folks, use money biblically, serve the body of Christ, flee sin, be faithful in our family relationships, worship Him, speak God’s truth under His direction, and many other things. And yes, we can relate to government, elections and the political aspect of life. We are told to pray for those in authority so that we believers might live in peace and godly dignity (1 Timothy 2:2). We have the privilege of voting, so as citizens we should use that privilege. And we ourselves can even run for office whether it be local, statewide or nationwide or actively support godly candidates.
But with our knowledge of God’s sovereignty, which will bring about the “end game” of the marvelous future kingdom of God, we are to live today with confidence and purpose. Being down-hearted and anxious are not becoming of the child of the coming King.
Just a reminder.