Editor's Note: I can relate to this, and so I share this word from Jim Croft. His mailing list received it on Nov. 13, 2012.
I felt acute grief when Barak Obama was declared the winner of the 2012 Presidential Election. Sorrowful sensations intensified throughout the night and into the next morning. I searched within to discern why I felt so grieved.
I choked up when the Lord’s answer registered in my spirit. As a member of Christ’s Body, I was vicariously carrying the devastating disappointment experienced by Christians who had been led to believe their prayers would be the determining factor in the election’s outcome. (Rom 12:15-16)
Many equate widespread national troubles to judgments for forsaking the Christian principles on which our nation was founded. The innuendo is that national ills would significantly diminish with a President committed to the Christian sentiments of the USA’s founding fathers. Both positions have capacity to wound because they don’t fully consider biblical truth and the realities of Church and World History.
It is my prayer that this article will be an antiseptic that will encourage renewed confidence in God’s willingness to answer scriptural prayers for those with governmental authority. To provide understanding, it will be a necessity to give some unpublicized information about God’s dealing in human affairs. The good news is that the end of the matter is better than the beginning and provides good reason for joyful optimism.
Along with millions of other Christians, against hope, I chose to activate my faith to believe that Romney would win the presidency. Our hopes were not sufficient to overrule one element central to all elections. The key component was the will of Almighty God.
The underlying reason for Obama’s victory was not voter bloc failure; Governor Chris Christi’s sudden admiration of the President; and a terrible storm named Sandy. The plain truth is that God chose Obama over Romney to lead our nation during the next phase of bringing us closer to the end of the age. The Lord did so in spite of our disapproval of the administration’s stand on the redistribution of wealth; fiscal responsibility; entitlements; abortion; same sex marriage; Islamic issues; and Israel.
No matter what form of government, whether republic, democracy, monarchy, military or Islamic dictatorship; God has never relinquished his right to promote or depose whomever he wishes. (Psa 75:4-7) The Old and New Testaments confirm that it is God who appoints and sustains heads of State and governmental institutions.
What’s the use of Prayerful Voting
After Judas betrayed Christ and hung himself, the disciples sought his replacement. The choice was narrowed to spirit-filled Joseph and Mathias. God knew which man he had appointed for the office. To avoid argument about the Lord’s choice, the disciples prayed and then tossed dice to see whom the Lord had chosen. The lots landed in favor of Mathias. (Acts 1:23-26)
Thus it is with elections by ballot. Citizens participate by prayerfully casting their votes. The winner is the candidate that is the Lord’s choice.
Since God is in ultimate control, a stolen election is providentially impossible. If it does happen, its purpose is likely the eventual exposure, humiliation and impeachment of the cheater. At the same time, we must be mature enough to accept the fact that many rulers throughout history came to power and kept it by ruthless measures. There have been many situations where the actions of evil politicians were the slow train for what God eventually turned around for good.
Daniel 2:20-21, 4:17, 35; and 2 Sam 23:2-4 convey the following concepts: The Most High God rules in the kingdoms of men by installing and removing rulers by his sovereign choice. Some that he chooses are seekers of wisdom and some are the basest of men. God does as he pleases among the inhabitants of the earth and no one can restrain his hand or question what he does. The ideal is that Kings should rule justly in the fear of God, but remarkable numbers don’t.
There are no guarantees that intensity of prayer puts inept, cruel and unjust rulers on the fast track to removal from office and replacement by wise God-fearing rulers. This is evident by the caliber of Roman Emperors during the initial stages of Christianity; history’s Islamic regimes; and the 20th Century’s Hitler, Stalin, and Chairman Mao. All toll; tens of millions of believers were imprisoned and butchered by despots whose administrations often lasted decades. Many of the nations of Mediterranean and the Middle East that were Christianized by the Early Church were taken over by Islam by the 9th Century. They have been predominantly Muslim far longer than they were predominantly Christians.
The Bible promises that the godly will suffer persecution. (Matt 24:9; 1 Thes 5:4) We are possibly fast approaching the point when it is American believer’s turn to experience tribulations. It has nothing to do with judgment for sin and prayerlessness. It is a guarantee that accompanies the holy aroma of Christ within that has come upon myriads of Christians since the martyrdom of Stephen. (2 Cor 2:15-16)
Why would God refuse to answer the prayers of his people to replace inept and unjust rulers? There are 2 interrelated reasons: First, wise and kind rulers and
those who are foolish and tyrannical are all denoted in the Scriptures as servants of God.
Secondly, as time advances toward the end of the age; heads of State are unwitting players in bringing about conditions most suitable to God’s plans for each generation. Principle – God favorably answers most prayers related to blessings for individuals. Nevertheless, prayers pertinent to the destiny of nations are often overruled by his will.
Nebuchadnezzar was the idolatrous king of the Babylonian Empire. He erected an image of himself to be worshipped by everyone under his authority. Nevertheless, Jeremiah prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant. (Jer 25:8-9) The Apostles Paul and Peter said the same of the administrations of the Roman Emperors of the First Century’s Christian Era and encouraged believers to comply with their regulations as best they could without violating conscience. (Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-17) That was a difficult command to obey.
The Church was birthed in a hostile political, religious and economic environment. The 10 emperors of Christianity’s first century of establishment are best described as cruel tyrants of corrupt administrations.
On the Day of Pentecost Caligula was Emperor. He was infamous for addiction to hideous sex orgies. Few emperors of that period died natural deaths. Relatives that might have been successors for office were frequently assassinated before they could display ambition. Oposing senators were executed at whim. Food shortages and excessively high taxation were common. During the year of 68-69AD the power struggle for emperor was so confused that 4 emperors attained rule in a single year.
Titus burned Jerusalem’s Temple to the ground in 70AD and lined the streets with crucified Jews. A favorite pastime within the Roman Empire during the first century of Christianity was persecuting Christians. The last emperor of that period was Domitian and he outperformed all of his predecessors in murdering believers.
Perplexing and as trying as the times were, there are not any explicit New Testament examples of Christian leaders encouraging their congregations to pray for the removal of adversarial politicians. Believer’s response to political persecution was to pray for an increase in miraculous healings. (Act 4:23-31) The Apostolic mandate for every fellowship gathering was to give foremost place to prayers and thanksgiving for the salvation of all men, especially rulers. The objective was for believers to have sufficient peace to live quiet, godly lives for the sake of spreading the Gospel. (1 Tim 2:1-5)
Many wonderful Christians have been influenced by a teaching that sounds biblically sensible and historically on target. It asserts that the societal and
economic ills that have hit the USA would be healed if believers would pray and fast for a conservative government and for a return to Judeo-Christian values. The premise suggests that our nation was practically trouble free prior to 1972 when the horrors of abortion were legalized and the earlier decisions to remove prayer and Bible reading from schools began to be enforced.
The argument does not hold up under thorough investigation. Yes, our nation was supremely blessed prior to 1972. And though not everyone is willing to admit it, to a generous extent our country has continued to be blessed since.
What they don’t realize is that America’s history is a mixed bag of blessings and curses. The truth is that America has never been free of severe widespread trials and societal prejudice and injustice. Surfing the Internet would convince most anyone that they don’t want to go back to the good-ole-days-when-things-were-bad.
Exploration reveals a history of wars; epidemics; natural disasters; violent labor disputes; economic challenges; 80% of all business ventures failing within 5 years; gender bias and the oppression of minorities. Most present day Christian Conservatives might decry the nation under a curse if translated to live in former years.
This is a thumbnail sketch of what happened while abortion was outlawed; while we prayed and read Bibles in classrooms; and while greater percentage of conservative politicians ruled: Roughly 50% of the original super religious Jamestown and Plymouth Colony settlers died of exposure, starvation and disease within a year of arrival. Various intensities of Indian wars took lives and destroyed property in most every westward movement from 1607 until the final victory over the Paiutes in 1915. From its founding to 1972, Americans fought in 23 domestic and foreign wars; and there was a persistent line of spontaneous army and naval engagements with foreign powers to protect US interests. There was hardly a decade exempt of widows grieving loss of husbands and families disadvantaged by horribly crippled wounded warriors.
During the same centuries epidemics of smallpox, yellow fever, malaria, cholera, measles and polio struck hundreds of thousands in wave after wave of successive generation plague installments. For many generations quarantine signs regularly appeared on homes throughout America. From March through November of 1918, 500 thousand citizens died of the Spanish Influenza pandemic. Hundreds of thousands more were taken ill with it.
Then there was the stock market crash of ’29; and the dustbowl famine and Great Depression that hit in 1930 and lasted into the ‘40s to complicate every family’s life. And finally, I must mention the USA’s natural disasters of floods, earthquakes, winter storms, hurricanes, fires and the like. Single incidents of those
calamities took more lives and took longer to rectify prior to Roe vs. Wade than after it.
With history in mind, can anyone claim overwhelming proof that our citizenry was more blessed in the past than now?
Salt of the Earth
The Early Church believed that prior to the Coming of the Lord there would be a tremendous visitation of the Holy Spirit and an ingathering of souls into the Body of Christ. Therefore, Christians endeavored to live undisruptive lives that would draw secret admiration even from their persecutors. The concept was that many of the evil would be so shamefaced about God’s attestation of those whom they previously hated that their hearts would be opened to receive Christ. (1 Pet 2:11-17)
America is not God’s holy nation, but the Church of Jesus Christ is. Jesus described believers as the salt of the earth. We can regain our saltiness if we shift our focus of prayer and fasting from the healing of our land to the healing of the nation of the Church to become all Christ intends it to be.
Salt has 2 functions. First, it brings out flavor for that which is bland and unappetizing and it sweetens foods that are sour and bitter. Secondly, it preserves from corruption.
Our salt assignment from God is to believe that we can bring sweet flavor to bitter circumstance. We can do so by exercising faith to follow God’s instructions to Israel while in Babylonian captivity. We are to build businesses and homes; and choose to enjoy family life as though every aspect of existence were ideal. We are to pray for our cities and nation with full faith that as they prosper so shall we prosper. (Jer 29:4-7)
Our salt value will also be greatly increased as we pray for and receive more power for miraculous healing. There is hardly anything more appealing than coming up on a neighbor’s blindside and healing one of their loved ones of a wasting illness. It is especially so when done without showbiz fanfare and in the mode of being naturally supernatural.
The Lord is coming for a Bride without spot or wrinkle. To qualify we must be dedicated to embracing salt’s ability to hold off corruption. For believers, that demands that we challenge one another to live righteously.
One way or the other, Christians are often trodden under the feet of evil men. We deserve it if we continue to criticize sinners for acting like sinners when we so often are exposed as having secret lives of the same. (Matt 5:13) Only righteous salt can cause sinners to yearn for the fruit of salvation.
Believers activate salt’s flavor enhancing and anti-corruption qualities by being a people who refuse to incessantly grumble about the government. Prayers of faith for the salvation and welfare of governmental leaders is saltiness that has God’s approval.
For an entire year, I became feverishly preoccupied with the election via cable news. For me, it was a mistake to allow myself to become entangled with the affairs of this world as God's Kingdom is not of this world. (Jn 18:36; 2 Tim 2:4) I am not called to purposely antagonize the world. My brand of the scent of Christ from within keeps me on the front-burner of controversy without extra provocation.
At this juncture, politics and cable news are as disdainful to me as cheap wine after a teen’s first overdose of it. I bless God that my days feel as though they’ve been supernaturally lengthened for productivity in keeping with my calling.