Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” (1 Samuel 8:4-5)
Oh no. Looking back we see that Israel has made a grievous error. When God chimes in, we see the full depth of their mistake and the consequences that will follow. Take note: these consequences are in essence a promise from God.
The Lord speaks (verse 7):
The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.
We immediately see the root of the problem – the people have rejected God. These religious folks only wanted to be religious up to a certain point. They would be great Jews on the Sabbath, but as for the rest of the week, well not so much. As a result they would receive exactly what they asked for and the consequences that would go along with those choices.
There Are Always Consequences
So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who had asked of him a king. He said, “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” (1 Samuel 8:10-18)
It Doesn’t Matter Who You Choose
When a nation collectively rejects God, this is what we get. I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect there were at least some Jews who did not want a king. Too bad for them. We can assume that their efforts were in the minority and had no bearing on what Israel would ultimately receive. So it is for our nation.
Am I suggesting that this First Samuel passage is applicable for today? That’s exactly what I’m suggesting and I can’t find anything in the Bible that undoes the consequences (promises) that God established as a result of our historical desire for secular leadership.
But we’re Christians! Jesus is Our King!
This is true. But nevertheless, the consequences linger – we have adopted a system of governing ourselves and we are stuck with it. The best men can do is modify this broken system, which in many instances only makes the situation worse; i.e., communism, socialism, fascism, capitalism, etc. At the end of the day, and regardless if we rightfully claim Christ as our king, we will have this earthly leadership, that is, until Christ returns. Then and only then will the kingdom be restored.
But Until That Day…
“(Let) Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1-7)
God in His infinite wisdom has given us a way to deal with it. In the same way God placed regulations on slavery (not because He condoned slavery, but because slavery is a reality to this day), God gives us regulations for living in harmony with the secular, government system. Again, we’re stuck with it (in subjection to it), until Christ’s return, so this is how we’re to deal with it. God puts it this way: “This is my ordinance and if you oppose it, you’re bringing condemnation upon yourself.”
This is my ordinance and if you oppose it, you’re bringing condemnation upon yourself.
The American Dynamic
It appears to me that God allowed something unique for the United States. Don’t get me wrong – God is not a respecter of persons in that regard, but at the same time God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
I believe God showed our founding fathers some of this mercy when they set out to create a republic that fully recognized God as creator and the giver of rights. As a result, we the people were given access to God-given rights that in many cases the government had previously denied. Just that we could now cast a vote for our leaders was positive, but this system went even further: we could dictate the kind of leader we desired, including his religious affiliations. Naturally, in these early elections, Christians were commonly running against Christians, and therefore Christians commonly won.
So what happened?
I suppose we could call it the Ancient Israel Syndrome: through the years we wanted less God and more of ourselves. In a word, the system is still broken. We redefined Christianity over and over in our desire to make our faith fit our culture, rather than having our culture conform to our faith. As a result we have a country with laws (I still can’t believe it) that allow drug use, homosexuality, murder in the womb, and general moral decline. We have become a nation of ‘those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!’ (Isaiah 5:20)
The Christians Rebel
Is it too late for this country to recover? Can Christians rally to get a solid, evangelical, fundamentalist Christian in the White House to save America? I believe it’s too late, but in the same way that it was too late for Israel way back in First Samuel. Ever since they rejected God and desired secular kingship, the dye was set and rule will not be restored until Christ returns to establish His Government.
Let’s go back to Romans 13:1-7. In it we see a brief description of what we and these God-ordained leaders are supposed to do.
Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
Ideally, if we do good (if we obey the laws of the land as long as they’re not in opposition to God’s law), we can live fearlessly. This is of course where Christians have the advantage; if we adhere to God’s Biblical mandates and are persecuted for it, we have the assurance that our eternal futures are secure. Non-Christians have no such promise.
The passage goes on to say that these leaders are sword bearers, in other words they are the God-ordained mechanism for protecting the people militarily. So, if you’re pacifist, no worries! God has established a government to fight for your protection; avengers and bringers-of-wrath to evil doers! But take note that while these rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this wrath, that does not necessarily mean that they are followers of Jesus Christ or (hold on to your Easter bonnets), do they have to be.
Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I want ALL my leadership, from the POTUS to my local town mayor, to be Christian. Why? Because I know that Christians (theoretically) have the same moral values. However, the reality in these United States is that although we have the freedom to vote, we really don’t have the freedom to elevate the best candidates to be elected. That process is pretty much done by the government and as a result, our choices are severely limited. Honestly, sometimes our choices are horrid.
Then Don’t Vote!
Not voting is not really an option and I’ll remind you why: Romans 13:1 says we’re to be in subjection to the governing authorities. These authorities have established laws and our civic privileges, and as good citizens we’re to take full advantage of them. If collectively we refuse to vote, the system will take advantage of our failure and usher in a dictatorship by default.
That leaves us with voting for what we’re given, and if we’re not pleased with the choices, we’re to essentially choose the candidate that will do the least amount of damage to our moral structure, national security, economic stability, and personal freedoms. Keep in mind, Billy Graham is not running for president this year, nor is Franklin Graham, Max Lucado, or Greg Laurie.
Now this might shock you, but I’m not sure I’d vote for any of those guys anyway. Sure, they’re abundantly equipped in one particular area, but I suspect they fall way short in others. Obviously I don’t know what kind of expertise they would bring to the table, I’m just making a general observation.
As for 2016 (and at the time of this writing), the field has been effectively narrowed down to three possible candidates (for me) and my choice (which I have voiced on social media) is not sitting well with many of my Christian brothers and sisters. Actually, the phrase ‘not sitting well’ is being kind. Some of my ‘brothers and sisters’ have become outright nasty over my choice because (I gather), he is the least Christian of the bunch. While they’re hoping to pick a ‘Pastor-in-Chief’ from the group we’re given, I’m leaning towards that sword-bearing, avenger of wrath that God told me about, praying that in addition to keeping the nation secure, he will also serve to protect what’s left of our Christian morality, despite the fact he isn’t the model of Christian morality himself. In other words, through constant prayer, I’m trying to vote for the best overall candidate given the circumstances.
Vote For Whoever You Want
I hope that it’s clear that you should vote for whoever you want, but if the last paragraph riled a few Christians up, remember to love others, love your enemies, and behave in a way that is pleasing to God. If you have a beef with your brother or sister, go to them privately and try to settle it, keeping in mind that every player in this next election has a log in their eye, skeletons in their closets, and a penchant to sin.