WHO WILL PROVIDE AND CARE FOR ME?

Well, the media has increased its focus on political caucuses, candidate promises and party platforms. If you listen to much of it, you might be seriously confused about what is true since each candidate puts its party’s spin on the “facts”.  It seems like the main goal of the ads and news clips is to scare the voter into voting one way or the other. There’s a lot of emphasis on the economy and health care programs. The parties are far apart in their approaches to solving the country’s economic problems. Each party insists that the approach of the opposing party will cost the individual voter some type of loss –  whether it’s a loss of job, savings, health care, or constitutional freedoms.

All of the hoopla and controversy makes me think of accounts of Israel’s history in I and II Kings, I and II Samuel, and I and II Chronicles. Now, I can’t say they’re my favorite books or that I’ve memorized many verses in them, but basically they provide hundreds of years of history of God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel. They detail the reigns of kings in Israel (and later in the two nations into which Israel was divided – Israel and Judah).  The bottom line is that there were kings who worshipped God and led the nation in ways that glorified God and there were kings who worshipped numerous other gods and led the nation into downward spirals of sinful behavior and dishonored God in the process.  The interesting part to me is that God allowed “bad” kings to reign. There are recorded incidents of God’s wrath upon the nation or the king when grievous sins were committed. But there are also many times when God allowed the king or the nation to live sinful lives and worship other gods. He wasn’t quiet about it. He spoke through priests and prophets to denounce their sins, to describe the patience of God in his loving pursuit and desire for their repentance, and to warn them of pending judgment or discipline (famines, plagues, capture, and exile). But He allowed bad kings to be chosen (whether through war, blood lines, or selection).

The problem was never that God was impotent and couldn’t change the leadership. God could have removed a king through death or dementia or a coup or any other means. Sometimes I have to admit I wondered why He didn’t intervene much quicker.  But I no longer doubt that He could have done so if it had pleased Him to do it.  Daniel 2:20-22 is the scriptural basis for my confidence in this:

Daniel said,

‘Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
  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.
  It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And the light dwells with Him’.”

God has the wisdom and the power to decide who should be the king – or, in the United States, the President. He sees each candidate’s heart, but He also sees our hearts and knows what we truly need. And His perspective may be much different from ours. We may want a comfortable life, with no question about job or financial security. But there are times, He knows, that we need hardship because it is the only thing that will draw us nearer to Him. He knows what will cause us to come to Him in prayer and repentance. He knows what will help us to better grasp the extent of His love and grace and faithfulness toward us. He knows what it will take for us to learn to depend on Him and place our hope in Him rather than in ourselves, our education, our politicians, our bank accounts, our jobs, or our health care plan.  His plan involves growing a people of integrity, faith, character, peace, gratitude, and joy – a people who are more and more conformed to the likeness of His Son so that others will want a relationship with God and He will be glorified. And at the same time, will lead us into a more abundant and fulfilling life.

So, even as you listen carefully to the political speeches and ads, by all means ask God for discernment and wisdom in who to vote for. But don’t place your hope in an individual candidate or political platform.  And if your candidate doesn’t win – don’t lose hope. Our loving and faithful God may allow someone to win an election that would be the equivalent of a “bad king” in the history of Israel – for His good and loving purposes. And regardless of who wins an election, He is God. He is sovereign. He can install or remove a leader and will do so in His perfect timing. Our future is not in the hands of human authorities, but in the hands of God. He did not always protect His people from hardship or loss, but that does not mean that He was impotent or uncaring. In truth, He’s a patient, long-suffering, lover of our souls.  He wants us to know Him more and more and trust Him more and more.

Hope in God will never be misplaced hope. The same cannot be said of hope placed in political parties, platforms, campaign promises, savings accounts, health care plans, or self.

After a discussion with a family member who expressed concern about health care coverage and political promises, God encouraged me with these words from Isaiah 46:3-4:

“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
You who have been borne by Me from birth
And have been carried from the womb;
Even to your old age I will be the same,
And even to your graying years I will bear you!
I have done it, and I will carry you;
And I will bear you and I will deliver you.” 

God’s promises to Israel (house of Jacob) are applicable to Christians today. Through Christ we have been grafted in to the vine planted by God, Israel. (For some scriptures on this, check out Romans 11 on the grafting in of Gentiles, Ephesians 2:11-22 on being fellow citizens and heirs of God’s household, and Romans 2:27-29 on circumcision of the heart making one a Jew inwardly.)

I hope God’s encouragement from Isaiah 46 is as comforting to you as it is to me in this time of conflicting political promises and strategies. Your future is in His capable hands.

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