Let’s get political….

In America, looming just over the horizon is an election that will determine who the country’s executive will be for the next several years. With the foreign affairs issues, the debt, the social issues of our times, the divisiveness of our society as a whole, how we react in the coming years will determine our role as either a falling power, or an example of how to manage a country and it’s citizenry. Needless to say, though I will anyway, out of 350 million people, we have collectively narrowed it down to two powerful individuals (referring to power accrued through worldly gain and influence), who are morally questionable to say the least, and who struggle with gaining enough of our trust to look beyond their flaws as human beings as  to render them able to manage our affairs in a competent way.

That is putting it mildly, is it not? Truth be told, the race to the White House is ugly. Every day dirt flies, and the past is drudged up and vomited out on the conscious of the country, for us to dismiss or denounce based on our party line. But what if I told you that collectively, we are no better then they? 50% of our internet traffic is sex related. 22 million of us use illegal drugs, and as far as legal drugs… over 49% of us have used them in the last 30 days. Americans consume over 80% of the world’s opiate supply. 58 million babies have been aborted since Roe vs Wade; that’s 18% of today’s current American population. 20% of men have had more than 15 sexual partners, and 24 million children grow up without fathers in this country. Upon examining your own lives, I would dare say there are moments you are glad haven’t had the bright light of media shined on them, and shown to everyone you know, as well as all those you will ever know. Those rants in traffic, those secret conversations about your boss, your crush, your spouse. Is it possible that these two candidates are a proper reflection of who we are as a nation at present, despite our pseudo-righteous indignation towards the unscrupulous acts of the opposite party?

Consider Isaiah 6, and the ending of King Uzziah’s reign. Upon his death, he had ruled over Judah for 52 years. He was revered, and under his reign as king, the Hebrews enjoyed bounty and peace, and they looked to him to save them from troubling neighbors, as well as any threat to their lives. Never since Solomon was there such prosperity and piety. But Uzziah reached beyond his purview, acting as priest, when his role was that of king, and in doing so, brought about his own demise through leprosy. This left a vacuum of anxiety and fear, and Isaiah wasted no time in filling it with the truth:

“Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,

And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.”

They no longer had a worldly king to hang their hopes on, this great man, brought low because of pride, for no man can act as priest, prophet, and king, lest he be perfect. Without the hope of Uzziah guiding them in to the future, the prophet shared with them the fate of the people, and their inability to even hear the message, much less react to it. Their hearts were closed.

But look at what is promised in the end. ‘The holy seed shall be their substance’, a direct prophecy of the Son of God, one of many that Jesus Christ fulfills. In the end, it isn’t the imperfect political leader who thinks he is a savior that saves them, or the world for that matter. It is instead the only person who can act as savior, priest, prophet, and king . It is only Jesus Christ. Now you may say, hey that’s great, but that was 2700 years ago. What about now? Well, that’s the best part. Anyone we elect isn’t perfect enough to save anything. If we are lucky, who ever that is will recognize the fact that the very earth we walk on was created by someone much greater. But regardless of who is the political victor in November, Jesus Christ lives, and He is and will always be King. And it is only He that saves.

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Be Still…

Many Christians look around at the social and political landscape with a deep anxiety towards what the future holds. Different issues cling to our psyche like pursuers we can’t gain distance from. Morality, liberty, church, money, the way in which we view these things is changing. What’s worse is we are often guilty of feeding that worry, of staying exposed to it, trapped in an echo chamber of our own making  until we believe the sky is falling. It does us good to step back and remember who is in charge.

You have to wonder how terrifying the world seemed to young Daniel when Babylon marched the Israelites across Shinar into Babylonian slavery.

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.” – Dan 1: 1-2

Israel, after prophetic warnings, had finally passed into judgement for not obeying God. Jeremiah chapter 34 explains how Israel did not practice their Sabbath days or years, and were to spend between 606BC and  536 BC as slaves to the Babylonian and Persian empire. It was exactly 70 years before Daniel and his countrymen were allowed to start rebuilding Jerusalem, the bulk of his life in fact. Permission was given by the Persians to rebuild the temple, but never again, until May of 1948, were the Jewish people not ruled over by others. They had lost their independence.

But what came from this slavery, this providential lowering of protection for Israel. First consider the precision of judgement. God’s people had abandoned the Sabbath year for precisely 490 years before enslavement. Every seventh year being a Sabbath year, meant the Israelites were being judged for disobedience in regards to exactly 70 of those years (490 / 7 = 70). The exact amount of years they were under captivity! Much too perfect to be coincidence, true historical data such as this continues to make the word of God unique, and remarkable.  Precisely 70 years were paid back to God; and during those 70 years it was prophesied not only the empires to follow and continue to rule over the Israeli people, but also the 490 year prophecy pertaining to God’s plan for them. A precise starting point was given, and an exact time of the messiah was shared with Daniel, and in turn, with the world.

The bible was edified beyond comprehension through this tumult, proving to be prophetically accurate, highlighting God’s precise righteous judgement, and promising a time of grace and salvation, all within, and around, and in the midst of human debauchery. You see, it is within the framework of human behavior that this historical narrative plays out, and does so according to the sovereign will of God. What seems like abandonment, unfairness, tragedy, when examined from a historical perspective, falls in line perfectly with what God is doing. Make no mistake, grace and judgement are, and have always been, linked. We like to celebrate God’s love, but tend to deny deserving God’s judgement, and the sacrifice necessary to bestow undeserved grace. In Eden, sin was covered, and the animals shed blood to cover it; during the flood, Noah and his family were spared, the continuously evil world judged; at the exodus, Jews were shown grace, while Egypt was judged righteously; at the cross, the world was loved, while blood was shed. It has always been.

A true study of Daniel is mind-blowing, but the greatest lesson from its pages is the comfort of knowing who is in control, even when hardships fall. That trek across the Shinar valley, each step adding distance between each prisoner’s home and holy places, while the Babylonians defiled everything sacred, how could one be asked to trust in God. It must have seemed hopeless. But even then, we can look back at a perfect mosaic woven by God’s hand, and see a plan unfold that was implemented beyond our understanding, and outside of our time.

What does this mean for you? It means that God’s plan far exceeds your understanding,  even your life, and furthermore, He does not owe you explanation before accomplishing His will. What He demands instead is trust. The kind of trust Daniel personified, despite circumstance, despite slavery, despite even death if need be. But this trust does not go unrewarded. In return for your trust, you receive that precious grace you don’t deserve, and it is stamped with the same assurances as the prophecies given to Daniel, which unfolded with supernatural accuracy.

So when we view the landscape of our times, do so with the wisdom that comes with hanging hope on the promises of God. He has asked for your trust, and has bought you with His own blood. For consideration:

When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. – Psalms 75:3

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. – Psalms 46:10

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5

(Jesus) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. – John 14:27