As Americans get ready to vote in this Presidential election in November, we seem to be heading toward some sort of watershed as a Nation. Perhaps never before in American history have the issues been so big and the possible consequences so profound for our future. Families and even marriages have been divided over the candidates. Each day it seems we have a media civil war going. Never have we seen such anger and rage in almost every area of our society from sporting events to the political signs in our neighbor's front yard.
But with all that is happening in America we must ask ourselves a simple question: "Does God care who wins?" Does God have an opinion, will or even a favored candidate or outcome"? Overall, people bristle about such a question. It seems inappropriate if not outright wrong to even raise the issue. You might find it interesting that this question is not a new one. It was raised before at another important time in American history: during the Civil War by then President Abraham Lincoln. During that time, both the Confederate States and the Union strongly believed God was on their side. They all believed their cause was right and just. President Lincoln addressed that question this way in a very famous quote,
My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.
This thoughtful and brilliant answer by President Lincoln is exactly the kind of answer we need during what many are calling the "new civil war" in America. But the genius of Lincoln's answer is connected to the Bible itself. During the great impending battle between Israel and her enemies at Jericho, Joshua asked the Commander of the Lord's army who's side the Lord was on. Here is the answer from Joshua 5:13-15,
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?""Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come."Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?"The commander of the Lord's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
The answer Joshua got about who the Lord was for in the coming battle was "Neither". This incredible answer is very instructive for us in this important hour. Joshua was told that the Lord had His own purposes that may or may not line up with any human agenda, even with His people Israel and what they thought the Lord should do for them. You see the Lord is beyond our ability to understand things or claim that the Lord is with us because we all have a variety of agendas that are affected by sin. As a result, the Lord keeps Himself out of human manipulation and control for the good of all.
So, what then is the Lord's will for this Presidential election? Surprisingly, the answer is very clear and simple, and that answer has never changed from the Garden in Genesis 2-3 to today. The Lord just wants everyone to look to Him as the Ruler of all and be saved from our sin. That is true because if people look to political parties and flawed candidates to lead them, everything must fall apart sooner or later and there is no "savior" that can restore or redeem the mess. As you might guess, that is exactly what is happening right now to America. Have you noticed? Currently, America as we know it is in some sort of major decline because we have no clear idea of how to rule ourselves without God in our national life anymore and we have no way to redeem ourselves when we fail. History and the Bible are powerful witnesses to this exact truth going on before us. No nation can continue to survive such ongoing division, rage and anger, without redemption, as we are currently seeing unfold. Many people today are beginning to realize that fact in ways they never thought they would just a few, short years ago.
Along those lines, a future President Lincoln gave a very famous speech about the division and possible collapse of the Nation over slavery on June 16, 1858 in Springfield, Illinois while running for the Senate. The speech is referred to by historians as "The House Divided Speech" where he said.
"A house divided against itself, cannot stand."I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.It will become all one thing or all the other.Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South."
Lincoln opened this famous speech by saying, "A house divided against itself, cannot stand." Lincoln did not come up with those words because they are originally from the Bible and the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord gave those same words while in a battle with people who accused Him of being the devil after delivering a man from being demon possessed. Our Lord was hated by Israel's religious leadership because He was seen as a threat to their power base with the people. However, Jesus told them that if He was the devil, as they accused Him, He was working against the devil, by delivering a man from the devil. Such an action would destroy the devil's kingdom or house because no kingdom divided against itself could stand. In Matthew 12:22-25 we hear the story behind this great truth,
Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.
Right now, America is being divided by two very different powers that represent two entirely different kingdoms. So, our political "mud wrestling" has nothing to do with this Presidential election. The election is not about two flawed candidates. The election is somehow about whether the Lord will rule over this Nation and freely offer it redemption through the Gospel or not. That is the real issue. This is an issue that is virtually never discussed in the media or by the political parties and their candidates. It is even an issue ignored by the Church and our pastoral leaders. As a result, this election is not about a variety of controversial policies from abortion to Socialism or turning out the vote. All of these policy and personality battles are only symptoms of much deeper issues that are underway that are dividing our Nation and bringing us to some sort of internal decline as the Lord is being pushed out of our lives.
In his famous speech in Springfield, Illinois future President Lincoln realized that America would either become a nation that accepted slavery or a nation that rejected it. There was no middle ground; the controversial issue of slavery had to go one way or another. America could no longer continue to endure year after year with the rancorous fighting and division that had gone on between slave states and Free states.
This basic principle equally applies today to all our political fighting surrounding this year's election. How long can America divide itself between "Red States" and "Blue States"? So, this election will be part of determining if America will continue to remove God and His Gospel from our public life or freely allowing the Lord to be honored and respected in our public discourse as our needed Ruler and Savior. There is no middle ground here. God will either be seen as Ruler and Savior of the Nation in some way by the public or increasingly rejected, censored and ignored by the public with flawed and/or corrupt people ruling in His place.
Sadly, this entire debate about the role of God in our society seems to have totally ignored our National motto, "In God We Trust". Is that motto a joke or just a symbol? Why do we have it at all? Do voters believe it? Perhaps few Americans heading to the polls in a few weeks even know what it is, let alone what it means. We certainly don't know much about it from our schools, colleges, elected officials, political candidates or even our churches. So perhaps this election is really a referendum on the meaning of America, the National motto and/or God's right to rule over the world and redeem it on any level through the free proclamation of the Gospel? It turns out that people either believe the National motto on some level or they don't. The results of that belief and its resultant behavior and leadership will determine whether we stand or fall as a great nation. God will either be Ruler and Savior of America on a national level or just an empty slogan of a bygone era.
A thousand years from this election season every person will be in the presence of God. We won't be able to vote God in or out at that time. Not one person will remember anything about our politics or the last Presidential debate. But we will all know that God was and is the Ruler of all at that time. Thankfully, that wonderful truth was never left in our hands or that of our flawed leaders and/or elections. Jesus has always been Lord of all, now and forevermore, and He is the God of our lives that we can trust. That, by the way, has long been the motto of the citizens of Heaven, "In God We Trust".
And finally, for everyone who has rejected and/or resisted God's rule over our lives, which is ALL of us, there is Good News. The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to die for rebels, sinners and all who thought they could rule over themselves. Our Lord came to this broken and fallen world with a message of grace, forgiveness and redemption for all. Jesus died in our place, took our punishment on the Cross and rose victorious to give us a new nation and a new kingdom to live in with Him forever more. Every person needs to make that decision and vote for Jesus with our lives. There is no greater message and story to share with everyone at this challenging time. Pass it on!