Summary: Since we know God is sovereign we don't have to worry in times of trouble (1 week after presidential election chaos)
"Fellow citizens! Clouds and darkness are round about Him. The dark waters of the seas and stars of the skies form His pavilion. Justice and judgment are the establishment of His throne. Mercy and truth go before His face. Fellow citizens, God still reigns! He will enable the government in Washington to carry on."
Friends, those are the words General James A. Garfield spoke to a distressed crowd in New York City the morning after President Lincoln had been shot. Sixteen years later, Garfield would be elected president, and within a year after that he too would die from an assassin's bullet. Though well over 100 years have passed since he spoke those words, they remain very true and very relevant for us today. "God still reigns. He will enable the government in Washington to carry on!" The presidential election held this past Tuesday ended up with the closest result since 1876. By the way, that year it was four months after the election before it was known that Rutherford B. Hayes had defeated Samuel Tilden for the United States presidency. But, the fact that five days after the election we still don't know for sure who is going to be our next president makes this clearly a time of uncertainty and anxiety in our country. I've always been interested in politics, maybe I am even what some call "a political junkie," but it seems lots of ordinary, normal people are also very interested, concerned and even stressed out by what has been going on this week. So, we are not going to return to our study of 1 Corinthians until next week. Instead, we are going to explore what the Bible says on what has been happening, which I think will help us keep perspective, a godly perspective, on these events.
Now, I realize that those of you listening have a wide variety of political views, and some no doubt different from mine. But the things we are going to talk about today are true for all of us as Christians, no matter what partisan or ideological leanings we may have. So, let's pray that today God would give us an understanding of the truth which would help us have a godly perspective in both our minds and hearts.
We will look at two important biblical truths and explore some of the implications of each.
Truth #1: God is sovereign. James Garfield was right. God still reigns, He is still on His throne. Nothing that has happened this week has changed that one bit. As Psalm 97:1 says, "The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice," or as David says in 1 Chronicles 29, "Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom, you are exalted as head over all,...you are the ruler of all things." The clear biblical teaching, in both the Old Testament and New Testament is that nothing on this planet happens unless God chooses to allow it to happen. Now, we don't understand, at least I don't understand, why the Lord chooses to allow certain events to occur. He could have prevented John Wilkes Booth from assassinating Abraham Lincoln, but He didn't. He allows tragedies every day. That does not mean, however, that He has lost control of His creation. Ephesians 1:11 says that God works all things in conformity with the purpose of His will." Good things and bad things, snowstorms and elections, are all under His sovereign hand. Even when we make choices which are not pleasing to Him, He will still accomplish His purposes. Friends, the fact that God is sovereign is one of the Bible's foundational teachings. Believing this truth is so important if we are to live in a way which honors the Lord. And it is essential that we as Christians apply this truth, put it into practice, in our daily lives.
So, what are the practical implications of the fact that God is sovereign in our current situation?
First, whoever eventually takes office will be the individual that God determines should be there. Listen to Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Now, God uses our choices and actions to accomplish this. How we choose to vote does make a difference. But, the bottom line is that no one ever gets into office unless God ordains it. That means whether it is Bush or Gore, this will be the man God has chosen. Whether God has chosen him primarily to bless us or to punish us is something we will find out later. Now remember, Paul says it is our responsibility to submit to these government leaders. As long as they are not asking us to do things which violate God's law, that is our responsibility. It also implies we need to accept their authority. No matter how close or unfair an election may seem, we need to submit to the authorities God has established.