Summary: In Nehemiah 11, we come across a situation where the people are faced with a national referendum. They didn’t believe in “luck” or “chance.” They actually were so committed to the sovereignty of God that they knew God would direct the outcome of the lot
Taking Time to Give Thanks
You made a good decision this morning to come to church because I have some inside information about the recent presidential election that you will not hear on CNN. With all the intrigue and controversy surrounding the final tally, coupled with the waiting that we’ve had to do as a country, I wanted to fill you in on what really happened this past Tuesday.
The election, contrary to what the experts have been telling us, did not swing on the sunshine state of Florida. The outcome was actually determined by a group of relatively unknown, first-time voters who cast their ballots a short distance from here. I have one of the original ballots that I’d like to show you. [Show illustration of cartoon drawings of a cat and a dog, with a checkbox below each one]
It was a landslide and there will be no recount in a tightly contested race between a cat and a dog, the cat won by a certified margin of 6 to 2!
Mrs. Sancken’s kindergarten class at PCS participated in the election by marking their ballots for either the canine or the feline (and there was no confusion about who they were voting for!). Mr. Cat now has a clear mandate since he received 75% of the vote. As far as I know, we are not waiting for any absentee ballots!
I read something this week from Chuck Colson, President of Prison Fellowship that helps us keep the presidential election in perspective. I want to share part of it with you:
“Whichever way things turn out, some people will be joyous, and some people will be dismayed. But one thing is absolutely clear. It should not alter in the slightest the course that we, as Christians, follow in our society…If you’re disappointed in the election results when they’re finally clear, that’s understandable. All of us have partisan choices. Maybe you’ll be jubilant over them. If so, you’re going to think, ‘Well, the culture war’s been won.’ And if you’re discouraged over the results, you’ll think, ‘The culture war’s been lost.’ Nonsense!
Cultures are changed from the bottom up. Fads start from the top down. Movements start from the bottom up…what moves America are the ‘habits of the heart.’ This is the genius of America. We are moved by the tastes and dispositions of the people. We’re moved by the way we live with our neighbors around us. People need to see something better, something that they can long for in our lives. That isn’t affected by elections. They’re not going to look to Washington for that, they’re going to look to us.
So we keep living in biblical faithfulness. And remember, too, that God appoints the leaders. And that whatever happens in the election that’s now being tallied; we have to accept God’s sovereign judgment. We have to pray for those in authority. We have to respect those whom God has put in power over us, and live peaceably in the midst of whatever government we have. The first century church did that; the twenty-first century church ought to be doing exactly the same thing. Don’t be overly jubilant, but don’t despair. Take a cool-headed perspective and keep your Christian faith and your Christian witness strong.” (Break Point with Charles Colson, 11/8/2000)
Colson is saying that we need to keep the main thing the main thing. We need to focus on the most important. As we near the end of the Book of Nehemiah, we’re discovering what really matters. As someone has said, “God is large and in charge.”
When an election is this close, it shows the value of everyone’s vote. When there are only a few votes separating the candidates, some have suggested that we should just flip a coin or have them draw straws. I’m not sure this would be the best way to elect a president today, especially when there’s such a difference between their personalities, their platforms and their positions.
In Nehemiah 11, we come across a situation where the people are faced with a national referendum. But instead of taking a vote, they flip a coin to determine what should be done. Actually, the biblical phrase is that they “cast lots.” In the Old Testament, the casting of lots was like throwing dice and was a way of discovering God’s will. We even see this used in the Book of Acts when the disciples are trying to figure out who should replace Judas in Acts 1:26: “Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.”
They didn’t believe in “luck” or “chance.” They actually were so committed to the sovereignty of God that they knew God would direct the outcome of the lots according to His divine providence. Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” The votes are cast by the people but the election is determined by the Lord.