If I didn’t know better, I’d think every political candidate should be in jail.
At least that’s what I’d think if I believed every political ad on television. Political mud-slinging is at an all-time high in my state of Colorado. Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck have attracted unprecedented amounts of money as both national political parties have determined that this particualr race is pivotal to control of the US Senate. Ironically, both sides complain about the mud-slinging that’s coming from the other side.
If you live in another country or you’re rusty on your civics, remember that only 100 people serve in the Senate. Currently the Democrats own a 59-41 advantage over their foes, which means that a change in only 10 seats—a very real possibility given the current anti-Obama climate among some—would change the political landscape in our country.
Which begs the question: what do you do if your candidate loses? I mean, if your political party lost by a landslide and the leadership grew increasingly hostile to your views, what would you do?
Move to another country?
Pray and ask God for deliverance?
Perhaps you’d even wonder how God could lose the election.
Welcome to today’s topic in our daily Bible conversation!
2 Thessalonians 3:1-18
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Jeremiah 26:1-27:22. God instructed Jeremiah to give yet another message to Judah calling for repentance so that “perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way” (Jeremiah 26:3). The Old Testament prophets represented God’s relentless attempt to call his people back into relationship with him. The purpose of the prophets wasn’t to call down fire from heaven to destroy God’s people. Their purpose was to restore the people’s relationship with God. This perspective gives us a window into God’s relentless love toward us.
2 Thessalonians 3:1-18. Paul instructs the Thessalonian church not to associate with people who are idle. Apparently, some people in the congregation needed financial help from the church but weren’t willing to work themselves. Instead they were busybodies. This is a problem in congregations even today.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
He was a pagan king. By his orders his troops destroyed Jerusalem and deported the best and brightest people to Babylon, where they served as his vassals. While his troops were at it, they also stole all the sacred implements from the temple. So brutal was he that after his troops ransacked Jerusalem, he ordered his men to kill King Zedekiah’s sons in front of their father before blinding the king so that his final visual memory would be that of his sons dying.
This man who was infamous for his temper also ordered the construction of an enormous idol and issued an edict stating that anyone who refused to worship the idol would be thrown into a fiery furnace. And sure enough, when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—followers of Yahweh—refused to bow down, they were thrown into the furnace and then miraculously saved.
Without a doubt, King Nebuchadnezzar embodied the prototype of the negative ads we see on television. “If you vote for the other candidate,” we’re told, “you’ll have higher taxes, fewer freedoms, rampant government, corrupt officials, etc.” In other words, you’ll be electing a veritable Nebuchadnezzar. Why, voting for the other candidate is like voting against God’s candidate.
And surely evil King Nebuchadnezzar was an enemy of God himself.
Not so fast.
Today’s reading in Jeremiah chapter 27 should give us pause to reconsider the identity of God’s candidate. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God told the people of Judah:
Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. Jeremiah 27:6
Did you catch that? God called Nebuchadnezzar his servant. If you think something got lost in the translation, God reinforced the message:
If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation with the sword, famine and plague, declares the Lord, until I destroy it by his hand. Jeremiah 27:8
Resisting this pagan king meant resisting God.
Amidst a political landscape where each side claims that voting for the other candidate is akin to voting for the Antichrist, it’s helpful to know that God uses whoever he wants to accomplish his will. This is also a good reminder that if the other side wins, it isn’t the end of the world.
God is always in control. Always. And God’s ultimate will is always accomplished. Always.
In the short run, the destruction of Jerusalem seemed like the end of the world. But in the long run, it broke Israel from its worship of foreign gods. And it also prepared Israel for the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ.
So if your candidate loses in an upcoming election, remember that God is still in control–just like he was before the election. And remember that God works with a long-term view on world affairs (and your life).
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- Do you worry when the other candidate or political party wins an election? Why? How does it affect your trust in God?
- When your candidate or political party wins the election, do you find it easier to trust in God’s control of the country? Why?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado