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Friday, November 4, 2016

 

Our church recently completed a verse by verse study of the book of Daniel. I learned some invaluable lessons that have helped me with the upcoming U.S. elections:

 
1. All Earthly Kingdoms pale in comparison to the Kingdom of Jesus:
In Daniel 2, we read that the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, had a dream of a statue made partly of gold, partly of silver, partly of bronze, etc. Daniel alone could interpret the dream, and revealed that it spoke of upcoming world powers. Babylon represented the head of gold, and then after Babylon, kingdoms like Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome would emerge as world powers. Finally, a rock (which depicts Jesus and His church) would come and destroy the statue. A key lesson I learned from this is that we humans value powerful political structures just as we value precious stones!

But interestingly in Daniel 7, we read that God gives Daniel a vision of these same kingdoms. When God shows Daniel HIS viewpoint of political structures, God depicts them as different kinds of savage beasts. They were each powerful in their own way, but nonetheless still savage beasts. And in that same vision in Daniel 7, God then shows Daniel a view of Jesus as the Son of Man (for Daniel still in the future). Jesus, stands out as a “Man” compared to the beasts.

God created humans to rule and have authority over all beasts and the rest of creation. So also, the Kingdom of Jesus is depicted as so much more powerful than every earthly kingdom. But we need to have God’s viewpoint to see the kingdom of Jesus as a glorious Man versus savage beasts.

This gives me a crystal-clear picture of earthly political systems, from a human and Divine viewpoint. And it also points to the vastly greater beauty and majesty of the Kingdom of God.

2. The mixing of Religious and Political Power is an abomination to God
Revelation 17 and 18 talks about the immorality arising from mixing religious and political interests (Babylon depicts spiritual harlotry). Spiritual Babylon is identified by religious leaders that clamor for power (kings) in the seven mountains of political/societal influence. This is a clear picture of spiritual purity that is adulterated by the appeals of political power. Jesus also warned us that we cannot serve God and this world system (mammon). And Jesus warns us against that which is great and esteemed in the eyes of men (like power and honor and money). But the Christian church has almost completely forgotten this message.

So here again, we see the end result of a religious Christianity that has “a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality” (Revelation 17:4). This prostitution of Christianity (which is rampant throughout Christendom today) has nothing to do with Jesus, and in fact wars against the true followers of Jesus.

3. God resists political powers that magnify themselves
In Daniel 8, Daniel has a vision of political powers. A phrase that is used repeatedly in this chapter is the word “magnify himself” in relation to world powers. We find that soon after these political powers magnify themselves, they get defeated.

God is Sovereign and establishes and removes kings. He puts down one and exalts another (Psalm 75:7). And He resists the proud (1 Peter 5:5). So in this I see that Almighty God watches the ebb and flow of political structures as raging beasts but with little worth. And as they seek to increasingly magnify themselves, God increasingly opposes them.

So based on these 3 points above, here are key applications for me:

Key Application: God values His church. And He views ALL political kingdoms (powers) as merely beasts
This is a key lesson to sink in. I have to see that there is only one “Man” among beasts, namely Jesus and His Kingdom. So I must align my “fight” to be solely along those lines.
The kingdom of Jesus is not of this world (John 18:36)! And the fight that King Jesus fights is for the eternal destiny of individual souls. He laid down His life for this cause, and He counts the hairs on each person’s head. That’s how much He loves each and every human being.

But Jesus did not come to die for a particular country or a particular group of people. So America is NOT a special group of people. “God loves every single person in Afghanistan just as much as He loves Americans.” I think some of us will need to read this statement again and again before it sinks in.

I find that many Christians in America live with a subtle sense of self-aggrandized superiority. It is as if the relative reliance on a Judeo-Christian worldview when the country was formed, is still relevant today. America is NOT the New Covenant version of Israel, and there is NO special blessing on America. People who think like that have not understood the New Covenant at all. The church of Jesus Christ is the only special group of people to God today. The people of God who put their trust in Jesus are the recipients of the blessing of Abraham (Galatians 3:14). And the blessings of Abraham under the New Covenant are primarily spiritual, not physical. So the people of God are not to be blessed by bigger cars and better jobs; they are to be blessed with the life of Jesus in His purity and love and faith.

Key Application: There are really only two Kingdoms that are in an all-out war
As a Jesus-follower, I must have a laser-focus towards the only two relevant kingdoms:
The Kingdom of Light and the kingdom of darkness.
- The kingdom of Light is ruled by Jesus, and the kingdom of darkness is ruled by Satan.
- And as I already mentioned, the kingdom of Jesus is NOT of this world (John 18:36).

So if I belong to the kingdom of Jesus, whether I have an American, Indian, or Lithuanian passport, I am PRIMARILY a citizen of the Kingdom of God. And my primary fight is against the kingdom of darkness, headed by Satan and his forces. The Christian message is that clear. When we don’t see this as the clear thrust of the life and message of Jesus, we will go astray.

And every political power and kingdom is like small little Lego pieces in comparison.
-> So if I get all worked up about politics, the next President, and the future of our country, then I have a misplaced priority about the REAL fight I am supposed to be engaged in.
-> Also, if I as a Christian don’t constantly live as a soldier who is in a fierce battle against Satan, then also I have a misplaced priority about the REAL fight I am supposed to be engaged in.

WHAT DO I DO BEFORE ELECTION DAY?
I hope that based on what I have written above, I can reset to these heavenly perspectives:

  1. Reset my allegiance to point fully towards the kingdom of Jesus. Let’s remember who our God is. Let us OFTEN remind ourselves who the Captain in our Kingdom army is:

a) Daniel 4:35 - All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?
b) Matthew 28:18 - And [the resurrected] Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Let us ask ourselves very simply if we have an overriding attitude of rest in this great God.

  1. Recommit to making the devil and the kingdom of darkness my only enemy.
  2. Realize that I am in the fight – against the kingdom of darkness that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy souls. So I commit to primarily be an all-out solider for the kingdom of Light against the kingdom of darkness
  3. Use the weapons of warfare to fight the kingdom of darkness:

a) Pray and fast. What weapons can we possibly have to fight the powers of spiritual darkness? Nuclear weapons? Rhetoric? Money? None of these are adequate. But Jesus told me that I must pray at all times (Luke 18:1). In addition, fasting from something enjoyable (whether food or some other pleasurable activity) can sharpen our hearts to hear from God. It can help fasten our hearts to the things of God. Jesus fasted and taught us to fast in the Sermon on the Mount. I too have discovered that fasting better helps attune my heart to spiritual things.
b) An all-out assault on self-centered pride that rejects the true knowledge of God as both Almighty, as well as our Heavenly Father (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
c) Building our lives on the Word of God, which is our sword (Ephesians 6:17).

WHAT DO I DO ON ELECTION DAY?
(Continue to live by all that I’ve written in What do I before election day aboveI can act this way every day).

But specifically regarding voting:
Some say that all MUST vote for a political candidate.
Others say that we MUST vote for a political candidate based on logic, probabilities, some sort of rational thinking (a vote for candidate A is a vote against candidate B, etc.).
Others say that we MUST vote based on the issues backed by each candidate. In this regard, I was instructed by what I read in Daniel 9:27 – And he [or she] will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of detestable things will come one who causes horror, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who causes horror.
I learn from this that I am a fool to put my confidence (or place my vote) based on even the “firm” promises of anyone, or for those who crave for power and to magnify themselves.

But furthermore, when we think about what we MUST do, Christians MUST strive to always maintain a clear conscience (Acts 24:16; Romans 2:15; 1 Corinthians 8:7-12). So building on that, if someone’s conscience prevents them from voting, they should not vote. Here again, I find that most Christians become extra-Biblical (go beyond the clear mandates of Scriptures) to guilt people into their point of view. I want to stay within the bounds of Scripture.

So I find NO Biblical basis to convince people that they MUST vote for a political party. In fact, I find no Biblical basis to even convince people that they MUST vote, period. It is indeed a privilege to be given the chance to vote. But to say it is an obligation (especially using religious reasons) is wrong. To tell them to stifle or even squash their conscience (that may not permit them to cast an honest vote) is against the will of God.

Overall, I find that most Christian opinions on the elections have failed me. Some articles remind me that God is in control. But I have not read even ONE article that reminds me of the army that I am called to be a part of, to fight against the devil.

Religious Christendom first fails me by pointing me to the wrong Goliath (one that is made of flesh and blood). But the Bible is clear that my fight is not against flesh and blood but against Satan and his forces. And building on that failure of the wrong giant, Christendom further fails me by telling me that the stone in my sling is my vote for President. And it seeks to tells me exactly what issues it must address, what virtues are most important, etc.

The vote that I as a Christian must make is to vote through prayer: both individually in my personal prayer time, and corporately through my prayers with my local church. I learned this from my church growing up (cfcindia.com): “We vote in the prayer meeting. And our candidate always wins!” Because it is “God Who promotes one and deposes another” (Psalm 75:6 – Living); and “There is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” (Romans 13:1).

So I am crystal clear: The Goliath I fight is the devil and his forces of sin. And the stone in my sling is prayer. That’s the stone (vote) I cast at the enemy of our souls.

WHAT DO I DO AFTER ELECTION DAY?
(Continue to live by all that I’ve written in What do I before election day aboveI can act this way every day).

And no matter who gets elected as the next President, I have my marching orders. I receive this from a man of God who lived under a king who was a 1000 times more anti-Christian than any potential political leader today. 1 Peter 2:13-17 – Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

So after the election results are announced, I will honor whoever is elected as the next President of the United States – whether man or woman. I will also ONLY speak about this person in respectful terms, because that’s what the command to honor very simply means.

I have met many “righteous” Christians (but really self-righteous) who have dishonored President Obama by making fun of him or his name, refusing to call him President, etc. That is a blatant disobedience to God’s command in 1 Peter 2:13-17. I have no respect for such religious hypocrites, as Peter tells me that it is the will of God to submit to those in authority. We are religious hypocrites when we claim that we want to do the will of God, but refuse to obey the clearly written will of God to honor those in authority in earthly kingdoms.

CONCLUSION:
I feel burdened to write this out, because among the myriad of Christian viewpoints about the elections that I have read, I have not read even one article that impresses these points that seem to be of most importance on me:
1) Every political power is some type of “beast” that slowly but surely seeks to magnify itself.
2) The religious church is utterly polluted by its envy of political power.
3) As a Christian, I must live as a soldier in the army of the all-powerful King Jesus, and in an all-out fight against the kingdom of darkness, headed by Satan.
4) My weapons in this fight are prayer and fasting, and humble obedience to God’s Word. My vote is wholeheartedly cast for Jesus and against Satan. And any vote for earthly political kingdoms is merely voting for beasts, and voting for trivial Lego pieces.
5) The moment a person is made a leader of a country, I MUST honor the leader(s) of the government, no matter who they are.

So I hope that I have been able to impress a greater heavenly (Kingdom of Light) perspective for us Christians in America, as we approach the U.S. national elections in a few days.