2016 — SO FAR
I’ve been mulling over many things, trying to make some sense of the year 2016. It has been a crazy year thus far. I have refrained from voicing many opinions on social media about the insanity of this election year, but many thoughts have been percolating on the back burner of my mind so decided to get them down on paper. Whether this makes it to social media, I can’t say. Way too much has already been said and one more opinion really doesn’t matter.
My thoughts have not been tracking along the same lines as most others—taking any hardline positions for one side or another—but mostly reading and observing the way things are trending. In my times of prayer over the whole thing, I continue to hear the same thing:
“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
That pretty much sums it up.
I have been reading through the Bible now since 1989 and though I don’t keep track of how many times I have read it through, I do know that my worldview has been shaped by the history of the nations and wars that are recorded there. If it is true that history repeats itself then we do well to study history. In the Judges passage above, Israel had been through many leaders—“Judges”—some who started off following God but after many years of slowly encroaching corruption in leadership and in the priesthood, they finally ended up abandoning the laws of God and doing what was right in their own eyes. The following quote attributed to Scottish history professor Alexander Tytler in 1787, seems to portray an accurate reflection of what has occurred during our 200+ years of existence as a democracy.
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
- From bondage to spiritual faith;
- From spiritual faith to great courage;
- From courage to liberty;
- From liberty to abundance;
- From abundance to complacency;
- From complacency to apathy;
- From apathy to dependence;
- From dependence back into bondage
These words were written two years before George Washington became our first President. Of course America was much more than a democracy; it was a republic built on a strong biblical foundation. For that reason, we have much to learn from the history of Israel, a nation built on those same foundations, and also from the Roman Empire. America shares much in common with the Roman Empire, which began as a republic, then gradually became a democracy and eventually disintegrated into utter depravity. They say the Roman Empire was never conquered; it disintegrated from within. Nikita Kruschev made the declaration in the 1960s that communism would finally conquer the United States without firing a single shot, and he outlined definitive long-term plans for this coup. It seems we have been marching right along toward that end for decades. We are now at that very point which he predicted.
In the mid-1800s, Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political thinker and historian best known for his works Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856) made a fact-finding journey to America to discover what made America great—because in those days she was great. In both of his books, he analyzed the improved living standards and social conditions of individuals, as well as their relationship to the market and state in Western societies. Democracy in America was published after Tocqueville’s travels in the United States, and is today considered an early work of sociology and political science. His analysis of our democracy is succinct and almost prophetic. As he wrote: “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money,” and, “Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” And here is where we now find ourselves in this very important upcoming election.
From a purely Biblical worldview, which I find answers so many of the complexities we experience in life and explains human behavior far better than most sociological studies, I can see an almost eerie likeness to the rise and fall of the empires found in the historical narratives of the Bible. As in the passage from the last book and last verse of the book of Judges, when God’s way is forsaken, then men and women seek their own ways, invent their own gods and live according to what they feel rather than what is morally right. God demonstrated it time and again. When left to our own devices, we will always spiral down into moral corruption. Romans chapter 1 gives the formula and that formula hasn’t changed for the past several thousand years, repeating the cycle over and over.
After the nation of Israel fell into moral depravity and sin as a result of leaving God out of their lives, they began to cry out to God for a “King.” The cry went up, “Give us a King!” We find the story in 1 Samuel where a high priest Eli was sitting as Judge over Israel and his two sons served as Priests in the Temple. Eli was corrupt as were his sons, defaming the Temple and having sex with women who came to offer sacrifices. Yet, God was raising up the young man Samuel to be Judge over Israel. While Israel remained true to their God, God blessed them, but because of their corruption and godlessness, He had removed His hand of protection, allowing their archenemies the Philistines to defeat them in battle. The lament went out “The glory of God has departed from Israel.”
God Himself had not departed; but His glory had. At that time His glory rested on the Ark of the Covenant, and the Philistines had captured the Ark in the battle and set it up alongside their false god, Dagon. (God adds a bit of humor in the story by relating that as long as the Ark of the Covenant was in the temple of Dagon, Dagon repeatedly fell on its face until its nose broke off.) It is important to note this story because it may be that the glory of God has departed from our country, but He Himself has not. He is still here, living within His followers, those who remain faithful to Him and to His truth, just as there were His followers who remained faithful to Him in those days. In chapter 7, after the Ark had been returned to Israel, Samuel, now a much-loved leader of Israel told them this:
Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, [then] put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths [female gods] from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only. And Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you.” So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured [it] out before the LORD. And they fasted that day, and said there, “We have sinned against the LORD.” And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah [1Sa 7:3-6].
I make note of the fact that the admonition was to return to the LORD with all their hearts, put away the foreign gods and prepare hearts for the LORD to serve Him only. Only then would He deliver them. They obeyed. He delivered. We see this identical admonition repeated again and again in the stories of Israel and their God. In particular we in our country are fond of the 2 Chronicles 7:14 promise, “… if My people which are called by My Name shall humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” In fact, believers all over this country right now are claiming this verse, yet He hasn’t delivered or healed our land. Why? I believe it can be found in the fact that we haven’t really turned from our wicked ways, forsaken our idols. No, we don’t have carved images of foreign gods on our shelves that we worship, but we worship many other things—our electronic devices; our entertainment; our sports; our wealth; our immorality; our “opinions;” our pride and a host of other idols. I am not pointing a finger here—I include myself in this.
One of the things that we find as we read through the books of Kings and Chronicles when Israel had begun to have Kings instead of Judges is that most of the kings were corrupt. The words “… he did was what right in the eyes of the LORD but he didn’t tear down the high places…” is the sad narrative in the descriptions of many of these kings. A few, like Josiah, Hezekiah, and Asa, did tear down the high places. What are “high places?” In the days of the Judges and Kings, high places were the places where false gods were worshipped along with the true God. In the New Testament and in our day, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 calls them “high thoughts that exalt themselves above the knowledge of God…” In other words, it is anything that we allow to be exalted above what we know to be true about God. We could spend some time here, but I will move on.
After the days of the Judges, Israel demanded a king, rejecting God’s plan for them to have His appointed Judges rule until the King He had predetermined had come of age. They wanted a King like the surrounding pagan nations had—they wanted to be like the pagan nations, so, He gave them what they wanted; He gave them a King—the kind of King they demanded. He gave them Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin and as Samuel told them, this king would make them serve hard military service and take their sons and daughters to serve in his palaces, he would levy a heavy tax burden on them and bring poverty. Their answer? “No, but we will have a King.”
“… And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them’” [1Sa 8:7].
Here I come to an important crossroad—what I consider to be the crossroad we are facing today in our country. We are at a critical juncture in that we have not torn down the high places in our personal and national lives. We have seen the torture and murder of 57 million unborn children and we have ignored the fact that God peeled back the veneer of our apathy towards abortion by revealing in the most unbelievable videos what really takes place in many abortion clinics—the dismembering of live babies in the womb and the selling of their body parts for a profit. We have followed the downward spiral of Romans 1—beginning with worshipping the “creation” (“environment”) above worship of the Creator. We have ignored God’s moral laws by sanctioning and legalizing same sex marriage and approving of it (Romans 1). We have turned our backs as a nation on our strong democratic ally, Israel, God’s land, where He has put His name. We have given preference and bowed down to the demands of political correctness of a radical Islamic jihadist organization (The Muslim Brotherhood). We fight for the “rights” of a black lives matter organization to riot and loot and burn down businesses, while we ignore the slave trade and genocide of Christians and Jews at the hands of radical Islam. I could go on, but we all know and have grown weary of the news. We have stopped our ears from hearing negative news and want to accumulate teachers who will tell us what we want to hear to make us feel comfortable (“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, [because] they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn [their] ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” 2Ti 4:3-4). We have rejected true conviction from the Holy Spirit and there are now even accusations between many believers with one side leaning more toward progressive Christianity and who accuse other believers—those who still follow the old paths, of being “haters.” We have twisted the true conviction from the Holy Spirit—that which gives us our moral compass—into hate speech, if it does not agree with the new morality—thereby accusing the Holy Spirit of being a hater.
And so now we are crying out for a “King” of our own choosing. And God has set before us a cadre of men and women to choose from. It reads like a story out of the Kings in the Bible. We have a woman who is on the verge of being indicted for serious crimes while serving in the highest office in the land—crimes which endangered the security of our country and yet her supporters love her, even bordering on worshipping her (“The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their [own] power; And My people love [to have it] so. But what will you do in the end? Jer 5:31). We have a Saul Alinsky follower, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist who wants to tax us into oblivion and bring about a Marxist political system—ending the democracy we have all enjoyed for over 200 years, turning us into a state-run Marxist nation. We have a bombastic and insulting man, boasting of his wealth, claiming to be a Christian while denying that he has ever needed forgiveness for anything and again, men and women who profess Christ are flocking to him in droves—again, bordering on worship. We have another man who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ, yet rumors are circulating of his moral failures and behind the scenes shenanagins. The divisions among political parties and sadly, among the followers of Jesus Christ, have hardened into violent, virulent hatred. It is grevious.
Make no mistake about it—God Himself has placed these men and women before us and God Himself is saying to us, here are the choices, according to your own demands. He almost seems to be mocking us, showing us how very far we have moved away from Him—away from His moral laws and His plans for our country. We have become a cartoon caricature of our former selves–a circus sideshow. It is the most pitiful state I have seen and I am ashamed and embarrassed for all of us. Most of all I am grieving. People I love are dividing up into factions, as King David said, “For [it is] not an enemy [who] reproaches me; Then I could bear [it]. Nor [is it] one [who] hates me who has exalted [himself] against me; Then I could hide from him. But [it was] you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, [And] walked to the house of God in the throng” (Psalm 55:12-14).
He still cares about this once great nation and He is waiting to see what we will do. What will believers do? That remains to be seen, but my prayer is that our own dumbed down apathy will be removed and that we will honestly and truly pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. He always responds to true repentance and He always resists the proud. I’m thinking a good place to start might be praying the prayer of Daniel (Daniel 9:4-19), putting in our own names. Daniel was certainly a righteous man, but he named himself among those who had “shame of face.” We begin by humbling ourselves, praying, seeking His face (not our opinions), and turning from our wicked ways. Only then will He hear from Heaven and heal our land.
I pray it is not too late.