Sunday, January 6, 2008

Vote Wisely, But Hope in Christ Alone

As we head out of Wyoming into New Hampshire in this presidential primary season, voters are asking (perhaps unconsciously), "Which one of these characters genuinely loves the public good?" "Who is telling the truth?" "Which candidate has the ability to defend the nation against enemies abroad and accomplish his goals despite opposition at home?" "Which of these people would it be a pleasure to follow?"

None of them can satisfy any of these criteria. I am not being overly critical of this particular batch of candidates. It is true even of the best merely human leaders of history. It is true of Reagan and of Washington. It is true because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (John 3:23).

All human government is given by God (Romans 13:1-7), is called to administer God's perfect government, and yet falls short of the glory of that righteous rule. It's imperfection and our recognition (whether philosophical or visceral) of its imperfection point to the sovereign, good and wise government of God himself for which our hearts long but which will be realized only in the mediatorial kingship of Jesus Christ.

Today my pastor, Benjamin Miller of Franklin Square Orthodox Presbyterian Church on Long Island, New York, impressed upon us the importance of recognizing that the God who so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son to save his people from perishing in their sin is a specifically covenanting God. This is a prominent emphasis in his Biblical self-revelation that most Evangelicals, despite their boasts of being Biblical, fail to see. It was years before I came to appreciate it.

Those of us who are interested in government, as everyone should be, need to understand this characteristic of God in order to understand where our hearts are pointing us.

In Deuteronomy 7:6-11, the Lord explains to his people what it means to have a God who graciously condescends to enter into a covenant relationship with a people, sinful though they are. (1) He chooses in love. (2) He swears in faithfulness. (3) He redeems in power. (4) He commands in authority.

(1) He chooses in love.

The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples...(Deut. 7:6-7)

(2) He swears in faithfulness.
...but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations...(Deut. 7:8-9)

(3) He redeems in power.
...the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Deut. 7:8)

(4) He commands in authority.
You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today (Deut. 7:11).
I have taken all Bible quotations from the English Standard Version which you may find, along with other translations in many languages, at BibleGateway.com.

Of course, this God who spoke covenant promises to Israel is the same God who fulfilled those promises in the Messiah, Jesus. The Apostle Paul tells the church at Galatia that the promises given to Israel are fulfilled in Christ and thus for the Christian church, both Jews and Gentiles: "if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise" (Galatians 3:29).

If you are disappointed with political leaders, it is because they are no better than you and me. If you want to be governed by someone who will never disappoint you, indeed who will marvelously exceed all your expectations and even correct your expectations as he transforms your heart, look to Jesus who is not only the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), but also the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16).

Now, it's on to New Hampshire.

1 comment:

Shane Vander Hart said...

Very true. Great post and great reminder!