If you are feeling tense over today's vote, take some comfort from the Preacher: "There is nothing new under the sun." That includes divisive elections.
In 1800 John Adams was battling Thomas Jefferson for the White House. Adams (the incumbent) was a Christian. Jefferson was not. Jefferson's leanings stirred fear in the hearts of many:
Philadelphia’s Gazette of the United States, a leading newspaper, posed the “grand question”:
At the present solemn and momentous epoch, the only question to be asked by every American, laying his hand on his heart, is: “Shall I continue in allegiance to GOD—AND A RELIGIOUS PRESIDENT; Or impiously declare for JEFFERSON—AND NO GOD!!!
The President of Yale College, Timothy Dwight, was sure that a Jefferson Presidency meant the Bible would be “cast into a bonfire, the vessels of the sacramental supper borne by an a ass in public procession, and our children … chanting mockeries against God.”
How bad was it? Daniel Dreisbrach notes,
The campaign rhetoric was so vitriolic that when news of Jefferson’s election swept across the country, housewives in Federalist New England were seen burying their family Bibles in their gardens or hiding them in wells because they expected the Scriptures to be confiscated and burned by the new administration.
So much for the good old days.
While we may not like what we see in history's rear view mirror, it is important to look back. Lesslie Newbigin writes:
Today, let me jog your memory. Allow me to remind you of some very important words — not from the history of the US — but from the mouth of Jesus. Get this truth and you will vote with confidence, rest at peace no matter the outcome, and believe your best days are in front of you.
We find this essential truth in the interaction between Pilate (the Roman military governor) and Jesus. Pilate had just flogged Jesus. The soldiers were mocking him. The Jewish leaders were calling for his crucifixion. Pilate is left to referee, but Jesus is not talking. So Pilate tries to pull the power card on Jesus: "'You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?' Jesus answered him,
Jesus looked Pilate in the eye and said, "You need a theology lesson!" We need it too, especially on this election day, and especially as we step into the voting booth. Here it is:
To say that God is sovereign is not to say "that God is the most powerful being among many who have power... that would be inaccurate. To say that God is almighty, or all-powerful, means that He has ALL power. He is the source of all power that exists. All other powers, natural and supernatural, are derived from His.
Take a quick review of the extent of God's sovereignty:
- God is sovereign over the heavens (Nehemiah 9:6).
- God is sovereign over the birds that fly in the heavens (Matthew 10:29).
- God is sovereign over kings and kingdoms (Daniel 4:17, 25-26, 32).
- God is sovereign over calamities (Job 1:21).
- God is sovereign over neighborhoods (Acts 17:26)
- God is sovereign over salvation (Galatians 1:15-16).
The implications of this truth are many, but let me give you two:
God's got this!
Remember the words of the old spiritual? “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” He does!
God’s got this election!
God says: “By me kings reign” (Proverbs 8:15). Paul writes: “The powers that be are instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). God used an evil king named Nebuchadnezzar to bring judgment on his people (Jeremiah 25:19) and an evil king named Cyrus to restore his people (Isaiah 45:1-4).
God’s got this! is the story line of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Remember the words of Revelation: "And he shall reign for ever and ever." I appreciate the words of Russell Moore on this:
God's got you!
In his letter to the Romans, Paul makes a case for the sovereignty of God in our salvation:
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
His point? God’s got you!
Some people are worried about a Clinton presidency. Others fear a Trump presidency. Jesus tells us, "do not be anxious about your life . . . "Look at the birds . . . your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:25-26).
Jesus wants us to remember that He is our security. Not a party, not a platform, and not a President.
Today, by all means VOTE! But then relax, God's got this! And he's got you too!
- "At the present solemn and momentous epoch ..." Lepore, J. 2007. “"Party Time: Smear tactics, skulduggery, and the début of American democracy".” The New Yorker. September 17, 2007. www.newyorker.com Accessed 11/05/16.
- "A Jefferson Presidency meant the Bible would be 'cast ..." from Timothy Dwight, Duty of Americans, at the Present Crisis, Illustrated in a Discourse, Preached on the Fourth of July, 1798 . . . at the Request of the Citizens of New-Haven (New Haven, Conn., 1798 ), 20. Source to the source: The Revolution of 1800 by Horn, Lewis, Onu. eds.
- "The campaign rhetoric ..." “The Wall of Separation” by Daniel Dreisbrach. Christian History Institute. www.christianhistoryinstitute.org Accessed November 5, 2016
- "A society which has lost its memory ..." J.E.Lesslie Newbigin, “Can A Modern Society Be Christian?” www.newbigin.net Accessed November 3, 2016
- "To say that God is sovereign ..." is from Pope, Randy. “In Pursuit of Knowing God: The Supremacy of God.” Perimeter Church. 2016. Page 5.