Could this week’s election results – or the conclusive lack thereof, have been more fitting in this year of uncertainty that has marked 2020?
As of the date of this post, America was still uncertain over who its President would be beginning with Inauguration Day in January of 2021.
While major news outlets pronounced Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden the winner in the states of Wisconsin and Michigan based upon post-election day estimates, his margin of victory remained razor-thin in the electoral college (towards the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the White House).
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s campaign challenged the results in both of those states plus Pennsylvania and Georgia – both of which are still counting mail and absentee votes now and perhaps through the end of the week. Par for this course, to use the golf analogy.
Our country has been wading in a sea of uncertainty over the state of our nation, its future and this election campaign all year long, which we hoped might be over by now. Uncertainty for many has reigned over:
The Coronavirus: which may be rearing its ugly head again, in a recent uptick of cases nationwide, as many “experts” expected in the midst of the winter flu season. Will the powers that be (subordinate to God as they are) look to further lock down or quarantine most communities, if not the country again as Western Europe is doing, in the hopes of eliminating any possibility whatsoever that anyone might contract the COVID-19 virus?
The economy: unemployment claims are trending down – slightly of late, but businesses continue to suffer with many having shut down in the wake of the pandemic’s policies and impact.
The state of race and civil unrest: recent post-election protests (e.g. Portland- which was actually announced in advance) featuring the obligatory round of looting, burning and ransacking of property in the name of social justice and tolerance, may have broken a period of relative calm before another storm.
What Me Worry?
If I were a secularist, or a basic, run of the mil, unbeliever living in the United States, I frankly wouldn’t have a clue as to how to think about, much less deal with all of the uncertainty surrounding our society right now. It would seem to be random and not make much sense at all, as to why it was all happening this way and this year. If I were an atheist, I would be worried.
Worry, or fear- anxiety, over current circumstances are part and parcel with living a life of a godless worldview or philosophy of life (‘captive thoughts’). Being a deist- one who believes in a deity that is nonetheless distant at best, or absent and unconcerned about the affairs of man at worst, should bring no comfort or consolation at all.
However, the Christian conscience – the biblically grounded thoughts of a disciple of Jesus that are held, “captive to Christ,” can make some sense of 2020 – without having all of God’s rationale available, because of knowing who God is and how that knowledge has and continues to manifest itself in our world.
That captive thought, spoke to the theme of the message I preached in my church last Sunday on election eve, “The Sovereignty of God.. Over the Nations.” I argued in that sermon that Christians should not worry about the results of this election or anything else and are in fact, commanded not to (Matt. 6:25-34), because of God’s sovereignty.
Frankly I reminded my church that the sovereignty of God is one of my favorite doctrines in all the Bible as well as one of my favorite attributes of his, simply because that reality brings certainty and comfort- confidence to Christians in a world that feels uncertain and uncomfortable.
What does it mean that God is sovereign?
What comes to your mind when you hear the word or talk about a ‘sovereign?’ A king perhaps? A king is the absolute ruler of a kingdom in earthly terms. Jesus Christ is known in scripture as the ‘king of kings and lord of lords.’ A Lord is also a master and that means an absolute authority.
With God, the concept of sovereignty goes even further than an earthly king. The sovereignty of God refers to the fact that God is in complete control of the universe, being the King over chaos in this world.
His sovereign lordship essentially means that He has the power, wisdom and both the freedom and the right to do anything He wants – including the ordination and control of particular governments over world history- all of them, including the outcome of the 2020 presidential election- whenever we finally catch up to his providential will and purpose and figure out who the President will be (Psa. 135:6).
The Old Testament prophet Daniel realized that truth when praising both God’s sovereign will and providence (the circumstantial outworking of his will) in interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s first of two dreams during Israel’s Babylonian captivity about 2,600 years ago, when he wrote: He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings (Dan. 2:21a).
That tremendously thought-provoking text, means that God not only controls the course of all human history, but that he literally removes and sets up kingdoms- changes administrations and the rulers of all nations of all times and places. Indeed, God is behind the scenes and controls the scenes he is behind.
Therefore, we can conclude that Donald Trump is currently in the White House and that he or Joe Biden may occupy it anew in the new year, precisely because God put one of them there.
In fact biblically, we can affirm the same for every national government institution in history, from the Pharaoh in Egypt, to Alexander the Great, to Barrack Obama, Bill Clinton, Fidel Castro, Adolf Hitler, Karl Marx and everyone before or since (Ro. 13:1). God saw fit to have them all in power in one way or another, as we understand that he can take them out and preserve or keep them in power at any time and for as long as he wishes.
For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations (Psa. 22:28, ESV).
But if the above is true- and it is, then the implication must be that man has no vote- no say so in the election of government leaders right? Not quite. Human responsibility comes along side God’s sovereignty as the Lord’s means to his ends, whether we’re talking about voting in an election, praying for something or someone or believing in Christ by faith. God has given us all a role to play- we exercise our will in day to day life, including the privilege and responsibility to vote, within the confines of God’s sovereign plans and what theologians call his providence. Ultimately, God is the decisive cause of our 2020 Presidential election (Job 12:23).
That providence – in other words, God’s gracious oversight of the world:
1. Upholds all things.
2. Governs all events (Pro. 21:1).
3. Directs everything to its appointed end.
4. Does this all the time and in every circumstance.
5. Does it always for his own glory and the good of his children.
Alas, are Christians to feel somehow intimidated by, or lacking somehow in influence over the events of our world today? Quite the contrary. Christians should feel confident that their lives, work and ministry is “not in vain” but under God’s gracious, merciful and watchful eye and held in his hands.
Also, we must remind ourselves that our King is not up for election, that our faith and kingdom is global, not primarily national or local and that politics—while important—is not ultimate.
But as to the election results to come- whenever that will be, the perfect government on earth is coming regardless, when its King – Jesus Christ, comes back to rule and reign over it with us. So Christian – no worries. If the candidate who is to be sworn in as our next President is immoral or ungodly in character or competency, remember that God is able to use even the most wicked of leaders to accomplish his good, eternal plan.
I for one, am not worried over the final results- as controversial or contrived as they may be, because my thoughts are captive to Christ with comfort and confidence, knowing God has pre-ordained the result, using his people, common grace and his providence to accomplish his good will and purpose.
In part two of this post, I hope to give you a biblical, post-election analysis of this election, speaking to the way that character and the captive thoughts of Americans played a role in the result.