Proverbs 21:1 Don’t Worry, God’s Got This!
“A king’s heart is like streams of water in the Lord’s hand: He directs it wherever He chooses.” (Proverbs 21:1, HCSB)
In the early nineties, the leaning Tower of Pisa began to lean too far. Seeing that the 180-foot-high tower would soon become dangerous, engineers designed a system to salvage the twelfth-century landmark by holding the lean constant.
First, the engineers injected super cold liquid nitrogen into the ground to freeze it and thereby minimize dangerous ground vibrations during the work that followed. Then they plan to install cables to pull the structure more upright. Engineers hope that the underground cable network will pull the tower toward the center by at least an inch.
Left to itself, our world resembles the leaning Tower of Pisa: tilting and heading to a catastrophe. To prevent total anarchy, God establishes governments to maintain order. Governments and their laws function like the steel cables that will hold the leaning tower. The tower still leans. It’s not perfect. But the cables prevent total destruction.1
I know what some of you are thinking: The government is leaning the wrong way. If we don’t do something as Christians, it’s going to fall apart. This election, more than any other has drawn out the fears and anxieties of people more than any election I have ever seen. The more I listen to people, the more I have to rely on God’s Word to guide me in this election. But what is the guiding principle? What can I count on to make an informed decision. I want to share with you three words of wisdom that derive from this Scripture.
THREE WORDS OF WISDOM FOR THIS ELECTION
1. Keep calm.
In August, the American Psychological Association included a question in its annual Stress in America survey about this election.2 It found that more than half of U.S. adults, regardless of party, felt very or somewhat stressed by the election.3 They are even calling it “Election Stress Disorder.”4 People are so stressed by this election that the American Psychological Association has released a set of coping tips.
As more people are watching and reading about this election on social, they are becoming stressed out about the election than those who don’t use social media. In this case, social media seems to make the stress worse.
People have said some ugly stuff to one another during this election. The candidates have said some ugly stuff to each other, but that is to be expected in some ways. Slinging mud is nothing new in politics. But so many people have taken sides with Team Trump and Team Clinton, that they’ve made their outrage against others personal.
I will personally tell you that I don’t like what I am hearing from my own evangelical Baptist leaders. I think that we have lived in a circle of influence in politics. We have been able to influence Caesar in many ways over the past several decades. Christianity has been the dominant moral and ethical basis for over two centuries. Yet, instead of adapting to the cultural and political climate, evangelical leaders seem to resist it.
The early church didn’t have influence in the Roman government. Paul’s best influence for the Roman Empire’s policies was from prison. When Emperor Constantine had a vision, heard a voice that said that with this cross you will conquer, he converted to Christianity. He made Christianity the dominant religion. We have lived under that ability to influence politics ever since. But that is changing. It will do us no good to panic about the changes. We have to learn to stay calm.
The reason is because our witness is at stake. The way we react as a church to the political arena influences our ability to share Jesus with others. We can still have our convictions. But we should not act ugly about it. This election has shown us how easy it is to get in the gutter. Let’s agree that both candidates are flawed, that candidates do bring something to valuable to our country, and that we have to do the best we can as a country with whom we choose. Let’s take the time to pray about this election and then make an effort to vote how we see fit.
This brings me to my second word of wisdom about this election.
2. Vote your conscience.
We live in a republic, not just a democracy. The United States of America was founded on the idea that not one person could rule perfectly and that the masses would make mistakes. So, the government had to build in such a way that it would ensure the rights of the people that were governed. So the Founding Fathers built in safeguards to protect this country to ensure our rights of liberty and freedom. It’s the reason why we have a bi-cameral legislature. What that means is that we have two groups – The House of Representatives and the Senate. The House has representatives based upon the size of the population of each state. Larger states have more representation. Smaller states have less representation. The Senate on the other hand, has two representatives from each state. The large states and the small states have the same number. Responsibilities for each chamber are distributed to make sure that no one group could consolidate power.
This is the reason why the President appoints the justices to the Supreme Court, and the Senate confirms them. There is a safeguard to prevent the government from falling apart.
This is also seen in the term limits for each group: The President can serve two terms of four years. After at most eight years, you have to have a new President. The Senator has six-year terms. The Representative has two-year terms. That is why things take longer in the Senate. The Senator is going to be in office potentially longer than a Representative. The Supreme Court Justice sits on the bench for life. There is no term limit. All of this is for the purpose of balance, to prevent tyranny.
Even our election is designed for balance. The population votes in each state. But the candidate who gets a majority in a given state gets only the number of electors who vote later when their votes are cast. The population votes electors who actually vote for President in December. It’s called the Electoral College, but I compare it to a point system. Each state is designated a number of points. Get the majority of votes of the population in the state and the candidate gets all the points in the Electoral College. This is the reason why we don’t see presidential candidates come to this state. We are not a battleground state that helps a person win enough points in the Electoral College. It takes 270 points because that is a majority of points in the Electoral College. The Electoral College was designed to prevent dictators and kings from being elected by the population.
The election of 1800 was decided by the House of Representatives. They cast their ballots 36 different times in order before Thomas Jefferson become President. The 2000 presidential election was the fourth election in U.S. history and the first in 112 years in which the eventual winner failed to win the popular vote (after the elections of 1824, 1876, and 1888).5My point in sharing this primer on politics is that your vote matters. Jesus said to be involved.
“Then Jesus told them, “Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.” (Mark 12:17, HCSB)
So vote your conscience. I believe that we live in a world that is between Romans 13 and Revelation 13. We still live in a world where the government is from God.
“Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1, HCSB)
God created government and we abide by how the government rules us. Unlike Romans 13, we don’t live under an emperor. We live under a system that allows us to contribute to the kind of government we want live under. We submit to this government, but we make a contribution to how the government rules us as well.
In a Revelation 13 government, the government completely opposes God, to the point of blaspheming Him.
“And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. He had 10 horns and seven heads. On his horns were 10 diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. The beast I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like a bear’s, and his mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.” (Revelation 13:1–2, HCSB)
In that government, Satan is controlling the head of the government. We know this because the government leader is cursing God and promoting Satan. I believe we live in a system that is not perfectly Romans 13 because many of people in government are not God’s servants. But we don’t yet live in a country where the leaders are empowered by Satan. We live somewhere in between. There are Godly people who serve, and there are people who could care less about the Christian faith.
Don’t just follow the advice of the media. President Obama said in a recent interview6: “Look, if I were watching Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me either.” Don’t just listen to the media, or the party rhetoric. Don’t listen believe everything you read on Facebook. Be as informed as you can about the election, use your best judgment, and then vote your conscience.
But what do you do with the results? That is the third word of wisdom I want to share with you today:
3. Trust God with the results.
Let me make this clear about November 9, 2016:
- Hell won’t freeze over because you wake up to a President Donald J. Trump.
Heaven won’t stop operating because you wake up to a President Hillary Rodham Clinton.
God is big enough to handle the heart of a king. The actions of either President will not stop God’s agenda. As a matter, God may use either President in ways we never expected.
God changed the heart of King Darius, who was the king of Persia, but was identified as the king of former Assyria.
“They observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days with joy, because the Lord had made them joyful, having changed the Assyrian king’s attitude toward them, so that he supported them in the work on the house of the God of Israel.” (Ezra 6:22, HCSB)
The fact is that God allowed three successive governments in Persia (known today as Iran) encourage the Israelites to build their temple – Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes. These kings allowed religious liberty to the Jewish people.
“So the Jewish elders continued successfully with the building under the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius, and King Artaxerxes of Persia.” (Ezra 6:14, HCSB)
God is mentioned first on the list because, indeed, He is sovereign even over the great kings of Persia.7
Here, we see where God’s purposes and the policies of politicians align. The point I want to make is that you can trust God to use the future President of the United States, even when it seems like that President is not doing what you know is right.
God can make a politician’s policies align with God’s purposes. So trust God with the results. Don’t worry, God’s got this!
1 Craig Brian Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 211.
2 American Psychological Association, “APA Survey Reveals 2016 Presidential Election Source of Significant Stress for More Than Half of Americans”, 13 October 2016, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/10/presidential-election-stress.aspx, accessed 5 November 2016.
3 Colby Itkowitz, The Washington Post, “People are so stressed by this election that the American Psychological Association has coping tips,” 13 October 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/10/13/people-are-so-stressed-by-this-election-that-the-american-psychological-association-has-coping-tips/, accessed 5 September 2016.
4 Colby Itkowitz, The Washington Post, “Feeling anxious ahead of the debate? Here’s how to cope with ‘Election Stress Disorder,’” 26 September 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/09/26/feeling-anxious-ahead-of-the-debate-heres-how-to-cope-with-election-stress-disorder/, accessed 5 September 2016.
5 Wikipedia, “United States presidential election, 2000” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2000, accessed on 4 November 2016.
6 Greg Evans, The Daily Beast, “Barack Obama & Bill Maher Slam “Balkanization” Of News Media, Warn Of Dire Post-Trump “Damage” 4 November 2016, Internet, http://deadline.com/2016/11/barack-obama-bill-maher-donald-trump-real-time-with-bill-maher-1201848895/, accessed 5 November 2016.
7 Mark Roberts and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, vol. 11, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1993), 103.