Obama’s gone - Hallelujah! Hillary didn’t win - even better. And the nation has been saved … well, hold on, let’s think about this.
As an American, I am delighted that Clinton was denied the White House and that’s putting it mildly. However, as a believer, I still have concerns about the future of the nation and the new administration. Where the nation is concerned, are we truly prepared to change our hearts and not just our policies? Where President Trump is concerned, will he conduct himself as a true servant of the people and, more importantly, a servant of God and the Christian so many have claimed him to be? Has the nation really been saved? On all counts I am hopeful that the response is “yes and Amen.” Of course, only in time can the final answer to these questions be revealed but let me say this today - January 20, 2017: though there have already been some encouraging signs, I do not believe the issue is settled - it is pending and God is watching to see what we are going to do from this point on.
If we really believe that God has intervened on our behalf to spare the nation immediate calamity as so many have claimed, we mustn’t interpret that divine intervention as approval of our conduct and certainly not an invitation to return to the spiritual status quo. It was simply an act of unmerited mercy and, therefore, the work for believers has just begun. To underscore my point, I want to share a story with you. It’s about one of the kings of ancient Judah, Hezekiah. The Bible tells us that he became deathly sick and could not rise from his bed. The prophet Isaiah was sent to him to deliver this news: “Get your affairs in order - you’re going to die.”
The Bible then tells us that Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and begin to weep and appeal to Heaven for mercy. He recounted all of his noble and righteous acts of the past and pleaded with God to let him live. It is written that, before Isaiah could exit the king’s house, God told the prophet to turn around and deliver another message to Hezekiah: “God heard your prayer and is going to add fifteen years to your life.” The message in this part of the story is that God does hear the prayers of a pure and contrite heart and will act on the behalf of those who acknowledge His sovereignty.
There is another message to be gleaned from Hezekiah’s life, actually, a warning. According to the Bible, once delivered from immediate death, the king’s prayerful appeals to Heaven seemed to ebb away. Instead of devoting himself to even nobler acts than before, Hezekiah nurtured pride, a love for wealth and an apathetic view toward future generations. His pride - and I might add, lack of wisdom - is evidenced by the fact that he invited Babylonians into his house to show them his treasure and armor. Later, in the days of his descendants, this would prove to have been a fatal mistake; Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, would come and destroy his house and take all of the possessions and his descendants into captivity. But according to the Bible, that prospect didn’t really seem to bother the king; his attitude was, as long as judgment and destruction didn’t come in his day, so be it.
So what is the warning? He called out to God for mercy and deliverance and God granted him a reprieve. But what did the reprieve granted to Hezekiah produce? What did he do with the grace that had been extended to him? Precious little it seems to me; he failed to make the most of the gift of mercy. Apparently, when the crisis had lifted, he settled into a spiritually passive existence that would end up costing his descendants everything including life, liberty and happiness. So to those believers in America who prayed for mercy, deliverance and a favorable outcome in this last election; to those who believe that God answered those prayers and granted this nation a reprieve - where do we go from here? Are we going to make the most of it or are we going to follow in the footsteps of Hezekiah?
I am convinced that there have been two exceptional nations in the history of the world - Israel and the United States. Israel, because God invited them to enter into covenant with Him; America, because many of our founders entreated God that He would enter into covenant with us. If you also believe that America is exceptional because of the Almighty’s relationship with this nation, then you must embrace this fact: those nations who break covenant with Him and abandon His standards and principles will suffer ruin. It’s this simple: if America turns away from Him, He will turn from us and remove His Presence from the land. Without His Presence, the land will grow continually sicker until, finally, the nation collapses into its deathbed. Once there, only a humble, repentant heart and a merciful God can raise her up again.
With all due respect to those who believe otherwise, America has not been saved, not yet. Yes, thankfully, Hillary Clinton was defeated and, at least for now, her plans for the nation have been blocked. With a Trump presidency, in tandem with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, maybe - I repeat, maybe - America has been given the chance to be saved. But, if America has indeed been given a reprieve, then believers had better make the most of it. Personally, I feel that we have been given a window of opportunity to demonstrate whether or not we will continue to humble ourselves and return to God or to our former complacency. Remember, it is He who raises up kings and brings down nations and, therefore, if we don’t turn back to Him with all of our hearts, there will be no nation to save. As the Messiah warned Jerusalem, terrible consequences befall those who do not recognize the time of their visitation! (Luke 19:44)
With the election behind us and having eluded the tragedy of a Clinton presidency, now is not the time to become apathetic toward the future. Now is the time to shake ourselves from our spiritual slumber, recognize our own personal sins and turn from them. Now is the time to boldly stand for righteousness and holiness in spite of what the culture says is and is not acceptable. It is obvious that those who advocate for what many of us consider to be ungodly, immoral and destructive have not surrendered; they will continue to press their point in the streets and in the courts. We, also, must be unwavering in our commitment to advance those principles the founders fought and died for in a lawful and righteous manner. Yet, we must also realize that the social unrest and moral decline now present in our nation is not a political issue and therefore cannot be remedied through political means - at least not exclusively. The issues are spiritual and must be addressed accordingly because we can’t save the nation according to what is “wise in our eyes and prudent in our own sight” (Isa. 5:5).
Now is the time for believers to fervently pray that the Almighty will surround the president with those who will provide wise and Godly counsel and that he would heed that counsel as he strives to lead a deeply divided nation. Let us pray that he will humble himself before God and seek Heaven’s guidance as he is faced with the crucial decisions that will determine America’s future. Let us pray that the Almighty will protect him, his family and all those in his administration and grant them favor as they pursue His will for this nation. With all my heart I am praying and choosing to believe that President Trump will surprise all of those who see him as immoral and unfit to lead the nation. In fact, I am praying that he will be more than just a president who leads us politically. My heart’s desire is that he will be a shepherd to the nation and that he will lead a spiritual renewal as well.
I realize that hope is a bit idealistic and I know that many politically active Christians do not believe that to be possible or even necessary. Still, I would argue that a shepherd’s heart is what God always sought in a leader for His people (e.g. Moses, David and, of course, the Great Shepherd) and that if we seek Him with all of our being, nothing is impossible with God. Also, we must realize that any advancement toward righteousness achieved solely through political means can quickly be reversed by the next administration. In fact, Hezekiah's successor, his son Manasseh, rebuilt the high places his father had torn down and did as wickedly as Ahab before him (2 Kings 21:1-9). So if we really want America to be great again, there must be a spiritual renewal in the land and it must be found in the heart of our leaders as well as the hearts of the people.
That being said, I remain adamant that no candidate, party or political philosophy will save this nation. There is only One who can deliver America from destruction and, scripturally speaking, whether He does or not depends completely upon what His people in that nation do - or don’t do. The Creator prescribed for us the one and only remedy that brings healing to a nation and, frankly, political victories are not part of that prescription - not necessarily. No, the genesis of national restoration requires humility and repentance on the part of His people. He said:
“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 will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chr 7:14).
I want to tell you one last story, actually, a concept that is recorded in the New Testament. Messiah revealed to us that, when an unclean spirit leaves a person, it will wander for some time but eventually return to that person - or as He says “house” - to see if it is swept out and empty (Mt. 12:43-45). Finding it empty, that spirit gathers seven other spirits “more wicked than himself” and they all move in, making the person’s latter state much worse than it was before. In this narrative, the Messiah strongly implies that the house should NOT have been empty but should have been filled with the Presence of the Almighty. Had His Presence been there the wicked spirit would have had to continue its wandering. That the Presence of God was not there hints at the spiritual neglect in that person’s life.
Here is what I believe America should learn from this. An oppressive and ungodly spirit has just been relieved of power; we narrowly avoided another wicked and oppressive spirit being appointed to the highest office in the land but know this - the unclean spirit will return. It may not be embodied in the same people necessarily but, rest assured, the unclean spirit will return to the “house” seeking to discover whether or not it is empty. If the house is not filled with righteousness, holiness and justice, then America’s future will be much worse than anything we have seen up to this point. But being warned also means, it doesn’t have to be that way - God’s people can prevent that from happening. If we have been given a reprieve then we have been given an opportunity and, so, let us make the most of it. Let continue to humble ourselves before Him and commit ourselves to do what is right in His eyes so that when the unclean spirit returns it will find the house - dare I say the White House - filled, not with corruption, arrogance and ungodliness, but with the Spirit of God. If that is to be, then, today, the work for believers has just begun.