The 2020 US election is over – and has been for several weeks now, despite all the lawsuits, court-rulings, petitions, investigations, accusations, etc. As with most of our elections for the past 30+ years, one-third of the country is happy (or relieved), one-third is disappointed (or furious), while the other third is rather apathetic.
As a more-conservative American, I’ve had mixed feelings about President Trump since he announced his candidacy in 2016, liking many of his policies for promoting and protecting American interests yet being rather embarrassed by his abrasive personality and polarizing behavior. He may have a commendable work-ethic, great policies for America and Israel, and be able to get many things done, but he was far too polarizing, uncharismatic, and even rude and immature at times.
One thing that every viable candidate needs to win and hold democratic office is to be gracious, likable, and not too polarizing. One can differ with others (especially their enemies) and still not be antagonistic towards them. Ronald Reagan was fiercely opposed by his political rivals and the media, yet was still a likable person, which was reflected in his two landslide elections. The same can be said of George W. Bush, who was also continually opposed and maligned while in office but was not overtly antagonistic towards the press. Not so with Donald Trump.
Something that deeply grieves me about modern America is how we’ve lost so much of our “Americanism”, our reverence for God (if not the simple respect for Him and His basic laws like the Ten Commandments), our love of country, our common values, and our ability to be polite, kind, and even civil towards our fellow countrymen while greatly differing with them on various issues. Our history as a country and a culture has been mistaught (if not perverted) for several decades, and we’ve become more and more divided in the midst of this culture-war that began in the 1960s. The media, our culture, and our politicians are responsible for much of the divide, but in the end it comes down to us, our choices, and our values as individual Americans.
If I can be a bit personal for a moment, I had been hoping that the Biblical promise in Genesis 12 that states, “Those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed” that is often cited would apply to this election, particularly after all that President Trump has done for our Jewish friends in the Middle East. There has been no other American president who has so staunchly defended Israel and her interests as President Trump, and it’s unlikely there will be another like him anytime soon. During his short term in office, he moved the US embassy to Jerusalem and encouraged many other countries to do so (which several did), along with fostering numerous peace-deals and normalizing relations between the Arabs and Israel, while not pressuring the Israelis to exchange land for peace (which only emboldens their enemies).
The result of this election (along with others in the past), usually makes me consider where God stands when it comes to nations, rulers, and politics in general. I often don’t understand why He allows things to go certain ways that seem to break His promises to reward those who follow Him and His laws. And it’s not merely that way in modern times, but over the long course of history, particularly Israel’s history. Some of the best kings’ reigns were cut short, while some of the worst kings ruled for far longer than they should have. Why? Why wouldn’t He reward good kings with long, prosperous reigns and the bad ones with curtailed reigns? Sometimes it simply doesn’t make sense!
For example, the last good king in Judah/Israel, King Josiah, was an excellent ruler who completely cleaned up the nation after decades of Baal-worship, debauchery, and idolatry. He re-instituted the Passover, the reading (and following) of the Law, the Temple sacrifices, and led the way in trying to draw the nation back to God. Yet look what happened to him: he went out to battle (though he’d been warned he shouldn’t!) and was slain by an errant arrow. Consequently, King Josiah’s death led to the Babylonian Captivity and the destruction of the entire nation – her people suffered like no others have in the history of the world (just read Lamentations).
So why did God allow King Josiah to die? After all, God could have protected him and saved the nation – but He didn’t. Of course, God has His reasons and is completely sovereign, and since He knew the peoples’ hearts, He knew they were merely going through the motions and still secretly worshiping idols. Though Josiah had purged all the idols from the land, the people were completely hardened against God; they had turned to Him in pretense to obey their king, not genuinely in faith in keeping with true repentance. Jeremiah’s early ministry while Josiah was still alive exposed the true condition of the hearts of his countrymen, particularly those within his own family.
Throughout history, there has continually been a struggle between individual freedom/liberty and political power. A king, military, or party rises and gains power, abuses that power, the people or their opposition revolts, and the cycle continues. In American history, the transfer of political power has usually been very peaceful, with little bloodshed when a new Congress or President takes office. That hasn’t been the case for most of human history – America has been the exception rather than the rule.
Our unique Constitution divides political power among three branches of government, espouses individual liberty, limited government, and federalism, and its system of checks and balances has consistently slowed the encroachment of our liberties by our own government. However, the further we get away from the Bible and the Rule of Law it promotes, the more liberty we individuals lose to our governing authorities. If we’re increasingly immoral, divided, and lawless as individuals and as a culture, the more immoral, divided, and lawless our government will become. And it certainly has.
Like ancient Israel/Judah, the demise of our chief executive shouldn’t trigger the demise of the nation IF (and that’s a big “IF”) the people of that country are civil towards one another, living morally and uprightly, following the Rule of Law, and “doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). But as I observe American culture, politics, social-media, attitudes, and civility (and lack thereof), like ancient Israel/Judah, I cannot say we are – much at all in fact. It’s increasingly difficult to discern the truth on any significant issue because truth has become so relative in our society.
So then what are we do to as Americans in our deeply divided nation and culture? It’s really quite simple, and it’s the same message that God has proclaimed all throughout history: repent and seek His face.
Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Love one another and treat your neighbor as yourself.
If we really do love our nation and want to see it preserved, we must learn to love one another – regardless of our opinions and politics.