For whom will you vote when you enter the ballot booth this year?
God is concerned about your choice. He provided a precedent when He said to Israel:
"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land..." (1)
And the last recorded message King David gave his son Solomon was a warning:
"He that ruleth over men must be just (righteous), ruling in the fear of God." (2)
The checkered history of good and bad Jewish kings teaches us to be discerning of the character (the just-ness or "righteousness") of those who rule over us. The trend in the Bible seems to be toward putting more of the responsibility for the choice of civil rulers into the hands of ordinary citizens; from an emphasis on using a prophet or a priest to make the divine appointment, toward more emphasis on the responsibility of the individual citizens in the choice of their own rulers.
God said "The government shall be upon his (i.e. the Messiah's) shoulders." (3)
But more voice in the choice does not mean we are more independent of God. As "voters" we are actually more dependent and more responsible to God; to discern and to choose that particular man whom God has already equipped for a particular office. So the election process does not make us more independent of God's appointments. It simply means God is now using us to make His appointments. This is why Peter described civil government as: "an ordinance of man," (4) while Paul said: "The powers that be are ordained of God" and the man in office is to be "a minister of God to thee for good...a terror to evil." (5)
Civil government cannot be "an ordinance of man" in any sense in which it is independent of God's purposes and standards. And so we become even more responsible as the "voters" whom God will use in making His choice and appointment. Now we become the priests or the prophets responsible for finding and making God's appointment for each office. So be careful. Be discerning. Evaluate men for office on the basis of their character. Let the Messiah Christ be the perfect standard in your evaluation of the character of those who are asking you to vote for them.
The following outline is designed to help you in making your choices.
A Person Who Is Respectable
God taught the Jews to beware of rulers who are "children" who "eat in the morning" (6) and the angel promised Mary that Jesus Christ would be "great — the son of the highest." (7) And He was. Four Biographies, called the Gospels, describe His personal dignity. Whether it was a storm at sea, the handling of the friendly and unfriendly crowds, the confrontation with a demoniac, the selection and appointment of His disciple cabinet, or His arrest and trial before Pilate, He was in calm, dignified control of every situation. Time did not threaten Him, He controlled it.
We need people with that kind of dignity and respectability to be our representatives, senators, judges and administrators today, in order that we might not be ashamed or embarrassed by their immature antics and lack of self-control, that we might be justly proud of them, and that they would help to bring respect and bearing to the government of which they are a part.
But such a person of dignity can seem to be aloof and unapproachable.
A Person of Near Relationship
God taught the Jews to elect "one from among thy brethren" (8) and born citizenship is a Constitutional requirement for eligibility for office in the U.S. today. Christians believe this was why God ordained Christ to be fully man as well as God. He was able to represent man to God, as well as God to man. An angel couldn't have this near relationship. The records show Jesus was one who could be "touched with the feelings of our infirmities.'' (9) He was always available, always interruptible, always interested in people. People responded to Him and respected Him because of His "open door" policy.
We need people with that kind of near relationship (empathy) in office today. Judges who can be broken-hearted over the contents of-their dockets, and lawmakers who make time to listen to "us" during non-election years; administrators who can live in the White House or the governor's mansion, surrounded by the media, and federal budget figures, and still identify with "me." People who understand the very faith that is in my heart.
But such a person of dignity and near relationship may or may not be a very wise person.
A Person Who Is Wise and Understanding
God commanded Jewish rulers to "be wise." (10) Christians believe Jesus Christ is "the wisdom of God" personified. His biographies tell us that people called Him "Rabbi" and from the time He was twelve, they were amazed by the wisdom and power of His words. (11)
We need people with this kind of mind in public office today. Not just clever and quick witted or with a good memory for names and faces, but men who are wise. We need people who know:
- The people they serve and govern
- The laws and system of government in which they must function
- The God ordained purpose for civil government.
And people who understand what they know. They will see themselves as "a minister of God to us for good" and "a terror to evil."
But a person of dignity, near relationship and a good mind may or may not be able to get things done.
A Person Who Has Power
God commended this feature of character to Daniel and the Jews, "for wisdom and power are his." (12) Christians believe that "all power" has been given unto Christ and the Gospel records show He did control in such a way as to get the job done: (13)
Angels (both good and bad)
Creation (both inanimate and animate)
Men (both those who believed in Him and those who did not)
We need people with that kind of energy of mind and strength of character. People who can operate with a minimum of organization and a maximum of efficiency. People who can get things done!
But dignity can be a ticket to sin; near relationship and knowledge can provide more opportunity for evil; wisdom can make a man "a more clever devil" and power can be a means of seducing people. There is a need for moral quality.
A Person of High Moral Excellence
God commanded that those who ruled his people the Jews must "love righteousness and hate wickedness," being just, ruling in the fear of the Lord. (14) Christians believe Jesus Christ was the perfect example of that. "Just and true are the ways of the King of saints." (15)
We need people like this in public office today. People who have:
1. Right intentions or motives. Not only doing right things but doing them for right reasons, not for personal gain, or even the gain of his own constituency at the expense of others, but for the glory of God and the good of all.
2. Right administration of means. The effects of his work show he is impartial. No one is wronged that another may be benefited. Rights, liberty, and property of all are equally protected.
3. Right personal conduct. Wise laws, good intentions, and fair dealing can never make up for bad personal conduct. No government can be successful when it is conducted by known profligates. People won't continue to respect laws written by lawbreakers. They will not continue to accept decisions from corrupt judges. And they will not keep on responding to administration by selfish administrators.
A Person Who Loves People
God taught the Jews that "mercy and truth preserve the king, and his throne is upholden by mercy. (16) Christians believe Jesus Christ demonstrated this point perfectly, in His care for the sick, the bereaved, the lonely, hungry, tired and thirsty people with whom He lived. He provided the most practical answer to their every need, especially for the little children and for His mother. "When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion." (17)
And we need that kind of person in office today. People who don't become hardened or bored after one or two terms of office, people who just keep on loving people and that becomes a reason for their continuing in office.
A Person Who Can Handle Authority
In the record of the tragedies and successes of the succession of Jewish kings, we are warned that not everyone can handle authority. (18) Lord Acton (1834-1902) said, "Power [tends to] corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Christians see in Jesus Christ the perfect example of how to handle, and to delegate power. He said: "All power is given unto me. " "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." (19)
We need people in public office today who know that the right to use the powers of their office does not come solely from the fact that they have been chosen by the votes of those who have elected them to office; nor does their authority come only from a healthy sense of responsibility for their constituency, e.g. "I have chosen you and I will represent you well." We need people with a sense of both those things, but beyond this, who know they have been chosen and called by God, through the vote of the people, to serve God first and their constituency second, through public office. Their right to use the powers of their office does come ultimately from God. In that office they are His agents, the instruments of His power and authority, "a minister of God to us for good, arid a terror to evil."
1 Ezekiel 22:30 NJV
2 2 Samuel 23:3 KJV
3. Isaiah 9:6
4. 1 Peter 2:13 KJV
5. Romans 13:1,3-4 KJV
6. Ecclesiastes 10:16-17 KJV
7. Luke 1:32 KJV
8. Deuteronomy 17:15 KJV
9. Hebrews 4-15 KIV
10. Psalm 2:10 KJV
11. Luke 2:41-47; John 3:2; 1 Timothy 1:7 KJV
12. Daniel 2:20 NIV
13. Matthew 8 KJV
14. 2 Samuel 23:3; Psalm 45:7-8 KJV
15. Revelation 15:3 KJV
16. Proverbs 20:28 KJV
17. Matthew 9:36,14:14 KJV
18. 2 Kings 8-25
19. John 1:12; Matthew 28:18 KJV
Copyright 1996, Roy Blackwood.
Revised 2011, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Philadelphia, PA. All rights reserved.
Donald Grey Barnhouse was - for half a century - one of the most widely acclaimed American preachers. Scholarly exposition and a popular approach marked his teaching as well as a passion for Making God's Word Plain. Listen and find out why an unyielding faith, devotion to Christ, innovation, and great energy marked his ministry.All Sermons by Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse