This weekend we have the federal elections. As I was studying the candidates that are running, there were two criteria that I looked at. I first looked at the stated objectives of the party, especially with regards to social issues, and then looked at the known character of the individuals. As I was studying Galatians, which I am not quite ready to start, I realised that the Scriptures do have a lot to say to leaders and to our responsibility toward them. We will walk through four texts and see that we are called to pray for our leaders, but we are not called to fear them.
We as a Nation and as Individuals have Sinned[Read 1 Chron. 7:12-22] [i]
Firstly, what is the result of our sin as a nation? Drought (Vs. 13), Locust, Pestilence and Uprooting (or dispersion). While the context of this passage is specifically toward the nation of Israel, it also applies to all as shown in (Jer. 18:5-10, Job 12:21-25) This passage also tells us why Jewish people continue to pray toward Jerusalem (Vs. 16). Yeshua did broaden this to much more in the discussion with the Samaritan woman (John 4:21). Secondly, this passage calls us as people called by His name, to repent, to humble ourselves, pray, seek Adonai’s face, and turn from our wicked ways. We can not expect the laws of this nation to be changed unless the hearts of the people are changed. And we can not expect a revival in our nation unless we are first personally the agents of revival. Yeshua also mentions in (John 4:35) that we are not to say, “Four more months until the harvest,” because the fields are “white and ready for harvest” now.
Pray in Times of Peace[Read Jer. 29:4-14]
The previous passage pointed to the day that Adonai would bring judgement on Israel because of her rebellion against Him. This passage was written after the judgement had come. Jeremiah writes to those who are dispersed in the Babylonian empire:
- Build houses and live in them (Vs. 5),
- Plant garden and eat their fruit,
- Take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands,
- Multiply there, and do not decrease,
- Seek the shalom of this city that we live in,
- And Pray to Adonai for this city.
All this we do because, “in [this city’s] shalom, we will have shalom (Vs. 7). It is within this context, the place of judgement and exile, that Adonai states, “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for shalom and not calamity, to give us a future and a hope.” (Vs. 11) Then, at the end of the exile, we will call on Adonai, and He will listen, when we seek Him with all our heart. Yeshua refers to this in (Matt. 6 & 7) and insists that we must seek Adonai with all our hearts.
Pray in Times of Trouble[Read 1 Tim. 2:1-8 and 1 Peter 2:13-17]
What makes these two passages even more amazing, is that they were both written in the late 60’s, during the reign of Emperor Nero. The same Nero who had his mother murdered in AD 59; Nero who married a Freedman, as his wife, in AD 64; the same Nero who set fire to Rom in late AD 64 and blamed it on the Christians; and the same Nero who ruled when Peter and Paul were both martyred.
So, in times of trouble we, as followers of Yeshua, are still called to:
- Pray for our rulers and all who are in authority over us (1 Tim 2:2)
- And men, especially, must pray everywhere without anger or argument.
This is also so we may have shalom and live a peaceful, quiet life in all godliness and respectfulness.
Peter (2:13) also reminds us to:
- Submit to earthly authority. Although we see from his and John’s life (Acts 4) that we must first submit to Yeshua’s direction.
- We must do good, which will silence the ignorance of foolish (unbelieving) men.
- We must live as free people, while at the same time remembering that we are slaves of Adonai.
- We must honour ALL people, remembering that Peter was writing this from Rome under Nero.
- We must love the Brotherhood. Our love toward other believers should grow, especially during times of persecution. There is no place for hatred of people, as we are also called by Yeshua to love even those who are our enemies, and those who persecute us.
- We are called to Fear God, not man. Our votes, our prayers and our lives should not be lived from a place of fear. John tells us (1 John 4:18) that perfect love casts out fear. And anyone who fears has not been perfected in Adonai’s love.
- Finally Peter ends with a call to “Honour the Emperor.” We are not called to like what our leaders do, or agree with what they say, but we are called to respect and honour them. It is a command.
Application and Conclusion
Tomorrow we vote. Peter and Paul did not have this as an option. While we are still free to do so, I believe that we have a responsibility to participate in the electoral process, and vote. Vote for people who fear Adonai, vote for people who are honest and keep their word, and leave the results in the hand of Adonai. In the end, [Prov 21:1-2]
A king’s heart is like a stream of water in the hand of Adonai;
he directs it wherever He wants.
All a man’s ways seem right in his own eyes,
but Adonai weighs the heart.
[i] All Scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Life (TLV) version unless otherwise noted.