What a surprise! Few anticipated the results from the recent national election. Marti and I stayed up much later than we planned, but we found it difficult to go to bed before the results were announced. Donald Trump defied expectations and won decisively. Hillary Clinton was reportedly left in tears at her unanticipated loss.
Nearly all the opinion polls were wrong. A politically inexperienced, brash playboy businessman has become the forty-fifth president of these United States.
Who, but God Almighty knew what was in store? The main-stream media, who were undisguised in their support for Clinton, are left with pie on their faces, and a whole lot of explaining to do.
So far, most pundits show little remorse for their shameless partisanship. Instead of apologizing for their blatant attempts to tip the scales, they seem determined to continue their unbalanced politicking in support of a leftward agenda. This, apparently, is what Trump meant when he charged that the election was “rigged.” He meant that those whose job it is to report the news even-handedly, conspired instead to defeat Trump by ignoring certain stories and magnifying others in order to gain an advantage for Clinton. In other words, the election battle was not being waged on a level playing field.
For reasons known only to God, these efforts, often successful in the past, did not work this time. The anti-establishment candidate won resoundingly. Now we wait to see what unfolds over the next four years from the most unorthodox election ever held in our beloved homeland.
Although not all Christians think alike, the majority of those that I know are thankful for the results, though concerned about the character of our next president. Evangelical Christians supported Trump by 81%, but without much enthusiasm. Their votes were more designed to stop the leftward slide of recent years than to install Donald Trump into the highest office of the land.
They voted against unrestricted late-term abortions, uncontrolled illegal immigration, same-sex marriage, constitution-destroying judges, and a host of other dangers to a moral and free society. Most are not homophobic, racist, or hateful, and they are tired of being told they are by a liberal press. They champion freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and a free press, and are alarmed that “political correctness” can now be utilized to undermine these constitutional guarantees.
It’s a sad day when Christians are forced to choose between two candidates of equally questionable character. It’s more than sad; it’s a sobering reminder of the downward spiral of societal morality that two such unsavory characters could win the nominations of their respective political parties. I don’t see how the election of either candidate could bode well for the future of our once great nation. The reason most Christians voted for Donald Trump was to stop Hillary Clinton from taking the progressive agenda any farther than it has gone already. Enough is enough! Let us pray for our new president, that God will restrain him from evil, and guide him into paths of righteousness for His name sake.
Solomon, the human author of the infrequently consulted book of Ecclesiastes would not have been as surprised as we seem to be. “If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter” (Ecclesiastes 5:8). He describes human government in very unflattering, even cynical terms. “For high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them.”
Solomon portrays human government as riddled with corruption, each official watching the official below him to try to pervert justice to his own advantage. As King of Israel, Solomon was evidently describing conditions he observed in his own administration. If that was true among God’s chosen people, how much more likely true in other earthly governments. Human government is unrighteous because the people who administrate it are sinners. It is impossible to derive justice and righteousness from those who are themselves unjust and unrighteous.
Why should we, who know Biblical truth, be surprised at this reality? “Do not marvel at the matter.” Do we not truly believe that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked?” Do we not know “that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God?” Has the truth escaped us that “there is none righteous, no not one?” Why are we surprised if human government is badly flawed? What else should we expect from sinful people? We know that injustice is wrong, that government ought to be impartial and should protect the rights of every citizen, regardless of wealth and position in society. But we also know that every individual is sinful, so we should not marvel at how difficult it is to create a government that is righteous and fair.
The ideal government, and the one we long for, will only be inaugurated by the installation of King Jesus as Ruler of this Earth. Nearly two thousand years ago, people had opportunity to embrace Jesus as King, but instead, they cried, “Crucify him, crucify him, we will not have this man to reign over us, we have no king but Caesar.”
This shameful demonstration of human depravity certifies that fallen sons and daughters of Adam do not want a righteous government. Not really. Sinful people want sinful government, but one that sins in a manner favorable to them, and not to others. We do long for justice, but we also desire personal advantage. Only the saving grace of God, through the cross work of His Son, can change the corruption of the human heart. After all, men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.
In short, we get the kind of government we deserve. It may not be exactly what we would have chosen, but a truly righteous government is not really what most want. We prefer a government that bends our way, and are often upset if we get instead a government that bends in another direction. And yet, those whose hearts have been cleansed by the sanctifying work of God’s Spirit, truly long for the day when a righteous King shall extend His just reign over all the earth. That is why we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Until Jesus comes, we should not be surprised if human government reflects human sinfulness. How could it be otherwise?
What Government Can Do
Some expect far too much from government, as if it should be able to correct society’s ills. But government cannot rescue us from the effects of Adam’s fall because God did not design it as the means to change the hearts of sinners. Government, therefore is not equipped to create better citizens. Only Jesus can do that. What government can do is provide an orderly society where people are relatively safe from those who wish to harm us, and where there is freedom and opportunity for families and churches to teach God’s Word.
Only the gospel can change lives and make better citizens. Those who expect government to achieve this goal are simply wishing upon a star. It won’t happen, because that’s not the way God designed human society. If government will do its God-appointed job well, and homes and churches will perform their God ordained functions, society will achieve a measure of peace and prosperity, but never perfection. As long as people demand that government eliminate every societal wrong, they will be continually frustrated, for they are expecting the impossible. But let government produce laws that are just and equally enforced upon all citizens alike, and let government protect freedom for families and churches to perform their God given function, and a good, not perfect society will ensue.
When we pray for our leaders, let us pray that God will give them wisdom to understand their proper roll—what they should do, and what they should not attempt to do. That will produce the best possible society in a fallen world. And as for the rest? We pray for the King’s soon return.
G. N. Barkman received his BA and MA from BJU and later founded Beacon Baptist Church in Burlington, NC where has pastored for over 40 years. In addition, Pastor Barkman broadcasts over several radio stations in NC, VA, TN, and the island of Granada and conducts annual pastors’ training seminars in Zimbabwe, Africa. He and his wife, Marti have been blessed with four daughters and six grandchildren.